Getting Started with a Business Plan

The foundation of a business, whether it is a new business or an existing business, should be a business plan.  It is surprising how many people open businesses (including me!) without only a vague plan trapped in their heads.  I am happy to say that I now have a written business plan.  I have found it immensely helpful.  Not only does it keep all my ideas from swirling around in my head hoping to get expressed and implemented, but it gives me a road map to follow and a way to measure my success and challenges.

However, by far the hardest part of any business plan is starting it.  Before you even put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, you have some work to do.  You have to decide where it is you want to go.  What was helpful for me is to imagine where I want my business to be in three years.  I didn’t worry about what was possible, prudent or silly.  I created my perfect business in my imagination.  Where it would be, what furniture my office would have, who I’d be working with, how much time I could take off, what equipment I would have, all the large and small details.  You might not have to get that creative, but I’d been in business for several years by the time I actually had a plan.  For me it was a way to get in touch with why I’d done it in the first place.  You may not have to get so detailed. You may want a certain income level (though if that’s your only criteria –get more creative), or only needing to work a certain number of hours per week.  You might desire only one type of client or several business units.  It doesn’t matter what it is, but you have to know what it is that you want.  You don’t plan a vacation without deciding on a destination, you shouldn’t start a business plan without some idea of where you want to go.

So before you even start your business plan, decide what it is you want with as much detail as possible.  If you aren’t passionate about the destination, you certainly won’t be thrilled with the trip.