Every business should do at least SOME business planning before starting or expanding operations. Whether that’s the two page version with targets, the five page variant with some analysis (more on that next week), or the 37 page detailed masterpiece, every business needs to do some of this.
There are two basic steps to business planning.
First, Plan Your Work
Business planning is simply a technique for figuring out where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Mostly a business plan is done to plan your work, including strategies to overcome those inevitable bumps in the road. Business planning doesn’t have to be complicated; it just needs to answer those questions that need to be answered before you start the business, with educated guesses on all the rest.
Then, Work Your Plan
But here’s the thing. Creating a plan is not enough. You need to implement it. I know that sounds painfully obvious, but the truth of the matter is that many business plans are put away after they’re written and never looked at again. And that’s not because they’re not relevant any more, but because many people do not follow the second essential step of business planning: Work Your Plan. As you review results and decide on your monthly or weekly priorities, refer back to your plan. You did some good thinking back then, and even if it’s no longer completely true, much of it still is. Take the time to figure out what is needed to carry out the strategies and achieve the results presented in that plan. Sure, make adjustments, but don’t start from scratch. You have a plan: work it.
At some point, you’ll need to revise the plan, but in the meantime, stick with it as much as possible. Until you change it, working your plan is the best way to get to where you want to go.
For more resources, see our Library topic Business Planning.