How to build a billion-dollar business plan: 10 top points

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 5 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

Tom knows what he is talking about when it comes to superior planning. He oversees 170 global companies that generate billions of dollars in annual sales.

My own top recommendations

When I see a fantastic business plan, I note the following:

1. The plan is viewed by management as a living document. It is concise and accurate. It is considered by everyone daily. It’s a constant guide to high performance and corporate success.

2. The leaders have defined very precisely who their customers are, by the numbers, with specific measurable demographics. They know everything about their buyers including what they watch, read and hear. They know these targets better than their own family.

3. They know what customers need, what they want to buy, when and where. They know what people will pay for their products or services. They know why people need to buy; the emotional components as well as the utilitarian purposes.

4. They have listened and heard what’s on the minds and in the hearts of potential and existing clients. They are able to forecast what people might purchase in the future even before the customer knows he will need it.

5. These leaders know the industry like the back of their hands. They know everything about the competition and what they are doing. They have excellent relationships with trade association members and channel partners.

6. They understand industry trends and are forward thinking.

7. They have conceived, developed and manufactured exactly what the customer needs. They have built products with features and benefits that differentiate themselves from competing product offerings.

8. They have set specific priorities with key objectives they will achieve via the correct resources.

9. They have developed sound, repeatable and time-tested processes that yield high efficiency and productivity.

10. They have all the right people on the bus, with measurable tasks and rewards. Everyone has participated in developing his individual plans that are aligned to achieve their goals and the overall objectives of the organization.

11. Their financial plan is defensible and accurate. They have backup plans in the event of unseen consequences.

12. Leaders meet regularly to evaluate their progress and the progress of each organization within the business. They report to all employees, often.

13. Management has developed a powerful culture based on teamwork, innovation, client and employee satisfaction, integrity, results and hard work.

A great plan is developed by people with deep knowledge and experience. They possess a strategic mindset. They have a clear vision of where they want to be and how to reach their destination. And, most importantly, they achieve desired results based upon a clear road map. Perhaps these insights can be of value as you consider your own business plan. If you are developing a plan for your first business, you should engage the help of people who meet the criteria I have described. It will be well worth the additional effort.

This article originally appeared in Alan’s weekly Forbes column.

Alan E. Hall is a cofounding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is chairman of the Utah Technology Council.

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