Have you just written a business plan but you are clueless about the next step to take? If YES, here are 9 bold steps to take after writing a business plan.
It is very important for an entrepreneur to invest time and resources in creating a well-documented business plan to attract investors. But you would have known by now that simply writing down a beautiful business plan is not enough to get your business up, running, and gaining profits.
While it is a huge necessity, but there are certain things you need to do after your business plan to ensure your business gets off on the right track. Business consultants have various views on what should be the next thing to be done after writing a business plan. While some argue that sourcing for finance should be the next thing, other believe it’s starting up the business.
What Next Should an Entrepreneur Do After Creating a Business Plan?
- Get the required help
This would sound like simple advice, but it is not simple at all especially with your business just kicking off. It is a fact that you won’t be able to do everything listed out in your business plan. If you lack the knowledge and experience to understand your sales numbers or have no idea how to advertise, find someone who does.
You need to employ the experience of other professionals who can offer advice and guidance. Not only that, if you need technical work done (like building a website or an email funnel) or creative work (like logo design and copywriting), you’re going to need to hire someone to do those things for you. These things cost money, so if you are starting off and you are low on funds, you may have to get creative.
2. Keep comparing
After you have put your business plan to work, the next thing you need to do is to keep comparing your statistics. In your monthly reviews, you’ll always have to compare your accounting data against your business plan forecast, so you can easily see how your company is doing each month.
You can do this with spreadsheets, but if you’re not a finance person, that can feel like more of a chore than it needs to. A good dashboard is as automated as possible, and it should display your key metrics in a graphical way. The easier your dashboard is to read, the more it helps you keep up the habit of monthly strategic reviews.
3. Test and measure
Begin to test and measure the assumptions that you have in your business plan against your business. Your plan is untested and still just a concept. Now you need to see how effective your business plan functions in reality. Start looking for actionable things that you can measure. These will help you gauge your progress.
One of the easiest things to measure is sales. However, sales are the end result of all the work you have done. If you are using Google Adwords, what is your conversion rate? How many interactions do you need to make a sale? Once you start becoming familiar with these numbers and ideas, you can get smarter about understanding them. The more measurements you make, the better off you will be.
Testing the success of your business plan from multiple angles will help you see the big picture. For example, considering your sales information alongside your advertising will help you make informed decisions when you decide where to allocate your marketing budget.
4. Use KPIs to measure business health
KPI means key performance indicator. It’s a specific statistic that helps you see whether your company is reaching the goals you set out in your business plan. There are endless varieties of KPIs, and different industries and businesses use different ones. In fact, two departments in the same company might use different KPIs. You need to figure out the most important KPI that will help you see your company more clearly.
5. Make good Use of the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule, or Pareto’s Principle, states that there is always an uneven divide between the amount of work that we do and the reward that’s earned for that work. For example, you might find that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your advertising.
Conversely, that means that 80 percent of your advertising is only responsible for 20 percent of your business. Once you’ve identified this trend, you’ll want to direct more funds toward the part that’s working and reduce your spending on the less effective areas.
After you’ve collected your data, look for any places that have unbalanced spending and returns. Make adjustments as you see fit. Analyse your results and repeat the process. If you fail to look out for the 80/20 rule, you may unknowingly be spending money in all the wrong places and missing opportunities for a higher return on your time and money.
6. Keep learning
Most people go into business using a skill they already know. Plumbers, accountants, fitness instructors, and web designers who go into business for themselves usually pick the industry because it is what they do best. The problem is that they quickly discover that they don’t know much about anything else. After a short time, they have accumulated some clients and then suddenly find themselves stuck.
They struggle when faced with a technical task like marketing, copywriting, or SEO. If you find yourself in a situation like this, your first instinct might be to hire someone to do it for you. However, you need to consider how limited your knowledge is of the task required. Will you be able to tell if the person you hire does a good job? You should always try to at least understand the work being done.
If you are thinking of hiring someone, consider whether or not you could quickly learn to do the work yourself. Being able to learn quickly is a skill that needs practice, too. If you are unable to learn quickly, you might find yourself working in your business and never on your business.
7. Schedule a monthly business plan review
Right now, before you get busy running your business, schedule a one-hour business review meeting in your calendar every single month. The timing depends on your accounting operations—you’ll want to review the previous month’s finalized numbers, so choose a standing date in each new month when you can do that. You can have this meeting with your management team, or with a trusted advisor like your accountant.
In these meetings, you’ll look how the previous month’s actual financial performance stacks up against your business plan forecast. You should make this comparison for your revenue and your costs, and when your actual results are different than your forecast, you’ll explore why.
8. Consider a Strategic Advisor
If you feel very intimidated by numbers, it can really help to form a working relationship right now with a Strategic Advisor—an accountant who can interpret your numbers and help you formulate solutions when problems crop up. If an advisor can help you find and resolve problems before they become major financial issues, then you’re likely to find that your advisor is worth his or her weight in gold.
9. Get ready to update your forecast
In your business plan, you made the best estimates you could with the best information you had. But, don’t let that prevent you from making changes now. As you do business, you’ll learn more every day about your company and your market. Soon you’ll be in a better position to forecast realistically.
There’s nothing wrong with your original forecast needing an update—you didn’t know what you didn’t know before you started this company! So each month as you’re reviewing the numbers, consider how you might need to change your forecast to create targets your business can hit.
Now that you’ve got your business plan written, you need to make sure that you follow up on it. How you manage your time and direct your energy will make or break your business. At this point, your business plan is just an idea, a theory. It is up to you to prove that it has the potential to be a successful, profitable business.
Until that time, you should be making constant adjustments to fine-tune your business plan. The ideas outlined above provide the steps that are necessary to build, develop, and maintain your business through its infancy.
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