10 Qualities of a Good Business Plan Explained
9 min. read
Updated October 27, 2023
According to the United States Small Business Administration, there are approximately 32.5 million small businesses at the moment. The number fluctuates from year to year with businesses coming and going. If you want to remain profitable and thrive, you must have a plan to move forward.
A business plan does far more than help secure venture capital when you’re starting out. You’ll use a strong business plan throughout the life of a company. Use it to refocus your goals, refresh your memory on growth plans, and fulfill marketing goals. Share your plan with employees, shareholders, and investors, and refer back to it to see if you need to make adjustments along the way.
Having a solid business plan can help you successfully start, manage, and grow your business. But what are the qualities that make a business plan more than a document? What does it take to write a strong business plan?
- What are the characteristics of a great business plan?
An excellent plan works for your company and keeps everyone on the same page. There isn’t a lot of ambiguity in it, and all things are listed in an orderly fashion that’s easy to absorb.
The format of the business plan may be almost as important as the words within it, so use bullet points, headers, bold print, and other tricks to keep the reader engaged.
Whether you already have a business plan written and want to edit it to perfection or you need to start from scratch , there are six characteristics every strong plan has.
1. Clear language
It might be tempting to throw in a bunch of industry jargon to show your knowledge of your niche. Unfortunately, most lenders won’t know what you mean. It’s much better to stick to language anyone can understand. You never know who you’ll need to share your business plan with.
Read over the plan several times for typos and clarity. Read out loud so you can “hear” the words. You’ll catch awkward phrasing by speaking the words. You can never have too many eyes on the plan. One person might catch a particular spelling error while another sees the grammatical errors.
Get feedback from your employees, family, mentor, and friends. You don’t have to follow every suggestion, but you should consider what everyone says and choose the things that make the most sense for your business model.
Look at the business plan through the eyes of someone outside the industry. Does everything make sense? Are there any phrases someone might have to stop and look up? You don’t want the reader to be thrown out of the flow of the text.
2. Employee recognition
Your business plan should include a layout for employee recognition. Developing a strong workplace culture benefits your brand in numerous ways, such as creating staff loyalty and retaining your best people. It’s difficult for a company to thrive and grow without focusing on its workers.
When employees receive recognition for their accomplishments, they are 82% happier in their jobs . They’ll outperform workers in a company without the plan for an excellent culture. If you aren’t quite sure what your company culture should be yet, just make some notes on the things you’ve loved about your favorite places to work.
3. Realistic goals
While you might love to run a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, most small businesses stay relatively small. That isn’t to say you can’t find great success as a small business owner, but make sure your goals are achievable .
Brought to you by
Create a professional business plan
Using ai and step-by-step instructions.
Build a strategy
As you work through the potential revenue numbers, pay attention to what others in your industry make in a year. You might be able to exceed that by 10%, but thinking you’ll make four times what your nearest competitor does may not be very realistic.
Making your goals too lofty may hurt your chances of securing financing, too. Those considering investing in your business may feel you don’t fully understand the typical earnings of your industry.
4. Great mission statement
The best business plans outline the purpose of your company. Why did you start the business in the first place, and how will you leave your mark with the brand?
For example, a small landscaping company called Massey Services shares its mission statement on its website. Their overall goal is total customer satisfaction . Everything else in their statement on their webpage ties into that philosophy. They also want to build long-term relationships, they want people to trust them, and they value truth and integrity.
When you have a strong mission statement , it drives everything else you do. If your focus is on building relationships, you’ll develop a company culture based on interactions with employees. Your mission statement might arguably be the thing about your company that never changes.
5. Methodology for results
Make sure your business plan has a way to track results over time. Lay out the methodology of any facts and figures used to estimate revenue or what your costs will be. Then, check against those assumptions from time to time to make sure you’re hitting the right beats.
For example, if you plan to hit a certain level of revenue by the end of the first year, how can you break that down into quarters, months, and weeks? What is the best way to make sure you achieve your goals?
You can’t fix mistakes or make adjustments if you don’t know where you are in the journey. Pay attention to how quickly the brand moves toward objectives and make adjustments as needed.
6. Foundation for marketing strategies
How do you plan to get the word out about your brand? You must have a marketing strategy that makes sense for your budget and your philosophies as a brand. Perhaps you plan to work exclusively with online influencers. How much will you allocate to the budget for influencer marketing?
Take time to study who your target audience is and create buyer personas representing the average person who’ll buy from you. While you might need to tweak your personas from time to time, a solid plan, in the beginning, gets things off on the right foot and helps you bring in new customers.
Figure out how much you’ll spend online and offline on marketing efforts. Where can you reach your average customer? Do they mainly hang out on Facebook? If so, much of your budget can go to Facebook ads. On the other hand, if they use TikTok and rarely visit Facebook, you might want to put more time, energy, and finances into building an audience on the newer platform.
7. It fits the need of your business
The best business plan for your company takes into account why you need a business plan in the first place. Are you going for funding, using the information to improve internal operations, pitching your concept to investors, or perhaps communicating your goals to employees?
There are many different reasons you’ll utilize a business plan. They aren’t one-size-fits-all . You may even find you need addendums or additional plans to match the needs of your business at any given time.
If you intend to use your plan in-house to motivate employees or stick to your goals, a one-page plan may be all you need. You can also use a shorter version to test ideas you have and see how they might match the goals of your company.
On the other hand, a traditional full-length plan works best if you need funding from a bank or want to pitch a concept to an outside investor. You can also use a longer plan to get feedback from a mentor or business coach.
8. Your strategy is realistic
In a recent Gartner Execution Gap Survey, approximately 40% of leaders said their enterprise accountability and leadership were not aligned on an execution strategy. If your business plan doesn’t lay out how the business operates, there may be too much room for interpretation that causes dissent within the company and makes people work against one another instead of as a cohesive unit.
Start by ensuring different operational milestones within your plan are attainable. For example, if you share a financial forecast, is it realistic? Based on current revenue, can you realistically achieve your goals? If you’ve brought in $200,000 per year in revenue for the last few years, don’t expect to jump to $400,000 in the next quarter. Make a plan for increasing revenue – but in increments that make sense and are achievable.
You don’t need an unrealistic plan. Company leaders and employees will only grow frustrated and discouraged if they’re unable to hit any target goals laid out in the plan.
9. Clearly identifies assumptions
When you’re writing out a business plan, you may not have all the answers. At best, some of the information is an assumption based on outside data, past performance, and any testing you’ve completed. There will be times when you make a mistake in your estimates.
Be upfront about what your assumptions are when writing out your plan. Did you assume the company will increase 10% in productivity this year because it did in the last few years? Share your thoughts on why you think this is achievable based on past factors, but also make it clear it’s a guess. In reality, the company may over-or-underperform on those expectations.
