Monday, April 7, 2008

5 Business Plan Mistakes to Avoid

Everyone knows they need one. Everyone plans on writing one, eventually. But not everyone does it. Why? Because it’s so easy to put off and it’s such a chore.

I’m talking about writing a business plan. Many business owners put more effort into planning their vacations than they put into planning their businesses. This is a shame because an entrepreneur with a business plan is much more likely to succeed than one without a plan.

With just a little effort, you can plan the business of your dreams complete with desired level of income, time off, and emotional satisfaction. The key is the business plan. Let’s take a look at some of the mistakes we tend to make with business plans and what you can do to overcome them.

Mistake #1 - Putting it off
It’s easy to hang up an “Open for Business” shingle and then dive right into the busy-ness of day to day operations of your business. Things are going well and you think “Someday I’ll get around to writing that business plan” or “I don’t need that business plan after all”, or even “Who says you need a business plan to be successful?” Years later when you want to buy a building or expand operations you find out that the bank or investors want a plan, but you don’t have one.
Don’t put it off. Having a business plan helps you to solidify your future, anticipate problems, and plan for success. If you’re always running on adrenaline, putting out fires, and playing catch up, you probably need a business plan. So just do it. Block time on your schedule two to three hours a week and just get it done.

Mistake #2 - Not a big enough vision
Think BIG when creating your long term vision. This is your opportunity to design a business that far exceeds your current situation. I’ve seen far too many boring, limited, and going-no-where visions. Think in terms of the ideal and put yourself in the future. What would you most like to be doing in your business? The grunt work? The annoying stuff you’re doing now? Of course not. You are the face of your business. Your job is to meet the clients, close the big deals, and rake in the dough.
What kind of revenue do you want in your business? Think BIG again. And don’t say 20% better than now. What are the possibilities five to ten years from now?

Mistake #3 - Weak goals
A business plan without detailed goals is like a ship without a rudder. The business becomes directionless without a purpose. You, as the business owner must have goals for every facet of your business. What I often see is a 5 year revenue goal, but no monthly and yearly goals to lead up to the finale. I see very few business plans with client goals, professional goals, and personal goals. How many new clients do you want each month? What are the revenue goals for your products or services? What information products do you want to produce in the future? Having goals in life is what drives successful people. What are your goals?

Mistake #4 - Not focusing on Marketing and Branding
It’s really easy to get into statistics, theory, and hyperbole in a business plan. I say “Show me the money!” What are you going to do to bring in the dough? Any business plan worth the paper it’s printed on should have a significant marketing and branding section. Take a look at your vision and decide what marketing actions you need to take to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in five to ten years.
If you want to stand out in the crowded marketplace, you’ll also need to create a strong brand and continue working on it going forward. Invest in yourself and get a professionally designed corporate identity complete with tagline, website, four-color business cards, and the like. No one wants to do business with someone who doesn’t look professional. So get rid of the dull boring business image and kick it up a notch.

Mistake #5 – Not working the plan
Why do you write a business plan if you are going to put it away in a drawer somewhere? You need to keep the plan visible. You need to review the plan on a weekly basis. You need to be asking yourself “What now?” at least weekly. You need to make sure you are getting results. No matter how brilliant the plan, you must take action to get results. You do this by reviewing your plan, checking the marketing activities for results, and asking “What bigger projects do I need to tackle to get closer to the big Vision?” Then you ask yourself if the direction needs to change. If so, it’s time to re-write your plan.

Traditional thirty-page business plans are not always useful for entrepreneurs. They can be overly technical and may not provide the accountability needed. I have created a business plan system for entrepreneurs and independent professionals that may fit the bill: The Two Page Mini Business Plan™. This system incorporates Goal Setting, and heavy Branding and Marketing with My Success Book - a built-in Daily Action Planner to encourage accountability and results. This may be just the system you need to get where you want to go.

©Copyright 2008- Suzanne Muusers - All Rights Reserved

About the author
Suzanne Muusers is a Business Coach and Business Expert based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is a credentialed member of the International Coach Federation and has owned or managed a business every year since 1981. She is the creator of The Two Page Mini Business Plan™, The Six Step Guide to Creating a Business Plan That's Short, Easy, and Gets Results! Visit her site:

1 comment:

mahamad said...

hi this is rafi from india,
these 5 business plan misteks are great tips for me to extend my business,thanks