What to Do When Your Business Plan Isn’t Working

Posted on January 12, 2011

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As we all have heard time and time again, God laughs whenever you make a plan, and the same can certainly be true of your business plan.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled “When it’s the Time for Plan B,” pointed out the necessity of exactly that – knowing when to change course.

The article cites “targeting the wrong market” and “unforeseen competitors” as just two examples of what can go wrong when you’re launching a business. Management troubles, products flaws and setting the wrong price point are just a few other potential mistakes any start-up can make.

We’ve all also heard repeatedly, especially in these past two years, that it is absolutely essential for any business, whether established or a start-up, to be prepared to adapt when faced with adversity or new market developments. “To avoid failure, experts say it’s critical for owners to quickly identify what’s obstructing them and come up with a solution that sticks,” the Journal says.

For some businesses, contrary to common sense, that might mean raising prices. Kate Byars, who is mentioned in the article, saved her struggling photography business by raising her rates and turning a digitally-based, family portrait studio into a high-end, print-based service. According to the Journal, she now says, “I can actually make a living at this.”

Barry Randall and Leslie Sell, other entrepreneurs cited in the article, reverted to plan Bs that involved the way they attracted clients. Randall found an online promotion service while Sell hired an independent PR rep. According to the Journal, both now have far more business than they did in the past.

However, the Journal also acknowledges that it can be difficult for small business owners to admit that their “dream” isn’t quite on course.  In my experience, people have a hard time discouraging entrepreneurs.  They want their business, their passion, to succeed.  As a consequence, entrepreneurs do not know when it is time to change course or stop all together.

Mentors and advisory boards are vital for this very reason – to turn to in times of trouble. You need smart, savvy people who are intimately familiar with your business giving you practical advice.  When things are not working, this insight is key.

Mike Goodrich
Goodrich Law Firm, LLC

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