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Business planning success

What does business success mean to you? Is it about lucrative financial gains, or about building something you can one day pass on to your children? Perhaps it's about making a difference in your community, or creating the very best product or service on the market. Maybe success simply means making a living doing something you love to do.

Most likely, you quantify success in many ways. It might not be difficult to envision what you want from your business, but figuring out how to achieve it might be. There are many tried-and-true steps you can take — and some missteps you should avoid — on your path to prosperity.

The key to success is having a business plan in place. Whether you're about to launch a start-up or you've been in business for years, the direction of your business is guided by your business plan. To begin the planning process, you'll need to do some critical analysis; business planning is about realistically forecasting where your business is going.

Goals

What do you hope to achieve in business? Your goals are the guideposts of your business, and an essential part of your business plan.

  • Identify your business goals early in the process.
  • Apply a timeframe to complete those goals.
  • If you have employees, assign responsibility for the execution of your goals.
  • Keep "you" in mind; how will your strengths and weaknesses interplay with your goals?

Products and Services

You are what you sell. How you handle your products, services and supplies will help you make your plans a reality.

  • Control your product and supply inventories tightly.
  • Don't allow aggressive vendors to overstock your supply shelves.
  • Stay on the cutting edge of your industry, and seek to provide your customers with the best product.

Marketplace

Developing your market is key to your business plan. A steady flow of customers will turn your great ideas into a profitable venture.

  • Develop detailed profiles of your market:

    • Why is your product profitable?

    • Who are your customers and why?

    • How can you best deliver your product to your customers?

  • Pick marketing spots that will give you the most revenue.

Employees

Employees can be a great asset, or an unfortunate liability. Your hiring practices should reflect your business plan, so that you set yourself up for good quality, productivity, and service.

  • Surround yourself with the best of the best and treat them as such.
  • Hire to complement the strengths and weaknesses of the business.
  • Provide employees with thorough and accurate work descriptions that they can understand and follow.

Competition

Does your competition keep you awake at night? Make their existence a source of knowledge and opportunity, not a source of stress.

  • Treat your competitors as if they were a case study of your market; what can you learn from their successes and failures?
  • You may find opportunities to collaborate with your competition in order to benefit you both, particularly if they have products or skills that are complementary to your own.

Business Culture

Beyond enjoying your products or services, why do your customers want to do business with you? Consider corporate citizenship as a vital element of your business plan.

  • Create a culture of trust with your customers.
  • Try to make business ethics a component of your day-to-day operations.