An increasing number of women are starting small businesses.
The number of small businesses that are starting up with women at the helm is growing and 30% of business owners in the UK are women (Labour Force Survey 2003). The reasons women decide to start their own business vary, with most reporting that they want to be their own boss, choose their working hours and enjoy better work life balance.
However for many of these women the reality of running a small business does not live up to their expectations; it is difficult to fulfill their dreams for their business and they become disillusioned and overwhelmed with the ongoing struggle of running a small business alongside their other roles in life – mother, partner, friend, daughter, chef, chauffeur, socialite – the list goes on!
One area that has been identified as a significant factor limiting the success of women in business is a lack of business planning.
Many women entrepreneurs and small business owners fail to set aside the time to develop (and regularly re-visit) their business vision and strategy. As the old quote goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. It is generally agreed that if you want your small business to succeed, you have a much greater chance if you have a clear vision and an action plan for bringing that vision about.
So what stops women who are starting a small business from developing an inspired and effective business plan?
After all, we know that we should have a business plan but despite the best of intentions to succeed in our business, many of us don’t! Why is this? What is it that stops us sitting down and writing a clear plan and strategy for our business, especially when we know that we are more likely to succeed if we do it?
We believe it is partly because writing a business plan is boring! Let’s face it, it feels like a chore so we don’t do it. We may get the resources together that we need, we may even get part of the way through writing it, but it is the rare few that actually complete a comprehensive business plan outlining a clear vision, strategy and action plan for their business. Often, we are chomping at the bit to get our product or service out into the world and figure we can simply skip the boring planning bit altogether right? We can certainly relate to this feeling because we struggled with business planning in the early days – we gave it a try but never seemed to get further than a few pages in!
It is our view that traditional models of business planning do not cater for women in business!
We believe that traditional models of business planning and strategizing don’t recognise that women in business have a life outside of work – that they have a partner, friends and family to think about and are not prepared to compromise on health and relationships to have a successful and profitable business. Women today want the best of both worlds; we think it is possible and that they deserve to have it!
Conventional business planning and management approaches are grounded in the belief that work and personal life should be kept separate, a task impossible for most women today. This makes it very difficult for them to create and sustain a business that acknowledges their business ambition AND empowers them to bring about great relationships and a healthy and balanced lifestyle for themselves and their loved ones.
So how can business planning be tailored to meet the needs of women in business?
Whether you are starting out in business or you are well-established, we encourage you to prioritise business planning in order to ensure a strategic approach to business growth and success.
Set aside the time and space to make this happen in your business now.
Acknowledge that traditional models of business planning may be a great starting point, but that they may not address your needs as a business woman who also values health, relationships and having a life outside of work.
Think outside the square and discover ways to plan your business that relieve stress rather than increase it. Look for tools that empower you to bring all aspects of yourself to the planning process – personal and professional – because the reality is that for women in business the two are intertwined and to be successful in one you must pay attention and care for the other!
Get creative in your approach – both to the process of business planning and also to the way you can incorporate the other aspects of your life into your successful business strategy.
Take action to implement your strategy so that it comes to life for you.
Commit to re-visiting with your business plan on an ongoing basis to ensure.
Business planning is vital to the success of your business, and can also encompass all the aspects of your life.
You do not have to sacrifice your health and relationships to be a successful business owner and entrepreneur. Take action now and plan for your success in business and in life.