I love business planning. When done right, it’s a great awareness-generating exercise that helps you focus on what your next steps should be and articulates those monsters-under-the-bed that will inevitably nag at you down the road.
At the same time, I’ve seen many would-be entrepreneurs spend years writing a business plan that only intimidates them by the complexity of the business they’re building (on paper). It’s easy for the business plan to look like a million things have to come together at once – in only one way – for it to be successful.
When you get down to it, though, business building is more like stacking bricks on a wall than it is some type of money-rabbit-out-of-a-hat trick. One brick here, one brick there, an edge here, an edge there. Sometimes you think you’re building a mansion, and then you realize it’s a tiny house; other times, that thing you started out as a tiny house because a mansion. Stack, stack, reevaluate. Stack, stack, reevaluate.
That said, most of the things we need to do to start or grow our businesses don’t revolve around making our plan more fool-proof; they require getting out in the market and trying to sell our wares. What valuable offer have you put in front of prospects? How frequently have you done it? How do the “No’s” you’re accumulating stack up to the “I’d like to learn more’s” versus “I just bought’s.” How many of the people already buying your stuff are delighted by it rather than merely satisfied enough to not return it?
What can you do today to stack those bricks rather than conceptualize how the wall needs to look? What could you get done by the end of the week?
A sure time that you’ve done enough “business planning” is when you’ve overwhelmed yourself into inaction. Stop looking at your screen or a piece of paper and start talking to people.
p.s. Yes, you.
p.p.s. This is not encouragement to just shoot from the hip, either, unless you really don’t care where you end up.