Many businesses fall into the trap of operating by default instead of by design. They constantly react to external factors rather than dictating the way the business operates.
That’s usually because the business owner has never taken the important matter of writing a business plan seriously enough.
An active, ‘living’ business plan details all the important goals of the business - from employees and competitors to market conditions, cashflow, and so on. It details your vision and purpose, and defines your roadmap to success, keeping you focused and on track.
In short, it allows you to create your business by design rather than by accident.
Think about it in sporting terms: do you think the Wallabies ever achieved success without a very defined game plan?
Writing a business plan: a priority – not an afterthought!
If you haven’t already created a business plan, or you have vague recollections of writing one but are not quite sure which drawer you filed it in, don’t worry.
The good news is that it’s never too late to put pen to paper and to map out a strategy for achieving your dream.
One of the greatest roadblocks for small business owners in writing a business plan is not knowing where to start. There is also a common misconception that you only need a business plan if you’re searching for investors or applying for business loans. This isn’t the case. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
So, a business plan should be a priority for all small business owners – not simply an afterthought.
Your business plan should also be for you. It’s a document that you can refer to, add to, and make decisions from when you require. That’s why we called it a ‘living’ document earlier.
We’ve seen so many small business owners go to the effort of writing a business plan but then put it aside and never look at it again. This is no more effective than not having one at all.
What can the Wallabies teach you about planning?
Why do you need a working plan for your business?
Consider the Wallabies: Australia’s national rugby union treasures. They go into every season and every game, with a well-laid out plan.
- The coaches (business management) spend countless hours analysing both their own team (staff) and the opposition (competition) strengths and weaknesses.
- They work on developing the skills of their players to be able to execute the game plan that the coach has set (training).
- They set short term and long-term goals for the team. They have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for the team and for each individual player.
- They continually revisit what’s working for them and what’s not. If any adjustments need to be made to the way they are playing, or different opposition pose a different threat, they alter the style of play and game plan to suit.
- They utilise the services of analysists and advisors, as well as gathering weather reports showing what the conditions (market) will be like.
4 ways you can apply ‘Wallabies thinking’ right now
As a small business owner, you can’t call up all the resources that the Wallabies can when you first set out. But you CAN do the following:
- Write a business plan that sets out all the details needed for you to reach the ultimate goal of winning the game (running a successful business)
- Constantly work on your ‘living’ business plan to ensure they are on track to achieve these established goals
- Use your business plan as a foundation to improve on, adjusting your business to suit the changing environment (market conditions and other external factors)
- Use specialists in their chosen fields for help when needed - don’t try to do everything (the Wallabies coach introduces specialist scrum coaches, defensive coaches, backs coaches, etc.)
For any business hoping to navigate the treacherous waters of competitive and rapidly changing markets, writing a business plan following the above advice will help you survive.
It is absolutely essential to have an indication of the goals of your business – just like the goal of a rugby game is for the Wallabies is to win. Their plan is developed and refined to achieve that one specific goal.
If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a business plan yourself, consider employing help from a business advisor or specialist. It’s more cost effective than you might think and, remember – even the best seek professional advice when they need it!