Business Plans Are Useless

Oct 30, 2022

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Business Plans Are Useless.

Okay, okay, okay,! Before you throw your right hook, hear me out. When it comes to business plans, I subscribe to Eisenhower’s perspective: 

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Formal business plans can prove useful if you want government contracts, or you’re trying to get a loan or grant, but when it comes to your day-to-day operations as a solo-preneur, it’s of minimal impact. It’s so inconsequential, in fact, that I’d call it a distraction. Or, what Steven Pressfield would call, “resistance.” 

Like spending months developing a logo, or a website, or choosing the perfect name for your company, a business plan can act as an excuse to avoid doing the actual work. 

The road to hell (and failure) is paved with business plans. 

Let’s be real. Some people spend weeks, maybe months-even years- developing a business plan that, frankly, is never going to be looked at again during your venture (exceptions mentioned above). Once the masterpiece is complete, it ends up in a drawer somewhere, or stays in a computer file that you never look at again. 

And so what if you did actually look at the plan? 

Mike Tyson nailed it when he said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The entrepreneurial life is spent in the ring, getting swung at from every which direction. The plan isn’t so much the savior, it’s the planning. 

There’s a magic to working through the process, calculating steps, and anticipating obstacles-understanding the jib & the jab. This is why Eisenhower said that planning was indispensable. You can’t skip it. But don’t let it fool you. Don’t let the Small Business Association, or Harvard Business Review, or some professor that has never started a business, trick you into believing that simply having a formal business plan determines your success. 

It doesn’t. 

That said, I learned from John Assaraf, a simple three-part business planning strategy that has helped guide decisive action in my business. 

Once you decide what your goal, or objective, is for your business, look at it through three lenses:

  • First, the Gap Analysis: What’s the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be?  This is a judgment-free analysis of where you are versus where you’re going in the future. For instance, if you currently make $25,000 a year as a mobile notary and loan signing agent, and your goal is to make $100,000 per year, then your gross revenue gap is $75,000. Please note that while I use a financial goal as an example, your own goal may be totally different. Perhaps your goal is sheer number of appointments, or number of five star reviews, or number of pages read in your book. You get to decide your own goals!
  • Second, what’s your Revenue Plan, or how you’ll make money in this venture? This is simple math. List the services you offer and the minimum or average rate you expect to charge (ballpark is okay). Then multiply that by the number of appointments you expect to get at that rate. This is NOT an exact science. If your numbers align with the gap analysis, and you can see a clear path to closing that gap, then you’re good! If not, tinker with it a bit more. Do you need to raise your travel rates? Open your schedule? Travel further? Offer more services? Remember what Ike said, the planning part of this process is indispensable. 
  • And third, what’s the actual Sales Process Map to earn that revenue? In the notary world, I think this is the most neglected part of the entire business. Assaraf breaks it into seven components, or a sequence of efforts that result in sales:
  1. Identify your ideal customer
  2. Generate leads
  3. Qualify prospects
  4. Present to, and interact with these prospects
  5. Convert prospects into customers
  6. Service customer and follow-up with them
  7. Upsell

This system has served me well, although for our service-based business as mobile notaries and loan signing agents, I expanded and modified this, based on my own experience, thus developing a multiple six-figure enterprise, even as a standalone loan signing agent. 

I call it my Top of Mind Method. I just wrote about it here. It’s thirteen opportunities we have to not only sell our clients a service, but build relationships that can last a lifetime. 

What you likely love about this business is that it is your business. You get to decide what goal you want to achieve in the first place. Then you can see the gap. From there, you determine what the revenue plan is. And, yep, you get to decide what sales process you’ll use to make it happen:

  • Google Business Profile?
  • Estate Planning Attorneys?
  • Paid Advertising? 
  • Adoption Agencies? 
  • Signing Companies? 
  • Escrow-direct Relationships?

You decide the sales process. 

But seriously sit down and think this through. It’s important stuff, no matter what business you’re building. If you don’t make money, you’ve got  nothing but a hobby. And there's nothing wrong with a hobby, but that’s not what we’re here for.

We're here to build a business and a dream. 

And you need to know how you make money for that. You need to understand the value you bring to the marketplace. And you need to know what to do everyday to make that happen. 
 

It’s not a business plan, it’s an action plan.

Bill Soroka is the founder of Notary Business Builder, an elite community of professional Notary entrepreneurs that are committed to building a successful business in any economy by leveraging authentic sharing technology and cultivating deeper relationships.  He is also the best selling author of three books (and counting) designed to help notaries build their dream business. 

Connect with Bill on LinkedIn here.

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