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Success W o r k MIND YOUR BUSINESS Are you ready to take the plunge? Going into business for yourself? Is that entrepreneurial fire in the belly compelling you to action? Here are the top 3 business plan mistakes for you to tackle, before they tackle you. T E X T BY F R A N CE S C A C R UZ A BILLION-DOLLAR IDEA You’ve got this great idea. All you do is eat, sleep and dream about it. Your idea is exciting, but ideas are confined to the mind. Respect your imagination and the muses enough to do adequate research. What exists is reality, and what people want to see are objective numbers that support ideas — think metrics. In your mind, the concept might be beaming with luminosity and gold coins, but if the idea isn’t properly backed up and presented, no investor will support you. Look at your target demographics, projected growth rates in your industry and similar stats. Creativity is essential, but hard facts can’t be refuted, so the more of them you include in your business plan, the more chances you have at making a solid first impression. AS A MATTER OF FACT It’s the planning that matters! You’ve got this big dream. You’re thrilled and motivated to get it off the ground. Fantastic! Put it on paper. Don’t go running your mouth about it. The muses are impish. Conserve that energy and focus it on your plan of action. Your business plan should include your company structure, your product or service and how you plan to make your business a success. Planning is a process of setting goals and establishing specific measures of progress, then tracking your progress and following that up with course corrections. Start by doing the part that interests you most so that you’re motivated to begin. Remember, it’s all about constant review and revision. TOP PRIORITY SHUFFLE A plan that stresses a few key priorities is a plan that has weight, focus and power. A plan that has a list of 20+ priorities doesn’t really have any, and is a conundrum waiting to implode. Be clear, concise and steadfast with your priorities and objectives. In a business model, those represent your true north. What gives an idea value isn’t the idea itself but the business model it was built on that is sustaining the foundation. Track and be diligent about your financials, your milestones, responsibilities and deadlines. Be very detailed when it comes to assigning tasks to others, and setting dates for those tasks to be executed. Keeping your priorities is to be resolute. 54