Question for small business owners - do you have a business plan?

31 replies
I've got my own business which I have been running for a few years - it is growing and evolving year on year. It's a boutique marketing agency.

While I always stress to my clients that they should all have a business and marketing plan for their business, I must confess I don't have a business plan.

Am I the only one that hasn't got one?

I have been meaning to do one, however, I always put my client's needs ahead of my own... and it has dropped down on the 'should do' list.

Interested to hear if you have one....
#business #owners #plan #question #small
  • Profile picture of the author agmccall
    What affect will out answers have on your business?

    al
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    • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
      Originally Posted by agmccall View Post

      What affect will out answers have on your business?

      al
      I think it might help me to grow and evolve the business in a structured way rather than be reactive. I have 3 people doing regular consulting work with the business now, so I think in one side of my brain it could be a good idea to work on a bit of a plan while the other side of my brain says if it ain't broke. I've been plodding along quite nicely without too much of a need so far..

      Just interested to know if anyone uses a plan like this or if it's not really necessary.

      I have been working on my systems a lot this past few weeks and this is probably one area that I just have in the too hard basket.
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      • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
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        Originally Posted by gingerninjas View Post

        I think it might help me to grow and evolve the business in a structured way rather than be reactive. I have 3 people doing regular consulting work with the business now, so I think in one side of my brain it could be a good idea to work on a bit of a plan while the other side of my brain says if it ain't broke. I've been plodding along quite nicely without too much of a need so far..

        Just interested to know if anyone uses a plan like this or if it's not really necessary.

        I have been working on my systems a lot this past few weeks and this is probably one area that I just have in the too hard basket.
        Do you actually know what a 'business plan' is and what it's used for? Sounds like you are actually talking about a marketing plan, which is an entirely different animal, altogether.

        A marketing plan is nothing more than a glorified and prioritized 'to-do' list, though some will disagree. I get a lot of that, especially when I'm totally correct. :-)

        Frank
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        • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
          Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

          Do you actually know what a 'business plan' is and what it's used for? Sounds like you are actually talking about a marketing plan, which is an entirely different animal, altogether.

          A marketing plan is nothing more than a glorified and prioritized 'to-do' list, though some will disagree. I get a lot of that, especially when I'm totally correct. :-)

          Frank
          Hi, yes my husband and I actually write business and marketing plans as part of our business offering, I do know the difference. I agree they are like chalk and cheese. The marketing side of things I am really not needing, it's more of the strategy and long term strategic goals over 1, 2, 5 and 10 years I am looking to put on paper and also the financial strategy to ensure we are making enough to sustain and nurture growth so I can retire at an early age and sip cocktails in the sunshine for ever more...
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    Odds are 87% of what you think you want will change over time so is there really a point? You'll learn new things along the way which will change how you view your business.

    Some things are obvious...
    • Get business license.
    • Get business bank account.
    • Get business mailing address.
    • etc....

    Maybe create a checklist but it's obviously not going to be written in stone for the majority of your business (long term).
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  • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
    Banned
    My business plan is to never work again and enjoy the rest of my life.

    So far, so good! :-)

    Frank

    P.S. If you truly need a well-produced business plan, like for a bank loan or attracting investment, visit your local SCORE office. Excellent work at no cost.
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    • Profile picture of the author filiks
      Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

      My business plan is to never work again and enjoy the rest of my life.

      So far, so good! :-)

      Frank

      P.S. If you truly need a well-produced business plan, like for a bank loan or attracting investment, visit your local SCORE office. Excellent work at no cost.
      I think i need to revisit my business plan: i like yours better "Never work again and enjoy life"
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      • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
        Banned
        Originally Posted by filiks View Post

        I think i need to revisit my business plan: i like yours better "Never work again and enjoy life"
        Well, think long and hard. My plan includes having one foot already in the grave.

        Everything in life and business is a trade-off.

        Frank
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    • Profile picture of the author Froggys
      Originally Posted by BigFrank View Post

      My business plan is to never work again and enjoy the rest of my life.

