Who do you want to help or serve with your business? What issue or problem does your product or service solve? What is the composite of the profile of the members of your target audience? What do these questions have to do with business planning?
In Starting to Plan
All of the above questions need to be answered directly or indirectly in some part of the plan that identifies your business strategy. At some point, the plan needs to be as detailed as possible and written even if it is not written initially. A record needs to be made of ideas that are attempted that were unsuccessful because of market timing or lack of resources.
Start a checklist that is expanded from the executive summary draft. On the checklist, make sure that you include information that is needed for funding sources. Information needed for making decisions for starting, developing and growing the business should also be included. “As texts that represent a given organization’s strategy, strategic plans are of course specific to that organization, and yet the notion has a generic quality that draws on shared institutional understandings of what such a text should include (its substance), how it should be structured (its form) and what it is intended to achieve (its communicative purposes)” (Cornut, Giroux & Langley, 2012, 22). Keep in mind that time spent in business planning could make the difference between a successful business venture and one the struggles and eventually fails. Be prepared to do research to find needed information. Remember if all you do is copy what everyone else is doing you may risk ending up with only the level of success of everyone else.
Identify the personal brand of the CEO in order to insure that it is in line with the business brand. The vision and mission should show its relationship to the target market in the marketing message that is cohesive on the web and in printed materials like mailing pieces, letterhead and business cards.
The master copy of the business plan will include information and sections that may not be contain in other versions for some audiences. The purpose of having a plan that includes everything is to create a resource to be shared with specific audiences for specific purposes at the appropriate time. There may be a risk in sharing the entire plan to the wrong audience. Therefore, it will be necessary to cut some of the information out of the plan according to the audience for which it is intended.
Work in process
The business plan of a thriving business is expected to be forever changing to reflect the current operating activities of the business based on what ideas have been tried and adjusted to best serve the stakeholders of the firm. When the business plan stops being a changeable document, the business is endanger of stopping its growth and development processes.
Cornut, F., Giroux, H. & Langley, A. (2012).The strategic plan as a genre. Discourse & Communication, 6, 1, 21-54.