The 24-hour Business Plan
Building a business plan can be a daunting task. Who has the time? Who really needs one – you’re bootstrapping afterall and aren’t looking for funding. If you think that you don’t need a business plan, you’re sorely mistaken. Every company needs some sort of vision, some idea of what their selling to their customers, some idea about how they're going to fund the company, etc…
Here’s a secret though – putting together your business plan doesn’t have to entail months of tortured exercises or cost thousands of dollars for someone else to do it for you. And, what’s even better, you can do it in less than 24-hours.
Now, this isn’t the plan that’s going to garner you $350M in funding, but it is something that you can accomplish in a short period of time that helps to crystallize the thinking around your company / brand. It is something that you can use to rally your internal team and make sure that everyone’s on the same page. And it is something that you can use everyday as a framework for your decision-making process.
Here are the core components – the 5 Cs as I like to call them
Company: You need to provide a brief description of your company, it’s goals and it’s mission. The mission part is critical. It should be aspirational in nature, simple (no five paragraph mission statements here) and memorable. This is what you want people to remember your company for.
Customers: Who is your customer? And no, it cannot be the entire world. As wonderful as your product or service is, it’s not right for everyone, but it is PERFECT for someone. Describe that in as much detail as you can, demographics (age, nationality), attitudes, beliefs, behaviors. The better you know your customer, the better you can ensure that you’re targeting them appropriately when it comes time to reach them.
Competition: This is something that so many companies just glaze over, but you really should conduct a thorough competitive analysis. To the degree that you can, find out about your competitors customers, their products or services, how they market and promote themselves, what their revenue model looks like, how their pricing is structured. Not all of this is easy to come by, but you’d be amazed what you can find just by doing a Google search. I’m always so amazed at what people post to Slideshare.
Competencies: Every company has competencies – those are the things that you’re good at. Ideally, these are the very things that make you stand out to your customers and differentiate you from your competition. What do you uniquely bring to the table? It could be people, intellectual property, relationships, etc...
Cash: This is where you include your projected financials – your income statement, balance sheet, etc… You want to show where / how cash is flowing into (and out of) your business. If you haven’t put together formal financial projections, include a brief description of your revenue model and what (how long) it will take for you to break even (assuming that you’ve made an investment in your business).
That’s it. You’re done. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Write those 5 things down. Share them with your team. Frame them and put them on your desk or on the wall in your office. Revisit your plan on a quarterly basis and refresh as needed.
About Melissa Wildstein
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Motivation, education, and strategization of how to get the word out about your business. And words of encouragement because what you're building is big!