Today's challenge asks business owners to pull out, dust off, and crack open their business plan to check for neglected parts.
The business plan is the scaffolding on which a business is built...at least in theory anyway. Many people question whether or not you need a business plan. For example, if you aren't planning on asking banks or investors for money, do you need a business plan? If you plan on your business every growing past a solo operator, do you need a business plan? If you are independently wealthy and doing this new venture for fun. do you need a business plan?
The answer is yes!
When I first started BRAVE I went to the library to find what I could about writing a business plan. After combing through tons of books, I came across a resource that spoke to my sanity. It promised you could write your business plan in one day. Of course, I was a skeptic and knew a plan couldn't be written start to finish in one day. But the book gave me hope that it could be done quickly. I chose that book because it was the only resource that didn't have me spending years writing my plan. I wanted to think about my plan, write my plan, and get to work.
If you ask google, what is hardest part about writing a business plan, especially for people who didn't major in business, finance. or economics scores of those little "o's" will come up saying that sales forecasting section is the hardest.
When I first started, the hardest part of the writing plan was defining my target market. Where are the people who will buy my services? What do they like? Where do they live? How many employees do they have? Where do they currently get their training and development needs met?
That was the hardest part because I provide a niche service that people don't think they need. When I tell people I provide interpersonal communication skills training so you can say what needs to be said with respect and clarity, I am always referred to someone else. In other words, every one knows someone, other than themselves, who could use help in the area of communication.
In the early days, I felt like the "What Not to Wear" of training and development. I mean let's face it, if you are nominated for TLC's What Not to Wear then someone thinks you have really bad fashion sense. On one hand you get to go shopping and buy new clothes. On the other you have to admit that the clothes you've been wearing, on purpose, are NOT working for you. That is the hardest part of that show. Contestants have cried, walked out, and vehemently protested the change because it was so scary to let go of their identity.
I deal with the same psychology in communication skills coaching. Having someone suggest that your communicative style could use improvement sends most into an identity crisis. They get resentful at the implication and become obstinate. Or they begin second guessing themselves. Or they get mournful. Potential clients assume that I am going to change them and make them something they are not. I don't. I help you become a more efficient you. If you have a dry sense of humor, you will still have that. If you are easily angered, you will still be easily angered but you will have learned the necessary skill to diffuse and manage your anger.
The beauty of my work is that I get to tell you what you are doing right as well what you are doing wrong. My subject matter is not rocket science, anyone can do it and understand it. What I bring to the table is structure and options. You may have some skills that are working beautifully for you. In fact, I am sure of it. Most everyone does. I help you capitalize on those and then add to them.
So who are the people who will want what I have to offer and be willing to pay for it? That is market research of the business plan.
Since moving to a new city, I have been taking a new look at my business plan. My business coach and I are looking at changing my primary business focus. I want to rearrange somethings and there is nothing like starting over in a new city, as the perfect catalyst for doing it.
The best part about my renewed desire to business plan journey is that this time I don't have to go about it alone. I have a business coach with over 20yrs experience running companies to help me along. He is assisting me in the market research I will need to determine if the new direction I want to go in is a good idea or not.
He made an interesting observation about his work with start ups. He said that most women skip or barely do the market research necessary to sustain and grow their business 5 years down the line.
That got me angry but in a good way. It motivated me to make sure BRAVE Communication is a business of the highest integrity on and off the field.
So market research for my newest maneuver...here I come!
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