Importance Of A Business Plan: Part Two

Externalise Your Intention, Achieve Your Goal

I’ve explained previously how crucial it is to have a written plan for your business. I’d like to share with you a checklist I give all my start-up clients.

As I said: writing a business plan saves untold wasted hours, energy and heartache. I confessed that, idiotically, I’d not done this with my own lifestyle enterprise. It was a party biz on the loose!

The stags and hens ran wild as I tried to course-correct every aspect on the fly.

If you’re about to launch, now’s the moment to get a plan on paper. But no matter how far along you are, it’s never too late to nail down a strategy, set a positive intention and hold yourself accountable.

Externalising your intended path is incredibly powerful

When I coach this checklist to my clients, they look at me like I’m mad. Then they say either: “It’s fine, Nick! I’ve got all of this in my head,” or: “I don’t have time to work this out: let’s talk about it Q3.”

Get the info out of your head. Make time. At some point you’re going to have to explain your ideas to someone whose help you require (an investor; an employee; me) – and believe it or not, they simply won’t buy your well-intended waffle! Map your info beforehand. You’ll smooth the path and arm yourself against unexpected questions.

If you want to discuss your business plan with me, I welcome that. For now, here’s my checklist. My answers mean you have examples (often of how NOT to do it!). Add your own.

What does my company do?

I advise start-ups (often lifestyle brands) either side of launch day, on how to shape their brightest future. But let’s answer these from my old ‘Stags’n’Hens’ perspective.

Who are my customers and where do I find them?

Ours were ‘one-time only’: stags or hens and their squad. We found them online, so Natural Ranking was our priority, rather than PPC (pay per click). We ran Google ads, but that’s not for everyone.

How many monthly sales keeps the cat fed?

We ran three forecasts: Desired, Required and Rethink. I’d stand by that. Unusually, my company had a vast proportion of sales land in January. If we didn’t bring that home, the rest of the year’s forecasts were completely off. Know your market; factor in anomalies.

What are my milestones?

These need to be both figures-led (how many sales do you want by when and the activity required to achieve this) and feelings-led. You went into business cos of ‘a feeling’, after all.

What’s my strategy?

Mine was originally as naive as ‘be famous and get rich’. I’d now say: ‘be specific and get real’. Your strategy can alter month on month. Fine. Stick it up on the wall, see where it goes.

Make a cuppa, mull it over, write out the answers and it’ll scaffold your strategy long after your high-impact, ‘Red Arrows Display’ launch is but a bittersweet memory. Trust me: though it’s hell to pin down now, the slog to articulate your ‘long view’ pays off. Plus, reading the plan six months from now will be a joyful barometer of how much you’ve learned.

Best of luck and let me know how it goes.