By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
April 18, 2019
Do Small Businesses Really Need to Engage in Business Planning?
If you are a small-to-medium-sized business owner, you may view building a business plan as a deeply complex endeavor that will require exorbitant amounts of time. And because of this, you might decide not to bother. To tell yourself you already have the plan laid out in your head. It’s not like you’re pitching to investors or banks for funding. You’re just a small mom-and-pop doing everything on your own, and spending time on writing everything down takes away from time actually doing it.
Thinking this way is a mistake, though.
Chances are you decided to open your small business in order to achieve financial security while doing something you’re passionate about. Chances are you are also neck deep in (and overwhelmed by) the back end of your business, and not spending as much time as you’d hoped getting to enjoy your passion.
The truth is, every decision you make about your business (directly or indirectly) ultimately affects you and all of your associates. If you don’t make the right ones, financial security isn’t in the cards.
Also – news flash – business planning doesn’t have to be the complicated and elusive enigma it may be in your head right now. A business plan is simply the process of setting goals for your business and laying out how you’re going to achieve them.
Here are a few basics included in every business plan to demonstrate how easy it can be to at least get an outline down for where your life’s work is headed:
Define your goals. That broad-sweeping end goal of “living the dream” is certainly a starting point, but you need to really think about what that means. What, exactly, are the things you want to accomplish with your business?
Imagine you are certain that every goal you jot down is attainable and you will undoubtedly be a success. Be sure each one you write down is aligned with that big picture in your head, and absolutely worth your effort. If it doesn’t fit, toss it.
Make them as specific and as quantifiable as possible so you know absolutely when you’ve met them. Set deadlines and make them public somehow in order to hold yourself accountable.
Create your plan of action. For each goal, write out what needs to happen in order to reach it, and how you intend to move forward. One technique for mapping your route to reach individual goals is to work backwards, creating a set of mini-goals that have a clear path to success.
A single annual goal may require six distinct steps, for instance, and completing each step within an eight-week period can become a mini-goal to reaching your main goal within the year.
Recognize your obstacles. While developing your plan of action, be realistic about obstacles such as location, competition, and financial requirements. This is really the only way you will truly be able to figure out how to successfully overcome them.
Doing this is probably the most difficult step for small business owners to work through, because often they are facing issues that they’ve inadvertently tucked away with a faith that they will work themselves out. But evaluating your competitive landscape with open eyes can mean the difference between becoming a success and walking away from a dream.
Identify your needs. Once you’ve recognized the obstacles standing between where you are now with your business and where you’d like to be, it’s much easier to identify what you need to get past them. Write down all the things that could help you through each obstacle standing in your way. This may mean circling back to your plan of action or list of obstacles for revisions – and that’s okay.
Evaluate your finances. As you’re working through this plan, slowly descending from the cloud of big dreams, it is important to be sure you will land on solid ground. It can be unnerving to look at the real costs for making your dreams a reality, but go in knowing that just because you don’t currently have the money you might need to get where you plan to be, that doesn’t mean you can’t generate it. In fact, developing this plan is a huge leap forward in doing just that.
Advanced planning move. Once you’ve got everything in order for yourself, contact an experienced business planning attorney to review the plan you’ve created and get advice how you can ensure the best protection of your assets as you grow and evolve. They’ll even advise you on options regarding what happens to the business after you’re gone.
That’s all – or at least it can be. It’s really up to you. If nothing else, a plan allows you to get all those business thoughts and ideas out of your mind and onto paper, guaranteeing a bit more headroom for what you’re really passionate about.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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