Here is where we start asking you to turn off the sports channel, take your Beats out of your ears, find a quiet place where you can be isolated and uninterrupted for awhile, because YOU will be asking YOURSELF some pretty tough questions to define your business.
This seems like so much unnecessary work. After all, it is YOUR business, and you know what you want to do… right this minute. What about tomorrow when you are up to your butt in alligators, will you recall at that moment that your original intention was to drain the swamp?
It is too easy to get distracted and off course. Things change, and that is OK, but if you have a baseline that captures the ideas and goals for your business at a particular point in time, you can refer to that point to keep yourself on track, or make a CONSCIOUS decision to make a change in direction.
Check Out The Video: Business Plans Made Easy
In the corporate world, we had extensive training in many formal Quality Systems Methodologies. (Another surprise, I was Quality Champion for our department, and a certified ISO-9002 auditor). All of those methodologies used some version of VISION, MISSION, GOALS, and TACTICS. A Vision, and a Mission statement together are useful to communicate your goals to a larger organization. While I do believe that going through the formalities helps solidify what you see for your business, if you are a small company (ie. me, myself, and I), then it may be overkill. I’m not here to get you to buy into a formal methodology since the internet is a vast resource with which you can look up best practices faster than I could write them here.
So let’s get to it. (This is where you start to fill in a template for these items. Make some notes, even if you mark a section N/A. It shows that you at least thought about it.).
IF you think of something, but it needs followup, like an attachment, something you need to look up, a webpage reference, etc., mark it in your notes with a highlighter or something unique like “*****”. Most editors and word processors have a FIND function (generally keyboard shortcut “Ctrl f”) that allows you to quickly locate these items.
Tools Needed for This Segment
A computer or laptop is ideal.
Because you will be doing a large amount of text entry and editing, it may be difficult (although not impossible) with a Tablet or Smartphone.
Storage for your documents.
Google Drive is free.
It allows your documents to be securely stored in the cloud
Your documents are accessible to all of your devices. There are apps available for all platforms that can operate offline then synch with the web version.
Drive has the capability to share these documents. I do recommend restricting sharing to only a limited number of trusted people since this plan will eventually have personal and financial information pertaining to your business.
Word Processor, Text Editor
You need some way to create editable documents that can be saved and modified or updated later.
Windows has a folder of free Windows Accessories that includes Notepad (for unformatted text) or WordPad which is a mini-Word.
Google Drive has a built-in, free, full featured word processing program called DOCS that is compatible with, and can import and export to Microsoft Word and other RTF-format files.
If you will be doing any editing across platforms, I recommend Google DOCS. There are apps for every platform, you can make local copies, and your documents will synch when you reconnect
Start by copying the sections below into your editor, or download and open the following template.
What are YOUR Goals?
How much TIME are willing to dedicate to YOUR business?
How much MONEY are you willing to invest in YOUR Business?
What is a REALISTIC short and long term financial target for YOU?
What resources do you have available?
Do you want to build a new business, or expand/focus an existing business?
Define your Market, Niche, and Potential Customers
Who are your potential customers? Warm Market? Your existing list?
Do they already have a business or are they starting from scratch?