Ricardo Ibarra of Trio Group discusses how a well-crafted business plan can take your small business to new heights.
· “Without an effective business plan, your business is like a ship leaving the harbor without a map. It’s easy to get thrown off course by the currents of busy work or distracted by islands in the sea and their promise of riches.”
· Ready to grow your business? In this video, learn why it’s important to use your business plan instead of forgetting it on a shelf.
· “‘Shiny object syndrome’ affects business owners more than most. The key is to evaluate those business opportunities through the lens of your business plan and the strategic direction it sets.”
· Start now to refresh or write your business plan so you have a strategic guide to growing and scaling your business.
· Watch the video to get the full training. · Not sure how to fix your business? Download the FREE Small & Minority Business Checkup for the 10 questions you must ask to help you get your business back on track and thriving.
Many small business owners think of their business plan as something they only need when applying for a bank loan. Those same business owners are missing out on an incredible opportunity for growth. That’s because your business plan is the roadmap for your business success.
Without an effective business plan, your business is like a ship leaving the harbor without a map. It’s easy to get thrown off course by the currents of busy work or distracted by islands in the sea and their promise of riches. What the most successful small business operators know is that by sticking to their well-crafted business plan and executing only the mission-critical activities, they can grow and scale without all the headache and overwhelm that comes from winging it. Plus, if you’re like me and are a business leader who didn’t go to business school, chances are you’re learning as you’re leading. Take a moment to congratulate yourself for all the success you’ve enjoyed up to this point. Let’s agree that operating a business is tough work and the fact that you’re here demonstrates your commitment to being a great business operator for your clients, your employees, and of course the people who depend on you.
Even for the folks who do have business degrees or formal training, operating a business is always a learning experience because the real world is a lot messier and has far more twists and turns than any textbook or course. No matter where you are on your business journey or what your level of expertise, your business plan is the first step in taking your business to the next level. Now that you understand how important it is to have and reference your business plan, let’s dive into the three ways your business plan can help you make more money without going crazy.
Number one. Your business plan eliminates the guesswork of day-to-day operations. That’s because at its core a business plan is a strategic document that outlines the direction of your company. The very act of writing a business plan forces you to say yes to some things and no to others.
When my principals at Trio Group and I made the decision to focus on serving only two core audiences, public agencies and disadvantaged small businesses, our business took off! That’s because before, we weren’t really known for anything. We were Jacks and Jills of all trades, but because we were trying to be helpful to everyone, we never stood out. Now that we’ve narrowed the focus of who we serve to just public agencies and small disadvantaged businesses, we’re known for that. People immediately understand how we can help them solve their problems.
Here’s how this looks in action. Take some time to review your business plan and create a “yes and no list.” Does your business plan clearly outline the people, opportunities, markets, and products or services you are saying “YES” to? Does it also outline who and what you are saying “NO” to?
For those of you who may not have a business plan right now, or your plan is too old to be helpful, don’t worry. I’ve created a free business checkup tool to help you evaluate the strength and effectiveness of your business. You can download it free by clicking the link below.
Number two. Your business plan helps you identify partnerships and supporters to boost your business growth. As your business grows and you meet new people, you’ll be presented with lots of opportunities. This can be a blessing or a curse. Have you ever said yes to an opportunity only to realize it wasn’t as lucrative as you had hoped? Or, did you chase the new opportunity at the expense of becoming masterful at your own core offering? “Shiny object syndrome” affects business owners more than most. The key is to evaluate those business opportunities through the lens of your business plan and the strategic direction it sets. I recently had the pleasure of working with a small business owner who was in the IT staffing space. His company’s expertise is in Microsoft Azure and related cloud computing. Because of his network and success, he was approached by another firm who asked if he could provide staffing services for administrative support. After careful consideration, this small business owner chose to turn down the opportunity because he wants his company to be known as the Pacific Northwest’s best IT staffing firm. Without the clarity of who his business serves, he would have said yes to the opportunity and simultaneously taken his attention away from his core value proposition.
On the other hand, well-formed partnerships can dramatically grow your business by exposing your offering to new customers, a new geographic area, or greatly reduce the costs of doing business. Here are three ways to evaluate potential partnership opportunities:
The first is internal alignment. Why are you pursuing this opportunity? What is the need or desire behind seeking the partnership? The second is strategic alignment. What are the goals, objectives, and ideal outcomes for the partnership? The final is the partnership structure. Who manages, what does each partner contribute, and how do the partners benefit? The third way your business plan can help you make more money is understanding your business finances and what to watch. I know that money isn’t most peoples’ favorite topic but it’s a key component of your business plan. By going through the exercise of identifying your financial goals and writing your budget, you’ll be better prepared to run a successful business than most other small business owners. That’s because many operators would rather avoid the sticky subject of money than approach it with a calm, rational plan. Plus, a business plan can help you prepare for your business growth and point out hidden areas where your business may be costing you.
So there you have it. Three ways your business plan can help your business grow without feeling overwhelmed. Your business plan should be a living, breathing document that guides your day to day operations, help you identify partnerships and supporters, and paint a clear and compelling financial future for your business. If you’ve recognized that you need to boost your business with a more effective plan, be sure to check out the free Small & Minority Business Checkup tool, available at the link.
About the TAS Program
The City of Seattle and Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council (Northwest Mountain MSDC) have partnered in the development and launch of the City of Seattle’s Technical Assistance Services program. This program is designed to support small businesses in the development of their capabilities thereby making them more competitive.
This program is sponsored by the City of Seattle and hosted by the Northwest Mountain MSDC. For more information, visit the TAS webpage.
About the Presenter
Ricardo Ibarra combines over 15 years of marketing and business experience to help small and minority-owned businesses thrive in today’s digital economy. Combining his signature energetic style with the latest marketing strategies, Ricardo has helped dozens of small and disadvantaged business enterprises reach new clients, launch new products, and gain a sense of confidence as they grow their business.