In order to get up every day and do the best you can, you have to be passionate about something. As a founder of a company, you ended up where you are today because you were passionate about something, and that idea and burning desire to make it happen has resulted in you starting and running a company. How often do you say, “How did I end up here?” or “If I only knew this when I started?”
While an unwavering belief and blind ambition got you started and can keep you running for a while, unfortunately it will not likely sustain your venture for the long haul.
It will benefit you most to have a plan and stick with it for a realistic amount of time in order to see what parts of it are successful and where you need to make modifications. Very often when I tell business owners they need a business plan, they roll their eyes and say, “Yes, but I do not have the time to write it down” or “It is a waste of time as my business is changing every day. Any plan will be outdated before I finish writing it down.”
To that I say, kindly, without a plan, you should just walk away and do something other than run a company. To put it simply, a business will ultimately fail without a plan.
Putting your thoughts and ideas down on paper makes them real. This is a great tactic that forces you to think, not just dream.
A plan does not have to be overly complicated and long, but it does need to contain certain key components. Instead of reciting the standard sections of a traditional business plan, I have suggested to business owners to think of these key sections:
- Overall strategy: Your view of the horizon and what you see that you can accomplish through your company’s deliverables that others are not currently providing (niche in the marketplace)
- Current state of affairs: What your company is currently doing in the areas of operations, finances, team, and brand
- Resources: The time, money, and people you need to ensure you will reach your final destination
- Timeline and tasks: What your team needs to do in the allotted time to achieve the stated goal
- Success: How you know when you have reached the end of your current trip
While even the simplest plan may seem daunting to write down and execute, it is important to remember that just because this is your plan, you do not need to go it alone. Get your team (internal and external) involved from the beginning. Set the general tone, but solicit their ideas and thoughts. Listen to their perspective, it is unique. They will see things you have not even thought about. You need their “buy in”, so what better way to get that than to incorporate their ideas into the plan.
Once the plan has been agreed upon, set the rules of engagement. Break down the steps into reasonable deliverables with realistic timeframes. Then go on to assign responsibilities and explain the impact (positively or negatively) one move has on another, and to the operation as a whole.
Measure success; small wins result in huge accomplishments.
Always keep in mind that a business plan is not a static document, but more so a living and breathing reminder of what you want to accomplish and how you will do so.
A solid business plan is your roadmap that allows you to set a clear path to your destination; as well as allowing you to better react to the speed bumps.