Most business owners don’t like to waste time on paperwork and often like to keep plans in their heads. This distaste for formal planning may appear practical, but may actually hurt their chance for success. SunTrust Business Owner Research shows that business owners with a written plan are much more likely to indicate growth goal achievement.
In practice, committing a plan to paper forces business owners to:
- Document the assumptions underlying their businesses, so they can be tested, refined and validated by actual performance.
- Take time out of day-to-day operations, focus on a few concrete priorities and pick the most profitable growth path.
- Leverage employees and relationships to help grow their business.
A good business growth plan should be short, but well thought-out. As a practical matter, if you cannot outline your top growth priorities on one or two sheets of paper, you probably haven’t thought them through enough.
To help you get your business plan out of your head and onto a piece of paper, we have outlined the five questions a good growth plan must answer. Use the attached template to put numbers to your plan.
- In the next year, how much do you want to grow: in revenue, customers and products?
- Which of the five growth paths is the single best way for your organization to grow — price, new customers, “share of wallet,” new products or new markets?
- What are the gaps you need to fill: time, people, skills, customers or products?
- How can you fill the gaps: reallocating/leveraging existing resources or new funding?
- Who will help you grow — can you identify 50 employees, partners or advocates that you can enlist for your team?