Show what is an assumption also point to what might need to be updated or refined after a few months. Consider these areas to revisit frequently for updates or to set new goals.
10. Easy to communicate with the right people
Who is your audience? Knowing who will look at your business plans allows you to create it in a format you can share with the right people. Consider factors such as how easily scannable the text is and what it looks like in different formats, such as a document or PDF file.
Who are you sharing it with, and how will they use it? For example, if you include any links, will the person be able to click on them and go directly to the page you want them to go to? Is the viewer likely to read the plan on a mobile device? How well does the format adapt?
Consider who you’re sharing it with and how they’ll need to use it to make sure you offer it in the best format for viewing by that individual. You may even want to save your business plan in a variety of different formats.
- Keep your plan updated
Your business plan isn’t something you write once and then forget. To truly make yours work for your business model, you must refer back to it and see where you are with your predictions and goals. As you hit high notes, add new objectives and plan them out with measurable goals.
Over time, your business plan won’t look much like the one you used the day you opened your company’s doors. However, the mission statement will likely stay the same, and elements such as company culture won’t change much.
What will change is your knowledge of the industry and how well you can adapt to the challenges faced by all small business owners. With a plan for handling different situations, you’re certain to be one of the small businesses finding success past the 10-year mark.
See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine . She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.
Table of Contents
9 Min. Read
How to Create a Unique Value Proposition + Examples
4 Min. Read
How to Write About Sourcing and Fulfillment in Your Business Plan
5 Min. Read
How to Write a Personal Shopper Business Plan + Example Templates
7 Min. Read
How to Write a Bakery Business Plan + Template
The LivePlan Newsletter
Become a smarter, more strategic entrepreneur.
Your first monthly newsetter will be delivered soon..
The quickest way to turn a business idea into a business plan
Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.
No thanks, I prefer writing 40-page documents.
Flash Sale. 40% Off the #1 rated business plan builder
Top 10 Characteristics Of An Effective Business Plan
If you’re starting a new business, chances are you’ve already got a good idea of what you want your company to be. You know how it will make money and how you want to grow it. But there’s one thing that can make or break your company before it even takes off: the business plan.
A well-constructed business plan serves as a blueprint for your company and sets the stage for its success. It helps you organize your ideas, communicate them clearly to others, and get buy-in from investors or lenders.
A good business plan can also help you identify potential problems that might go unnoticed until it’s too late.
So what makes up an effective business plan? Here are some key characteristics of an effective business plan:
Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
When writing a business plan, you need help knowing where to start. After all, many aspects of running a business need to be covered! But there are ten characteristics that every effective business plan should have.
1. It’s Comprehensive- Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
When writing a business plan, especially if you’re a first-time entrepreneur, you may have to include every possible detail about your business. And while it’s vital to cover all the bases, it’s also important to remember that some things are better left out.
An effective business plan should be comprehensive without being overwhelming. A comprehensive business plan will cover everything from who you are and what you offer to how you measure and achieve success. It should also include a detailed list of the risks associated with your venture and how you will mitigate those risks.
To be successful in your business, you have to have all the information about your product or service and what makes it unique so that when someone asks about it, you can give them a concise answer without having to pause for thought or research their part.
2. It’s Detailed- Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
Why is a detailed business plan so important? It’s simple: the more details you include, the easier it will be for you to decide about your business.
The more specific your plan is, the more likely you’ll have thought through all the various aspects of starting up a company and considered how each might impact your business.
A detailed plan lets you see the results of various courses of action. Whether those results are worth pursuing also helps you identify any weaknesses in your strategy. You may find out that one idea isn’t working for several reasons (or all of them!).
In addition, a detailed plan helps clarify what resources you need to make your business successful. When working on an outline or draft, it can be hard to know what information is relevant and what isn’t.
But once your plan is in its final form, it should be easy for anyone who reads it to understand. The plan should include information you need to know in launching your business.
3. It Has A Strong Executive Summary- Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
The executive summary is the first thing readers see when they open your business plan. They’ll use it to decide whether or not they want to read further. If you need more information in your executive summary, a reader will likely skip over it and move on to another document.
The goal of an executive summary is to convince your audience that you’re qualified and capable of achieving the goals laid out in your business plan. You want them to understand why they should stick around and read more.
4. It’s Easy To Read- Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
One of the essential characteristics of a good business plan is that it is easy to read but detailed. You should write a business plan in a simple, easy way to understand. This allows the reader to grasp what information they need without wading through text reams.
However, it’s also crucial that the business plan contains enough detail so that readers know what they are getting into if they decide to invest in your company.
If your business plan is too short on details, it can give off a “shady” vibe, and investors will avoid investing with you. On the other hand, if your business plan contains too much information, it may overwhelm potential investors and scare them away.
5. It’s A Good Fit For The Company’s Needs- Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
Every company is different, and every business should tailor every plan to the company’s specific needs. How can you expect your business plan to address those needs if you need to know them? This characteristic is needed because it’s crucial to ensure that the business plan fits the company’s needs.
A good business plan helps a company achieve its goals and make money, but if it doesn’t work with the company’s needs, then it can be counterproductive.
For example, suppose a company has big dreams of expanding and hiring new employees to grow. Still, its business plan is focused on cutting costs and reducing expenses instead of increasing revenue. In that case, it won’t achieve its goals.
6. It’s Visually Appealing- Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
Regarding business plans, visuals can make or break your pitch. If you take the time to create a comprehensive and well-thought-out plan, don’t you want it to be appealing?
First, remember that graphics aren’t just for decoration. The graphics are there to help people understand what they’re reading.
For example, if you’re discussing how an employee training program will work, use pictures of people at their desks doing different activities. If your plan involves a new product launch, show how the product looks next to its competition.
Another thing to remember is that visual appeal isn’t just about images. It can also mean using colors strategically. If you’re trying to convey confidence in your company’s ability to handle risk-taking, try using a blue color instead of a dull gray one when discussing the subject matter!
Your business plan should be easy on the eyes with classic formatting, simple fonts, and a clean layout. If you’re using Word or Google Docs, consider using a template that shows this format in its best light.
If you’re trying to impress investors or lenders, try hiring a designer to help with your presentation. It makes all the difference!
7. It Includes An Action Plan With Milestones And Metrics- Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
The best business plans include an action plan with milestones and metrics, which helps you stay on track and allows you to measure your progress.
Including an action plan with milestones and metrics in your business plan will help you achieve your goals. It’s easy to get distracted or lose focus on what matters most, but if you have a clear idea of what needs to be done and when then it’s easy to keep moving forward.
It also helps keep you accountable. You can’t just write down something like “I’ll implement my social media strategy” and not do it! You’re forced to think about how long it takes for people to see the effects of their actions, which makes them more likely to stick with them over time.
