One of the things you will help you to be successful as you are getting started – and what existing or newly begun businesses can use also – is a plan, preferably a written one. A business plan will help you make decisions about business to undertake, and give direction and motivation to what you are doing.
This is a management business plan, not one that you will use to attract investors or take to the bank to request financing or working capital for your business. You may choose to do that also, but for now, stick to the management plan.
A management plan is one that you as the business owner, sole proprietor, or sole practitioner write to crystallize your thoughts and plans for your business. Hold it close. It is not for publication although you may choose to share all of it or portions of it with family members, strategic partners, or those whose business advice you respect.
The reason that most small businesses do not have a written plan is that they have never been required by anyone to do it. There are various tips on how to write one that you can find online, and I have a resource that might be helpful to you called “Business Planning Made Simple” that lays out the various topics you may wish to include and asks you questions that you will want to answer.
People generally aren’t taught how to write a business plan or what goes into it. How many pages should it be? How many chapters or headings? How many words? Does it need to be typed or can it be handwritten?
In addition to not having been taught how to write a business plan or what goes into it, people generally don’t appreciate the importance of it for helping them to run their business and formulate key decisions about opportunities to pursue and which to ignore or withdraw from.
People generally won’t make the time – from a few hours to a few days – to sit down and put their thoughts and ideas on paper because they don’t appreciate how it will help them. However, ask anyone who has ever written a business plan whether they considered it to be a valuable tool, and the answers will all be affirmative.
You might have a mental plan that you have formulated that generally guides your actions the way you run your business, but there is something about the actual act of writing your plan down that makes a difference. Part of this could be actually seeing your ideas on paper – to make a visual impression that will be easier for your brain to act upon that just having a few ideas in your head.
Another big benefit of writing down your plan is that you take ownership of it. it’s one thing to have a general idea of what you want to do. It’s another to actually put those ideas and plans on paper and transfer ownership from the realm of thoughts to being real.
That plan becomes yours at that point. It doesn’t mean that you can change it, add or subtract from it, or adapt it as necessary. It does mean that it’s your plan and that it physically exists. Keep it handy to review often and compare what is happening in and through your business to what you wrote down. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.