The Basics of business: 10 Questions to ask yourself.
Business planning basics: Keep it Simple Stupid
There are 10 questions to ask yourself to help you create a basic, effective business plan and build a beautiful business.
I have written a series of articles called ‘Business planning the Simple Way’… Marketing the Simple Way, Planning the Simple Way, systemisation the Simple Way, etc etc.
I’m inspired to talk about ‘Business planning the Simple Way, the basics, for a couple of reasons.
- I think we tend to get overwhelmed a lot in business, because we make things a lot more complicated than they need to be.
- Seth Godin was in Sydney the other day and he always inspires me to simplify things.
One of Seth Godin’s golden quotes from his blog is this one:
To be successful in business you only have to do two things:
- Do great work
- Make sure lots of people know about it.
Seth Godin is spot on…as so often… That’s really how simple it is.
But be careful. Don’t confuse the word ‘Simple’ with the word ‘Easy’. They’re not the same at all.
Einstein said (well allegedly anyway, more quotes are attributed to Einstein than any man could possibly have fitted in a life time, along with Mandela, and Churchill): “Make things as simple as possible but no simpler.”
So lets make business planning as basic, as simple as possible but no simpler.
At its most simple level, business is the process of obtaining something for a certain cost and then selling it to someone for an increased cost.
Don’t confuse that statement with the Purpose of business, but it does define the process of business. So if we want to practice business the simple way, we must constantly ask ourselves how we can stay as close as possible to that simplicity.
The simplest way to a great business plan
What is the simplest way to run the process of business, and therefore, what is the basis of an effective business plan?
I believe there are 10 key questions you need to answer as simply as possible to create a Business plan the Simple Way:
- Why does my business exist? (Purpose)
- How do we make money in my business? (Business Model)
- Where are we going and how are we going to get there? (Goals and Planning)
- How do we manage our numbers? (Financial management and measurement)
- How do we find our customers and help them buy our stuff? (Marketing and Sales)
- How do we produce and deliver our stuff? (Products and services)
- How do we run the business as a consistent machine? (Management)
- How do we ensure consistency and continual improvements in our products or services (Systems and Processes)
- How do we find and keep the best people? (Staff)
- What does it mean to for me to run a business? (Leadership)
I think that the work of the business owner is to be constantly looking for the simplest answers to those ten questions and create their business plan accordingly.
Some more simple business planning methods:
- One page business plan method from Xero.com
- An explanatory video about the Business Model Canvas
- How to write the perfect business plan from Inc.com
To illustrate what I’m talking about, lets have a look at one of my favourite clients and how simply he answers the ten questions for his business plan.
John owns a chain of supermarkets, and those of you who have read my books might recognise him from one of the business bedtime stories.
- The simplest answer that John has for question 1 is this: We make it easy for our customers to access a range of quality foods
- At question 2, John says: We make money by buying our many lines at wholesale prices and selling them at retail prices. We have extensive and ongoing negotiations with our suppliers to get the best prices from them so that we can maintain our margins while being competitive with other supermarkets.
- We want to have established 50 stores in NSW by 2030 and we plan to get there by expanding 1 store at a time and not moving forward until the last addition to the stable is profitable.
- We are always measuring and comparing against benchmarks across the whole of the business.
- We are established locally and each store operates in a small local area. New customers come to us by word of mouth because of how easy it is for them to access a large range of quality foods.
- We constantly look to find new suppliers with interesting and high quality foods that are not available in the major supermarkets
- We hold regular staff meetings and performance reviews at all levels and our systems are all geared for regularity and repeatability
- We have created manuals and systems for all jobs in the business and train staff in the use of the manuals. We have regular meetings to explore opportunities for improvement.
- My staff and customers know that we are always on the lookout for great new people to join the team. I pay my people well and give them lots of challenges and opportunities to develop. I also offer opportunities for career advancement within the business. I do not hire external managers, rather I train and promote from within.
- I see myself as a servant of my people. It is my role to give them the greatest opportunities to grow, develop and do well.
I want to help you answer those questions yourself in your business. So in the series of articles and videos that you’ll receive in the next months I will explore each of the ten questions with you.
In the mean time… why don’t you pick one of the ten questions and see how you can answer it in the simplest way possible and start writing your own (basic) beautiful business plan?
I’d love to hear what comes up for you, please email me with your thoughts and comments?
Planning and the 7 Big Questions of Small Business
Business owners frequently ask 7 Big Questions about how to Build a Beautiful Business and Life.
The first of these Big Questions is: How do I grow my business?
To answer that question I have identified the 11 most important strategies to create Business Growth.
The sixth of those strategies is Grow your business with Planning. This is one article of several on this site, that explains how Planning and Growth hang together, in some depth.