The best business plan in the world: That’s what every frustrated business owner wants. A step-by-step plan for effectively managing and growing their business to untold levels of prosperity.
Our very own Miami Herald, I'm proud to say, hosts a phenomenal business plan challenge every year, and offers free support workshops such as last week’s Business Plan Boot Camp presented by Melissa Krinzman and other judges of the challenge. The deadline for submission to this year’s 2014 Business Plan Challenge is April 5. I encourage everyone to participate. For contest rules, visit www.MiamiHerald.com/challenge.
While there are a number of readily available resources providing decades of research and study on the topic of how to write a winning business plan, this week I will share with you the undisputed best business plan you could ever hope to have. I know this may sound too good to be true, but it is not. The business plan I will reference at the end of this column will guide you and your organization to the top!
But before I reveal this plan, I would like to share with you a summary of what the so-called “experts” have to say about the basic components involved in the development of a business plan:
Executive summary (one or two pages): The executive summary is perhaps the most important section of a business plan because it communicates what your business is all about, and why you feel your business will be successful. While the Executive Summary is the first thing your audience will read, it should be the last thing you write, as it will summarize the strengths of your plan.
Business description (two or three pages): This is the section where you will expand on details such as business form — whether proprietorship, partnership or corporation; the licenses or permits required to operate; business type, such as manufacturing, service or retail. Let your audience know whether this is a new venture or an expansion. Describe why your business will be profitable and highlight the opportunities for growth.
Products and services (one or two pages): Describe your products and/or services. Explain how you will structure your price points. Be sure to communicate how your products and/or services create value for, and establish connections with, your customers.
Marketing plan (two or three pages): Identify your market demographically. How big is it? Who are your direct and indirect competitors? Describe your customers. Are they other businesses or individuals? Develop strategies for effectively reaching your target market.
Management and organization (two or three pages): Provide an organizational chart. Who will manage the day-to-day operations? Delineate the difference between process flow and hierarchy.
Financial plan (one or two pages): The financial plan consists of a projection of costs and income over 12 months. List your expenses, determine how much capital you will need for operations and how you plan to obtain financing. Explain in detail how investors will be paid as the business grows.
Best business plan
It’s time to reveal the best business plan in the world, so here it is: The best business plan is the one you commit to — and actually implement and use consistently. Period. The reason so many business owners are frustrated, and why so many companies fail to reach their maximum potential, is not for lack of resources on how to write a winning business plan — in fact, many businesses have a plan … somewhere — it’s because they simply fail to consistently implement their plan or they fail to update it to ensure its relevance.
A recent experience reminded me of this important lesson: Last week, I took my 15-year-old son to the dermatologist to treat his latest eczema outbreak. While the doctor wrote the prescription, I looked at my son and said, “You realize that this will only work if you use it … and according to the instructions, right?” You see, he has a collection of lotions and potions that have been prescribed over the years that clutter the top of his dresser, and each one was purchased with the promise that it will work to clear his chafed elbows and knees. But all too often, he “forgets” to use the prescriptions or he will use them sporadically … and then he’ll just stop — and we inevitably end up back at the dermatologist looking for yet another solution.
The same applies with the road map for your business. The fact is there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan for everyone. Use the resources readily available at www.MiamiHerald.com/challenge and prepare your own plan. Chances are that it will be the best business plan in the world for your business — but only if you use it consistently and as prescribed!