Posts tagged ‘Truth’

Often when I mention the words “business plan” to people, whether they are just starting up in business or already established and looking to grow or change their business, they give me the “do I have to?” look!

Business plans haven’t been dreamt up by accountants to allow them to charge a fee to their clients for “added value” services or simply to bore you to tears.  Every book you read about business success and every leader you hear speak will highlight the necessity of planning.  So “yes” you really have to, unless you like to live life by the seat of your pants.

Failing to plan and planning to fail

If you are starting up your business and you don’t have a plan, how do you know

  • what that business will do
  • what it’s target market will be
  • how it will work  (processes, structure, personnel etc)
  • how it will be financed? (funding, cash flow, collateral/security/personal guarantees etc)
  • whether it will make money and
  • whether you will get out of it what you want?

Are banks still lending?

There has been much reported in the news over the last year or so about how difficult it is to get bank lending nowadays for small and medium sized businesses.  Ask any business bank manager this question and they will quip “we’re always open for business” but there is no doubt that they are being very cautious. If anything is going to help you get the banks on your side,  it will be a comprehensive, well thought through business plan with back up for your assumptions and a realistic timescale for paying back the loan.

If you want to approach an investor, your business won’t even be considered for investment if you don’t have a business plan that you can back up with facts and figures that make you and your business a credible investment.

Getting value from the planning process

Planning is not just something business owners should do when setting up their enterprises or when getting finance.  There are plenty of benefits of planning on a regular basis.

  1. Take the time to think through a plan and then write it down, you are more likely to actually do it than if you keep it in your head.  Even better, communicate that plan to a trusted adviser such as your accountant or a business coach who will be able to help you evaluate it and provide an objective viewpoint.
  2. Take off your rose tinted glasses, a great looking plan may make you feel good now, but it will demotivate or be dismissed as irrelevant later.  Be realistic and honest with yourself and don’t forget to factor in non-monetary elements such as the amount of time you intend to invest. 
  3. Use the planning process to brainstorm.  Perhaps carry out a SWOT analysis to help you to ‘stretch’ your thinking.
  4. Use the plan as a way of involving key people in your business.  This will help them to be more committed to the results and encourage leadership/loyalty.
  5. Most of the ‘added value’ of business planning comes from regular reflection.  Don’t take the time to write a plan and then archive it!

In summary

A good business plan will help you to understand where your business is going, give it structure and direction, provide a communication channel for key stakeholders and build credibility when obtaining any funding or investment that you need from external sources.

If you haven’t got an up to date, clear and realistic business plan, take action now. 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

People often ask “what is business coaching?” and in truth there are lots of ways to describe it.  In this post, Lee Duncan a well respected business coach that I have worked with for the benefit of my clients, will focus on four elements that work together to get results in any area of your life. 

Business is all about getting results.

For most of us, this means achieving a level of financial success from the businesses we create.  The principles of business are actually quite straightforward, although in practice it often turns out to be more tricky.

A formula that’s useful to focus the mind on what to do next is


The first key to success is attitude.

Henry Ford famously said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right”.

Just think about that for a moment. If you start out with the notion that you’re going to fail, you will. I know of a psychologist who calls this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It works the other way around though too, which is far more exciting. If you believe you will succeed, you probably will. As a business coach, it’s clear that many clients need some help to have confidence and a positive mental attitude.

Next up, you’ve got to have a goal.

A goal is like a destination for a taxi trip. When you jump into a taxi, the driver wants to know where you’re going to go before he’ll move off. That’s just the same as your brain. If you want to get somewhere with your business, you’ve got to focus on where you want to go before you can move towards it. Goals should be set to be stretching, but achieveable.

The third part of the formula is to have the correct knowledge.

Many of us know what we should be doing to be more successful, it’s just that we don’t do it. On the other hand, sometimes we simply don’t know how to do something and so we remain stuck.

By attending seminars, reading books, listening to CDs and watching video, we gain knowledge. With practice we can turn this knowledge into skills that help us to achieve our goals. Skills like how to write effective sales letters, or how to create a blog, or how to manage staff effectively, can all be learnt by anybody. Great results can also be described as the successful application of the right knowledge. Make the effort to get the learning habit, you won’t regret it.

The final step on your way to results is to take action.

Great ideas are simply notions until somebody turns them into reality.

If you’re an ideas person who finds it hard to bring your ideas to life, you’re a dreamer. If you have no ideas but keep turning the handle and expecting different results, you’re a madman.

The happy middle road is where success lies – a great idea combined with the right actions, taken relentlessly day after day, to achieve success.

When any single piece of the formula is missed, you’ll struggle to achieve your desired results. That’s where business coaching comes in, to help you bring all of these things into alignment for you.

When you achieve results, no matter how big or small, take the time to celebrate and enjoy your successes. Too often in life we beat ourselves up for failing and don’t notice what we have actually achieved. Start to notice how good you are, how successful you are, and you’ll be successful more often and in bigger ways.

Read about the kind of results that Lee’s clients enjoy in a story from a member of the Chris Cardell marketing club who also works with Lee. 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.