• Phil King

Copy of Business Plans aren't just for Christmas

How often has a bank manager, business adviser or potential financier/grant-funder asked you for a business plan?

And how many times have you rolled your eyes thinking 'here we go again'?

Asking for a business plan became the standard thing to do. It wasn't always strictly necessary. Sometimes, it wasn't even read when it was received. It was simply seen as 'ticking a box' in some quarters. And the biggest problem with that was that this apathy towards business plans was transferred onto the business owners themselves.

The easiest explanation I ever heard in respect of why you should always have a plan is this. Imagine picking up the keys to your car. You open the door, get in and start the engine. And suddenly you ask yourself 'where am I going to?'.

You may have an answer. But whilst you know where it is, do you actually know how to get there? Do you know the way? Do you know if there are any diversions, roadworks, roundabouts, one-way streets, cul-de-sacs, adverse weather conditions, Sunday drivers? The list could go on.

Business planning is just like planning a journey. You may expect everything to go smoothly, and indeed it may go that way. But it may not. Not everything on that journey is within your direct control. Unexpected events may send you off-track and divert your attention. So planning for both the expected and unexpected is simple and straightforward risk management.

A phrase constantly pops up on various social media platforms. 'A pessimist looks for the problem in every solution - an optimist looks for the solution to every problem' or some variation along those lines. Many enlightened commentators indicate their agreement and take delight in the difference. But I have a slightly alternative take on it. And it is based upon a single question.

Who spotted the problem?

If the pessimist spots the problem and throws their hands up in the air and gives up, well, they may well remain a pessimist.

If the optimist spots the problem and throws their hands up in the air declaring they have the solution, then they are indeed optimistic.

But if the pessimist spots the problem and then finds a solution, are they a pessimist or an optimist?

And if the optimist had the problem pointed out to them by a pessimist, without spotting or even looking for it, are they an optimist who you would want in your business? Or are they an inexperienced risk-taker who, had the pessimist not been there to cover their back, would have carried on regardless, blissfully ignorant of the risk approaching just out of reach of the headlights?

I know who I would rather be in the passenger seat with.


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