(Journey’s note: The content of this post is taken from Paul McKenna’s I Can Make You Rich. I post it here out of deep appreciation and gratitude. Hope you will enjoy and benefit from it too. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section!)
All creative artists begin by making models of their work in some form before creating them in the world. Painters make sketches; architects make computer generated or cardboard models of their buildings. Film directors create storyboards outlining every aspect of their movies, shot by shot, and some of the greatest songs in history began life as a set of lyrics scribbled on a napkin, beer mat or scrap of paper.
Measure twice, cut once. –Proverb
These models and mock-ups allow the artist to see their vision more clearly before they expend the effort to bring their vision to life. It makes it easier for them to notice what’s already there and, more importantly, what’s still missing.
So is the purpose of a business plan. A business plan is a blueprint for a successful company, designed to be constantly adapted as things change and new information becomes available.
In fact, creating a business plan is about how your thinking evolves in the process of writing it down. The changes a clear plan makes in your thinking and ultimately your destiny can be dramatic and profound. Through the process of vividly imagining every detail of what it will be like when your business is thriving, your mind stretches far beyond its usual limitations and your sense of possibility expands.
It’s as if something magical happens when you make a business plan and commit to its execution. Even before you take a single action, events often start to turn in your favor as the natural result of your commitment.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. -Goethe
Creating a plan for your business can bring out the best and worst in you. At times it will bring your positivity, enthusiasm and talents for creative thinking and problem-solving. At other times it might produce fear, procrastination and, when done in a team, strong differences of opinion. But it’s a magnificent process, and in my experience one that is always ultimately beneficial.
I would go so far as to say that developing a plan and then putting that plan into action is often the only difference between a ‘good idea’ and a life-changing journey.
Creating Your Plan
In order to create a simple yet powerful plan for your own product or service, it
will be helpful for you to make use of the questions that follow.
The questions are divided into five major categories:
- Purpose, Values and Vision
- Current Reality
- Action Plan
By the time you are finished answering these questions, you will be ready to create a simple business plan for your own venture. I have provided you with a template for creating your plan at the end of this chapter, along with an example of the current plan for my own training company.
If your business is already up and running, these questions will help clarify why you are in business and what you need to do to become or remain profitable. If you’re starting a new venture, your answers will lay the foundations for both present and future success.
When you know exactly what it is you are wanting to create, what other people are doing in the marketplace, what obstacles you may face, the resources you will tap into to overcome those obstacles and the relevant financial numbers, you and your business will be exponentially more prepared for what awaits you in the real world.
Not all of the questions you are about to read will be directly relevant to where you are right now, but the more of them you can answer, the more likely you are to succeed.
A. Purpose, Values and Vision
Take some time to think through each question and write your answers down on a piece of paper or, type it out in a digital format.
- What does my business do? Explain your business idea in 500 words or less.
- How does it operate?
- How would you explain your business to a five-year-old child?
- Who are your customers?
- What is the ultimate goal of this business?
- What would truly outrageous success look, sound and feel like?
- Why are you in this business?
- How will you know when you are finished with this business?
Here are 26 additional questions I have learned from working with rich-thinking business people, which you may find useful in clarifying your purpose, values and vision:
1) What would you like to celebrate this time next year?
2) What has made your business successful to date?
3) What will make it successful over time?
4) What will your company be known for?
5) What is your role and how will you spend your time?
6) Are you a local, regional or international company?
7) Where are your customers?
8) Who can you partner with?
9) Who are your advisers?
10) When will this business be operational?
11) Where will you be located?
12) Why are you creating this business?
13) Why will your customers buy your products or services?
14) How will your business be financed?
15) Why will people invest in your business?
16) How does the business define success?
17) How do you want to interact with your employees, suppliers and customers?
18) Describe the most important characteristics of your product or service.
19) Describe what your product or service won’t/doesn’t do.
20) Describe the characteristics of your BEST customers.
