A “short” Version Business Plan

When you started your business hopefully you wrote a business plan. If you did not, you can create a short version of a business plan now. While writing a business plan helps you prepare for the initial start-up phase and the first few years of operations at some point it becomes outdated. Many business owners will update their business plans once a year, which is a great exercise. However, if you did not write an initial plan or do not want to take the time to update your entire plan, there is another option – a shorter version, generally one or possibly two pages.
This shorter-version business plan can include items that are important for your business. There are many templates available, but I recommend creating a document that makes sense for your business so that you will actually use it on a regular basis.
When writing this short business plan consider the following sections:

  1. Vision/Mission. When you started your business did you create Vision and Mission statements? If so, copy/paste them into this document so you can easily refer to them. Does the Vision or Mission need to be updated? Or do you need to re-evaluate how your business is following the original Vision and Mission? If you did not write a Vision or Mission, go ahead and create them now. The Vision Statement is more about the big picture – what do you want to accomplish.
    The Mission Statement is about why the company exists, i.e., what is it that you are trying to accomplish with the services or products the business offers. Many Mission Statements include a brief declaration regarding employees, customers, and/or the community.
  2. Product/Service Summary. Since many businesses are constantly changing their business offerings, it would be a good idea to include 2-3 sentences within the document that summarize the product/services you are offering. A business plan Executive Summary includes this information too, it is the basis for everything else in your document.
  3. Target Market/Competitors. In this competitive environment it might make sense to re-evaluate your target market. Are the demographics of your customers the same as they were 18-24 months ago? If not, how would you describe your current customer? What about your competition? Have new competitors entered the market? How have they changed the way you attract or retain your customers? Have any competitors left the market or changed their focus? What were some reasons for them doing so? Can you gain insights as to how their exit might impact your business, either good or bad?
  4. Tactical Goals. What are some tasks or projects that you want to complete within the next 9-12 months? For example, obtain XX number of new clients or XXX number of quality Twitter followers. Maybe you want to open XX number of new locations or add XX number of new products to your retail mix. The objectives should be measurable and realistic. You’ll use this information to create your strategies and plans.
  5. Long-term Strategies. What are the long-term goals of your business? What types of activities will help you move from where you are today to that goal in 3-5 years? If you are a sole-preneur, would you like to add employees? If so, what would that look like for you and your business. If you have a retail operation, have you considered moving to a bigger location or adding stores? Think about what your business should look like in 3-5 years and create both long-term and short-term objectives to help you get there.

Remember to include a summary of the action steps you will take to achieve your objectives. For example, let’s say you want to attract 10 new clients for your coaching program. What types of activities could you engage in that might drive clients to your program? Establish Teleseminars, create a referral program or book speaking engagements/seminars. Where do you currently find your clients? Use that information to determine what activities you should be participating in to drive business to your door.

A short (or single page) business plan is easy to create. When you don’t have time to update your regular business plan, this is a great alternative. You can create these types of plans for different divisions, departments or product/service lines. Update your business plan at least once per year or when a major change occurs in your business or marketplace.

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