It’s essential for every business, no matter its size, to have a business plan. This document serves as a blueprint for your business, outlining your goals, strategies, and potential outcomes.
I remember working with three college classmates who wanted to start an electronic service company. They had lots of ideas and aspirations of becoming wealthy quickly, but when I asked them to explain in one sentence what their company would offer to customers, they struggled to do so. This difficulty in clearly defining what your business will offer to customers is a common issue for startups and highlights the importance of the “Business Mission Statement.” This statement serves as the foundation of your business and helps ensure that you have a clear understanding of what you want to offer to your customers.
According to David Andrew, the founder of Interbrand Pacific and a marketing expert, Apple Computer Inc.’s first mission statement in 1977 was:
“Apple is dedicated to the empowerment of man—to making personal computing accessible to each and every individual so as to help change the way we think, work, learn, and communicate.”
It wasn’t a clear, straightforward, and meaningful mission statement. Still, it was powerful enough to be the foundation of, later on, the most successful technology company in the world.
Having a clear understanding of your business’s mission allows you to build a more successful business around it. This concept is known as the “Vision Statement,” which is the second most important part of your business plan.
The Vision Statement outlines your long-term goals for the business and describes “where you’re going” with your company. It allows you to look into the future, perhaps five or more years after establishing your business, and consider what you hope to achieve. For example, you might have a vision of expanding your product line to five items within the first two years of business, opening three additional branches in your hometown by year four, and establishing your first out-of-state branch in Colorado by year five while also increasing your product line to ten items.
While it is possible to find pre-made business plans online, I highly recommend creating your own rather than using a template. These templates may have unintended effects on your ideas and alter the direction of your business. There are four main components of a business plan: the Executive Summary, which explains the solution you are offering to address a problem; the Mission Statement, which defines your company’s fundamental goals and values; the Vision Statement, which outlines your short and long-term goals; and the General Execution, which is a detailed description of the steps you will take to achieve your business goals.