When you get into the car for a road trip across the country, you most likely have a map or directions for how to get to your destination.
If not, how do you get from point A to point Z?
It’s the same thing in business. Without a carefully planned map that includes where you are now, where you want to go, alternate routes, hazards to avoid, short cuts, road blocks and points of interest… you are bound to end up on a road to nowhere. The astonishing thing is how many business owners do not take the time to construct a well thought out business plan.
Even if you have a simple business plan that is scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin, the fact that you have a plan puts you ahead of many business owners. Without a business plan, how can any vendor, partner, potential investor or lender take you seriously? If you are operating a business without a business plan, how is your business different from a hobby?
Without a map, how will you ever reach your destination?
Sure, you may be able to pull into a few gas stations and ask directions, but how do you know that the information you get will be right? How do you know that you aren’t way off course? What do you have to measure your progress by? And what if you are so off course that your car gives out or you run out of money for gas before you ever end up close to your destination?
If there is any chance that someday you might sell your company or seek investors, having a well written business plan is an asset you can’t afford not to have. Don’t waste a moment drifting into the sunset of what may be the “right direction” when you can chart your course for success by planning out the growth of your business.
The type of business plan that I prefer is not the traditional business plan. I believe that business plans for lifestyle entrepreneurs should include elements in addition to the business, things like self care, personal goals, family goals and more…
Here are a few simple steps to writing a lifestyle business plan for your business (existing or new):
- Start by writing out WHY you do what you do. Why does it matter to you and to the world?
- Write your mission statement. This includes the unique purpose of your company and your primary objectives or goals. Refine this statement until it is clear what you do differently from any of your competitors. Lay out exactly what you are striving to accomplish with this business.
- Make a list of your core values and choose 3-5 values that embody both your belief system and ultimately your brand. These values will be used to make sure marketing messages, team members, joint venture partners and opportunities are aligned with your brand.
- Create a vision statement that includes how your values and mission will make a difference in the world. Why does your brand make the world a better place? How will your brand story and message inspire your team members, clients and partners?
- Outline your products and/or services. How will you generate revenue and how many of each product or service do you need to sell in order to reach your financial goals?
- Do some market research to explore your ideal clients and their buying behavior. Who are your competitors? What is their brand story and how is it different than yours? What do they charge? Where do they market to their audience? How do they interact with their audience on social media? Do they use PPC ads? Do they write guest blog posts? Are they using video, live streaming events or podcasting to build their business? Are they REALLY making money? Have you ever met one of their clients? What edge do you have over your competitors?
- Design a marketing and sales plan that not only goes through the motions but tests, tracks and adjusts to get you the results you laid out in your mission statement. How do you plan to reach your audience? Email marketing? Facebook Ads? PPC ads? Direct Mail? Social media? Video? Blog? Vlog? PR? Television appearances? How will your client attraction and engagement systems operate to ensure that your audience has the best experience possible?
- Get your financial ducks in a row. Lay out how much it will cost you to market your business, hire a team as needed, service your clients and grow your brand. Don’t forget to include incorporation fees and taxes as well as business insurance expenses as well as bookkeeping and accounting fees. The more organized you are about how much money is coming in and going out of your business, the easier it will be for you to keep track of your company’s growth and profits. Many business owners fail to focus on this piece of the business which is a huge mistake.
- Build a team of advisers, mentors and supporters who believe in your vision and will help you to stay on track. Whether this is a team of one or many, having advisers and mentors who share your values, mission and vision will help you to avoid the pitfalls, road blocks, diversions and pile ups that can happen in business as in under prepared road trips. Build incentives in for everyone involved for maximum return.
- Once your business plan is mapped out, make sure that your personal and family goals are included in the day to day operations of your business growth. Schedule time for exercise, socializing, meditation, creative time and anything else that will give you a well-rounded lifestyle.
Building a successful business takes time and energy, but if you don’t take care of your body, mind and spirit and your loved ones never get to spent quality time with you, the experience of success will be empty. This is the MOST important part of your business because if this one piece is missing, you will sacrifice what matters most: Happiness.
Business plans truly are a road map to the future, so plan yours out with every aspect of the lifestyle you dream of. Don’t be afraid to lay out every detail including deadlines and vacations. This is your life and your business, so make them the best they can be! Plan to make your lifestyle the life you dream of. If you don’t create the plan, you will simply drift through your life and have an experience much like a road trip without a map or a destination.
If you have any questions, stories or resources that you would like to share, please leave them in the comments. Thank you!