New vision in the New Year Series: Creating a Game Plan


Even if you aren’t a sports fan, the concept of having a “game plan” before heading into an athletic event shouldn’t be a foreign concept. In fact, I think we can all agree that if a team or an individual taking part in a serious competition doesn’t have a game plan before starting, the likelihood of success will be minimal. Even in a friendly backyard game of one-on-one basketball, you would quickly devise your plan of attack, whether it’s focusing on outside shots or taking your buddy to the hoop with aggressive layups.

Business[…] couldn’t be any more similar.

The Tax & Legal Playbook: Game-Changing Solutions for Your Small-Business Questions, Mark J. Kohler

So what is a business plan and what content is most important to include? Is it the financial projections? What information do investors really want to see? According to William A. Sahlman, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, any experienced investor will see past the number mumbo jumbo and will be looking for a great business plan that focuses on 4 specific areas.

According to William, these factors include the “people, the opportunity, the context of the business, and the possibilities for both risk and reward from your business.”

Here are some examples of the types of questions they want to see answered:

  • What are the skillsets/offerings/expertise of each member of your team (this includes your Advisory Board)?
  • Is the market for your venture’s product or service large or rapidly growing (usually both is preferred)?
  • Is the industry structurally attractive for investors? Don’t forget to add the risks your new venture faces, giving potential backers a realistic idea of the magnitude of reward that they could potentially receive and when they should expect it.

A strong and effective business plan is not easy to come up with, largely because small business owners and entrepreneurs are usually highly optimistic and visionaries in their field. It can be hard to think about the very fine details when you’re used to thinking at a 30,000 foot level, but it is the fine details that must be thought out in order to execute the 30,000 foot strategy.

Thomas Harrison, Chairman of Diversified Agency Services, shared his views on the key elements of a successful business plan, and when asked to give an aspiring business builder advice on the development of a great plan he said “I think some people get confused between a business plan and a marketing plan. A business plan is genetic, molecular definition of your business. It crystallizes why you’re in business and shouts what you do to the world, for consumers, and for your customers. It dissects your business’s DNA and how it is unique and it clarifies why customers should do business with you.”

“The “Plan” is the blueprint; it’s the architect’s renderings that show the skeleton of the business… the DNA of the business. The Plan allows me to be crystal clear about that skeleton and how it supports my vision of my value (the business value) to my customers.  It explains exactly why customers will buy what I make/sell and what it is about my product that will delight my customers.”

It is the plan that supports your efforts to communicate the value of your business. Why would anyone not want this to absolutely perfect?

Take a moment right now to schedule some time on your busy calendar for yourself to really think about what you want to accomplish with your business and then create a winning game plan. Need to understand goal-setting and creating goals that work? Check out our other blog on setting goals that matter to your business. Without goals and a game plan for your business, you may end up like countless other small business ventures: spinning your wheels in the daily grind and not gaining any traction.

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–Written by Austin Rains, Dayton Tech Guide Content Wizard

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