I just love doing business plans. But it wasn’t always like this. Years ago I rushed into business without taking time to think everything through. I just wanted to get started. Couldn’t wait to be my own boss.
I knew a business plan was important but I couldn’t be bothered. I didn’t really need that. So I thought. I knew my stuff. What could go wrong? Lots actually! It’s the important stuff that can sink a company
CRAWL, WALK, RUN THEN FLY
The other day someone asked me for a company website. As we started to engage I realised that more work needed to be done on what the company did before we even considered a website. Did the company have a profile? Was there a business plan? We need to go through certain stages in business.
GET THE BASICS RIGHT FROM THE START
When the going got tough after I started in business I realised I had not fully addressed basic things like costing and pricing. What were my income projections for the year? I had no idea? What was my target? Oops. Quotes were not standardised.
DON’T GET BOGGED DOWN
I started to get bogged down by basic things and admin. I was taking too long to do some things. Things that should have been in order. The sales and marketing process was not clear in my company. I was taking too long to close sales leads and under-pricing.I was doing everything.
BUT WHY NOT A BUSINESS PLAN
Looking back investing in a business plan was not a bad idea at all. The business plan is basically your business on paper, in a nutshell from A to Z. Had I done a business plan I could have waited another year to get everything ready. Get the savings in place, prepare the sales pipeline. Now when people tell me they want to get into business, I ask them a whole lot of things to find out how ready they are.
In the business plan the ideas of a company are laid out and detail thrashed out. So many questions are answered in a business plan. What are the products and services? What, Who and where is the market? How is everything connected? Is this plan actually viable and should funding be provided into this business? What assumptions are being made? How does money actually end up in the bank account?
SUCCESS NOT A GIVEN
Of course, a business plan is only a small part of the story! There are many companies with brilliant business plans that failed. And there are companies that succeeded with no documented business plan at all. But I would like to believe that someone had a business plan in their head. Someone had a clear idea of how things were supposed to work.
SCRUTINIZE THE VISION AND DETAIL
Investing in a business plan forces you to think deeply about your business, your mission and vision and the product, services and the market and identify gaps. Everything is brought under scrutiny. Why do you exist as a company?
I think a business plans helps to Blind Spots. Blind spots can sink a business. Sometimes people venture into a business but underestimate threats. Changes in technologies have sunk businesses.
OWN THE DOCUMENT
It’s tempting to completely outsource the process of doing a business plan. It cuts costs and saves you time but I think it defeats the point. You miss the chance to get immersed in the detail and mess of your business. If you are going to have someone driving the process, at least be intimately involved. Some business plans are not a reflection of what is actually happening in the company. Take ownership of your business plan. It’s your document after all.
THE BUSINESS PLAN IS A LIVING DOCUMENT
One big mistake is to do the business plan, apply for funding or whatever then forget about the document. The business plan should be a living document, evolving as the business grows. A company’s value proposition, core focus can change with time. The business plan should not be a document of the past but the future and value adding.