4. Planning for Success

Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Start developing a plan

Taking the time to map out a realistic plan for your business before you open will pay off in the long run. Many successful entrepreneurs will agree that solid planning, both short-term and long-term, is the key to business success. The plan you begin to develop now will guide you through your start-up period and into the future.

How do I create an effective plan?

There are many resources available to assist with your planning, including guidelines and templates. If you are developing your plan for a specific purpose, i.e. government funding or bank financing, you should check with the institution directly for requirements.Key elements of a good plan include a clear business objective supported with good research and realistic financial projections. Determine your objectives before you begin. Where do you see your business one year from now? Where will you be in five years?

You can follow the same basic planning process whether you are creating your short-term or long-term plan. An effective, organized planning process consists of five steps:

    • Set your goals: determine exactly what you want to accomplish.
    • Gather the necessary information: find out what you need to know.
    • Make decisions based on the information you gather.
    • Act on your decisions.
    • Evaluate the results of your actions.

Creating a short-term plan (the first 12-18 months)

A short-term plan is a walk through your business on paper catching problems or mistakes before you open the doors of your business. The plan is useful, providing a path and direction for your business to follow and necessary because most financial institutions, professional offices, provincial and federal departments require them.

A short-term plan includes:

    • A business plan
    • Financial forecasts, and
    • Cash flow forecasts

Developing a long-term plan (three to five years)

You may feel that a long-term or strategic plan is only necessary for larger companies but even the smallest operation will benefit from this exercise. Your long-term plan is a careful look at where your business will be in three to five years. It involves an evaluation of major business decisions such as building a new facility, increasing staff, and plotting your business direction.

While one might question the value of long-range planning for an uncertain future, a business owner is betting on the future of the business. A new business without a plan runs more by good luck than by good management, merely reacting to events as they occur. Plan for success and follow it.

Ready to learn more?

Check out our New Business Checklist to find more helpful resources and considerations for starting a successful business.