8. It’s Flexible- Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
When you’re writing your business plan, it’s important to remember that things change. You won’t be able to predict everything that will happen to your business, and you’ll need to be flexible enough to keep up with the unexpected.
A good plan can adapt and adjust as new information comes in. If you’re starting a new business, there are many things that you will need help to anticipate or predict. You must update your plan as you learn more about the market or discover what works best for your company.
9. It Considers Current Trends In The Industry
When you’re writing your business plan, it’s important to consider current trends in the industry. This will help you avoid catching up in what worked last year and missing out on new opportunities that could make your business more successful.
Taking stock of current trends will also help you stay aware of what other companies are doing and how they’re doing it. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
You want to ensure that you’re allocating your resources in a way that has proven effective for other businesses. That means paying attention to what’s happening outside your own four walls.
10. It Sets Smart Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Actionable, Realistic/Relevant, And Time-Bound)- Characteristics Of Effective Business Plans
Smart goals are a crucial part of the business plan if you need to set SMART goals to be able to achieve your goals effectively.
Smart goals are specific. They are clear and concise, so everyone on your team knows what goals they are working to reach.
Smart goals are measurable. You can’t achieve something if you have a way of measuring it! You need to know how much progress you’ve made and where to go to achieve your goal.
Smart goals are achievable/actionable. If you can’t achieve the goal, it’s not worth setting. This is why setting realistic, attainable goals is essential to help move your business forward rather than just dreaming big!
Smart goals are realistic/relevant, and time-bound. They are realistic within your context (that means no crazy stuff), relevant (it has value), and have a timeline attached so everyone knows when to get things done!
Why Effective Business Plans Are Essential?
If you’re starting a business, an effective business plan is essential to ensure your venture is successful. Here are some reasons why it’s crucial to have a strong business plan:
1. Business Plan Helps You To Focus On What You’re Trying To Achieve- Why Effective Business Plans Are Essential
A business plan helps you to focus on what you’re trying to achieve. With a business plan, tracking your goals and ensuring that the things you’re working on are helping you get it is easier.
A business plan helps you do this by setting out what your company will do, how it will do it, and why it’s essential. It also enables you to prioritize. You can look at your overall vision for the company and decide if certain parts of your plan are more important than others at any given time.
Plus, a business plan doesn’t just help you focus on the future. It also allows you to review past progress and identify areas where things went wrong so they don’t happen again!
2. Business Plan Helps You To Identify Your Goals And Priorities- Why Effective Business Plans Are Essential
Finding the time to plan for the future is challenging when you’re running a business, especially if you’re just starting. But if you need to take the time to identify your goals and priorities, avoid finding yourself with no direction and no way of deciding what’s important.
A business plan will help you set concrete goals for both short-term and long-term success. It also helps keep things in perspective when things don’t go as planned (and rarely do).
If you set out a detailed business plan, you’ll know what steps to take next and what resources are needed for future growth. This will make it easier for you to decide how best to proceed with specific projects or activities within your company.
3. Business Plan Helps You To Identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, And Threats- Why Effective Business Plans Are Essential
Business plans are essential for any business to grow and succeed. To build a successful business, you must clearly understand your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). You can find out these critical factors by creating an effective business plan.
A good business plan will help you identify your SWOT. In other words, it will help you know your strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities that could be available in your target market or industry. This will help you determine what products or services you should offer potential customers.
Once you know these crucial factors, you can take action and make necessary changes to improve upon them. For example, if one weakness is too many competitors in the industry, then maybe it’s time for you to change something to make your company stand out.
You can do this by developing new ways of doing things or even launching new products/services so customers will notice their products/services more than their competitors.
4. Business Plan Helps You Ensure You Have The Resources Needed For Success- Why Effective Business Plans Are Essential
A well-written plan will show investors and other stakeholders that you have thought through starting your business and planned for its growth. It will also show them that you are serious about making this business succeed, which can help them feel more confident in investing in your company.
When your business plan includes a budget, it will be easier to know how much money you need to start up and maintain your business. A well-written plan will also help you identify what resources your business needs, such as staff members or equipment. You can then use this information to determine if a lack of resources will be an issue that could prevent success.
Moreover, a well-written business plan can help you determine whether or not you have the resources needed for success. For example, if you don’t have enough capital to cover unexpected costs, such as paying employees during slow times or replacing equipment when it breaks, then perhaps this isn’t the right time for you to start a new business venture.
Additionally, a well-written business plan allows you to get feedback from professionals who can help improve it before presenting it to people interested in funding or investing in your company.
This ensures that all areas of your plan are covered, and there are no gaps or missing information that could cause issues later on down the road when things start getting more serious with investors and lenders.
5. Business Plan Helps You To Make Decisions Based On Data Rather Than Guesswork Or Intuition Alone- Why Effective Business Plans Are Essential
Business plans are essential because they help you make better decisions. If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of needing more information to decide.
You may have had to go with your gut (or maybe even your best guess) when making a decision that could significantly impact your company’s future.
This is why it’s crucial to have an effective business plan before making significant changes or decisions. For example, if you have a hunch that your product will sell well in the northeast but haven’t sold anything there yet, your business plan can help you decide whether or not to expand into that region.
If you need to decide whether to offer free shipping on all orders over $50 or just those over $100, then again, a business plan can help you decide which strategy is best for your company’s bottom line.
A good business plan will give you all the information you need to make informed decisions about your company’s direction, finances, and operations. A good business plan will also help you avoid mistakes, such as hiring someone who isn’t a good fit for their role or spending money on something that benefits the company less than expected.
6. Business Plan Allows You To Make Informed Decisions Confidently- Why Effective Business Plans Are Essential
You will make better decisions if you have a business plan in place. Indeed, you can’t see into the future, but having a clear plan for what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there allows you to make educated guesses about which decisions are likely to lead to success.
It’s easy to get sidetracked by new opportunities and lose sight of the bigger picture when you’re in the thick of things, but having a clear vision of what success looks like helps keep everything on track.
An effective business plan lets you know exactly where your company is headed and how it will get there. You’ll be able to confidently make decisions that they’re the best possible way forward for your company.
The best part about this is that once you’ve created a solid business plan and have an idea of your goals, it will be easy for you (and anyone working on the project) to know what needs to be done next.
7. It Gives Investors A Clear Understanding Of What They Are Investing In- Why Effective Business Plans Are Essential
One of the most important reasons why is an effective business plan essential is because it gives investors a clear understanding of what they are investing in. When you have a strong business plan, you can use it to attract funding from investors and banks.
Investors want to know that their money is going towards something worthwhile and not just being thrown away on some terrible idea. If you don’t do this, you may find yourself with investors and with enough funding to continue operating the company.
A good business plan will also help you when you apply for bank loans. Banks want to see that you have a solid plan for how your business will operate and understand how much money it will take to start and keep running. A strong business plan can help convince them that you are serious about starting your own company and making it work.
