Business Plan or Business Scam
No business should launch without a plan. This is one of the most obvious tenets of a successful business and yet I see many business people who merrily skip along without a plan until someone important tells them they need one. This is normally a lender/investor and then the task often becomes a rush to knock up a few spreadsheets via the accountant and someone who’s half decent at writing to cut and paste one of the many templates on the web….big mistake!
You the owner/entrepreneur need to do this. Your business and your plan is your baby: you need to create it, feed it, train it, adapt it, manage it and enjoy it. Creating your business plan can be difficult if you are not sure of the framework needed, but it needs to comprise your raw, passionate, driven thoughts on how you will make you and your business a success…..who you are, what you do, who for, why and how you’re going to do it; easy!
There are many professional resources out there for creating a business plan, but tread carefully when putting your plan together. I will be the first person to stand up and tell you get a professional (like me!!) to help support your plan, but you need to be careful and let me explain why.
I have written many business plans with many entrepreneurs and I have been involved in many businesses with many business plans. The key word I have used is “with”. An outside professional cannot write your plan for you alone, it is crucial that you retain ownership. It is your business, your plan, and your success at stake.
Do not just get an external consultant or your accountants to knock up a plan for the bank or an investor. If you do, you are scamming yourself first and foremost and others around you. Do not write what you think the reader wants to see; write what you really feel and are going to do; it needs to be executable.
A good plan is critical and of course you should get an outside professional (like me!!!) to help, but you must own it. You will get stuck at many points, but here is where a great coach can help. Here are my top tips for creating a great plan:
- It’s your plan….own it and be proud!!
- Be concise; less is more
- Speak in historic and present terms, wherever possible. Use words like ‘is doing, have done and are doing, not hope to, aiming for, & plan to’
- Be direct and positive
- Be optimistic and confident, but always realistic and authentic
- Know your weak points in the business and focus on improvement; it doesn’t need to be perfect
- Write as if you are selling it to yourself
- Reduce jargon to a minimum
- Avoid acronyms
- It’s a crystal ball, so don’t pretend you know what will happen in years 2, 3 and beyond, unless you really know it
- Anything more than 3 years is pure guesswork and the birds on the fence outside can predict as well as you can
- Focus on actions and delivery, not aspirations and hopes
- Focus on where you will go, what you will do and how you will do it
- Check your numbers, understand your numbers and remember your numbers
- Remember your plan is just a plan; it is a means to an end, and not the end in itself, so be prepared to review and change as you go along
You are on a journey towards a destination, take one step at a time and remember that over used phrase, we don’t plan to fail, we just fail to plan.