1. Establish your mission. Your mission statement explains why your company exists. When you encounter a problem or a key decision, the answer will be informed by your mission. Think about why you started the company, what needs of the marketplace you aim to satisfy, and imagine where you want your business to be in the future. These elements will provide your mission statement.
2. Analyse your SWOT. With your mission in mind, analyse your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. List each category in full and be honest. Done correctly, this ‘SWOT’ analysis will help you to take an objective, critical, unemotional look at your business in its entirety.
3. Develop a plan. Try this exercise: from each SWOT category, choose three to five important items. Then set goals to maximise your strengths, correct your weaknesses, make the most of your opportunities and nullify your threats. For example, you could decide to focus more strongly on a particularly successful product or service (a strength), and abandon a side-project which is costing time and money for little return (a weakness). Remember that you can’t do everything yourself. Think about how you will delegate tasks and involve all the staff. Avoid dwelling on the negatives – set yourself realistic strategies for improving the business.
4. Create a budget. All missions and strategies need adequate financial resources to succeed. A smart budget will help you to regularly review your expenses and make financially beneficial decisions. You may need to take a wide variety of factors into account when setting your budget.
5. Put it in writing. Make sure you write down your finished plan. Include the mission statement, SWOT analysis, goals and plans, budget and forecasts, and make it clear who is responsible for doing what. Share it with your key staff and shareholders, and encourage their input.
6. Make it a living document. This step is vital! Make your business plan a living document that you and your staff can frequently update and improve. Consider reviewing it monthly to track your progress and readjust your strategy as necessary. Hold yourself and your staff accountable for meeting the plan’s goals, and think about introducing an incentive programme to keep everyone motivated.
This post was brought to you by Claudia Graham at Companies Made Simple
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