Additionally, a business plan also serves as a road map for employees who are new to a company or project. It helps them understand where their efforts fit into the overall picture and guides their expectations.
This helps employees work more efficiently because they don’t have to guess their role in the company; they know what’s expected of them, when they should expect it, and how much time will be invested in each task or goal.
What Happens When A Business Doesn’t Have An Effective Business Plan?
As we all know, a business plan is a document that outlines all of the most critical aspects of your business. This includes the goals and objectives you hope to accomplish, the strategies you’ll use to achieve those goals and a plan for what happens if things don’t go according to plan.
It’s essentially a road map for your company and one of the most critical tools in your arsenal to ensure that all aspects of your business function effectively.
But what happens when a business doesn’t have an effective business plan? Unfortunately, it can mean some big problems down the line.
1. A Business Without An Effective Business Plan Will Not Be Able To Grow As Fast As It Wants To
A business that does not have a business plan will not be able to determine where it wants to go and how to get there. They will need help deciding on their goals and how to achieve them.
A business without an effective plan will simply have goals but no way of achieving them. This means they will not be able to grow as fast as they want because they will need to learn how to achieve those goals or what steps to take to reach them.
2. A Business Without An Effective Business Plan Will Struggle To Attract Investors And Customers
The first thing that will happen when a business needs an effective plan is struggling to attract investors and customers. A clear, well-defined strategy for growing your company is vital for getting new clients on board and attracting investors who can help you scale up your operations. Investors want to see that you know what you’re doing. That there is a plan in place so they can feel confident that their money is going toward something worthwhile.
3. A Business Without An Effective Business Plan Will Not Be Able To Compete With Other Companies In Its Industry
It’s no secret that the business world is competitive. If you will be in it, you must know what you’re getting into and be prepared to compete with other businesses.
With a plan, your business will be able to compete and also struggle to survive.
A business with an effective plan will likely make better decisions about allocating resources, leading to wasted money and time on projects that ultimately fail.
Without a plan, you will not know what equipment or staff members you need and where they should be located within your company. Your company may end up short on employees at one point or another during its lifespan. When this happens, it can cause severe problems for your bottom line.
With an effective business plan, you’ll be able to determine how much revenue each operating unit generates and ensure that these units are profitable enough to continue operating without any additional investment from ownership or outside sources.
4. A Business Without An Effective Business Plan Will Struggle To Get The Attention Of Potential Employees
When a business has an effective business plan, the company will be able to get the attention of potential employees. Why? Because without a well-thought-out plan, it’s easier to show potential employees how they would fit into your organization and their roles.
It’s also easier to convince potential employees that they should take a chance to join your team if you have a solid plan for how you want your company to grow and evolve.
If someone is considering making a career move and looking for their next opportunity, they need to know that there’s more than just “hiring” going on here. They need to know that there is a future for them with your organization beyond just this one job.
5. A Business Without An Effective Business Plan Will Struggle To Set Realistic Goals For Itself
When a business has an effective business plan, it can set realistic goals. There is a clear vision of where it wants to go and how it will get there. When businesses have an effective business plan, they will also know what resources they need to succeed and how much time and money it needs to reach their goals.
This is why so many businesses fail. They set unrealistic goals for themselves and need more resources or time to achieve them. If you want your business to succeed, create an effective business plan outlining what you want from your company and how you will get there!
6. A Business Without An Effective Business Plan Will Have Difficulty Staying Focused On Its Core Competencies As A Company
A business must have an effective business plan to stay focused on its core competencies as a company. A business plan provides a blueprint for the overall direction of your company, and it helps you stay focused on what’s important. The more you can focus on your strengths and weaknesses, the more likely you will succeed.
A company’s mission statement clearly defines its goals and objectives. With this information, employees may feel confident about what they need to do for the company to grow. This confusion can lead them down the wrong path or result in poor decision-making processes that might cause harm to the organization.
Frequently Asked Questions- Effective Business Plan
What are some common mistakes people make when creating a business plan.
There are a lot of mistakes you can make when you’re creating a business plan.
A big one needs to understand your audience. If you’re writing your plan for investors or lenders, they need to see that you’ve done the research and have thought things through. However, if you’re writing it for yourself or your team, they don’t need to see some details. They just want to know what needs to happen next.
Moreover, another common mistake people make when creating a business plan is not thinking about their vision for the company and how it will grow.
They spend so much time worrying about how they will get started or what they will do with the profits from their first year in business. But you might get stuck as an entrepreneur if you don’t know where your company will go.
Another mistake is to be honest about what can go wrong and what will go wrong. You should be able to anticipate problems, but it’s important to remember that no matter how much planning you do, there will always be unexpected challenges.
It’s better to acknowledge this upfront before anyone gets too far down the road than try to deal with it later when everyone’s feeling frustrated and stressed out by their lack of foresight.
How Often Should I Update My Business Plan?
Every year or once a year, you should update your business plan. It’s a good idea to keep a file of all the updates and changes you’ve made to the program over time, so if you ever want to go back and see when something was added or changed, it’s easy to find.
You may also want to print out an updated copy every year to reflect on your goals at that time.
If your business plan is outdated, the business owner may need the correct information to make good decisions. An out-of-date business plan can make it difficult for you to get funding from banks and other lenders.
Where Can I Get Help Creating A Business Plan For My Business?
Here are some tips on where to get help creating a business plan for your business:
1. Consult an expert: There are many people out there who specialize in helping entrepreneurs write their business plans, as well as people who can assist with other aspects of starting up a new company. An excellent place to start is by asking for recommendations for someone who has worked with other entrepreneurs like yourself.
2. Go online: Many websites offer tools, templates, and business plan advice. If you want help from someone who knows what they’re doing but doesn’t have time to consult them directly, this is a great option to save time and money!
3. Attend workshops: Many conferences hold workshops specifically designed for those interested in starting their businesses. These can be excellent opportunities for learning more about what goes into writing a business plan and getting some hands-on experience before diving headfirst into the process.
4. Ask others: If you still need to figure out what goes into a business plan, ask someone with experience writing one! They can give you some ideas on how to get started and offer advice on how best to approach the task at hand.
Top 10 Characteristics Of An Effective Business Plan – Conclusion
An effective business plan must be clear, concise, and well-organized. Once you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and what you need to do to get there, it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty of your business plan.
Let’s start by writing down all the significant points in one place, making them easy to find. Then, create an outline based on those points. You should also review your plan and ensure it is free of spelling or grammatical mistakes. Finally, remember that your business plan is a living document. It will change as your business changes and grows over time!
