Business planning – a template is only half the story!


Most business plans simply follow a template that ensures all the boxes are ticked and every aspect of the new venture has been addressed, e.g. structure, people, product, manufacture, marketing, etc.

However, the business planning template alone fails to match the person to the business; it fails to develop and grow the owner into the business; and it fails to show a person how to grow the business into a valuable asset.

You can have the best business plan in the world but still be at a complete loss to know how to successfully operate a business.  People who are new to business must consider more than just the words on the pages of a business plan. 

Here is what people really struggle with in business planning:

1.      Being in the right business head space

Some people have a mind for business and others don’t.  Coming from an employee background into business is a big leap because there is more to business than showing up for work each day and doing routine tasks.  It is important to approach business with an attitude of self belief and self reliance, with a willingness to do whatever it takes.  For most people, it means loneliness, difficult decisions, and being stretched a long way out of their comfort zone.

2.      Having sufficient business skills

The most common profile of the new business starter is someone who is skilled in a trade, a profession or other personal service and decides to become self employed.  The other common profile is the person who has a skill in making something.  What they all have in common is the technical skills to perform a service or make a product.  Many have no selling skills and most lack the wide range of other skills (including financial management) required to grow their business and build a valuable long term asset.

3.      How to take the first step

You only have to visit the ‘Starting a Business’ forum on Flying Solo to see the inordinate number of questions people ask about getting an ABN, registering a business name, being a sole trader, setting up a company, trademarks, registering for GST, employing a person on PAYG, and getting a website.   For many it is a struggle just to get through that part; and the real business hasn’t even begun yet.

4.      How to be action-oriented

A lot of people struggle when the theorising stops and decisive action is required.  As an owner, ‘action’ usually means contacting people, forming relationships and performing those tasks that directly relate to building sales and profit.  Initial enthusiasm can quickly turn to disheartenment after a few knock-backs or when thing don’t go as planned.  It can be a difficult challenge to keep moving forward under pressure of dwindling cash flow.

For more reading on business planning check out my Business Planning 101 Introduction at

Until next time!