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Set Out Your Business Planning Objectives

With a thousand issues clamoring for the precious hours in your day, committing time to plan your business’s future isn’t easy. But operating without a plan is even harder — and even more time-consuming in the long run.

Two steps can help you get started. The first is to define your business situation and how a business plan can help you move your business from where it is to where you want it to be. The second is to list the ways that a business plan can heighten your company’s odds of success.

Define your business-planning situation

To get your business where you want it to go, you need a map to follow, which is what your business plan is all about. It starts with a description of your current situation; describes your future plans; defines your opportunities; and details the financial, operational, marketing, and organizational strategies you’ll follow to achieve success.

Imagine that your company is a ship about to set sail on an ocean voyage. Your business plan defines your destination and the route that you’ll follow.

It details the supplies and crew you have on board as well as what you still need to acquire. It forecasts the cost of the voyage. It describes the weather and sea conditions and anticipates the potential dangers. Finally, your business plan identifies other ships that may be attempting to beat you to your destination.

The same kind of planning is necessary when on dry land. To navigate a new course for your company, you need to start with an assessment of where your business is currently. You may be putting your business together for the first time. Your business may be up and running but facing new challenges. Or perhaps your business is doing well and about to launch a new product or service.

Once you assess your current situation, you need to define where you want to arrive and what strategies you’ll follow to get there.

Make a wish list for your business plan

Setting out your priorities in the form of a business-planning wish list can help you focus your efforts. With a completed plan in hand, you can return to this list to make sure that it achieves everything on your list of priorities.

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