When I talk to entrepreneurs about their goals for our work together, there’s one theme that comes up a lot:
- “I would like a plan.”
- “I need direction on ways to work smarter.”
- “I need to build the model.”
- “I’m horrible at putting down structure.”
- “I don’t see it as a business yet.”
- “I need to put a plan together — I need to see it.”
Now, you might have thought that you were the only one, floating along all these years without a well-formed plan. Or the only one crazy enough to jump off the edge and even start a business without a plan. But you can relax now and realize that you’re in good company — and you’re not alone.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t do something about it.
I’m not going to tell you that you have to write a *Business Plan,* with a capital B and a capital P. My first accountant kept trying to get me to do that in the early days of my bricks and mortar marketing communications firm, and even though he gave me charts, graphs and pamphlets and I went out and bought a book on writing business plans, I just couldn’t do it. It was far too much structure for my creative right-brained self, and I’m not embarrassed to tell you that in the 25 years of that business, I never had a formal written business plan — other than the one I wrote with some of my staff because a prospective client required it. And even that one felt too confining and constrictive for me, so I fiddled and played with it before I abandoned it for good.
I can’t tell you how many times and in how many ways I tried to write and follow a traditional plan for my business.
That way of planning my business just didn’t work for me. As a right brain thinker who likes to analyze, I’d put things down on paper one day and go a totally different direction the next. It drove those around me absolutely crazy.
But in a way that totally worked for me, I did have a “plan” — I knew what I wanted my business to look like, and I built it around that.
- I knew what my services were and how I could best serve my clients.
- I knew who my ideal customer was, and I kept fine tuning that description.
- I knew what and who I needed to support me, and I worked hard to keep them around me.
- I knew what part of the work I wanted to do and what I wanted to delegate, what my environment would be like, how big the business would get, and how much freedom I would have.
I built my business around me, and it worked for me.
It’s so true that you can’t get there if you don’t know where you’re going. But too many of us try too hard to look to the outside for a plan, thinking our business has to follow a pre-determined set of rules and a structure that’s set up by someone else. And when it doesn’t, we think there’s something wrong.
Sure, you need to be bringing in more than you’re spending. Certain structures need to be put in place. But there are many creative ways a business can work. Spend some time thinking about it, and you may find you have more of a plan than you think you do.