When it comes to writing business plans, many business owners spend hours, days, and even weeks writing it (depending on the type of business plan they need).Then, this giant, heart felt document makes its way into a filing cabinet, deep within a desk drawer, or stuffed away into a an external harddrive, to never be seen again. This is a problem! A business plan is a document that outlines the tools, maps, and strategies necessary for your business to grow! You have already done the research, you may as well apply it! Otherwise, you could spend years going… nowhere. So, we want to help you understand how to use the business plan!
Hang it on your wall!
It is so much easier to go in a direction if you can always see where you need to go. Think about it, back when Google Maps was not an app on a phone, very few people could look at a map once and memorize every single turn they need to take to make it to their destination. (Especially when going long distances)! Often, people would map it out, write down the directions, and keep both the map and their directions at arms length while driving. Even today, when using Apple or Google Maps, people often look at the “trip overview” to get an idea as to where they are going AND listen to the step by step directions in real time. The point is, we have to reference a map to get to where we need to go!
This is similar to a business plan! A business plan is like a map to guide you towards your end destination (goal). Now, could you make it without referencing a map? Sure! But it will likely take a lot longer, require unnecessary u-turns, or bumpy back roads.
So make sure your business plan is somewhere you can reference it… often. We even suggest hanging it on your wall or somewhere that you look at every day. Now do not worry, we are not expecting you to tack a multi-page document up on your wall. Which leads us to the next tip to actually use the business plan!
Condense the Plan into One Page
If you want to actually put your business plan to use, condense it into a single page. (At most, two pages… so it can fit on one sheet of paper!) We suggest adding the following to this bite-size plan:
- Vision — Where do you want to go and what do you want to become?
- Mission — Why do you exist? What do you offer that makes you different from your competition?
- Objectives – List out ten different measurable/trackable areas that you can measure in your business that can show growth?
- Strategies – What do you need to implement in order to hit your objectives?
- Action Items – What do you need to do on a certain time frame (in a week, month, or year) to hit your objectives?
Pro Tip: The Book Traction by Gino Wickman gives some great tips on how to write a condensed business plan!
By condensing your business plan into these five sections, you will easily be able to reference it and see where you need to go at any given moment. This will also help you uncover potholes that you may not have seen at the beginning, or recognize when to pivot if/when things are not working out. Thus, you can use the business plan to your advantage!
Update it Yearly
The best way to use the business plan is to update it on a yearly basis. (Sometimes even on a quarterly basis depending on how fast you knock out the action items.) Think of the business plan as a living document. As you grow, the plan will grow, pivot, gain new ideas, and shed old and antiquated systems!
Back to the map reference, routes are constantly changing as new developments and roads are added. Think about how bad traffic would be if highways would never expand!
You spent so much time writing it, now it is time for you to use the business plan! So make sure it is living in a place that you will see it often. Condense it into a page (or at most, one sheet of paper). And lastly, update it! That way, you can always make sure that you are staying on a course, or when and how to change courses when needed!