Every business owner needs a living, breathing, strategic and actionable, business plan. Often people think they just need one at the very beginning of their business venture, as a box they check when they start their own business. It adds an air of legitimacy. Sometimes at the start, a business owner needs to bring others into the fold – investors, advisors, bankers, key talent, etc., and a business plan helps to give others an idea about what you are creating so they can evaluate their possible involvement.
However, all too often, once up and running, the business plan is put on the shelf, never to be picked up again. This is not ideal because a business plan is a roadmap, and as things change in the business, the plans need to be updated to stay on course. You know the old adage…
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will lead you there…”
Here are the top 5 reasons why EVERY business owner needs a current, living, breathing business plan.
1. To maintain a strategic view of your business
Creating or updating your business plan is a great way to make sure you are setting aside time to think strategically about your business. It is super easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day busyness of running your business and reacting to clients and customers and your to-do list.
But every successful business owner takes time periodically to step back and think about their business in more strategic terms and integrate the day-to-day work and learnings about customer needs and patterns back into their business plans and strategies.
Although it can be challenging to carve out the time, doing this in a disciplined way will pay dividends in your ability to run your business more strategically and to make better choices as we talk about below.
2. To get to where you most want to go, faster
All business owners have goals and aspirations. There is a reason you started this business. You want to make an impact. You want to use your gifts and talents to help people. You see a better way to help your clients. You want to create both financial and time freedom in your life so you can truly enjoy your life and how you show up in it.
In addition to the very relevant adage above, there is another great adage to insert here, which is “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
If there are things you want to accomplish, and we have already established that there are…then you need to be smart about how you intend to meet those goals.
How does your business work? How does it make money? Is your revenue/pricing model sufficient to make enough money to do the things you really want to do in your life? How do you market your business? How do your customer facing and back office processes work, and are they doing what you intend, or are there opportunities for improvement? How aligned is your team and where might there be gaps in talent or communications?
Working through the business plan and getting it down on paper provides a roadmap that articulates both where you want to go and how you intend to get there.
Doesn’t it make sense to have your roadmap updated at least once a year, and then to check back every month or every quarter to see how you are progressing toward your intended destination?
3. To stay in alignment with your key stakeholders
All of us need help building and running our companies. Depending on where we are in our business lifecycle, we have teams that we build to support us in executing our mission to achieve our vision. We have teams of employees, contractors, professional service advisors, suppliers, and boards of directors and/or advisors, just to name a few.
The bigger our mission and desired impact, the more people we need to have involved to make it a reality. And the more people we have involved, the more we need to take action to ensure those teams stay in alignment so everyone is headed in the right direction.
A current business plan is a great way to share the current direction of the organization with your key stakeholders, especially new ones.
The process of updating and reviewing your company’s progress against the business plan is a great way to involve your key stakeholders to give them a voice in where the business is going to go. By involving them and obtaining their input in the business plans, you gain their buy in in helping you execute those plans.
And you have something you can point back to that everyone agreed to throughout the year when you are having to make tough decisions about which way to go.
4. To focus, prioritize and make better decisions
When you are clear about where your business is headed and how you intend to get there, it allows you to be more focused on achieving your goals. It is easier to prioritize the activities and choices that lead you closer to your goals and to set aside those that don’t. And it allows you to be a better, quicker decision maker. If your strategy is sound and you and your team believe it is the best course of action, it becomes easier to distinguish what actions keep you on your path and which do not, and as a result you will become more decisive.
5. To gain clarity around what is working well and what is not, so you can capitalize on the first and mitigate the second
Going through the process of looking at your business strategically gives you the opportunity to evaluate both where you are currently and where you are headed, as we have talked about above.
And part of that evaluation is to look at what is currently working well that you need to do more of, and what isn’t working as well as you’d like that you need to address. This too can help you to focus on the critical drivers that will take your business to where you’d like for it to be.
How can you improve your processes? Your communications? Your effectiveness individually and as a team? Your products and services? Where do you need to hire new skillsets or upgrade existing ones?
It is essential to evaluate where you are periodically and strategically determine where to make adjustments to take your business to the next level.
Ready to take your business to the next level?
Join me starting August 16th for a live 8-week workshop series in Atlanta to Accelerate Your Heart-Centered Business. Not in Atlanta? Join me starting August 17th for the virtual workshop series. In each session we will cover a distinct building block of your business plan, and by the end of the 8 workshop sessions you will have a complete, up-to-date business plan that will be your roadmap for the next 12-18 months. Click the links below to learn more.
And now I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments below when the last time was that you updated your business plan? How do you believe this has either helped you or hindered your progress?
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Have a great week!