Business Plans For Small Business – Simple Is Better

There are some very compelling reasons for writing a business plan for small businesses. The challenge is that the misconceptions about what needs to go into a small business plan scare most owners and entrepreneurs away.

If you are like most small business owners or managers, you are incredibly busy, if not borderline overwhelmed. The idea of taking hours of valuable time to write a plan for your business may not seem worth it. But the data proves differently.

When writing a business plan for small business, focus on what really needs to be done, and what really needs to be measured. The plan does not have to be a 15 or 20 page document. In fact, it should only be one or two pages maximum. You should also have a yearly budget or financial plan as well. You really do not need to go overboard and do tons and tons of research about the market, and the opportunity, especially if you are already in business!

To write your plan, you will need a few things to get started. If you can assemble any of your sales and financial information for the past couple of years, that would be a bonus. You will need a notebook and writing instrument, possibly a laptop or a computer, and yourself. Then, basically find a quiet place to sit down for about an hour, and think about your business, and where you want it to go, and how you think you can get it there.

Let’s start with where you want your business to go. This is just a fluffy way of saying your vision for your business. Set a timeline for your vision; say 18 months or up to 5 years out. Then think about what your sales would be if everything goes as planned. What are your primary products or markets, and where will you do it.

Here’s an example: Within the next 3 years, grow MS Cut to $750,000.00 in sales providing industrial routing and cutting services to manufacturers and distributors in the Indianapolis market.

Or how about this: In the next 18 months, launch Tim’s Lunch & Deli, growing to $250,000 in sales. We will provide delicious sandwiches, soups and salads using all locally grown vegetables and products to the public in downtown St. Paul.

By writing out where you want your business to go in this fashion, you can clearly imagine the end result of your vision.

In terms of how you are going to get there, this is the strategy and tactics section of your plan. Again, what are the ways you are going to do the things you need to do? This could be everything from the methods you will use to attract customers, to the way that you will approach pricing your products or services. It can also address your marketing and advertising plans.

The main thing to keep in mind when it comes to your strategies and tactics, is to make them realistic. If you are going to need a lot of specialty skills (that you don’t currently have…) or technologies or a lot of money to do them, then chances are they won’t get used. Write this section of your plan so that you can actually do everything you need to do.

Next, you need to create a few measurables for your business. These are things like monthly sales revenues, profit percentages, labor hours to sales, number of returns per month, number of employee hours each month, etc.. These are all things that you can keep track of so that you will know if your plan is working, or if you need to address something quickly.

Each business, and each industry can have it’s own set of unique measurables. You may have one statistic you can keep that is a telling symbol for your business. Keep track of it, and see how it effects other areas of your business.

You should be able to track anywhere from 3 to 9 different measurables. Any more than that and you will not get much from it, and you are less likely to actually collect the information anyway. If you are using software like QuickBooks, Peachtree Accounting or another accounting app, there are several measurables you can pull and use to track your success.

All of the above information will fit nicely on one or two pages. Once you have that information, and you have written your business plan for your small business, the number one thing you can do is to use it, and use it often. Make a monthly (or weekly) appointment with yourself, your business partner, or your senior staff to review the plan, and make sure it still relevant. If something changes (and it will!), change your plan. It should be a living, dynamic document that you use on a regular basis to run your business.

By writing a business plan for your small business, you are creating a better opportunity for your business, and giving it a better chance of success

Robert Trube

Business planning for your small business does not have to be hard. I have created a series of e-books and software tools that simplifies the process of writing a plan for your business or organization, and actually allows you to get it on a single page! Check out The Simple Focus Plan, or learn more about us at


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