Outside-IN

6 steps to a perfect business plan

Do you have a business plan? Is it in writing and regularly reviewed? If your answer to one or both of these questions is 'no', what are you waiting for?

Apr 3, 2014 @ 9:12 am

By Eric Sheikowitz and Michael Silver

Your business plan is your formal statement of your business goals, the reasons why you believe they are attainable, and your plan for reaching those goals.

In the book "What They Don't Teach You in the Harvard Business School" (Bantam, 1986), author and business success expert Mark H. McCormack talks about a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. In that year, the students were asked, "Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?" Only 3% of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13% had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84% had no specific goals at all.

Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing. The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. And, what about the 3% who had clear, written goals? They were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97% put together.

Do you have a business plan? Is it in writing and regularly reviewed? If your answer to one or both of these questions is “no”, what are you waiting for? This 6-step guide will help you develop and get into writing a formal business plan, including your vision, mission, values, beliefs, goals, strategies and your tactics to meet those goals.

Step 1: Develop your vision

This is a crystallization of what you want your practice to become and guides the development of strategy and organization. It describes an inspiring new reality and is achievable within a specific time period. The vision statement is primarily useful internally. It answers the question, “What do you want to become?”

Step 2: Develop your mission

This is a statement explaining why your practice exists. It provides context for all decisions made within your practice and describes an enduring reality. It is capable of infinite fulfillment not subject to a time frame. It can be used with both internal and external audiences. It answers the questions, “What do we do, for whom, and what are the benefits?”

Step 3: Set your goals

Goals are the desired result you envision and commit to achieving. They are your desired end-points in your plan development. You reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines. Ideally, goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bounded (S.M.A.R.T.). Goal setting serves as an effective tool for making progress by ensuring that participants have a clear awareness of what they must do to achieve or help achieve an objective. The process of setting goals allows people to specify and then work towards their objectives.

Step 4: Develop your strategy

What is your plan to beat present and potential competitors? What are your high-level sets of actions to provide products or services that create more value than their cost? What is the "value proposition" chosen by your team? Strategies have to be flexible as they need to change in response to analysis, customer experience and trial and error. Strategies are for internal use.

Step 5: Develop your tactics

These are the actions you will implement, the setting of specific tasks you employ to accomplish your goals and help achieve your strategic targets. While strategy refers to a direction toward a goal, tactics are the actions taken to support that strategy.

Step 6: Your action plan

Describe the individual steps you will use to execute the tactics, i.e., how will you get there? How will each tactic get implemented and completed? Outline each component that must be completed and the appropriate time frame.

In summary, heed John L. Beckley's quote, “Most people don't plan to fail: they fail to plan." You need a plan, it must be written and it needs to be reviewed weekly or biweekly to keep it alive. The time to start planning is now.

Eric Sheikowitz and Michael Silver are the founders and senior managing partners at Focus Partners, a practice management coaching and consulting firm. David Leo, strategic partner and senior coach at Focus Partners, contributed to this article.

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Upcoming Event

Oct 23

Conference

Women Adviser Summit - San Francisco

The InvestmentNews Women Adviser Summit, a one-day workshop now held in four cities due to popular demand, is uniquely designed for the sophisticated female adviser who wants to take her personal and professional self to the next level.... Learn more

Featured video

Events

InvestmentNews celebrates diversity & inclusion in the financial advice business

Highlights of the Excellence in D&I Awards, showcasing the achievements of 26 individuals and firms that are moving the needle when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

Latest news & opinion

Divided we stand: How financial advisers view President Trump

InvestmentNews poll finds 49.2% approve of his performance, while 46.7% disapprove. How has that changed over the course of his presidency?

10 states with the most college student debt

Residents of these states have the most student debt when you consider their job opportunities.

Ex-Wells Fargo brokers sue for damages, claiming they lost business in wake of scandals

In a Finra arbitration complaint, two brokers allege that Wells Fargo's problems damaged their business.

Invesco to buy OppenheimerFunds

Deal brings Invesco another $246 billion in assets, as well as high-fee actively managed funds.

Dawn Bennett found guilty of $20 million Ponzi scheme

Jury took less than five hours to convict the former financial adviser and radio host.

X

Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print