Business Planning: You Wouldn’t Pack Your Bags Before You Knew Where You Were Going

Woohoo.  You’ve packed your bags and you’re ready to head off on that overseas trip of a lifetime.  You’ve got your passport and travel money ready.

Tomorrow you’ll head down to the airport and see if you can get on a plane that will take you to some place you’ll really like.  You haven’t really decided where you want to go, but that’s no big deal – wherever you end up is sure to be fun, and anyway you’ve got enough money to go somewhere else, or to get a ticket home.

Sound familiar?  Of course not.

Packing your bags might be the first practical step in going on a trip, but we all know that it certainly doesn’t start there.

Much planning and organisation goes into an overseas trip to ensure you get to see and do the things you want to.

First you decide where you’ll go.  You look at your options, talk to travel consultants, and do your research.  You imagine yourself in the places in the brochures.

You work out the places you’ll visit, what you’ll see and do, how long you’ll spend in each place, and how you’ll get from one place to another.

You make up a checklist of all the things you need to do to get ready, and then you do them:  book your flights, accommodation and tours; organise passports and visas; arrange travel insurance and travel money; get your shots; buy your travel gear; buy guide books; and learn about the culture and language of the countries you’ll visit.

And it’s all fun isn’t it!  It’s all part of the journey.

“What’s any of this got to do with business planning?” I hear you ask.

Well, in my view planning for your business should be like planning a holiday.  But not just any holiday – the trip of a lifetime.  And it should be fun, not some long, drawn out, complicated, academic process.

Start by imagining where you want to go – a place where your business is exactly how you want it to be.  Imagine it in detail – your customers, turnover and profit, products and services, prices, number of outlets, premises, staff, and what your role will be, the hours you’ll be working (and the time you’ll have to travel!).  This becomes your destination. .  (Your business coach can be your travel consultant!)

Then establish where you are now, and what you need to do to get to where you want to be.  The things you need to do become the strategies that go into your business plan.

I find that in practice many business owners start fiddling with their businesses before they’ve determined their destination: chasing more customers; changing their products and services, their prices, their marketing, their overheads, their staffing, or their premises; or taking on more roles in the business themselves.

You have to wonder – would they jump in and pack their bags for a trip before they knew where they were going?

Contributed by Neil McVicar of Small Fish Business Coaching.

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