For many small businesses, especially those of us who are sole traders, is there any point in writing a business plan? If there’s only one of you running it, who else do you need to communicate the direction of your company to?
Turns out – you need to communicate it to yourself! You need an informal, annual business plan to help you to stay on track and to maintain focus throughout the year.
Now – don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about a huge document full of lots of buzzwords that you will never look at again. Perfectly Productive people are NOT in the market for pointless paperwork. I’m talking about an informal document that is dog-eared and coffee-stained because you take it out each month (sometimes more often) to make sure you’re on the right track.
Here’s a list of 5 things that a good business plan will make sure that you do. If you’d like to learn more about how to write a good plan, I have an hour’s free webinar here which will teach you how to do just that, and I’ll throw in a free 40 page planner as well because I’m nice like that.
And because I spend too much time in Canva.
I need help.
#1 Maintain focus and build efficiency.
I’m pretty sure every business owner out there has at one time or another felt like they are directing their energies everywhere and getting…precisely nowhere.
A good business plan will help you to find a focus for your energies – and by coming back to it quarterly (preferably monthly) you can make sure that your focus remains razor-sharp for the year.
By continually analysing the plan, you can see where you are spending pointless time and ensure that the time you spend working on your business is directed and efficient.
#2 Sustain motivation.
I think we can all agree that we will not be sorry to see the back of 2020. It’s been – well, frankly it’s been crap. Fire, flood, plague – and still 3 weeks left for the other Horsemen of the Apocalypse to dance gaily over the hill.
So off we all merrily sashay towards 2021, full of hope and optimism, with big plans for how we are going to push our businesses forward, make more time for our families, book that holiday we’ve been dying for…fast forward 6 months and how will you be feeling?
If you don’t have a good plan with achievable and time-gated tasks on it, you will very likely be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, tired, and demotivated. It’s a fact that by setting ourselves targets that we really want to achieve and putting a time-stamp on when we want to achieve them, we give ourselves the motivation that we are going to need when things get hard.
#3 Give you the flexibility to pivot
Lots of people don’t like planning, especially not planning which is too specific, because they think it limits them in terms of creativity and flexibility. That’s because they’re doing it wrong.
I said it.
They are doing…it…wrong.
What a good plan lets you know is when a target isn’t working. It will also show you HOW it isn’t working because it is specific and time-gated. This will allow you to do one of two things. Adjust the target so that it becomes achievable again or lose that target and put another one in its place.
Being flexible is great – dropping targets just because it doesn’t ‘feel’ like it’s working isn’t being flexible and creative, it’s being badly organised and wasting time.
Be flexible - but know why you’re adapting. The more you learn about yourself, the better you will be able to set goals for yourself next year.
#4 It gives you an internal AND an external view.
When planning for the year ahead, it’s easy to look at the internal factors. Who knows you and your business better than…well, you?
It’s much harder to look at the external factors that you have less control over, but which can really throw you for a loop. Don’t get me wrong. You can’t plan for everything. Nobody sat and wrote a plan last year which had ‘massive global pandemic’ as one of the potential threats. But there are things that you can and should foresee and plan for. The aftermath of COVID is one of those things, so is Brexit.
#5 It allows you to measure your success.
Your business plan has got to be specific enough for you to be able to say definitively – yes, I’ve achieved this. So, rather than saying “I’d like to grow the business this year”, saying something specific like “I’d like to add 3 regular clients to my customer base this year” will give you a specific target to aim at and to measure at the end of the year.
The other great thing about having a good plan is that it focuses on measuring the important things – things that will make a difference to your company. No more focusing on vanity metrics like Instagram followers or ‘likes’! Hooray!
(Seriously, stop focusing on vanity metrics – they mean…nothing.)
If you would like some guidance on how to create an outstanding, focussed, and personalised plan that you will return to time after time, I have plenty of resources that will help.
I ran a free webinar last week which had an hour’s lesson on writing a great business plan alongside a free 40-page business planner to write it in, which you can find at this link.
If you would like a more personalized, 1:1 service, I have 3 levels of support available.
Power Hour – an hour together where we perform a SWOT analysis on your business to pinpoint where you are now and then create 5-10 good, SMART targets to take into 2021. I’ll even type them up all pretty for you.
Power Hour Plus – This is a quarterly call where we look at the plan we created at the end of each quarter, assess where we’re at, and adjust if necessary. It provides expert help, accountability, and clarity – and a measurable level of achievement at the end of the year!
Power Hour Super Mega Plus (I’m so good at naming things) – Everything from the power hour and the power hour plus, but this time on a monthly basis. This is the ultimate way to make sure that you keep your eyes on the prize and stay focussed on your growth goals in 2021.
If you’d like some more information or a chat about what I can offer, give me a poke here!