Five years ago, I barely knew what a business plan was. I definitely had no idea how to write one. And then it was one of my assignments in a new position.
I spent a lot of time on that first business plan, a model on how to grow an office that I managed. I wrote the plan, updated it quarterly, followed the steps, and the business grew. I wasn’t quite sure why it worked, but my boss required it, so I did it.
Business plans are an important part of evaluating a business idea. There are many reasons to take the time to put one together. They can help you, the manager or owner see the reality of what work needs to be done, who the competition is, who the potential partners are and how much money can really be made in the business.
I will be the first to say writing a business plan isn’t always easy. I tried to write a business plan for a small department in a large company. And I stumbled. I just couldn’t figure it out when I wasn’t the one in charge of making all of the decisions. Things stayed status quo, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I decided I wanted to open my own firm, I started my first draft business plan. I wrote it in under 45 minutes. I followed it for all of the steps for start up. My initial prediction of costs wasn’t too far off, and the steps launched me into a good spot, six weeks in to my business.
In January, while mapping out my goals for the year, I revisited the idea of a business plan. I tried to write an updated plan, with all of my goals, and then tasks for accomplishing those goals. I didn’t feel comfortable with it. Three weeks into really starting my business, I still felt like the answer to the key question: “how do I find clients?” hadn’t been answered.
I wondered if I had my plan going in the right direction. I wondered if my business idea was sound. I reminded myself to be patient, because few new businesses are extremely successful in month 1. It takes time to become what you want to be.
Then I read about Enloop. This web-based program helps you write a business plan. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and answer the question. The program does the rest. You can create one plan for free, and can upgrade for additional plans, options and features.
I spent the last week re-writing my plan. I’ve copied and pasted bits and pieces of the first two plans I wrote, and I have created some all new information. Yesterday, I stumbled across a sample lawyer marketing plan that I think I need to adapt and add to my plan. It feels like this business plan thing is starting to come together — really giving me a true roadmap to follow.
You know I like a plan, a task list, and a clear vision. Enloop has really helped me find the way.
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