Monday, September 12, 2011

Your Business Plan - A Clear Outline of Your Vision

by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

Earlier this year Crafted Spaces was fortunate to have Dr. Cheryl Cottle of Cottle’ Professional Consulting contribute a post to our blog titled; Developing a Business Plan. This post was part of our “Business Tips” and has added great value to this section of our blog. This post however, is meant to further expand on the question; what is a business plan, and why do I need one?

The task of writing a business plan can be a “daunting” and rather time consuming task. It does require some research and the analysis of some data. However, the rewards far out weigh the difficulties. A business plan is more than just an intimidating, boring document, invented by people to make things difficult.

A business plan is an extremely valuable tool to you and your business. It is a formal statement of your business’s goals and outlines why you feel these goals are attainable. The plan also outlines how you plan to accomplish your goals and the tools available to do so. It is an invaluable tool as you shape your business, develop your brand and work towards getting your products and services to your target audience. A business plan can be utilized internally or externally. You can use it as a guide and reference for what you want to achieve and where you will like to go with your business. It is usually a required document when approaching potential investors.

You may say; well I do not plan on going to the bank or approaching any investors; so why do I need to take the time to draft a business plan? I simply do not have the time nor can I afford the time needed to dedicate to such a task. However, I suggest that you do not have the time not to dedicate to such a task. Think of it like this; taking the time to develop your business plan can save you valuable time and money while developing and growing your business. It by no means guarantees your success, but it goes a long way towards ensuring success. Further more, you do have an investor, yourself. A mistake that many small business individuals make is not identifying themselves as their biggest investor. Your biggest investor therefore deserves a clear picture of where your business is at, where you will like to go, and how you plan on getting there.

A good plan will accomplish several important things; assist you in developing a clear statement about your goals, helps you to take a look at the feasibility of your business venture and provides valuable insight into your industry and target audience. The process of writing your business plan is just as important as the plan itself, as the process allows you to think deeper into the various aspects of your industry and effectively develop the goals of your business and its benefit statement. A business plan can also be a valuable tool when bringing others on board and can provide them with a clear outline of your vision. This will allow others to be more effective members of your team and facilitate the growth of your business, by better tapping into the skills and expertise available.

Get started today on your plan. There is never enough time or the right time to get started, so dive in. Pay carful attention to “Cash Flow” and understand how critical it is to the success of your business. Be specific about how you plan on achieving results. Do the legwork and research required for learning more about your clients, competitors and your industry as a whole. Gain an understanding of where things are at and where they are going. Analyze how the industry currently impacts and or will impact your business. As an added word, seek help when needed. There are many government agencies and various websites available that will assist you in the development of your business plan. However, it is also recommended that the services of a professional be employed. It is also recommended to revisit your plan regularly and rework every three to five years.

This post is written by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby and was previously published on - and CPC Women in Business blog.

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