As moms we may be the ones planning most of the family trips, but would you leave on a trip without any plan of what you are doing? Trying to run a business without a plan is like heading out on a trip without a map. You may get lucky and reach your destination without the map, but the odds are that you will take many more wrong turns and miss opportunities for enjoyable sights along the way. A journey has a much greater chance of success when you take the time to look at a map and plan the most effective way to get to your destination. For example, the direct route may be on roads with stoplights and speed limits of 35, but another route may be less direct and along interstates, so it gets you there quicker and easier. If you have never used a map, can you imagine a trip without putting it into your map app? The apps automatically calculate the best way and save a lot of planning time. As an added bonus, the apps can calculate current traffic conditions and adjust the route accordingly.
When we start a business, we can choose to set out without a plan and see where the business heads on its own, we can set a plan based on our understanding of conditions or enlist experts to draft a plan for us.
Does a stay-at-home mom Need a Business Plan for a small home business?
Unfortunately, many moms starting businesses at home don’t think they need to bother with the plan. Many mompreneurs consider that they are starting a small side hustle and just trying to see how they can earn a little extra income, so they don’t think it is important to make a plan. Or, maybe they started a business because they had a craft or skill they could monetize, but they don’t feel comfortable with the more formal, business-sounding aspects. However, a business plan benefits all business owners and makes their trip to success much more likely.
How can a business plan help your business be more successful?
According to Investopedia, most businesses fail for the following reasons:
lack of funding
ineffective business planning
If you think about it, all 4 reasons can be avoided with the business plan. Many moms starting businesses as a side hustle suffer the same issues, but they don’t realize that they can avoid these failings with a well-thought-out plan.
A business plan is a useful tool that can help in multiple ways. If done correctly, it can help you secure funding for starting a business or help you create a plan that eliminates the need for external funding. It also helps you protect your business from marketing mishaps by making you think about the strengths and weaknesses of your business. This way, you can make your business profitable and robust. A well-executed plan demonstrates effective management skills and identifies the areas of improvement if there is a team involved.
Of course, there are always unexpected turns that hardly anyone plans for, like global pandemics, but having a routine for planning will help make companies more agile. It should help create sturdier businesses that can weather the storms.
As a mompreneur, you may feel that creating a business plan is a waste of time. However, a business plan is only a waste of time if you fail to use it to guide your daily decisions and never review it. In reality, a business plan is a powerful tool for your business's growth. It compels you to think about how you will operate and where to place your efforts. By developing a realistic vision of what you can accomplish with your business and what areas you want to focus on, you can improve your chances of success. Furthermore, a business plan helps you to consider how you will meet your goals. Overall, creating a business plan is a crucial step in building a successful business.
What should you put in your business plan?
At the most basic level, you want to answer some fundamental questions about your business.
Peter Drucker suggested in his book “The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization” (affiliate link) to focus on reflecting on these 5 questions:
What is our mission?
Who is our customer?
What does the customer value?
What are our results?
What is our plan?
According to Drucker, the point of these questions was for self-reflection to guide action and it helps you to focus on the most critical topics. His questions and book are simple and easy to comprehend.
More recently Patrick Lencioni argues in “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business” (affiliate link) that the most successful organizations routinely reflect and plan, and he refers to a business plan as a playbook that answers the following 6 questions:
Why do we exist?
How will we succeed?
How do we behave?
What is most important, right now?
What do we do?
Who must do what?
If you have not developed a business plan yet, I urge you to start with one of the books above and their simple but profound questions or try one of the many free templates on the internet. In particular, SCORE, SBDC and Hubspot offer useful templates. If this is your first time, and you are not seeking outside funding, try one of the ‘start-up’ templates.
Creating a business plan can be time-consuming, but consider the time and money you could save as it helps you see what is and is not working or uncover more efficient ways to deliver your products and services. Some services offer quick and easy business plans, but I would not recommend saving time this way because the magic of the business plan is a result of the reflection process. If you need one for investor funding, you probably want to work with a professional coach or accountant to help you develop a detailed plan, but make sure you spend some of the time in deep work.
I recommend every business start with a plan before opening its doors. In my “From Idea to Open” program, I walk mompreneurs through creating a business plan for new business owners so that they will have a clear picture of how they can make a profit and spend their time effectively. It will save you many wasted hours, and it is more likely to help lead you to a more successful path.
Schedule a free strategy session to identify your top three areas of focus for your business plan.
“The 4 Most Common Reasons a Small Business Fails.” Investopedia, 2023, www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/120815/4-most-common-reasons-small-business-fails.asp. Accessed 30 Dec. 2023.