Working with lots of small businesses, red flags often pop up indicating it’s time to do a business plan.
Okay, so that last time you thought about it was when your banker or accountant asked you about plans.
Business is doing okay, sometimes busy, sometimes a little slow. But not bad overall. You make a decent income, have good customers, get a good flow of new customers, what’s the big deal?
Why a business plan?
Most of the time we are happily working in our businesses not bothering with executive management duties, especially if we are a small company.
After all, you might think, “I’m not an executive, I’m a small business owner operator.”
However, if you own a business, you have accepted the role of business executive. Like it or not, believe it or not, being an executive of your small business is one of your job descriptions. And that comes with duties including business plans.
Red flags that indicate it’s time to do a business plan
- Been doing the same business for many years. And you ask, “What’s next for me and the business?”
- Tired of the ups and downs of business. And you say, “There’s got be a better way!”
- Working too long and not getting the balance I want. And you ask, “Will I ever get a balance in my life?”
- People are grumbling about me, others, the business, turnover is high, people are not accountable. And you say, “I’m starting to hate my job. People are a pain.”
- Want more, want some controlled growth. And you say, “I’d like to take my business and myself to the next level.”
The good news is that there is a lot of options out there for you when it’s time to do a business plan. Good business planning techniques are well understood. The techniques can tackle these red flag issues and those that were not listed.
The trick and the mistakes
The trick is to recognize you’ve “moved into the time” to do a business plan or to update your plan.
Pay attention to the statements you make that raise a red flag. Listen to yourself. It might be time.
First, some common mistakes when taking this on. Most of these mistakes attempt to shortcut the process, never a good idea when you strive for improvement or even excellence.
The most common mistakes:
- I’ll download a business plan and fill it out. Yes, that is simply not good enough. It’s far too easy to do it in a completely useless way.
- I’ll use a mentor. Don’t get me wrong, mentors are good, I’ve had mentors many times, and very good ones. The downside is they typically are doing you a favor. Which means when things get busy or change for them or especially tough for you, interest wanes.
- I’ll do it myself. There are plenty of good books. Yes, please read books. These are important and useful! Do not mistake knowledge for skills. When it’s time to do a business plan it’s also time to increase your skills. They go hand in hand. You cannot become skillful from reading a book.
- Assume there will be no investment, in time or money. The point of a business plan is to have a positive effect on your business. You must invest.
- I’m too busy, messed up, to do a business plan.
It doesn’t matter what the “issue” is. If it’s time to do a business plan then it’s time.
So, what are the steps to get going?
- Decide what is really driving your frustration or aspiration.
- Take a moment to understand what living with the frustration is costing you. Or if you have aspirations, understand what you hope to get if they are achieved.
- Get with a savvy business person who understands business processes well. If they understand your industry, better yet, but it’s not crucial and sometimes unhelpful if they are too operationally minded.
- Find someone who can help uncover and sort through the specific issues you have and the upstream issues most likely causing them.
Take note … The first recurring frustration issues you identify always indicate more severe issues “upstream.”
See a more on business plans here >>
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As an executive business coach I offer 30 minutes free to discuss your situation.
I’ve done it, experienced it, been coached through it, studied it, and I help others in your position, let’s see if I can help you. See my bio >>
Give me a call at 503-753-9971 or email me at phil@PhilBride.com