Do I Need To Write A Business Plan
Yes and no. Perhaps the best answer ever, right?
Tradition, university classes, and most experts will tell you that it is a necessity to have a complete business plan before you start a business. Iâ€™ve been asked this many times as well and it is indeed a good question.
Having a goal in mind is a must. You need to be able to answers these questions before you start: â€œWhat need am I filling?â€ or â€œHow am I going to create sales from this business?â€ Iâ€™m a big fan of Bobb Biehlâ€™s â€œMasterplanning Arrow.â€ Bobb has created a entire business out of advising organizations on how to be strategic and fulfill a goal. His books and materials are worth the read, and the Master Planning arrow is a simple but profound concept.
On the right hand side of the arrow in the direction where the arrow is pointing, answer the questions above: What need am I filling? What am I deeply burdened by and uniquely qualified to do? On the left hand side of the arrow, you list ideas. In-between you fill in, from left to right, your milestones, roadblocks, 1 month goals, 1 year goals, 5 year goals, 20 year goals until you get to your ultimate need. You should always start filling in the arrow from right to left and work backwards from the big picture to the practical action items and then ideas.
When do you need a full business plan? When you need someone to read it: An investor, a colleague, a bank, a partner. Iâ€™ve wasted many hours on writing 30 page business plans at the start of an idea only to find a flaw in my own plan, or the inability to sell or materialize the first stage of the plan. I quickly learned that a lot of the leg work should be done at the strategic level before zeroing in on the details. That said, there are many times when a comprehensive plan is necessary.
As an entrepreneur, I would recommend starting with a Master planning arrow or something of that nature in order to get the concept for your business in writing. Different methodologies include a pyramid, mind mapping, etc. Do whatever works best for you. Figure out the need, the solution, the moving parts, and how you need to get there. Spend the time researching, talking, thinking and perhaps even testing or pre-selling the plan before you go very far with it. Once you have the overall plan in mind, then build the â€œbusiness planâ€. There are lot of great templates available for free or for cheap online that will give your business plan a professional look and feel as well as walk you through the details of how to flush it out.
The Baby Boomer Reinvention
Most of my friends are baby boomers, and I fall at the tail end of that generation. As I looked closer, I realized that at my age, my friends had also started to look for a new career and lifestyle alternatives and most of their decisions led them down the entrepreneurial path.
My closest friend is in energy worker in addition to being a full time social worker. About 10 years ago, I encouraged her to seeing private clients in addition to her day job. As of today, she has a thriving word of mouth clientele, and will be on the verge of going full time as an entrepreneur soon. She let her business grow organically, at the pace that she was ready for.
I have another friend who has been an entrepreneur for most of her life but chose to refocus her energies from being a business consultant to writing romance novels. I reached out to her and found her motivations for her new career were about using her vast well of creativity in a new way. She has built a thriving business as a self- published author, using her well honed business skills to produce, publish, and market her books. She was quite the inspiration for me, and still is. Listening to her forced me to open up my brain and consider new possibilities for my future. After all, she went from being a business consultant to a romance novelist! She also told me how much fun she has speaking with other romance novelist on how many synonyms they can come up with for human genitaliaâ€¦
I was beginning to see that a new life awaited for me if I could open my mind to it. There were definitely ways to transition into entrepreneurship, using creativity and intellect, and I knew I could do it too. But what would I do? What could I offer? What problem could I solve for others?
I knew I could do and become something else, but I didnâ€™t know what. Iâ€™ve never been a specialist, but I am an awesome generalist. Iâ€™ve consulted an eight different industries, held positions in every corporate department you can think of, and a long time ago, I was one of the core group of people who helped design a global package distribution system that you probably use frequently. Letâ€™s just say itâ€™s difficult to put a label on me. The two best comments I received about my abilities are â€ you simplify complex problems â€œ, and â€ you get s*** done â€œ, and finally, â€œpeople trust you â€œ. Itâ€™s hard to put a job description together for me, but I do love those comments about me.
I wasnâ€™t sure specifically what I could do, but I just knew I wanted to do more of it, and work for myself, so I could create a career that was ultimately very freeing for me.
Recovering From A Business Failure
I did have some trepidation to get over while going down the entrepreneur path. And some days I still deal with it. It wasnâ€™t the general riskiness of getting into my own business. It was getting over the disappointment of a previous entrepreneurial attempt that went sour.