How to Write a Business Plan – Entrepreneurship 101
Top 10 Characteristics Of An Effective Business Plan – Recommended Reading
Strategic Pillars: What Are They, Why They Matter
116 Strategic Questions to Ask Senior Leaders – With Sample Answers
Strategic Planning- Definition, Steps, Examples, And Tips
Meet The Author
Can Introverts Make Good Leaders?
Can Introverts Make Good Leaders? Leadership has long been associated with extroverted qualities—charisma, assertiveness, and sociability. However, a silent strength often overlooked resides within introverts.
Year-End Financial Checklist: 12 Tips for Accountants to Wrap Up the Fiscal Year
The post discusses the importance and execution of year-end financial checks for accountants. It explains what a fiscal year-end is, a year-end financial checklist, and why it’s important. It also offers a comprehensive guide on creating a year-end checklist and why it’s beneficial to customize it to an organization’s needs. Technology and automation, especially accounting tools, can streamline the process.
Effective Self-Study Techniques for CMA Aspirants on a Tight Budget
Becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a significant career move but often poses a financial challenge due to the cost of preparatory courses, study materials, and exam fees. However, effective self-study techniques can offer a cost-effective alternative. Self-study benefits include flexibility, cost-effectiveness, control over pace, and focus on individual needs. Challenges may include lack of structure, maintaining motivation, selecting study materials, and balancing study with other commitments. Techniques to study on a tight budget include creating a study plan, using library resources, joining study groups, using online resources, making use of low-cost study materials, and capitalizing on technology.
Subscribe to discover my secrets to success. Get 3 valuable downloads, free exclusive tips, offers, and discounts that we only share with my email subscribers.
- Terms of Service
- [email protected]
© Accounting Professor 2023. All rights reserved
- Case Studies
Ten Characteristics of an Effective Business Plan
1. Planning for business should be a process not an event. Even if it is designed to produce a tangible output like a business plan to be studied by potential investors, it is the process of planning which will ensure focus, commitment and understanding, not the plan itself.
2. The process should be continuous, frequently reviewed and updated. A "once a year" formal meeting is likely to produce significant omissions, constrain creativity and invite people to switch-off from strategic and tactical thinking for the rest of the year.
3. It should directly involve everyone accountable for implementing the business plan. It should also involve, whether directly or indirectly, everyone in the organisation at some stage. The purpose of involvement is to secure deep understanding and commitment.
4. Business planning should be led but not constrained by strategy. Objectives and action plans are extremely difficult to set without an idea of their purpose and focus.
5. To ensure communication is simple and action effective, business planning should define a few, harmonised priorities.
6. When planning for business, organisations should have a good understanding of:
- Clients, their current and anticipated needs and behaviour; how these may change << click for more >>
- The market within which the organisation operates and how it is likely to develop in the future
- Competitive forces and how they are likely to evolve in the medium to long term
- Macro factors affecting the organisation and their likely impact << click for more >>
7. It should attempt to balance this analysis of the external environment with a clear understanding of its internal resources and competences << click for more >>
8. The organisation’s strategic purpose and intent should derive from decisions about how best to manage its resources and competences in order to prosper in the environment in which it operates
9. The process should seek to capture what the organisation has learned from its past, from its competitors, suppliers and customers, and from its own people
10. Finally, planning and review should be lock-stepped together. This means defining plans in terms that are measurable, but also ensuring that frequent reviews examine progress, as well as the effectiveness of the plans themselves.
What is your interest in Business Planning? << Click Here >> to see if I can offer further help.
Click here for Business Plan Templates
We can help you develop your business plan
We provide a confidential 1 to 1 business coaching service. We get your business unstuck and get it going. Use our simple, proven business tools and techniques to improve performance and profit. Well help you set objectives and check your progress.
What our customers say
Sign up for our e-newsletter by filling the form below. Stay up to date with our latest news and views.
We respect your privacy. We will never sell your information to third parties. You can unsubcscribe to our mailing list at any time.
- Business Management Guide
- How to Scale a Business
- Business Growth Features
- Organize Business Contacts
- Cloud Phone for Business Growth
Top 10 Characteristics Of A Successful Business[That you can replicate]’
By Rahul Mishra
Reviewed by Gaurav Sharma
April 19, 2023
Listen Pause Resume
While each enterprise tries to carve out a unique place in the world, famous businessmen like Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, and Mark Cuban have taught us anything that success has a standard framework.
This framework for business success is not unique to a domain but is instead a blueprint which an enterprise’s growth and business success.
For instance, delivering excellent customer experience is one of the aspects of this blueprint for success.
In this article, we’ll cover the other aspects of this blueprint for success, which helps differentiate successful businesses from the rest.
What Is A Successful Business?
The definition of success itself is personal to each business.
However, some of the markers with the help of which businesses can be declared successful are:
- An increase in revenue
- Generating a steady monthly cash flow
- Building a strong brand and customer base, etc.
Let us continue exploring the other characteristics that differentiate successful businesses from the rest with the help of the list of 10 keys to success in business below.
Take Your Business Forward With AI Customer Communication Stack
The 10 key characteristics of a successful business, 1. a strong business plan.
“Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost. You need to have goals, create milestones and have a strategy in place to set yourself up for success.” – Yogi Berra.
As per the quote above, you should not commence your business without a strategic plan in place. That is because it is strategy that drives business success.
A business plan is thus clear documentation of:
What goals the business aims to achieve within a defined time frame The steps to achieve these targets
These strategies must be exhaustive. This is because, when the entire company knows what is expected of them, it makes it easier for everyone to work congruently.
2. Willing to Spend On Marketing
“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time” – Henry Ford.
We can’t stress this enough – investing in marketing when it comes to your business is very important, especially when you’re just starting out.
This is because, in the initial years, your expenditure will outweigh your income, and reducing the former to increase the latter can prove unwise for your enterprise.
Additionally, marketing creates awareness for your brand and its products/services, which will drive both prospective customers and loyal relationships.
Generally, it’s advisable for:
- B2B businesses to spend 2-5% of their revenue on marketing
- B2C businesses to spend 7-10% of their revenue on marketing
3. Having a Revenue Generation Plan in Place
If marketing is one side of the coin, sales is the other. You need to have a plan in place for where the revenue will come from.
You can ask yourself questions such as:
- Is the business going to sell a product?
- What are the different pricing plans?
- Is there a subscription model?
- Is there scope for referrals or recurring revenue?
Asking these questions even before launch will help your sales teams focus on creating the right funnels and sales strategies. It will also help you correctly tailor your marketing strategies and efforts.
4. The Vision Of The Business Owner is Aligned with the Business
“Leadership is the capacity to translate a vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis
Now, a business owner’s vision must be aligned with that of the business, as, in essence, the business owner’s vision is one of the most important characteristics of a successful business owner, which manifests into a thriving business.
This is why, if you are a business owner, it is imperative to have a strong and clear direction for the business, which you can articulate clearly to all other stakeholders involved.
