You’ll get to it later, you have a lot on your plate, not enough hours in a day to write up a business plan; Expert Tamara Monosoff has six more commonly used excuses and a key step to finally draft up your business plan…
Over the years, I’ve met hundreds of people in business – or about to launch businesses – and I’ve been privy to countless excuses and reasons why they’ve opted out of creating a business plan. Rarely, if ever, are their reasons sound. In fact, even some business people I’ve encountered who’ve become very successful in the long term have expressed regret, wishing they had developed a solid business plan from the start. They say that a business plan would have helped them avoid costly mistakes, hiccups, and delays in the growth of their businesses.
Here are some of the more common excuses I’ve heard:
EXCUSE 1: “I DON’T NEED A PLAN”
Whenever a person says this to me, it makes me think of being invited to go on a cruise ship and then, just after boarding, hearing the captain greet the passengers by announcing, “Welcome aboard! I’ve decided that we don’t need to follow a map this time. I thought we could see where the currents take us. Sound good?” My reaction would be, “Get me off this ship!” Others will react in a similar manner as you begin seeking their support for your business without being able to show them a clear plan.
Business cannot be created in a void. You need other people. Friends, family, colleagues, and prospective investors are more likely to support you if your goals are clear and you can explain in simple, structured and straightforward terms the direction in which you plan to take your business.
EXCUSE 2: “I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING”
This can be one of the most difficult and dangerous mindsets to overcome, because it leaves little room for creativity. In fact, it feels like the unspoken end of that sentence is, “…so don’t get in my way.” On one hand, it’s good to feel confident. However, if you already “know” everything, then many opportunities will be lost. It’s impossible to know everything you need to know. Also, when you come from a place of inquiry and are open to different ideas and ways of doing things, doors open in unexpected and surprising ways.
Most people have never written a business plan, so you are not alone. This was my main excuse when I started out 10 years ago with MomInvented.com. I had no idea how to write a business plan and it made me uncomfortable even thinking about it.
Even if you’ve worked in the business world for years, it’s likely you were never asked to write such a document. It’s always challenging to do something you’ve never done before, and it can feel overwhelming and uncomfortable. It’s common to want to spend time, instead, on the things you excel at and avoid the things that make you feel uneasy. But once you get into the process – especially the fill-in-the-blank format of the One Page Business Plan – you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll get it and how helpful the results will be.
EXCUSE 4: “IT’S TOO INTIMIDATING, I CAN DO WITHOUT”
Feeling fear about creating a business plan for the first time is to be expected, especially if you have preconceived notions about what the experience will be like (although these usually end up being inaccurate). The reality is that most things rarely, if ever, materialize exactly how we imagine them. The anticipation stories we create in advance about how things will turn out are often completely different from the actual experiences. Without our realizing it, these stories can create self-constructed roadblocks before we know it.
Related: Why You Should Quit Your Startup
EXCUSE 5: “I’VE HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH BUSINESS PLANS IN THE PAST”
Perhaps you have tried to write business plans in the past without success. Many of us learn early on to give up when things aren’t working or say negative things about ourselves like, “I can’t do this; I don’t have any business experience; I’m not good at figuring things out.” We say, “I want to write a business plan but I don’t know how to start” or “I want to write a business plan but I’ve failed in the past.” Disconnect these two ideas. They are only connected because you choose to connect them! It’s only fiction that you’ve accepted about yourself. Unlink them and say, “I choose to write a business plan because I choose to write a business plan.” There it is. Once you’ve made this statement, you’ve created a new truth for yourself.
I have used this excuse myself too. I’d say, “How can I plan? I’m too busy running my business and taking care of my family.” But these feelings often have more to do with the fear of not knowing how to start. What I have learned from the 10 years of running my business is that time and money are wasted by not planning. Free time doesn’t exist, and it does not ever volunteer itself. It must be created by setting priorities.
Planning needs to be scheduled into your routine just like any other essential task. And planning time needs to be considered sacred and nonnegotiable. It needs to be a choice, a declaration: “I am taking this time to work on my plan.” I have seen that when people overcome their fear and put a stake in the ground and embrace the planning process they come out energized, grounded and confident.
If you’ve been procrastinating in developing your own business plan, I hope confronting some of these common excuses has helped to dispel some of your reasons “why not.”
THE BUSINESS PLAN DEFINED
Many people think of a business plan as a tool they need to pitch to an investor or banker, so they disregard it in the early stages as something they don’t need. The idea of writing a business plan might conjure up images of a financial spreadsheet that includes numbers, forecasting, elaborate and specific projections, and other often mind-numbing and difficult to digest details – something separate from the nuts and bolts and actual day-to-day business activities. This type of plan is actually something you may develop later.
But for now, your business plan should be written as strictly operational—to give you focus and clarity on your own Vision (what are you building?), Mission (who are you in service of?), your Objectives (what can you measure over time?), Strategies (how are you going to build your business? What are the stepping stones to get there?) and Action Plans (what are the specific tasks to be done?)
NOW is the time to take a stand for yourself and dive into the process – no excuses!
The text in this blog is from an excerpt from Monosoff’s book, Your Million Dollar Dream: Regain Control & Be Your Own Boss.
For further guidance, pick up a copy of the One Page Business Plan for Women in Business that Monosoff co-authored with Jim Horan, President of the One Page Business Plan Company. They’ve created a fill-in-the-blank workbook for you to help minimize the fear of looking at a blank page and to help you get started.
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