21) Describe the characteristics of the people you would be better off not serving.
22) Describe the characteristics of successful businesses you admire and would like to emulate.
23) What are your core values? Which of these are most relevant to your business?
24) What are your key strengths? Which of these are most relevant to your business?
25) If everything goes well, what will your business look like in five years’ time?
26) If everything goes well, what will your life look like in five years’time?
B. Current Reality
As important as clarity of purpose, values and vision are to your success, an awareness of what’s really going on in your business right now is even more important.
When you go through these questions, be sure to be as factual and objective as possible.
- In relation to my vision, here’s what’s currently going on: ___________
- What I have done up to this point to get things going: ___________
Our competitors include: ___________
- Is this business financially viable in its current form? Why? Why not?
- If not, how long will it be before we begin to make money? (Remember, base your answer on facts, not hopes or fears.)
- What’s our ‘burn rate’ (monthly expenditure)? How long can we stay in business at our current burn rate before we run out of capital?
- Which of our employees generate more income than they cost?
An outcome is to your vision what a road sign is to a motorway – these are the markers and milestones that let you know how your journey is progressing …
- At the end of the year how will you define ‘success’ in relation to your business
- Imagine that it is one year from today and it has been your best year yet. What have you achieved? What is your new current reality?
- What are some of the longer-term outcomes for your business?
- What are the medium-term outcomes?
- What are the one-year outcomes?
Your strategies are the big-picture ideas about how you will achieve your one-year outcomes and fulfill your vision for success. As you play with these questions, you will find the level of specificity and detail that’s perfect for you and your company.
- How will we achieve our outcomes for the year?
- To drive the business forward, I personally intend to: __________
- What are our major obstacles and how will we overcome them?
- What is the competition doing?
- What’s missing? Where can we add more value?
- How will/do we reach our target audience (through what mediums/methods)?
- Why will/do customers buy what we’re selling?
- We will market to our ideal customers by __________
- I will make use of my wealth team to assist me with __________
Here are the questions I have learned to use to generate the most useful actions I can take for my business on an ongoing basis.
- What actions are currently on your to-do list? Of those actions, what are the 20% that will make 80% of the difference? (Refer to the Pareto Principle in Chapter 12.)
- What have you been procrastinating about/not prioritizing that will make a significant difference to your business?
- If you had all the staff you needed, what actions would you get them to take on your behalf?
Make a list of at least 100 actions you could take in the next 90 days to move your business forward. That’s only a little more than one action a day:
Now, fill in the business plan form below:
Company Name: ___________
Why are you in business? What is the value you wish to add to the world?
What are your core values? What do you want your business to stand for? What are the principles you want your business to stand on?
Paint a verbal picture of where your business will be when it’s fully grown. Inspire yourself!
Where are you now in relation to your vision, physically and financially? Remember to stick to the facts and update this section regularly.
Where do you want your business to be in one year’s time? In three years? Five years? What are the most important outcomes you are working towards right now?
How will you get there? You don’t need to get too specific here – broad brushstrokes are fine!
Action Plan for the next ___ days:
What’s next? And then? And then?
A business plan in action
On the following two pages, you can see an example of the current business plan for my training company. We update it at least once every three months to take into account any changes in our personnel, goals and the results we are producing
in the world.
The only things that never change are our purpose and values – these are the cornerstones on which the company is built. The vision is a bit bigger than it was when I started back in 1993, but hasn’t changed significantly for a while now.
It is important to recognize that this is not the only way to do this, nor am I suggesting that our values are the best values to have. Answering the questions in this chapter and creating this kind of plan is simply the most user-friendly way I personally have found to keep track of what’s most important in my business and making sure that our actions are always aligned with our purpose, values and vision.
Company Name: Paul McKenna Training
To deliver the world’s best self-improvement training using leading edge psychological technology while making as much money and having as much fun as possible.
