We’ve all heard the saying, “The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes”.  In fact, Tracy Lawrence even included it in the lyrics of his song, Time Marches On.  Any of us that have spent much time on this earth knows that statement to be true.  Well, the world of business is no exception. 

When I was in collage getting my accounting and business management degree much of the curriculum talked about Business Plans.  We were taught why we needed them, how to prepare them and how to use them as a guide in our business. 

I was taught that no one would ever dare start a business without an official business plan.  In fact, they would use it as the Holy Grail with their banker, investors, accountant and attorney.  If someone asked them a question about their business the answer would likely be found in the pages of that document. 

The Entrepreneur.com definition of a business plan is as follows:  A written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement.

Wow! That’s a mouth full.  I have reviewed many business plans that would give your favorite novel a run for its’ money in length.  In many cases those business plans made for boring reading and would cure any case of insomnia that you may be experiencing.  The more complicated the business, the more complicated the business plan. 

Recently I was participating in a group session with my mentor and the topic was goal setting.  We were discussing the importance of having short-term and long-term goals for our businesses.  One of the participants summarized what was being said by saying that what she was hearing was that she needed to draft a business plan for her business.  What happened next surprised me and I knew immediately I needed to share this information with you.

My mentor asked a few questions and then basically said, “No, you don’t always need a business plan anymore.  Things in business have changed.”   I was thinking to myself, if things had changed no one had mentioned it to me.  He went on to explain that the formality of a business plan is no longer necessary in todays business world unless you are getting financing or have a very formal structure for your business.

For those of us that are independent entrepreneurs we no longer need to be so formal.  Instead we can use a document that will help us plan our business, which includes specific goal setting.  We still need to have short-term and long-term goals though.  We need to build in a component of amazing customer service and we also need a clear picture of where we’ve been, where we are now and where we are going. 

It is important to see the big picture and then break it down into pieces that are reasonable to accomplish given your current time demands with family, another job, etc.  I’m someone that is blessed with the ability to see the big picture AND break it down into bite-sized chunks.  My husband on the other hand is more of a big picture guy.  It’s the small details that sometimes throw him for a loop.  Using my analytical/accounting brain I can help him with those small details, which is why we make such a great team.

So how does all of this apply to you and your business?  Well, it may be relieving some of the pressure you were feeling to create an official business plan.  But don’t thing you are completely off the hook, you still need to set goals for you and your business.  This should take you one or two hours to complete and is well worth the time. 

Here is a list of some of the topics you should be including in your goal setting strategy session:

  1. Financial goal for 12 months broken down by month.
  2. Number of clients, product sales, group programs you need to meet you financial goals.
  3. Marketing efforts for 12 months broken down by month.  It should include advertising, public speaking, social media, etc.
  4. Educational goals for 12 months. In what areas do you need to continue educating yourself to grow your business?  Do you need further training in your specialty? Do you need technology training?  Do you need to join a Toastmasters group so you will be more confident in public speaking?
  5. How much money will you reinvest in your business to keep it thriving and growing? 

It’s sad to say, but too many people go into business without a plan.  Without goals, how do you know if you are successful?  You must have some form of measurement to know for sure.  Creating this plan is the best way to get on the road to success.

Truthfully, I like the direction business is going nowadays.  I like that social media has become a frontrunner in how business people can connect with…. well, literally the world.  I have the opportunity to connect with thousands and thousands of people each day through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  I absolutely love it!  It’s so real and so personal. 

I encourage each of you to take the time to create a plan for your business.  Remember, it is a living and breathing document.  It changes throughout the year.  That is to be expected.  Don’t stress out over the commitment to your business plan either.  Use it as a motivation not as a ball and chain around your neck.  Each year you will find the process more comfortable and easier to complete.

Please take the time to share with me your thoughts about this article.  You can comment below or visit my Facebook page and leave me a message.  Just click here: http://www.facebook.com/KarenPattockBiz. Remember, having a solid foundation for your business starts with planning what you want your business to look like, so get started now.

Also, if you know anyone else that owns their own business that could benefit from this article I encourage you to share it with them.

To your success,