Business Planning for Non-Planners
By Wendy Hearn | April 30, 2004
It's the start of your business day and you quickly whip out your clearly written plans.
Pardon? Did you say you don't have a written business plan?
Then join the club, 'Business Owners Without Plans'. The problem this club faces is that the majority of members' businesses are likely to fail. Business failure rate is high and a major reason for this is lack of planning.
If you're a member of this group and I was once, you're probably an entrepreneur or a creative person. The idea of planning is boring to you, seems unnecessary and involves too much detail. And you'd rather be doing other things. Your way of working is probably much more spontaneous, exciting and in the flow so you don't want to be tied down with plans. However, without any plans you can end up very unfocused, not achieving the results you want and ultimately face your business failing.
So, what's your reason for not having business plans?
Apart from the usual reasons, like not having enough time to plan, now knowing how to do it or where to start, perhaps you think that planning doesn't fit with your entrepreneurial and creative spirit. After all, this is who you are and you don't want to lose this.
Now fear starts to surface; fear that you many need to change or fear of failure. While your plans stay in your head, it's not so frightening and real. Putting them on paper brings them closer to fruition and although you may say this is what you want, is it really if you're not willing to commit them to paper. Planning your business takes it from being a hobby to a fully-fledged business. Although most people would say that they operate their business as a business, in reality most operate them as hobbies. Then they wonder why they're not being successful and seeing results.
I feel one of the problems for creative and entrepreneurial people is that when they think of business plans the picture that spring to mind is of hours pouring over vast pages of details. That's enough to turn them straight off. However, it doesn't need to be like that.
There is a way to develop plans for your business, and to be creative and entrepreneurial with it. These informal plans are ones that you'll use yourself. If you need a business plan for outsiders, such as your bank or investors then this idea might not be for you. However, it may be a good way to get a formal business plan started.
Instead of thinking that you need to commit hours to writing your business plans, I invite you to start with just 5 minutes.
Now without any thought of the right way to do it, just write down the things that come into your head about your business. Just capture any goals, strategies, problems, current situation and positioning. Writing down your plans clarifies, organises and prioritises them, and clears space in your mind.
The next step is to tap into your strengths as an entrepreneur or creative person. You're probably great at coming up with ideas and solutions, and may well be intuitive. So, you'll tap into all of these using the power of questions. You'll use questions to come up with answers and solutions that you'll put into your business plan.
Your business plan need only be a straightforward discussion of your present situation, your strategies, resources and goals. Nothing complicated or too detailed.
Here are some questions to get you started
- What is the current business situation?
- What goals do you have for the business?
- What problems and challenges is your business currently facing?
- What strategies are you using?
- What strategies do you need to use?
- What resources and opportunities do you have?
Okay, so having spent 5 minutes on your business plans, I invite you to make a commitment of 5 minutes each business day and continue working on your business plans. Once you've responded to the above questions, put on your creative and entrepreneurial hat, and come up with your own thought provoking questions to answer. Take your creative and entrepreneurial spirit, and use these to develop plans for your business that keep you focused and producing the results you want. Once you start laying down some plans for your business and experience the benefits of doing this, you'll want to continue. The most important step is to get started.
As an entrepreneur or creative, what will it take for you to start putting some of your business plans onto paper?