Ask yourself the questions below to help you think and decide exactly how to make a business plan. It has more to do with being able to think about various aspects of your business and pro-actively decide what will be done about each one.

I don’t know if you can recall a television series called the A-team. The most colourful character for me was BA Baracus, played by Mr T. A larger than life figure with a huge Mohawk hair-style. Well near the end of each program the leader, Haniball, always had a big cigar in his mouth and said “I love it when a plan comes together”. You knew it was “all on” at that point and it was non-stop action until the bad guys bit the dust and justice prevailed. Success was assured.

If only business planning was that assured of a good result. The good news is that proper planning will increase your chances of success. What should be in a plan? That is largely up to you, but below I have given you a number of questions that will help you think through and formulate your own plan. Firstly, a plan should focus on the key results that you want to achieve in your business. The details within the plan should support these results. That said, let’s get on with discussing how to make a business plan. I am going to give you a few key headings with a couple of questions posed under each. I believe that a “good think” about each aspect is more important than getting their academic definitions right.

How to make a business plan: Vision

What do you dream of becoming? What do you see your business becoming? What difference will you make? What will your reputation be? How big will you be?

How to make a business plan: Strategy – marketing and company analysis

What is your market like? Who are your customers? What makes them buy? What is your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)?

How to make a business plan: Strategic Objectives

Much has been written about strategy, but the focus are always profit. What are you sales, gross profit and net profit targets? What will you market position and competitive standing be like? What will be your target market, market niche? What reputation will you have?

How to make a business plan: Marketing Strategy

Who are your customers? What makes them buy? Describe your product, its price, and how you will market and promote it. Will you use target marketing or mass marketing strategies? What premises will you have? How will your customers find you?

How to make a business plan: Sales Plan

Have a plan to sell to customers. That means you need to ask for the order. What is your version of the cash register going “ka-ching”? The simple sales process is 1. prospecting, 2. getting the appointment,  3. build the sales, and 4. close the sale. Every business is different and this system will be slightly different. However, everyone is in a situation where a customer and you need to find one – prospect. How will you find new customers (prospect)? How will you “get the appointment” – in other words how will you convince the prospective customer to allow you to even talk to them and tell them what you have to offer? How will you build the sale? (tip – ask open questions) Building requires moving a customer from no interest to great interest in your products or services. How will you close the sale? You actually have to ask for the money. This last step, if not done, means every other effort in your business has gone to waste – you need customers that buy stuff.

How to make a business plan:  Organisation Plan

Who will do what in your business? Define all the roles even if some are done by the same people or even yourself.

How to make a business plan: Management and Leadership

How will you manage your business? Who will manage your business? How will you inspire your people?

How to make a business plan: People Strategy

What type of people do you need? What skills, what qualifications, what attitude? How will you recruit them? How will you motivate people?

How to make a business plan: Financial Strategy

What will your profit be? How will you keep records and what systems do you need? What financial reports will you look at on a monthly basis? What key financial results do you need to keep track of?

Best wishes with your business endeavors, and may you gain the success you seek.

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