The idea that ‘no plan is the best plan’ can be good when applied to a road trip or spontaneous ‘walk-about’. However, when applying this concept to starting a business, “winging it” could quickly result in failure or being outperformed within the marketplace. Starting and operating a business requires a clear and concise step-by-step process outlined in a plan.
Consider the experience of going grocery shopping without a list. We find ourselves walking aimlessly through aisles trying to recognize what it is we need- only to get home and realize all of the items we forgot. The list makes the process efficient, faster and successful. A business plan keeps us from wandering aimlessly while trying to recognize what it is we want to do.
In addition to creating direction and focus, writing down a plan increases the chances of following through. The process of writing things down makes them more real in our minds and establishes our investment in the process, making us more likely to execute and succeed. Psychologists suggest that when we write something down it becomes more permanent, rarely forgotten and serves as a constant reminder; the proverbial cloud over our head.
Despite the importance of a plan many businesses start and operate without one. In fact, many business people, including executives and marketing professionals, don’t know how to write one.
The basic business plan can be quite simple. Rest assured that additional plans and budgets evolve along the way to adjust accordingly to growth. All plans begin with a very specific goal and in most cases one as simple as “make money selling X”. A goal should not be interpreted like the vague resume objective- someone seeking just about anything.
Once the goal is established objectives are fleshed out. Three to four diverse objectives are a good and manageable way to start. Here are some objectives’ examples for a new business owner who wants to launch Product X in various marketplaces;
- Retail Outlet Sales
- Web Based Sales
- Sales Rep. Sales
- Trade Show Sales
Creative and effective strategies applied towards the fulfillment of each objective will become the body that gives life to your goal. The types of strategies used are what truly separates one plan from another and therefore one business from another. The ability to take a step back and look at the “big picture” will result in a powerful plan. Strategy is where marketing professionals prove their worth.
Don’t be discouraged if a business product or service already exists; it often comes down to the best business plan and strategy that determines who outperforms the other. May the best plan win.