Have a plan. You should have a plan. What you need, is a plan. You should make a plan. All you need is a plan. Do you have a plan? It is said that “A goal without a plan is just a wish” (Antoine De Saint-Exupery). But is that really true?? Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson books as well as several other series says “Always, always have a plan.” And that philosophy certainly seems to have worked out well for him, but was he only speaking in terms of how to write a book? Mr or Ms. Anonymous seems to have a philosophy I can get behind, “Success doesn’t just happen. It’s planned for.” Clearly indicating that a plan has been put into place and followed.
So, now we can agree we need a plan or a strategy, another word for plan. I’ve heard “A vision without a strategy remains an illusion.” (Lee Bolman), which is very similar to the goal without a plan quote… then there are these two guys: “Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy. You might know how to succeed, but more importantly, what’s your plan to succeed?” Jim Rohn and “Sound Strategy starts with having the right goal.” Michael Porter. And Lastly Ellie Pidot says, “Strategy is a fancy word for coming up with a long term plan and putting it into action.”
Okay, not only do we need a plan or a strategy, but our success depends upon it! Yikes! I feel the pressure mounting…. Most commonly you will be asked very specifically if you have a business plan (which is the scariest plan of all). A Business plan usually contains the following 6 elements:
- Business Concept. Details of the business, its product(s) and/or service(s) and the market that will be served. Describe exactly what will be sold, to whom and why the business is needed and could hold a competitive advantage.
- Financial Features. Details of the financial features of the business including projected sales, projected profits, cash flow and estimated return on investment.
- Financial Requirements. Clearly state the capital necessary to start the business and/or to expand. Details about how the capital will be used, as well any equity that will be provided for funding. If the loan for initial capital will be based on security instead of equity, the source of collateral should be specified.
- Business Background. Details relevant information about the company, its legal form of operation, date of formation, the principal owners, their backgrounds and key personnel.
- Major Achievements. Details any developments within the company that are essential to the overall success of the business. Major achievements may include such items as patents, prototypes, awards, contracts that need to be in place for product development, or results from any test marketing that has been conducted, etc.
- Marketing Plan. Details about how you intend to market the company, the product(s) and/or service(s) to your target audience. What the budget is for the marketing, who is handling the marketing, in-house or out sourced.
So basically, 1-5 will get you up and running, but 6 will get you the sales to keep the lights on and the employees paid and enable you to actually reach the land of success. So when you are thinking about number 6 which is really the meat of your plan, don’t half-ass it. Don’t let your son do the website and Vistaprint do your cards. Go to a professional who will provide you with a 24 or 36 month marketing strategy that will include a branding package and that will show exactly where you should be spending your marketing dollars every month over the next two years with a solid and cross-markets PLAN. Because as we all know by now if you want to be successful you have got to have a plan or a strategy.
One thing we know for sure, because Vince Lombardi told us years ago: “Hope is not a strategy.”