Always have a plan – even when it changes, all the time.
Business plans take research, analysis, and, quite frankly, a great deal of work. When you finish one, it seems as solid as stone.
But as soon as the laptop’s proverbial ink is dry on the business plan, things begin to change.
Gas prices go up so US drivers drop their gas consumption; whole grain consumption gains after a slew of big-name celebrities salute the carb-free diet; housing prices drop; funding for new sports facilities surges; war injuries increase; a new prosthetic hand is invented; China’s growing middle class demands higher wages; Europe’s recession deepens; and so on.
Meanwhile, half a million new startups spring up every year.
Some or all of these things may directly or indirectly affect your business plan. Now the plan is more rocky than rock-like.
Here’s an example of business plan evolution:
In late 2010, Mindful Profits founder and serial entrepreneur Amanda Weathersby created a qualitative research business. The goal: to interview 100 entrepreneurs to create class content for the 100 Entrepreneurs Project, a nonprofit that exposes wounded veterans to entrepreneurial and career opportunities available to them after recovery.
Only after the business was launched, did she recognize the impact of two dramatic trends.
First, the recession had tightened every company’s marketing budget, from startups to multi-national companies, and the belt tightening continued through 2011.
Meanwhile, technology advances and social media had created new ways of conducting surveys, which transformed the definition of market research. Companies that would have conducted qualitative research in earlier years were now conducting quick online surveys for a fraction of the cost.
After collecting the interviews, Weathersby decided to put all of the material into a book.
The company transitioned from a market research company to a research and education company, dramatically affecting her business plan to include research, education and publishing books.
But that’s not all.
Weathersby realized that to keep up with the short attention spans of multi-tasking, tech-savvy entrepreneurs (and everybody else) she had to provide this material via a mobile platform.
She decided to distill the lessons learned from more than 100 entrepreneurs into short stories and articles via an app.
So her research and education company was now also an app developer.
Perhaps this is why 17% of the entrepreneurs interviewed did not have business plans.
A business plan is essential if you aim to get external funding, however, they commonly morph and change, requiring time and effort to keep them current.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of reevaluating your business plan (that may now not resemble your business at all), consider working with a business coach or consultant who can help you redefine your goals and strategy for achieving them.