One of the important components of a business plan is clearly defining objectives. Stephen Harper in Starting Your Own Business (McGraw Hill, 2003) writes, “Objectives can be viewed as dreams with a deadline.” The point he is making is that objectives should be specific in terms of projected amounts and timeframe.
For example, you would not write an objective like this: The business will grow over the next 5 years. You would write it like this: Sales are expected to be $2 million in 5 years and the business will be one of the top 5 niche market leaders. The dreams you have for the business should look ahead and establish where you want the business to be positioned or how much growth is expected within a set period of time. The dreams should also be reasonable, based in facts and business reality, and achievable.
For example, if you plan on opening 5 franchise businesses within 10 years (1 every 5 years) the objective should be stated as such. However, you should also be able to support plans for opening these franchises in the competitive analysis section of the business plan. If the market is already close to being saturated, those 5 new franchises may be difficult to open. When objectives are focused and sensible, the business plan will become a living breathing document that supports your dream.
If you are having trouble setting objectives for the business plan, there are some questions you can ask yourself to develop focus. Ask yourself what your ultimate goal is 5 years from now. Picture yourself as an entrepreneur 5 years from today and imagine the level of business success you want to succeed. Ask yourself questions like how many sales people you hope to have working and how much market share you want to gain. Picture yourself as successful and put your definition of success in writing.
Objectives will become clear when you take the time to look into the future. Though a business plan is not a crystal ball, it is a driving force with strategies for achieving success. Set clear objectives first and the rest of the business plan will be a lot easier to develop.
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