1. Create A Mental Picture Of Your Business Plan’s Impact

What would it feel like to have your plan work? Picture it in your mind. Better yet, gather images that reflect this “dream” and put them on paper to create a visual map of your future.

  1. Outline Your Business Plan

This becomes the table of contents for your plan to help you organize the elements.

  1. Prepare Your Business Plan Binder

Assemble everything in a three-ring binder with tabs for each section. This allows you to change the plan as you go along.

  1. Gather Materials You Already Have

If you’ve been in business awhile, you should have a fair amount of documentation (financials, marketing and customer data, product information, etc.). Decide if each piece is complete as is, or needs to be revised, and put it in this section.

  1. Identify What You Need To Produce

Also include who needs to provide the products or services and where to get the materials and resources.

  1. Conduct a Planning Meeting

Gather your executive team (or if you’re a small business, all your staff) and enroll them in the process. Paint the picture of what you’re trying to create, and ask for their help and support. Listen to what they say. End the meeting with a clear understanding of who will do what by when.

  1. Prepare, Review, and Revise Materials

This is the tactical part of the plan. Review each piece of information your team provides to ensure it is relevant and that each piece works together with the other pieces to achieve the future vision. If they need further analysis or revision, send the materials back to the teams or individuals for revision and review them again.

  1. Produce the “Final” Plan

Put it all together and give your plan a polished, easy-to-read appearance. Reduce it down to a two-sided, one-page document that each person can have handy as a reminder of what the business is trying to accomplish.

  1. Create a Change Mechanism

Set follow-up meetings on everyone’s calendar to review the plan and make necessary changes as you go along. This is critical to ensuring that you are able to adapt to change as it occurs and keep your business on course.

  1. Celebrate

You did it! Go ahead and celebrate having taken the time to prepare your business plan and get others enrolled in the vision for your business. Keep the plan handy so you refer to it frequently to stay on track.

— Information provided by Jeri Denniston, director of Yavapai College’s Small Business Development Center.