Have you wanted a business plan, but wondered how to create a business plan without hiring a consultant or losing your mind?
Well have you ever noticed that the way a question is asked can determine how intimidating it feels to try to answer it?
Compare how eager you feel to dive into each of the following:
- Describe your business’s revenue model.
- Describe how you will set your prices, so that you are sure to have enough money to live on each month.
Both involve fleshing out the same ideas, but the latter feels much more accessible. You can wrap your mind around it instantly. You may not have the answer off the top of your head, but you know how to start thinking about it, and know you can arrive at an answer.
The former is a stumper… “My what?” It sounds very MBA, doesn’t it? But you went straight into business without getting an MBA for a reason.
Yet, your business really does need a clear revenue model. It just doesn’t help develop it to approach the subject with those terms.
Using an Artistic Metaphor to Create Your Business Plan
I’m about to present to you an artistic metaphor you can use to take the intimidation factor out of fleshing out the key aspects of your business plan. Yes, you are going to have at least a functional business plan through following these steps — and it is going to make you feel so much better about what you’re doing each day and your trajectory toward success. As a bonus, it isn’t even going to hurt.
The metaphor we’ll use is that of a village homestead. In the village, each homestead contributes different products and services, and receives other products and services in return. You don’t have to make socks just to have socks. You can offer your hair cutting service to some and get socks from others. Your job is to develop your homestead to the point that it is able to contribute goods or services of high quality to the village, so that you are appreciated and always able to get what you need/want in exchange.
We’ll begin our blueprint with the foundation. This is the aspect of your business upon which all else gets built. If you don’t have a strong foundation, you won’t have a strong business structure at all.
Think of the foundation as your business’s Mission and Vision.
The mission is your purpose and the vision is the result you hope to achieve. They are similar, but not exactly the same thing. For example, at a glass bottle making company, the mission might be to increase the use of durable products so as to reduce waste and protect the environment for future generations. The vision might be a world in which plastic water bottles are a thing of the past, reusable glass water bottles are the norm, and your company is the largest supplier of glass water bottles to the consumer market, with annual sales of…
Foundational questions to ask yourself include:
- Why am I doing this business at all?
- What am I hoping to achieve?
- How will this business benefit me and others?
Moving up within the main house on our homestead, we have the doorway.
The doorway is how people enter your domain. We can think of marketing as the doorway of your business.
Notice that the image shown is a double-doorway. This is because there are two essential aspects you want to plan for marketing. One is what your marketing message will be and the other is how you will communicate that message to people.
Doorway questions to ask yourself include:
- Who do I help, and how do I help them?
- What are benefits I provide?
- How are people better off after receiving my products/services?
- How would I most enjoy communicating or interacting with people about the benefit I provide?
- Of the different ways of sharing my benefit message I’ve tried in the past, which showed the greatest results for a given amount of money or effort?
Imagine trying to live in a house with no windows. Not a pleasant vision, is it? Yet that is precisely how so many people design their businesses. Or rather, fail to design.
The windows are our way of looking out into the broader world and placing what we do in context. They give us a broader view and allow us to find deeper meaning in what’s going on.
Your business’s metrics are like it’s windows. By metrics, I mean chiefly reporting.
The human mind is terrible about seeing patterns in large amounts of very similar data, such as your customer data, sales data, and marketing data. If you think you’re seeing patterns, you’re deluding yourself.
Yet you can look at a chart that a computer has generated summarizing that data, and instantly “get it.” You know what’s working and what isn’t working, so can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work. Over time, this creates a “sure thing” for success in your business. (You just have to make sure your revenue model is strong enough to keep you in business long enough for it to work itself out.)
Perspective questions to ask yourself include:
- How will I collect all the information that is coming in about my customers, sales and marketing?
- What business tools can best help me with this, that are in my price range?
- How will I create the reports I need to understand what’s happening in my business?
- What questions will I ask that these reports will answer for me?
- How often will I run reports, analyze them, then make adjustments in my business?
- Who could help me with this?
Know the primary objective of all this activity… check. Know how we describe our core benefit to the public… check. Know how we continually improve, so that we are sure to be successful… check. But wait a minute… what exactly are we making?
Enter the workshop, where all good things come to life.
This is where you make the goods you sell or develop the services you offer.
Production questions to ask yourself include:
- For physical goods: What are the features of the products I will make?
- Why would anyone want these features?
- How do I know people want these features most?
- For service providers: What are the steps in the process I will take people through to deliver my promised result?
- What setting will I deliver this service in?
- What materials will I need to deliver this service?
Make the most of what you’ve written by depicting how all the parts fit together on a single sheet of paper as a vision board. Choose an image or a few words that capture the essence of each area, draw a house outline, then paste the images or write the text on the drawing.
Keep this up somewhere that you can see it in your peripheral vision while you’re working. Don’t “work on” manifesting the vision. Just let it work in your unconscious, while you attend to your daily work tasks. You will be amazed over time to see that the things you’d clarified, recorded then forgot about have all been realized in your business!
That’s it for this article, but I have a complete training on developing all areas of your business plan using this method. I’m offering new mailing list subscribers a free step-by-step video training that covers the entire business homestead blueprint, as well as an editable PDF template that can serve as your vision board template, bringing all the elements together in one view.
That final element of your business plan is a great reminder each week that what you’re doing is a part of a cohesive plan, even as the minutia of daily work activity threatens to take over and send you into overwhelm and doubt. It just hangs there in the background, silently reminding you that all is well, and you are on track to a destination you have defined.
You’ll find out more on our “Free Stuff” page.
Do you have a business plan for your business? Has one benefited you in the past? How did you get yours made, or what stopped you, if you didn’t get it made?
Or are you looking for a more traditional business plan? Here’s a solid presentation of the subject for early stage businesses: Traditional Business Plan Startup Guide.