Plan is a four letter word: Do I really need a written business plan?

‘It’s just a time waster.’ ‘Can’t find the time to get it done’. ‘Don’t follow up on it anyway.’ Do any of these statements sound familiar? Yes, for most business owners plan is a four letter word. And most people just don’t make the time to get this important annual task done. The thought of creating a plan can seem daunting and overwhelming if you are new to the process. 

How hard can it be? 

Very hard if you’ve never done an annual plan before. So if you are new to this process or just haven’t done one in a while I recommend starting out with three simple but important steps.

One: It’s about time 

The hardest part of planning for your business is setting time aside to do it. I recommend you block out time on your calendar and find someone to hold you accountable to keeping that appointment with yourself. You also might want to break this into more than one appointment and spread the work out over the course of a month or a quarter. Quarterly reviews are important to build into this process too. Take 30 minutes each quarter to check your progress and make sure you are on track with what you set out to do. 

Two: Who’s counting anyway? 

One of the best things you can do to make planning work for you is find yourself an accountability partner. Find someone you can trust to hold your feet to the fire and give you a nudge when you get off track. They can also serve as a brainstorming partner to get you thinking ‘outside the box’ about your business. Good candidates are people outside your business like a colleague, another business owner or a trusted adviser like me.

Three: Simplify it 

You can make this as simple or as detailed as you see fit. Styles of plans range anywhere from the back of a cocktail napkin to a formal multi-page written or online document that is posted for all to see. Whatever style you choose be sure to pick one that you really like and suits your business. Odds are the more you like working with the plan the greater your chances of using it and seeing the results you want. I recommend a one page document with no more than 10 clearly written goals for the year. Watch for more details about this step in our next article.

Challenge: Don't worry that 2014 is already under way. When are you going to calendar some time to make an annual plan for your business? Tell us about your annual goals, plans or struggles with planning. We’d love to hear from you! 

Posted on February 12, 2014 and filed under Small Business Success.