When two people in a 48-hour period ask you about your business plan, it catches your attention. I know you are asking, "You don't have a business plan?". Yes I have a business plan in my head but nope I haven't written it down. I have written down my vision, but the light bulb moment for me this week is the business plan is the vision on steroids. I am reminded in Habakkuk 2, God tells us the importance of writing down the vision.
Habakkuk 2:2-3 NLT Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
I know how to write a business plan and I had a business plan for my pregnancy shop and spa. I even presented it for a local business competition. To be honest I haven't written the business plan because I was "testing" implementing before writing the business plan. How is this working for me? It isn't. I'm going to write down the business plan.
Where are you in your business plan? Here are three reasons to have a written business plan when you start your business and even if you have had the business running for years.
TRACTION TO THE VISION
A business plan will allow you to get some traction on the problem you want to solve and make money at solving. You will be able to describe what you want to solve by describing the problem and even providing data and/or articles that support the need and that people will pay for it. I know when I was working on my pregnancy shop & spa's business plan it opened my eyes to more information regarding the maternity retail and healthcare space. It made me better at interacting with experts as I learned about their barriers that my business could solve. I even incorporated some interviews as part of my business plan. It was so helpful in the traction of getting the business going.
THE LANGUAGE OF ENTREPRENEURS
As I mentioned in a 48-hour period two entrepreneur leaders asked me about my business plan. Yep, you can't talk to any entrepreneur expert without them asking you about your business plan. This can be a business coach, banker, small business government program, accountant or attorney. As a small business owner who is focused on solving a problem this can seem overwhelming to actually write down your business plan. Here are the seven questions you want to answer. Be authentic and let this business plan do what it needs to do but with your style. Official titles are listed in parenthesis. This isn't an exclusive list, but one to get you started.
A LIVING BUSINESS DOCUMENT
The business plan isn't something that you should put on a shelf once you get it completed. This document should grow and innovate along with your business. As entrepreneurial professionals ask for your business plan, it should be up-to-date and be open to feedback as they review it. It will allow you to measure your growth, identify barriers and celebrate success as you build your business.
Thanks for reading, do you have a business plan story? I'd like to hear about it.
I can't believe how much information is thrown at small businesses. All the information is intended to be helpful but it becomes too much and difficult for anyone to make decisions. From social media strategies, financial resources, investor pitch competitions and government programs it all becomes a huge opportunity that requires analysis to determine what is right for your business. In the end, how to do you know what to do?
I am a small business owner and as a small business consultant I have been following relevant entities that support small businesses. My Facebook feed is full of trainings, software and other items that claim to drive customers and crack-the-code of limitations. What good is this if you don't have a solid business launched yet? So how does someone get their a solid business launched? One step-at-a-time.
I recently joined a Facebook group of women small business owners. It was a fantastic group, but a bit too large for my comfort. What I loved about the group is women were showing their websites and/or sharing their business vision and were getting feedback. Not just "looks good" or "needs improvement", but tangible feedback with changes to make it better. I also saw many other small businesses offering to help them. This is the type of small business community that will help entrepreneurs be successful.
This may be a bit off our topic for today's topic, but I have to challenge small businesses to shop at small businesses. I recently heard a small business ordering printing from an online company instead of ordering from their local print shop. Lets shop local even when we see we can save a few bucks online.
Back to the topic, here are the three must-have's every small business owner needs. The rest will organically fall into place as you build your business with your expertise and vision.
You will not operate your business successfully without an accountant, an attorney and insurance companies. The landscape is changing and you must make sure that you have the professional expertise to navigate your finances, legal matters and insurance. The accountant will help you with payroll, taxes, budget, accounts payable, accounts receivable and other financial matters. Your attorney will help you with establishing your business, contracts and/or other legal matters your business encounters. You may need one or more insurance companies that will handle your business liability insurance, cyber insurance, medical insurance and other voluntary benefit insurances. Make sure you shop around and are comfortable with the professionals and/companies you will be working with. When you encounter a situation you will want someone that makes you feel safe, heard and supported.
