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:
- They like to work intuitively and feel that a plan will take away their freedom and therefore their inspiration.
- 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.
- 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.
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.