Creating your own business plan - even one in a simple format - is so much simpler when you can follow some examples. That's exactly what this blog is about!
This article is the fourth one in a series of blogs about the Business Plan Toolbox. If you didn't see the first three, don't worry. Here are the key takeaways:
- Part 1: High-expertise companies struggle to transform their expertise into corresponding success. They face five common challenges:
- There is a significant skill gap between the company's core expertise and the ability to convert that expertise into money
- Many visionary founders find building and running a team challenging
- The core expertise lives only in the brain/s of one or a few key people
- High-expertise leaders often prefer to do the work themselves instead of delegating it to to others
- Investment monies are difficult to impossible to get due to lack of scalability
- Part 2: One of the five challenges is that the core expertise of the company lives only in the brain/s or computer/s of one or a few key people. Brilliance Extraction™ is a process for extracting expertise and ideas out of your key people (including yourself). That way this knowledge is available to others to grow the company. This process is crucial for scaling up your high-expertise company.
- Part 3: The Business Power Plan™ is tool for effective business planning that is fast. The resulting plan is also much easier to carry out than traditional plans. For optimal results and buy-in, it’s important to involve your team of experts in developing this plan. Doing so also begins the critical process of Brilliance Extraction™. You can download the Business Power Plan™ template
Now, let's look at some examples of building business plans (Business Power Plans™ for high-expertise companies. Curious? Read on! And remember, this is a powerful process to do with your team for buy-in and accountability.
The Business Power Plan™ has five succinct sections:
- Your Vision
- Your Purpose (Mission)
- Your Goals
- Your Strategy and Game Plan
- Your Action Plan
1. Your Vision
Tips For Defining Your Vision
Ask yourself (and your team) these questions:
- What do you see as possible for your company, team, clients, and yourself?
- Do you see your company as local, national, or international?
- What size will you be and when, including revenue and/or number of team members?
- What is your focus?
- What is your plan?
Examples of Visions:
- A specialty construction business: Construct Superior is a kitchen and bath remodeling business. Our clients are the owners and managers of large apartment buildings. We have 8 locations within California. Our current revenues are 9 Million. We plan to grow by 20% per year over the next 5 years. This will increase revenues to 22+ Million per year by the end of the fifth year [in your plan put down the actual year].
During the next two years, we will capture our knowledge and document everything we do. We envision creating a systematic training system that makes succession easy.
We are developing an exit strategy, with the exit envisioned to occur in about five years. We are evaluating several exit options:
- Sell the business to a third party,
- Sell individual locations,
- Convert the company into an employee-owned company or
- Hire someone to run the company and retain ownership without involvement in day-to-day operations.
- An innovative software company: HugeData Exquisite is an innovative software company. We revolutionize the process for creating large documents that affect millions of people. The process involves drafting, discussing, modifying and publishing. We work with Federal/National governments around the world. Revenues are x. While our headquarters are in ... (city, state), our team of y people works in a virtual environment.
Currently, our software is a custom solution which we design for each client. We are working on creating a turnkey product. With this product we can accept smaller clients because we can adapt the product to their needs quickly. The goal is to extend our market to smaller governments and state/ city level government organizations.
2. Your Business Purpose (Your Mission)
Tips for Declaring Your Mission
- This is not a long mission statement but an eight to twelve-word phrase telling the outside world why your business exists.
- Any team member needs to be able to remember it. That way it becomes akin to a compass needle to point the way now and long into the future.
Examples of Missions:
Your mission might be something like:
- Increase commercial Real Estate profits through affordable, quality kitchen and bath remodeling
- Transform the document drafting process of governments worldwide
- Be the innovative leader in our XYZ industry
- Empower our clients to certify and credential professionals through quality testing solutions
3. Your Goals
Tips for Setting Your Goals
- Write them as SMARTER goals, i.e., they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. They become much more achievable if they are exciting to you. Of course, you must record (write down) your goals.
- Break bigger goals into smaller ones.
- You might also like to add a personal goals section. Writing down personal goals helps you keep the balance between your work and private life. Personal goals might be about family, travel, health, hobbies, etc.
Examples of Goals:
Your goals might be something like:
- Increase revenues by 25% by December 31, 20XX
- Create a training system for how we provide our services by … (date)
- Convert our custom software solution into a turnkey product by …
- Phase 1: Define the requirements for the turnkey product by …
- Phase 2: Create the beta version by …
- Phase 3: Test the beta version and establish a list of required modifications by …
- Phase 4: Make the changes and keep testing by …
- Phase 5: Roll out the product by …
- Organize my workflow so I don’t need to work before 9am and am done by 4pm, by …
4. Your Strategies/ Game Plan
Tips for Defining Strategies
- There are many areas for which you can create strategies. Here are a few examples:
- Operations (e.g., workflow, efficiency, quality control, customer service, equipment, etc.)
