Developing a business plan is the single most important contribution to your company’s survival and success. Planning gets everyone moving in the same direction and provides structure for decision-making. No matter what stage or phase your business is in, a business plan makes good business sense. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Figure out what makes you money. Businesses have two kinds of money, cash and profits. Cash comes from making sales. Profits come from selling products or services for more than they cost you to produce. Smaller businesses tend to focus on cash, but to get ahead there should be focus on the aspects of the business that can bring the most profits.
Create a marketing plan. Spend marketing dollars and time wisely. Identify the most effective ways to reach the best prospects. Then market consistently. You have to stay in front of prospects.
Set prospect goals. Set a realistic stretch goal. Make a list of top prospects and referral sources and keep it where you can see it. Then get out and sell, sell, sell.
Market to current and former customers. Satisfied customers are the ones most likely to be future customers or refer others to you. Businesses often neglect to market to these customers.
Close the deal. Marketing is great, but at the end of the day you also have to make and close the sale. It is one thing to inform you prospects of your products or services, but you also have to ask them to make the purchase. Make sure they see a strong call to action in your marketing materials. Ask directly and in person to take the order, close the deal.
Get the talent and skills you need to succeed. Often the business owner is the subject matter expert for the product or service that is being offered. It’s not uncommon for the business owner to not be the expert or guru in marketing, finance, or other disciplines within the business. It is ok and recommended to engage consultants or outsourced services to fill these gaps with outside talent to help in achieving goals.
Develop a business plan. In many ways this is the most important.