When you hear the words “business plan,” do you get a pit in your stomach? Do you automatically imagine a ginormous document that you really, really don’t want to create?
Banish that thought from your brain. Your business plan, which is an essential component of the success of your company, can be a lot simpler than you’re thinking.
How Simpler is Better
There’s no reason your business plan has to be as big as a set of encyclopedias (remember those?). In fact, you can still benefit from even a one-page business plan, or at least find a happy medium between a tome and a few paragraphs. Your objective is to simply lay out what you want for your business in terms of who you plan to serve, how you will market to attract new customers, and what your budgets will look like.
If you plan to seek funding from investors, you might need a more complex business plan with financial forecasting models, but for most companies, short and sweet serves the purpose.
Rethinking the Business Plan Template
You can find business plan templates on the Internet all day long, but most are overkill if you’re going for a short version. Instead, focus on the most important aspects of your operations. Include:
Your mission statement
Goals you want to achieve, both in the short- and long-term
How you plan to meet those goals
Information on your target customer
How you will market and advertise to attract customers
Keep it Flowing
Once you write your business plan, it isn’t etched in stone, and it’s not something you should file away, never to be seen again. Having a business plan accessible gives you the opportunity to review it from time to time, and it’s a good idea to do so. You are able to — and in fact, should — change it whenever one facet of your business changes. Your company goals will likely fluctuate, and once you achieve some, you can add new goals to your business plan.
Likewise, the marketing tactics you initially try won’t all work, so you’ll want to update the marketing component to reflect new strategies you want to try.
Your business plan is like a roadmap to success. Refer to it regularly to make sure you’re on the right path.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She’s written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.