Putting together a business plan and the accompanying strategy can be a big (and sometimes frustrating) task. Like any big task, you often start out brimming with enthusiasm; as you move through the process you lose momentum. The longer it takes, the more you wonder if you’ll actually finish your business plan.
Let’s be real — worrying too much about how you’re going to ever get something done BEFORE you even start is likely to create anxiety, which can then paralyze you. So instead of focusing on all the “what ifs”, it’s always smart to start with a plan for how you’ll get the work done.
If you’re feeling challenged to get going because you’re suffering from writer’s block, I want you to know that’s very normal. Lots of entrepreneurs get stuck at this stage.
So how do you go from concept to actually finish your business plan?
Here are my ideas on how to stop procrastinating and break the process down into smaller, more manageable steps:
- Give Yourself a Deadline
- Break it Into Bite-Sized Pieces
- Be Accountable to Someone
Tip 1: Give Yourself a Deadline to Finish Your Business Plan (and Stick to It)
It’s all too easy to put things off when we don’t have a set end date for delivery. While you may have made yourself a goal to write a business plan, that goal is vague at best and doesn’t give you any milestones to mark your progress along the way.
That’s why you need to pull out your calendar and start putting together a plan to finish your business plan by X date. Once you’ve determined your completion date, you can then work backwards to choose mini-goals you’ll hit along the way. Remember, your goals should be quantifiable and achievable.
Some examples of your goals could include:
- Write 300 words by March 1.
- Complete my bio by Saturday.
- Invest 30 minutes in market research every day for a week.
Tip 2: Break it Into Bite-Sized Pieces
When you’re working on a big project there’s a real sense of achievement with each little piece you complete. By breaking your business plan writing into small, manageable chunks, you’re setting yourself up for success.
Start by asking yourself “What can I do TODAY?” — and then do it. Then repeat it the next day. And the next.
The goal is to keep things moving. The bottom line is that it’s important to get started now, especially if your idea is time sensitive. Tackling the work in increments means you’ll finish your business plan that much faster.
Tip 3: Be Accountable to Someone Other than Yourself
There’s something really powerful about accountability, especially when we know someone else is going to be holding us to it. Lots of entrepreneurs are self-starters, but when they’re dealing with something with no fixed end date, it can be all too easy to drag things out.
Finding a trusted friend or business partner to check in with you weekly, someone who will ask pointed questions that require an answer, can make a big difference in actually getting your work done. Your accountability partner can ask you how much work you completed this week, or which actionable tasks you checked off your list, and help keep you focused and on task.
If you’re still early on in your process and the business idea is more in your head than anywhere else, I recommend setting up deadline-backed milestones. For example, you could ask a friend to review your bio, with the commitment to her that it will be in her inbox by end-of-day on Wednesday. Then it’s up to you to get to work and deliver what you said you would.
You can also try asking an expert in your market, or a mentor who runs their own business if you can run some numbers and theories by them, to see what jives up. And then you give them a date when you’ll provide the information to them.
The idea here is to create a snowball effect, which will eventually end up helping you finish your business plan.
Tip 4: Determine Your Roadblocks
It’s hard to make progress on something when you aren’t 100% clear on what’s standing in your way. It’s all too easy to get hung up on one thing or another. Getting to the why is what will help you break through.
Maybe it’s fear of the outcome that’s holding you back. Or perhaps it’s simply a lack of knowledge or doubting your own expertise when it comes to how to correctly complete a certain part of the business plan.
Whatever the roadblock is, identifying the issue is half the battle, and can help you make an educated decision on whether it’s time to seek professional help.
By being willing to modify your approach and challenge yourself to see potential obstacles to your success, you’ll be that much closer to getting your work done and to finish your business plan.