The Nuts & Bolts of Operational Planning, part 1 – by Kathie Nelson

A crash-course in mapping your path to a solid business plan.

You want to make money doing what you do best. A sure path to struggle is giving it a go without a plan.  Having no plan equates to working much harder for more hours and for less money over a longer period of time than you’d prefer. Successful leaders know their plan must become a living document that grows with them to sustain them during times of change.

Every business that exists on the planet has these two things in common: a product or service connected to customers who have real or perceived need of that product. It sounds simple but achieving any measure of impact is not easy without a plan.  Wherever you are on your entrepreneurial journey it is never too late to start, tune up, and refine your business plan.

The plan we are talking about today is one you’ll use to guide you every step of the way.

Let’s get strategic! 

Element 1:  Cast a compelling vision. 

Set your destination.  Chances are you have a general idea where you are going. The clearer you are about the end goal, the more productive and straightforward your planning will be.  Tap your inner dreamer.   Project yourself into the future.  Don’t try to figure out the specifics about how you’ll get there as you spend some time imagining where you’ll be at a specific point in time.  For example, picture yourself, your idea, your company, your team, and your customers in 3 years as if it were a current state.  In other words, put your face in the future, look around and write down what you see.

Element 2: Define your Why.

Purpose is powerful. You can avoid potential roadblocks and pitfalls by tapping this energy early on.  What you discover here will fuel the mission and values of your company as you grow. This guiding principle attracts partners and clients alike the clearer you are.  Your purpose for being in business might range from achieving a certain status, to impact through influence, to your ability to control your own income and time.  In any case, your depth of understanding of this motivator and directional point proportionately increases your fulfillment factor, team and customer loyalty.

Element 3:  What do you offer?

Without a product or service customers crave you’ll struggle to find your niche. Your offerings fill a market need that only your company can provide. Capture the detail here describing your company’s ability to lead, deliver, create, implement or facilitate outcomes, experiences, and results.  If your plan is based on a product, describe the outcomes and experiences your customers long for.

Element 4:  Who do you serve?

Your market describes that audience you are passionate about serving, who value your product, share values and are able to pay.  Picture your ideal customers. Describe those raving fans here.  If you need some brain food to stimulate your thinking, picture the scenarios your customers experience that precipitates their need for product.  Incorporate their motivators to work with a company like yours.

Element 5: Check your start point.

Assess the Gap.  It is always important to know your starting place at the beginning of a journey.  Plan to use this as your road map for the year.  The more specific you are, the more this assessment will benefit you.  Be honest with yourself.

What is working now? What is not working now? What needs to change? What do I need to start doing?  And when? What do I need to stop doing?  And when?

These first five elements guide the following operational element.  To get your profit machine in gear we will explore the following elements in more detail in our next post.

  • What drives your economic engine? How do you make money? What is your cost structure? Your revenue streams?
  • Who are your ideal clients? Profile the perfect prospects for each product segment.
  • Identify key partners. Strategic partner relationships encompass everything from finance to regulatory to marketing opportunities.
  • What are your key outreach activities? How will you connect, engage, and convert prospects and partners?
  • What key resources are available now or needed for future growth?  Consider the people, the intellectual capital, financial, and physical requirements to support serving the desired customer experience.

A successful end game requires your business to solve real problems, leverage your expertise or vision, within a scalable, sustainable model over and over again.  Simply said, you have a solution and somewhere in the world there is a customer segment or tribe that needs it.  Everything else is mechanics.  Map your business plan and enjoy the journey!

business planning, how to create a business plan, how to do business planning, kathie nelsonBy Kathie Nelson, CMC®, Business Strategist, Founder “Get Monetized Now.” Who’s Kathie? Business Strategist & Thoughtleader: Clarifying and equipping visionary leaders to monetize their brilliance! My formula: Passion+Purpose+Planning+People = Profitability & Impact:

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