5. Keeps Funding Ideas Ready
“When looking for funding, don’t just look for cash. Look for the right people.” – Jodie Fox.
Business owners often have to decide between bootstrapping the enterprise or raising funds from investors when starting their enterprise.
As both options have their merits, the choice lies with the business owner and how they foresee the enterprise moving forward.
Either way, it is always beneficial to have a backup strategy for the capital, which is funding. You can:
- Locate key investors who could be interested in investing in the business
- Build strong relationships that you can leverage if and when needed.
- Approach media-based funding bodies like Shark Tank, etc., which will at least guarantee you publicity if nothing else
6. Builds Customer-Centric Strategies
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology” – Steve Jobs.
When you align your strategies according to your customers, you stand very little to lose.
Now, the steps involved in building a customer-centric business are:
- Creating buyer personas on the basis of the knowledge gained following your audience research and segmentation. This helps you define the characteristics of each person or group in this audience
- Another important aspect of a customer-centric business is customer experience, which we will come to in a bit
7. Maintains a Long Term Vision
“I’m here to build something for the long term. Anything else is a distraction.” – Mark Zuckerberg.
An enterprise that focuses on the short-term usually focuses on revenue-based strategies. These strategies yield quick results and are often rewarding, but are not sustainable.
One example is being extremely thrifty when spending on marketing and maintaining larger profit margins.
On the other hand, enterprises that maintain a long-term vision often implement sustainable strategies that focus on building a strong brand rather than on immediate monetary profits.
8. Is Flexibile & Adaptable
‘Pivot’ – a term that gets written on the whiteboard of almost every start-up. It refers to changing the focus and direction of your business due to unavoidable reasons.
Being flexible is synonymous with adapting, which in itself is a key skill in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.
For instance, consider the storm regenerative AI and tools like ChatGPT are causing. Do you weather the storm and pray for things to go back, or do you want to adapt and use disruptive technology for your benefit?
9. Stands Out of the Crowd
“You don’t need to be the biggest company to wipe out the biggest company. You just have to be so specialized that they can’t afford to do the same thing” – Marty Neumeier.
Let’s face it, no matter which domain you walk into, unless it’s breakthrough innovation, you are going to face stiff competition.
This is why you must strive to be unique.
You can do so by carving out some sort of niche for yourself, such as, for instance, you can be a brand that specializes in only futuristic design if you are a customized stationery brand, and so on.
10. Focuses on Skill Development
“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” – Robert Greene
Lastly, you should always invest money and time in skill development for yourself as well as your employees, as the industry always looks for people and companies which remain relevant in the changing times.
A company that promotes new skill development and hones existing talent will always outperform its competitors.
Skill development should be considered a business goal.
Each employee should have a target (and incentive) for upskilling, and business owners should provide the tools and expertise needed for resources to learn new skills.
Bonus Tip – Enhance Customer Experience Through Communication Technology
We did speak about developing customer-centric strategies, and we want to touch base on one crucial quality every successful business delivers – excellent customer experience.
Customer experience is so critical today that even Google considers it one of the most important metrics when ranking websites on its search engine results page.
There’s no arguing about Google’s success as a company, so maybe other enterprises should take a page from its book.
A key aspect of maintaining excellent customer experience is implementing strong communication channels and technology, and that’s where technology like VoIP comes in.
What Are The Key Features To Look For In A VoIP?
- Quickly access past calls
- Analyze numbers
- Evaluate the general activity and trends associated with a call
- Through Call tagging, one can easily tag a team member to manage a call or to listen in and gain valuable insights.
- This feature enables customer care executives to function as a close-knit group. It also provides the notes functionality for a better understanding of the client or the call itself.
- Call Scheduling provides effective call management where client activities can be planned days and weeks ahead.
- By scheduling calls and assigning team members to them, you are removing the need for daily briefings, thus saving time and effort.
- Since a business owner might have multiple teams under them, it makes sense to manage and prioritize calls between teams.
- Through Call Distribution, a business owner can easily distribute calls between people.
- This can help highlight a team’s performance as well as aid an employee with voice processes.
Training and Evaluation
Call Recording :- A call recording lets you easily reflect on the performance of your team. You can also analyze and assess a call for insights into the client’s response.
It’s ideal for coaching and recommending improvements. Moreover, it also functions as evidence in the case of a legal issue in the midst of a voice process.
- This feature incorporates the idea of providing virtual local phone numbers in virtually any country.
- International phone numbers help a business expand into different countries without the need to have a physical presence. It also boosts confidence in international customers as the number used looks local to them.
- For a sales and services department, a Toll-free number acts as a beacon of effective customer care. A toll-free number inspires confidence in the customer. It also helps provide better customer service without any expense on the customer’s part.
- As a business expands, it should be able to handle all calls and clients while making it convenient for an employee to connect and handle a call.
- Mobility lets employees gain access to calls virtually anywhere by simply plugging in their devices to high-speed internet.
Growing a business is a slow and painstaking process, but also an enjoyable one that teaches you a lesson every step of the way.
The beauty of navigating a business from a startup to a thriving enterprise today is that entrepreneurs before you have experimented and left behind a blueprint of the 10 things that make a business successful that you can follow.
While success does not have a common denominator, a business can be deemed as successful if it:
- Sets clear targets
- Attains those targets
- Pushes the envelope by setting newer, more challenging goals
The three things that make a business successful are a:
- Strong, clear, and detailed business plan
- Talented team of individuals who believe in the business vision
- Willingness to be flexible and adapt
The six things characteristics of a successful business are, that the business:
- Understands the importance of hiring talented employees that bring new skill sets to the table
- Is willing to invest (money, time, and/or effort) in marketing.
- Has a customer-centric strategy
- Understands that the market is always evolving, and is are open to change
- Embraces technology
- Has leaders who are visionaries with a strong sense of purpose
A successful brand is one that can set long-term goals and focus on building a reputation that enables it to be self-sustainable.
With over a decade of experience in the SaaS industry, Rahul currently oversees the Customer Success team for the Americas region. He has been a key figure in establishing, scaling, and also crafting the strategic vision for the department. Specializing in the digitization of customer success processes, Rahul excels at creating and executing operational playbooks aimed at boosting customer retention and renewals. Under his leadership, the team has achieved significant gains in NRR and NPS, elevating overall customer advocacy. Over the past four years, Rahul has held similar high-impact roles in various organizations, consistently contributing to their success.
How useful was this post?
Monthly insights, delivered to your inbox
Learn from our videos, other categories.
- Grow Your Business
- Call Center Software
- CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service)
- Conversational AI
- Customer Success
- Improve Agent Productivity
- Inbound Calls
- Intelligent workflows
- Outbound Calls
- Sales Dialer
- Training and Coaching
Everything that you need to know to start your own business. From business ideas to researching the competition.
