Starting your own business may seem like an easy option. You get to be the boss, decide what kind of work you do, the clients you work with, dictate your own hours and have holidays whenever you want. Or do you?
Once you actually start to run a business you realise the reality is very different. You don’t know what you don’t know – until you make a mistake that uncovers that particular blind-spot. You probably work more hours, not less; take fewer holidays, not more; and most likely will accept almost any kind of work offered in order to generate some cash flow, usually with clients that you wouldn’t choose to work with.
SME growth is booming – according to Startups, in Leeds more than 4,000 businesses were started in 2014 and nationally a record 581,000 new businesses – that’s over 1,500 every day – were registered in 2015.
Yet longevity is not something associated with start-up businesses. The Startups figures show that only 42% of businesses founded in Leeds in 2009 made it to 2014 – lower than the national average which is around 50% survival.
What are you going to do in 2016 to ensure that your business thrives better that it has done previous years and to reduce the chance that you become a business failure statistic?
What’s the plan?
In my experience one of the key factors whether a business survives is down to a lack of planning – a sense which was backed up by research from NPower recently which revealed that more than a third of business owners (38%) realised within the first month that running a business was harder than they thought, and one in ten failed to follow even the simplest business plan.
The research revealed four types of small and medium business planning – post-it note plans (favoured by 9%), mini planners who prefer to have plans on their smartphone or tablet (24%), detail addicts (50%) who see the value in producing detailed plans and finally presentation planners (17%) who only feel confident to start trading once they have a visually-appealing plan.
So let me ask you these questions:
- Is your business plan non existent or written on post-it notes?
- Do you have a detailed written business plan (including financial forecasts) and has it been shared with key stakeholders?
- If you have one, how often do you refer to and update your business plan?
- Who holds you accountable for ensuring you achieve your plan?
- Are you expecting to accomplish record performance in 2016?
While NPower identified four types of plan, experience tells me there are many more. There’s the large, inflexible corporate plan (which will probably still be in a folder on the shelf collecting dust months after being finalised) and the one which exists only in the owner’s head. Both of these are just as dangerous and damaging to the potential success of a business.
What are you doing about it?
Simply having a plan isn’t good enough. You need the right type of plan, tailored to suit you and your business. You also need the skills, expertise, drive and focus to deliver consistent results. More on these in later blogs.
The growth plan should be simple, focused, agile and ensure you have clear targets and accountability for delivering results. Poor planning results in targets being missed and the business drifting. A great plan provides a platform to tweak strategies to ensure targets are hit consistently.
In the five years since Tendo was founded (and many said I was nuts to set up a business in the middle of the worst recession for a generation) we have achieved double-digit growth every year and have some very ambitious plans to scale in the next two years. All this with low stress levels, enjoying a work/ life balance and financial rewards better than ever.
So what exactly am I doing that many others aren’t?
Most business growth plans are not agile and dynamic. They also leave out what we at Tendo know to be the most important factor – linking your plan to your purpose, the reason you started your business. Only by doing this will you build a business and a team around you that deliver your original vision, leaving you fulfilled and creating the wealth and work-life balance you set out to achieve.
Are you properly set up to ensure that this year is your year to springboard to the next level of growth? Can you see all of your success measures and next steps on one page so you stay focused and accountable? Does your plan stretch and challenge you to ensure your business delivers what it’s capable of, not what is easy to do? And if it doesn’t, what are you going to do about it?
Do you have a lengthy business plan and never look at it or maybe you have no plan at all? Many business owners don’t manage their company strategically, know what to focus on or measure daily, to have complete clarity and control.
If you would like to manage your business on a single page, access our tool here to get started: tendo-uk.com/plan