Take off your pants
This post was inspired by ‘Take Off Your Pants! By Libbie Hawker. It is a book for novelists about how to outline books for faster, better writing rather than flying by the seat of your pants. Put very simply a story outline has three legs:
- Character arc
On that base then stands the story core
- A character
- What the character wants
- What is stopping it happen
- The struggle
- Success or failure
If you want to be a business consultant (see previous post) just think of a model that balances 5 columns of business success on the three-legged stool of solid business structure. 😊
When it comes to running a business, many people fly by the seat of their pants, which is often the wrong approach to take. It’s best to ditch the pants and replace them with sensible, effective plans. I embrace the philosophy; however, I will be keeping my pants on as they are branded and part of my marketing strategy, although I’m not adverse to dropping my shorts.
Business plans have a bit of a bad reputation, mainly because people think of the monolithic things produced for banks when applying for a loan or the even more gargantuan plans designed to see the Soviet States through an epoch. Turning to our friend Google doesn’t help either. I found something that looked promising; quite early on the website said “Keep the plan short – cut out any waffle” I then had to wade through loads of guff with 9 main section headings, each with 5 or 6 sub-headings and 5 or 6 sub-sub-headings. No! No! No!
Business plans should be exciting, lithe, dynamic, even sexy. They are the secret to achieving your awesome business dreams, they are catnip. Ignore what Wikipedia says “A business plan is a formal written document containing business goals, the methods on how these goals can be attained, and the time frame within which these goals need to be achieved. It also describes the nature of the business, background information on the organization, the organization’s financial projections, and the strategies it intends to implement to achieve the stated targets. In its entirety, this document serves as a road map that provides direction to the business”. Road map – No! No! No! We are heading for the stars.
Just in case you are still not convinced, this is the sort of things you will find out there “Simplify the Business Planning Process with Our Easy to Follow Step by Step Guide. Customise a Business Plan to Impress Your Stakeholders, Lenders and Investors Now”. You don’t want to impress your stakeholders, lenders, and investors now with a fancy document you want to stun everyone soon with your awesome business success.
You need a clear vision; start with the end and slap that on a big piece of paper, far right. You might need to spread a few bits on the floor and join them up. Then pop off and do a bit of research (nothing to heavy) into things like PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, customer personas, the business canvas, Agile project methodology (don’t dive too deep – an oblique reference to the Cornwall event Agile on the Beach) before coming back armed with loads of post-it notes (plenty of different colours) and lots of coloured pens. You can then slap post-its all over the place until you have worked out how to get where you want to go. It will be a messy process and things will change a lot before the masterplan (which is only an outline guide) emerges. Pick it up and pin it on the wall and do the work. Refer to the plan often, change it when necessary, that should only be because you have come up with something better, not because you have not done the work.
You will then be dancing to the sweet music of success not plodding along to a dirge.
Ok, I’ll admit you will have to do a bit work to derive some solid financial data from your Picasso plan; however, that too can be fun (honest). There are some awesome spreadsheet templates available and, if you want to move from excited to drooling, just look at the fancy graphs and charts that come with some of the business planning software now available, for example Futrli.
One final thought: