Note: This month I am passing on the advice of SCORE mentor, angel investor and CFO extraordinaire, Hal Shelton. Hal’s 11 commandments for writing a business plan extract the most important thinking and actions of the business plan process. Click here for commandments focusing on the customer, the most important parts of your business plan and tips for getting investors.
At its core, business is about the exchange of value. You create a product, service or experience and the customer signals the value by paying you. If you focus on creating real value, and capturing real revenue, your business will grow.
10. A business plan is never perfect and never finished so do not procrastinate in starting to write the plan and do not obsess in getting the ideal plan—at some point stop writing and get to work satisfying a customer need and making money. Writing a business plan is a means to an end. Set a personal deadline, stop planning and get to work. Personally, I like to create a one page picture I can hang in my office to remind me of the longer term roadmap. I then set future dates (usually monthly or quarterly) to take stock of where I am and how far I have traveled.
11. It is all about the money. Every decision and action you take will have a financial impact—be it to cash flow or profit. While many entrepreneurs have multiple bottom lines (lifestyle, mission, causes they believe in, etc.), if you do not make money, you will not be able to accomplish your mission and goals, or even stay in business. Sometimes that singular fact helps cut through the fog of what to focus on next. Best wishes for a happy and successful New Year for and your business.