Business Fundamentals: #2. Develop a Business Plan


Yesterday I met with a top Leadership Development consultant.  During our meeting he talked about learning to deep sea dive: “Diving is a lot like running a business: You have to plan your dive, then dive your plan. If you don’t you could die.”

Which is the only way, I believe, you should think about your business plan. Do it, or ultimately you will crash and burn.

Over the past month my wife, my mother-in-law, and I decided to purge 20 years of old business records. It turned into something akin to an archaeological dig as I dredged up  sales commission plans, funny promo pictures, and even a deposition or two. Then I hit the mother-load: a box containing the earliest Business Plans I ever wrote.

The very first draft of the business plan that launched my first business in January 1985: October 1984 – Corporate Media, Inc.

CMIBizPlan

It was funny to read my business logic as a 25 year old. Lots of unnecessary adverbs describing how I was poised to take the market by storm, but scant-to-little in the way I was going to do it. Sales projections, projected P&L and Balance Sheet all written by hand on a ledger!!! The plan looks like it was typed!

Here’s a few images from the plan I wrote for the first time I tried to raise money via private equity (failed!): 1988 – Corporate Multi-Media, Inc.

CMMBizPlan

All hail the advent of desktop publishing & color printers!

And then there was the piece de resistance used to successfully raise $4.5 million: March 2001 – Mentor Communications Group

MentorBizPlan

This beautifully published book had a confidentiality agreement, a polished Executive Summary, and significant details about the business, the market size, an honest competitive analysis, an exhaustive review of our Intellectual Property, Product Strategy, Market Positioning, and Branding Strategy. It continued with Customer Breakdown by revenue category, short biographies of Management and Key Employees, and a detailed set of financials: historic and projected.

Do you have a Business Plan? Is it current? Market conditions are always changing, as are your company’s capabilities and market position. It’s critical for you to take the time to evaluate your business and come up with a realistic plan on what you want to achieve over the next year, set revenue and profitability goals, and set up a course for you to follow. (For first timers, click on the graphic above to check out the Table of Contents, it should go a long way in kick-starting your efforts.)

Running a small business is ripe with peril. Your business plan is your road map. In the early days I wrote up a business plan because I was told I had to… as a result it was a chore that didn’t really include a plan on HOW I was going to achieve my goals, and the financials did not thoroughly cover required expenditures. By the time I wrote up the March 2001 plan, some 13+ years later, I came to understand the importance of writing in great detail my company’s direction with the objective of abiding and managing by the plan.

Be sure to develop a plan so you don’t lose your way.  Remember: Plan your dive… then dive your plan.

Running a small business is like…? What’s it like to you?

Danny Gallo, The SBE Lifer
Managing Director, The Allasso Group
Small Business Advocate, Supplier Connection

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