Do you have a business plan or are you running a business without a clear direction of where you are going?
Every day I come across small businesses that don’t have a business plan. And, I find this fact the basis of their suffering. They’re not sure where they are going and certainly not sure of how they will get there or what the business will look like when it’s ‘done’.
When I started my first business I didn’t have much of a plan. All I knew was that I wanted to work for myself and that between us, my partner and I had marketing and sales skills and he, a good head for numbers. We had worked in an events business together and figured we’d work things out as we went along building our events business.
But, when it came time to approach the bank for an overdraft, the bank wanted to see what it was that we planned to do with their money. Imagine that! So, we set about doing a very draft business plan, following a template I’d found online and consulting with each other. We presented the plan to our accountant who politely told me that while the plan looked pretty (I’d used my Pagemaker skills as best I could) he couldn’t see from the plan how the business was going to make money and it wouldn’t pass when we showed it to the bank. We needed a better plan. Argggghh. Details! We worked the plan, and got it to a place where the bank would accept it. More importantly, we now had a document that outlined the direction the business would take over the coming months.
Seemingly magically, as soon as we put the effort into our plan and gained clarity about that the business offered, who its clients were, where (location) it would operate and what its products and services were, the business began to grow.
A business plan shouldn’t be an afterthought. In its most basic mud-map format, a business plan can still be a guide that directs your activities towards the achievement of your goals. I don’t know what I’d do without one today. There are numerous templates online that will guide you through a plan. Some of these are scary at 30+ pages.
But a plan can be one page. It can be a vision board. It can be whatever you want and whatever inspires you.
Don’t know what the business will look like in five years? When you don’t have a past in business, it can be hard to see the future. Still, you can chunk down time periods and plan for e.g. the next quarter, or the next 6 months. Once you have a year of financials behind you, you can plan for the next12 months, based on what you learned the previous year. Don’t let your business plan be an afterthought. Get help to outline your vision, mission and goals and start to answer the questions:
• Where do I want to go?
• How will I get there?
It’s a powerful feeling to have a clear direction in business. Start today. Need help putting together a business plan? Take a look at the Business Plans Made Easy course, presented by the Australian Businesswomen’s Network. In two 90-minute online sessions you’ll create a blueprint you love!