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Small Business Secret #3: Seven Documents All Small Businesses Must Have to Be Successful
When many small business owners start out thinking about building a small business, they are often mislead into believing that the only document that they need to succeed is a Business Plan. In fact this plan is only one of seven documents every small business should have if they ever expect to survive let alone succeed.
Let me explain …
Doc 1. Business Plan
The Business plan, which is what most accountants, lawyers and business coaches will say is the only document that you need is the first document you must complete. I certainly do disagree totally that this is the only document you need, because the actual roll of this document is to summarize the other six mandatory documents that you must have.
The size of your Business Plan document will vary depending on the size of your business that you are either buying or building. Your business plan should contain details on how your business will be run, how you will finance the business, what sort of profit you will make, how you will advertise and market your business, what your exit strategy will be from your business, what form you business will take, where it will be located etc.
If you are going to be buying a Business rather than starting up a new one from scratch, always ask the previous owner to see their business plan. This will give you a good insight into the inner workings of the business and how it got to where it is. One thing to note though, always make sure that regardless of whether you are buying an existing business or building your own, that you create your own business plan so you have a clear understanding of where you are going with this business.
Doc 2. Business Model
A Business Model is usually built using tools like Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access. The model allows you to apply various scenarios to your business model to see what sort of outcome will occur. This is a fantastic tool for running scenarios and seeing what the outcome would be if certain conditions might occur, like your truck broke down or what would happen to your profit if a certain piece of machinery broke down for a period of time.
The Business Model is also very useful when dealing with organizations like banks or finance institutions. If your business model can show what impacts various factors might have on your business and that you can still survive, then the banks and finance institutions are more likely to give you the money you need.
Doc 3. Marketing Plan
The Marketing Plan document sets out how you are going to market your business. It includes information on the brochures you are going to use, the types of adverts you may use, the frequency of the campaign, the medium you will be using and so forth. The marketing plan provides an in depth look at how you will be marketing your business. Your marketing plan should represent 12 months of operations, that is, you should have developed all of your marketing strategies so that they flow on and build on each previous marketing campaign over a 12 month period.
Doc 4. Operations Plan
Your operations plan is designed to define exactly how your business is to be run. The operations plan should include how to do every task in your organization, checklists on what needs to be done every day, week, month and year. Essentially the Operations Plan defines how your business actually works.
The key advantage of your operations plan is that if at any time you lose a staff member, you can use the operations plan to teach your new staff members the tasks that they need to complete each day.
Doc 5. Sales Plan
The Sales Plan outlines how sales will be undertaken on a day to day basis. How you will be selling your products and services, who your target markets are, your approach techniques to new clients, any clients that you need to contact on a day-to-day basis and what your contact processes are. More so it should define what step-by-step process you follow to convert a prospect into a customer.
The Sales Plan should use flow charts and should also include any letters or marketing material that should be used for a particular sales process.
Doc 6. HR Plan
The HR Plan, sets out the Human Resource structure of your organization. It should include information such as position descriptions, who each person reports to, who they are responsible for, what tasks they are responsible for and any special duties they might have to do during the year.
The HR Plan should also have information in it such as Job Advertisement Templates, approved Position Descriptions and templates, Hourly Rates, Acceptable Work Practices and so forth. The HR Plan sets down how your staff must engage at work and what you define as being acceptable workplace behaviors in your workplace.
Doc 7. Style Manual
The Organizations Style manual sets out how you are going to present yourself to your customers. The style manual includes information on your logos, your business cards, the colors your business will use for its logos, banner layouts, how to place newspaper adverts and what colors must be used, what fonts must be used in Letters or Faxes. The style manual will also set out what information will go onto your business cards, where the logo will sit and what information must be contained.
The Organizations Style manual sets out how you are going to present yourself to the public and what standards you will use. If you have never seen a Style Manual before simply go to any large corporation's website and type in 'Style Manual' and you will generally find one available for review.
After 10 years in small business and a number of small businesses under my belt, the one thing I have learned is that if you do not have these 7 Plans and Documents done prior to creating or building your business, then they will never get done. The simple fact is that small business is incredibly demanding on the small business owner and once the business is up and going, it is highly unusual the owner will ever get the time to go back and create them. Without each and every one of these documents your business will lack focus on what you want to achieve and that is why 70% of all small businesses around the world fail in the first 12 months.
To finish off, I would like to take a moment to summarize the seven documents all small business owners should have before contemplating a small business…
1. Business Plan
2. Business Model
3. Marketing Plan
4. Operations Plan
5. Sales Plan
6. HR Plan
7. Style Manual
About the Author: Would you like to learn more on developing your own Small Business or how to implement the Thirteen Secret Steps all millionaires know in the path to becoming an obscenely wealth and successful person. Then find out how with a copy of our Think and Grow Rich book by Napoleon Hill and our audio package. Check out our Meditation Music to help you master this important program and to get some relaxation.