Whether you have just set sail in your business, or are changing course mid-voyage, a solid, highly detailed business plan will get you where you want to go. As a ships captain relies on the integrity of the ship, and a good map and compass, business owners rely upon a good business plan to navigate unfamiliar territory and reach their chosen destinations in one piece, and via the most direct route possible.
A business plan is the framework of your business (your ship). The success of your business is ultimately determined by how detailed, well built, efficient and leak-proof your vessel is. If you are facing setbacks in spite of having a business plan, make a list of all the functions of your business, and examine them one by one to see where the holes are. Do you have a crew of individuals on board who know their functions and perform them well, or do you (the captain) also find yourself swabbing the deck?
Do you know how to hoist your sails to catch the best breeze to send you on your way? If your business is sagging due to lack of income in one area, can you figure out which way the wind is blowing and make adjustments (like adding new packages, developing a niche, marketing e-books) to keep you moving forward? Your business plan should have all these potential problems covered, so your business can move along at full sail.
Your business plan is also the map upon which you will chart your path to your desired destination. The process of developing your business plan will require you to focus on exactly what you are trying to achieve, pinpoint where you want to be going, and figure out exactly how you plan to get there. A solid business strategy will help you avoid rough waters, stay the course, and make level-headed decisions when you discover new and exciting opportunities to pursue. Have you embarked on a journey, only to discover half-way that it is not what you expected when you set out? A well defined business plan gives you a standard by which you can measure your progress; it will either keep you self-assured in your chosen direction, or provide a clear indication that you need to change tack.
Finally, a well-designed and well-executed business plan is your calling card. It shows third parties – potential investors, loan officers, or buyers – that your business concept is solid and successful, and worthy of their interest and investment in you, when you go for that loan to expand, or seek to sell your company.
Many entrepreneurs jump into the day-to-day of starting a business before really taking the time to map out a detailed business plan, and find they are floundering later when unforeseen problems, or opportunities arise. Investing the time and effort it takes to create a plan before setting sail will ensure a rewarding journey in the long run.