Being in small business is tough. Sometimes it feels like every force is opposing you. High rents, on-line competition, staffing issues, government or council policy, foot traffic, economic conditions and the list goes on.
Some of these factors are within your control and some aren’t, and understanding this is critical to your success. You can’t fix what you can’t control.
On many occasions I have seen business owners put more energy into complaining about conditions than trying to do something about them.
One of the best things you can do for your business is stop ‘doing’ and start planning – you know the old adage “work on your business rather than in it”. Allowing yourself regular planning time away from your business gives you an opportunity to think openly and logically about where your business is now, where you want it to go, and how to get there. For me this means a regular trip to my local coffee shop with nothing other than a notebook and an open mind.
The first thing I do is to categorise my challenges into those that I can control, and those that I can’t. And I know that you can influence almost anything if you’re determined enough, but you need to put your energy into the easiest wins. I could spend a load of time lobbying to reduce council rates and I might eventually be successful, but I would have been far better spending that time developing a new product or service that has potential to bring recurring revenue, or reviewing current processes to find an efficiency.
The sort of things you can control or influence include sales, marketing, culture, team satisfaction, efficiency, costs, on-line presence, risk management, products and customer service.
But you are unlikely to have much influence over foot traffic, economic conditions, government policies or the rate of technological change. So accept these for what they are, and find ways to be successful within those parameters.
I’m a big fan of simple but focused business plans. Importantly, the business planning process forces you to spend time thinking strategically about your business. The completed plan gives you focus and direction. Sharing your ideas with others gives you motivation and accountability.
But if you’re looking for guidance on how to write a business plan, don’t google ‘business plan template’. You’ll end up with a 100 page document that addresses a heap of issues not necessarily relevant to your business. A business plan should address what’s important to you, and it may well fit on two or three pages. Maybe it will have three headings, “Where am I Now?”, “Where do I Want to be?”, and “How Do I Get There?” At FAJ we like to call this a Business Roadmap.
My key messages are to make some time to plan, focus only on what you can control and don’t over-complicate the solution. If you can identify three or four significant actions and stay focused on implementing these, you will make a positive difference to the success of your business.
Preparing a Business Roadmap is one of FAJ’s new Planning and Growth services. Click here for more information.
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