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Tax tips & pits: Planning for success
Entrepreneurs succeeding with their business enterprise are taken by surprise when their business implodes and fails.
Really, you ask? Surprisingly enough, more often than you would think.
When I hear things like, “My business is going so well I don’t need to take a look at what’s happening. Have you seen my sales!?!” I am pleased and astonished – pleased, because I pull for all entrepreneurs ... astonished, by such short sightedness.
History is no guarantee for the future. Just because things are going well today, doesn’t mean it will continue.
Conversely, a struggling business doesn’t have to be destined for failure. Didn’t I just say the future is not necessarily a reflection of the past? I also hear, “What can I do to fix my business?”
So, how to move forward?
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” is a truism in business. Ironically “truism” is defined as knowledge that is so commonplace it is often ignored or even perceived as meaningless.
Well, is it?
Industry Canada’s 2009 statistics indicate that 96 percent of small businesses survive a year, 85 percent survive for three years and 70 percent survive for five years. In other words, if the life of entrepreneurship is what you choose, shouldn’t you do things to increase the odds of success?
Whether you operate a new venture, an established enterprise or a fledgling business, my suggestion is to have a business plan, and if by chance you don’t have one, develop one today.
A business plan is the invaluable roadmap for launching, managing and growing your business. And like all goals in life – even the daily “to-do” list – by writing things down, your commitment is clear and therefore the odds of completion are increased. So put pen to paper as you develop your business plan.
Putting a business plan together requires research, and honesty. Google, talk and question everything. Identify strengths and weaknesses of the business, and yourself. Define opportunities and threats within the marketplace and the economy in general.
Given the research, the business plan defines three key strategies: the marketing plan (product, price, promotion, unique selling proposition, competition); the operations plan (people, production, equipment, facilities); and, the finance plan (three to five year projection).
Its actual complexity is not what it might appear when the process is taken step by step.
Lots of on-line tools are available and there is the option of working with a local professional, especially on the numbers front.
If you do retain someone’s services, be open-minded but remember this is your venture so maintain ownership of your vision.
The completion of the business plan is only the beginning. It has to be put into action, evaluated, and adjusted; then, once again, implemented, measured and changed. In actual fact, the term business plan is a bit of a misnomer.
What in fact you develop is business planning – an on-going iterative process – that maps your business venture, or is that your adventure?