I’ll answer the question why a business owner should care in a moment. First allow me to examine what a business plan is.
Sir John Harvey-Jones (16/04/1924 – 9//01/2008), Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries said “planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression”. As the host of the BBC show Troubleshooter from 1982 to 1987, I truly hope Sir John was being facetious with this definition.
I prefer to think that Peter J. Patsula (Ph.D of Cognitive Science and Human Computer Interaction and Entrepreneur) has the better idea when he says, “having no plan is like sailing the seven seas without a compass, digging a ditch without a shovel, or hunting for pirate’s treasure without an ‘x’ marks the spot. Without one, you’re better off heading down to the horse races and betting on the ‘Win Three.’ A plan helps keep you on schedule, makes it easier to recognize success and failure, helps pump you up when things aren’t going so well, and most importantly, provides an essential focus – a beacon of light in an ocean full of treachery. In fact, a plan not only acts as your road map for success (a metaphor that’s been beaten to death), it is your vehicle for prosperity, or if you prefer, your own personal prescription for greatness.
I’ll certainly tell you what a business plan isn’t. It isn’t something you do for the Bank to get a loan! The business plan must be for your business purposes, yes your “beacon of light”. To this end, it also can’t be written by someone else. I promise you that you will never connect with someone else’s vision for your business. If you’re thinking of heading there then in the words of Meatloaf, “stop right now before you go any further”.
A final thought on what I think a business plan isn’t or shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be a “do-it-yourself” solution. A “do-it-yourself” type plan is like looking in the mirror, all you ever see is yourself, all you’ll ever think about for improving your business is what you have thought about before and I guess didn’t work. In effect you don’t know what you don’t know.
“Ok so I don’t hire someone but I don’t do it myself either. Uh?” Trust me, a professional advisor who works with you on the plan will be well worth any stipend you may pay in order to keep you outside of your comfort zone.
So what is a business plan? Put 10 consultants in a room and ask them and you’ll get 15 different answers.
If you are going to keep your Business Plan focused, concise and sustainable it needs to be simple. I believe the de facto answer to what you need for a business plan is simply:
1. A Vision Statement: Answers the question “what are you building?”
2. A Mission Statement: Answers the question “why does this business exist?”
3. Objectives: Answers the questions “what will be measured?”
4. Strategies (BHAGs): Answers the question “how will the business be built?”
5. Action Plans: Defines the “work to be done”
Why do you care? Well as a business owner I think it would be well worth your time to
1. Clarify & achieve the future you believe in
2. Make better quality decisions
3. Identify & focus on the major few not the minor many priorities
4. Define the client experience & deliver against it
5. Be a great strategist as well as a great tactician
6. Build a business based on continuous improvement doing as Gerber says….”working On your business not just IN your business”.
WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?
1.You can find out more about what a business plan is and its importance with the international best-selling book CHAOS; How Business Leaders Can Master the Power of Focus. Get your FREE copy HERE
2. Use our FREE business planning program FOCUS Yourself; A 7 Module Business Plan Program. This is not a business plan template, it is a full business plan that is EASY and FAST, making your plan SUSTAINABLE and entirely PRACTICAL. Start your business plan NOW
3. Not sure why you need a small business plan? REGISTER for a FREE FOCUS Discovery Consultation where you will talk business, your business, with international best-selling author James Burgess