Goof #2

Not Having a Working Business Plan

A business plan - a written, working business plan - is the foundation of your business. Trying to run a business without a comprehensive business plan is like giving a speech without any preparation... it just won't work. As the old saying goes, "Fail to plan? Plan to fail!"

This follows automatically from the first blunder in this list. Can you imagine the owner of any business - whether a pizzeria, a real estate office, or a dry cleaning establishment - not having a business plan? Because you're a professional speaker, you're a business owner… and that means you must have a business plan.

Now I'm not talking about a formal business plan. You need one of those if you're looking to borrow large sums of money or impress people. But the far more important form of "business plan" that I'm talking about, I call a "working business plan". It may not be pretty to look at, but it's invaluable because it's a written description of your plans.

Notice that I emphasize "written." Why? The human mind is a marvelously flexible tool - and yet that flexibility can cause problems. When you plan something in your mind, it's awfully easy to skip past a potential problem without ever "seeing" it. But when you write it down, it becomes much harder to ignore problems and challenges. It's also easy to change your mind without realizing or (remembering) that you're doing so. Changing your mind is a good business practice; thrashing around is not. Only if you have your plans written down can you tell the difference!

(It doesn't really matter how you document your working business plans. Although using a word processor is probably the most popular approach, writing in longhand on a legal pad works too. The important thing is to have your plans written down.)

Notice also that I say "plans", plural. Your "business plan" is actually a whole bunch of plans. You need a plan describing how you're going to make money. You need a plan describing how you're going to spend money. You need a plan describing how you're going to spend your time. You need a plan of action that describes what you're going to do and when you're going to do it. You also need a description of what you (hopefully) will not need to do (a contingency plan).

You need a business summary and you need project summaries. You need policies; you need procedures. You need a history of your business, and you need long-term plans that peer into the far-distant future.

You not only need a set of plans, you need a vision or mission, and you need goals. (And you need to understand the difference between goals, plans, and visions.)

And all of these need to be written down, and reviewed and updated regularly.

(Note: This is so important that one entire Quest in the Journey from Free to Fee is devoted to the development of your working business plan.)


Action Steps:

1. There's really only one action step here - if you haven't started your written working business plan, get started. Period. End of discussion. It's the single most important thing you can do for your career. (As I said, one entire Quest of the Journey from Free to Fee program is devoted to writing a business plan. Not a generic, one-size-fits-all business plan, but a business plan that's created specifically for you! Join the Journey and start developing your plan!)