With the downturn in the economy since mid-2008, I have found that I am speaking with clients much more about fundamental issues of business planning and logistics at levels they hadn’t considered or really expected from “the computer guy.” These are important issues, though, and need to be considered. Attending a basic presentation by a local chapter of SCORE was a watershed moment for me, many years ago, as was my first business plan.
We Do Not Plan to Fail, but Fail to Plan
The idea of creating a business plan can be intimidating, and I find that many organizations either don’t have a plan, have not reviewed it lately, or are too intimidated to get a plan together. With this in mind, I have recently taken to using a fairly simple structure to help clients and others think more clearly about larger issues: the simplest of simpleton tools, “the power-point.” For some reason, people are buoyed by the friendly and forgiving structure of a slide show, and this is a simple way to begin considering and capturing a few ideas. With Google docs and online sharing, it is relatively easy to do so, and the product is easily shared with staff and employees.
To feed two birds from one hand, I embed an example below: one I use with my clients to begin the planning process.
Tactics Change and Vary with Terrain
Any realistic and useful business plan is a living document, and all should be evaluated every few years. My own business plan for MacRory.com has changed dramatically over the years as the general economy, infrastructure and technology have changed. This is natural and to be expected. In the mortal words of business guru Mike Tyson, “everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face.”
It is important to have a plan, to know that plan, and to adjust it. It is also important to know that it was just a plan and that things can change. Know that whatever plan you develop (including supporting documents such as financial data, policies and operations) should and will change. Clients die, structures change, credit dries up and worse. Plan on it.
For Further Information
- SCORE, the Senior Council of Retired Executives, has offices in Vancouver and Portland
- Wikipedia has articles on business plans, including marketing plans and other content
- Jay Conrad Levinson’s take on guerilla marketing has been useful for my clients, as has Marketing without Advertising from Nolo
- Michael Gerber’s 1995 book The E-Myth Revisited changed my views on operations
- Please consider contacting MacRory.com at (360) 666-7679, either for general help on business planning or understanding where technology might fit into broader business needs