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If you’re running a business or thinking about it you would be forgiven for feeling completely overwhelmed.
It’s true, there is a lot to do and never enough time to do it. What is a business owner to do?
Read, learn, get a consultant or coach? Yes… those are all good things but at the end of the day when you’ve read “Eat that Frog” and you’re ready to hunker down how do you know which frog is the biggest, ugliest and least appealing? Which frog do you eat?
How do we decide what’s important when? I think there’s a way of structuring our business plan that steals a bit from the world of software development.
Instead of ‘building’ our business… let’s develop it.
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- Planning & Preparedness
I’m going to make an assumption if you’re reading this you’ve been exposed to the system software companies use to identify one revision of software from the next. “Software 1.0” versus “Software 1.3” versus “Software 4.0” and so on.
Major releases are usually identified with a change in the first number (before the decimal point) where minor updates are identified by incremental changes behind the decimal point.
I apologize to anyone who works in the software industry if I have oversimplified this but for our purposes this is all we need.
Generally Accepted Business Phases
If there are already standard phases of a company… why not just use those?
It’s a good question and if you have a relatively simple business model that might work fine. My experience has been that we spend quite a bit of time in every phase and so there are iterations of our business within each phase resulting in what we might call updates (or patches if something is broken) versus a full revision.
By using this model we can identify where a specific part of our business process needs to be implemented or updated.
More importantly, when we identify where something is applicable we have also identified where and when it is not applicable leaving us to focus our energy on what needs to be done at this moment rather than what might need to be done someday in the future or ‘what might be cool if…’.
You can find the following phases of business with some variations published around the web. If you prefer models with additional or fewer phases the concepts here will still apply.
Phases of Business as Revisions
- Version 0.0 to .9 | Concept
- Version 1.0 to 1.9 | Startup
- Version 2.0 to 2.9 | Growth
- Version 3.0 to 3.9 | Expansion
- Version 4.0 to 4.9 | Maturity
As we enter YourBusiness 0.0 we focus on activities and ideas that are focused around the Concept phase of the business. Let’s say that during that time we come up with a concept for our long term production or someone mentions we should have a customer relationship management system (CRM). Since neither of those functions belong in the concept stage we drop the production idea in the growth stage and the CRM idea into the Startup stage on our plan and focus our efforts in areas that add value to the stage that we’re in.
It is better for me to keep things as simple as possible and there’s no need to complicate this more than you need it to be for your situation.
In keeping with simplicity you just add things to the category where they belong and move them as necessary when your information changes.
You might use Version 1.1 to define a specific implementation step to be completed in the early phases of startup like your early stage marketing efforts. By the time you arrive at this point you want your basic web page launched and initial social media handles acquired.
Version 1.2 might include implementing early stage business processes for production, material sourcing guidelines etc.
You can use the same concepts across each of the business stages.
I want to be clear here. It’s important to think about your vision for your company five or more years down the road. When ideas come to mind for that time frame I encourage you to make notes in the appropriate part of your plan.
It’s equally important to keep in mind that what we see five years from now may look very different when we get there.
So by documenting the ‘features’ we would like of our business at the various revision levels we free ourselves to plan for the horizon but keep our hands on the wheel.
There’s nothing new here… not really. I get that. When it occurred to me it just felt like a fresh way to look at an age old problem when it comes to planning and implementing the features and characteristics in our businesses.
Let’s face it, business owners are busy and anything we can do to guide the way we spend our finite time in the most effective way is valuable.
In the meantime drop a comment with your thoughts. Connect with me to keep in touch and share ideas!
Do you plan your business using the standard stages of business? Share a tip for business planning! Send an email to email@example.com and I'll read some on the show!
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