At Vancity, we see hundreds of business plans each year from new and aspiring entrepreneurs. And from that experience, we know there are five areas in the business plan that entrepreneurs may not spend enough time on: business objective, SWOT analysis, cash flow projection, competitive advantage and market potential.
In this series, I’m going to share some tips on each of these five areas to get your business plan in top shape. We’ll start with your business objective.
The best place to start any business plan is by writing a clear business objective that includes your vision, mission and values. This is your opportunity to communicate your passion and your purpose for what you do.
Now it’s your turn. This is not the time to turn to Google or an online mission statement generator. This is the time to seriously think about what your business is all about. This is the time to dig deep and get personal. Why are you passionate about what you do, and what need are you filling for your customers?
You’d likely have no problem explaining all that over coffee. But how do you fit all that important information into a short and succinct statement (preferably 30 seconds or less)?
There are two steps to creating a vision, mission, and values statement that will jump off the page of your business plan:
1. Ask yourself what, who, and why?
There are three key questions your business objective needs to answer: What am I doing? Who am I doing it for? And why am I doing it?
It’s a simple formula. My business is doing ______ for this purpose, for these people, and for these reasons.
But don’t over-simplify your answer. Make sure to answer all three, but be sure to focus on the why. Why do you care about what you’re doing? Why does the community need your business? Why should this financial institution invest in your idea?
And while authenticity is crucial, so is clarity. Edit, edit, and edit some more until anyone you hand your mission statement to will be able to answer those 3 key questions: What, who and why.
2. Test it out
Once you have a business objective you’re happy with, give it to several different people to review and comment on it. See if they can answer the what, who, and why of your business. It’s important to find someone unbiased and who isn’t emotionally invested in you or your idea. Spouses, family members or best friends are probably not ideal candidates as they may be too worried about hurting your feelings or appearing unsupportive to give you a frank response.
Looking for more support?
Looking for more support to help you complete your business plan? Find out when our next Each One, Grow One small business workshop is happening. The workshop is offered free for members and non-members, and are a great starting place to create your perfect business plan.