Tips for Creating a Business Plan You’ll Actually Use

Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking to members of the BrightFire™ business community about writing a business plan.  Having a solid business planbusinessplan will definitely help to boost your sales because it focuses your attention and actions towards achieving your goals.

However, it has occurred to me that most business owners usually fall into at least one of three categories when it comes to business plans:

  1. They never create a business plan to follow.
  2. They write a business plan but they never refer to it.
  3. They have a business plan but they aren’t sure how to use it to grow their business.

Writing a business plan is useless if you don’t use it.  The whole idea behind writing a business plan each year is to actually have a plan that allows you to accomplish what you want instead of flying by the seat of your pants.

A lot of entrepreneurs actually love winging it, but growing a business does require some strategy.  You don’t have to create a super long and boring business plan to be effective.  It can be thirty pages or one page–whatever it takes for you to get a workable plan down.

My goal is to help you get the juices flowing and start thinking about all of the bits and pieces that go into creating an awesome business plan that helps you to increase your sales and build a business that supports your personal and professional goals.

To help you in this endeavor,  here are my top 10 tips for creating a business plan that you will actually use:

1) Re-connect with your personal mission and values.

Running a business is hard work.  Staying connected to why you chose to go into business in the first place is the very first thing to do in order to be successful. Your personal mission is the reason why you’re in business for yourself.

Write down your reason so that you can refer back to it as you plan your year and when the going gets tough.  It is also helpful to use your personal mission and values as a gauge to see if your business is in alignment with you.

Next, write down your top 5 personal values.

2) Re-connect with your business mission and values.

People who sell with a noble purpose and conviction are the best sales-people.  If you really want to increase your revenue, serve more people, and reach your goals, your decisions and actions must be in alignment with your business mission and values.

Now when I say, “mission” I am not talking about a boring corporate mission that means nothing. Your business mission is the reason why your business exists.  If you aren’t sure what this is, ask yourself, “What do I help people to achieve?” Your business mission is the answer to this question.  Write down your business mission and your top 5 values for your business.

3) Re-examine your target market.

Are you going to target the same market in 2014 or doing you need to make some adjustments? Go back and look at who your best clients were this year.  Use the information you know about them to create an ideal client avatar.  Once you have this picture of who your ideal client is, you can figure out the best ways to serve them,  market to them, and sell to them.

4)  Determine your revenue goal.

What is your revenue goal for 2014? You can break this down annually, monthly, weekly, even daily.  Don’t forget to allow for expected business expenses  when you are determining this number.

5) Determine your personal income goal.

Don’t forget to pay yourself and don’t just shoot for paying yourself “leftovers.” Write down your personal income goal for 2014. Again break it down into  workable chunks.

6) Assess your offerings.

Are your packages appealing to your customers? Do you see a gap that needs to be filled?  How do you stack up to the competition? What tweaks do you need to make to your services or products to make them more appealing and more profitable to sell?

7) Do the math.

How many units do you need to sell of each product or service in order to meet your revenue goals? Break it down anually, monthly, weekly, or daily. Using your current conversion rate, determine how many people you need to be selling to (making some sort of offer).  Once you know this number, you will also have an idea of how many people you need to be marketing to.

8) Plug your big marketing events into your calendar.

In addition to an overall general business plan, you need to have a marketing plan in place because this is how you are going to generate leads that will ultimately turn into sales. Include any conferences, sponsorships, expos, speaking gigs, networking events, launches, etc. that you plan to do.

9) Carve out your time off.

All work and no play make you a dull an uninspired business owner.  Put your vacations on your calendar now.  Also, add in any professional development days.  If you don’t plan for time off in advance, you may not get it or you may put unnecessary strain on yourself or your team.  Spontaneity is great, but make sure you have systems in place so things don’t go crazy while you’re off.

10) Update your systems and processes.

Speaking of spontaneity, the more structure you have built into your business, the more spontaneous you can be.  Business owners that follow the “wing it” approach are always a bit overwhelmed and never quite able to relax because a fire is constantly brewing. Always be looking for ways to streamline your business. Doing so will increase your productivity, your profitability, your client satisfaction, and it allows you to focus more on income-generating acitivities and personal time off.

Once you have all of this written out, be sure to post it in a place where you can actually refer to it.  The biggest key to creating an effective business plan is actually using it as a guide.  You don’t have to feel like it is written in stone, everything is flexible.

I would love to hear what you have on your business plan.  Please feel free to leave a comment below.


About Tiffany deSilva

Tiffany deSilva is the founder, CEO, and visionary leader of BrightFire Women’s Business Network, LLC.

BrightFire Women’s Business Network is the premiere sales training and coaching resource for service-based women entrepreneurs who want to increase their sales, serve more people, and change more lives.

Feedback & Comments:

  1. These are excellent tips Tiffany! Thanks for sharing at a time of year when we’re all thinking about next year’s plan!

  2. Great tips Tiffany! I’m glad to see personal time off included and also professional development.

    I also like the idea of reassessing programs and adjusting if needed.

    • Thanks, Trudy! I think it is so important that professionals take time for professional (and personal) development. The best way to make that happen is to be intentional about it and plan for it.

  3. I’m gearing up to create mine this week. I have all of the preliminary work done.

  4. Good tips and love the personal stuff added in there. I start mine with vision boards and go through the process.

  5. Tiffany,
    These are all excellent tips especially when at the end of one year and starting the next one. Regarding your tips #1 and #2, these are so necessary and important to have someone or a group to offer their thoughts, feedback and to question.

  6. The hardest thing for me is carving out the time. I love what I do so much (and there’s SO MUCH to do) that I often find it spilling over into all areas of my life. Thanks for the reminder to corral that and make more defined boundaries.

  7. Heidi Alexandra says:

    Such practical and usable tips Tiffany. I particularly love 8) Plug your big marketing events into your calendar. My team and I just did this at the start of December and it is so good to have the whole year mapped out in advance

  8. Tiffany,
    Solid tips for success. Nicely done!
    Write on!~

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