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The Difference Between Small Business Planning and a Business Plan

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So, what’s your plan look like? You know, the plan for your business for the year? The quarter? The month? You do have one right? How will you know if you are successful?

Don’t panic. If you are like the majority of small business owners, you are not very good at planning. Not that you couldn’t be, you have just never taken the time to create a plan for your business. In fact, you wince at the thought of sitting down and trying to create a business plan. But that is where the problem is. There is a major difference between writing a business plan, and creating a simple plan for your business.

The traditional business plan is good for starting a complex business, or getting funding for a rapidly growing company, but for small and medium sized businesses, what they need is a simple business plan to run their business. A strategic, living document about what they expect to happen in the coming months or years, where they expect their business to go, and how they intend to get there.

Traditional business plans are all about theory, and possibilities and the unknown. They want you to spell out what you do know, so you can make a determination if you should start the business, or if the bank should give you the loan. But for an existing small business trying to make this year better than last year, all the while focusing on the actual running of the business, who has time to really think about all of the minutia that goes into a traditional business plan.

What most small businesses need when it comes to planning is a simple business plan that focuses on what they need to do now. It does not have to be a large, multi-page binder with appendices and graphs and charts, it can be a single page document that is all about the here and now.

There are some primary elements that your simple business plan should have. It should have a vision statement that describes what the business should look like, what it does and who its customers are or what market it serves. It should have detailed goals and objectives, or measurables, to help you measure the progress and success (or lack of…) of the business. It should also have a section on your strategies or tactics that you will employ, and it should also have a section that covers what the immediate projects or action plans are.

All of these elements should fit onto a single page. And the best part of a simple business plan like this one is that it can always be kept up to date. The plan should be used to run your business and when changes happen, and you know they will, update the plan to reflect those changes.

There is a difference between a traditional business plan and planning for your business. Use a simple business plan, on a single page to run your business, and see how much more focused your business can be.

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