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Do You Have a Written Business Plan?

13 Jul, 2011 By: Bob Meyer, President, MPSConnect imageSource

Do You Have a Written Business Plan?

I get to talk to all levels of people; OEMs, Dealers, VARs & End Users. With MPSConnect, I’m in a wonderful position to talk to just about everybody in the MPS industry. Dealers approach me all the time asking, “Should I get into MPS or not?” or “How can I make MPS work for me?” And even, “What am I doing wrong as I’m not making enough money with my MPS program?” My response is always the same: “Send me your business plan and I’ll take a look at it.” But guess what? I haven’t received a written one yet!

Basically, how can you say you are in trouble or are not successful if you haven’t truly defined what your specific goals are? You must WRITE your goals down. You must WRITE your business plan out. It is not good enough for you to simply know your goals; you must write them down to reference and work from.

The Process
You must go through a process. Absolutely.
Why do you have to go through the process of writing down your business plan? Because something truly remarkable happens when you are pressured to write a plan - you think. You first do the research to make an analysis of what’s needed; you get ideas, credible information; you explore possibilities yet eliminate wasteful efforts, ultimately focusing on the important activities and issues that result in structuring a workable business plan.

You often think your time is limited so wish someone else can do this plan. No. Well maybe but when “you own it” the more successful you are at implementing it. Let’s see if I can’t help you get started on a very simple and Basic Business Plan. There will be six sections or steps to your plan; Vision / Mission, Product Strategy, Market Analysis, Marketing Plan, Financial Plan, and a Conclusion.


1) What should be in your Vision/ Mission Section?
The first thing I want you to think about is: Who are you? You must know who you (or your company) are before we can make plans on who you want to be or where you are going. What are your core competencies? What do you (your company / dealership) do well, where do you make most of your money?

Now think of where you want to go. What are your goals? Let your thoughts flow at this point, don’t hold back. Management Team – write who you currently have with their titles and duties.

2) Product Strategy
Current Products and Services = (fill in the blank)
Potential new Products and Services that you are considering = (fill in the blank)
Start writing notes on what it will take to support these new products and services.

3) Market Analysis
Define your current market, geography, product and services offered, etc. Ask yourself what you are good at. Are you in the top 3 in your market? Should this be a goal? It will help to make a customer list. This is where you can get some help.

Ask your sales department to list the top 20% of all your customers. Then ask your financial department if they agree that this list of customers is producing 80% of your revenue. Now that you have the list of your biggest and best customers, write a description of them. List their size, location, products and services that you sell to them, etc. Now that you have a description of your most valued customers, direct your sales force to make a list of all companies in your market that fit this description, and you will have your prospect list. List your competitors.

Then take the list from above, your new prospect list, and identify which of your competitors they are buying from. Risk. You cannot do everything. As your new business plan starts to come together you will probably have more goals and objectives than you have resources to expend on them. I’d like to give a little advice at this point. I know you have to be bold and take risk to grow your business but be cautious overall.

A common concern I hear about in the MPS dealer market right now is in the hiring of MPS Champions. I have heard many stories about dealers hiring someone to be their MPS Champion only to let them go after 6 months because the ROI just wasn’t there. Each dealership and circumstance may be unique so I’m not going to give any advice here other than to think this through prior to hiring, yet don’t be surprised if the ROI is longer than you originally thought.

4) Marketing Plan
Here is where you do your sales strategy. Here is where you should solicit some help. Jot your thoughts down and compare them to your sales department and maybe an outside consultant. This will take some time and much thought. Make sure you end up with a Written Plan that all involved have contributed to, and have buy-in from them. I’d also like to share this thought. Your sales plan is more like Route 66 than the Interstate. When you use the general Interstate highway system, you get on at point A and exit at point B, your destination (or goal) and that is pretty straightforward.

Route 66 is different. Route 66 is a combination of multiple existing state roads that the federal government identified and mapped out so that drivers that were attempting to go from east to west could find their way. So, too, you have existing products and services that you will use to get you to your new goals. Look at where you are, where you want to go, and map it out. What you will see are holes or missing products and services that you will need to add to your portfolio to get you where you want to go. So, identify the products & services that you need, how you are going to get them, who you are going to get them from, and what it is going to cost you.

5) Financial Plan
As your plan starts to take shape have your financial staff work up the cost. Do not execute on your plan until you are confident you have the resources needed.
Why are you doing all of this? What is your payback? One of the most missed sections when writing a business plan is the Exit Plan. This is the one section that you, the business owner, do not necessarily have to write down, but you should know what your exit plan is.

6) Conclusion
This is the easiest section. Once you have done all the hard work in preparing your business plan, reward yourself by (yes) writing down that you are indeed going to move forward with this plan and include what you expect the results to be. Include projected dates for a time line.

These basic six steps are intended to assist you in developing a good business plan along with why it is important to follow one. If you have any questions or other suggestions, send me your written plan or contact me for more detailed information. Good luck!

Bob Meyer is President of MPSConnect, a div. of OutputLinks Communications Group. MPSConnect speaks to global professionals responsible for buying, educating consulting & using technologies in support of managed print services. MPSConnect community is comprised of global 1000 C-levels, business managers, Sr. decision makers & print service providers, consultants & hardware/software vendors, dealers, OEMs.

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