Fail to plan, plan to fail…

Posted: 4th August 2014

… essential planning and research needed to build up a successful, newly fledged business.

The biggest causes of failure for start-up businesses are: setting your sights too high, not researching your market adequately, hiring the wrong staff and not putting aside enough funds for contingency plans. Therefore it is important to keep your eye on these potential pitfalls. Says Pavlenka Small from Small Steps Coaching

A good starting point is to have a clearly defined plan of what your business is all about and what you need to do to ‘make it all happen!’ Sounds pretty obvious, but many new start-ups don’t consider devising a detailed plan to be necessary. Even if you don’t need to secure funds to develop your business idea, it is a really worthwhile exercise to write a plan as it allows you to focus on all the areas you will need to consider, in order to make your business idea a viable concern.

Begin the process by having a clear idea of what your business vision is about; the basics of what you are selling/offering, to whom? Where? Why? When? and how?

Decide on when you want to be in operation by- this allows you to develop a timeline of activities to be completed by your opening or start up date. This will be a draft that will need to be constantly evaluated as developments and setbacks dictate. You may, for example, find you are held back by delayed planning permission being granted or a later than anticipated delivery of supplies and furniture.

Before you start to write a business plan, consider these questions which can help you formulate what you need to consider and include in your plan.

  • Does your idea suit your personality and will your idea work for you?
  • What do you want to get out of your business; personally, professionally and financially?
  • Can it succeed in the current marketplace?
  • Is there sufficient demand for your product/services?
  • Do YOU have the necessary skills and expertise?
  • Does your business concept rely on your abilities and prior knowledge or will you need to ‘buy in’ experts?
  • Do you have the time commitment, energy, drive and support to put things into practice?
  • Do you have the necessary contacts to help you start your business?
  • Have you taken into account the resources you will need in terms of money, equipment, staff and premises?
  • What competition will you face?
  • Will you be able to make a profit? If so when?
  • Will your prices suit the current/new marketplace?

This list is a starting point before writing your business plan and is by no means definitive as different types of business will require different considerations. However it is a good way of making sure you have explored all the necessary avenues before embarking on your new business.

Those new start-up businesses I mentor and coach have found this approach to be truly worthwhile whereby we explore all aspects of each bullet point and try to leave ‘no stone unturned.’ It may seem pretty daunting, but taken a step at a time, it is actually quite manageable and more importantly, you will feel a certain amount of control.

In the words of one Lester Robert Bittel:-‘Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why planning helps make elusive dreams come true.’

(Extract modified from Pavlenka’s book:- ‘From Dream To Reality- 7 steps to setting up a small business.’