Here's a request we often hear from small business owners:
"Can you find me an investor? If we had more capital we could grow like crazy and make a ton of money!"
My next question to the business owner is "What would you do with $100,000 if someone wrote you that check today?"
Wow, you should hear the answers I get to that question. Here are a few examples:
"I'd pay off my debts so I could get a new loan." Huhhhh???
"I'd lower my prices so I could sell more stuff." Huhhh?
"I'd pay off some of my personal debts so my wife would stop yelling at me." That one I understand!
Even for the biz owners with answers that sound reasonable the exchange often goes something like this:
Me, "What would you do with $100,000 if someone wrote you that check today?"
Biz Owner: "I would expand my business."
Me, "How would you expand it and when would your expansion turn into additional profits?"
Biz owner, Blank stare.
The bottom line is, in all my encounters (and there are very, very many) with small business owners who say they want or need additional capital less, than 5% have a plan that makes any sense whatsoever. And then they wonder why a bank won't give them small business loans.
The vast majority of small business owners are really very bad at planning. The reasons for it are many but I think the primary reason is they have little or no idea what pieces of their businesses create the results.... good or bad.
Most small business owners are hard working, they show up for work every day and hope that working hard will result in success. Unfortunately there is very little correlation between hard work and financial success. What you need is hard and smart, not just hard work. If you own a small business spend more time on detailing out a logical and well thought out business plan. A business with a good business plan is much more profitable and infinitely less stressful than a business that wings it day-to-day. Start now, create a 1 year plan for 2010. Simple 1 year plan, week by week. Do it NOW, your deadline is to have it done by January 2, 2010. Give it a shot, what if I'm right?
Once you have a plan have someone who is successful in small business look at your plan. Don't worry about being wrong. Worry about getting better, your health and your bank account will thank you.
Have questions about what should be in your plan? Shoot me questions related to your business in the comment section and I'll try to answer them.
To paraphrase a famous business saying "A weak plan with mediocre execution will always beat no plan over the long term. A good plan well executed will always beat a great plan poorly executed."