Article by: Marina McHutchison
Getting started in business can be such a buzz.
Maybe you’ve been making something that family and friends have declared “You MUST sell this” or a seed of an idea has finally grown to the point where you are confident enough to share it with the world.
Sadly, many businesses close their doors within the first two years of opening.
Many factors contribute to this – but the old saying ‘lack of planning is a plan to fail’ often rings true.
Now the idea of “planning” can be daunting or to some – be a waste of time. Not all successful businesses operate with one, why on earth do you need one!
So let’s just think about it as a Business Guide Map. A Business Plan after all, just shows you the layout of your business
- takes you through the process of obstacles you may encounter
- the direction you want to head in
- outlines the best route to take and offers alternatives if the quickest is no longer available
- the outcome (your destination and time of arrival)
- the mileage and even the costs involved
- Support and resources available
There are some key elements to creating a practical and productive Business Tool.
- Overview of business ~ Name, Goals and Aims, Structure (Sole trader, Company etc), who’s involved (owners, investors etc), Products &/or Services, Target Market, Location, Expansion possibilities.
- Financial Layout ~ Costings, future investments, profit and loss predictions,
- System/Operational Layout ~ How the business will operate and who does what and how.
- Marketing Layout ~ How your business will be seen, how the business stays in touch with clients/customers, how the business will build the all important “know, like & trust” factors.
Thankfully, your personal guide to your business guide does not have to be in the form of a Word document if that form does little to inspire you.
I have run businesses without a formal plan, as when I did follow the traditional outline of a plan – although the process was enlightening – I rarely took the document off the shelf.
I always tell my clients “Your Business Plan needs to be dog-eared, coffee stained and USED WEEKLY”
One rainy afternoon I collected a book from the library – The Right Hand Business Plan by Jen Lee. It was an eye opener. I realized I had my personal business plan in a box!
As long as you have the basics covered – your “plan” can take any shape you like.
While selling advertising and running domestic agencies (nanny and organizing), I had worked on file cards. Clients details, ideas for promotions, finance info (who was getting paid what and when) and all the basics were written on little 7 x 12 cm filing cards.
This system gave me the freedom to move about with the info I needed to run my businesses and be a busy mum of four kids. I could grab the relevant info that I may need, pop the cards in my back pocket or bag and head to the park/pool/beach with the kids.
When a client called – I had the info on me and could pull off a professional service, rather than having to phone back later.
If I had the info in my phone – I’d have to stop the conversation and check things – this way things flowed. Reading this book – the penny dropped – I had a great system, so then I expanded it.
It now sits on my cupboard door, instead of just in a box (My clients are in a box – a pretty box!) Everything I need to keep me on track is there in arms reach when I’m at home too. If I have someone contact me who could be a potential interview – I can pull out my cards to see where they’d fit in or if they have useful resource for my programs – I can refer immediately to my lists to see when I’d be including their info and where.
The other advantage too, is when people are enquiring about a topic, I can refer them to info on the web that either I have written on my website or as a guest writer – or refer them onto a valuable resource that I’m aware of.
Conversations flow really well – I can also jot down notes in a place where I won’t lose them and my business just bubbles along.
For me, this systems provides flexibility – a firm foundation and it’s actually fun to work with.
I’ll be back with planning the four areas soon.
Kidz Bizz development
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