Business Plans 2: Plan Contents and the Business Mission

So you have figured out why you are going into business, and why you are writing a business plan. That is fantastic, but what do you include in a business plan? There are many areas that can be covered in a business plan and lots of detail for each section. Here is a list of some of the sections commonly found in a business plan:
  • Cover/Title Page
  • Executive Summary
  • Table of Contents
  • Mission and Vision Statements
  • Market Research/Assumptions
  • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) Analysis
  • Marketing Plan
  • Operations Plan
  • Product and Service Information
  • Financial Plan
  • Appendices
While the above sections might not look like a lot to do, the size of your business plan will vary depending on the amount of content provided in each section.
The Mission and Vision Statements
The first thing a business needs to develop for it's business plan is a mission and vision statement. While many people confused the two as being the one and the same thing, there is actually a difference.
The Mission Statement
The Mission Statement is a brief summary of the organisation or team's purpose and intentions. It should summarise in a sentence the purpose/intention of the business, the product/service provided and the values of the business.

Additional points that can be included along with a mission statement include:

1: A few bullet-points outlining business intentions:

I.e.: 'We will:

  • Always focus on customer needs and safety.
  • Empower employees to give their best.
  • Seek continuous improvement in relation to the cost and quality of our services.'
2: A section outlining in bullet-points how you in tend to achieve the mission in relation to headings such as:
  • Safety and Security
  • Strategy
  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Environment.
A sentence for each of these points will suffice.
The Vision Statement
The Vision Statement is a small paragraph or two outlining the business' intentions in relation to it's goals. It is primarily developed with an internal focus for employees of the business to work toward.

Why create these statements? It helps you as a business owner to do two things:

  1. Clarify your purpose into a single sentence, and clarify your mission for the business as a whole.
  2. Clarify who you are providing a service to, and the morals through which you intend to achieve your goals.

Business Plans 1: Why Write a Business Plan?

As an entrepreneur, one of the key characteristics of our occupation involves starting and growing businesses from little finances to sell, or to develop a system that creates a passive income (as opposed to an active income).

Starting a business from scratch is not as easy as people perceive it to be. There is a lot of work involved both in the development of the business, and working within the business to make it succeed. One thing that helps to improve the success of a business throughout the initial stages is the creation of a business plan.
Why, as an entrepreneur should I or anyone else create a business plan?
There are several reasons for writing a business plan:
  • Clarify why you are starting a business.
  • Determine what you intend to offer clients
  • Plan how the business will operate.
  • Develop an execution strategy.
  • Provide a document that outlines your intentions for obtaining finance.
  • Determine a number of aspects relating to your market, your competitive advantage, your skills and expertise, your exit strategy, your finances and economics, and much more.
A lot of people start a business with no real idea of where they are heading. This is like going for a drive with no intention of going anywhere in particular- you will make a decision to go somewhere in the end, but a lot of time and resources will be wasted in the process.

The first two questions an entrepreneur should consider when planning to write a business plan are as follows:
  1. Why am I going into business?
  2. Why am I writing a business plan?
Determine why they are going into business.
Many people start a business with the dream of working for themselves, with no boss breathing down their neck every five minutes and the ability to spend time with their family while making a higher income and working less. There is nothing wrong with the idea, but has it been written down and made into a series of workable goals and objectives?

Write down what you intend to achieve going into this business. This could be a series of points, such as follows.
  • Work less hours (time leverage).
  • Earn more money.
  • Be my own boss.
  • Make a difference in the world.
  • etc.
Write down a list of about five major reasons, and then expand on each in a paragraph. This will help clarify in more detail specifically what your goals are from your business. Eg: Work less hours: I am starting a business with the view to working in around a schedule that incorporates my family, and eventually plan to scale my working hours back to 25 hours a week. I am prepared to work longer during the initial stages of development to ensure that I can achieve this goal in x amount of years.

