I am often surprised by the number of businesses that stay in business despite a lack of planning.
There is an old saying which says that “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”. In my experience, this is very true.
Small business Planning
Many small businesses begin with a great idea or concept. Many times the new owner is good at what he or she does but is new to the concept of owning a business. Some take on a business coach or seek advice from a friend, relative or acquaintance to assist them through the process of starting out.
If the person they are seeking advice from is any good, then he or she will be talking to them about goals, markets, strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities and then developing a plan to be followed by the business for its first period.
This plan provides a blueprint for the business in the first months, gives the new owner some targets to aim for and should keep expectations within a reasonable range.
Signs of a lack of business planning
I have a number of clients who have asked me to assist them with recruiting or in setting up employment systems. However, as I speak to them, questions begin to come out of the blue such as “how do I get customers in” or “how do I network” or “do I really need public liability insurance”.
These sort of questions are good examples of where a great idea or concept has moved into a start up business without a plan.
I have also found it is common for the market not be the same as you first envisaged – your target market may not be the same as planned, competitors may be stronger than you thought or your price point may be wrong. Similarly, other parts of your plan may not be working for you. For some, this means throwing away the plan and not revisiting it.
I strongly recommended this means you sit down and, based on what you have learnt, replan your activities. By doing this you are once again setting yourself goals and targets and have something you can measure your efforts against.
My number one piece of advice to first time business owners is to find yourself a good coach or mentor to assist you through the start up. This does not have to be a consultant costing you big dollars. As I said earlier, it could be a relative, friend or acquaintance who has experience in business. The important thing is that you “plan to succeed” not “plan to fail”.
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