It never fails to surprise me. More like shock the daylight out of me. What is it?
It is a business owner without a plan for his business. And, since I have absolutely no poker face, I am horrible at hiding my horror at the mere idea of it.
I mean, if he or she got into a car to take a road trip from one city to another, they would certainly have a map (or a GPS). When they go to the grocery store, they bring their list. When they prepare for a vacation, they lay out the things to take, things to do, and the things to leave behind.
Yet, when it comes to the one single biggest thing that is providing for their life, livelihood, and well being, they fail to have a plan at all. And folks, having it in your head is NOT a plan. That is more like ‘hope’, and well, we know that ‘hope is not a strategy’.
I have to admit when I hear ‘business plan’ I too will cringe at the idea, even become intimidated by it. I mean, it is not as if I am going to a bank requiring large sums of money to fund my business. So why is it I need to do a business plan? Is that what you are thinking too?
A business plan or simply a ‘plan’ is your road map to success. I mean, it is proven over and over again that the success or failure of a business is dependent on having a clear and specific plan. Some small business association statistics that relate to any business:
• More than 30% of new businesses fail within the first 2 years
• 56% fail within the first four
• Only 69% survive at least seven
Why? According to the SBA, ‘the major factors in a firm’s survivability include…ample supply of capital, being large enough to have employees...the owner’s reason for starting the firm’. All of these would be addressed in a business’ plan.
So, what can be done to make this process more doable? Consider it in chunks. A business plan consists of the ‘who, what, where, why, when, and how’ of your business. So, the plan should consist of and answer the “Who, What, Where, How, When and Why?"
• Business profile
• Target clients or customer
• Competition analysis
• People and organization plan
• Marketing strategies
• Sales strategies
• Accounting and cash flow
• Insurance and Premises
Now, start writing out all of your ideas, thoughts, and strategies for each of the eight core areas. Always keeping in mind the ‘who, what, where, when, why, and how’.
Note: I never said this was a five minute task. Nor should it be considering that weight that it has on your life and livelihood. Plan out a couple of hours over several days to really think and work this through.
Do not short yourself, or you will end up shorting your success!