You say your business plan every day

Jim Blasingame

Do you have a business plan? What? In your head? How’s that working for you?

Don’t know how to get one started? Well consider this conversation that happens many times, every day, between business owners just like you and the people they meet.

Friend:  “Hi Joe.  Heard you started a business. What’re you doing?”

Owner:  “Oh, hi, Sue. Yeah, John and I are selling square widgets to round widget distributors.”

Friend:  “What? How’re you going to do that?”

Owner:  “We discovered that no one has thought to offer square widgets to these guys. Our research found that round widget companies not only need square widgets sometimes, but they’ll pay a premium for them.”

Friend:  “I thought you couldn’t get new square widgets anymore?”

Owner:  “Well, we discovered that round widget companies don’t need new square widgets, so we’re buying seconds, cleaning them up, repackaging and delivering them to those customers.”

Friend:  “Sounds like you’ve found a niche. How many can you sell in a year?”

Owner:  “We’ve identified the need for 15,000 this year, and with the trend in the market, we think we can double that within three years. Gotta go. See ya later.”

Let’s look at what just happened. Without realizing it, Joe essentially said his business plan to Sue. In two minutes Joe identified the business, management team, industry, market opportunity, customer profile, vendor profile, pricing strategy, market research results and, finally, growth plans. All that’s left is to add a few other elements, write the narrative and project the numbers.

Since you’re probably having similar conversations that means you’re saying your business plan, probably without realizing it, every day. But is that a useful form? 

There are a bazillion reasons to put your plan on paper, but we only have room for the three most likely:

•  To get a bank loan

•  To attract investors

•  Because it’s an essential management tool

So now that I’ve convinced you how important this management tool is, when you do yours, don’t make these mistakes:

•  Don’t wait until you need a business plan to start one.

•  Don’t wait until you have time.

•  Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

The words of a conversation like the one above are the seeds from which you can grow your business plan. So just start writing what you already know, like Joe said.

A written business plan will help you achieve new levels of management professionalism and success. Here’s a good place to see something less than a bazillion sample plans without any commercials:

Write this on a rock ... You already say your business plan every day. Now write it down.

Jim Blasingame is host of the nationally syndicate radio show The Small Business Advocate and author of the multi-award-winning book The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

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