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6 steps to create a business plan

business Dec 30, 2017

Do you have an amazing idea or vision, but lack clarity about how to turn it into reality?

Do you often feel lost or confused about where to start or what to do next?

Do you find yourself overwhelmed or procrastinating over an ever-growing, never-ending to-dolist?

A gazillion pieces

Have you ever done a jigsaw puzzle?

Imagine being led into a big room with a huge table, just like the ones you see in big corporate boardrooms - it’s enormous and fills the entire space. Now picture this table completely covered in a gazillion jigsaw puzzles, with all the different pieces mixed up.

My mum used to love doing puzzles. Sometimes I’d enjoy helping her. I remember this one puzzle, though, of a field of sunflowers.

I called it the ‘flocking’ puzzle, because the pieces felt fluffy - they had small patches of flocking on them so that when you eventually, and I stress the word ‘eventually’, put the pieces together, the images of the sunflowers had a kind of 3D look to them and they felt like the fluffy head of a sunflower would.

The other reason I called it the ‘flocking’ puzzle was because it was so difficult - it made me want to drop a few F-bombs! There were about 10,000 pieces, the picture was of a field of sunflowers, nothing else, so all the bits looked identical. It drove me nuts!

Nightmare, right? How on earth are you going to figure out which pieces are yours? Wait, it gets worse...You don’t even have a picture of the jigsaw puzzle that you’re supposed to be looking for. Yep, that’s right! You heard me - no picture!

One thing you need to know about being in business, especially for the first time, is that if you don’t have a plan, it’s exactly like walking into that boardroom without a picture and wanting to do your puzzle as quickly as possible.

So out of all these possible thousands upon thousands of pieces, you haven’t got a clue what you’re looking for, or where to start, or which bits are relevant to you or not!

Even if somebody says, ‘Well start with the corners and the edges; that’ll give you a framework.’ Great! But which ones?

You have no idea what the end picture is supposed to look like, let alone where to start or how to piece it together.

Two words... ‘flocking’ and ‘nightmare’!

In the words of Benjamin Franklin: ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!’

We all need an evolving plan

I see so many people struggling because they don’t have a plan - they’re stumbling around in the dark, going round in circles, with no idea of where they’re going or how to get there.

Many people I talk to don’t like planning - it either scares them, they believe it will restrict them, they think that a to-do list will do, they see planning as a waste of time, or they’re not sure where to start.

It’s not just because I have a background in planning that I say this, but you absolutely, 100%, need to plan in business. I want to help you fall in love with planning, because, when you do it the right way, it will change your business world and your life for the better.

A right and a wrong way to plan

One of my very first jobs when I graduated was to help the CEO of a big start-up write a five-year business plan. He needed significant funding. It took six long, life-sucking months and we produced a complex, long-winded business plan (resembling a door stop!) in order to simply tick all of the investors’ boxes.  Once we had the money, it ended up on a shelf collecting dust.

Unless you’re trying to impress an investor to get traditional funding, these big fat business plans are not particularly useful.

At the other end of the spectrum, I see others struggling because their planning starts with no more than a to-do list or filling out a weekly planner. There is no big-picture, strategic overview, just a list of things to do plucked from thin air, each a hit and miss guess-list of what to fill their time with - usually resulting in busy-ness rather than business results, and often tending to overwhelm and leading to a sense of doubt and frustration.

What's the right way to plan?

What we need is a plan that can evolve with the landscape...

a plan that’s simple and can be easily interpreted to allow us to respond quickly....

a plan that gives us clear direction but allows flexibility so we can handle unexpected challenges and capitalise on unforeseen opportunities.

a plan that gives us the big-picture overview when we need it, but allows us to break things down into simple baby steps.

a plan that is quick and easy to update, avoids us getting bogged down in complexity but gives us what we need to stay clear, confident and focused.

What we need is a ‘Pareto Plan’...

Having a ‘Pareto Plan’ is one of the 14 Pillars of empowered business success, which I discuss in my book The Invisible Revolution.  I am so passionate about helping women craft their own Pareto Plan, so they can leverage their precious time, money and energy.

Pareto Planning in a nutshell

It’s your map up the mountain - If your big vision is the summit of a mountain, your Pareto Plan is the 12-month map that helps you choose the right path and steps to scale that mountain, one leg of the journey at a time.

You can stop focusing on the gap – Constantly focusing on our big vision and the gap between ‘where we are’ and ‘where we want to be’ can be a huge emotional drain. A Pareto Plan creates a 12-month window on our journey, so we can have peace of mind that we’re heading in the right direction. You can stop worrying about the gap and focus on enjoying the journey.

You gain clarity and confidence - A Pareto Plan gives you crystal clear clarity on where you’re going and how to get there, broken down into smaller steps.

You avoid stress and overwhelm - Even if you’ve experienced a demanding corporate career, possibly with a long commute, you’d be surprised how quickly your business can turn into something even more all-consuming – especially if you don’t give yourself the right tools to manage the complexity, scope and boundaries of your business. With a Pareto Plan, you no longer feel as if you have to be doing ‘everything’ and can see the difference between a shiny distraction versus a new opportunity that’s relevant.

You can manage complexity - Building a new business can be highly complex with all our additional responsibilities as mothers - it can be a bit mind blowing at times. A Pareto Plan helps to make complexity and chaos, simple and organised.

You can be more present - Consciously carving out the best way for you to spend time across all important areas of your life creates greater peace of mind so, when you’re with your family, you’re fully present and enjoy it, rather than feeling guilty that you should be spending more time on your business, and vice versa.

You master your time - Living in a money-focused society, we often forget or underestimate the value of our time. Time is our most precious resource. Time cannot be controlled, we can’t slow time down, we can’t pause it, we can’t rewind it. Our time is fixed and finite...and always running out! A Pareto Plan gives us the tools to stay true to our priorities and invest our time wisely each day.

You find YOUR way - By crafting a Pareto Plan, you take time to consciously design your business in a way that works for you and your family. Rather than jumping on the band wagon, you can understand the different options and routes to achieving your goals, choose an approach that plays to your strengths and do it at the pace that’s right for you and your loved ones. There is no one-size-fits all formula for success.

You can stop comparing - When you feel confident about what you’re doing, how to do it and when to do it, you can let go of worrying about what everyone else is doing.

What does a Pareto Plan look like?

A Pareto Plan is a simple plan that fits on one page. Yes, you heard me right, one A4 page!

The Mpower Pareto Plan template is based on a one-page business planning method I originally used in the corporate world. If it’s good enough for Fortune 500 companies around the world to use, then it’s good enough for us!

However, when I used the traditional one-page planning method for myself as a first-time business owner and Mumpreneur, I found there were important elements missing, so I adapted the process to be more effective for mums in business.

The title of this article is ‘6 tools for planning’, but what I really wanted to share is that there are six steps to creating your Pareto plan and the tools to turn that plan into daily baby steps.

Interested in having a plan like this?

Ready to learn the six steps?

Great!  Send me a message and I'll email you a link to a recording of the 60 minute webinar, where I’ll introduce you to the six steps and give you a download of the one-page template...

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