Guest Post by Dan Forbes

I am big on asking the right questions to get from point A to point B. When it comes to creating your business plan, asking the right questions is key.

Questions are powerful because they make us think more deeply. Business planning is about thinking. Asking yourself the right questions as you create your business plan will lead to greater success.

“An hour of effective, precise, hard, disciplined – and integrated thinking can be worth a month of hard work. Thinking is the very essence of, and the most difficult thing to do in business and in life.”   – David Kekich

Here are 5 main questions, each with three sub-questions, to kick-start your business plan.

1. What is my BIG WHY?

Asking yourself this question will help you discover your passion. Before you can consider the “what” and “how” of your plan you must get a handle on your WHY.

Here’s the three sub-questions: (1) Why does my business exist? (2) What problems do I solve? (3) What needs do I fill?

If you aren’t excited and passionate about your answers, you haven’t quite discovered your why.  Keep digging until you do.

2. How will I fulfill the purpose of my business?

Once you know your WHY, you can starting thinking about HOW you’ll accomplish your purpose. This is your strategy.

Consider these sub-questions: (1) How will I fill the need I’ve identified? (2) How will I solve the problem? (3) How will I express the purpose of my business in a mission statement and vision statement that excites me and my employees?

3. How will I set myself apart in the marketplace?

Unless you plan on just being a commodity, it’s imperative to find a way to set yourself apart from your competition.  You don’t win by being like your competition, you win by being better than your competition.  What makes you better?

To stimulate your thinking, consider these three sub-questions: (1) What is special about my business? (2) Is my value proposition clearly articulated? (3) Can I easily describe my competitive advantage?

4. Who is my target market?

Think about who needs the product or service you are selling. A hint: It isn’t everybody.  Who is best suited for becoming a customer. The more narrow your target market the better. Think about who is best served by your product or service.

These three questions will help: (1) What does your ideal client look like? (2) Do I know where my ideal client lives, works, networks, etc.? (3) Do I really understand my ideal client’s needs, wants, fears, goals, and problems?

5. How will I go after my target market?

This is where you will describe your strategy for obtaining clients or customers. Think about specific ways you might attract your target market to your product or service.

More questions that will help: (1) Where does your target market congregate, play, network, and socialize? (2) What are the best strategies for reaching my target market? (3) How do I know these strategies will work and if they don’t, what then?

Creating a business plan doesn’t have to be a hard grueling process.  It can be as easy as asking these five questions and coming up with your own answers.

Dan Forbes is a leadership advocate, blogger, speaker, trainer, and adviser. He is Founder of the Lead With Giants Community and the Lead With Giants Tweet Chat.    You can connect with Dan and learn more at Lead With Giants.

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