Recipe Card For A Great Business Plan

Written by: Steve Dusek

Prep time: Varies

Yields: One business plan


  • 3 pieces of basic info
  • 2-3 competitive advantages
  • 1 “Hedgehog”
  • 1 SWOT Analysis
  • 1 big goal
  • 3 objectives to accomplish within three years

1. Figure out some basic info.

These are things that guide you to stay in alignment with your vision and passion for why you started in the first place. Ask yourself questions such as, “What’s the purpose of my company? Why does my company exist? What are our mission and core values?”

2. Identify your competitive advantages.

These are not things like customer service, employees and superior product. If anyone else can claim the same thing, it’s not a competitive advantage. You have to dig deeper. What is something you do that’s truly different or better than the offerings of your competitor(s)?

3. Determine your “Hedgehog.”

If you’ve never read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, I highly recommend it. The Hedgehog concept will help you determine the sweet spot for creating strategy for your business. In the most basic understanding, it’s the intersection of what your company can be the best at, what you are deeply passionate about, and what drives your economic engine.

4. Do a SWOT analysis.

Take some time to write down your strengths and weaknesses (these are internal to your company) followed by your opportunities and threats (these are external to your company). Include such things as competition and regulations. How do these impact your plans? Are any of them things you want to change? Maybe they become a goal within your plan.

5. What are your goals?

Start with a big goal: What do you want to be in 10, 20 or 30 years? Based on that, what are three objectives you need to accomplish in the next three years? Then, take those three objectives, and break them down into goals for just this year. Finally, break those down into quarterly priorities. During each quarter, review how you’re doing: Are you accomplishing your goals, or have there been any changes that require you to course-correct within your plan?

Dakota Business Lending

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Steve Dusek is the president and CEO of Dakota Business Lending. He has over twenty-eight years of experience in managing and delivering non-traditional lending solutions for small business in rural America and in maintaining successful business cultures.