Do you tremble in your boots or wedges at the thought of starting a business, even though you have a great idea that keeps you awake at night with excitement?
Are you fearful of the risk of failure or the business planning required?
Are you spending more time convincing yourself that the hotshots saying a business plan is not needed are right than you are spending on startup?
Are you busy telling yourself that business plans are so baby-boomer-ish or so old-timey thanks to the ability to set up an online business in a few hours on the internet?
You are in good company. Many budding entrepreneurs never get their business started because they are afraid. Some of the fear may be a tiny bit justified – like being scared of wasting money your family and friends invested – but most fear is unreasonable and causes entrepreneurial inertia.
I lament the many excellent ideas that never saw the light of day because the thought of committing to the future was just too scary.
Of course, some people are simply afraid of developing a formal business plan, even though it is something required for success if you believe the Small Business Administration and the gazillions of business consultants.
There is something very intimidating about things like “mission and vision” or “operating plan” or “financial plan.”
Some people are so fearful, they cannot even think about planning for their business success. So they do nothing. Being paralysed by fear is not much fun, and it gets in the way of progress.
The first step to moving ahead is overcoming the fear, but how?
Five Steps to Overcome the Fear
The reasons a person is fearful about business planning determines the steps that should be taken to overcome the fear. Following are some of the most common reasons and the way to overcome it.
1.Use a Cocktail Napkin –In your opinion, are you a poor writer or dislike writing? If so, you can hire a business consultant, but the reality is that you must still be able to tell the consultant what you have in mind for a business. So call upon your school days and jot down an outline of your idea and what you want to accomplish.
The very act of writing is cathartic and makes the idea come to life. Did you know that J.K. Rowling wrote the initial “Harry Potter” ideas on napkins? If the idea of multi-page business plan makes you fearful, then write your ideas down on a cocktail napkin. It is a great start on business planning.
2.Create a Customer – Want to feel powerful? Create an Ideal Client Avatar (ICA). The ICA is a character who represents the type of customer you want to target. You define the ICA in detail so that it becomes a real customer in your mind.
Some people even draw a cartoon character so the ICA comes to life, then gives it human qualities. How old is the ICA, and does the customer have a family, career, college degree, hobbies, or a particular lifestyle? Pretend the ICA is walking into the room to discuss personal needs, goals and challenges. Are there money worries or childcare needs or a desire to find new forms of relaxation?
How can you solve the Avatar’s problem with your product or services? The ICA, or ideal customer description, will become part of your business plan, meaning – voilà – you just overcame the fear of getting started with business planning.
Just let the thoughts flow. If you need help getting started, there are plenty of free business plan templates, such as the one at Hubspot. However, beware of using templates for anything other than getting familiar with the sections of a formal business plan. A customised business plan is recommended because no two businesses are alike so no two business plans should be alike either.
4.Ditch the Tired Old Excuses – Realise that many would-be entrepreneurs are scared of starting a business. Familiarise yourself with the main excuses people use for inaction. Even the U.S. Small Business Administration listed five top excuses that stop people from pursuing their dreams and tips for overcoming the fear associated with each one.
5.Take Comfort in Savings – If fear of ending up being destitute is the issue, take heart. You can structure your business so that personal liability is limited. However, you can find comfort in having at least six months of living expenses in a savings account which gives you time to start and grow your business while maintaining a roof over your head
It is back to writing. Put a budget in writing and promise yourself that you will stick with it, even if it means giving up your Friday night gourmet pizza at the local pub for a while.
Working with a Business Plan Consultant
The old expression that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” comes to mind. Lack of knowledge about business startup and how to write a business plan cultivates fear. Inertia is always the easiest route. If you have a great business idea, but are clueless when it comes to developing the actual business plan, there are three basic steps to meet the challenge head on:
Outline the business details, like where you will operate, what you will sell, your ideas on reaching the real customers you modeled the ICA after, where you plan on getting funding, who you plan on hiring and so on (do not worry about being formal or even organized – just jot down what you know at this point), and
If you have taken the steps to overcome the fear of getting the business started, you are ready to work with a consultant. Even if you hire a business plan consultant, you have to master the fear and work through the thought process to guide the business plan writers who, by the way, are not mind readers or miracle workers. Bottom line: Refuse to let fear get in the way of success!