What is the number one rule for anyone starting a business: don’t do a thing until you’ve spent time creating a watertight business plan. Right? Wrong.
I’m not saying just hedge your bets and go into the marketplace blind, but in my view, traditional business plans are often a barrier. They limit change, creativity and are often used as a wall to hide behind instead of embracing new challenges and opportunities. And, those new challenges and opportunities are often what takes a start-up to an SME and an SME to a multi-national.
What is crucial to the success of any business, whatever sector it operates in, is getting the offer right and exceeding the client’s expectations. It might sound obvious, but the number of businesses that take their eye off the number one priority always astounds me. Big brands like HMV, BHS and Jessops are all prime examples of brands that didn’t innovate and evolve their offer to meet the needs of a constantly changing marketplace.
My advice to anyone in business is to know your market inside out, keep abreast of the news, and stay close to the customers and pre-empt what they need next. That way, you can always be one step ahead. Allow yourself to be flexible, so you can adapt to their needs.
I started my business with a telephone and Yellow Pages. And, yes I know we are now in a technology-based world but my point is, that the fundamentals haven’t and never will change. I developed a service that I knew there was a need for, I got on the phone and sold it. From there, I’ve tweaked it, developed it and evolved it, to ensure it continues to grow with the changing times and an ever-changing customer. A customer who ultimately use our services to allow them to run their own businesses more efficiently and profitably.
Have a plan, but don’t be too rigid because you never know what’s around the corner. Think of your business plan as kid’s Play Doh. You can move it, shape it, add bits and take them away to keep creating the best model. Remember to have fun doing it.
Go ahead and enjoy playing your version of Play Doh.