Most entrepreneurs are not big on business planning. In fact, the very thought of a business plan can make you tired. Where to begin, what to do, how to do it? Most entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs and small business owners are idea people and do-ers. Planning doesn’t fit well into the mindset.
You’ve probably heard the old adage: failing to plan is planning to fail. Your plan might not need to look like a plan you’d submit to the bank for a loan, but you do need to know where you’re going or you’re likely not to get there, or worse end up somewhere you don’t like and didn’t plan for. It can be like starting a road trip without a map and going from one city to another. You may get there eventually, but will you have taken the most efficient route? It’s a relevant analogy too, because many people spend more time planning a vacation than they do planning their business. A little time spent planning and knowing how you use your time can really impact your success.
Keep it Simple – Clear the Decks
Most of us run our lives with a big to-do list – either written or in our heads. You get things done and you keep the doors open and the bills paid. Plans can help you go beyond the ‘keeping it going’ stage and move you into thriving. If you always have more to do on your list than you can reasonably get done – and if you’re like most people, that’s the case – then how will you ever have time for big picture thinking or planning?
You put it on your list and you book it, that’s how! What you plan to do, you get done, so you need to plan to plan. Sound crazy? Too simple? Overwhelming perhaps? Start with scheduling 60 minutes to sit down and write out some basics. Start with fantasy and move into reality. In other words – what would like your business to look like if it could be exactly as you wanted? How much income would you have? What would your days look like? What tasks would you do and which would you outsource? Who are your ideal clients or customers? Why?
What does your business look like currently? How different is it from what you’ve envisioned? What needs to change to bring the two into alignment? Most entrepreneurs do everything themselves and sometimes that’s necessary when you’re getting your business up and running. We also have the idea that we can do it better than anyone else. While that may be true, it might not be efficient. For example, look at your earning potential. If your business has the potential to earn you $100 per hour or more and you’re doing tasks you could pay someone else $25 per hour to do, then you’re in effect, earning $25 per hour instead of the $100 you could be earning. You’re losing $75 an hour – that’s another way to look at it.
Most small business owners would do well to outsource some of the tasks they do themselves and spend their time focused on the big picture and bigger money making activities. If you can’t afford it, it could be all the more reason to do it. If you really believe in what you’re doing (and you should!) than invest in yourself, invest in your future and take the time to plan and be businesslike.
You don’t have to make it all about the business or money side, but sometimes clearing the space to lay out a plan will make you feel more relaxed and even more in control, because chances are it’s on your mind anyway and actually handling it will free you up to do more and earn more. Next week I’ll talk about ‘reverse engineering’ and a simple way to figure out your income and expenses. Stay tuned!