By Failing to Prepare, You are Preparing to Fail.
~ Benjamin Franklin ~
I read articles discussing the whys and why not’s around Business Planning. You will find that most use hard facts supported by a list of statistics attached to support their opinion. I would like to take a little different approach. While I agree with most of these articles, I think they miss some of the soft facts that are not included in statistical data.
Let’s discuss what I have observed as a business mentor and coach. A short introduction: I mentor for SCORE and work with individuals who aspire to start a business. I encourage all my students to write a business plan, but do not mandate it as a requirement to work with me. Therefore, I observe those who plan and those who do not. Here are some of my observations;
My students come to me because they need guidance and support in the startup of a business. They lack the expertise in numerous areas and are looking for direction on how and where to gain this knowledge. It may be that they need to further their skills around marketing and finance. Whatever they lack in skillsets, we work on them throughout the planning process. Sometimes we need to address new concerns that are exposed. When this occurs, I remind them it is better to expose these issues during the planning process versus during the startup or operations of the business.
Business planning will drive you to explore and build relationships in order to acquire the information required to build a plan. My students build relationships and networks by visiting their competitors, potential suppliers, and talking with professionals (attorneys, accountants, realtors, etc.). I encourage them to join groups, trade associations, or other meetings that might develop into a support structure for them. Ultimately, they find at the completion of a plan that they have built a nice network of relationships that will support them through the startup process.
I find that the business planning process builds confidence in my students. I watch them become better prepared and self-assured with their business abilities. They start to build a sense of self-confidence that they can find the answers to the obstacles that before eluded them. Having the network and relationships to support them is a big factor in building this confidence, as well as their perseverance in building the plan.
- Industry expertise
Students are always amazed when they discover new and fascinating facts and opportunities in their selected industry. They may have years of work experience and a network before embarking on the planning process. Regardless, the planning process requires that you dig deeper and learn more than you would as an employed participant in the industry. Owning a piece of the industry is a different animal! You discover new relationships, new possible niche markets, and other potential opportunities. Revisiting a business plan opens up this can-of-worms to business owners and is highly encouraged.
Building a solid and cohesive business plan is no small task. It is a large accomplishment in and of itself. My students celebrate the completion with great pride – as they should! Building a business plan takes patience and determination. If done correctly it takes months, demonstrating the will to accomplish things that take time to get right and determination to see the plan through to its completion.