Women are great at multitasking. It is our innate ability to juggle that makes us such resourceful entrepreneurs. If you’ve never considered yourself in the role of businesswoman, perhaps you should. Take a look at your skills and strengths and consider whether you have what it takes.
In a recent article on Business Strategy (discipline #1), I talked about the importance of writing a mission statement to define your overarching strategic vision. It's the first of my 7 Business Disciplines. Assuming you followed my advice, you now know exactly where you and your business are headed. Great, let’s get going. But first … while I am all for taking action, I am also a firm believer in being properly prepared.
Writing a Business Plan Is Essential
Discipline #2 is all about being prepared for the business journey. Think of it as packing for a vacation. You want to make sure that you have everything you need, and that you have considered the possibility of things changing or going wrong. Would you travel without health insurance? A passport? Emergency contact numbers? Access to money if you were stranded? You don’t necessarily need these things to enjoy your vacation, but it would be foolish to set off without them.
You’ve probably heard plenty about business plans. Many funding agencies and bankers will require that you draw up a plan for your new business. They want to be sure that you have considered not only the immediate needs of the business, but also a path to the future. It is easy to find business-plan templates on the Internet, where you can just drop in the appropriate dollar values.
Stop! The most common mistake of new business owners is failing to develop a personalized plan. A good business plan is a living, breathing document that you should refer to regularly to make sure you are on the right track. So be extremely cautious about using someone else's template.
The Business Plan Is Your Flight Plan
Trying to create a vibrantly successful business without a business plan is a bit like flying a plane without a flight plan. After a hasty takeoff, you simply aim in the general direction of your destination. Whether you make it or not is more a matter of luck than judgment.
The more switched-on entrepreneur will draw up a business plan, but leave it to gather dust once it has served its initial purpose. She flies on autopilot. She may get there, (assuming there is no turbulence, air-traffic congestion or mechanical failure), but without an exit strategy she won’t be able to land (no help from the autopilot there).
Regularly Review and Adjust Your Business Plan
A well-prepared business has a working business plan that is constantly reviewed and adjusted, like a well-informed pilot checking her flight plan. She may be able to avoid bad weather, deal with emergencies or take a shorter, faster route to her destination, beating the competition. She has already found out about the climate and conditions at her destination, so she knows exactly how to land the plane and make a successful exit.
Be honest with yourself. Which type of pilot are you? Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. If you are happy cruising in blissful ignorance, you will be unprepared for what life throws at you and your business. It may not be fatal, but then again, it might.
Try not to think of planning as an irritation that needs to be rushed through in order to get to the main event. I want you to recognize that planning is part of the main event. Successful businesses plan, review, reflect and adapt constantly.
Start Writing Your Business Plan Now
So here’s my challenge: Whatever stage your business is at, it is never too late to start planning. If you haven’t done so, start developing a business plan right now. Remember, the plan is for you, so don’t fill it full of jargon that you don’t ordinarily use and don’t feel tied to a formulaic template that doesn’t meet your business needs.
Whether you use a spreadsheet, legal pad or computer to draft your plan, make a diary note to review it at least monthly. That way you can make those tiny tweaks and adjustments as you go along, rather than trying to take drastic evasive action at the last minute. You’ve seen The Titanic—last-ditch evasive action doesn’t work!
Download a FREE eBOOK on the 7 Business Disciplines taken from Emma's critically acclaimed book, BOOM!
About the Author
Emma Wimhurst is an entrepreneur, international motivational speaker and author of BOOM! 7 Disciplines to Control, Grow and Add Impact to Your Business. Emma took her first business, Diva Cosmetics, from her kitchen table to a multimillion dollar turnover in just four years. Now, as an international motivational speaker and business mentor to small business owners and entrepreneurs, she shares the secrets of her success with others. Visit Emma’s website, www.EmmaWimhurst.co.uk and learn more about her book and DVD at www.boompreneur.co.uk.
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