Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
Tell Me a Story: How to Get Started Planning Your Business
Do you remember in school when your teacher told you to think about what you wanted to do when you grew up? Do you remember that she told you to write a story about it? If you remember bits and pieces of the story, you’ll remember that bits and pieces stayed with you – you added here, tweaked there, and simply got rid of some of those things. If you think about it, this was the first time you put your dream on paper. Inevitably, even if you didn’t become Hershal Walker, Mean Joe Green or Nadia Comaneci, there were some elements that went with you, be it a love for football, competition, focus or motivation.
Your business has a future with a story as well. As a matter of fact, when you started your business, you had a story about what it would look like at some point, be it when it was successful, when it made you rich or when it had its IPO (Initial Public Offering). While it seems a bit rudamentary, creating a story about your business is one of the basic steps in creating a strategy for your business. Believe it or not, with some supporting evidence, your story can help strengthen your business plan and make it something that is practical for your business!
While this may be challenging, depending on your personality and interests, this is a vital, cleansing tool that helps you think through the business planning process. Once you get started, it is something that sticks with you until you feel like you’ve gotten everything down. It helps you stay focused and avoid being distracted by naysayers. At the same time, you can begin to see how diffrerent areas of your business work together.
Here are a couple of pointers:
- Don’t necessarilly start with an outline. For some, an outline will be the only way to go. However, if you feel like your creative juices will be muffled by an outline, start out with your story. Either way, you will want to go back later and update, expand, etc.
- If you do choose to work from an outline, use bulletpoints or another brainstorming process to gather your thoughts. This will keep you from getting bogged down trying to figure out how certain parts of the story fit together. You will see that you have Aepiphannis while in the shower, on the road or listening to your spouse that will fit into your story. 🙂
- Don’t write to publish. When working on your story, keep in mind that you’ll want to substantiate your story. Substantiating your story will be the art of putting your story to the test – is it marketable? could it be profitable? is there a need for this? how will it fit into the marketplace – will it replace something? will it fill a void?
- Don’t keep your story to yourself. While there are certain parts of the business – the core of your business – that you will want to remain focused on, there are other less material parts of the business, such as the process, market, etc, that you will want to accept input on. Focus on the end, then the means. Share your story and see where others can provide you additional perspective.
- Don’t consider the final draft as the final draft. Just as your business is a living, breathing entity, your business’s story will be, too. You will look at the end of each year how you’ve done things a bit differently then you originally planned. Update your story and continue to move forward.
This, unfortunately, is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when working on your strategic planning or business plan for your business, but it is a start, and one that you will find of value for your business. Remember, as Dr. Steven Covey postulates, “Begin with the end in mind,” then build your strategy from there.
At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping you develop strategies for your organization, and are committed to your success. If you have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].