Failing to plan is planning to fail
– Benjamin Franklin –
For most business owners business planning is intuitive and in their head rather than structured and in a written form.
While there are many reason for this the most common are:
- I don’t understand what business planning is
- I don’t know how to do it.
Consequently they are uncertain about the value of it and so they don’t make time for it.
Yet we know that failure to properly plan is one of the major reasons for business failure. And we know that most business owners use a structured written approach to their operational planning.
My experience is that if I can build upon their skills in operational planning and successfully satisfy them on the two primary reasons above, then they are on the path to change their business planning from in their head intuitive to structured written.
Define Your Goals and Action Plans
This starts with business planning being simply defined as:
Developing a set of goals and action plans to achieve those goals.
- goals are markers/milestones on the journey towards their vision for the business,
- and action plans are the means by which these markers/milestones are reached.
The next step is to show the business owner a simple example of a summary business plan based on this definition. The best example I have found is attached. While it is for a solo professional it can be readily applied to any small business.
Let’s look at the key features of The Simplest Business Plan Ever:
- It is structured and in a written form
- It clearly states the owner’s vision for the business and the designated planning period
- Goals for the planning period
- The actions (or “big rocks”) needed to achieve each goal
- Each action is broken down into tasks (“small functional steps”) and a monthly schedule of tasks is compiled
- Goals, actions and tasks are monitored and reviewed.
So the essential elements of business planning are contained in this simple one pager. All it requires to implement is project management skills which most business owners have from their operational planning. And note the phrase Nothing Else Matters which ensures focus. Also, apart from pasting the one pager on the wall you can use it as a screen saver.
The most challenging part of this business planning process is that of setting goals. Most business owners are not good at goal setting and usually require some assistance to improve their skills in this vital area.
This Simple Tool Is An Easy Entry Into Planning
The primary purpose of The Simplest Business Plan Ever is to show a business owner how to get started with a structured written business plan. My experience is that if I can get the business owner started using this simple tool I will have answered the two key questions and they will see the value of business planning and want to move beyond this entry point.