As you know, we’re big fans of planning; and let’s face it, having a solid business plan is a vital part of being a successful entrepreneur, even if you’re not a Type A who loves planning every little detail!
A great business plan can mean the difference between achieving lifelong dreams and having to wrap things up after only a year. So why do so many of us feel like our plan is missing the mark? You’ve put so much into it; surely it should all be running smoothly, right?
We’ve identified some key areas and how to fix them, so you can continue to grow your business and reach your goals.
Spotting The Inconsistencies
A good business plan needs to be like a perfect piece of music: every section needs to fit together seamlessly to create a coherent (and gratifying!) whole; this means that, just like a jarring note in an instrumental section, you need to be able to find the inconsistencies in your plan to resolve them.
Inconsistencies could appear over time; you might have written your business plan a while ago when you were in the first flush of business ownership. It matched your vision at the time, but the chances are that it doesn’t match what you are doing now.Inconsistencies in a business plan will ring the alarms of investors, collaborators, and other parties interested in working with you.Click To Tweet
Perhaps you thought you would have a particular target market, but once you started providing your service or selling your product, a different audience has emerged. We have also seen people have opposing strategies within the same business plan and with the best will in the world; you can’t put all of them into action.
Investors feel confident in a business plan that is harmonious, where they can see that every component fits together and that you have done thorough research into every aspect. Inconsistencies ring alarm bells that will put people off.
You want a clear, unanimous thread running through your plan so that potential investors or partners see that this is something you are fully committed to so that you will think everything through and not take any unnecessary risks.
Now is the time to go through your plan with a fine-tooth comb and catch all of these inconsistencies – big or small. Check your assumptions, check your facts and make sure everything ties together. We’d always recommend getting someone you trust to read through, as sometimes a fresh pair of eyes is just what you need.
Pivoting To Encourage Growth
It takes a while to get into your groove when you start a business – show us the small business owner who’s still following their first-ever business plan, and we’ll eat our glamorous hats! It’s important to remember that a business plan is an ever-changing document, not one that gets stuck in history, and to treat it like that.
The chances are that all of us will have to grit out teeth and consider pivoting at some point in the lifetime of our business. But it’s important to understand that pivoting is not about failure; it’s about a necessary shift in perspective that will help your business grow.
Once your business meets customers, you are bound to discover things that need to change. Pivoting is a way of taking these discoveries into account to develop your company in new and exciting ways.
People often think this means a fundamental change to the whole organization: it doesn’t. It could be a matter of streamlining your product offering, changing your platform or realigning to a different target market. Nonprofits might have carefully outlined the social impact of the business, but need to give the business strategy a bit more thought to ensure continued growth.
There’s no point in powering through with a business plan that isn’t helping you grow: take a long, hard look at your plan, take a deep breath, and pivot. You’ll thank yourself (and us!) for it later.
Uninterruptedly Fixing The Gaps
When you’re planning for your business, it’s easy to jump about in the plan, doing the bits you’re confident of then skipping to the next section. When you go back, you might not remember what you were thinking; this can leave you with gaps in your plan.
Gaps in a business plan make it weaker; the more holes you have, the more likely it is you’re going to face problems and have inconsistencies in your plan; this could mean you end up with a plan that’s irrelevant to your goals.
Remember you need to make it watertight, covering your product or service, operations, your marketing plan, your team, your competitors, your financial projections, your target customers and a comprehensive discussion of the industry and trends. If any of these aspects are missing, then you don’t have a complete plan, and this will come back and bite you later.
The only answer to this is to steadily work through your plan fixing the gaps as they come up. Always keep your goal in mind so that you are resolving the issues in a way that works towards this; it’s not a case of fixing gaps for the sake of it, but that so you have a thorough blueprint to develop the business you’ve always dreamed of having.
It’s a case of ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ You need to be meticulous and detail-oriented to catch everything. We can’t pretend: filling the gaps in your business plan is not the most fun part of being an entrepreneur, but it is completely necessary.
These steps are vital to ensure your business plan hits the bull’s eye – that it all fits together to achieve the goals you’ve set, and that you’re updating it, so it doesn’t get stuck in the past.