Back in December I wrote an article about how important planning is if you’re collecting data to boost your business case. (Click here to read it.) A week later, Nicole wrote about the basics ofplanning a project implementation. In both posts we stressed the importance of a well-thought-out plan to ensuring the success of whatever it is you’re trying to do.
This week I’d like to talk about an even more important plan, especially if you’re a small business owner – the business plan.
Do you have one? Do you need one? Read on.
Yes, you need one.
“But Ruth,” you’re thinking, “my business is up and running and all is going well. You only need a business plan when you’re asking for money from someone.”
If that’s what you’re thinking, then you’re half right. Whenever you are seeking funding from a reliable source (bank, grant, etc), you absolutely need a business plan. In fact, they will probably have a template you will need to follow.
But guess what? You need one even if you’re NOT looking for money for someone. Take a look at the following questions:
- Do you have a specific strategy for the next 12 months, with documented activities and timelines?
- Do you have measurements that show your results for the last year and have targets and projected results for the next year?
- Have you assessed all the risks and opportunities in your market?
If you answered no to any of those questions, then you need a plan.
Business Plans Come in All Shapes and Sizes
I’ve been following the career plans of one of my nieces for the last few years, and am really impressed with the process she’s put together – whether she knows it or not, she’s using a business plan, with her career as her “business”. She’s planning on being a speech pathologist, and has been mapping out the things she needs to put in place in order to get into the Masters program that she wants. She will need specific courses, mentoring, volunteering, job experience, and of course, good grades.
If you think of your business as your career, (which is what it is, actually) you should put the same care into your plans for its success. And that means, a business plan.
Do you need a full blown 50-page document? No, not unless you’re approaching a financial institution for funding. But you do need specific things documented, and then you need to review them on a regular basis and make sure you’re on track. At a minimum, you should have a 12-month strategic plan with key performance indicators and action items. Otherwise, you’re just winging it, and that’s not something you should feel comfortable doing with your business. Click to Tweet As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you may end up somewhere else.”
Until next week!