Thursday, January 21, 2016

Planning your future

          Free daily tips, information, advice and ideas
          to help you better manage your small business

     Every small business needs a road map into its future. If you are driving to a distant city, you will do well to consult a map--it will tell you which fork in the road to take. Likewise, you deserve the many benefits that a business plan can give you.

     Business plans force you to face your future. It becomes a sounding board for you as you move forward. It can help you stay on track, moving toward that successful operation you have in mind. It can help you put all the day-to-day distractions into a longer range perspective.

     To get started on your business plan, you need to do some work. If you need an outline of a business plan, do a search "Business plans" on the net. Some are free. Others are come-ons to get you to buy in to additional services. Go for the freebie.

     A business plan basically boils down to the expected market for your goods and services. Without selling into a market, you don't have a business. Defining the market and the expected sales to that market is the place to begin--everything else depends on this. 

     Who are your target clients/customers? How will you attract them to your business? What is the present and projected competition? How will you price your products/services? How much will they spend? Why will they keep coming back? What other market questions pertain to your business--and your future?

     Answers to market questions must be turned into numbers. A business plan is much more than words. When you turn all your wordy answers into numbers, reality sets in. Numbers bring brutal honesty.

     This is not to disparage intuition. Sometimes, you can feel in your gut a market developing. You want to serve and exploit the possibilities. But translating your intuition into hard numbers can put a better face on your business plan. And save you from disasters.

     Only when the numbers work do you proceed to put your plan into operation. If the numbers identify a glitch, solve it before proceeding.

     Example: You might identify a market segment that works on paper, but it is not big enough to justify going entirely in that direction. It might be a sideline or an additional source of revenue but not much of a business in itself. If this emerges on paper with the numbers, then you don't want to head off entirely in that direction. Sidelines can be important in any business, and they might develop into full businesses in the future, but it's a watch-and-wait proposition. 

          Many people in small business try to plan in their heads. This is a mistake. Getting your plan out of your head and onto paper will identify paths and problems that you won't otherwise think about. 




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