Small Business Planning – Creating a Vision Statement

I have a question for you. In a perfect world, what would your business be like? Seriously, if everything were going just as it should, what would your small business be like? What would your sales be, how many employees, your profit margin, your markets, services or products? Guess what? With a business plan, and regular planning sessions, your business could be exactly what you want it to be.

There is a quote by Malcolm X that is pretty powerful;

“Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

Now, before you completely dismiss the notion because of who I am quoting, stop and think about the quote again. Earl Nightingale stated that “you become what you think about,” which is more or less the same thing.

So how does this apply to your small business and business planning? Simple. By thinking and planning about what the business will look like, you are more likely to make that vision a reality. But you have to be sure to come up with a realistic and achievable vision.

How should you go about setting the vision for the business? You should start with a realistic time frame. For some businesses, everything outside 6 months is an eternity, and for others, everything before 2 years is meaningless. So set a time frame that is reasonable for you business.
Let’s say that your time frame is 2 years. Your vision statement could start out with:

“Within the next 2 years, grow (Your company) to…”

By crafting a vision with a definitive time goal, you make it measurable, and measured goals are more likely to be achieved.

Next set another goal for your business that is also achievable. For our purposes now, we are going to use revenues, but you can use the primary thing you follow for your business or organization, such as number of employees, billable hours, or number of patients for example.

So continuing with our vision statement above:

“Within the next 2 years, grow (Your company) to $250,000.00 in sales…”

So now we have a vision that is tied to a realistic deadline, and also tied to a measurable that is easily identifiable, sales.

Now, start to create a clearer vision of exactly who your business serves, and what you offer. This will help you identify the target market(s) and what you will be selling or providing. For our illustration, we will say that we are a computer repair and networking group:

“Within the next 2 years, grow (Your company) to $250,000.00 in sales providing computer repair and networking services to small and mid-market companies (or even more specific – to companies with 5-100 computers on site) in…”

So now, the planning process for your business has allowed you to paint a very clear picture about what you will be doing, where you want the business be in terms of revenues (or other goals), and when you want to be there!

Next, define where you want to be doing business. Again, be realistic in your vision as to where you will do business. This is probably the easiest part for some, but not for others.

“Within the next 2 years, grow (Your company) to $250,000.00 in sales providing computer repair and networking services to small and mid-market companies in the metro Denver area.”

Look at the vision statement above. Pretty clear isn’t it? When it comes to writing a plan for your business, it is often best to start simple. By consistently spending some time planning for your business, and starting with a simple vision statement as part of your plan, it will be much easier to make your vision a reality.

So, what should you do next? Create a vision statement for your business. Take a few minutes now, and begin planning for what it will look like tomorrow. Small business planning is how you can plan today for what your business will look like tomorrow.

Writing a Small Business Plan – Part One, An Overview

Small business plan One of the most important tasks to carry out when you are planning to launch a brand new small business, is to take time to prepare a fully functional small business plan.

Writing a small business plan will not only allow you to focus on your business start up, but it will also be a valuable asset to present to your business bank manager or indeed any potential investors who may wish to inject vital funds into your new small business.

Another key benefit of a well written business plan is that it becomes a permanent reference point for you to view as needed and will assist you in maintaining your focus for the life of your business.

I am writing this guide in small sections to allow you to follow the plan in your own time. This article will demonstrate the complete overview of what you will need to consider when writing your small business plan.

Small business plan – an overview There are 6 key elements to consider when preparing to write your business plan they are;

  1. Your business aim: this section should indicate your businesses generic goals and should also identify what areas you will need to research (such as marketplace, route to market etc) and also pinpoint an accurate timetable for your small business development.
  2. Stock: this section should demonstrate your products and/or services that your are planning to specialise in, where you may source your products and any legislation you may need to be aware of and comply to.
  3. Promotional: here you should plan to demonstrate how you intend to get your products and services to the marketplace, how you are to proceed with advertising media, where you plan to retail your products and services and also note any restrictions that may apply to certain products or services.
  4. Operational: This is where you should identify the time constraints that may apply (production time, supplier lead time etc), delivery timescale’s to your customers, supplier conformance, shipping options and the limits that will apply.
  5. Financial: This is a key section and should clearly demonstrate your total costing’s, direct expenses, projected stock holding (if applicable), accounting methods, sales tables and your sales targets and company budget controls.
  6. Timetable: When writing your business plan, you will need to focus on ‘forward planning’. This will encompass you projecting a timetable of development …where do you see your company in 5 years for example.

This article gives you an explicit overview of what a business plan should contain. Of course, business models vary and you should be looking to vary the plan to meet the exacting needs of your own business.

In my next article we shall begin attacking each aspect of the business plan in detail beginning with your business aims.

I hope you find this resource useful and remember, taking a week or so to write your small business plan will save you time AND money in the future.

One famous quote to consider is “if you fail to plan, your are planning to fail”.

Write Your Small Business Plan

A small business plan is vital to the success of starting a small business, Faced with writing a small business plan; the panic sets in. Confusion clouds your mind. You wonder where to start.

This is important. It is the outline to how your idea will become reality. Actually, it proves you are serious and you need it if you need finance.

Writing the Feared Business Plan

The screen is blank. Your mind is blank. Really, this is an important part of setting up your business. If you can not put it on paper, how do you make a living from it? Try thinking along these lines and start by mapping out your small business plan. The basic elements all small business plans have are:

- Summary – a one-page overview of your business plan. When your business plan is complete, go through it and summarize it into one page.

- Introduction – Briefly talk about your vision and goals for the business. Write yourself a vision, but avoid the old clich├ęs. Remember to have a beginning, middle and an end.

- Marketing Brief – Analyse the market your business fits into. Who is you target audience? Why target them?

- Marketing Strategy – Talk about how you will attract clients in your demographic. What tools you are going to use to achieve this? Does the internet play a part in this? Do you need a website? Newspaper, television and radio advertising?

- Plan of Operation – This is how you will operate and set-up the business; where it will operate from; business name; legal requirements; and anything else you need to operate your new small business.

- Management Plan – Talk about how you intend to manage your business. Will it operate from home; or rental premises? How will you manage this? What tools and equipment do you need to support your business?

- Financial Plan – How do you intend to finance your dream? Work out your budget and work out the financial projections for the future. This is vital to show potential lenders and investors you have a plan. It gives them a basis to judge whether they should back or lend you money to finance the dream. Be realistic about you projections

Instead of fearing the old business plan, think of it as your friend. The skeleton or backbone to build on. And, remember, this is only one element of starting a small business from scratch.