It often amazes me how many Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME’s) there are in the UK that do not have a Business Plan. According to even the most conservative of estimates, over one million MD/Business Owners don’t have a plan for their business. Are you one of them?
This raises numerous questions…
How can success be gauged accurately? How do you know what direction your business should be heading in without a plan? How can you plan for contingencies if you don’t have a plan in the first place? Let alone not being able to measure your businesses progress on a regular basis.
I think there is another reason that SME owners of small medium do not have clearly thought out business plan. It’s a lack of vision, or perhaps the loss of passion that was there when they started the business originally. Surely your business venture should be the vehicle by which you, the business owner, can achieve your personal goals, thus creating a better life for yourself and those dearest to you?
However too many of the classic business plan templates (usually handed out by banks) fail to link the aspirations of the person running the business, with the objectives of the enterprise concerned. How can the owner of a business be fully engaged with the targets of the business if there is not a direct link to the personal goals that are most important to the business owner? This disconnect is a fundamental flaw in the majority of SME Business Plans as there is often little emotional engagement with the cold hard business goals.
Here’s how to address this issue…
Whether you are starting a business, or planning ahead for your existing business, before putting ‘pen to paper’, ignore the goals of the business (for the moment at least). Your first points of reference for the business plan are your own personal goals and objectives. Time needs to be spent working out exactly what you wish to achieve in the most important areas of your life over a given time period.
These personal goals should be written down, stated in positive language and follow a model like S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed) or something similar. There are more detailed goal setting tools, but this method is a start. Once your personal goals are clear, and written down, only then should the Business Plan be drafted.
The key is to ensure that each personal goal has a corresponding goal in the business plan. Personal and business financial goals are easy to link together and therefore easy to measure. For other personal goals you may find it more difficult to make a direct connection between these and business targets. However if you spend time giving these more thought, then a bridge can be built between what you which to achieve in your personal life with the goals you want your business to achieve.
Here’s an example…..
MD/Owners often work long hours, therefore not having enough time for their personal life. I have lost count of the number of business owners who simply don’t get the opportunity of spending more time with their loved ones. When they do manage to spend valuable time with the family it is often interrupted by business communications via the latest mobile device.
One of your personal goals could therefore be to spend five more hours per week with your family and friends, without interruptions from the business. To free up this time, certain business tasks may have to be delegated. The easiest way would be for you, the business owner, to write out simple easy to follows processes for tasks that only you carry out. The business goal in the business plan would therefore be to ensure that written processes are in place to enable you the business owner to delegate. This in turn frees up more time for you to work ‘on the business, not in it’ and to spend more of your time away from the business.
On other words Personal Goal = More time with the family = Business Goal – write down processes to enable me to delegate tasks
In summary, if you don’t have a business plan then write one, but only if it has a direct links to those goals you wish to achieve in your personal life.
Blogger: Alan Sellers, Business Coach and Marketing Consultant