- Marketing and sales (e.g., online, offline, referral, strategic alliances, branding, etc.)
- Financial (cash flow management, accounts receivable collection, capital investments, profitability, etc.)
- Team development, succession planning, training and systems
- Product development, intellectual property
- Don’t bite off too many areas and strategies at once. Less becomes more because you are much more likely to actually get it done.
- Make sure that your game plan is consistent with your goals. Where appropriate, reverse engineer which strategy will get you to your goal.
Examples of Strategies:
1.) Increasing revenues: Increase revenues of our bath and kitchen remodeling company by 25% per year for 5 years to create exit value. [This is a great example for reverse engineering your goal to find the right strategy.]
- 25% of 9M is 1.8M. Our average job size is worth $150,000. Thus, we need 12 more average jobs (1.8M/150k) per year, which is on average one extra job of this size per month.
- The strategy to gain these extra 12 jobs is to:
- Choose networking groups and trade shows to build more relationships with property managers and commercial real estate investors. Network and speak at these venues.
- Increase our online marketing efforts:
- Blog 2x per month,
- Write an eBook our clients will want to download.
- Offer the eBook online and capture leads, etc. (hire online growth agency to do that with us).
2.) Prepare for succession and create a legacy with our business while increasing profits:
- Think about which areas of our business are most critical for succession, i.e., which areas are most in jeopardy if key people leave?
- Our expert crew knows what to do but their knowledge is not written down. We need simple, yet effective training videos and quick checklists so that we can train new staff quickly and consistently. This will increase staff retention and profitability. At the same time, when we exit the business, we will look attractive to potential buyers. They will see that our business has great, sustainable systems, including training.
- Break the chosen area/s into categories. For our kitchen remodeling it is cabinets, countertops, flooring, appliances and lighting. For bath remodeling the categories are .... We work on one category at a time. Let’s use GoPro or cell phone cameras to make videos of our expert crew working on the major processes. We will engage an outside expert who can guide us and build a training system with us using this information.
5. Your Action Plan
Tips for Defining Action Plan
- This includes the specific tactics you will use to achieve your goals.
- I recommend you focus on 90 days. (If you want to set milestones farther into the future you can do that in the goal section.)
- In the action plan, the key is to carve out bite-size steps you can schedule and track. Keep the steps small (smaller than you would think)!
- You are establishing accountability for yourself and your team. You are establishing it not only for your team but with your team. Once you have everyone’s buy-in, the team execution of the action steps will be a lot smoother.
- In the action plan, list the following (download your Business Power Plan™ template here):
- Your objective/goal
- The action steps you plan to take towards that goal in the next 90 days
- The priority of the that action steps on a 1-5 scale (5=highest)
- The impact of that step getting done (high, medium, low) on your business/life
- The start date for that step
- The finish date for that step
- The percentage to which the step is complete
- Of course, you can also use project management software or an Excel sheet for this purpose. The important thing is to bring your strategies to life with concrete action steps which are not too large. It is important to schedule and track the action steps.
Examples for action steps:
- Examples for the goal “raise revenues:”
- Identify where we can network with commercial Real Estate Investors
- Begin networking at first chosen place
- Apply as speaker at trade show xyz
- Examples for the goal “build a training system for our services:”
- Videotape the installation of a kitchen countertop; have the lead installer explain the process
- Have the audio of these videos transcribed
- Systematize the information that was captured from our experts and create a training system from it
Again, make these steps SMALL so that you will take them. A series of small steps will get you way farther than the occasional large step!
6. The Summary: Business Planning for High-Expertise Companies
In summary, we talked about creating a business plan that is concise, on only 2-3 pages. The plan elements build on each other, from section to section. The final section is a practical action plan. Pair this action plan with an accountability structure and turning your goals into reality will be easier than ever. We will talk more about how to establish accountability in your high-expertise companies in another part of this article series.
In the next installment (part 5), I will take about the importance of bringing “fresh eyes” into the conversation and into business planning. It’s all about making sure you keep your own perspective fresh. Find out which opportunities or threats are in your blind spot (hint: everyone has blind spots).
Have a top-notch day!
Dr. Stephie Althouse is the founder of Top-Notch CEO and Top-Notch CEO Academy (TopNotchCEO.com). She has a Ph.D. in chemistry. She has worked with many high-expertise companies, first as an award-winning innovator herself and then as executive, turnaround authority, growth expert and executive coach. Her success in helping high-expertise companies get more from their expertise is based on her ability to bridge the languages of their crafts with that of leadership and business.