Even when you have done your business plan and think all your ducks are in a row there will be another hurdle to overcome. This is the nature of the start-up, particularly if you are trying to push the boundaries and deliver innovation in your industry.
Your business plan will detail how you will execute on your opportunity. However, in the start-up environment the only constant is change and that throws up new hurdles and challenges to overcome. It is how you deal with these hurdles on a professional and personal level that will set you apart from your competitors and see your business succeed or fail. How can you do this?
1) Face the hard issues up front and head on. Don't let your passion for what you want to do blind you from reality. It is easy to side-step (or at worst ignore) the issues that may fundamentally affect your core business proposition especially if you don't have experience dealing with them. Get them out on the table early on - be honest with yourself and others - it will save enormous grief in the long term. If any issues are serious enough to affect your core business you should review your financial assumptions to see how they affect your forecast going foreward.
2) Don't be afraid to seek advice. No-one has the answers to all the questions that they will be faced with in starting a business. The art is to recognise your limitations and ask the right questions of the right people. Where you have weaknesses build a network of support (professional, informal, non-executive) and use it to overcome problems as they arise. You don't have to know everything, you just have to know where to find the information that will enable you to make the best decision. Budgeting in your business plan for the cost of periodic advice is wise at least on a contingency level.
3) Be ruthlessly professional. When you come across a hurdle deal with it thoroughly and without exception. It is a threat to your success and that of your business. If you don't it will likely come back and cause you problems in the long term. A number of relatively small un-addressed problems can drain the business and pull it down. Executing a business plan relies on the ability to deliver success amidst change. The way you deal with issues as they arise conveys a message to your employees, investors, and partners. If you deal with issues openly, professionally and ruthlessly you will gain their respect even if your business plan is not achieved in full.
Keep track of your progress against your business plan and forecast. Revise it as necessary when your original assumptions are challenged. In the process, face up to the difficult issues, seek advice and be ruthlessly professional.
The Business Plan Team
The Business Plan Team specialises in helping entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses translate their vision into a coherent and executable business plan that can help secure funding and guide internal management. It provides a range of services from early feasibility studies through professional business plan development, to introductions to sources of funding. It is based in just outside Oxford, UK.
- Jon Hunt is the Lead Consultant for The Business Plan Team which works with entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses that need help developing a professional business plan to secure funding and guide internal management. It has developed business plans for a wide range of businesses and corporate clients looking to raise funding of between £50,000 and £200million in many different industry sectors including Social Media, Retail, Construction, Mining, Renewable Energy, Technology, Healthcare, Interior Design, Sport & Leisure, Investment Banking, Wealth Management and Trading. Testimonials from these clients illustrate the high levels of service TBPT provides.