      So far, so good! :-)

      Frank

      P.S. If you truly need a well-produced business plan, like for a bank loan or attracting investment, visit your local SCORE office. Excellent work at no cost.
      That's a good plan but hardly achievable for most people.
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  • Profile picture of the author DeePower
    Our consulting company specializes in business plans. My partner and I have written commercially published business books. The last was a guide to help business owners create their own business plan. I've helped hundreds of entrepreneurs with their business plans and marketing strategies. So I know what I'm talking about.

    Most businesses do not have a business plan and that's a shame. While the plan is not written in stone, it is a guide on where the business wants to go and -- more importantly -- the strategies and action plans to achieve those goals.

    We surveyed hundreds of entrepreneurs. The most difficult part of writing the plan was getting started. The next challenge was knowing when the plan is finished. Kinda ironic, can't get it started and then can't get it finished. I could use a male enhancement analogy here but I'll pass.

    The basics of a business plan include:

    Where the company is now.
    Where the company wants to go.
    How the company will get to where it wants to go.

    Want more detail? Download a free copy of our business plan format. http://businessplan-basics.com/bzplnfrmt.pdf

    Not complicated at all. Hope this helps. I would be happy to answer any business plan related questions.

    Dee
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  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    Banned
    If you truly need a well-produced business plan, like for a bank loan or attracting investment, visit your local SCORE office. Excellent work at no cost.
    About ten years ago, I needed one to apply for a grant. I got free help from the Minnesota Department Of Vocational Rehabilitation.
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    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

      About ten years ago, I needed one to apply for a grant. I got free help from the Minnesota Department Of Vocational Rehabilitation.
      Yep! Many agencies provide these types of services to foster economical development in their local communities.

      The nice thing about SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives) is that many of them previously worked in finance and banking for decades, giving them first-hand knowledge of how to best present a small business owners particular case - one you get past the mandatory spreadsheets. Contrary to popular belief, it not just 'all about the numbers.'

      While the numbers are certainly important, in today's unique business climate with a wide array of new types of businesses launching or looking to expand, thinking inside the box can be just as important as thinking outside of it.

      Some of these guys are absolute magicians. Additionally, they can refer you to lending sources where they already have well-established relationships.

      Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author nagasima11
    It's funny you give advice to your customers "While I always stress to my clients that they should all have a business and marketing plan for their business, I must confess I don't have a business plan"
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    • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
      Originally Posted by nagasima11 View Post

      It's funny you give advice to your customers "While I always stress to my clients that they should all have a business and marketing plan for their business, I must confess I don't have a business plan"
      I know, the irony. Crazy huh.
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  • Profile picture of the author maxima21
    No I don't have too and no problem
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  • Profile picture of the author Rollmodl
    I use a pitch deck which I find more useful.
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    • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
      Originally Posted by Rollmodl View Post

      I use a pitch deck which I find more useful.
      It's funny you say that pitch decks seem to be more and more useful of late.

      I have had lots of customers requesting them and visually they are a fantastic resource.

      It could be a really good option actually and something I could update and use for proposals or quotes if needed for bigger clients.

      Thanks for this idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adsomi
    I'm kind of suprised at some of these repsonses because for me a business plan is a must. I see it as trying to drive somewhere without any directions or a GPS.
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    • Profile picture of the author BigFrank
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Adsomi View Post

      I'm kind of suprised at some of these repsonses because for me a business plan is a must.
      For you. We get that.
      I see it as trying to drive somewhere without any directions or a GPS.
      Nothing wrong with the occasional Magical Mystery Tour. Sometimes you wind up in a better place than your original planned destination.

      Frank
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  • Profile picture of the author wordsandthebees
    Originally Posted by gingerninjas View Post

    While I always stress to my clients that they should all have a business and marketing plan for their business, I must confess I don't have a business plan.

    Am I the only one that hasn't got one?
    I guess the important fact to address here is WHY you don't have one. I know you said you are too busy, but if you are selling that service to your clients, does that mean that you don't think they really need one either?

    Now, I know this isn't the case, so perhaps that answers your question!

    For me, a business plan is a must if you plan on progressing your business.

