Ian AldridgeThe Entrepreneur’s Lawyer | Practical and affordable legal advice | Legal Contracts | Litigation / Trademark and Patent
Quite a dramatic quote from Benjamin Franklin – but I’m sure you get the picture.
It might seem like almost a no-brainer to some, but for most of us, a business plan is quite a scary thought. To distill your ideas into a single document. To write something down, to commit to the process and the outcome. Some people have absolutely no issue with it and see it as a mandatory part of starting a business. We find that the rest of start-ups seem to have really big mental blockage with it – like writer’s block if you will.
Can I encourage you to do one thing if you haven’t done one already? Open a word document and save it as “Competitor Analysis”. At least you can get started in having a look at those businesses out there that are competing in the same space. Analyse what they are doing. Make some notes of what they are doing well, what is working, what is not, and most importantly, how you are going to be different. What is your point of difference? How are you going to price your services? What are your advantages over them? Consider your strengths and what you need to improve on or get help with. Once you’ve started, you’ll find the floodgates will open and your fingers won’t be able to keep up typing with ideas and the process is really quite therapeutic.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve probably done this in your head already but it is a great opportunity to get them down in writing. Review your vision, mission and values while you’re there. Chances are that if you’ve pivoted in your business (like us), things have really changed in the business and it needs a review with some goals. We’re about to do this ourselves.
It helps us enormously in understanding what you are all about, where you want to take the business and how you are going to do it – even if it’s just a 1 pager.
It’s not necessary to follow the plan. The value is in the process of doing the plan, which helps you identify weaknesses and opportunities, ascertain whether your pricing is realistic, make projections, and so on.
Remember, just like your website, it’s always going to be a work-in-progress and is going to change from time to time.
We find ourselves repeating certain expressions a lot and if you’ve been saying them for a while, you’ll know which ones resonate with your clients from positive feedback. These are great to include as they’ll give it a more personal touch. There are plenty of templates out there to give you the basic structure for when you’re ready to give it some structure or you’ve run out of ideas to cover.
Unexpectedly, you’ll find it stimulates creative thinking, gives you new ideas of opportunities in the market, solidifies your message, gets you aligned with your purpose and “why”, focuses you on your objective.
There are loads of other benefits which I won’t go into now. This was just a quick article for those that might be a bit stuck, but remember there are plenty of online business planning resources which might make things easier for those who hate the math part of business planning.