What are major trends -- positive and negative -- in the general environment (demographics, economic conditions, technological developments, governmental legislation, etc.) that might affect your company’s future?
Are there any developments among competitors that might affect your firm’s future? Where are you vulnerable to competitors?
Are there any changes, problems or opportunities among building material suppliers that might influence your company’s future?
Who are you? (Fidelity Investments' Peter Lynch says you should be able to explain your business to an eighth-grader in less than two minutes.) Define your company’s core strengths: the positive features of the company and factors that differentiate you from the competition. Do you have a good, simple mission statement that all in your company know and understand?
What are your liabilities? What needs fixing?
What are the products and services that you offer -- your niche? Is your niche correct for the future of the business? Should you consider other options?
Rate your company’s ability to compete based on value, not merely price.
Is your company organized and managed in a way appropriate for the future? Are your total human resources in place and properly structured to manage the company and contribute to its growth?
How frequently do you monitor your company’s performance and with what tools?
Timeliness is now the No. 1 metric. Are your house designs timely? Are your schedules on time? Are your services timely? Is your customer service prompt?
What kind of growth pattern has your firm had in the past three to five years -- your track record of successes?
Bottom line, how well is your company positioned to cope financially? Reputation? Capacity or cash flow? Capital? Collateral? Cash is king.
If you could have three business wishes, what would they be? (Do not go overboard on setting too many goals. "You should only have two or three goals over the course of a year," business guru Barry Gibbons advises. "What is important is to make sure each goal encompasses five or six things. In other words, choose a goal that people can only meet if they do five or six things right.")
Are you ready to handle unexpected risks and changes that might come along? The worst-case scenario?
Target Audience Analysis -- Customers are the focus and the glue.
Who are your customers? Are they the right customers? With whom do you make money?
What do today’s customers really want? What do they value? How can you better help and deliver to these wants and needs?
What new resources will be needed to satisfy customer needs in the future?
Why do customers choose you over the competition?
How are the priorities of your current and future most profitable customers changing?
The secret to a great business plan is simply to tell why.
Source: Bill Lee, president, Lee Resources Inc., management consultant to the construction supply industry. 800/277-7888.