In this series of articles, I am exploring the opportunities available to SMEs following the worst of the COVID-19 crisis, or indeed any crisis.
This week’s opportunity is taking the time now to rethink your personal and business goals. Why are you doing what you are doing? What have you learned during the current crisis about what is important to you? What is your vision for the next five years?
Setting goals is the beginning of planning – we fail to plan; we plan to fail.
Yet the reality is that many small businesses do not plan – why is that? What are the challenges associated with planning?
Lack of time, inexperience, lack of confidence and ‘what’s the point’ are four of the more common planning challenges.
Most people who plan set up a system for planning – something that works for them. Obviously, this can take a little time but, once set up, an effective planning system will save you time and, therefore, money! A simple but effective planning system should make life easier and, above all, should help you be proactive when it comes to making decisions. An hour a week spent planning your business will easily be time well spent but it will require some personal discipline to keep it going. Having access to someone as a business mentor or coach can be useful here. Now, when business is slack, you have time to do this. Try and make the most of it.
Many people see planning as a daunting, complicated task that ‘I am no good at and I won’t enjoy anyway!’ Yet planning is something we all do – we plan to plant crops, we plan to travel, we plan the future of our children, we plan to build a house. Planning your business is no different. If you are fortunate enough to have done a diploma or business qualification you will have certainly learned about business planning. However, the problem with many business plans is that they are over complicated and with no obvious practical end use. The process is often too remote from what the business is all about. Confidence comes with practice! Stop worrying about what others will think! Start with a blank sheet of paper headed ‘my plan’ and begin to write down everything you know about your business or business idea. If you get stuck ask a friend to help! Keep your focus on why you are in business at all. Ideas will soon flow and that is the beginning of your plan!
The fourth planning challenge I want to look at briefly is the “what’s the point” attitude. At the moment some people might be asking themselves: ‘Why bother – I just get myself organised and something comes along that I have no control over’. Yes, there are many things that could affect your businesses that are out of your control – however try not to use this as an excuse for not planning. The reality is that the better planned you are before a crisis or emergency, the more likely you are to survive it!
There is one other challenge to consider and that is the challenge of boredom! Many people want action – planning is often seen as too passive – action is exciting!! However unplanned action can often be short-lived, expensive, and damaging in the long term. Excitement is important – action keeps us going!! Your goal must be for planned action – plan it, do it, review it, re-plan, and more action. It becomes a productive cycle of actions that work because they have been thought through in advance.
The more your planning produces lasting results the more you will do it and the better you will become at it. Another way of removing boredom is to plan with others – create a small team, have planning activities, share ideas, have fun, be social, be outrageous!!
Now is the time to rethink your own goals, take charge of your own lives, make your own decisions, create your own luck. If you allow other people or other circumstances to set the agenda and dictate the outcome, then you are highly unlikely to get what you want.
When I ask people why they go into business the answer is usually something like ‘to be my own boss; ‘I am fed up working for other people. I want to benefit from my own efforts’; ‘do something for my family’. Yet if we do not plan, we might as well work for someone else!
Next week’s opportunity is taking the time now to consider new products or services that you could provide.
What do people need that you could provide? What can you do with more technology? What does tourism look like when there are few or no international visitors? What can you grow that you have not grown before? What skills or knowledge are you not really using?
Please contact me with your own experiences and comments and with any specific questions you would like me to deal with in future articles.
Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis. As a registered Business Advice Service Provider with the Business Link Pacific programme Breadfruit Consulting can offer eligible businesses up 100% fee subsidy. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com