When you see or hear the words business plan what’s your reaction?
Do you yawn and think “boring”?
Do you cringe and think “yuk – all those numbers”?
Or do you shout “yay – love spending time developing my business”?
Many of us running small businesses associate “business planning” either with what we see as the dull world of corporate finance or with an early days struggle to get funding for our start-up business. I’ve got news for you:
Business Planning can be FUN
Business Planning can be EXCITING
Business Planning is ALWAYS time well spent.
And here’s why. The best thing about running our own business is that we don’t have to follow rigid rules. We don’t have to adhere to a prescribed format or a standard process. So here are my top tips for successful – and enjoyable – business planning:
On your marks
- Book a meeting with yourself to write your business plan and put it in the diary. Treat it as top priority and don’t let anything else cause that meeting to be moved or cancelled.
- Pick a place to do your business planning that inspires you, whatever that means for you. For me that would be near the sea, or in the garden. For one of my clients, Hayley*, it means in the city, surrounded by skyscrapers.
- Pick tools that appeal to you – keyboard, pen, crayons, voice recording – and a format that works for you. My instinct is to type it on my laptop, with structured headings and bullet points, so that’s what I use for my own business plan. However, my client Bee* responds much better to a visual interpretation, and for her using coloured pens to draw a spider diagram is the answer.
- Think about what’s going well. What do you want to build on or do more of? What additional resources will you need to achieve that? What steps do you need to take to move this forward?
- Think about what has been a struggle in the last few months. What do you need to change, reduce or stop doing? How can you free up your time to focus on what’s going well and will help your business to thrive?
- It may help to identify relevant key areas of focus for your business, and consider each of these in turn. Depending on the nature of your business this could include:
• Product / service delivery
• Research and development
• Clients / customers
• Staff / suppliers
• IT / technology
Once you’ve got your business plan, it’s time to implement it.
- Commit to actions that will help you to implement your plan and achieve your goals. Put those actions in your diary.
- Keep your business plan alive. Look at it monthly, tick off what you’ve done and get clear on what you’ll do the next month.
- Be flexible. Circumstances change and you’ll need to adapt, but always ask yourself, how does this help me achieve my vision for my business?
When will you do YOUR business plan? Do let me know. And if you need help, get in touch!
*Names changed to protect confidentiality