The year has flown and October has flown extra fast for me, having been at 2 3-day conferences* (virtually back-to-back) in Phoenix, Arizona. It was time well-invested with valuable insights for my business. I have a full notebook to distil into action items. I will share what I have learnt over the coming months in these pages as there is much that is of value for all small and medium sized businesses, regardless of whether your business is offline or online.
With a brand new year only 2 months away, business planning is a priority.
We all know that a business plan is essential if we are to achieve the goals we desire for our respective businesses. But too often, the only business plan a business has is one prepared for lenders or investors (rather than for the business owner) with high level outline of strategic plan imbued with “feel good” marketing language.
That type of plan isn’t useful as a living breathing actionable management tool to assist in achieving a business owner’s goals and objectives. Little wonder it is consigned to moulder in the filing cabinet shortly after its production.
Create An Actionable Business Plan
Specificity is the key to developing a practical business plan. Do not do the equivalent of War & Peace. It’s not time well-spent.
The business plan has to set out the goals and actions that have to be taken to achieve these goals. Both goals and actions must be clearly articulated in order to have any chance of success.
Translate Your Plan Into A Budget
A financial budget is an indispensable part of any business plan. It is your strategic plan expressed in numbers and provides a reality check.
Can you afford to undertake the strategic actions you have in your plan? Do you need to get additional funding? What kind of funding will you need and when?
Do NOT just do a Profit & Loss Statement: profit is not cash. Cash flow is the life blood of any business and you must fully understand what your strategic plan means in terms of cash for your business.
The budget must be a 3-way financial forecast: Profit & Loss, Cash Flow and Balance Sheet. This is the only way you get a total picture of the financial health of your business. If you need help with doing this, speak to your accountant or contact me.
Staying On Track
Don’t undo all the good work done in preparing the plan by not implementing over the coming 12 months. Yes, things happen in business and it’s easy to get side-tracked or bogged down in the day-to-day running of the business, particularly for small business owners who have to wear a multitude of hats.
Having external support from people independent of your business is invaluable to helping you stay on track. That can be in the form of:
- Mastermind group (join one or start your own)
- An accountability partner
- A Business Coach or Mentor
The ability to bounce ideas off other business people who are outside of your business also has the benefit of providing fresh perspectives on issues. More often than not, you already have the knowledge and resources to solve issues but sometimes the ‘Ah ha!’ moment only gets triggered through brainstorming with others.
Dato’ Dr Vijay Eswaran (Quest International University, Malaysia) succinctly put it:
A teacher answers your questions. A mentor questions your answers.
“Mentor” can also be substituted by “mastermind groups”, “accountability partner” or “coach”. It is through this questioning by independent support partners that you can discover the answers that were within you.
Contact me if you want more information about establishing mastermind groups, finding accountability partners or coaching/mentoring.
*PS: In case you were wondering, the conferences were Jeff Walker’s “Product Launch Formula Live Event” and another which I won’t mention here as I would never reommend that person to anyone. [Integrity issues with that particular person as I have discovered.]