You need a business plan

Why should you have a business plan? Your business plan is a strategic blueprint for your business. Even if you are a consultant, a CPA or bookkeeper, an artist or any other type of person marketing yourself and your services, you will benefit from having a business plan.

A business plan is fundamentally a document that outlines how you want to make money and contribute to your clients. If you are looking for funding, you absolutely have to have one.

If you don’t plan on seeking funding, a simpler plan will work fine. It’s important for you to be able to write down exactly what it is you do so you will stay on track. Otherwise, those shiny bright objects will keep appearing and you’ll end up with a lot of distractions instead of focusing on what will bring your business success.

Business plans have a lot of flexibility depending on what you do and offer. The first year you write one it takes a lot more time. Every year after that, you can update and tweak the direction. You’ll also want to update your goals and revenue targets.

It’s most helpful if you start the business planning cycle about October to give you full advantage of time to think through what you want to do the next year. If you haven’t started one for 2011, that’s OK. Get started now and have a goal to complete the plan by the end of February so you can follow it this year.

In your plan, you’ll want to start with outlining

1. What you do

2. How you do what you do

3. Your vision

Your vision is a compelling goal that pulls you into the future. It may not ever be fully accomplished.

Your vision is what you want to affect because you are who you are and you do what you do. It is related to your passions and reflects your heart’s desire, even when it is business-related.

Examples of vision can be related to the change you want to see happen because you do what you do.

Vision can be as simple as one of my client’s whose vision is to make sure her family is in a good financial position when she retires.

Another client’s vision has a vision of changing the integrity of the industry she is in. Her standards are much higher than some others in her field.

You could also have a vision related to the world or children. Your work can support movement toward your vision or it can be a personal vision that drives you because with part of the money you make, you could affect a cause that you are passionate about.

The point is that vision fuels your actions. It’s the overarching intention that keeps you centered and moving forward. You can take action every day toward something related to your vision.

Next week, I’ll share more about what you can do to have a stellar business plan that will support your growth.

Kathy Garland specializes in translating business challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. Join her conversations on FacebookTwitter, andLinkedIn.