Lately, I have been spending some time helping business owners plan for growth and also critiquing business plans. I have to say its become apparent that there are a lot of misconceptions about the business planning process. A lot of businesses are approaching the process the wrong way and as such are not getting much out of it. This has created the misconception that business planning and resulting business plans are ineffective and pointless.
The value in writing a business plan is not in the 30 or so pages of beautifully formatted document that you create to file away on your hard drive or keep in your bottom drawer. The value of a business plan is inherently in the process of answering the tough questions about the opportunity in the market place and how you intend to structure and operate your business to capitalise and profit from that opportunity.
If you’ve gone through this process and still feel that you have not gotten any value from it then it may be down to the 3 reasons highlighted below:
1. Incomplete or poor quality planning process: The quality of your business plan depends on the type of questions asked during the planning process. A comprehensive planning process should cover some basic questions. Some of the essential areas to cover are a review of the need or opportunity identified in the market place and how your product or service will meet that need. You should assess your suitability or skills in meeting the need and how you are going to operate your business to meet that need. Of course you should cover the financial. The how and where you will fund your business.
Some business owners start mapping out some sort of plan and then abandon it – I have been guilty of this in the past. Others manage to finish some sort of a plan but never go back to update it and make it relevant to their current situation. This is something we all struggle with due to the constraints we all have on our time. However, to get the most out of your business and time, you need to spend some time planning how you want to spend your time and the results you would like to achieve in your business.
2. Lack of implementation or operational plan: You need to also spend some time thinking about how to implement the concepts and ideas raised in your business plan. Effectively, your business plan is just theory. A wish-list, so to speak. To achieve theses wishes you need to implement. This is the key ingredient that is lacking in most planning processes and the reason why most plans never get implemented. Writing a good business plan is a good start. That is all it is – a starting point. Now go and make your plan happen.
3. Lack of accountability: Even with the best of intentions, we all need support and accountability to enable us to be persistent and motivated in pursuing our business goals. Accountability can come in all shapes and sizes, it could be a board of directors, coach, or investors. Accountability is a key ingredient to keep you continuously focused on your business goals. Are you accountable to anyone? We should all be accountable to ourselves but unfortunately due to human nature, this self accountability is usually not enough. Get an independent party who has the authority, business skills and experience to offer a different perspective and add value to your business planning process.
Implement these 3 tips and let me know how you get on.
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