THE BUSINESS PLAN, PART THREE
This article concludes my series on starting or reinventing your business. The process I outlined flies in the face of conventional wisdom that begins with the business plan and creates the company around that plan. Let me be very clear: Businesses that fail to plan are literally planning to fail. If you do not have a business plan, then the absolute best you can ever hope for is lower profits and longer working hours. It is that simple. That said, I believe that the business plan first approach has some fundamental flaws that can hobble or even kill the business its supposed to support.
The typical business plan is obviously all about the business, as it should be. So how can this be a bad thing? An excellent question�
Placing the business above all else is by nature a dehumanizing mindset that reduces everyone involved to a cog in a machine. Everything your plan says about you and anyone on your team revolves around how and why you are good for your business. That immediately places you in the role of serving your businesss needs instead of having the business serve your needs. That backward approach alone causes for more business failures than any other possible cause because it forces you to leave your natural state in order to support your own creation. This reversal causes stress, burnout, and eventual collapse. If you have not done so yet, I urge you to read The Emyth Revisited by Michael Gerber, which describes the typical business lifecycle and how to create something truly lasting by bucking that cycle.
If that wasnt bad enough, the same applies to your prospective customers, who also become cogs in your business machine. If I have one unshakable belief about any business, it is that the customer is royalty. So why relegate them to a few line items in a business plan?
I bet youre wondering how I can preach the necessity of a business plan while revealing potentially fatal flaws in that very endeavor. The answer is very simple: My issue is not with the business plan per se, but with the process used to arrive at that plan. Follow the typical business plan outline and youll unconsciously fall into the traps I outlined above. Follow the process Ive laid out over the past three months, and your business plan will reflect a business that revolves around you, your partners, and your customers. The devil is in the details and the biggest detail about running any business is the mindset.
A business plan created through the process Ive outlined serves as a modern-day Rosetta stone that translates your hopes and dreams for a mechanism to live your dharma and follow your dreams into the conventional language used by attorneys, bankers, landlords, insurers, consultants, and many others. This allows you to see into and interact with the normal business world without necessarily selling your soul or mortgaging your future to do so. It also allows the professionals youll inevitably need to work with to understand what youre doing in their terms, making it far easier for you to obtain the financing and other resources you may need to start and grow your business.
Please keep in mind that these thirteen columns cannot possibly convey all of the complexities involved in starting or reinventing a business, nor was it my goal to do so. Rather, my aim was to get you thinking along a different (and probably more profitable) mindset that will at least get you asking the right questions in the right order. If Ive managed to accomplish that much, then Ive met my goal.
Starting a business is one of the biggest decisions youll ever make. It can enrich your life and those of your customers or it can literally suck the life out of you. The choice is yours and the time to start building a rock-solid foundation begins the moment you begin thinking about your new endeavor and continues for the life of the business.
To quote Jay Conrad Levinson, I wish you fame and fortune, especially fortune. You deserve it.