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Why Your Business Plan Is Probably Incomplete

August 20, 2012
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224195

Why Your Business Plan is Probably IncompleteAs an entrepreneur, you probably have a business plan that states what you want to accomplish, what threats you see, your financial projections, and how much money it will take to get you there. But have you created a roadmap of how to get there, or just the story of what “there” looks like?

I have the privilege of helping entrepreneurs and startups on a daily basis. And in almost every case, the entrepreneurs I meet have a business plan. But very few have a roadmap of how to achieve their goals or to monitor their progress along the way. That’s what I call the ‘missing link’ among most startups.

You need to create a one-page, actionable, post-able, and unforgettable strategic plan that the whole organization can rally around. At QStart Labs, we use the process outlined in the book “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” (Select Books Inc., 2002) by Verne Harnish. This process should help you identify priorities, ensure alignment within your team, and commit to decisions long enough to judge results that move us towards our one, three, and five-year objectives.

Here’s an outline for which priorities to include on your roadmap:

Create and enlist objectives. This list should drive pretty much every decision within your organization. It is important to set both long and short-range goals. Long-range priorities do not change often and include: core-values, big harry audacious goals (BHAG) and priorities in the three- to five-year range. Short-range priorities include critical quarterly “rocks” that must be accomplished to move your organization toward the defined one year and three- to five-year goals.

Related: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Business-Plan Competitions

Track your progress. Making goals is one thing. You should also vocalize them and identify key performance metrics that should help you know if you’re on the right track. Be sure to communicate your progress on your short-range and long-range goals.

Related: How to Craft a Business Plan That’ll Turn Investors’ Heads

Meet regularly. Schedule regular meetings to build rhythm and ensure accountability. I recommend holding a short meeting each day to gauge your team’s progress and to remedy any sticking points. At the weekly meeting, discuss “good news,” customer/employee feedback and review key performance metrics. Then, each quarter, take one to two days and review the past quarter vs. the plan. The goal of this meeting is to update the one-page plan, including any new three-month “rocks” or bigger changes to your strategy.

Related: How to Write a Business Plan

Here, please see a sample one-page plan from Gazelles.com

How has having a roadmap helped your business? Leave a comment and let us know.