I Will Do Anything….But I Won’t Do THAT!



Two Approaches to the Same Problem

Imagine you are in front of potential investors in your company, or in a meeting with your bank representative.  They are questioning you about your business and ask you a detailed question that you don’t fully understand and, therefore, cannot fully answer. Who do you turn to for help?  If you are well prepared you have brought along at least one or two key people to help you field such questions.  Good for you!

Now imagine that you have your top executive and right hand man in the room along with one or two team members who helped you put together your business plan and financial projections.   Questions are asked, answers are provided.  If your team does not have the perfect answer someone takes a note and ensures the audience that an answer will be forthcoming once you get a chance to look into it further.  Nice job!

Now imagine you have the same people in the room and some third party that wrote your business plan for you.  Your team worked with that third party to develop the plan.  They provided all of their knowledge to the third party consultant and answered questions throughout the development of the plan.  But now when the questions come flying you and your team are regularly turning to the third party to support the conversation and reply accordingly.  Same questions, same answers as the first scenario.

There Is a Better Way

The reality behind the second scenario is that you are relying on your contract with that third party, your team’s ability to provide their complete detailed knowledge to the third party, and that third party’s ability to absorb what your business is all about.  In most cases the reality of this scenario also includes some limited timeframe to develop the plan and the even more limited time of your team during the contract to sit down and provide the information needed to develop a solid plan. 

Now stop imagining and think about which of the two above scenarios are more likely to result in you obtaining your financing?  Which of the two scenarios are going to gain you a higher valuation for your business so you don’t have to give away the farm to get some financing?  Which of the two scenarios is going to result in a business plan that can be utilized, as is, to drive the operational results of your business?

If you answered the third party scenario for any of the above, I wish you the best of luck in the long term success of your business.  Luck, after all, is what you are counting on for your success in the later scenario.  Your plan must be developed from within by people who have in depth knowledge of your distinct attributes and who are motivated for your ultimate success.  It must be developed from the point of view that forces people to think “what is it we don’t know that we need to know to be successful.”  You must ask yourself, what are the strengths, weaknesses of, and threats to, the plan?  This excercise is not something that takes a week or two, unless full time dedication is given to the task, rather it is something that in and of itself requires a plan to accomplish.  It requires research and deeper understanding of every aspect of your business.  Without that, how can you expect your plan to be an effective guide to your success?

So when I get asked by a prospective client whether or not I am able and willing to write their business plan for them my answer is always the same:  Yes I am able, but NO I won’t do it.  I hold myself to a certain standard of service for my clients, but I also hold my clients to a certain standard of success.  Without both I am doomed to failure and I never want to provide that type of service to my client.  So ask yourself “What is my goal in planning?”  If it isn’t long term success, what’s the point?