Practical and real-world advice on how to run your business — from managing employees to keeping the books.
Our best expert advice on how to grow your business — from attracting new customers to keeping existing customers happy and having the capital to do it.
Entrepreneurs and industry leaders share their best advice on how to take your company to the next level.
- Business Ideas
- Human Resources
- Business Financing
- Growth Studio
- Ask the Board
Looking for your local chamber?
Interested in partnering with us?
Start » strategy, 10 essential things successful businesses have in common. does yours.
We spoke with 10 business owners who shared the most important characteristics of successful businesses.
Entrepreneurship is a difficult yet rewarding career path regardless of the industry. While different types of businesses might measure success differently, there are universal habits or qualities that thriving businesses have in common.
We spoke with 10 business owners about the most important characteristics of successful businesses. Here's what they shared.
Willingness to take chances
Business owners who are willing to take chances tend to achieve more than those who play it safe.
“Successful businesses may be established enough to follow stable business processes, but they’re also bold as well as risk-taking,” said Jake Smith, managing director of Absolute Reg . “They know that failure is just a start to becoming successful. And while they’re practical, successful entrepreneurs are always willing to make modifications.”
Providing customers with unique value helps businesses stand out from their competitors, said Reda Elmardi, CEO of Strong Chap .
“We can’t all have the cheapest prices, but you can surely emphasize other aspects of benefit,” Elmardi added. “From engaging industry experts to add to your customer service, to [finding] unique goods/offerings, to executing loyalty programs, there are countless ways to make your business distinct from your competitor.”
[Read: 10 Hugely Successful Companies that Reinvented Their Business ]
To both reach and retain success, businesses must have tenacity, or determination, and persistence in the face of conflict.
“Tenacity will allow you to withstand the toughest of times and also fully embrace the best of times,” said Christopher Grozdon, CMO of DASH-SEO . “There will always be ups and downs throughout everyone's lives, yet with owning a business, you will certainly experience those ups and downs to the extreme … If you have the tenacity to push through tough times and work hard to achieve your goals, you'll most likely become a successful business, through and through.”
Many businesses get swept up with their own personal goals and lose sight of those who matter most: their customers.
“One thing successful businesses have in common is … a strong customer focus,” said John Stevenson, marketing specialist at My GRE Exam Preparation . “They create a culture that is centered around their customers and focus their processes, products and services around their services needs. Delivering constant high quality products/services also helps them succeed as people's regard for them remains high and positive.”
[Read: 10 Key Talents Most Great Entrepreneurs Have ]
A business that is able to nurture the same passion they have for their offering within their employees is one that will deliver excellence to their clientele at every touchpoint.
Lance Wilkins, founder, Call Outdoors
Chris Taylor, marketing director at Profit Guru , noted that successful businesses tend to have good marketing strategies that got them there in the first place.
“Businesses normally obtain the most success through their marketing efforts,” he said. “The key to your marketing strategy is to employ as many marketing channels as possible. For instance, pulling customers by pay-per-click advertising, newsletters and social media is expected to attract more customers than it would from practicing just one of these courses.”
If you lack a specific vision or company mission, your business won’t be consistent, which can hurt your bottom line.
“Most successful businesses have a strong ultimate objective which they strive for every day,” said Kevin Mercier, founder of Kevmrc.com . “These businesses achieve their goals by setting short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives which they go on to accomplish day by day. This vision is not just instilled into higher-level management but even lower-level employees that work together in synergy to achieve their firm's ultimate goals.”
According to Lance Wilkins, founder of Call Outdoors , passionate leaders are the backbone of thriving businesses.
“One of the key characteristics of a successful business is a leader (or leadership team) who gets their employees as excited about their product or service as they are,” he said. “A business that is able to nurture the same passion they have for their offering within their employees is one that will deliver excellence to their clientele at every touchpoint.”
[Read: The Surprising Psychology of Successful Entrepreneurs and Why They Take the Risk ]
Employees play a crucial role in a business’s success and development, and it’s important they’re in alignment with their company’s mission.
“Most successful [business owners] … make sure their employees are empowered to make decisions and take ownership of their work,” said Karthik Subramanian, senior content manager at Picmaker . “That means there is no micro-management, nor is there any fear-mongering. Rather, it is a collaborative approach.”
Tom Winter, founder of DevSkiller , stressed the importance of keeping up with your customers’ ever-changing expectations.
“Businesses that are resilient and withstand the tests of time, including pandemics, are the ones that are the most adaptable,” said Tom Winter, founder of DevSkiller . “With the fast pace of technology these days and constant shifts in trends, it’s important to be able to mold your business accordingly.”
Diversity is especially important today, as consumers and businesses alike are aiming to be more inclusive and socially responsible.
“The notion that two heads are better than one only works if both of those heads are listened to and each of them have something different to say,” said Christy Pruitt-Haynes, leadership development, human resources and diversity consultant . “If not, a company can get a louder version of the wrong answer. Diversity, when coupled with collaboration, ensures innovation and a wider skill set for the company.”
CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.
Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners stories.
CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here .
Become a small business member and save!
Become an integral voice in the world’s largest business organization when you join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a small business member. Members also receive exclusive discounts from B2B partners, including a special offer from FedEx that can help your business save hundreds a year on shipping. Become a member today and start saving!
Subscribe to our newsletter, Midnight Oil
Expert business advice, news, and trends, delivered weekly
For more business strategies
5 biggest challenges facing small businesses right now, 15 timeless business lessons from hallmark christmas movies, small business trends that will impact your sales in 2024.
Welcome to CO—
Designed for business owners, CO— is a site that connects like minds and delivers actionable insights for next-level growth.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce 1615 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20062
Looking for local chamber, stay in touch.
- My Account My Account
- Cards Cards
- Banking Banking
- Travel Travel
- Rewards & Benefits Rewards & Benefits
- Business Business
Top 10 attributes of successful strategic plans.
Published: June 09, 2023
Learn how to make sure your strategic plan succeeds with our top 10 attributes of successful strategic plans.
For all the attention and focus placed on strategic planning and change initiatives, it’s hard to imagine that many strategic plans fail, and many change initiatives fall short of producing any meaningful or lasting change.
Below, several business mentors compared notes on initiatives that have succeeded and created a top 10 list of shared attributes for successful strategic planning.
What Is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning generates a desired pattern of decision making across an organization. Strategic planning is about how people throughout a company make decisions and allocate resources to help accomplish key objectives.
A good strategic plan provides a clear roadmap , including a set of guiding principles that defines the actions people in the business should take (and not take) and the things they should prioritize (and not prioritize) to achieve the overall company goals.
Key Characteristics of Strategic Planning
So, what are the characteristics of a good strategy?
