I have been very lucky in my life to have the privilege of working with self-employed and small business owners from all over the globe.
One thing I have learned is that you could be a bicycle repairman in Beijing China, a fish and chips shopkeeper in Sydney Australia, a plumber in Madison Wisconsin, a contractor in Calgary Canada, or a printer in Leeds UK; you all speak the same language and that is the language of business.
Yes indeed, the language of business has no real borders. Entrepreneurs worldwide face the same challenges on a daily basis.
"How do I increase revenue, plan for next year, do I need to hire more staff and if so when, do I need to raise money for growth in my business, what new marketing approach can I use to grow traffic?" and so on
These are universal questions that every owner has asked themselves historically regardless of it being 1919 or 2019, to the point where someone put a title to the process and the ‘Business Plan’ was created.
The Business Plan or as it is often referred to these days as ‘The Growth Plan’, is like the ‘Google Map’ for business outlining the goals that you want to accomplish and how to achieve them.
Sometimes the plan can be developed over a coffee on a napkin, but commonly it takes a more formal approach using templates as a resource.
Regardless of how it is documented, the business planning process involves thinking, planning and goal setting. This process is actually where the magic takes place and you create the plan or ‘road-map’ for your business.
The magic is where you dig into your business model and discover what are your strong points as well as your weak points, where your opportunities lie and how you will survive and grow.
Real questions and real answers!!
The content of each plan will differ from business to business, but the benefits will be similar.
Here are some pretty compelling reasons for an annual growth plan or business plan.
- Just going through the process shouts to the world that you are serious about your businesses future.
- Your family will appreciate this because they see your involvement in growth planning and they will be able to support your efforts better.
- Your employees will be more confident about their future and this will breed loyalty.
- Your investors or ‘investors to be’ will definitely be happy to see that there is a road map in place and you know what you are doing.
Then there are what I call the Big ‘W's’ - questions that truly help define your market.
- Who are your competitors?
- Where are they?
- What makes them different from your business?
- Why are they successful?
- Why are they failing?
- Who are your customers?
- Where do they live?
- What do they believe?
- What are their values?
- Where do they work?
- Why do they like your product or service?
You get my drift here? You will probably be able to add more once you get into answering them as in this process you truly begin to see your business opportunity in a different light.
Then you get to ask the Big ‘H’ questions.
- How do I find more customers?
- How do I get more out of my existing customers?
- How can I better serve my customers?
- And so on.
Then you look at your financial questions.
- How can I increase Revenue?
- How can I increase Profits?
- How can I manage Cash Flow?
- How can I attract Investors?
You should spare nothing when doing this process as the more finite your questions and answers become, the better equipped you are to move your business forward.
Your Business Plan should be a living, breathing plan that you call upon regularly as a benchmark and not something that you simply file away.
I believe that is why the name ‘Annual Growth Plan’ has recently evolved in business circles.
The Plan needs to be reworked each year as today's marketplace is ever changing and businesses who don't change with the times end up closing and wondering why.
So do yourself a BIG favor and get the damn thing done. PLEASE! For yourself, for your business and for your future.