I am one of the lucky ones in our business. ISN Network was a thriving entity when I took it over in 1999. Through the years there have been a lot of ups and downs- a bit of a roller coaster ride- but mostly my business plans each year built on themselves. Each year we take time to map out our plan of action for the coming year. And while it is always impossible to predict the future, the fact that we plan has helped us make it through all obstacles we have faced.
Last week I had a breakfast with one of our partners. He has been a successful producer for many years. Now he wants to use our Synergy Program to help him start his own IMO. A brand new venture for him but something he has wanted to do for a long time. We spent most of the day talking about the who, what, when and why’s and then we got down to business- the business of making a plan.
If you are considering starting your own business, then you will need to also come up with a good plan for that business. A business plan is necessary for several reasons, including outlining your goals, expected costs, marketing plans and an exit strategy. It is basically a road map to help your new business know how to operate and how you will measure your success or failure at it.
Between the two of us we came up with these keys to developing a successful business plan. Now we have to see if we can implement the plan.
1. List your goals and objectives in an executive summary plan. This is one of the most important steps in the process of setting up a business, and it’s the one banks and other lenders use to decide if they want to loan you money. If you don’t have a proper executive summary plan put together, then you aren’t likely to be able to get the funds you need to run your company.
2. List how your business got started. Put together a short and concise paragraph or two that clearly explains how and why you started your business.
3. List the business goals. Make a list of the short term and long term goals that you want to complete in the next few years. You need to list things like how fast the business is likely to grow and who is your target audience.
4. Make biographies of your management team. Your plan should include a management section with the names and backgrounds of the head members of your business’s management team and their respective duties and responsibilities.
5. Talk about your products and services. Put together the reasons why your product or services are better than the rest and why this will help your company to succeed and prosper.
6. What are the market possibilities of your business? A new business has to convince banks, potential employees, and everyone else that the market you’re going for is viable and will keep on growing and prospering. Especially if you are entering a very competitive arena- you have to differentiate yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses.
7. Have a marketing strategy. Next, you need to add in how you plan to let everyone know you are open for business and ready to provide your services or products. List things like how you will advertise, how much you plan to spend on advertising, where you will list your company, will you also use word of mouth, etc.
8. Have a 3-5 year plan. You must think about both the long and short of things like a summary of the possible financial outcomes with balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow predictions. You also need to list how much money you need to borrow to get started. This is a very important section as it can make or break you depending on what is listed here.
9. Have an exit strategy. Every great company has a part of their business plan that includes a section that shows exactly what you will do if you decide to close the business. It should list benchmarks such as dollar figures, revenue growth, how your business is received by the world, and what type of consensus your top management agrees on in order to close it.