by Cherie Sohnen-Moe
A business plan serves many functions. It is a powerful declaration of your goals and intentions, a written summary of what you aim to accomplish and an overview of how you intend to organize your resources to attain those goals. If you are opening a private practice or clinic, a business plan assists you to clarify your vision and values, evaluate the marketplace, identify your goals, calculate your costs, forecast your growth and identify your risks.
A business plan addresses these issues:
- What are you offering?
- Who will your clients be?
- What needs do your services satisfy?
- How will your potential clients find you?
- How much money do you plan on making?
- What actions will you take to ensure success?
If the thought of writing a business plan conjures up images of endless hours of drudgery for you, you aren't alone. Many business owners don't relish this time-consuming, yet vital task. Several things can help ease the way:
1. Don't fail to plan. Keep in mind that building a business without a business plan is a lot like attempting to build a house without a blueprint. The house may be built, but the budget may go through the roof and the project may take a lot longer than expected. What's worse, "on the fly" construction efforts may not bode well for longevity. The house may look good for a while, but may not last.
2. Get help. Recognize that you don't have to approach this task alone. Those who have traveled the path before you have created numerous resources. You can find help through business organizations such as the Service Corps of Retired Executives (www.score.org), business plan-writing software, local business school centers for entrepreneurs and some top-notch business books. (See Issue 5's Online Resources at www.futureLMT.com.)
3. Don't sweat the small stuff. The first draft doesn't have to be perfect. Once you know the key ingredients of a business plan, you can start with a mission statement and let the rest flow from there. Think of your first few hours of work on a business plan as a brainstorming session. If you are having trouble getting started, you may want to plan an initial two-hour work session with a business advisor, colleague or business coach.
Many new massage therapists become overwhelmed by the minutiae of running a business and miss valuable opportunities to plan strategies for future success. Scheduling periodic "reality checks" with your business plan on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis can help you to adjust course when needed and identify new ways to grow your business.
Use our Business Plan Outline (on www.futureLMT.com) to get your process started by listing the contents of each section.
If your business plan is to be used in securing a loan, you'll need to incorporate additional information. See "Business Plan Supplement" in Issue 5 at www.futureLMT.com.
Cherie Sohnen-Moe is an author, business coach and international workshop leader. She has been in business since 1978. She was in private practice for many years as a massage and holistic health practitioner before shifting her focus to education and coaching. In her coaching/consulting practice, she has worked with individual therapists to small wellness centers to day spas that have multiple locations. She has served as a faculty member at the Desert Institute of Healing Arts and the Arizona School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and is an adjunct professor at Clayton College of Natural Health. She has written more than 100 articles that have been published in more than 15 national and international magazines. She is the author of the book, Business Mastery, which is in its fourth edition, has sold more than 325,000 copies to date with 650-plus schools requiring it as a text. She is also the author of Present Yourself Powerfully and The Art of Teaching. She is co-author of The Ethics of Touch, with more than 300 schools requiring it as a text. She is also a contributing author of Teaching Massage: Fundamental Principles in Adult Education for Massage Program Instructors, and was interviewed for a chapter of SAND TO SKY: Conversations with Teachers of Asian Medicine. Sohnen-Moe is a firm believer in education and as such serves on the exam committee of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) and is a founding member of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE). She can be contacted through her website, www.sohnen-moe.com.