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Not the filing cabinet!

Ye olde filing cabinet- it’s the place where things go to die. Why do so many people write a business plan and then stick it in the filing cabinet, never to be seen again? It’s such a waste of what is essentially an incredible tool for driving and maintaining business growth.

People create business plans for a variety of reasons, including as a prerequisite for seeking finance from the bank or from other funders. However, it’s a common misconception that business planning is a once-off, set and forget piece of work. Rather, a comprehensive, forward-focused business plan is a strategic tool that could and should guide and drive everything operationally and conceptually for a business, from marketing through to services, systems and processes.

The problem with hiding a business plan away in a filing cabinet or drawer is that it renders it invisible. There’s that saying that you’ve seen in a million LinkedIn posts- where focus goes, energy flows, or thereabouts, and so visibility plays a huge part in making a business plan an active part of your business. One of my Survive to Thrive clients turned the vision and value statement of her business plan into a poster for her office wall using Canva. It now sits proudly right next to her monitor as a constant reminder of what drives her.

I wholeheartedly believe - and have witnessed many, many times - that businesses thrive when a business plan is a living, dynamic presence in the day-to-day. For starters, it cements the idea or message that your business will be successful, that you’ve done your research and that you’ve assembled the goods to pull off your vision. The very act of creating a business plan means you’ve done a deep dive into your business to clearly identify and define your product/service and your competitors in your space, the market opportunities and the steps to embrace them. You have a clear insight into the potential and possibility of your business as well as what you need to do/have to bring your vision to life.

You’ve articulated through your business plan:

• The opportunities and advantages available

• The target market you’re working with and the value proposition you’re delivering to them

• The nitty-gritty of your services/products and the value chains that bring them to market

• Your growth potential.

However, this is only the beginning! Now we bring it to life and allow it to facilitate our momentum and growth. You see, it needs to be revised and revisited regularly so we can keep perspective and maintain our potential to grow. ...*hint*.. *hint* ... EOFY is coming.....

I’m an advocate for the simple over the complex, every time. I’m talking practical, sustainable, easily actionable ways to make use of what is a phenomenal tool. We’re busy! Let’s make embedding your business plan into your daily work life as seamless as possible, shall we?

First things first- grab your calendar or schedule and make the time for reviews and planning sessions. In terms of frequency- annual is the absolute bare minimum, quarterly is much better and monthly is the bee’s knees. This is very much the basis of my mentoring program where I become a trusted advisor and sounding board as you bring your business plan’s vision to fruition, but there’s no reason you can’t tackle this solo. Even better- take yourself somewhere lovely while you give your business plan some TLC. I have a number of wonderful clients running businesses of one (or two, if you count their dogs, which I do!) who take themselves to an AirBnB twice a year for a ‘retreat’. It’s this stepping out of daily operations that allows them to think deeply, plan and analyse as they review their business plan.

While goal tracking, analysis and setting are an essential component of your planning, sessions could focus on the different elements of your business plan. Does your value proposition need a tweak? Have you removed or added a service? Has your competitive advantage shifted, and thus your marketing needs to similarly adjust? Have you stumbled upon a new client avatar/market opportunity? You might like to allocate a different facet for a SWOT analysis each session. Regardless of what you choose to focus on, the agenda should be a blend of visionary and operational, and always, always with a decent splash of action-focus.

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