Quick, Easy, Effective Business Planning

Someone from the WorldChangingBusiness Community shared with me that her biggest challenge right now is business planning.

Since I find that many business owners struggle with this, I thought I’d share with you my suggestions to her.

Enjoy!

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The business planning piece can be tricky.

As a former strategic consultant, I’ve experienced all sorts of extremes with business planning.  These days, I find that short and sweet trumps all else.  At least, that’s where to begin.

The problem with more detailed business planning from the start is “analysis paralysis.” You can spend years thinking out all possible scenarios and trying to capture every possible idea in your heat. Years will go by and you’re still trying to perfect your plan.

The reality is, and everyone who has ever used a business plan knows this, that it all changes once you get moving anyway.

What causes a business plan to change? New opportunities, challenges in the market place, new creative urges, and other unexpected situations occur that affect your business plan — often times for the better.  These unexpected factors make detailed business planning, from the start, quite pointless.

Project planning, on the other hand, is different. Once you commit to starting a project in the present time, it’s a good idea to flush out the details of it.  And always include a detailed budget. When it comes to project planning, I take the total opposite approach and plan things down to the detail.

But my recommendation is to put off the detailed planning until you are actually ready to start working on a specific project in you business plan. In other words, don’t create a detailed plan today for a project that won’t start for 6 months.

My suggestion would be to boil down your business plan to the following:

  1. Set the time line for your business plan (1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 5-year?)
  2. Set 2-4 primary objectives for the specified time line — aka, What do you want to accomplish in your stated time line?
  3. Break each objective down into manageable goals (no details on the goals, just the goals written clearly and concisely in one sentence each)
  4. A 1-page time line (below is an example of a 12-month map, but you could easily do the same for a 2-, 3-, or 5-year map)
  5. A organization chart, depicting the team needed to complete the goals and objectives, with short descriptions (2-3 sentences) of each role (This isn’t needed if it’s just you working on your business)
  6. A quick budget (about 1-2 Pages)
    1. Start up costs
    2. Ongoing monthly expenses
    3. Ongoing annual expanses

Example Time Line

Example Time Line

The “Example Time Line” above shows which projects are being worked on when.  The projects are the ones listed under each objective.

Thus, at the beginning of each project is where detailed project planning would occur.

Now of course, this is a business plan for internal use (and not for enrolling investors), but this will help you get it all down in a nutshell.  It can be the starting place for a business plan you create for investors.

With a business plan like this you can quickly get moving, as there will not be a need for detailed planning until it’s time to focus on each specific project (as laid out in your 1-page time line).

I have a business plan like this that I use and update every week. It makes it incredibly simple to stay on track because it’s short and sweet.


Hope this is helpful!

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One Response to “Quick, Easy, Effective Business Planning”

  1. Lyn Bowker Says:

    Thank you Coco for this really helpful and easy to follow information. I no longer feel stopped by the task of creating my business plan!

    Keeping things simple also helps my creative energy flow, and my “business head” clear for bringing my possibilities into focus.

    Warm regards,
    Lyn Bowker – Sydney Australia.

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