All great business plans start with an idea.
Whether it’s a new product, strategy or general direction, that idea won’t become a reality unless there’s a practical plan to go with it.
Fortunately, building and executing your business plan isn’t a challenge if you know the best way to get started.
Business Planning in 3 Easy Steps
There are many different steps and variations of business plans, from extremely complex to simple. If you’re developing something from scratch, you can be just as successful with a basic plan.
Here are three easy ways to execute your business plan to perfection.
1. Define realistic goals
Before you get to the how, you need to understand the what. It may seem like common sense, but you can’t execute a successful business plan if you don’t clearly know what you are trying to achieve. Follow a SMART goal framework. Develop a set of business aspirations that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. This will help you narrow down your end goal so you can make a realistic plan to get there.
If you’re unsure about the SMART goal you should be setting for your business, do some research. Consider current market conditions, the overall health and outlook of your company, industry trends and evaluate what your competitors are doing.
2. Take it one plan at a time
One of the major reasons businesses fail to properly execute their business plans is trying to do too much. You might have several different plans for your organization. Sure, you can work on multiple plans at once, but it will probably take you longer to get them accomplished because your team won’t be focusing on a singular goal.
As an example, imagine you have four business plans that would each take three months to complete if they are the only things being work on. If you have your team work on all four at once (let’s say they spend one week on each plan each month) you will complete all four of your plans at once, but it will take roughly a year to complete. Now imagine your team works on one plan at a time. It will still take you a year to complete all four, but you would finish the first in three months, the second after six months and so forth.
Establish priorities so you can focus on completing one plan, and then turn your attention to another. 2020 was a perfect example of the need to stay nimble and adapt to whatever the market throws at you. Many businesses who were using the SMART goal methodology were able to adjust their goals to address their specific market needs such as:
- Revenue sources: The COVID-19 pandemic shut down or significantly slowed the economy for most businesses. This meant that to stay alive many businesses needed to create alternate revenue channels as a primary goal to focus on.
- Cost centers: A secondary goal needed to be reducing costs across the organization to handle the loss of revenue. Each department could have a goal of finding ways to cut or reduce costs.
- Customer confidence & cybersecurity: Lastly, customers became more decerning with their purchases due to things like economic confidence and the threat of cyber crime that was ramped during the pandemic. Businesses needed to get the message out that their remote team members were using security best practices such as virtual private networks when interacting or handling sensitive customer information.
3. Optimize goals based on what works and what doesn’t
When you develop your SMART goal, you’ll be picking something that measurable. Stay on top of those key performance indicators (KPIs). Find out what processes are working and wash, rinse and repeat. If you discover something isn’t working, make adjustments. There’s no sense dedicating more of your time and energy into a failing system.
Don’t be afraid to change tactics if you’re not getting the results you’d expect. Your goal should remain the same (unless you determine there’s absolutely no way you’re going to reach it), but reevaluate how you want to get there.
Customize Your Business Plan to Your Business
Every business is different, and therefore every business plan will be different too. But, if you follow the three steps previously outlined, you’ll be on your way to achieving your unique goals.
Matt Shealy is a seasoned marketer and technologist working with technology powerhouses like SAP and Campaign Monitor. As an entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience, Matt has built companies like ChamberofCommerce.com and SwayyEm from inception to acquisition.
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