How to make a business plan and actually stick to it

Whether you are a long-term small business owner or just starting in a complex market, then there’s no time like the present to start penning your latest business plan. However, writing a plan and sticking to it are two very different elements. No matter the size or nature of your business, it’s always good to get something down on paper to help drive your business decisions and check that you have all bases covered. From generating more sales, to getting those ideas off the ground, read on to find out why you should be making a business plan, and more importantly, how simple it is to stick to it.

Check out the competition

Whether you are opening a coffee shop, a new bookstore or even a consultancy, be sure to undertake a full and in-depth market analysis. Now, this doesn’t have to cost you too much – you can do the groundwork yourself if you know what you are looking for. Café owners will want to scope out competitors’ prices, unique selling points and even range of snacks and goodies on offer. Whereas if you are offering higher-end services or products, then you will want to make sure that your range has a serious wow factor. Be sure to include this step in your business plan to ensure that you are fully aware of how you want to direct the future of your company and roll with it – remember, it’s best to do your homework rather than blindly entering an established market.

Get your finances in order

Drawing up a business plan, no matter the size of your business, and actually sticking to it, is going to require having a solid financial base. Getting your application papers in order and lengthy approval times can spell disaster in today’s fast-paced market. However, times are changing. Companies such as Betterfunds offer a range of loans to meet your business requirements. Not to mention, you could be the happy recipient of some much-needed funding in a matter of hours. Having a solid cash income is key to getting your business plan off the ground – don’t cut any corners.

Marketing and sales

Be sure to include marketing and sales as key priorities for your business plan – after all, generating new leads and acquiring new clients is essential to you, and your business, to succeed. If you haven’t already considered it, then make sure to explore how digital marketing can help propel your company into the future. Social media is increasingly becoming essential to the success of companies worldwide, so don’t get left behind and do go digital. Secondly, you will want to check that your marketing and sales teams are working effectively together – just like two spokes in a wheel, these departments are key to helping you gain and keep new business opportunities. Finally, have another look at your business plan. If you’ve stuck to it – congratulations! You are well on the way to business success.

Jon Mertz

What Is the Best Mindful Business Strategy?

Mindfulness garners a lot of recent attention. Wisdom 2.0, a conference that blends mindfulness with technology, leadership, and culture, hosted over 2,400 participants earlier this year. Attendees come from all over the world to learn and engage in developing meaningful mindfulness practices.

A new area for mindfulness is how business strategies are developed. Strategy development and mindfulness are a great combination, and the best mindful business strategy starts with a simple concept – Be present.

Being present is a simple idea. However, many businesses are not present, especially when it comes to making a decision and moving forward with a strategy. The next generation of leaders are using mindful practices to gain meaningful results.

Strategically Stuck

Hi there! This article is available for free. Login or register as a StrategyDriven Personal Business Advisor Self-Guided Client by:

Subscribing to the Self Guided Program - It's Free!


About the Author

Jon MertzJon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders. Follow him on Twitter @ThinDifference or Facebook /ThinDifference

Stuart Cross

The End Of Long-Term Planning

At the end of a particularly long and grueling strategy meeting with the executive team of a major consumer services business, Alan, the chief executive officer, turned to me and said, “Living quarter by quarter is madness, but in a few years’ time people will laugh at us for developing three-year plans.” He was right. With the pace of business change today, driven by technology and globalization, long-term plans last about as long as an ice storm in the desert. As military experts put it, plans rarely survive contact with the enemy.

Despite these new realities, many executive teams remain stuck with 20th-century approaches to strategy development. It is still common for companies to take six months or more to develop their new growth strategies. This prolonged, inefficient and largely ineffective approach — involving colossal data analysis projects, the creation of a series of 100-slide decks, and periodic executive meetings where directors are presented with findings and recommendations to comment on – may suit consultants looking to maximize fees, and even some executives who want to look as if they’re in control, but it does little to help businesses succeed in fast-changing markets.

Hi there! This article is available for free. Login or register as a StrategyDriven Personal Business Advisor Self-Guided Client by:

Subscribing to the Self Guided Program - It's Free!


About the Author

Stuart CrossStuart Cross helps market-leading businesses such as Walgreens Boots Alliance, Masco Inc. and Aimia Inc. to accelerate growth. His new book, First & Fast: Outpace Your Competitors, Lead Your Markets and Accelerate Growth, is out now. Find out more at

StrategyDriven Risk Management Best Practice Article

Risk Management Best Practice 4 – Risk Quantification

StrategyDriven Risk Management Best Practice ArticleEach organization faces a unique set of risks challenging the continuity of its operations. All risks, however, are not equal. In order for an organization’s leaders to economically manage their business’s risks, they must first understand each risk’s inherent and residual value.

Hi there! This article is available to StrategyDriven Personal Business Advisor Remote Access and Dedicated Advisor clients and those who subscribe to one of the article's related categories.

If you're already a Remote Access or Dedicated Advisor client or a related category subscriber, please log in to read this article.

Not a client? We'd love to have you on board. Check out our StrategyDriven Personal Business Advisor service options.

Recommended Resources – I Have A Strategy, No You Don’t

StrategyDriven Recommended ResourcesI Have a Strategy, No You Don’t: The Illustrated Guide to Strategy
by Howell J Malham Jr

About the Book

I Have a Strategy, No You Don’t: The Illustrated Guide to Strategy by Howell J Malham Jr provides an illustrated definition of business strategy. Howell breaks down the concept of strategy into its component parts and illustrates these with real-world examples from renowned companies.

Unlike other business books, I Have a Strategy, No You Don’t is structured as a playfully interactive dialog between two characters, Larry and Gary. Through these characters’ conversations, Howell shares:

  • Common misconceptions about strategy
  • Four basic elements of strategy
  • Detailed models of effective strategies and why they work

Benefits of Reading this Book

Business leaders at all organizational levels commonly misuse the term ‘strategy.’ This misuse frequently results in miscommunications that ultimately lead to errant decisions and actions detrimental to the organization.

StrategyDriven Contributors like I Have a Strategy, No You Don’t because it brings to light the seldom recognized but often damaging problem of leadership’s misunderstanding of what business strategy is and provides a clear definition to help resolve the issue. While StrategyDriven Contributors don’t fully agree with Howell’s definition of strategy – we believe strategy represents a how not a what – we fully agree with the premise that an organization should define for itself what strategy is and then consistently apply that definition in its planning and execution efforts.

I Have a Strategy, No You Don’t is a quick and easy read. Howell’s examples of effective strategies come from well-known and respected companies making them relatable to the reader. For bringing to light and offering a solution to an age-old business planning and execution problem, I Have a Strategy, No You Don’t is a StrategyDriven recommended read.