People who work with me often compliment me on how smart and intelligent I am.
In the moment I say: “noo, not really, I’m no smarter than you...”. And I say this while trying to look coy and sweet.
But on the way home, I have this conversation with myself: “These people for real...they have no idea of my capacity to do some things which cause so much stress in my life...”
And invariably one of those "stress" things comes to mind.
Like the time I decided I was going to write a business plan with super balance.
I was going to write a business plan that had meaning for me and to hell with the bank! Even though I wanted them to finance my business.
Let me tell you the story so you can see how I got there...
First of all, by the time I decided to write my now famous business plan, I had studied many approaches businesses took to having a business plan or not having one.
What I concluded about business plans:
1. Every business does not need a 100-page business plan to start making money. As a matter of fact, many successful business owners I know, don’t even have a business plan – including my son.
When I suggested to that boy to let me write one for him, he politely declined.
However, He did go on to explain that sometimes people like me needed to write these plans to justify the time and money we spent in business school. Sighhhh...
2. You MIGHT need a 100-page business plan if your project is substantial and you’re seeking venture capital. And please, don’t forget to place it in a 3-ring binder!
3. Whether you have no business plan, a 10-page one or one that weighs 5 pounds, you must be able to state your business idea in no more than two short sentences.
I would repeat that but I’m afraid Google might penalize me for duplicate content.
Cover the basics in your plan
However you do it, formally or informally, you have to give some thought to certain aspects of your whole business idea. These will vary from business to business but here are some of the questions I wanted my plan to answer for my business.
1. What’s your big idea? What problem are you solving? What need(s) will you meet that’s not being met? And for me, What non-productive process will you disrupt and streamline?
Answering this question is critical to your business success. Yet, when I ask people “why did you start this business?” so many of them answer “this is something I always wanted to do!” or “it’s my passion!”
2. What’s your big picture? Why do you really want a business? Are you ready for the hard work of setting up a business? How much money will you need? Does running a business fit in with your personality?
3. What will you name your business? Think about this carefully. Your business name should give some indication of the business you’re in and in this age of internet, it should have your keyword(s).
I hate (yes hate!) those names that are a derivation of two names, like a husband and a wife. The problem with those names and using your own name is that it makes selling your business difficult.
A good name is one which combines what the business does with the value the customer can expect like Impact Training & Development Services.
4. Who will buy your products/service? Who are your ideal clients/customers? Where are they located? Are they young? Old? The more specific you get on this, the better for your business and your expertise.
5. What is your business model? Many small business owners I work with have not heard of a business model far less given any thought to theirs. Your business model is simply how you plan to make money with your business idea.
Will you go after the upper end of the market or the lower end? How will you sell? online or from a physical place? Will you be profit-driven or service-driven?
6. How will you manage your cash flow? This is important because I’ve seen many businesses make money and still go out of business because of poor cash flow management.
It’s also classic business plan requirement, even though none of your projections will match reality once your business begins operating.
By answering these questions, I was able to write what I described as a slim, super, sexy business plan which really delighted me.
What did I leave out of my business plan?
No, I did not forget things like competition, marketing, team, etc. I just left them out. But you can put them in yours if you want.
With regards to Marketing, I was going to outsource to my girlfriend who needed the practice.
Even now, I still don’t understand competition, because if 10 million people are doing it, they will not do it like me. What would I put in my plan about that?
The team was awesome since the only “person” who had the staying power to stick with me when I work long, hard hours was my darling dog.
So, having covered what I thought were the essentials in 3 pages, I was suddenly inspired!
But wait...You see, this business was about to turn my life upside down. Why can’t I reflect this in my business plan? Won't this also bring super, super balance to the business plan?
Best of all, it will up-scale the odds of my implementing it by at least 50%...wow!
So, you guessed it...I added a lifestyle component to the plan!
Add a lifestyle component to your business plan
I am really serious.
Don’t be afraid to do this because as an entrepreneur your business life affects your personal life and vice versa. This is not to say that I didn't get the memo that you should keep your personal life separate from your business life but I just sucked my teeth at that!
That works until your baby sitter gets the last-minute-flu and you have no choice but to bring your kid to work and the poor child has to hang out in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet in your office.
It works until you need a vehicle for your personal transportation which has to double as your business transportation.
For example, I totally get it when my plumber turns up in a nice sports car with the pipe for the job, cut to fit the car. As long as I don’t have to pay for his joining it back to fit the job, I don't mind.
Your business plan lifestyle component can address such areas as:
- how many hours you want to work
- how much time you will spend mastering necessary skills
- where you want to work
- how much vacation you would like
- and what your work/life schedule would look like
The secret is to come up with business strategies which support these lifestyle goals.
You may find that you have to devise strategies for hiring additional staff, streamlining operations, creating better business systems but it will be worth it.
If you can’t actually include it, write your business plan with your lifestyle in mind.
When you’re small, you and your business are one and the same and trying to separate them instead of embracing this reality is usually the first mis-step on the road to success.
And if you work from home, God help you with that separation. I have discussed substantial deals while at the same time stirring my beef and black eyes soup.
What's the fall out?
What does it matter that including my lifestyle component moved my business plan from three to six pages? What if my Bank Manager asked me to seek psychiatric evaluation?
Strong negotiating and selling skills plus my excellent credit rating won the day for me.
Does a bank care about your lifestyle when they’re evaluating your business?
They don’t...but they should if their financing premise is not going to be flawed.
So do what entrepreneurs do, take a risk and create super balance with your business plan, add a lifestyle component.
Who knows it might change your business. Or your life...
To the lifestyle component in your business plan...