Using Your Business Plan
Growing your business is an exciting, and at the same time can be an overwhelming experience. Having written and prepared your business plans for the next five years, you now need to implement them.
One of the traps that many business owners fall into is taking short cuts. The reality is that there are no shortcuts to success. There are no ‘get-rich-overnight’ schemes that truly work (apart from the lottery). The plan you now have is your detailed map taking you from where you are to where you want to be. Don’t try and skip a step in the hope that you will reach success faster.
Another important consideration for any business is how it manages the tasks that need to be done to achieve its goals. Most often, this means that a new business starting out is restricted to one or two people doing ALL the tasks that a business has – being the bookkeeper, the cleaner, the receptionist, the managing director, the marketer, the IT person, and so on.
If you can, and finances permitting, outsource these tasks so that you can be free to pursue what you are best at. If your passion and experience is in sales and marketing, and you have no desire to be bogged down with numbers, have someone else do your books for you. It is vital that you can focus as much as possible on those areas in your business that you are good at, and find others to do those areas that you aren’t good at.
If you have a small budget to begin with, and have not had any success with obtaining finance to support your new (or established) business, begin with the least costly options of your business plan. Whilst you should work towards implementing the whole plan, this can sometimes be impractical to begin with. Not only are you learning new things about you and your business, but if you do have a small team and limited resources, then you will not be able to do it all initially.
Some options you might want to consider starting with should include a web site. If you already have your own website for your business, then begin by marketing it more on the Internet and in your daily activities. Add a link to your site at the bottom of every email that you send out, both personal and business related. Place your website address on every letterhead, fax, or other communication with suppliers and customers. Get the word out there.
If you haven’t yet got a website, then start one. As mentioned earlier in the guide, you can either build one yourself or have an agency do it for you. You can also check out the resources on the site to help you get up and running with a website.
Pace yourself – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor will your marketing plan be launched in a day (or even a month). Roll it out in stages, making sure that you are comfortable and confident in each stage you complete.
Another inexpensive option to begin with is your publicity and public relations campaigns. Despite what you may think, you have many newsworthy stores in your business each week. It might be a special customer of yours, a way that your business can help a charity, or something you are doing in the community.
Practice writing media releases, and read what other businesses do. Grab a copy of your local or regional paper, and flick through the pages until you find articles that promote a business, but tell a story. See what the journalist has presented, and how they have begun the article. Then, copy it. By doing this often enough, you will get to make the Media working for your business – getting your name and brand out there.
Following your Business Plan
As you develop and grow your business, there will be times that you will feel overwhelmed and possibly lose sight of your goals. If so, keep the following things in mind:
When to Change Your Plan
Many business people are tempted to change their business plan if they think that it isn’t working. If that is the case, then quite frankly, they didn’t spend enough time in preparing it in the first place. Using this guide, you have researched, understood and planned your business accordingly.
Don’t deviate too quickly from your plan if you think it isn’t working. If your industry has had a massive shift in demand or over a period of extended time your business performance has dropped, then of course you should review your plan. It might need ‘tweaking’ a little. Don’t re-write the whole plan unless you know in your heart that you have done your best at implementing the strategies you mapped out. You don’t want to spend your business life writing one plan after another.
Review your plan weekly or fortnightly. See how you are performing with your budget compared to your actual results. Make sure that your promotional campaign is rolled out systematically, and you are using your Pulsing/Continuous chart to help with your timing.
Have a Routine
One thing that has worked many successful businesses is the routine of doing at least one specific thing each day, every day. if you set a task and complete it every day, no matter how big or small, then at the end of a year, you have completed 365 tasks towards your goals and part of your plan is realized. You inevitably get more than one task a day done each day, and this will help you remain on track with your business plan.
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