Sunday, August 3, 2008

Business plan writing - start with the basics

Step one is three things: vision and mission statements for your business, and an elevator speech.

Vision statement: Your view or dream of what your world should look like. “World” in this case can be as small as your backyard, or as big as the universe. It’s your circle of concern. For Xerox, their world used to be copying. Now it’s documents.

Mission statement: A statement describing what your organization’s goal or role will be in contributing to the realization of that vision. Usually, but not always, the mission objective won’t achieve the entire vision. This is the 30 thousand foot version of what your organization does.

Elevator speech: This is the five thousand foot version. This is what you actually do every day to achieve your overarching goal. This is the answer to the question: okay, say I hire you/buy your product, what will you/it do for me?

Here’s an example: suppose your business idea is to make and market a new “Panic Button” system – a button that allows you to call 911 and give them your location from anywhere with the push of a button, and the button is worn on your clothing and glows so that it’s easily seen by would-be muggers.

Your vision might be “a world where you can walk the city streets safely.” You can’t accomplish that single-handedly, but you can “provide products and services that help deter street crimes against persons, and bring help swiftly when necessary.” That would be your mission, your part in the vision. The elevator speech is “provide our customers with a call-from-anywhere 911 device that actually deters criminals from attacking in the first place.”

With these three statements, you have created is a verbal framework to hang most of your business plan on. One way or another, every section of the business plan should support one of those three statements.