Part of Your Business Plan Needs to Involve Drastically Changing It
Who doesn't love a good plan? The idea of well-thought-out strategy — a step-by-step roadmap leading to that all-important outcome — is enough to get managerial engines revving as you embark upon what will certainly be a successful journey. There is a carefully constructed plan, right? The result has got to be a win.
Not so fast.
Entrepreneurship 101 requires the creation of a business plan, yes. As the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) notes in a 2018 article, “You’ll use [it] like a GPS for how to structure, run, and grow your new business." But a strategically structured roadmap — including start-up costs and material, marketing and administrative expenses, as well as expected outcomes and goals — is just the beginning.
Related: How to Write a Business Plan
As COVID-19 amply taught us, any plan can be derailed at the blink of an eye…or a cough. It's safe to say that not a person on the planet was unaffected by the pandemic, and business owners were hit especially hard. Every corporate plan was disrupted, and very, very few companies were prepared. What's one lesson learned? Simply put: Don't be married to outcomes. Borrowing SBA’s analogy for a moment, every GPS has the ability to re-route, and given the unknown variables we face every day (but perhaps try to ignore because they don’t fit a pre-approved course), a strategy must leave room for evolution.
Obviously, the overall destination on every business pathway is success and income, yet particulars will change based upon factors both anticipated, and not. While a need for broad goals is pivotal, we can't insist on things always going according to expectation. (And, if we're being honest, how often does that happen, anyway?) If we refuse to allow for the evolution of variables, a rigid plan can quickly lead down a path surrounded by brick walls, with no way out. In fact, being open to evolution and course correction may offer opportunities previously unconsidered — a new product, a new marketing method or an unexpected partnership — that could ultimately increase productivity, success and the ever-important bottom line.
Clearly, this doesn't mean a plan should read, “We're going to try this, and just see what happens.” Specifics are important, and if one goal is searching for funding, essential. But the inclusion of evolution needs to be part of the entrepreneurial mindset carried throughout any professional journey, and the ability to adjust and evolve — including knowing when to let go of expected outcomes — will serve an entrepreneur well as a business grows and changes, not least by building flexibility and creativity.