As part of our free consulting service here at the Halton Region Small Business Centre, we commonly read the business plans of our clients. Business plans, as with the businesses themselves, come in various formats and sizes. In any case, entrepreneurs should be writing their plans to meet some specific objective. For some, the business plan is exclusively used to act as a roadmap for the first period of operations, for others it is used as a tool to communicate the vision for the business to others.
A business plan review typically involves the consultant looking for gaps – aspects of the business that are important to plan for that are omitted from the plan, jargon– industry specific lingo that might not be common to readers outside of your industry or workplace, and level of detail –looking to see if the plan describes things in enough detail that it clearly defines the course of action for operating the business.
Today, we’d like to share one point of feedback that is common across almost every business plan we review, the need for a comprehensive marketing strategy within your plan that includes specific targets, messages, tactics, timelines, budgets and measurements.
You are writing the business plan now to reduce the chaos caused by last minute decision making later. Entrepreneurs want to make careful and calculated steps to use their time, effort and money as effectively as possible. There is great value to defining not only your general marketing tactics or ideas in advance of starting the business, but instead in planning your specific strategy in advance. Take these steps:
- be clear about who you are trying to reach with your marketing message
- decide what key messages will be most effective at reaching that buyer
- choose the tactics that would best carry the message to that specific buyer
- decide when specifically those tactics will be in market and at what cost, and
- decide how you will know if the marketing effort was successful, for the purpose of deciding if it is worth spending the same time, effort and money again.
The Halton Region Small Business Centre offers free consultations to discuss your marketing strategy and to review your business plan. Contact us at 905-825-6000, ext. 7900 to book your one-on-one appointment. You can also check out our online resources such as Halton Region Small Business Centre’s Business Planning Template and other related resources.