by Drake Fleege
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”. These words, credited to Winston Churchill, are as valid today as when he first shared this insight. How appropriate to consider this phrase for our own business, not only in the current economic environment but into the future – the future of our choosing.
Making the assumption we want to be operating our photography as a business, a written plan is essential. But why should I have a written plan when I have it in my head – one might ask? Read on for the answer…
1) A written plan provides clarity of purpose –
It is easy to have an idea in our head, believing we know exactly what it is we are doing and where we are going. I know I’ve done this. However, once the thought is transcribed on paper, the idea starts to take form. Rather than a vague concept, our mind now focuses with the precision of the laser beam, providing clarity out of chaos.
2) A written plan enables self-evaluation –
Business is an ever-changing environment. Some things we try work very well, some are met with limited success, and other ideas simply fail, regardless of our best attempts. Maintaining a record of both the successful and failed ideas on an annual basis, at least for me, helps with self-evaluation on the life-long journey of learning and continuous improvement. Reviewing these results annually often generates new ideas.
3) A written plan helps marketing efforts –
We all do the appropriate marketing in the manner in which we feel comfortable and believe is correct for our business. Though a marketing plan is often a separate document, I like to incorporate the goals of the marketing program into the overall business plan. Even in this concise form, I can see my goals quickly within one document. Action plans are then developed and implemented throughout the year to accomplish these goals.
4) A written plan means you’re serious about your business -
If we want our photography to be our business, than it’s important to be a legitimate business operation. Using QuickBooks or some other professional level accounting software, having a tax accountant and lawyer, paying insurance, filing the state annual reports, having a separate business checking account and credit card, and doing all the things necessary for running a business are an essential ingredient into being a business. Included in this checklist is having a business plan that is updated annually, reviewed periodically, and available to be shared with your key people if (or when) needed.
You may never be asked to share your business plan. Then again, you may. Having available a written document that confidently explains your vision, complete with logical sections about your company, it’s markets and products, challenges and rewards, present situation and forward futuristic view, can be incredibly liberating in such situations. It is the future of your business that you are sharing with those who may need to know – your accountant, banker, lawyer, or investment partner (your spouse!).
5) A written plan is needed because “failing to plan, is planning to fail”
To be successful, and one can define success as one wishes, a plan is required. Without definable goals, measurable action steps with a timeline, no matter how good our intentions, we’ll just not get close to our destination. With a plan, implement our ideas, monitor results and adjust where needed. It becomes the map to our future.
Spending the time to develop a written plan, perhaps sharing it with no one, may appear a waste of time. Quite the contrary. It is your business, and therefore your plan. Even if you are the only one to ever read your plan, the fact that you have planned and implement your ideas will have already paid dividends on your investment. As another saying goes (author unknown) “Plan the work, and work the plan” – and remember, have fun in the process!
You can view Drake Fleege’s photography here.
If you have any thought about business plans please leave a comment.