My StartUp has walked you through a few aspects of organizing yourself as you prepare to launch a new business. We’ve looked at value proposition statements and we’ve taken a general overview on setting priorities.
In this blog, we’ll zoom in a bit closer to flesh out the details of your blossoming business plan.
Consider using the following tools to help you extract your thoughts and commit them to paper.
Brainstorming sessions with management, staff or on your own can help you come up with creative ideas, areas for improvements, and service/product additions.
It allows you to explore the potential of your business. If you decide to include your staff, ensure you provide each department, team or group with sufficient time to prepare. You can provide some guidelines, if you feel you need to facilitate the process. However, brainstorming works best with very minimal control and criticism. You can control the amount of time allocated by category, yet your staff should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts without negative putdowns.
While all ideas are appreciated, some may not be practical or attainable within your given timeframe. As you review all your lists, ideas, and most importantly, your Mission and Vision statements, select your top priorities. To ensure you attain your goals, select goals you can implement, execute and monitor progress.
- Ways of monitoring progress:
- Casual conversation
- Weekly staff meetings or monthly meetings with staff and project managers <
- Communication with mentors, advisors, third parties
- Set calendar tasks
Value Proposition Statement
The value proposition statement is a specific promise about your service or product that represents a valuable offer to your customers, one that will show the difference between you and your competitors. This is the key point: what differentiates your business from the competition?
Create a list of all your questions, concerns, and expectations – just like a laundry list. Ensure you write down all those ideas and/or challenges that keep you up at night. The more time you dedicate to writing all your thoughts down, the clearer your mind will be. At first, you do not have to think in any specific pattern; however as you finish your list, you may wish to categorize your thoughts by topic: marketing, financial, operations, etc. In addition, you can rank your list by importance and identify them by priority: short-term, mid-term, or even long-term goals.
Consider using the SWOT Analysis tool; which seeks to determine Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that are faced by your business. This matrix is a great tool to identify current resources, challenges, and future opportunities. It should be noted that each category requires an honest assessment of your current state under each heading.
The Strength and Weaknesses category is considered to be a review of internal business condition (operations, credentials, lack of training, lack of financial resources, etc.), while Opportunities and Threats are considered to be an external review (change in government regulations, change in market trend, new competitors, etc.)
Basic Customer Service Map or Business Blueprint
Create a business customer service map or blueprint of your current operations. What does the flow of your service look like – from receiving phone calls, orders, and requesting estimates, through to execution of service/delivery. You should include your complaint resolution process and any other steps you take. Ensure you outline all of your customers’ interactions with your employees and ordering system, website etc. This ensures that no gaps are missed and you can clearly identify which area needs improvement.
If you are running your business alone, this method ensures you follow a process and do not get overwhelmed with your demand.
Mission and Vision Statements
If you have used the tools above or you have an idea of the direction you wish to take your business, identify how you can communicate this through a Mission and Vision statement. This will serve to clearly communicate your business objectives to stakeholders such as customers, employees, and suppliers. Read My StartUp’s blog on Creating a Mission Statement for Your Small Business.
While planning is essential, many internal or external factors can challenge your plan, timelines and expectations. If possible, have a contingency plan ready. Lastly, keep in mind to plan your downtime, whether it is vacation time, a hobby or some entertainment.
As you lead your business in 2016, a healthy balance of work and fun can help you stay focused.
Cesar Gomez, CFIB Business Counsellor