    I know this isn't everyone's forte, and I don't think it needs to be too detailed, but a written document containing planned milestones and how you intend to get there seems like good business sense to me.

    Otherwise, like you say, you are in danger of becoming reactive and never really developing your business. For some, that is OK, but it doesn't sound like that's your goal.

    I can identify with you too, as someone who writes and ghostwrites blogs for a living, my own website doesn't have one single piece of blogging content - just ridiculous! I'm sure other people will say the same - plumbers with plumbing issues, builders with renovation requirements and hairdressers in need of a trim - we all put our clients needs before our own.

    That is common, however to answer your question, yes, I think you need a business plan!
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    • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
      Originally Posted by wordsandthebees View Post


      I can identify with you too, as someone who writes and ghostwrites blogs for a living, my own website doesn't have one single piece of blogging content - just ridiculous! I'm sure other people will say the same - plumbers with plumbing issues, builders with renovation requirements and hairdressers in need of a trim - we all put our client's needs before our own.

      That is common, however to answer your question, yes, I think you need a business plan!
      Couldn't agree with you more, after this thread it has kicked me into gear a little. I think growing a little bit and bringing on some more support has made me realise that I have more than one mouth to feed and it's important to figure out where I want to go.

      I sat with a business coach for one session and his whole philosophy was having a business plan and revisiting it every year and putting aside a few days in the work week to act like that plan is one of your client projects and give it the attention it deserves.

      Thanks for your comments, it's kicked my butt and hopefully I will stop contradicting myself by being plan-less
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      • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
        Originally Posted by gingerninjas View Post

        Couldn't agree with you more, after this thread it has kicked me into gear a little. I think growing a little bit and bringing on some more support has made me realise that I have more than one mouth to feed and it's important to figure out where I want to go.
        Hi Ginger,

        I've always swayed between the one page plan and the full blown plan depending on whether I need to borrow money or am spending it.

        I know you said you write business plans for clients but have you ever used any of Maus's stuff?

        Best Business Planning Software - MasterPlan - MAUS Software

        Most of my plans revolve around a few financials and what to do about managing the ever decreasing areas where cost cutting can happen given the current environment and maturity of my business.

        It reminds me of when I heard Dick Smith speak about how to cope with negative growth.

        Business always thinks of growth and I've been fortunate to innovate our way forward over nearly 30 years in business....but...

        ...here's what I could find on Dick's thoughts...

        https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/...pearse/comment

        Best regards,

        Ozi
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        • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
          Originally Posted by Oziboomer View Post

          Hi Ginger,


          I know you said you write business plans for clients but have you ever used any of Maus's stuff?

          Best Business Planning Software - MasterPlan - MAUS Software

          Best regards,

          Ozi
          Thanks Ozi, have you used this software at all and have you got an idea of the price?
          I have to pay for IBIS World access and I am trying to find a good balance for all the software and journals/reports needed for business plans and this program looks brilliant. I'm very interested to see what the difference is for the end result.

          I'll have a trawl through and see what it's all about. There is a free trial which I will sign up for.

          Thanks for your suggestion, really helpful. I have seen a couple of online business plan platforms that clients have started to use, however they are more of a layout program, and don't look to be as sophisticated as this one.

          Very cool.
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          • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
            Originally Posted by gingerninjas View Post

            Thanks Ozi, have you used this software at all and have you got an idea of the price?
            I have to pay for IBIS World access and I am trying to find a good balance for all the software and journals/reports needed for business plans and this program looks brilliant. I'm very interested to see what the difference is for the end result.

            I'll have a trawl through and see what it's all about. There is a free trial which I will sign up for.

            Thanks for your suggestion, really helpful. I have seen a couple of online business plan platforms that clients have started to use, however they are more of a layout program, and don't look to be as sophisticated as this one.

            Very cool.
            I've used a couple of Maus products over the years.

            The MasterPlan...not sure if that is what it is called now...

            and a policy and procedures operational plan.

            The master plan I used was back in like the early nineties.