Problems should be recognized, diagnosed, and investigated before good strategic planning can begin. Problems become the targets for strategic planning, so figure out what you're aiming for first.
Establish at least one guiding principle to help move you along your strategic path. The more guiding principles you have, the more effective your strategic abilities will become. If you have principles to fall back on, making trade-off decisions will be easier and you'll waste less time.
Goals, targets, and guiding principles tare great to have. But until action is taken, nothing actually happens. However, plan your action first. Jumping headfirst into action can be extremely unproductive, and even counterproductive, if taken without regard to targets and principles.
10 Attributes of Successful Strategic Plans
1. consider internal and external factors..
You need an objective and unbiased understanding of what's happening in and outside your business. Take a hard look at what’s happening externally and internally, paying special attention to the needs of your stakeholders. Internal factors can include your company culture, business resources, cash-flow management , and more. External factors can include the economy, competitive landscape, and industry regulations, among others.
2. Set purposeful, realistic goals.
It’s critical for your team to understand the purpose of your strategic initiative and have clear business goals that are aspirational but realistic, notes Ned Frey, owner of Foursight Seminars, Inc. He thinks of goals based on “purpose, focus, and passion.” Purpose, a big picture focus, action, and measurement through defined KPIs should all be prioritized in setting goals.
3. Create a sense of urgency.
“Without a sense of urgency, it’s too easy to put off until tomorrow what should be acted upon today,” says Allen Hauge, president of Hauge Farms, Inc. Setting smaller milestones within larger goals is important, but it's also important to get started. Plans often evolve as they go. It's about lighting the fire that inspires a will to change, even if it happens in small doses.
4. Leverage your organizational strengths.
What differentiates your business? Strategy is about understanding your company's strengths and leveraging them to get ahead. In the book Built to Last , Jim Collins and Jerry Porras discuss the importance of balancing the unchanging core (values and company purpose), while stimulating progress (change and innovation).
“Play to your organizational strengths. Not doing so is the equivalent of what Tom Rath describes as ‘taking the path of most resistance,’” says Steve Brody, a former senior executive with Coca-Cola.
5. Prioritize your organizational culture.
Working to align with your culture can go a long way toward moving your strategic plan forward. Employee buy-in and enthusiasm starts with understanding the 'why' behind your goals, along with outlining what steps they can individually take to help reach them.
6. Establish commitment from leaders.
Leaders can’t force change, but they can guide it. Regardless of their leadership style , savvy leaders know how to show their own commitment and delegate properly to reach larger strategic goals. Good leaders can have a large impact on a company's strategic goals, supporting and guiding employees along the way.
7. Commit to executing strategic goals.
Successful execution means having the discipline necessary to achieve your goals and make sustainable behavioral change. As long as change is in place and planned accordingly with the team's buy-in, leaders don't have to commit to reaching drastic goals overnight.
8. Be transparent about the steps it takes.
It’s essential for employees to embrace the strategic plan as their own plan. To accomplish this level of buy-in, leaders should be as transparent as possible right from the start and clear on what action steps to prioritize. To sustain the effort in the long term, employees should understand how their daily activities are having an impact – and be rewarded accordingly.
9. Monitor, measure, get feedback.
“Even the best strategic plans require adjustments along the way,” says Linda Gabbard , president of Framework Initiatives Company, Inc.
That means looking at both intended and unintended effects. A performance dashboard can help with this. Monitor your plan’s progress and KPIs. Additionally, obtain feedback from all stakeholders and stay nimble to adjust as you go. Identifying and evaluating key assumptions about the plan is essential. Periodically, challenge your assumptions and see if you can improve the plan.
10. Emphasize and reward positive results.
Recognize small wins, reward your team's efforts, and reinforce the positive results your strategic initiatives have produced. Doing so will go a long way to taking strategy from tasks to being a core pillar of what your company has become.
Successful strategic plans require clear, measurable, purpose-driven goals and full team buy-in. That way, individuals can be motivated to embrace their role in reaching larger strategic goals that can make a company thrive.
A version of this article was originally published on March 16, 2011.
Photo: Getty Images
- FCC KNOWLEDGE
- STRATEGY & PLANNING
10 steps to a solid business plan
A business plan is a key tool that can set you up for business success. It helps you focus on your goals and provides the answers you need to make your financing and loan process easier. Here are 10 things you should include as well as some resources to get started.
Need a farm business plan? Our business plan bundle can make writing one easier.
1. One-page executive summary
Briefly explain your business vision. Include: who you are, what your business does, future business plans and how you will be successful. Also, summarize your current financial state and future needs.
Read: How to develop a successful farm vision
2. Goals and objectives
What’s the purpose of your business? Outline your key strategies and main goals for the next one to three years.
Learn: Setting achievable goals
Farmers with a written business plan average a return on assets five times higher than those without.*
3. Company background or history
Summarize your company’s achievements and plans for growth. Describe any company strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and any significant changes that could impact the operation.
Research: Industry, markets and trade (AAFC)
4. Ownership, management and human resources
Describe the ownership structure. Include each owner’s qualifications, history and your management reporting structure. You’ll also need to identify key employees, benefits, labour policy and a succession plan (if applicable).
Use: Agri HR Toolkit (Canadian Agricultural Resource Centre)
Read: Managing People
5. Financial position and projections
For existing businesses: include financial statements from the past five years and a monthly cash-flow forecast covering at least 12 months.
For start-ups: include projected financial statements for the first three years of operation and a monthly cash-flow forecast covering at least 24 months.
Get: Ag Expert Accounting
Use: FCC Money & Finance Basics guide and FCC Cash flow planning guide
6. Products and services
Describe your product or service and what makes it marketable. Is there an aspect that’s not available in the marketplace?
Listen: Cutting edge cattle: Balance and the business of ranching
Read: Know your cost of production for better decision making and Do you know your cost of production?
7. Industry analysis
Identify your industry and describe its overall size, growth stage and patterns.
Read: FCC Economics sector and production reports
8. Target market
Describe the potential size of your market. It helps to include popular market trends and customer profiles.
Compare: Statistics and market information (AAFC)
Find: Market Prices and information
Identify primary competitors within your target market. List their strengths and weaknesses compared to yours.
Find: Canadian food supplier directories (AAFC)
10. Marketing and sales plan
Describe your marketing plan and distribution channels. Include the steps for attracting and retaining customers (if applicable).
Read: Marketing 101 (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) and Want a profit boost? Make sure you have a good marketing plan
*Source: Rob Hannam, Synthesis Agri-network
Start a farm from scratch? Difficult but possible
Scott Beaton didn’t come from the farm. But with help from friends and knack for diversification, he grew his small operation into a full-time farming career.
From cash flow planning to net worth statements, get the basics you need to prepare for a loan application.
Check it out
Writing a farm business plan?
We have a business plan bundle to set you up for success.