Planing as a Mirror
Has anyone noticed this really fascinating fact?
When it comes to a building project, the thing you “think” about first (in this case a finished house) is actually the last thing you see. In other words, the planning process is the exact mirror image of the execution process.The implication of this fact is mind boggling, because what it implies is that if you haven’t thought through the project thoroughly, your execution will not be thorough. Since your execution exactly mirrors your planning, scant planning will ALWAYS lead to scant execution.You see, like me, many people know what they want to do, they may have even done it once or many times and enjoyed doing it each time, but have not thought carefully about it beyond the interaction stage.
The Need for a Detailed Plan
Now, if you read in the news that a building had recently collapsed and investigations revealed that the engineer in charge of the project had in fact built it without a plan, and that the said engineer has been arrested and would likely be going to jail for a very very long time; I am sure we will all agree that it “Serves him right!!”Nobody will argue that a detailed plan is needed for building a house, indeed, we would call anyone who tries to build without a detailed plan, “irresponsible”; but very few will be as worried about someone trying to build a business without a detailed plan.
Business Plan- Not an Obstacle
Sadly, the reality is that there are many people who “pretend” to start a business without a detailed plan, and then those who even attempt to use one they have downloaded from the internet (that is what I did, a decision I regret.) I am not saying it is bad to work with a template, however, my experience of working with entrepreneurs has shown me that many of them see the business plan as an obstacle to be overcome, a necessary evil that they would readily outsource to someone else; rather than as “the essential road map” to their objectives as articulated by the framework of fundamental principles.
If you think about it, nobody plans to build a house that would last for only a year or even 10 years. When you plan to build a house, you want one that would last for several decades and if possible centuries, and so all your planning would go into ensuring that, not only is the house beautiful, but it is BUILT TO LAST, something that you can pass on to your children and even them to their children.
Business Plan Start Point
This is the EXACT same thought that MUST go into BUILDING A BUSINESS; and just as you need a detailed plan to build a house that lasts, you need a very detailed plan to build a business that lasts.
A Business plan MUST start with decisions on the following:
1. How much do I really want to make? Be specific! e.g. I want to make N100 million or N50 million
2. Over what period of time do I intend to make it? Again, be specific! “I want to make N100 million over a period of 60 months.
Once you decide on how much you want to make, you can now start to ask,
3. What must I do to get this N100 million in 60 months?
It is at this point, that you start to realistically appraise, Exactly what it is you intend to offer to your future clients in exchange for their money, How many people you need to offer it to, and at what price, where will you find them, how will you find them etc.
Remember, you want to make N100 million in 60 months, so you have to keep asking, “Can what I am doing now, the way I am doing it, give me what I really want?”
It is at this point that things start to get interesting.
To be continued…
Written by Olamide Bode Falase