How to map out a business plan that really works

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Every business owner / executive has undoubtedly heard many of the very good reasons for having a current business plan.

Many businesses put together what I call a ‘traditional’ plan – one that follows certain basic parameters that are useful to bankers and investors in determining whether the business has a hope of success.

This type of plan covers the broad strokes of the business operation. But, when it comes to ensuring efficiency and setting the stage for unhindered growth, it’s often the daily administrative and operational details that bog smaller businesses down.  These details are often not covered at all in a ‘traditional’ business plan.

One of the easiest ways to overcome this issue and create a plan that is both practical and scalable, is to map out the business processes visually using a mind map type of approach.

Take only only process at a time.  Split each process into mini processes if need be – for instance, the process of selling a widget to a customer would incorporate all the processes from your selection, order and purchase of the inventory right through to the marketing and the sales processing of your customer’s order and the subsequent after sales service.

You’d want to split that process up into mini processes and then document each step with detail as to how it is to be managed.  That way, you’ll be able to spot potential bottlenecks and areas where the process could become unwieldy or inaccurate.

This allows you to fine tune it, dealing with problem areas before they occur and saving your business frustration and unnecessary cost.

The best way to handle this exercise is to use a very large white board and map out the mini process with assistance from others in your organization, particularly those who are directly involved in the part of the process being mapped.

Leave the process on the board for a few days so that as you think of additional details you’re able to include them.  Once no one can think of any further details or see any ‘holes’, you’re ready to formally document the process and you have a solid, practical section of your business plan completed.

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