Business Plan After the Fact

So here’s a weird question.

Would it be a good idea to compose a business plan after 35 years in business? And if so, how would we go about it? As if we were just starting out or using our history as a guideline?

Great Question! YES! A good business plan is always a great start and 35 years ago they are not what you put together today. It was a lot more of your dream and a handshake at the bank. The other key issue is the plan is not in stone and needs to be adjusted as needed. With the economy as poor as it really is this is a great idea. Only you know where you sit right now. Debt… Income… 35 years of knowing the real expenses of running the business.

I would start with steping back and putting a spreadsheet together of the last say…10 years. Look at where costs and income have come and gone. Then start from the beginning. What is the first goal of your business? Give you a job or provide you something to retire off of and provide for other? You need to see what you want to be and that is where the adjusting on the fly comes in. I am guessing you are not debt free and are looking for a way to turn the operation into a more profitable situation. That said… write your plan based off the REAL situation. Be honest with yourself and I am also going to say that the ways and ideas that you started 35 years ago wont hold true today…at least not all of them. You might need to make some real hard choices but the game plan is success or nobody will have a place to own or work at.

The good news is you have 35 years to build off of. Still dont be afraid to seek outside help. SCORE is a great help for new and operating businesses. The other thing is talk to your employees and regulars. Having had 300 employees the biggest asset for new ideas and ways to streamline things was from the people doing the work everyday not the managers or owners. The key is to own, manage, and the most important thing of all… dont be afraid to LISTEN! I have said this before and it is the harsh reality but there are owners and then there are employees. You making it 35 years must have been doing something right so figure out what and grow from there. Oh…and the listening part… if you dont then you are missing out on so much free and accurate advice that becoming an employee is back in the plan. Best of luck.

Making a business plan at any point is a very good idea. It allows you to crack open your business and take a look at it from a different perspective. I see people set in their ways all the time when I consult for them. It may be a good time to examine what you do, and make some changes. It is a very different market than it was even a decade ago.

Start easy. Write up an executive summary to guide you through the planning process. Make some sections for marketing, operations, vision, training, and menu. Add more sections as needed.

Pick up a copy of How to Open a Financially Successful Pizza & Sub Restaurant by Shri L Henkel. It has some great advice on writing a plan.