Making the Business Plan Stronger

What’s on the iPod: It’s Time by Imagine Dragons

Don’t forget: I’m having a SALE on my ebook Marketing 365 — buy now and get it for just $5.95! That’s nearly 40 percent off! Click on the link to the right of this post, type in the discount code, and treat yourself to a gift that can help you build a better business.
Go on — spend five bucks and some change on yourself!

freelance, writing, marketingSad day yesterday — we attended a funeral for Mr. Squeakers, my daughter’s hamster, who lived a 3 1/2 year life. That’s just a bit longer than usual for a hamster. She was devastated, for this was her college “roomie” pet. He’d traveled across the state in the back seat of her car on breaks, vacations, etc. Mr. Squeakers is now running on that big wheel in the sky.

I saw this as I was browsing the press releases for article ideas (a habit that’s paid off more than once):

Experts Now Say a Strong Business Plan Can Make the Difference Between Success and Failure for Entrepreneurs in a Slow Economy (link to the whole release here).

Basically, the release is agreeing with us. A business plan is a good start to a successful business.

Alas, what the release does not say, however, is that in order for the plan to work, you have to actually use it once in a while.

So once you write it, remember this:

Business plans are living documents. Don’t let it die in your file folder somewhere. Take it out once a month and read it. See what applies, what doesn’t anymore, what changes you need to make, what you should be doing that you’ve forgotten to do, etc.

It’s okay to revise those goals. Nothing is as demotivating as a plan that aims way too high too quickly. Suppose you’re in the business for about a year. Your goal of earning $150,000 in your second year? That may be too high (unless you’re some kind of marketing genius, in which case more power to you). The first month you don’t meet that monthly goal, you’re going to be discouraged and want to forget the plan entirely (or maybe even the career). Don’t. Instead, revisit the goals and maybe amend them to be a bit more realistic.

If you’ve written it, it’s worth a shot. Don’t think of this as a document that will never see the light of day. This is your business schematic, your road map to reaching those goals and targeted earnings. If you’ve thought enough about each aspect to include them in your plan, do those aspects justice by trying them out.

Don’t give up until you’ve given it a good run. Give yourself a targeted amount of time you’ll try each marketing or operational part — sometimes failure comes from lack of sticking with it. For every 300 emails you send out, you may get just one response. That’s one you didn’t have before you tried, right?

Feel free to add more if your interests or opportunities change. Please don’t turn down work because it’s not in your plan! If it’s an area that interests you, go for it. And when you take out that plan for review again, make sure to explore how this new area can turn into more opportunity.

If you’ve written a plan before, how often to you revisit it? What sorts of changes to you make to it?

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  • Devon Ellington December 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I find quarterly stock-taking is a good idea, definitely midyear, if nothing else.

    I often find what I thought I wanted and what I really want are two different things, and make that adjustment.

  • Lori December 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Good point, Devon. There are things on my own business plan that, six months later, didn't seem so important after all. 🙂

  • Paula December 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    What do you think it is about a written business plan that makes it work better than an a plan not committed to paper?

    Maybe it's the whole "committed" part – even if you don't look at your business plan on a regular basis, because it's in writing it's harder to ignore?

    I usually have a plan – special things I want to accomplish or areas I want to expand into – but have never actually put it in writing. Maybe I'll try that for 2013.

  • Lori December 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Paula, it's partly the process of writing it down. If you're committing it to paper, you're actively thinking about it as opposed to "ideas" that may be forgotten. It is harder to ignore, as you suggest. And it cements some action plan in your mind, as well.

    Try it. You may come up with more ideas as you're writing. 🙂

  • Brent Machido February 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Always make your plan feasible and don't forget to put it into work. A week or a month testing the new business plan won't hurt especially when it's carefully thought of.

  • Mia Richards February 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    When I was in Calgary, I stumble upon a web design company that practices a great business plan. Their plan and you post share similar details. They are successful in their field so I suppose that your list is effective.

  • Tyler Yates March 13, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Always make sure that the company has been turned up into a protection plan or program, just in case it experiences a fall out in the corporation. In this way, the establishment is rest assured that they could manage standing up on it no matter what.