Advice:Poor planning key to 80% business start-up failure rate

By , published on 14th October 2010

According to a recent BBC news report, four out of every five business start-ups ends in failure and one of the main reasons comes down to either poor planning or a total lack of it.

Small business owners undoubtedly face a number of challenges as part of their daily lives.  Not only does the day-to-day running of the business leave them feeling totally overwhelmed, but so too does the mere thought of putting together what are often perceived to be complex business and marketing plans.  In many cases, they find it hard to pinpoint just what it is that they want to achieve, or what it is realistic for them to achieve, and so they simply end up muddling through.

When you consider what often rides on the success of a business, including financial security and prosperity, reputation and personal satisfaction and fulfilment, good planning is clearly vital.  After all, few of us would even set out on a journey to an unfamiliar destination without having first planned the route, and the worst that could happen in that scenario is that we might get lost and waste a bit of time and petrol.

The purpose of a marketing plan is to give clarity and purpose to your marketing efforts.  It doesn’t have to be some formal weighty document, but can be a simple road map that indicates milestones along the way.  However short or long though, it should be a living, breathing document that you consult regularly and amend as required.

Why is it so important to have a plan?  For one thing, it provides a clear idea of what you want to achieve, and in what timescales, so that you can focus on making sure that you get there.  For another, it helps to ensure that you take action.  Muddling along and dealing with one day at a time often leaves no time to sit and work out what type of marketing would be most appropriate and achieve the best results, let alone put anything into action.  Without a plan, the temptation is just to go with whatever you have time for or whatever feels right at the time, irrespective of whether it serves the long-term aims of the business.

Another very significant thing that a marketing plan does is to help avoid distractions.  What do I mean by this?  Well, the people who just muddle by can, for example, often find it easy to lose sight of who their target audience is.  When a better prospect appears to come along, they switch their attentions and effectively undo any previous good work in terms of building their credibility and reputation in a particular niche.  Not only do they constantly find themselves having to start from scratch, but they waste valuable time and resources into the bargain and often find themselves up a blind alley.  If they had followed through on their original plan, however, they would have got much closer to their goals much more quickly and effectively.

In any area of life, you have to know what you want in order to be able to go after it, and this is particularly true in business.  A simple road map breaks down what might at first seem like an impossible task into bite-sized, manageable chunks, allows you to gauge your progress and make adjustments as needs be and basically keeps you on track.

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Ford Henderson

About Ford Henderson

Ford Henderson is a client attraction marketing expert. He works with professional service business owners across the UK to help them market their business to get a continuous flow of profitable new clients

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