Is Your Business Plan on Life Support?
A business plan is much more than a means to an end, like getting a loan from a bank, only to be forgotten. According to Vince DiCecco of Your Personal Business Trainer, it “needs to be a living, breathing document … written in plain English.” In his Tuesday afternoon session, “Why Your Enterprise Needs a Business Plan: It’s Not Just for Fund Raising Anymore,” he began by noting that “too many people work diligently to do [a business plan], and then abandon it.”
While declaring, “there’s no one set way to do one,” DiCecco spelled out reasons for creating or updating a plan for your company. “Do the plan for you and your employees,” he explained, because it provides guidance for managing your business’s structure and functions. It can also help generate buy-in from team members, create momentum towards goals and attract new funding as well as potential partners, vendors and employees.
DiCecco detailed the four most important parts of any business plan. First, to assess the superiority of your products and services, companies must conduct a SWOT (Strengths — Weaknesses — Opportunities — Threats) analysis, and then develop strategies to deal with each one. This can’t be done quickly, he cautioned.
A strategic plan provides guidance for your company as it moves towards its goals (and its larger vision). Along the way, schedules and actions are the responsibility of people who should be held accountable for meeting them.
Second, business owners should devise a plainly written marketing plan to attract customers and prospects and build loyalty. Companies should address how to accomplish this using “The 7 Ps of Marketing,” which includes price, promotions and people. Also, conducting customer surveys provides valuable feedback in many ways.
Next, DiCecco likened talent management to placing people in the right spots on a bus trip. An organizational chart provides structure for the company in pursuing its goals.
Finally, he recommended that a plan should include a P&L (Profit & Loss) Accountability Chart. Attaching a person’s name for each budget line ties their performance directly to the business’s strategic plan.