“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination”. Earl Nightingale

New Year’s resolutions may sound cliche but experts say that writing down your goals, creating a course of action, and creating or updating your business plan is a road map to  success.  You may have prepared your Business Plan years ago, but do you remember what’s in it?   I say this because all too often entrepreneurs will make the mistake of creating a business plan only to file it away to collect dust (that was me).

In general, entrepreneurs are people that enjoy creating good business ideas. Some entrepreneurs are lucky enough to have good ideas and good timing, which can greatly accelerate you down the happy highway.  It seems like that “wow factor” is all anyone needs in business, but unfortunately that’s not always true. That “wow factor” does not guarantee continued success.

Create a Good Business Plan 

  

As an entrepreneur if you don’t have a business plan, create a good one.  It is important to document all of your creative thoughts; write down everything, draw some sketches and then start doing some research around your business idea, product or service — then compare that to the marketplace.  There’s an ocean of information on the internet, so take time until you find your niche.  For me, it started with the #1 question; who is your customer?  Give this simple question a lot of consideration because the answer is not as obvious as you might think.  The volume of information that’s available on the internet is overwhelming, so I’ve included a handy checklist from the Small Business Administration office that can be a useful guide to help you stay focused along the way.

In 2015  I  went through the process of creating my business plan. I realized I was turning my dream into a reality, but I wasn’t really sure if the concept was complete.  Agreed, spending time on research was a tedious process, but there is long term value in it.  Your business plan is not only a foundation to starting your business, but a document that needs nurturing for the growth and success of your business. This is something I did not consider until I was introduced to a new exercise.

An Exercise that works like a GPS System 

Last week I attended a Bootstrappers Breakfast meeting and participated in a short exercise where I described just 4 key components of my business plan.  It turned out to be an exercise that worked  like a honing device or GPS system – effortlessly direct me to areas of my Business Plan that  needed updating!  Here are the questions to ask yourself:

  • Customer – define your customer
  • Need – what service do they need
  • Benefit – what is the benefit received
  • Traction – how do I measure success

Completing the exercise was also a good reminder that my Business Plan is a “live” document that needs time and attention.  It prompted a question, “why don’t I review this important document more often when it helps me run my business and it helps me make the necessary adjustments as things change in my world? “I can use the exercise intermittently, but it’s not a replacement for updating my Business Plan as things change.

If you choose to do this exercise, it takes only 10-15 minutes.  You’ll soon discover if you are on track with your business. It may surprise you how many things have changed since you first wrote it.  And, if you don’t already have a Business Plan, this exercise may inspire you to write one.  I hope so.

January is a perfect time to write down your goals, create a new course of action, learn new tools, make new connections and update your business plan.

Today you can get a jump start on these processes.  Please join me January 26th at a Bootstrappers Breakfast meeting.  Here’s a link to register.  Add the meeting to your calendar — and don’t forget to put the address to your GPS system!

Three times a month at three different locations a friendly group of like minded entrepreneurs meet to discuss and resolve business issues.   You are always welcome to attend.  It’s not fun to go it alone.

“On the road to success there is absolutely no room for criticism of self or others. Insecurity and fear masquerade as jealousy and judgment. Finding faults in others wastes time as we attempt to remove the bricks from other people’s foundations – time that could be better spent building our own. And worrying about what other people think about us also wastes the time that could be better spent expanding upon what we have built.”   Alaric HutchinsonLiving Peace