The Importance of a Business Plan
We at Encite are proud of our 8-step marketing process. Developed by our President, Adam O’Leary, it has consistently led to successful marketing campaigns in short and financially efficient time-frames. But what does it entail? Now, we don’t want to spoil all of our surprises, but one of the most important parts happens right at the beginning. Before we do much else, we take our new clients through what we call a brand audit. This helps us identify a myriad of aspects of the business we will use later like tone, product and company values. This speeds up the process immensely later in the game when we present our final marketing plan. In many cases, it also helps our clients identify what their company is and what they want it to be. We help companies find this information, which usually ends up being one of the most important advantages they have. Helping companies be the best they can be is in our Value Proposition, an integral part of our business plan.
In this process, we occasionally come across business that don’t have a formal business plan. They are just kinda going with the flow, figuring out what their business is about as they go along. Sure, they have most of their ducks in a row. They have a location, their business is legally registered, their payroll is all squared away, etc. But a business searching for long-term success is like trying to find an unfamiliar location without a map or proper directions. Oh, you may eventually find yourself there, but that isn’t guaranteed; and you certainly won’t have arrived by the quickest, most efficient route. Though still challenging, the path built by a good business plan is paramount to long-term success.
At it’s bare bones, a business plan is just a written set of goals for your company’s future, along with the steps to achieve them. A business plan can include many subjects that vary widely depending on location, timing, and industry. However, you will be hard pressed to find a plan without three main points: a market analysis, a detailed action plan, and a projected budget including an optimistic and pessimistic outlook on income vs. costs. These three subjects act as both benchmarks for your business and goals to aim for. As you strive to reach success, you can check yourself to see if you meet the standards you set. If you are off from where you planned, you should see some red flags. Were your estimates unrealistic or is there some unseen issue sneakily sucking away at your profitability?
In the past, it was uncommon to see a business without some sort of plan. Back in the day, most (if not all) banks required a well laid out business plan before they would give you a start-up loan. It was a means of insuring that your business would be successful and would pay back the loan. Since the advent of the dot com era, starting a business has become incredibly easy. In many cases, all the capital that is needed is a domain name, a business registration, and a way to cheaply source products. The need for small business startup loans has decreased, as has the creation of the business plans needed to get them. The fact that banks required them should tell us that a good business plan goes a long way toward the success and longevity of a company.
But now, the big question: what should you do now? Quite simple. If you don’t have a business plan, go write one! If you made one years ago when you first started out, dust it off, read it and update it! You may be surprised where you are in relation to where you thought you would be. Crafting a business plan can be a daunting task, so check out some templates online like this one. There are free and paid templates that offer different benefits. In addition, though we focus much more on the marketing side of business plans, we do consultative work at Encite. Drop us a line, and help us fulfill our business goal of helping you towards success!