Well, you’ve no doubt heard the cliché dozens of times, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail”. This cliché has stuck around for so long because it’s true!

It’s simply staggering the number of business owners that don’t plan. It’s not limited to coaches, it’s prolific throughout small business, and possibly most prominent in service (as opposed to product) orientated business.

It may be that business owners: don’t know how to plan; don’t place a high priority on it and hence apply their time elsewhere; or they just don’t see value in it. Whatever the reason, the number of business owners that actually do plan is extraordinarily low. Maybe that’s a contributing factor to the reason so many businesses fail.

As a coach it’s imperative that you recognise and respect that you’re operating a business, and plan accordingly. And we’re not talking about ad-hoc planning. We’re talking about thorough, considered and consultative planning.

To plan effectively you should firstly identify professional resources (such as business consultants, accountants, lawyers, etc) that can assist you plan, and dedicate the necessary time and energy to the process. The time you invest in planning will repay itself many times over.

As all industries have their specific nuisances it’s also highly recommended that you seek the advice of other professional coaches. What works in one industry is not guaranteed to work in another.

An important aspect of planning, particularly when starting a business, is developing a business plan. Two fundamental elements of your Business Plan are:

  1. Identifying strategically how you will operate your business in the context of your stated objectives; the competitive environment; and the resources you have at your disposal.
  2. Forecasting your anticipated business development and requirements and then mapping your forecasts against actual quantifiable performance indicators.

Your Business Plan will assist you with several critical operational objectives including:

It will assist you build crucial commercial relationships with key operational professionals such as your banker, accountant, business affiliates, etc.

It will act as a roadmap to guide your operations and provide structure to your business. Your goals and operational objectives contained in your Business Plan will direct your daily and weekly task management and hence add structure to the way you manage your time and operate your business. Businesses that operate without a comprehensive business plan are exposed to being reactive, rather than proactive, and tend to end up focussing too much on day-to-day tasks rather than big picture objectives.

It will assist you to identify and prepare for risks and uncertainties.

It will assist you resource your business and plan for growth. If you fail to develop a Business Plan you may get caught trying to expand too fast and hence mis-apportion resources. This is a common problem with businesses and can severely impede growth. It also leads to disappointment and disillusionment.

You’ll be amazed at how the process of developing your Business Plan will assist you to: think of things you would not otherwise have considered; access critical resources and networks; seek immeasurably important advice; and frame your mindset for positive structured growth.

A good business plan will also assist your chances of success by assisting you focus on the five areas in which small business operators often get lost. These are:

Realism. If you don’t do a full business plan it’s very simple to get caught in the common trap of over-optimism. Planning should help you view the future in a realistic context and prevent you from viewing the future in ways the facts don’t support.

The need for outside advice. Planning assists you to grasp the diverse skill set required to successfully operate in business. This process often highlights to people the need to get outside assistance in areas where they may lack skills.

Recognising change. Consumer needs and markets change rapidly. Whilst planning is not a crystal ball to the future, it does assist you attain a better and deeper understanding of the market in which you operate. Regular review of your business plan also forces to review the market and trading conditions. In this manner you are better equipped to respond to market trends and possibly innovate services based on emerging trends.

Balancing Growth. Small businesses traditionally grow too fast for their capital base, or too slow for their cash flow requirements. Planning assists you to identify your performance trends in real time and resource your business accordingly.

Result orientation. A detailed business plan allows you to monitor your results against a predetermined set of goals and performance standards. Without this you will operate in the dark. 

This article is an extract of the UCBBP (Ultimate Coach Business Building Program) eCourse. For more information, including how you can start a 30-day free trial TODAY, visit www.coachingclub.com.au.