When was the last time you looked at your business plan? Do you even have one? How much benefit do you think are you getting from having that nice-looking business plan? Not much? And yet they say that every healthy business must have a business plan… You’re missing something, aren’t you? There is one thing you need to understand. Business plans or business planning isn’t actually about a document. It’s about ‘planning,’ the verb. A famous general once said: “No battle plan ever survives the first contact with the enemy,” and the same can be said for a business plan. Just like the general who can’t win the battle without planning, you can’t build a great business without planning.
Planning is about doing it; it is something that needs to be happening all the time. As soon as the actual document is printed, we carry right on planning again. Another way to think about planning is that planning is guessing – based on what we know today and what is our best guess on how we are going to get to where we want to go. And once we made those guesses, we test them against reality; and of course, reality rarely conforms neatly to our guesses. Then, we have to make new guesses based on the new information we’ve gleaned in the past week or month, what our new set of best guesses is, etc.
Business plans that work, that make a difference are live documents. They live on everybody’s desk and have coffee stains over them and scribbles in the margins. They’re tools that are being used to make decisions, to hold us accountable, to keep us focused. And the other thing about a high-functioning business plan document is that it is short — ideally, not more than a page. So in June, at the end of the financial year and the start of the new one, clean up your white board, get your most engaged employees or team members in front of it and get brainstorming. Yellow stickies are great tools. Or try mind mapping, different colours, whatever works for you.
These are the questions to brainstorm with your team and make your best guesses about:
- What do we care about most in this business?
- Where do we want to go this year?
- Why do we want to go there?
- What is the easiest way, we think, we can get there?
- What are the priorities we need to address to get there?
- What strengths do we have that we can build on?
- What milestones do we have to set in place?
- Who is going to take ownership of which parts of the plan?
At the end, take photos of the whiteboard and the scribbles, or turn it all into some kind of single-page document that is distributed to everyone. And above all, do not leave the room unless you have booked in the next planning session in a month max, and then do it all over again.
If you do this every month, and you will have the most amazing financial year you’ve ever had in your business… I promise you.
Being a small business owner can be stressful, daunting and overwhelming. Roland Hanekroot from New Perspectives is a business coach and mentor and author of ‘The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun and Building a Business that Sustains You for Years to Come.’ Roland believes that nothing is more important in business than fun, because fun is the opposite of overwhelm; and if your business is fun, it means that everything is working. It means you’re making money, your staff are engaged, your customers love you and you have the balance in your life you dream of.
Roland’s book is available for free as an eBook or audiobook or for minimal cost in hardback via this link: www.funinbusiness.biz