If you currently have a business and are not achieving the goals you have set, why haven't you? Have you not been focused, lacked direction or just been mismanaging time?
Determine why they are writing a business plan.
The next step as an entrepreneur is to determine why you are writing a business plan. Is it to:
  • Obtain finance?
  • Clarify your operations procedure?
  • Determine whether the business will work?
  • Re-evaluate an existing business?
  • Another reason?
Write half a page on why you're writing a business plan, outlining what you intend to achieve from having a plan. If you don't have an intention for writing a plan, then write down how writing a plan will potentially benefit your business, along with the reasons why you have not intended to write a plan before.

A business plan does not have to be 100 pages, it can be as little as 5-10 pages (my ideal is approximately 20 pages). It does however need to match the criteria you plan to achieve in constructing the document (I.e.: If you are writing to give clarity on overall information regarding operations and marketing of your business, it needs to meet this goal. If you are trying to obtain finance, it needs to contain all the necessary information to be able to get the amount of money you are after.)

Napoleon Hill readers: Read This and Comment

For a long time I have recommended Napoleon Hill and his books as one of my major reasons for aspiring to success (even recommending it again today.) However, researching into a book called The Master Key System (Charles F Haanel), I have found an alignment to the 'new thought movement', which is also another form of New Age and Christian Science's foundational philosophy. This book was a major influence on both Bill Gates (allegedly) and Napoleon Hill, and was outlawed by the Catholic Church in the early 20th Century, only to be revived recently. Napoleon Hill acknowledges the influence of this book to the author in the following letter:

April 21, 1919.
Mr. Charles F. Haanel,
St. Louis, Mo.
My Dear Mr. Haanel,
You probably know, from the editorial in the January issue of the Golden Rule, copy of which my Secretary sent to you, that I began twenty-two years ago as a coal miner at a dollar a day.
I have just been retained by a ten million dollar corporation at a salary of $105,200.00 a year, for a portion of my time only, it having been agreed that I shall continue as editor of the Hill's Golden Rule.
I believe in giving credit where it is due, therefore I believe I ought to inform you that my present success and the success which has followed my work as President of the Napoleon Hill Institute is due largely to the principles laid down in The Master-Key System.
You are doing a good work by helping people to realize that nothing is impossible of accomplishment which a man can create in his imagination. Surely my own experience proves this.
I shall cooperate with you in getting your course into the hands of the many who so greatly need your message.
Cordially and sincerely,
Napoleon Hill,
Editor The Golden Rule
Chicago, Illinois



Here is an article I have found on Napoleon Hill by a guy named Dave Hunt. Have a read and leave your thoughts in the comments. (Found at: http://ankerberg.com/Articles/_PDFArchives/new-age/NA3W0102.pdf )

The Classic Case of Napoleon Hill
By Dave Hunt
(from Occult Invasion, Harvest House, 1996)

We have briefly mentioned Napoleon Hill in previous articles. He was not seeking contact
with spirit beings when he was suddenly confronted in his study by an unexpected and
uninvited intruder. Hill claims that an emissary came across the astral plane. In a voice that
“sounded like chimes of great music,” this visitor from another dimension declared: “I come
from the Great School of Masters. I am one of the Council of Thirty-Three who serve the
Great School and its initiates on the physical plane.”

Hill was informed that he had been “under the guidance of the Great School” for years
and had been chosen by them to give the formula of success, the “Supreme Secret,” to the
world: that “anything the human mind can believe, the human mind can achieve.” 1 Here
again is the same lie that turns one from God to the alleged power of the human mind.
Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller try to link this occult power with prayer and
faith. Hill was not praying, but was introduced to a mysterious source of “guidance” claiming
to inhabit a spiritual dimension (“a region beyond the power of our five senses to know”)
from which “unseen, silent forces influence us constantly.” 2

Although he spoke and wrote a great deal about “mind power” and “positive mental
attitude” (a phrase he was inspired by these entities to coin), Hill was convinced that behind
these forces were “unseen watchers” guiding the destiny of those who were willing to
submit to their leadership. There was no limit to the success and wealth which these allegedly
higher beings would give in exchange for following their principles. Hill claims to have
gotten these secrets from contact with “The Great School of Masters,” of which he wrote:
Sometimes known as the Venerable Brotherhood of Ancient India, it is the great
central reservoir of religious, philosophical, moral, physical, spiritual and psychical
knowledge. Patiently this school strives to lift mankind from spiritual infancy to
maturity of soul and final illumination. 3

Still a perennial bestseller even after 60 years, Hill’s best-known book, Think and Grow
Rich, has been credited with changing the lives and influencing the careers of a large
percentage of America’s top business executives. Its 1941 edition contains endorsements
from United States Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Harding, Wilson, and Taft; and from
some of the world’s greatest scientists and founders of America’s leading corporations:
Thomas A. Edison, Luther Burbank, John D. Rockefeller, F. W. Woolworth, William
Wrigley, Jr., George Eastman (of Eastman Kodak), Robert Dollar (of Dollar Steamship
Lines), and others.

