-Take your business to the next level
By Linda Logan, President, Fiscal Foundations, LLC
Our mission at Fiscal Foundations is to improve the success and success rate of small businesses everywhere. We’re a small business too, and that is our personal mission too—to constantly improve our business and our success. Why? Small business is at the heart of our economy and democracy. In the western world, it’s the mechanism for achieving our dreams. It can be a way out of poverty for creative, industrious people in third world nations. Success builds the confidence and courage to improve lives economically, socially and politically. Personally, I find building a business a fascinating, creative exercise. Athletes are always striving to stretch the bounds of what they can achieve. Artists work to perfect the expression of their visions on canvas or other media. I see building a business as a little of both.
Our work is focused on accounting because as Charlie Munger once said, “You have to know accounting. It’s the language of practical business life.” So many entrepreneurs fail because they don’t know how to set up and maintain their accounting systems, and how to use their financial data to make the decisions needed to grow their businesses to achieve their dreams. There’s nothing more rewarding in our work than watching our clients gain the expertise needed to take charge of their financial planning and growth. However, I still see businesses grow to the point where owners get by, managing to make an average living, but not really fulfilling the dreams that originally inspired them. They often seem stuck at this point and unable to see a way forward. Consequently, many give up and quit at this point. We can’t settle for that! So the question is, what’s the next step and what can help us get there?
I was excited to read The One Page Business PlanTM by Jim Horan and Tamara Monosoff. Business plans always sound like a good idea, but the idea of the spending hours writing a 50 page plan that will sit on the shelf is less than inspiring. What is inspiring is putting words to your vision, articulating what you are building; defining your mission, why your business exists, what difference you want your work to make; laying out your objectives, what results you want to achieve and measure; then, planning the strategies you’ll implement to make it happen; and finally, listing the steps, the tasks you’ll take to make it happen. To accomplish anything, you have to break it down to a series of actions to be taken, one step at a time. The One Page Business PlanTM offers a format that we all can work with, one page. Think of it as the business plan on Twitter! You can apply it to a one person business or a large company with multiple locations, divisions or departments. It helps you produce a plan that becomes a living part of the organization, develops consensus among the management team, builds accountability into the system, and helps you, the business owner steer the business to your ultimate destination.
There are several versions of this book. The one I am personally recommending is The One Page Business Plan for Women in Business, published in paperback version, January, 2010. While the examples of plans are from women-owned businesses, men will find it just as useful and valuable. It is the newest version. I tend to believe, as authors, we seek to improve upon all our previous work, and this is the one we are personally using in our work.
Here are some of our recommended books on the subject:
Reading a book is great, but there are times when we need some hands-on help. Local consultants are available to help you implement The One Page Business PlanTM in your company. We are working with J. Michael Cavitt of Cavitt Associates, www.cavittassociates.com. If you’re in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, you can learn more about this planning process by attending one of our free workshops: Business Plans, Projections & Budgets – Keeping it Simple & Achieving Results! co-facilitated by myself and J. Michael Cavitt. See www.meetup.com/Free-QuickBooks-Workshop/events to see upcoming dates. We also show you how to record and monitor progress against your plan using QuickBooksTM. Budgets and projections can be documented in QuickBooksTM and you can regularly review Budget to Actual reports. QuickBooksTM is the most commonly used accounting software program in small businesses because it is inexpensive, easy to learn and use, and performs all the accounting functions needed by your business. Another of its strengths is its reporting. There are over 150 standard reports built in and many more can be customized to help you measure your results in achieving the objectives you identify in your plan.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.
— Eleanor Roosevelt
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
— Benjamin Franklin
Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.
— Earl Nightingale
A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
— George S. Patton
Developing the plan is actually laying out the sequence of events that have to occur for you to achieve your goal.
— George L. Morrisey
Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire.
— Napoleon Hill