Write a Business Plan – Even if You Think You Shouldn’t

business plan image

As we kick off in January I’m wondering how many of us have taken the time to write a business plan for a successful year?

Due to being unexpectedly busy with the “12 Days of Christmas Contest” the last few weeks (a last minute idea), we started our business development plan though it is not yet complete. I’m excited to get it done as I know the difference it will make.

Many of the creatives and coaches I speak with often resist having a business plan and this can be for one of a few reasons:

  1. They like to work intuitively and feel that a plan will take away their freedom and therefore their inspiration.
  2. They love variety and think that a plan will mean that they have to do the same things all the time and they’ll be bored.
  3. The plans they see others have look too long and complicated and they don’t know how to create one that suits their style of working.

In looking at the Talent Dynamics square we can see that, generally speaking, those with high Steel and/or Tempo energies tend to be naturally good at planning and probably wouldn’t feel that comfortable without one in place.

So who I’m talking about here are those with high Dynamo energy (naturally innovative and big picture thinkers) and high Blaze energy (outgoing, colourful and great at leading from the front).

Is it really that important you may ask? If you’re a solo entrepreneur or small business then there’s no need for 5 year business plans and spreadsheets for the bank or shareholders. Don’t they always get shoved into a drawer and never looked at anyway?

Yes, you’d be correct in thinking that many traditional business plans are done as an exercise and then seemingly disappear into a black hole. However, these businesses have got systems and processes in place that probably make a lot of the business plans happen automatically. Can you say the same for your business?

When there isn’t a plan this is what business owners tell me happens:

  • They get easily distracted and get to the end of weeks sometimes not really feeling like they’ve achieved very much.
  • It’s challenging to make decisions because they are unclear of their priorities.
  • They waste time and money with projects and partnerships that take them off course because they don’t really know where they’re headed
  • They can feel unmotivated and drift and/or
  • Work really very hard for not much return

What a small business really needs is a working plan that will help to focus the owner/team on what is important right now and keep an eye on the next steps.

business development plannsWrite a Business Plan that works for you:

So here’s my top tips to help you get more out of 2014.

  • Get really clear on the purpose of your business. Why is it important to you? What does it exist to do (apart from make you money!)?
  • Look at what stage of business development your business is at right now. Do you have a proven concept that customers are repeatedly buying? How clear are you on your brand and your ideal customers? Are you at the stage where you can start to look at joint ventures and deals or are the people who you’d like to do business with, unlikely to want to do business with you… yet.
  • Decide on the top 4-7 things that must be in place to get your business to the next level.
  • Look at the projects and processes you need to have in place to achieve these.

Those with Dynamo and Blaze energies often are fading by now and will only plan as far as step 3 or 4… These next 3 steps are however vital for business plan success.

  • What resources do you need to implement these projects and processes? This means looking at how long it takes to do different activities – without underestimating! Who is the best person to do different tasks? Do the tasks match their natural strengths and challenges. What could you outsource or delegate to your team? If you don’t have a team yet, look at how much revenue you wish to generate this year and decide to allocate a proportion of that revenue to a team to help you achieve it.
  • When are things going to happen? Here I would suggest to plan the next 3 months in detail. Then you can review the other activities at the end of that 3 months to see what of these are the priority, do some of them need to be changed, etc.
  • Measures. This is often the area that small businesses completely ignore. Have you ever heard the saying,

 “If you treasure what you measure, measure what you treasure.”

 So decide on some simple important measures at least around your finances and marketing. Then comes the really important bit. Measure and review those on a scheduled basis – along with your projects and processes.

So now you have no excuse not to write a business plan, in fact above you really have a business plan template to get you going. If it seems too overwhelming to do it on your own, work with a fellow business owner to do your plans together or contact me to discuss how I could help add 5- or 6-figures to your revenues this year.

What’s your view on this approach to business planning? Could you see it working for you, or not? Let me know in the comments below.

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5 comments on “Write a Business Plan – Even if You Think You Shouldn’t
  1. Yes, this is good for many people to do. Being new at blogging, I am not bringing in much money at all, so instead I just did personal priorities to know why I am doing what I am doing (so that even if I don’t earn money it is okay to keep doing what I am doing), but also to keep my family first.

  2. Una Doyle says:

    Absolutely Andrew – the simpler the better.

    When I work with clients they have a 1- or 2-page plan, yet the work that has gone in behind that plan means that it is aligned to their passions, vision and strengths and yet also fulfils what is necessary on the financial side too. 😉

  3. Bonnie Gean says:

    You stated, “What could you outsource or delegate to your team?”

    What if the business is new and cannot delegate anything or outsource at all? How viable is a business plan for this business?

    Thanks for answering, I appreciate it!

    • Una Doyle says:

      Hi Bonnie, great question! 🙂

      Yes, in the beginning it would be challenging to outsource if you take the traditional route of employing people. There are a few different options here.

      1. Do everything yourself for now but have already specified what you will outsource at the earliest opportunity and what is the tipping point for that (e.g. level of busyness, income, etc) so it doesn’t drift…

      2. Look for a business partner(s) with complimentary strengths. If your plan is to build a sustainable and scaleable business it’ll be hard to do so on your own so why not start off with a ready-made team? Just make sure you have aligned values and vision for the business.

      3. Work with a friend or business colleague with complimentary strengths to help each other out on the activities you’re each weak in. At the very least run ideas and plans past each other to get alternative insights!

      You know with sites like Fiverr.com and PeoplePerHour.com it is a lot cheaper to outsource than people often think.

  4. Without a loose business plan, even Tempo/Steel people like me can get distracted by the next shiny new opportunity – I call it “shiny balls syndrome”. With a plan in place, and the discipline (yes, sorry Dynamo-Blaze types!) to check each opportunity against it, that’s when you’ll quickly become a Busy Fool.

    It doesn’t have to be set in stone – Una’s 12-days is a great example. So long as you check a new activity against the plan, and either see that it fits one of the existing activities in there, or decide to revise the plan to include it, because it’s so good. My Opportunity Matrix is a good way to do assess that, and now available for other professional to use . You just want to avoid the temptation to allow planning (and re-planning) becoming a great excuse for procrastination – paralysis by analysis. I reckon 1-2 pages of A4 and a simple spreadsheet should be enough for most one-man businesses.

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