There is a broad spectrum of opinions regarding importance of having a business plan for business success. Although having comprehensive business plan may be required only for borrowing money, basic road map with major milestones will benefit every business, large or small. We are talking about necessity of "planning" as a process, not necessarily a formal business plan.
A few days ago we posted on LInkedIn a question "How to influence small business owners to start planning their business?" We received very interesting answers from both business consulting professionals and small business owners that we'd like to share with you.
Answer from Mark Carruthers, Business Manager at Foster Townsend Graham & Associates LLP
How do you encourage pigs to fly??
This is very tough to do ... on their own. However, put them in an airplane and, effectively, they are flying.
Unless small business people come from larger organizations wherein they have been actively involved in the budgeting or planning processes, most small business people are those who are “struck” with what they think are great, certain-success ideas and then they simply run headlong ... often into a brick wall of failure.
The other problem is that there are various “airplanes” for small business people to assist them to learn how to fly but, sometimes, it is difficult to get them into the “airplane”. The trick is to get them to want to “board the plane” on their own accord, or based on their perceived “own idea” that they want to be on that “airplane”.
Some entrepreneurial small business people are simply going to strap on their wings, and jump off of that cliff in an attempt to fly, and very few of them will catch that rare “up-draft” that actually allows them to “fly”.
I do not see that you will ever get all small business people to go through a careful well-thought planning process either to start a business or to follow through on what might have been a wonderful start-up plan and continue it for any length of time. I believe that it is, in most cases, simply the “nature of the beast”. I think that it is an implicit part of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Often the best way to “encourage” someone to do something that they either do not do as a general tendency, cannot force themselves the time to do, or perhaps that they really don’t want to do is to “hit them” where it is bound to get their attention: their pocketbooks.
Of course, if their small business goes “bust” and they had invested a significant amount of their savings into it from the beginning, I guess that already kinda’ constitutes already “hitting them” where it should have gotten their attention, and should have prompted them to committing time and attention to planning.
So ... if you cannot force them into it, how do you “coerce” or “seduce” them into long-term continuous planning?
The problem is that most small business owners are concentrating so hard on the actual day-to-day operations of the business, and they believe that “doing” (not planning) is what is generating revenue; once again, they are unlikely to spend any of their precious time resource, doing any planning.
Not unlike a child, whose characteristics are developed at a very young age, if planning is not engraved into those who will become small business owners at sometime either before they start their small business, or very early in the process, it is unlikely to happen once they get so busy trying to make their small business a success ... despite the fact that, without proper planning, success is unlikely to happen.
We all know that the resources (some good ... some not) to assist small business owners are out there, but to get the small business owners to utilize those resources ... is another matter.