We feel pretty strongly that a business plan can help you to define your business goals and give you a road-map for the future of your company. But, what makes a company that has used a business plan different from others? How has a business plan made the difference for that business?
Studies have shown that having a business plan doubles your chances of success. It’s not the paper that is magical. It’s the process of writing, thinking, strategizing that puts you one step ahead of your competitors.
4.5 years ago we launched The Simple Plan workshop in Seattle. We follow up with attendees periodically to ensure they are still getting value from the investment they made. Here’s a pretty cool stat: of the 15 business owners who attended the Seattle 2009 workshop, 14 are still operating (and THRIVING at leaps and bounds!)
We sat down with one of our attendees from our Seattle 2009 workshop, Christiane Zweifler of Flora Nova Floral and Event Design. Christiane is celebrating 10 years in business this year! We continue to work together quarterly on financial strategy.
Christiane shares what has worked for her in business planning…
Why a business plan is important…
When I first started my business 10 years ago I started writing a business plan but I never actually finished it. I had a somewhat good idea about the services, the business structure, the marketing strategies, even operations, but the financial part kept being a little fuzzy to me. My business never had any losses, but I never truly understood how to make a profit.
About 4 years ago I started to plan for a business expansion: I wanted to add design services beyond just flowers and wanted to purchase more expensive props to my rental inventory. But most importantly this expansion meant I needed to move my business to a much bigger space in order to run the larger operation. I was determined to rewrite my Business Plan - this time with a solid financial plan.
What are some of the challenges you faced before having a business plan? How did the business plan help?
I hated numbers and compiling financial reports! I knew I would never just sit down on my own to tackle a solid business plan – I needed help. That’s when I heard about the Simple Plan seminars. I signed up to attend their workshop that same year. What I learned in class made writing my first complete business plan fun and yes, actually really “simple”! Besides many other things I learned the importance of calculating my business expenses and CoGs, to do sales forecasts, and setting clear goals – it helped me reach a point where I can be profitable and even keep expanding.
How often do you revisit your plan? How do you use it to guide you?
Now I look at my numbers on a regular basis – I would almost say that I even “like” doing my reviews because it forces me to stay focused and to look at my business from various angles. And this is by far the biggest improvement the Simple Plan has offered me: to better understand my business finances, to do quarterly reviews, to make sales forecasts, to adjust practices where necessary, to keep my expenses in check, and to think about how to reach my sales goals.