New startups are notoriously demanding. If you’re a sole founder, it’s not unusual to be responsible for sales, marketing, PR, accounting, and operations. Every area demands your attention, but not every task is equally important. You can easily fill all of your time with busy work, while stressing out and ignoring the activities that will actually grow your business.
Lack of direction and exhaustion are common problems for first-time entrepreneurs, but there is a way to focus on what matters. A well written and regularly updated business plan will ensure that your business is directed towards growth, positioned to obtain outside investment when needed, and has a clear marketing strategy.
If you’re struggling to stay motivated while you complete the crucial task of preparing a business plan, here are some tips for staying productive:
Plan your day and prioritize. Get out of the habit of "ramping up" and simply sit down to write a section, any section. Break the cycle of refreshing your email inbox and constantly checking Facebook. Once you get something done, reward yourself with a break.
Change the way you work. You’ll need to write down your plan eventually, but a great way to test your ideas is by talking them out. Have a friend or business partner interview you about your company. You’ll realize which questions you don’t have answers for long before you approach potential investors. Use these ten questions to get started.
Create a checklist. If you can’t stop procrastinating, at least procrastinate with other work that needs to be done. Instead of organizing your office, how about you go outside and conduct some customer interviews? If your business plan is too daunting, at least you will make progress by completing the second and third items on your to-do list.
Use visualization. Your business plan is your best business case for the value proposition your company offers. What is your picture of success? When will you achieve specific milestones? Drawing pictures or diagrams of where you see your company 6 to 18 months down the road will boost your motivation and progress.
Face up to reality. This could also be called being in charge of your feelings. What's the real reason you can't complete your business plan? Could it be that you do not have the necessary domain expertise for the industry you want to enter? Drill down to your real motivations and figure out if you’re better off hiring a professional business plan writer or moving on altogether.
Procrastinators create their own unhappiness by creating obstacles for themselves. If they are unable to intervene on their own behalf, failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and lack of motivation turns into a downward spiral. Don't let procrastination adversely affect your business and personal wellbeing. The advantages of a solid business plan are clear, so if you don’t feel like writing one, don’t be surprised when investors don’t write you a check!
Article courtesy of Akira Hirai. Akira is the founder of Cayenne Consulting LLC, an international consultancy that helps entrepreneurs prepare business plans, financial forecasts, and investor pitch decks. Visit http://www.caycon.com to learn more.