- Writing a business plan is truly difficult but using it is even harder. If you have a clear-cut business plan it doesn't mean that you have to stick to it.
- Successful entrepreneurs keep changing and adjusting their business plan day to day based on their goals and principles.
- There are practices you can follow as a business owner to get the best out of your initial business plan. Read to find out what they are.
In the last blog, we talked about 5 Things to Do After You Make Your Business Plan. But this isn’t enough. Anyone can write a plan. Anyone can follow a plan. The real magic happens when you learn and adapt quickly. There is little value in following a plan for 12 months that isn’t working. Your plan should and will change weekly--perhaps even every day. Here are the 5 key elements to ensure that your plan works for you and not the other way around.
Connect With Your Genius
We are all great at something. We all suck at other things. Too many of us continue to struggle with the things that trip us up. We work too little on the things we are a genius at. We often struggle to take a step back. Without understanding the big picture, we are unable to think critically about the balance of what we are doing against what needs to be done. What habits can you develop to fully utilize your genius? How can you incorporate your genius into what you’re already doing? The idea is simple. Yet, most people fail to grasp the nature of their genius and implement it effectively. Identify your 4 areas of competency:
- Unconscious incompetence
- Conscious incompetence
- Conscious competence
- Unconscious competence
Once you understand these four concepts, the next step is to identify your daily tasks and figure out where they fit into each category. Work on a plan that will allow you to spend more time on tasks that utilize your competence. Minimize the time you spend on areas of incompetence. Remember, there is no shame in being incompetent. By recognising your strengths and weaknesses, you are able to allocate the right time and resources to the right tasks.
Set Effective Goals
An effective goal is one that is measurable. Your time is a precious commodity that must be used wisely. We talked before about testing and measuring your results. What process have you put in place to analyze what you’ve done so far? What are your S.M.A.R.T. goals that you want to achieve? Learning to evaluate and measure your goals is a skill that takes practice. Before you can do anything, you need to make sure that your goals are realistic, achievable, and measurable.
Once you are satisfied with the goals you have created for yourself, you need to find a way to regularly measure your progress towards those goals and the impact they are having on your business overall. You have many options to help track the headway you’ve made. Whether you prefer old-fashioned pen and paper, or you want to explore smartphone applications, choose one that helps you keep all your information in one place. It will help you see the big picture.
Identify Your Key Habits
Highly effective people tend to do the same things again and again. You know the story about Steve Jobs wearing black every day so that he had one less decision to make in the morning. Having goals is crucial, but your habits and rituals will help you realize your goals. When evaluating your habits, each of them will fall into one of three categories: start, stop or keep.
What habit do you want to start to help you make progress towards achieving your goal? Which habit is detrimental to your success that needs to be eliminated? Which habit of yours do you find to be successful that you should keep? You should be able to think critically about your habits. Have an honest conversation with yourself. Getting into new habits is almost as hard as breaking an old one. Identify which of your routines is bringing you closer to achieving your goals and which are holding you back.
Watch Out for Common Problems
Common problems are exactly what they say they are. Things that come up often. Too often. They arise so frequently you can no longer claim them to be a coincidence. These problems should demand your attention. You must fix them before you move forward. Otherwise, they will continue to make you suffer and will distract you from focusing on more important issues.
These problems will be unique to you in some ways but commonplace in others. If you are having a particular issue, it’s likely that someone else has struggled with the same thing and found a solution. Effectively identifying problems and patterns is one of the keys to rapid growth. Find a common problem, solve it, and move on to the next one.
There will always be problems in business. That’s why it’s business: people pay you to solve a problem. The better you get at addressing them, the more successful you’ll be. If you find yourself handling the same problems over and over again, you need to find a way to fix them permanently.
Embrace Your Many Roles
Entrepreneurs and small business owners all have one big problem in common: there is no one there to hold them accountable. Being your own boss means not having anyone to ensure you’re making progress on your goals and following your plans. When you go into business for yourself, you are now a combination of 3 distinctly different people:
- The Entrepreneur - the one with the vision, ideas, schemes and inspiration for the business. Without the entrepreneur, there is no business.
- The Manager - the one who sets the priorities, goals, budgets, forecasts, and ensures that the business is heading in the right direction. Without the manager, there is no business.
- The Worker - the doer, maker, expert, consultant. The one that makes the work actually happen, answers emails, pays the bills and keeps everything moving forward. Without the worker, you guessed it, there is no business.
All three roles think, assume and act like they are the crucial factor in the business’ success and failure. The reality is that the true magic happens when they find the sweet spot in the middle and ALL three work in harmony. However, the manager is often the one we ignore, bully, or disregard. We might refuse to implement the manager’s systems and advice.
He’s just not cool. He’s the one you didn’t like at your last job. He’s the killjoy. He’s all about rules and regulations, deadlines, and necessary evils. You wish he’d just go away! And yet, he is your accountability. Accountability is the manager within you that keeps you on the path to success.
You're Good to Go
You’ve got your business plan written. You’ve taken steps to make sure you stay on top of it. You agonize over details and make changes constantly. Now that you’re making progress, you need to make sure that you stay accountable to your plan. It’s easy to get distracted when problems arise. You might discover that you aren’t utilizing your talent effectively.
Despite knowing about this disparity, if you aren’t actively taking steps to correct it, you aren’t being accountable. If you struggle with accountability, consider joining a Mastermind group. A good group will help you address all of these issues and give you advice when you need it most. The group will hold you accountable and will advise you on all of the topics we’ve mentioned. If you aren’t accountable, you are doomed to fail.
Is there a tip that YOU find particularly helpful in running a business?