The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, March 03, 2008

Who Needs a Business Plan?

Everyone in business knows you have to have a Business Plan, but very few have one. Most of those who do, haven’t updated it for years. So year after year people carry on with an out-of-date, or no business plan at all. In fact, they go on so long like this, they even convince themselves they don’t need one!

So let me ask a controversial question. Why have one at all? Aren’t they just an academic exercise? Pretty much everyone who doesn’t have a formal plan says: “I have a plan, its in my head” What’s wrong with that?

If you were going on a month long tour of Europe, would you be satisfied with a plan in your head? Or would you have a daily itinerary showing how you will be getting from place to place and where you would be staying each night. Would you create a budget to work out how you would pay for all this, and how much spending money you will need for meals and other expenses. Would you have a detailed listing of your bookings?

Only when you write all this down, might you see that you have left insufficient time to travel between stopovers, or spending too long in some places and not long enough at others. Then you would re-organise your itinerary until it was right, before you confirmed all the bookings.

Even if you do all that, you know things might still go wrong- planes delayed, connections missed, overbooking, etc. So you would put a little bit of extra money aside to cover such contingencies.

Your itinerary would also be marked for certain highlights that are must sees for you - the main reason for the trip, to make sure that you don’t return home and realise that you missed an opportunity while on tour.

In business it’s the same. The more you write down your goals and plans, the more likely it is you will identify gaps in desired outcomes and capability, and the opportunities you need to find, so that you don’t miss them when they arise.

Your Goals are Your Opportunity Finders

Due to the way our brains function, you only identify the gaps and see the opportunities when you write them down. So if you don’t write down your plans, there will be flaws that you will miss while it resides in your head, and you will miss the opportunities that will transform your business.

Now, if you are like most people, you will be saying “I know I should have a plan, but it takes so long to write out a plan, and if I hire someone to do it for me, it will also be expensive.” Several years back I wrote an article called: The Real Truth about Business Plans – What the Consultants don’t tell You! It will probably make you feel a little better, but only a little!

In summary, the article says that even when people produce a plan, they never update it or look at it again because it was such a major effort to produce it, and it was not seen as tool that they would use for their business every day.

A Business Plan in One Hour

What if you could produce a Business Plan in an hour, and it could fit on a single page? Does that sound like a plan you would be prepared to invest your time in and use? You wouldn’t even have to pay someone to do it for you. Well, that is what I am about to show you how to do now.

As for just about everything in life, the 80/20 rule applies to business as well. That is, 80% of the benefit of anything comes from 20% of the effort. The remaining 20% of value coming from an additional 80%. So if you have limited resources, it makes sense to at least to do the 20%! So now I will show you how to do that 20%. You can hire a consultant to do the other 80% if you want to later.

Find out how to create a One Hour Business Plan that fits on One Page in Issue 101 of the Small Business Achiever - The Business Owner Brief

May Your Business be as You Plan It!

Dr Greg Chapman

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success.

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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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