From Intimidated To Inspired: Why some small business owners perceive the business planning process as daunting and how to GET OVER IT!

In today’s economy, classic business preparation will propel you toward success. To thrive and outpace others, prepare a business plan or re-visit your existing one.

Why is this process intimidating? First, it requires an investment of time. Second, it is a creative process – goals must be set; strategies and tactics specified. Last, the process involves numbers; information must be quantified.

How can you effectively jump these three hurdles?

Let’s start with the math anxiety or fear of numbers. Some people have not gotten along with numbers since grade school. Improving your math skills can help you through the business planning process and throughout the life of your business. If you tend to skip over numbers when studying reports, discipline yourself to review them.

  • Learn to read and analyze financial statements.
  • Ask yourself if the data supports the results.
  • Look for trends.
  • Use reference materials.
  • Discuss results and action plans with your bookkeeper or accountant.
  • Estimate the influence of your decisions on financial results.

Create a habit by practicing your new skills. You will feel more comfortable taking on the financial responsibility of your business and directing your financial team.

Next hurdle – the creative process. Now is the time to think about the future of your business. Ideas have already been percolating. Begin to document them. Put them on paper. Put your stamp on your business. The result: you create a strategic direction, mission, budget and time line against which to measure the progress of your company as well as a tool for management, staff, vendors and customers.

Finally, realize that an investment of your time now will reap benefits later.


  • Break the process into smaller tasks: marketing strategy, competitive analysis, selling tactics, production and operations, financial data, supporting documentation.
  • Identify your business planning team and gain their commitment to and involvement in the process.
  • Delegate portions of the assignment and retain overall responsibility to get the job done.
  • Determine a set time each week to devote to your business plan. Record this commitment on your calendar.

Remember – if there’s time to do it over, there’s time to do it right the first time.