When you’re in business for yourself, unless you have a clear plan it can be so easy to change from one idea to the next … from one ‘shiny object’ or latest money-making-winner to the next. In doing so, you might get lucky. But more than likely, this lack of focus will hold you back and prevent you from earning the profits, recognition and reputation a more focused approach could achieve.
There will always be opportunities presented along the way. Some are good, others not so good. But either way, you’re likely to hold yourself back if you are darting all over the place in one direction, then another.
This is one reason why a business plan is so important. Depending on your business, it may not be necessary for you to have a 100 page, fully formatted professional business plan. Even just a pile of hand-written notes or a Word document on your computer may be enough.
The main thing is that you’re giving your business plenty of thought, thinking about your overall aim. What is the purpose of your business? What do you want to achieve? Where do you see your business, and yourself, in 5 years time?
All of these factors will determine how you act on a day-to-day basis.
Once you’re clear of the Big Picture of your business – and your life – it’s much easier to decide which opportunities you should take up along the way and which ones you can bypass.
Of course, due diligence is also required. But let’s say you are offered a brilliant discount on advertising at a local event. It will cost you $800, but most others are paying $5,000 for this same promotional opportunity. After ensuring that everything is above-board and it fits with your budget, your next questions should be, “Does this fit with my overall goals? Will it help me achieve my ‘Big Picture’. If the answer is ‘no’ then it’s probably not an opportunity you need to accept.
Remember also that a plan is not set in stone. Most likely, you’ll change your mind and get new ideas along the way. Or perhaps you’ll need to adjust your plan based on changing economics, technology or consumer trends. That’s okay too. But as long as you have a clear goal, you can focus your actions on doing what will bring you closer to those goals rather than distracting you and leading you in every other direction.