Imagine yourself waking up in the middle of a dark forest. Thick vegetation surrounds. You look up. Moonlight straggles down through the branches and leaves concealing the sky. Your heart accelerates. Sweat pushes through your forehead and and streams down your temples. What should you do? You know you have to get out. But which direction and how should you get there?
Isn’t this what it’s like to be an entrepreneur or business owner? You wake up one day with an idea that you must share with the world. Your passion and excitement impel you to just start running in a direction. Maybe this works. Maybe you get more lost. Maybe you run out of steam and just start wandering around. Maybe you find some really cool stuff along the way. Maybe. Maybe not. Wouldn’t you rather have a map showing you where you are going and how to get there? This is what an effective business plan does for you.
And yet so many people embark on their journeys and traverse the business landscape without one. They squander their initiative and ingenuity making the same mistakes, see or Entrepre-No-No’s.
Enterpre-No-No’s: (noun) Avoidable mistakes by a person with a great idea but lacking an effective plan.
- I’m too busy to create a business plan. We’d all love to have more time for planning in our lives. The problem is when we’re planning, we’re not doing. Wrong. The question is not, Do we have enough time to plan? It’s, Do we have enough time not to plan? We know to compete with more established and larger companies, we have to stay nimble and respond quickly to ever-changing customer and market demands. Setting aside time to create and manage our business plans allow us to stay focused on what’s important, think clearly and critically about our business, and communicate our plans to others. We might be the brains behind our ideas, but we need others to achieve our visions and execute. An effective business plan improves the quality of what we are doing by reducing the quantity of what we shouldn’t be doing.
- Customers buy the idea, not me. When hearing bad news, we are often told this is business, not personal. Yet so much of what we do in business requires personal investment of our time, income, and emotion, and our decisions often affect those closest to us. How is this not personal? Even the largest corporations started from a single idea inspired by one or a small group of individuals. As the world grows and becomes more impersonal, people want to engage more with the people behind the products. As entrepreneurs and business owners this an advantage we have over larger, more established companies. We need to use it. We shouldn’t hide behind the idea, product, or brand. We need to lead the way and be the link between our companies and our customers. An effective business plan helps us do that by combining the story and the numbers, connecting our creativity to cash, reminding us and everyone on our teams why we started our businesses, where we want to go, and how we are going to get there.
- I just don’t think that way. Most of us are either right or left-brain thinkers. Very few are both. As a result we have a tendency to steer clear of our blind spots and gravitate to our strengths. We either focus more on the idea and the sales and marketing or the numbers and the bottom line. An effective business plan brings the creative and spatial thinking of the right brain with the structure and analysis of the left to merge the story with the financial into a comprehensive and compelling narrative. It forces us to follow a process that reduces our exposure to our own limitations and expands our ideas into customers, needs, benefits, competitors, opportunities, and near and long-term aspirations and back them up with projects, objectives, activities and financial targets and metrics.
- I don’t need a business plan. Most of us got our introductions to business planning in one of two ways: 1) We were promoted in a medium or large corporation and started getting included in annual business planning meetings; or 2) We attempted to get money from a bank or another third party to fund a business idea, and they asked to see our business plans. So somewhere along the way we accepted unless we’re required by our job description or needed a business plan to survive or succeed, we don’t need one. An effective business plan is more than a static plan completed at startup or done once per year to fulfill a corporate process requirement. It is dynamic, integrated process that aligns the organization on what’s most important to meet the needs of customers and stay ahead of competition and provides the tools to plan, navigate, and track progress and understand and manage cash flow throughout the year.
For more info on how to quickly create an effective business plan, attend our one-day workshop with StratPad in Vegas on April 13 or contact us to develop and execute a customized business launch plan or strategy and planning process.