            Policies one was in the early to mid 2000's because I was trying to build a franchise model and wanted to have the components in place to franchise or exit the business at some point.

            In fact I must check back in and see how things have developed now that we have so many cloud based solutions available.

            I've always found that the dedication to planning does yield results but I do tend to sway from bouts of focussed planning to a more relaxed (lazy) commitment.

            The output from the various software was easy to edit and followed a good structure.

            I developed with help of a consultant back in the early 2000's a set of management tools using excel and I recently have reworked all those tools and added a few more like a "variable costs" management tool that helps manage the variable costs component of running a business.

            Now I combine those tools I developed with my modern accounting system and the planning tools to guide my business (one big business - but really many smaller businesses)

            You can see the early discussions where I explained a few of the "old" tools I developed, but now seriously more refined, in a thread by Jason Kanigan
            http://www.warriorforum.com/offline-...sses-fail.html

            Best regards,

            Ozi
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  • Profile picture of the author animal44
    When I started out in 2009, I had a business plan. Just two years later everything had totally changed... :-)
    I suggest that any business plan be simple and reviewed regularly... You need a pathway, but that pathway shouldn't be too rigid...
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    • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
      Originally Posted by animal44 View Post

      When I started out in 2009, I had a business plan. Just two years later everything had totally changed... :-)
      I suggest that any business plan be simple and reviewed regularly... You need a pathway, but that pathway shouldn't be too rigid...
      I agree with you. I started 3 years ago and if I knew then what I knew now... well, you get the idea. Things have changed and evolved so much and the business has exceeded by expectations. I think a plan which can be flexible enough to be re-visited every 6 to 12 months would be the key. It's been great getting everyone's ideas on this thread, I have a lot of planning and writing to do now.
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  • Profile picture of the author sdentrepreneur
    YES....I have been Full Time with Digital/Social Media Marketing for Business Owners. I do have a plan, the funny thing about it it...that it keeps evolving and changing. So pretty much every 12-18 Months, I make a plan and set goals but things change so fast.
    I'm in this for the long hail, not some Get Rich Quick Scheme!!!

    This years goal is less fulfillment and more high paid consulting. Meeting with companies Marketing Departments.

    Cheers
    James Hickey



    Originally Posted by gingerninjas View Post

    I've got my own business which I have been running for a few years - it is growing and evolving year on year. It's a boutique marketing agency.

    While I always stress to my clients that they should all have a business and marketing plan for their business, I must confess I don't have a business plan.

    Am I the only one that hasn't got one?

    I have been meaning to do one, however, I always put my client's needs ahead of my own... and it has dropped down on the 'should do' list.

    Interested to hear if you have one....
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    • Profile picture of the author savidge4
      Originally Posted by sdentrepreneur View Post

      YES....I have been Full Time with Digital/Social Media Marketing for Business Owners. I do have a plan, the funny thing about it it...that it keeps evolving and changing. So pretty much every 12-18 Months, I make a plan and set goals but things change so fast.
      I'm in this for the long hail, not some Get Rich Quick Scheme!!!

      This years goal is less fulfillment and more high paid consulting. Meeting with companies Marketing Departments.

      Cheers
      James Hickey
      I too have a business plan. and as you mention things change so fast that I actually re work my business plan usually 2 times a year. I have gotten wiser in my old age and segmented my plan by separating long term, short term, market experimenting, and oh geeze I started this and don't know where to put it.

      In general my long term numbers remain the same ( give or take ) short term items come and go, and the last 2 are ever changing. I find that it makes the process of "correction" a little less painful LOL
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  • Profile picture of the author aditit
    Don't forget to include your financing needs. This will provide you an idea about how the company, its markets and its strategies and departments will get their budget share and the respective profits.
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  • Profile picture of the author zanlee
    Dear
    You don't give to clear that it's online marketing agency or ofline marketing agency. If you will give clear to marketing process then many person will give you solution.
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  • Profile picture of the author programmingking
    When you say small business according to me plan never works but hard works and local marketing do. For small business you should concentrate only on local first if you are not doing freelancing business. For freelancing it does not matter whether its small or bigger
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