Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Three steps to business planning success...

Many of us dream of hatching our own business schemes, driven by our desires to solve problems in new or improved ways, or maybe just to offer something we feel we can sell for a profit... and to do so in our own ways. Personally, I have had active roles in scores of start-up dialogues over the years, each entrenched within its own unique setting. Something I have learned is that business planning is always difficult -- and also, while business planning advice is easy to come by, in my humble opinion, it's not all good. So today, I am sharing some of the best, most actionable information I've come across recently, to help would-be entrepreneurs cut to the chase and give themselves the greatest chance of making their entrepreneurial dreams come true.

One more tip: Get free business advice from the editors at Fortune Small Business by asking questions online at fsb.com/askfsb.

. Get motivated: Maybe the goal of your new business venture is to save the world, or perhaps it's just to save you from financial collapse. Whatever your goal, nothing will come to pass if you don't forge ahead -- and the expression "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" is too often true. Give your business idea the very best chance to be successful by completing a plan. If you need more motivation, research the business plan competitions that may be available to you. This story from Business Week on "Where Big Ideas Bring Big Bucks" details some of the lucrative prizes being offered around the world for the best plans. UK-based entrepreneurs should also scope out the story written by Sean Ashcroft for Digital Arts Magazine entitled "Show Me the Money," which provides great, up-to-date information on other sources of funds for your business.

. Get expert advice: Not all business planning advice is equal. One of the original Apple employees responsible for the brilliant Mac marketing in the 80s, Guy Kawasaki is a business author, a renowned Silicon Valley venture capitalist, a leading pundit in the high-tech business world, the Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures, and the author of the How to Change the World blog. Who does Guy turn to for business planning advice? Tim Berry, the President of Palo Alto Software, the principal creator of Business Plan Pro, and the author of the Planning, Startups, Stories blog, who was named the US Association of Small Business & Entrepreneurship Corporate Entrepreneur of the Year for 2007. Guy interviewed Tim for this must-read piece from the Always On network on the topic of "How to Write a Business Plan." Among the pearls of wisdom that Tim shares is this one: "Planning isn’t about the 'Business Plan' document, it’s about the planning process that creates management."

. Get started. Follow this link to check-out numerous stories compiled from leading experts, which comprise Business Week's Special Report addressing some of the most important aspects of starting and running a business.