Creating Your Business Plan and Planning Your Business Systems

Hmmm… to plan or not to plan? Should a small business even have a formal, documented business plan? And what about business systems? Are they really necessary?

Yes!

Yes, your small business needs a business plan and business systems. If you want to know where your business is going and how it’s going to get there, you need to have both of these in place and be monitoring them closely.

Dan Kennedy, a well-known business and marketing expert, wrote this in his book, No B.S. Business Success, in a section entitled, Don’t Let Your Business Own You:

“It’s ironic that in order to get what you really want from owning your own business – wealth, security, freedom, for example – you must do the most unnatural, difficult thing for an entrepreneur, you must systematically reduce the dependency of the business on you.” He continues with, “Don’t overlook this. This is the secret to becoming financially independent through entrepreneurship.”

Not only is it the secret to becoming financially independent, but also to having enough time to take vacations and to spend time with your family – becoming time independent. Your business can become sustainable without shackling you, the owner, to the business.

A business plan helps you achieve greater levels of success and independence that can elude many small business owners today. How formal it should be is entirely up to you and your vision for the business. I recommend starting with at least a basic business plan and basic systems and then evaluating and improving from there.

If you already have a business plan and it’s working well for you, great! You only need to check in with it several times a year to make sure things are on track. There’s no need to break what’s working. But keep reading, because you might find renewed energy to continue working on your plan.

Your business plan will not develop overnight. Like with just about anything worthwhile, your plan is going to take some time and careful thought. And it’s not something you can easily delegate to a subordinate. As the leader of your business, you have to really believe in and own your plan, or you won’t have the continued motivation you need to see it through to fruition.

So how and when do you start? Start now! If you need a business plan template, you’ll find many online or feel free to use the one I share with my clients.

Planning Your Business Systems

Systems are a natural part of doing business. Every business has them, whether they are deliberate, planned and documented systems, or unplanned default systems that occur naturally while trying to achieve a desired outcome.

In lieu of actually planning your business systems you will end up with default systems that may or may not be good for you or your business.

In No B.S. Business Success, Dan Kennedy also tells an old joke, where a government bureaucrat descends on a small business owner:

“The bureaucrat says, ‘We’ve received a report that you have some poor fellow working here 18-hour days, seven days a week, for nothing but room, board, meals, all the tobacco he can smoke, and all the liquor he can drink. Is that true?’ ‘Yes, I’m afraid it is,’ admits the owner.  ‘And I’m sad to say, you’re looking at him.’”

18-hour days? Are you kidding me? This poor guy obviously didn’t have good business systems. This joke has been around for a while so it’s safe to assume that at the time of its writing, technology was not as advanced as it is today. Today many business systems can be computerized and automated. Thank goodness!

More and more businesses are turning to these automated business systems to help run and optimize various aspects of the business, with the goal of reduced costs and increased profits. Small businesses especially find that business automation helps reduce costs of operation, reduce operating errors, increase their customer base and make more money. Customer satisfaction is typically higher as well, mostly due to the consistent positive customer service experience that automation creates.

When planning to use automated systems, you’ll want to review each of your individual business processes carefully to make sure it makes sense to attempt to automate them. First and foremost, is it a good process? You don’t want to automate bad processes that really aren’t working for you or your customers.

Business automation, if done well, generally leads to a higher rate of conversions of leads to clients, and increased repeat sales. Leads and customers don’t get lost. Costs go down despite the fact that the business is growing.

Best of all, there are far fewer problems that the boss needs to step in and fix. In fact, small business owners who automate their business systems find more time for their personal lives and families.

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