Thursday, January 5, 2017

"It's Time To Create A Written Business Plan"

It's a new year so it's time to begin things anew. That means having a written business plan to guide us throughout this coming year and beyond. Just having a rough idea - or even a more specific one - or what we would like to accomplish is not enough. We need to commit it to writing.

A written business plan is powerful, It incorporates the visual - seeing it in front of us, the physical - actually typing or writing it, and the emotional - connecting with it. This makes it very powerful - much more than just thinking about it or having a mental picture of what we want to do.

The business plan in this case is a management tool to guide our business, not one that you will use to attract investors or take to the bank to request financing or working capital. That can be done, but for now, let's stick to the management plan.

A management plan is one that we, as the business owner, sole proprietor, or sole practitioner, write to crystallize our thoughts and plans for our businesses. Make sure to hold and keep it close. It is not for publication although we may choose to share all of it or portions of it with family members, strategic partners, or those whose business advice we respect.

The reason that most small businesses do not have a written plan is that they have never been required by anyone to do it. There are various tips on how to write one that you can find online, and I have a resource that might be helpful called "Business Planning Made Simple" that lays out the various topics can be included or used as an outline - it asks various questions that will need to be answered.

People generally aren't taught how to write a business plan or what goes into it. How many pages should it be? How many chapters or headings? How many words? Does it need to be typed or can it be handwritten?

In addition to not having been taught how to write a business plan or what goes into it, people generally don't appreciate the importance of it for helping them to run their business and formulate key decisions about opportunities to pursue and which to ignore or withdraw from.

People generally won't make the time - from a few hours to a few days - to sit down and put their thoughts and ideas on paper because they don't appreciate how it will help them. However, ask anyone who has ever written a business plan whether they considered it to a valuable tool, and the answers will all be affirmative.

By writing down our plans, we take ownership. it's one thing to have a general idea of what we want to do. It's another to actually put those ideas and plans on paper and transfer ownership from the realm of thoughts to being real. 

That plan becomes ours at that point. It doesn't mean that we can't change it, add or subtract from it, or adapt it as necessary. It does mean that it's our plan and that it physically exists. Keep it handy to review often and compare what is happening in and through our business to what we wrote down. The results may be pleasantly surprising.   

____________

Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.