Your 2011 business plan can be tied together in three summary pages that you keep where you can see them all the time.

Your 2011 business plan can be tied together in just three summary pages that you keep where you can see them all the time.

   The "three-page business plan" is not appropriate if you need bank financing or investors who are basing their investment on your business plan and operations. It is meant as an operational plan which guides your day-to-day activities so you can "see the forest through the trees.”

  The first page is your list of goals for the year. Remember that the goals must be specific and date oriented so you can measure your progress. Increasing service agreements is not a goal. An increase service agreement by 25 percent is. Increase the number of service agreements from 200 to 400 in 2011 is a better goal.

    Put your list of goals somewhere you can see them often. This is a consistent, subtle reminder for you to get them accomplished.

    The second page is your marketing or advertising plan. This is the grid which describes the activities you will do to accomplish your sales and customer goals. Along the X-axis list the months. Along the Y-axis list all of the marketing activities you plan to do this year. Remember to include marketing to your prospective customers, current customers and employees. Include advertising, public relations, and personnel activities such as telephone follow up and company get-togethers.

    Put an "X" under the months which you will do each activity. Some activities, such as yellow pages, will have an X under all of the months.

    Put this marketing/advertising grid where you can see it. If you have assigned marketing tasks to one of your employees, this is an easy way to make sure that you know what is supposed to be accomplished and can measure whether it has been accomplished.

    You can also track results on this grid. Make a copy of the grid and instead of an X, put the response percentage. This allows you to easily see which forms of advertising and public relations are effective for you.

    The third page is your financial budget. You probably don't want to put this sheet where everyone can see it. However, you need to keep it where you can compare "budget to actual" results each month when you get your financial statements. An Excel spreadsheet is perfect for doing this. If you create your budget on a spread sheet, then it is very easy to input the monthly numbers to make sure that you are on track to meet your financial goals.

    If you are using your business plan to run your company, these are the three sheets that you need to keep you on track. You might ask, "where are the employee goals?"  They are actually accounted for on the sheets. For example, if one of your goals was to hire another technician, you would have this in your goals list and reflect the expenses associated with this (ads, another truck, a salary, increased revenues, etc.) in the financial budget.

    Of course, these are summary sheets. I suggest that you review the goals and marketing plan grid each month when you review your financial statements. List the activities you need to do in the next month to stay on track. Review the activities of the past month. Did you accomplish what you wanted to do? Why or why not?

    Hopefully this business planning series has shown you a way to easily create and use your business plan for 2011 and beyond.

    I'll leave you with President Dwight Eisenhower's famous statement:  "Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

    I wish you a happy and prosperous 2011.