If you must write a business plan, you just can’t move forward without one, keep it simple. Don’t think in traditional terms, just do a simple business plan, something you can refer to as a guide. Here are 8 points to consider if you MUST write a business plan:
- Executive Summary – I would write it after you’ve done the next 7 points. Keep it short, one page.
- Company Description – Legal establishment, history, start-up strategy, etc.
- Product or Service – Describe what you’re selling. Focus on customer benefits.
- Market Analysis – You should know your market, customer needs, is there a need, where they are, and how to reach them.
- Strategy & Implementation – Be specific. Include management responsibilities with dates and budgets. Make sure you track results.
- Internet Strategy – For E-Commerce, include development costs, operations, and sales & marketing plans.
- Management Team – Describe the organization, and the key management personnel.
- Financial Analysis – Include your projected profit and loss, and cash flow tables.
You could have someone review this plan to ensure it’s a viable business, be sure this person or firm is capable of doing so. Be careful here, you could get stuck trying to make it perfect, don’t, just write as briefly as you can, unless you’re applying for funding, they want all the details.
I have been doing far too much reading lately, I mean I’m always reading someones work, how else will I ever learn how things work, and why. I spent two hours pouring over Darren Rowse – 31 Days to Build A Better Blog, my head was so full I had to step away and watch a movie.
After that I poked my nose into another great book by David Risley, Six Figure Blogger BluePrint, getting insight and guidence from David Risley. I have been studying this whole Blogging thing and how to monetize it for a long time now. The hardest part was and is getting focused, figuring out which direction I should be going, what do I know best and is there a need out there.
One thing jumps out at you after reading alot of material on the topic, almost every book or whitepaper seems to have a common denominator. The table of contents in all of these has some version of what you should do first, the best way to describe the first item would be, First Things First.
In almost every case, the very first exercise is to start writing good content. I’m a firm believer in doing just that, but I don’t spend a lot of time fussing over it, write, spellcheck and post is my style. Now depending on the kind of blog or what your going to sell will determine if you should get professional writing help.
There is a blog equation as well, Sound Blogging (Content) + Marketing + Traffic (List) = Money!
That may be over simplifying things but that’s the very lowest you can take Blogging for Money. Don’t get me wrong, this is hard work and there really isn’t a shortcut, you will work, and work hard you will for every reader, page view and dollar your site earns.
There’s only one way to go down this road, you need a healthy attitude, because if you don’t, the journey will be painful. My recommendation is to have a good plan, a healthy attitude and enjoy the journey. More importantly, have a good understanding of the WHY, otherwise you will not see it through. I can’t stress enough the importance of a plan, without it, The Blog Equation won’t be enough.
What do you think?
I have been thinking about this question for some time, because there appears to be a gap between IT Departments / Leaders and the rest of the organization. IT departments tend to think in icolation when it comes to the I.T. Plan. I’m generalizing but, this is normal because IT departments believe that the rest of the organization couldn’t possibly understand the complexities of technology let alone know how to implement it. That’s no longer the truth today, everyone has stepped up and learned more and do infact understand far better what technology means and what it can do. That’s not what I want to share with you right now, lets talk about who the I.T. Plan is for.
If the CIO or the person charged with the technology needs of the organization builds an I.T. Plan without consulting all departments and subject matter experts first, should be relieved of duty. The secret to a successful I.T. Strategic Plan is to ensure you have talked with all areas of the organization. It’s a MUST! If you don’t, you have no way of knowing what they struggle with, what they would like to be able to do, and what things they would like you to fix. The subject matter experts in the organization are your greatest allies, they can help you execute incredible customer service. The organization will know you care about each person, that makes buy in much easier when change takes place in systems they use.
Your responsibility is to deliver the right solutions, the right technology and above the best customer service to your organization. It has nothing to do with technology, it’s about people and always will be. The I.T. Strategic Plan is a road map for the IT Staff, it lays out the years work, and how you will serve the organization on a daily basis.
So, who is the I.T. Strategic Plan for? Who do you think and why?
This section may answer some question but will also bring out more, consider it an opportunity to think tank with your team. The S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) gives a quick reference to things that may or may not be real, but are possibilities. The accumulation of all these steps builds a road map, an understanding, and makes it possible to explain or describe where you are going in a short concise way, and makes it obvious what you are planning to do in the coming month’s and or years.
Keep in mind there is no wrong or right answer here, you are merely compiling and observing your organizations current status. This is just one step on the journey, one step in building a business case, and one more step in assessing what services and changes are needed to support your organizations business requirements. The basics rarely change, only the technology does, and of course there is always a list of nice to haves, documenting everything helps you filter what’s important and what is not.
Again, this list will be different…it should be as technology and business needs change. Here is an example:
1. Minimal Core Infrastructure (name your application here)
2. New, enthusiastic team
1. 85% of staff are new to the organization
2. Unable to meet the expectations (Can’t move fast enough to please everyone)
3. Network instability
4. Lack of integration of core applications
1. Social Media Networks
2. Open Source
1. Inability to compete for qualified skilled people
2. Security – hacking, spam etc.
3. Inadequate budget
4. Little control over vendor products or direction
5. Little control over technologies
This is just an example of what your S.W.O.T. might look like, pull your team together and ask all the tough questions, make an exhaustive list and then pick the top 5 from each of the 4 areas in your SWOT.
This is the prime definition taken from the Wikipedia site on SWOT Analysis:
SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies.
Until next time
We’ve covered Vision & Mission, KRA’s and Objectives so far, today I want to talk to you about Action Plans. As you know nothing happens without action of some sort, even writing this article requires action on my part. This area of your strategic plan does not have to be an exhaustive list but a substantial one, these items should also have dates beside them as targets for delivery or completion.
This list might look like a To Do List in or on any other document but this is your bigger picture stuff that goes into your short & long term plans. I am listing for you a few items that might be on your list but you’ll have to assess your situation and build your list. This action list should be in line with some or all items listed in your objectives, this list will cover a broad scope of projects & items you want to get done over the next 12 to 18 to 24 months. Also keep in mind this list is not written in stone, it is like a budget, it’s a guide to keep you on track with the organizations needs. You may make changes to this plan as circumstances arise and technology advances.
1. Identify the most effective software package for the organization – 2Q – 2010
2. Prepare 5 year budget for core applications – 3Q – 2010
3. To prepare a general implementation plan and schedule for core applications for the next 18 – 24 months – 3Q – 2010
4. Develop strategy to train staff – 3Q – 2010
5. Complete a formal review of Network Infrastructure – 2Q – 2010
This list could have over 20 projects or items on it, it’s like a to do list you want to complete in a timely fashion in the upcoming months. At this point you have been assessing your organizations needs and requirements, then documenting your findings. You should have met with all departments and subject matter experts to learn as much as you can about the current shortcomings of your existing core applications. You also would have collected a wish list from each department to assist in assessing or identifying the appropriate software package that will handle 80 – 90% of the organizations process. Your goal is to make the staff’s job easier and giving customers better support by automating as many processes as possible.
As you can see these plans can take on different shapes and sizes but you as the I.T. Leader must know your organizations needs, if you don’t, that’s your first task before you can build an intelligent I.T. Strategic Plan. In the next part of our mock plan, we will shift gears and move into the Analysis part of our plan.