All marketers need to know how to write and, more importantly, write in a compelling way. In sales, nothing happens until someone starts writing. Even a spoken sales pitch usually begins as a script of some sort and will often be accompanied by written materials. Maybe it’s just a catchy headline you’re looking for but more often than not, you’re also writing copy for an ad, a brochure or a website. Sometimes it’s a blog post such as this. If you don’t like to write, you should seriously reconsider any thoughts of having a career in sales and marketing.
But there is one large writing task that, sooner or later, will confront any serious business owner. That assignment is a Business Plan. I say “assignment” because they are often as long as a scholarly thesis or term paper. I must confess, I have written several versions of what one might call a plan or an outline. But the fact is, I had put off writing a REAL Business Plan for a long time and had done pretty well without one. While some small businesses can be run with just the plan that is inside the owner’s head, real growth usually doesn’t happen until tangible goals and a course of action are written down. The act of writing is very powerful as it clarifiers exactly what it is you are trying to do, both in your mind and in the minds of those of whom you are trying to make an impression.
A business plan can be used for many things and they should be tailored depending on who your audience is. A business plan that is only for internal use among company employees might look very different from one that is assembled for a bank or for major investors. There are countless books, templates and resources available to help with writing a business plan but I also strongly recommend getting “real world” advice from a business counselor or mentor. Here at ChopSaver, we have been very fortunate to have enlisted the assistance of some of the great minds from the Purdue Technology Center and Research Park to assist with our plan.
It has always been my goal to take ChopSaver from a successful niche product to mass market success. It is why our tag line changed from “For Musicians with Lips!” to “For People with Lips!” It will take new investments to accomplish this so we knew it was time for a formal business plan. A detailed business plan should describe exactly the steps you are going to take to get your business where you want it to be with both well-crafted prose and logically conceived financial projections. No one can predict the future and most business plans are obsolete the minute the ink is dry. But that is as it should be as new opportunities can arise at any time. But if you have a plan, it’s OK to deviate now and then. Deviation without a plan in place is just aimless meandering, like walking in a strange forest without a compass or GPS – never a good thing. A good plan gets you beyond wishing and hoping and into the world of well thought out possibilities.
That brings me back to my initial point of writing as an act of sales and marketing. If those possibilities are clear and compelling and your plan does a good job of selling the concept, others will want to get involved and make the heavy lifting a little easier. Simply stated, your plan is a long “sales letter” that will hopefully inspire others to want to help you on your journey.