What’s the Game-Plan for Your Small Business?

By Colin Scotland

What does your game plan look like?

Do you know where you want to be in 12 months, 3 years, or 5 years?

I have a confession to make, when I was running my e-commerce business I only wrote my plans when I had to, for the banks, etc. and it always felt pointless to me because I lived and breathed my business, I knew every inch inside and out and I didn’t need to write anything down because I did all the planning I needed to in my head, what’s wrong with that?

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Do you ever feel like the whole thing is pointless?

I did. Difficult for me to admit as one that makes a living helping business owners to prepare these things. The problem with this was that I was so busy running the day-to-day stuff that I rarely took the time to take a step back and take in the surroundings.

Was I unique or do most business owners and entrepreneurs feel the same?

I know my business better than anyone; I know what I’m doing, just leave me alone to do it. The trouble with this insular mindset is that it limits the potential of you and your business to grow and develop.

What? I hear you say, but you’ve just admitted you did the same thing. Yes, I did, although I’m not advocating that you make the same mistakes I did, but that you learn from them. I built an online business from zero to just under £4m revenue in less than 5 years and when I look back the plans for scalable growth that worked grew from ideas sparked in the quiet times, from those periods where I took my shoulder off the grindstone and took a moment to survey what was going on in the business. It's all part of the search to find your niche.

What were the sticking points in making the customer experience better, and how could they be fixed? What mechanisms do we need in place to scale things up and make things more efficient? For example, as the business grew we could automate order processing to such a degree we could handle triple the sales with a third of the staff.

These things can’t be figured out and achieved if you are constantly knee-deep in the trenches; this is the problem most small business owners face because we have to wear so many hats. We fight in the trenches and organize ammunition and supplies for the troops and strategize the overall battle in the general’s tent all at the same time.

It's ok to look for outside help. It helps you to grow as a business owner.

So how can working with a consultant help?

My experience with ‘consultants’ when on the other side of the fence was that they 'borrowed your watch to tell you the time' and the ones I came across rarely had anything insightful beyond generic advice that could be read in any business textbook and usually bore no resemblance to what I was seeing and experiencing running an actual business.

Then there were one or two insightful people I came across over the years, able to see inside my business in a way that I never could. It is this outside in look at the business that I found to be invaluable when I was struggling to see the wood for the trees.

"When you can't see the wood for the trees, a good consultant can help give you clarity!"

So do you need to work with a consultant?

No, but what you absolutely must do is take some time out of the trenches and get in the General’s tent to plan the battle.

When you purposefully put time aside to work on your game plan, I promise you will come out of the process enlightened and raring to take your business forward to new heights of success, whether you use outside help to achieve this is entirely up to you, it’s your business.

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