Moving from the cube to the corner office is the dream of any budding entrepreneur. But what does is really take to get to the top and build something spectacular? Hearing news of startup companies making millions their first year certainly makes you wonder. Although, startups like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest have made it to the top, most small businesses struggle to survive and never reach the $1 million mark.
A study from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found that only 56 percent of businesses started in 2004 were still around five years later. There may be many factors that resulted in their demise, but one thing I’ve learned as a successful entrepreneur is that having a well-thought-out business plan guides you toward your goals, showcases you clearly to potential investors, and sets you and your employees up for success.
Your business plan MUST include your mission, goals, elevator speech, financial plan (including forecasts, startup costs, startup revenue) and a marketing plan that includes social media and an organizational chart (with an executive summary).
Each area should be measurable and clearly outline tasks and responsibilities with KPIs (key performance indicators). When crafting these areas, ask yourself: Does your business idea solve a problem? What will make your business unique and different in the marketplace? Are you trying to do too much?
Laying the groundwork
If you’re in the event industry, you understand that a successful event starts with a written plan. If you think of creating a business plan as being comparable to the initial plan for an event, it will help you put things into perspective and get the idea on paper.
Like an event, your business plan should force you to confront important issues, outline potential risks and problems, estimate your startup costs and potential startup revenue, understand where your customers market, identify resources you’ll need to succeed and list your competition.
Keep it simple
Some people put off creating a business plan because the sheer idea of it feels overwhelming, stressful and complicated. If you use the planner analogy mentioned above, however, it will help you break things down into more manageable pieces, and shouldn’t take months of work. Keep in mind the purpose: 1. Gain clarity and hold yourself accountable, and 2. Attract investors or get a loan.
So, your business plan is complete. That doesn’t mean your work is done. Just like with event budgets (as the event changes so does your budget), when the market changes, when customers come and go, as employees come on board, your marketing plan and goals change.
I never consider my plan finished; it’s reviewed quarterly. It’s updated and sent out to team members. If you have the luxury of a team, it’s best to assign the task of plan management to one person so they can ensure the company is on track and goals are met.