To keep your business afloat, plan your course carefully

Your business should have a plan. Ships can’t leave port without one.

Market research will tell you if there’s an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. It’s a way to gather information about potential customers and businesses already operating in your area. Use that information to find a competitive advantage for your business.

A business plan is a written description of your business’s future. That’s all there is to it–a document that describes what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you’ve written a plan or at least the germ of a plan.

Business plans can help perform several tasks for those who write and read them. Investment-seeking entrepreneurs use them to convey their vision to potential investors. They may also be used by firms trying to attract key employees, prospect for new business, deal with suppliers, or better manage their companies.

So what’s included in a business plan, and how do you put one together? Stated, a business plan conveys your business goals, the strategies you’ll use to meet them, potential problems that may confront your business and ways to solve them, the organizational structure of your business (including titles and responsibilities), and finally, the amount of capital required to finance your venture and keep it going until it breaks even.

It all starts with a plan.

While a group of us was in Panama City, we were chatting and writing on napkins about the direction we wanted to take for our lives. These scribbles became SynFiny’s multi-year vision and strategy document. Although this guide was a good one, it didn’t help us make the most important decisions for its future. We needed to make priority calls about what we should and shouldn’t do.

As we began our journey as a startup, many critical decisions needed to be made. Do we prioritize clients or build brand equity? Or systems and processes or advertising? Or a company website or social media or recruiting personnel? That last one was a joke. Each one of these needs to be addressed. But what level of sophistication is required in each area?

These decisions had a significant impact on the business’s future. Teddy once famously stated, “Do what’s possible with what you have and where you are.”

Making the right decisions

Too often, the founder of a company or its leadership team does not make the right priorities calls. The wrong decisions can cost valuable time and resources. The money goes away. Although the founder is desperate for new sales and a new round of fund-raising opportunities, no one will give good money after bad. The company eventually sinks after a great vision and idea.

Charts are essential for navigating a ship. It would help if you made the right decisions to create an action plan to achieve your vision. Without a plan, the Panama Canal wouldn’t have been built. If you want your business to be sustainable, I highly recommend having a vision and a plan.

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