Implementation: Turning Your Business Plan Into A Business

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    You’ve gone through the steps. Your business plan is reasonably thorough. So there’s not much to worry about, right? Wrong. If it’s good, it will get you started. But it’s only a plan. The rest you’ll have to figure out as you go. Reality has an annoying way of interfering with plans.

    Here are some implementation tips:

    1. Put someone in Charge. It’s impossible to succeed without someone who will take personal responsibility to make sure that each key component of plan is implemented effectively and adjusted when the unforeseen happens.
    2. Customers Matter. Learn as much as possible about why they buy from you (and why they don’t), who else they buy from and why, and what improvements they’d like to see. Your venture will only exist as long they decide it will. Market research is a never-ending task. Find better ways to deliver what they want.
    3. Focus on Success. To achieve sustainability, most businesses focus on a small number of success factors, such as: sales goals, controlling costs, and not running out of money. Attracting and keeping the right staff. You’ll probably have two or three others. Identifying success factors isn’t enough; you need to have strategies (with strict accountabilities) to monitor and ensure that they are addressed.
    4. Aspire to Profitability. If your goal is to break even, you won’t. Decide up front that making a profit is good. Profits are needed for future investments such as replacing equipment, or just to survive when sales are down.
    5. Know the Key Numbers. Be sure to track and understand the key metrics for your venture. Pay attention to things like cost of goods sold, receivables, conversion rates, unit costs, labor productivity, overhead, cash flow, burn rate.
    6. Start “Right-Sized” and Grow. For most ventures, the best strategy is to build on what you know (core competencies) and who you know (core customers) and grow from there. Unrealistic expectations of rapid growth often lead to failure.
    7. Get Outside Entrepreneurial Help. Many ventures find informal advisors who can cut through the rhetoric and jargon and get to the real issues.
    8. Free is Sometimes Very Expensive. Be frugal, but don’t be afraid to pay for something that the business needs. Your most valuable resource is staff time, including your own. Don’t waste it looking for cheaper ways to do things if the search costs more than the savings.

    Good luck!

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    For more resources, see our Library topic Business Planning.