It is hard for me, even as a small business owner with marketing expertise, to see how much time we spend in marketing when we could be working on our business. I understand starting out the budget is limited but as you obtain traction invest in marketing expertise. Another way to talk about marketing is your brand. Being able to have a cohesive online and print messaging will build loyalty to your products and/or services. What do I do? I am still doing my own online marketing, but I use my locally owned Minuteman Press for all promo and print materials (double-sided business cards, pens, notebooks, clothing and more).
BUSINESS PEER COMMUNITY
In a previous article I talked about the importance of community. This community can be a chamber, a mastermind group, a local entrepreneur group or one that you put together for your own needs. What this community will do is allow you to talk and have others understand what you are saying. Most people who are employees don't ever understand what the decisions and/or challenges their employer faces. You will also bring your expertise to be able to support other small businesses. You are not lonely at the top.
Thanks for reading, I hope you got something out of this and I would love to hear your thoughts. Have a great weekend.
My weekly chamber connections had us break up in small groups and discuss the advice we were given in our current career. I was with an electrician working for his dad's company and an IT guru who owns an IT company. They shared work hard and don't stop learning. Great advice!
Whenever I am asked the advice I was given, I always remember a mentor of mine said "It is lonely at the top.". I had no idea what this meant until I found myself as the owner of a pregnancy retail shop and spa. From launching, growing and implementing the vision many days I remembered my mentor's words of loneliness. I did have a lot resources and so many people who wanted to be a partner with their own business to my business, but not an active partner in leading my business. When I had to make the difficult decision to either close or sell the business, it was a tough decision because I had two fantastic young employees who would be displaced with this change. I was so grateful that I found someone who was interested in buying the business and rebranding it to a new city. I supported my employees in their next season and I am so proud of both of them in their success of owning their own businesses.
So this week has been a reflection of making sure that it isn't lonely at the top for my new consulting business. More importantly that I know how my consulting business can be the active partner that brings value to small businesses and nonprofits.
Here are three opportunities of community to make sure that it isn't lonely at the top for you:
As you close out this week and prepare for next week, I challenge you next week to connect your business with community that wants your business to succeed. Your advice won't be "It is lonely at the top.".
Thank you for reading. Please share how you make connections in your business next week.
I have empathy for the demands of the small business and nonprofit leadership however I hear in my day-to-day life from so many employees that they wished their employer offered benefits. I do live in a world of small businesses and nonprofits, so I am mostly hearing from employees of these type of organizations.
What is keeping small businesses and nonprofits from offering voluntary health benefits to their employees?
Here is what I have been hearing as I am out working in the field. I don't always get a chance to meet with the leaders to go deeper to understand their point-of-view, but from what I have heard I am sharing in the first Weekly Reflection by Faith newsletter.
Why small businesses and nonprofits have said they aren't offering benefits.*
"Lack of financial resources to contribute." - Yes, this make sense when you see the high cost of healthcare and you think that employees want you to contribute to it, it is easy to brush this off. What if your employees just want to have the opportunity to have financial protection for their paycheck, an accident, a disease or death.
"No time to implement." - Yes, we understand this also when we know the demands of small business and nonprofit leaders. What if you knew there was benefits company that would not only provide the voluntary benefits, but also provide benefit counselors and the infrastructure to implement with systems you are already using. Why would you say "no"?
"I asked the employees if they wanted voluntary health benefits that they will pay for and they said "no"." Yes, that makes sense especially if they didn't have all the details of what the benefits were and the rates. Get the facts including rates and invite a representative to explain the products to your employees so they can make a good decision.
Quality employees are an asset to your business. Small businesses and nonprofits can be competitive with benefits to retain and recruit quality employees.
We look forward to hearing your feedback.
Written by Faith