When I was about 14, I went into business as a guitar teacher. The business model was pretty simple. I played guitar in front of kids and asked if anyone wanted to learn how to play guitar. Before long, I was in business. I didn’t think much of needing a business plan at the time. I was having too much fun. Besides, my schedule was pretty filled up with students. But alas, today starting, running, and eventually selling a business is a bit more complicated.
I have written many business plans in my life. I have always found the process very helpful, and even therapeutic. I get excited about my ideas. I love to share my ideas. Because it’s an iterative process for me, writing allows me to noodle my ideas and engage in conversations with the people I’m relying on to help my ideas come into fruition. Your desire to communicate your value proposition to a wider audience is the “why” which powers your business plan.
A business plan brings out the best and worst in most business professionals. It facilitates creative and analytical thinking, problem solving, communications, interfunctional sharing and teamwork. It also brings out procrastination, frustration, differences of opinion, and possibly anger. It is not a benign process. But when done well, the process is very valuable and has its own sense of satisfaction.” Jim Horan
I enjoyed reading The One Page Business Plan by Jim Horan. The older I get, the more I appreciate brevity so I was indeed intrigued by the title.
For Mr. Horan, the Business Plan is organized into five unique parts as follows:
1- Vision- What, exactly, are you trying to build?
2-Mission- Why will customers buy this product or service?
3-Objectives- What metrics will be used to measure success?
4- Strategies- How will the business be built?
5- Plans- What is the work that needs to be done?
A business plan is a living document. When done right, it’s a tool which promotes a conscious awareness, a mindfulness of where you are, and where you are going.
Music retailers are in the enviable position of selling “happiness.” There is no greater gift (I’m a bit bias) than promoting the joy of making music. Still the world is head high with marketers with a much larger budget than the local music retailer. What chance does the small business owner have in getting their message out?
Memorialize your thoughts in writing. If you don’t like to write, record your vision in your own words and then forward to someone who can write it for you. What’s important is that you are able to document the vision you have for your music enterprise.
When you are ready to transition ownership, your business plan promotes a successful continuation so the new owner can build on the lessons that you learned.
Writing a business plan doesn’t have to feel like a trip to the dentist. Think of it as a way of communicating to the world your purpose, your passion, what makes you and by extension your business unique. Yes, it will include the numbers to make certain that your ideas are connected to financial reality, but that doesn’t mean the act of writing your business plan still can’t be enjoyable.