About 20 years ago, I left a large consulting firm to move across country and start a business as an independent consultant. I was very excited, especially when 3 consulting contracts came forward the first week I was in business. This is another example of the Universe and the Law of Attraction making a step toward me as I took a risk in a new venture.
A former employer encouraged me to accept a long term contract with them. I would support their West Coast customers and business partners, and I was relieved to have the long-term work. It provided a consistent paycheck for both me and my then husband.
Company X was happy with my work and supported me for several years. But I became complacent and didnâ€™t spend much time creating other business relationships that would support my business. I made excuses. I was too tired from working, Iâ€™d do it later, etc., but basically I was scared and didnâ€™t know anything about sales, marketing, networking, or creating opportunities. I was a good worker bee, but didnâ€™t take ownership of my business and run it like a CEO.
One day, company X disappeared. My contact no longer answered my phone calls or my emails. And my entire income dried up.
I was scared. I tried to get work as a part-time consultant, but the economy was in difficult shape and jobs were scarce.
At my all-time low, I got a job as an executive assistant at a consulting firm. I worked hard, proved myself, and became longtime friends with the women who hired me. That job started my next 10 years in full time jobs, where I continued to prove myself, build my income and security.
Those 11 years in my own business taught me a lot, and scared me a lot when it came to an end. I thought Iâ€™d failed not just in business, but had failed myself.
But I am in a different place now where Iâ€™m truly ready to be a successful entrepreneur and face those things that scare me. Thereâ€™s more at stake now, but I like many of my fellow entrepreneurs of a certain age, am ready to take the plunge.
Motivation Inspiration And Time Management
I think my first venture into motivational tapes (yes, tapes) was in the mid-1990â€™s when I bought a 30 day cassette tape system from a well known motivational speakerâ€™s infomercial. I think I used it for 30 days with great success and moved on because I didnâ€™t know where to go next.
That coach was Tony Robbins, who is some kind of miracle of nature. He went from rags to riches, and took a few million people across the globe on that journey as well.
In March 2013, I was desperate for some kind of motivation. I started listening to TED talk videos, (http://www.ted.com) , go there!). When I arrived at that site, I found a Tony video there that inspired me. I began to remember how energetic, and enthusiastic he is and I was hooked. I wanted more.
I think I listened to every Tony video on the web, usually while taking a shower and getting ready for work. I was enamored, but I also had more joy and energy in my life. I was on his website every day, and signed up for his mailing list.
I received a promotional video from a venture he had with Cloe Madanes , a quite lovely and well-known family and marriage counselor (http://www.cloemadanes.com) . Tony and Cloe developed a program called Strategic Intervention coaching, and the results of this program are truly amazing. (http://www.rmtcenter.com).
I was hooked and joined the program, and became a certified Strategic Intervention Coach. I now consider it part of my toolkit of working with others. Itâ€™s based on the theory of the six human needs which we all have and utilize, which are Certainty, Uncertainty, Significance, Love & Connection, Growth & Learning, and Contribution.
Despite the tools I learned and valued, I also learned something else. Over the course of 4 months, I put in over a hundred hours of learning, studying, and practicing with other students.
I amazed myself. How did I ever find the time to do that?
It turns out I found time in my busy schedule to do something important to me even when I thought I had no time. I later went on to work with a certified Tony Robbins coach who helped me reach some personal goals, and along the way I purchased some of his products. By far the most valuable product with his time life management system, a time management system that got me to look at how I use my time, resources, and rearrange them in a new way that supported my priorities. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/products/time-life-management/time-of-your-life/ His system far exceeded other well known systems I learned, but this was the only one that helped me to organize my world and priorities so I could sleep at night.
Tony Robbinsâ€™ content is phenomenal, and there are resources available for every level you want to participate so everyone can take advantage of it to some level. But more importantly, I discovered something I didnâ€™t know I needed.
I needed a teacher and a mentor.
I started by just being attracted to his work, but like working with any good mentor, I was challenged to look at and do things differently to move me to a new place in life.
I discovered that if to get to a new place, like being an entrepreneur for the first time, you canâ€™t keep doing the same things over and over. You have to do things differently. So I learned a great lesson and that I need mentorship and I needed to reach out to find those who could support my growth in a new direction, even though I didnâ€™t know what direction that growth would take me.
The new path you go down will take time, strategy, dedication, and energy, but can absolutely be worth the effort.