I spent a number of years consulting with small business owners on a daily basis, and I can unequivocally state that most of them had an extremely good understanding of the daily operations of their businesses. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t have even a fair understanding of the general business principles that are ultimately responsible for determining their success or failure.
So, while the owner of an Air Conditioning / Heating Service might know virtually everything there is to know about Air Conditioning and Heating systems, he or she wouldn’t know nearly enough about proper recordkeeping or marketing or customer service. I saw this same problem in every industry I worked in.
What is the source of this problem? Too often, the owners are still acting like they are employees. They are so busy doing the actual work or managing the actual work that they don’t have time to properly manage their business (or at least they don’t think they have time).
To express it in a more comical way, these business owners are too busy working to properly run their business. It’s like the old Lucy show in which Lucy is working on the assembly line, and the results are too often the same.
So how do you avoid getting on this “Failure Treadmill”? And if you’re already on it, how do you get off? Planning is the key. Although you may not be able to anticipate every single thing that can happen in your business, you can anticipate many of the necessary duties and functions of operating a successful business.
For example, you should put a good recordkeeping system in place before you ever open your business. You should have a well-conceived marketing plan before you ever open your doors. In other words, you should take the time to think through and document every single aspect of operating your business before you ever open your business.
As part of your all-inclusive business plan, you should prepare alternative courses of action based on different scenarios. To be a successful business owner, you must be proactive, not reactive.
I don’t believe that it is unreasonable to assume that you can anticipate and plan for 85% of all business troubles that you will face. Of course, anticipating and planning for troubles doesn’t necessarily mean that these troubles can be avoided. But proper preparation does give you a good head start in dealing with these problems when they actually occur.
It is true that bad planning usually produces bad results. However, no planning usually produces terrible results. So any planning is better than no planning.
One of the big benefits of planning is that it allows you to develop alternative courses of action based on different outcomes while there is still time to adjust your business strategy. Planning is thinking, and thinking is always an excellent use of your time.
The moral of this article is that you must focus the proper amount of attention on your business plan if you want to build a successful business. Time spent planning will always pay off in the long run. Think about it…
By Michael Williams