Excellence, honesty, ambition, integrity, informed decision-making, fun, entertainment, excitement, creativity, change, people-focus, communication, service, value, and paying good rates for great people.
We are a widely respected and well-known international organization, serving hundreds of thousands of people with the most powerful and up-to-date life changing and life-enhancing techniques.
Every day, we help people to become more positive and create long lasting changes in themselves and in the world. We do this quicker, more easily and more dramatically than anyone has done it before.
We have a stable solid business regularly performing well and bringing in solid profits with good cash position. We are one of the largest self-improvement training companies in Britain and are responsible for training tens of thousands of people each year. We have a solid operational platform: good people, strong policies, a business plan with regular forecasting and management reviews, a motivated team who know their goals and the company’s goals, and a strong plan of investment and developmental projects.
Staff turnover, the brand is still mostly Paul, as is the core product. Because our success rests on what Paul does personally every day, he has to keep showing up for the business to keep making money. This means the business has a built-in vulnerability and could therefore be considered fragile as well as strong.
This year we will:
1. Make a financial return on the investments of last year: increased sales and reduction of indirect costs – so increased profitability.
2. Benefit from a more motivated and better-trained workforce – more fun, more commitment, lower turnover (already low).
3. Have better IT infrastructure and website capabilities – faster and more profitable sales.
4. Leading-edge technology systems and database management – to make faster bookings and easier purchasing.
5. Development into new territories (Europe and USA).
1. Implement a three-year strategy rotation:
Year 1 – Focus on profit generation, including increasing ticket prices and other revenue-focused activities.
Year 2 – Initiate a reinvestment program in the business to support the expanding infrastructure: people, procedures, IT, cash.
Year 3 – Reap the solid profit return from year 1 and soft return from
the year 2 investment program. Back to start!
2. Create a strong plan to support the yearly outcomes, then flex it.
3. Continue to build a bigger and better team to support and underpin the new business requirements and increase in work.
Action plan for the next month
1. Meeting with key players to discuss current specifics.
2. Sign off on new IT program and revamped website at www.paulmckenna.com.
3. Go into the corporate strategy and have a management review following year 1 of this new department.
Frequently asked questions about ‘The Simplest Business Plan In The World’:
Q. I already have a business plan. Can I just skip ahead?
You could, but you’d be missing out. Even if you’ve got a business plan that really works for you, any additional information you discover through answering the questions in this chapter will increase your clarity about what it is you are doing and how you are going about doing it. And when it comes to overcoming obstacles and increasing profitability, clarity is power!
Q. I don’t really want to start a business – I just want to make more money at my current job. How are all these questions relevant to me?
You will be surprised at how much you learn if you answer the questions as if the business you are working for is your business. You will begin to see opportunities for you to add value within your current company, which in turn will give you the leverage you need to expand or upgrade your current position and receive more money in return.
Q. Do I need to complete my business plan before I read the rest of the book?
No, but why wouldn’t you? Answering every single question in the chapter can take less than an hour, and it will prompt so much clarity of intention and creative thought that you’ll wonder why you even considered putting it off.
If you’re feeling like it’s just ‘too much trouble’, you might be surprised to find that what’s stopping you are your own fears about what you’re really capable of.
Take a moment now to make a list of any beliefs you are carrying about business or yourself as a business person that might be holding you back. Here are some typical examples:
– It’s all too big – I’m only just getting started.
– I’m not smart enough to answer these questions.
– If I write it down, then I’ll have to do it.
Once you’ve got clear in your own mind what you’re saying to stop yourself, simply turn down the volume on those inner voices and begin answering the first question. By the time you’ve answered at least five questions, the voices in your mind will most likely have quietened themselves, and you’ll be well on your way to generating your plan.
(The end of chapter 10. To be continued…)
P.S. The text has been edited slightly from the original book. This website is NOT associated to Paul McKenna at the time of posting. If you like what you see here, and wish to support his marvelous work, please purchase I Can Make You Rich at Amazon. Thank you.
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