Friday 24th November 2017
By Michelle Hammond
Many years ago, when I set up my first business as a spa consultant and business strategist: Spa Business DOCTOR, everyone told me that I needed a business plan. When I asked for advice and insights into what exactly should be included in a Business Plan I was overwhelmed with examples, links and recommended resources, most of which highlighted the need to produce what seemed like an extensive, cumbersome document - more like a thesis.
Now, I fully understood the importance of planning - being a military daughter of old, hearing phrases like ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ and ‘Planning and Preparation Prevent Poor Performance’ were part of everyday life for me - so, determined to succeed in my new venture I set about creating my ‘masterpiece’. Working tirelessly, I set about trying to find ways to put my vision on to paper. It wasn’t an easy task. In fact I’ll admit I found it rather harrowing; painful at times.
Naturally, like most new business start-ups I wanted to create a document which primarily made sense but also one which conveyed my vision and exposed my passion for bringing this vision to life. I wanted to ensure that everyone and anyone who read it, understood it and most importantly ‘bought in’ and believed in it too.
Of course, nearly twenty years on I think back and smile wistfully at my younger, slightly naive self. I realise now that I spent so long trying to make my business plan as detailed as possible; to be convincing, to look great, to conform, that I missed a critical point. As a result I can honestly say that from that day to this, I have never looked at it; it has never been a ‘working document’ for me.
That was my mistake, I misunderstood the primary objective. This business plan had to be MY plan. Not for the approval of anyone else and not simply an exercise to be undertaken at the beginning of my business; but a road-map to guide me throughout every single day of my business from then until now.
This is why when you produce a plan (and it is extremely important), for a new or existing venture, you must remember its primary purpose is to ‘work’ for you. This document needs to support your ambition - the intention you have for the brand - and help you expose the best and most appropriate way for you to deliver on your business goals and objectives including the milestones, whether small or large, that will help keep you on track.
I remember a few years back meeting Ms Shaa Wasmund, one of Britain’s most highly regarded digital entrepreneurs. Shaa has an incredible back story and is author of the fabulous book: Stop Talking, Start Doing. We got to discussing business plans and she told me that her business plans (and her ventures are noteworthy) have all been on one piece of paper. Realising that my plan didn’t need to conform, I adopted her principal of making it work for ‘me’ and have never looked back since.
Nowadays my business plans are developed on flip-chart paper and are my version of a ‘mind map’ with lots of key words, colours and pictures. I have two copies of our business plans for Spa Business School; I keep one on my office wall so as I can see it daily and the other is inside a presentation folder that I often take to meetings or use to present to our affiliates, associates and prospective partners. Of course these plans often change; not only do I add and amend, I sometimes delete items and once every quarter I renew and refresh them completely.
I find this more visual representation of our business plan so inspiring and it helps me focus my attention daily. It truly is a ‘working document’ for me and everyone in the team.
Do you have a business plan? Does it work for you? Is it a living breathing working document that keeps you in check and on track?
If you’d like to review or revise this plan or want to create a new working business plan which truly guides your business why not join us at our next Spa Business School Business Acceleration Programme.