When I say I recommend developing a plan, I don’t mean that you need to write a 30-page document that ultimately gets tossed into a desk drawer never to be seen again.

You need to develop a lean plan and become an active planner.

If you want to make this process easier, I highly recommend checking out LivePlan. Click the button below to get a risk-free trial and check out the Complete Guide to Creating a LivePlan I put together for you down below.

Why and What

Part 1

This may be the important post of the whole guide.

Having a grasp of why you want to start or continue running a business is important for so many reasons.

And knowing what you want to accomplish is a critical step in becoming an effective active planner.

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Part 2

Understanding your customers’ problem and selling a solution that they will want to buy is an important early stage in the planning process.

In this part of the Guide you’ll learn how to understand your customers’ problem, develop a solution and validate both. There is also a detailed example of how to do both.

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Part 3

After describing your customers’ problem and the solution you will offer in Part 2, you can document your business’s target market.

This begins with defining your ideal customer, followed by defining your typical customer, which uses looser ranges.

You’ll then estimate how large your target market is and how much of the market you expect to capture.

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Part 4

A well thought out competitive analysis will accomplish many things.

It will help you estimate how much of your market you can reasonably expect to capture, price your product or service and develop an understanding of your competitive advantages.

This part of the Guide will walk you through the process of completing a solid competitive analysis.

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Part 5

The internet makes right now the greatest time in history to be a small business.

However, trying to understand the vast digital marketing landscape can feel overwhelming.

This part of the Guide will give you an overview of the marketing tools available and help you document your sales plan.

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Part 6

As a small business owner, your resources are limited.

Therefore, it is important to choose them wisely.

This section of your LivePlan is used for documenting your operations and the tools you will use to carry out your plan.

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Part 7

Milestones and metrics will help you stay on track and detect when you are straying from the plan.

LivePlan includes a feature that will allow you to set your milestones and automatically incorporate them into your plan.

You should also understand and document key metrics that will be used in your business to help you determine if you are staying on track.

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Part 8

Who owns your business and what legal structure have you adopted?

This could be a pretty straightforward section of your LivePlan, but I cover the basics of making these decisions if you don’t already have them figured out.

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Part 9

Having a solid team around you to help you carry out your vision is critical.

It is also important to sell the management team of your business if you are seeking outside funding.

Even if you are starting and running the business by yourself in the beginning, it is important to understand and document what your personnel needs will be now and in the future.

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Financial Plan

Part 10

You’ll probably need some money to start your business.

You may be able to fund the whole business yourself or may need to seek outside funding.

Either way, this section can be used to document your plans for funding your business.

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Part 11

This is the section of LivePlan where you will really begin to experience its power.

The LivePlan toolset allows you to create a comprehensive financial forecast without needing to have a background accounting or finance.

This part of the Guide walks you through the process.

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