T-Shirt Company Business Plan
To have a business plan…or not to have one…that is the question.
In the last 5 years, a number of people have asked me if I have a t-shirt business plan. Whether they are people interested in my business for conversation sake, or people (banks or otherwise) who I’m looking to do business with, it happens more than you might think.
For the first few years I would answer that I don’t have a business plan. I always would seem to get a strange look in return. Finally when I would receive those looks, I finally started to ask “What does that have to do with anything? I have a successful t-shirt business without a t-shirt business plan.”
Well, it turns out…that I didn’t need to have a business plan…but it would have been better if I did.
Sure, it would be great if I did have one, but that takes a lot of research, time, effort, and so on to put together a business plan. I just don’t have any extra of any of these. Oh…but if you had a business plan, you would save yourself so much time, effort, and research in the future.
The Lego Business Plan
Think about it this way. Say you’re putting together a Lego rocket ship for your kids (obviously this is something that I’ve had to do lately). Could I do it without the instructions? Sure, but then there is probably a good chance that it will take me longer, it will not look exactly like the picture, and I just may have a few hundred pieces left over. Would you call this a complete job? Of course not.
Now say that you have the instructions. You can do the job more efficiently, it will look correct, and I will you have used all of the pieces. Sure, someone had to take the time, effort, and put the research in to make up these instructions. However, this plan made it possible for the user to succeed with less effort, time, and research.
So, does one need to have a business plan to become successful? Absolutely not, however, it sure does make things a lot easier.
Have a look at my own experience in the T-shirt business. If I had a plan in place prior to starting the business, I may have known when it was time to expand and how to go about that.
Over the first few years I always wondered when and if I should expand. It was always just a lingering thought in the back of my mind. Once I thought about it I would usually discarded as daydreaming or something that I was not ready to do. You see, I didn’t have a plan. I had no idea when the time would be right. And as more time passed I started to see that procrastination or lack of planning was a problem with my business.
If I had that plan laid out ahead of time I would’ve known the right time to grow the business and how to start doing that. With that said, would a business plan tell me exactly how to do things correctly? Of course not, mistakes in business will always be made. But at least I would have had a foundation to start building on rather than just thinking about it and not taking action.
A Business Plan Is Not Perfect
A business plan is not going to be perfect. In fact, a good business plan should be updated consistently as different problems, solutions, technologies will evolve in time. Will a solution be the same today as it was 10 years ago when a business plan was written? Possibly, but chances are that it will have changed.
Would I have a better business today if I had a plan laid out ahead of time? Without a doubt. Your judgement does get better with more experience on the job. But as a business owner, your priorities will tend to get jumbled. Not because you’re not thinking about them, but because there are so many to think about. With a plan in place, it would have been a reminder that you’re working towards a goal and you need to take these steps to get there. Forget about the small problem that you have today (or just spend less time making it into a big problem) and figure out how you’re going to fix it and move on toward the big picture.
So take a look at your business around you. Are the people involved with your business the people you would have chosen when you started it? Are the processes you use now the same ones you would have predicted? Are you growing as fast as you would like? Maybe yes is the answer to some of these questions and maybe no. However, the answers to these questions would likely have come easier if you would have been thinking about them since you started your business and written these answers down in a t-shirt business plan.