Business Whaaaat ?!
In all my years of mentoring budding entrepreneurs, I never came across one that didn’t cringe at the two words Business Plan. In fact, I can’t recall anyone actually dancing around in sheer delight at the prospect of compiling one. Even ex-corporate colleagues became quite creative in finding reasons to avoid becoming involved, including arranging “Golf Marketing Days” with clients who thought a driver was the person taking them home after the 19th.
OK, relax, this Blog is not about the detailed component parts of Business Plans. Merely Googling the words “Business Plans” will provide more than enough information on the nuts and bolts of this specialised subject without the necessity for me to regurgitate it all on this Forum.
That’s the “good news”. The “bad news” is, that there will be posts drawn from my own experiences, and hopefully that of others, with the intention to reinforce some basic Business Principles and relate them to Tourist Guiding, and Tour Operating where relevant. Marginally contradicting the previous statement, Merve’s Dummies Guide to Business Planning follows:-
BUSINESS PLAN – just bite the bullet and do it !
Two words that invariably strike an uncontrollable urge to excavate a Bunker, and disappear from the human race with enough provisions to last until someone else has done it ! My first very own Business Plan was definitely the one that I have been most proud of over the years. Why ? because it worked !
The major driving factor was a promise to my late wife, that cutting the golden handcuffs of corporate life for the unknown minefield of self-employment would not result in a deterioration in our families quality of life. If any husband or father out there can think of a greater motivator I would love to hear it. Apart from the normal short, medium and long term objectives, the concentration had to be on the initial short term years based on the very real fact that a very high proportion of startups don’t make it through the first 3 years.
If it worked for me there’s absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t work for you. In fact, I would go further. If you skip this process using any of the standard excuses, then there is a very high risk that your ambitions will at best stagnate, or at worst, crash and burn.
“Merve’s Idiots Guide” to a jargon-free Business Plan
- what you think you would enjoy doing
- Groundwork – commonly known as “Research”
- find out as much as you can, from wherever you can
- assess the competition, but don’t be overawed by it
- get to know how the Industry works
- get to know whose who in the Zoo
CASH FLOW IS KING – ignore it at your peril
If it’s positive, you stand the chance of keeping the crown. If it’s negative, even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to put you back together again.
SERVICE, SERVICE, SERVICE – happy clients are a Business’s lifeblood
If Service is not a prime focus then you won’t need all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, because there won’t BE any cash flow !
A Business Plan shouldn’t be a load of old Bull. It should be aimed to consistently HIT it !
The majority of Tourist Guides in South Africa fall under the Freelance category, and whilst it’s easy to say, “but I’m only one person and don’t intend setting up my own business”, that misses the point. Freelancers, of anything, are by reality one-person businesses. Sorry guys, that Business Plan is just as essential for you as it is for a multi-corporate, albeit nowhere near so lengthy or complex.
Don’t take my word for it, and as supplementary information, please refer to this article appearing in Entrepreneur magazine which succinctly sets out the reasons for a Business Plan, and why you need one.
What if you are in a dilemma between Tourist Guiding or Tour Operating ? The Business Planning process can come in very handy here, as one of its attributes is, that it focuses the mind. At this point, it’s appropriate to highlight the simple life choice that eventually became a driving force and priority in my own life, and that is to make decisions first and foremost based on what I enjoy doing.
You know what ? I just spent a disproportionate amount of time trying to find a slightly offbeat quote about Business Plans, and all but fell asleep at the repeatedly boring, po-faced pearls of wisdom that didn’t inspire anything in me other than to doze off over the keyboard ! So here’s my own creative (?) offering:-
There was a young man called Merve whose life was one big swerve when turning his back on a lucrative track a Plan had him holding his nerve
Okaaaay – I know it’s not gonna rival Wordsworth, but at least it’s original
- To summarise this first brief mention of Business planning, the main points I am attempting to draw attention to if carried out objectively, and realistically are:-
- – it focuses the mind
- – it minimises the risk of early failure
- – it can assist with funding if required
- – it is a living process constantly being adjusted where necessary
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR MORE PEARLS OF BUSINESS WISDOM