Planning Is Everything
I’ve been dreaming of traveling across Europe since I was a kid.
You see, during middle school, I developed a passion for travel. I loved the idea of being someplace with a rich culture built on a longstanding history. And it’s not that this doesn’t exist in the US, it’s just more deeply rooted in Europe.
So in 2012, my action-oriented wife, pushed us to book the tickets. And we did! ✈️
We were so excited to be surrounded by different cultures and to see the amazing landmarks that I’ve been dreaming about since middle school. But then reality sank in. How are we going to experience all of these different things?
Without a plan there was no way we could’ve known what we wanted to see, when we wanted to see it, and how we were going to do it.
And truth be told, I have to give full credit to my wife. She’s like a travel agent without the official job title. Without her, there was no way my dreams of seeing half the things we saw would have come true.
From The Louvre in Paris to the Statue of David in Florence, she planned it all. She was able to create an itinerary that allowed us to experience the things we wanted to, while also leaving time to explore locations freely.
And much like planning a dream trip, starting a small business requires planning. That’s why creating a business plan is so important. It lays out the path your business will take and helps you communicate it with those who will go on that adventure with you, be it new team members or potential investors.
“You are twice as likely to grow your business or achieve funding if you have taken the time to write a business plan”
— Small Business Trends
What Is A Business Plan?
A business plan explains what a business’s objectives are, why that business exists to meet those objectives, and how it’s going to achieve them.
Now it’s no guarantee that if you write a well thought out business plan that your business will succeed. But your business is definitely more likely to with a plan.
And I’ll be honest with you, writing one is no easy feat. It requires much effort, time, research, and the willingness to do it.
Start With The SBA
There are a lot of resources out there that help you outline what your business plan should look like.
One of those is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA website contains so much information on starting a small business. From How To Start A Business to a Learning Center for continuing your education.
One of their support pages outlines the different sections you need when writing your business plan. So whether you’re just starting or have already written your plan, it’s beneficial to look through this resource to see if you’ve covered all the necessary information.
And since the SBA outlines the requirements of a business plan I’ll uncover the things that most miss, or don’t spend enough time on, when detailing their own plan.
3 Things To Include In Your Business Plan
1. Use The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is one of the most profound business philosophies discovered within the last couple decades.
Taught by Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker and marketing consultant, the Golden Circle defines how companies and leaders inspire employees and consumers to back their brand.
As seen in the picture, The Golden Circle states that successful leaders and companies express their ideas starting with the why.
Why – The core belief of your company, it’s purpose
How – How your company achieves that core belief
What – What your company does to achieve its belief
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
— Simon Sinek
Each is an important step when writing your business plan, but the most important one is the why.
Simply put, your plan should cover the why behind your business idea. What is the purpose of your business. What does it exist to do? And it can’t just be to sell the most, or have the biggest store, because those are results. Your purpose is deeper than that.
The trick is to define your purpose in an everlasting statement, because as trends in products and services change, your purpose needs to remain eternal.
Let’s consider Snap Inc., the parent company of the popular social media app, Snapchat.
Last week, Snap Inc. made headlines when launching their IPO (Initial Public Offering), and closing their first day with over 50% of the profit.
Snap Inc. has three products:
Snapchat, the social network that allows people to share images and videos through an app available on most smartphones.
Bitmoji, which allows people to create cartoon versions of themselves.
And Spectacles, which are a pair of smartglasses that allow users to record photos and videos from their point-of-view and share them using the Snapchat app.
So what is Snap’s everlasting purpose? Well conveniently enough, they display their purpose on their homepage:
“Snap Inc. is a camera company.
We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.
Our products empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.”
Snap exists to connect people in interesting ways. And we know this because of their constant evolution in their field.
This is why their stock is doing so well, and some are even hailing Snap Inc. as the next Facebook. Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, no matter what plans Snap has to expand and grow they will always focus on connecting people in interesting ways.
That’s why it’s important to understand your company’s purpose.
Understanding your purpose and including it in your business plan serves as a commitment and a reminder for you and your team to live up to your ever evolving idea. And the most successful businesses create products and services that all originate from their purpose.
2. Figure Out The Start-To-Finish Logistics
The next thing to include in your business plan is Start-To-Finish Logistics, which really boils down to your Product and Customer Journey.
Product Journey – the path of your product from creation to sales
Customer Journey – the path your customers go through in order to buy and use the product
Your plan should already include a product description, but most businesses don’t thoroughly detail what happens before, during, and after your product goes to market.
Below are important things to detail in your plan.
Necessary materials and costs
The cost to assemble your product
Delivery to your location and how you’ll store it
How it will be displayed
How your customer will learn about your product
How will they buy it
What your team will use to sell it (Website, POS system, Delivery)
How is it delivered and enjoyed
Where your customer can get support or ask questions about your product
It’s crucial to fully understand each step in your product’s journey so that it can be relayed to team members and possible investors. The more you can confidently speak about the journey, the more people around you will buy into your idea.
“86% of senior-level marketers say that it’s absolutely critical or very important to create a cohesive customer journey”
3. Utilize True Marketing
The last thing you want to include in your business plan is what we call True Marketing.
True Marketing is a culmination of four marketing elements.
Consider including these four elements when writing your plan:
How you make your customers feel
Tell the story of your business
Focus on the details in each
Build a company culture
All four are important when building your plan and understanding these allows you to better market your business.
Consumers love to know the story behind their products, and they also love feeling culturally connected to the companies that created them. Companies like Apple and Disney do this incredibly well.
And telling your story in a way which builds your company culture takes a lot of focus. A focus on the details can make or break the way consumers feel about your company.
“Storytelling is the game. It’s what we all do. It’s why Nike is Nike, it’s why Apple is Apple, it’s why Walt Disney built Disney World, and it’s why Vince McMahon makes a billion dollars.”
— Gary Vaynerchuk
(If you haven’t yet, check out one of our recent blog posts about storytelling – 5 Ways To Make Your Brand Story Unforgettable)
All four elements go hand-in-hand with your customer journey. Including these in your business plan will show others that you’ve thoroughly thought about your business, its purpose, and how it will fit in your customers’ lives.
Have you written a business plan? What was your experience when writing it? Did you include the three things I spoke about above? Express your thoughts in the comments below.
A Business Plan Doubles Your Chances for Success, Says a New Survey, Small Business Trends
5 Ways To Make Your Brand Story Unforgettable, by Arthur Goodman of RedFork Marketing
Snap IPO: Why It May Be The Next Facebook, MarketWatch
Apple, Nike And The Art Of Storytelling, LinkedIn
Start With Why, Simon Sinek
Small Business Administration, U.S. Government