At what point is it safe to grow a business?
I’ve been up and running for about six months and have got a steady flow of sales and one staff member. I know, though, that to grow further I’ll need to expand, take on more people, etc.
How can I time this so I don’t overextend the business and sink it?
I have had over a week to ponder your question – and the answer I keep coming back to is one that is a boring, boring, boring answer. It is those two words every start-up entrepreneur hears and reads over and over again.
We know it, but do we do it? The necessary evil we all wish we could avoid.
Kind of like knowing you have to fill out one of those stupid “International Arrivals” questionnaire cards for Australian Customs and Quarantine if you want to get back into the country and, as much as you are tempted, you know that sarcastic answers aren’t going to cut it.
What are those two words I am talking about?
Let me spell it out: B U S I N E S S P L A N
As boring as the thought is of dragging yourself away from the daily excitement that is your start-up business, the answer to your question needs to come from your business plan.
I often get asked what a good business plan should contain, and I always say the same thing, no matter what the industry.
A business plan needs to:
- Be yours. It needs to be written by you, for you. Sure, get help. But don’t have someone else write it.
- Be honest. You aren’t writing the next script for Wall Street 3. The only person it needs to be written for is you.
- Be realistic. This isn’t a wish list to Santa. It is what you realistically believe.
- Be researched. The litmus test I always use when analysing a business plan is: “Based on what?” How did you come up with that?
- Be fun to do. If your plan doesn’t sound like fun, you won’t do it. Simple. You will do what is more fun instead. So make sure you plan is fun also.
The irony of most business plans is that, once written, they usually end up giving the bottom drawer of your desk a purpose, but do little else.
Write it. Read it. Use it. Adapt it. Read it again. Keep using it. Keep reading it. Keep adapting it. And so the cycle goes.
So the answer, my friend, isn’t blowing in the wind – it is in your business plan. Get it done and all will become clear!