Does the detail in the startup business plan template really matter so much? Or do you realize that nothing happens until a sale is made?
Is Your Business Plan Your Best Starting Point?
I’ve done a lot of mentoring of new (consulting) business start-ups recently. In most cases the new owner was an already successful corporate business executive or professional; people who had chosen to “go out on their own”. Most were armed with the advice to start with a business plan.
Often very much outside of their comfort zone, they use a business plan template they find on the web. it helps drive them through “all the necessary steps”. It gives them some confidence that they “won’t forget anything important”. Can you relate?
I clearly remember the advice I got from my fellow network members 13 years ago, when I started my own consulting, coaching and mentoring business:
Don’t sweat on the business plan small stuff. Focus on what your business does (best); focus on who your ideal clients are, what they need from you; and how you will get an initial few sales that will get you started. The detail can follow as you go.
When mentoring startup professionals, we often find they avoid this advice (as I did). They spend the first months after leaving corporate life (usually with a wad of cash) piling together infinite details of what the new business is all about.
The Better Business Plan Emphasis
They spend most of their time drawing up documents of who we are and what we’ve done. These documents are often built around “fat cat” concepts prevalent in cash rich corporates. And in language or professional jargon only that sophisticated environment (pretends to) understand(s).
Most emphasize the credibility of what they’ve done; and they don’t crisply outline what they do now, for whom and what benefits to pique interest related to the target market need and what they are wrestling with. This will probably then also form the basis of their new LinkedIn profile.
In The Network of Consulting Professionals (www.thencp.com.au), we like to focus on helping SME’s (Small to Medium size Enterprises) grow through their usual threshold challenges. And the language used needs to reflect what they can understand, often in states of overwhelm. Either unable to cope with the growth, or bumping up against a threshold they can’t break through.
Business Plan 80 / 20 Rule
One of the first areas of mentoring focus for such new start-ups is to assure they initially spend 80% of their effort finding sales that they can get their teeth into delivering.
Reminding them that 20% focus on “sweating the detail” of the technical and administrative setup stuff of the business plan is good enough to start with. But this is usually hard, particularly for the very many “corporate perfectionists”.
Is the new website or the colour brochure or finding the bank with the lowest account fees really the most important in those first months?
We think that starting with finding and delivering something of value to your first few clients is far more important.
Instead of beating up on yourself for another month of justifying to your negative mind how hard you tried.
Business Plan Big Picture. So What?
So, if you find yourself in the initial phases of a new venture, which approach have you been taking?
The 80% sales / 20% “small stuff” approach?
Or have you launched yourself into the comfort of the detail? Where you can get lost in the “safe” stuff?
You know that it’s the big picture stuff that’s going to make the difference, don’t you?
If so, is it too late to change course and pick the direction on which you’ll look back with pride and satisfaction?
Is it too late to look for a mentor that will be your thinking partner, your sounding board and your confidante? To challenge you? To have you assured to focus on what’s going to work best for your business?
At The Network of Consulting Professionals, we really do take you success very personally, you know? Talk with us about your business plan and your business.