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Category - Business Planning

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1
Small Business Case Study in Business Planning
2
Small Businesses And An Uncertain Future
3
Start A Helicopter View Business Plan
4
What A Business Plan Can Do For You
5
Don’t Forget To Plan For Contingencies

Small Business Case Study in Business Planning

One of the most frequently asked questions I get about business planning is:

“But I only have a small business – do I really need to prepare a business plan?”

My wholehearted answer is always “Yes, Yes and Yes!”

First, understand that any sized business without a plan is moving in the dark. There are no long-term goals, no real target. Any supposed goals you set for the year are actually parts of a giant to-do list because they are not coordinated toward a big picture that you need to work toward if you want to achieve your business dream.

Imagine going on a holiday without a plan, and just buying the first ticket that pops up. What would you pack? What currency would you bring? Where should you stay?

What do you want out of your holiday? If you wanted to go shopping but your unplanned ticket takes you to a remote beach resort, you’re not going to achieve your goals.

But just put the common sense of having a plan aside. People say to me, to justify their lack of a plan – “but it’s too hard, I’d rather just do it.”

Apart from “Do it? Do what exactly?” I show them how it’s not “too hard”, that it is a simple step-by-step process.

You just need the formula.

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Small Businesses And An Uncertain Future

As small business operators, our world is impacted by uncertainty.

Sometimes, from day to day, we’re not sure of the long-term loyalty of our staff; overhead costs like rents can trend up or down quite quickly; new legislation that we had not expected can change your trading landscape.

Even as we write our annual or other short-term Business Plans, we sometimes feel unready to look too far ahead. While planning for next year may be reasonably reliable, really small businesses rarely write long-term Strategic Plans looking ahead 5 or 10 years because we feel that we are unable to reliably predict the stability of the future.

So what are we to do as small business owners trying to reach a vision of the future in as steady and as planned a direction as we can steer?

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Start A Helicopter View Business Plan

If you own a small business, you need a business plan.

If you haven’t got one, it can only because you haven’t realised what benefits they can bring you, or you think you haven’t got time.

Look, I can’t fool you – it will take some time to follow a good business plan process to write your business plan.

But it is an investment in time in your business because the process will not only reveal some real truths about your business, it will clarify your way forward.

Want to build a business you can be proud of?

If so, you can’t just head off on your merry way and hope for the best, even if you think you have a clear idea of the type of business you want to build.

Just as you can’t head off on a vacation without knowing where you want to go and what you want to do there, you can’t build your business into one that you can be proud of if you don’t know what would make you proud of it and how to put it together to get there.

Lack of time is only an excuse.

You can find the time if you thought it had value.

So how about spending a couple of hours with me and let’s go through and put together a simple helicopter view of your business plan?

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What A Business Plan Can Do For You

If you own a small business, then if you haven’t already prepared a business plan, you will have heard of them.

If you have not prepared your business plan, it’s probably because you can’t see what it can do for you.

You may think your business is too small, or that you can manage everything within the time you have, or that you can’t look too far ahead because it’s unpredictable.

You may think that it’s too much bother – you know what you want to do and you’ll just take small steps until you can afford the time or money to aim bigger.

In response to that, let me ask you this: whether you have only just started the business, or if you have been in business for a while, is the direction and progress of your business:

  • going exactly where you wanted to go and there have been no missteps or missed opportunities; and
  • proceeding in a time-scale that is how you want to progress, not too slowly for what you want and not so fast that you are overwhelmed?

I believe if you are truthful, you would have to say that often, you are overwhelmed, that sometimes you are frustrated you can’t grow faster, and sometimes, you wish you were able to make decisions about what to do next faster.

Well, if you did answer honestly, then you should be interested in why a business plan can benefit your situation.

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Don’t Forget To Plan For Contingencies

If one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that you can’t predict the unpredictable!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about planning.

That’s why I preach about how small businesses need to prepare business plans. I write about marketing plans. If your small business was beginning to grow I’d be talking to you about strategic plans and risk management plans!

No, what I’m saying is that you must continue your planning habit and prepare your plans for your business so that you can look ahead, understand what might happen, and decide what you will do to take advantage of opportunities while mitigating the threats.

However, while you are doing this, your process needs to also understand that your plans must include contingencies.

This means identifying different, possible contingencies or scenarios.

You can certainly identify multiple scenarios and then plan for each eventuality, but I think that’s taking the attempt to recognise uncertainty a little too far!

The most practical way of planning for contingencies is to identify the most likely scenario (given what you know right now), identify a likely worst-case scenario, and identify a likely best-case scenario.

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