The Venerable Brotherhood of Ancient India taught Hill the power of visualization. Following
their advice, Hill visualized nine famous men from the past sitting around a table as his “advisers.”

And their advice proved to be remarkably sound and profitable for Hill to follow.
As a result, Hill became very successful, and millions of other people (including many of
America’s leading business, professional, and political leaders) adopted and proved the
astonishing power of this ancient shamanic technique in every area of their lives. Though
he clung to the idea that it was all imagination, from what Hill wrote it is clear that visualization had opened the door to the world of the occult:
These nine men were Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank,
Napoleon, Ford and Carnegie. Every night… I held an imaginary council meeting with
this group whom I called my “Invisible Counselors.”
In these imaginary council meetings I called on my cabinet members for the
knowledge I wished each to contribute, addressing myself to each member....
After some months of this nightly procedure, I was astounded by the discovery
that these imaginary figures became apparently real. Each of these nine men
developed individual characteristics, which surprised me....
These meetings became so realistic that I became fearful of their consequences,
and discontinued them for several months. The experiences were so uncanny, I was
afraid if I continued them I would lose sight of the fact that the meetings were purely
experiences of my imagination [emphasis in original].
This is the first time I have had the courage to mention this.... I still regard my
cabinet meetings as being purely imaginary, but ... they have led me into glorious
paths of adventure... [and] I have been miraculously guided past [scores] of
difficulties....
I now go to my imaginary counselors with every difficult problem which confronts
me and my clients. The results are often astonishing…. 4

Carl Jung also tried to deny the reality of the entities that visited and guided him. Jung
finally was forced to admit their objective reality. Surely Hill could not really believe that his
imagination gave each one of his nine counselors “individual characteristics,” characteristics
which he confessed surprised him. And whence the wisdom that proved so beneficial
on so many occasions when problems beyond his ability to solve were presented to his
“imaginary” advisers? Of course, it is much more comfortable to believe in the power of
imagination than to accept the fact that one has become the victim of an occult invasion.

Notes:
1. Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude
(Pocket Books, 1977), p. 44.
2. Napoleon Hill, Grow Rich with Peace of Mind (Fawcett Crest, 1967), pp. 218-19, etc.
3. Ibid., p. 159
4. Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich (Fawcett, 1979), pp. 215-19.


I Personally found this a real eye opener and interesting... what are your thoughts?

The Two Minute Noodle Plan

You don't have to live on cheap food to become wealthy, although there could be a lesson in doing so in the short term...

Too many times have I had people say to me that their plan for getting rich is to live on 2 minute noodles for 10 years, saving every penny they earn and investing until one day they have enough money in the bank to invest and live off their passive income. In reality this does not work, but some of the skills learned from this style of approach are valuable for obtaining financial success.
There are many skills and tools that are required to be a success in life (and when each individual determines success differently, this creates some interesting arguments), but one essential tool for financial success is the ability to manage money. This is done primarily via two ways:
  1. Controlling and increasing income.
  2. Controlling and decreasing expenses.
While controlling expenses is a great way to start on the path to wealth, to multiply the potency of a finacial accumulation plan a person needs to be able to increase their income and their ability to earn. Some examples are:
  1. Working Overtime
  2. Returning to study to obtain a qualification to move up the corporate ladder in your industry
  3. Obtaining Promotion
  4. Starting a part-time business.
If a person can master both their control over income and expenses, then learn to use their savings and knowledge to invest (either in their own business, property, shares, etc.) then they will increase their speed in becoming wealthy much faster than if they were just saving what they could be eating two minute noodles.