Want to Drive Sales? You’ll Need a Road Map.
A Business Plan Shows the Way.
Starting a business is like setting out on a journey. To get to your destination you will need a road map, otherwise known as a business plan. It’s reported that up to ninety-five percent of new businesses fail within the first five years. One of the the primary reasons contributing to their failure is lack of planning. Whether it’s a need for business understanding, just trying to navigate the world as a new entrepreneur or simply a lack of time, many business owners set out to develop their new venture without a proper business plan. A business plan will: demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of both your category and competition, identify business objectives, and define a strategic course of action to realize those objectives and serve as a metric for measuring success.
Analyzing the Situation Paves the Way.
It’s never too late to get started on the right track. However, before you set out on this new path it’s best to understand where you are starting from. A situation analysis of both your category and competition, written within the context of your own business, will provide a solid foundation from which to plot a path to your objectives. Additionally, unexpected setbacks and inefficient use of resources are best mitigated when first anticipated through the research that emerges while undergoing the situation analysis portion of the business plan. A thorough review of the category and competition will also delineate challenges and opportunities. This situation analysis allows companies to truly understand how and what actions need to be taken to achieve longevity.
The situation analysis is more than say, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) exercise. It encompasses a deep dive into the category at large. All the elements of the marketing mix should be reviewed and compared to each other to point out anomalies and gaps. This cross reference between your company, your competition and your category through the lens of the marketing mix will prove to be an invaluable resource in and of itself. The elements of the marketing mix; product, price, place - aka distribution, packaging, promotion, positioning and people (your target consumer), all play a vital role in the overall success or failure of your business. Therefore, all of the elements must be treated as equally important components that propel you toward your objectives.
Setting Objectives Points to Your Destination.
Having determined where you currently are, it’s much easier to decide where you want to go. Setting objectives is a crucial part of any business plan. Without a focus, a destination to arrive at, there’s no telling where you will end up. For those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants personalities, that might sound like an exciting prospect. For the rest of us who are working with limited resources and big dreams, we would like to have some assurances we will not end up stranded in an economic ditch somewhere. Objectives should be aspirational but also realistic. There’s a familiar saying I’m reminded of; “if you want to eat an elephant, you do so one bite at a time.” When setting your objectives, think in terms of achievable goals. Small successes lead to confidence, which in turns leads to further successes – it’s a desirable cycle to be in.
Strategy Sets the Course to Success.
Once you understand where you are starting from relative to the competitors in your category and once you have decided where you want to go, it’s time to strategize and set your course. There are countless roads to choose from and knowing which one is right for you will depend on your research, your capabilities and your available resources. Taking all these into account and adding some creativity for good measure will ensure your approach stands out among your peers and will lead you down a path best suited for your business to achieve its objectives.
While on this road to success, make sure to check the mile markers frequently to guarantee that you are staying on course and haven’t unwittingly deviated. Measuring the effectiveness and completion of the efforts and actions prescribed in your business plan are necessary to understand progress and determine if the plan needs modification. Even the best of plans aren’t perfect. If they were, then everybody would be successful and no businesses would ever fail. Knowing this, be mindful of your plan, your path, and keep an eye out for any possible roadblocks. Being prepared with alternative strategies will keep your efforts on track, curtailing the potential to have any progress towards your objectives slow down or worse yet, screech to a halt.
Stay on Track: Plan, Plot, Strategize, Evaluate
Nothing is sweeter than watching your business grow. Much like our children, we need to nurture and care for our businesses, ensuring they have the best prospects for success. Writing a proper business plan is one way to do this. With a thorough understanding of your category and competition by way of a situation analysis you will have a strong foundation from which to plot your path. By setting clear and achievable objectives you will instill confidence in yourself to achieve your business potential. When developing strategies to drive you to those objectives, keep an open mind and have a plan B to keep the momentum going. Finally, checking your progress along the way and modifying if necessary will enable you to gauge how far you’ve come and how close you are to realizing your business goals.
About Insights Discovered
Penny Redlin of Insights Discovered is a guest expert on The Giggle Guide™. She will be a regular contributor to this new “Business Sense” feature, sharing more of her insights about business planning and marketing strategies.
Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, Insights Discovered was founded in 2010 by Penny Redlin in an effort to share her professional expertise within the children’s product category. The company’s mission is to give every mompreneur an opportunity for success. Insights Discovered exclusively services children’s products brands. The specific industry focus demonstrates a strong dedication to the unique needs of children’s products companies. Insights Discovered offers strategic planning, market research and traditional marketing services.
For more information visit www.insightsdiscovered.com or call 702.218.5707