When I first got the urge to become an entrepreneur I needed to create a business plan so that I would be approved into a government program. The program was designed to support those who wanted to create a business instead of looking for work. In theory it was a great program because it supported small business owners and big-vision entrepreneurs alike. When we succeeded, we would presumably hire employees too.
Although many applicants didn’t make it into the program and many didn’t make it beyond the first couple of years in business, I was one of the fortunate ones as I’m still in business all these years later. The program worked for me and I was a “poster child” for the program when I won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004.
There was one huge problem with the program though — the business plan. I worked on that plan for approximately 8 months. Back and forth I went with the approval committee — adding and editing the plan. They didn’t “get” my business plan. They didn’t understand the software component that I included. They didn’t understand the industry. So 75 pages later and nearly the entire “eligible time” to receive employment benefits later, my plan was finally approved.
Fortunately, I was creating my business while I was writing the plan — my business was service based and my primary marketing channel was my website (back in 1996). However, the lost opportunities with this “distraction” of writing the plan were many. I could have attracted Venture Capital money to support the software component of my plan as I knew — by looking at my tracking stats — that many VC firms were checking out my website . By the time I was given their stamp of approval though my idea wasn’t unique any more. New players had launched their software and I ended up being a reseller for them instead.
After this experience, I vowed never to waste time writing a business plan as extensive and — frankly — fictional as that first business plan. Instead, I am all about getting clear on what you want while being flexible to readjust as needed. You need to know your vision and mission, unique selling proposition and, of course, you need to have a product that your ideal customer is desperately looking for and willing to buy at a price that produces a profit. You need to have a marketing plan and you need to have a business sense. Beyond that though, it’s a trial and error learning experience. You will do some things that will work, other things will fail. Some of the things that work today won’t work next month. Some of the failures today can be your biggest success stories tomorrow with some alterations.
Which brings me to the subject of this post.
A Super Simple Business Plan
- What are you building? In your mind, what does the end result look like? (Remember your purpose, motivators, values etc.)
- What are the reasons for this business? Answer “Why do we exist?”
Goals and Objectives (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Driven)
- What are you going to do to achieve your vision? What results will be measured? What does success look like and how will you measure it? (You will likely have multiple objectives such as “Achieve 5% market share by 2014″ or ” $100,000 monthly revenue by Q3 2013″ Earn $100,000 this year, etc. )
- How are you going to achieve your Objectives? What will you do to make you successful? What is your plan?
- What action items will we do to make the strategies come to life?
That’s it. This super simple business plan, along with your marketing plan and your 90 day strategic plan is enough to get you going quickly — provided you are not seeking money from a bank or the government!
Money loves speed — so if you want to reinvent yourself or your business — get moving.
Think through your plan and answer these questions thoroughly. If you can’t answer succinctly and deeply keep working on it. By the time you’ve finished, you should be able to hand your plan to anyone and they will “get it” in terms of what you are intending to create, why it is going to solve a problem and that it will work.
What do you think of this plan?
Share your thoughts below in the comments …