Have you ever felt the pain and anxiety of waiting for docs to open on your computer because you just had to write something out? That fear of waiting for the computer to turn on and load would lead to forgetting some portion of what you wanted to write? Maybe it’s just me, sitting here watching the computer load for what seemed like an eternity. What’s so important that I felt the absolute need to get it out? My business plan.
But before I get into that, I want to tell you what brought this feeling up. The other day, I attempted to play Halo with my son. I say attempted because I was raised during the time that gaming systems were thought to make children complacent and lazy. And I certainly was not allowed to have one. So, I did what every child who wanted a gaming system who wasn’t allowed to did, I visited friends that had one and played on theirs. Unfortunately, I lived in a very small town and there weren’t a lot of children my age. Needless to say, I am not a gamer.
In my attempted to play with my son, he taught me how to get into vehicles and how to operate them, but I had one glaring setback. I didn’t know what the buttons on the controller did, what they were called, or where they were. I spent most of my time looking at the sky or the ground while trying to move myself forward.
Once I started to figure it out, he traversed ahead of me, telling me to follow him and I followed the little arrow designating his character until I simply couldn’t any more. My character wouldn’t move and I couldn’t figure out why.
I couldn’t move because I was facing a wall, but I didn’t realize I was facing a wall. I was looking ahead to get to him and not looking at where I was going. Now you may be asking, how does this relate to my business plan? Because I haven’t updated my business plan in over a year. I know I need to, I know I should, but I haven’t done it yet.
I talk about business plans with clients, and the importance of writing one. I compare it to a road map, you know your starting point and your destination, and over short distances, you can get away without planning too much if at all. But longer trips, that takes planning. Several years ago, my husband and I took our first big road trip. We decided on a whim to drive west to see the Rocky Mountains. We knew we wanted to drive and figured it would be fun to camp along the way. In that journey, we had to plan. Where were we going to stay? How long could we drive at a time? How long would we go on this journey? How much should we budget? In that plan, we researched, discussed, and prepared for our journey.
Not long after this trip, I wrote my first business plan and I found the similarities striking. I was setting forth a plan for the business I was going to create. It was fun and exciting, thinking of the business I wanted to start and why. I enjoyed some of the research I did and created handwritten notes to keep myself on track. But then it became real, and fear started to set in. As I typed, I realized that my business plan didn’t really look like a business plan, more of thoughts typed into a computer and thus easier to organize, but not a true business plan that I could take to a bank for funding.
I sought out assistance from SCORE and SBDC to assist with different parts of the plan, specifically the financial portion which I knew would be the weight of the plan and the determining factor of whether or not this was a viable business. One year later, I sat down to revise the business plan to plot out the future of my business, and at that time, not a lot had changed. My goals at startup had not yet been met, but I was still trying. As the year progressed, I decided to change services offered and how the rate plans were organized based on what I was hearing from clients and business owners. While this was well received, I did not update my business plan. And here I am a year later, with handwritten notes and figures, fearing to type it all out again.
My business plan is my wall. I know where I want to go and am figuring out what buttons do what and where they are. And yet, I am stuck standing at this wall trying to figure out why I can’t move forward. I’m going to run some figures, update that spreadsheet and start typing out my findings. I am going to find my way around that wall.