Yesterday, four months in to launching my company, I started to write a business plan. Right at the start I had been told to do this – it’s the first thing, you need it for funding, how can you start the journey if you don’t know where you’re going etc etc.
One of the things stopping me was a feeling that it was all rather indulgent. Spending time putting values, aspirations and key messages down in black and white, for an audience of one, seemed distracting when you could actually be doing the work.
And how do you know where you want to go/be until you find out if it is possible? I suppose an analogy would be deciding to travel to Peru when all you have is a ticket to Calais. You will definitely get to Calais. But after that who knows? You might have to stay in Calais. You might have to wait for someone or something else to happen before you go on. You might find you can’t get to Peru from Calais….You see what I mean. But a business plan is a business plan and I went for it.
One hour later I was in bits. Examining my motivation and aspirations was fine, what was hard was the realisation that, four months in, I was not doing what I had planned to do, and was in a completely different place. I had obviously failed.
One hour and fifteen minutes in however, I felt better. I had got to Calais, and decided not to go to Peru, that was all. The journey was still there, and I was still on it – I was just going somewhere slightly different. Business planning had show me I do need to think about who my ideal customer is and target them, I do need to concentrate on what I know I am good at; I do need to adjust to some realities and change some thinking.
It showed me that other opportunities had arisen and I had taken advantage of these, despite not being part of my original thinking. But that’s not bad, that’s growing and developing.
So absolutely, write a business plan, it is vital to your business. But you can revisit it, and change it if you need to. It’s only a plan! And plans change.