Traditional Business Plans are where great ideas go to die

Nkoli had a wonderful idea to make and sell slippers for a specific group of people: Tall ladies with big feet.

READ ALSO: How to Attain Top of Mind Status For Your Small Business

For many years, Nkoli struggled to find shoes that fit her. Traditional shoe brands and stores rarely stocked her size and if they did, they were anything but fashionable.

As she often lamented on her social media pages about this dilemma, she soon realised she wasn’t alone. There were many other women with the same pain point.

Nkoli was encouraged to do some basic research into what it would take to manufacture and sell fashionable footwear for this undeserved audience.

After speaking with different people about the idea, she decided to write a business plan. She went online and found some templates but she found the process of filling out these templates cumbersome and even counterintuitive to a certain degree.

She then put out a request to her network for someone who writes business plans. She found a consultant, paid a hefty sum and received a 20-page document.

It was a well-written document that covered all the basics from the marketing plan to financial plan and an operational plan too. Nkoli was pleased.

Two weeks later, Nkoli was perturbed. She was yet to take any action since receiving this business plan.

Why?

She didn’t actually know where to begin.

She had this detailed document sitting on her desk but it was all theory. Plus without any prior business skills, she didn’t know what she should focus on first.

When I met Nkoli at an event and got talking, that was when she mentioned her idea to me. I I loved the sound of it and I asked about her progress to which she responded, “well, I have a business plan but I don’t really know where and how to start”.

The rest of our conversation became an impromptu consultation with pen and paper. I asked her the following questions:

Do you have a first shoe design in mind? She said yes.

Do you know where to source the materials you need to make the shoe? She said yes again

How much would it take to make one shoe? She gave a figure.

What selling price did you arrive at? She shared that with me also.

How many samples of your first shoe design could you make to begin with? She said 10 pairs

How much would the materials and labour for making these samples cost? We calculated an estimate based on the figure she had and turns out she could afford to make 20 pairs
How soon can you get started? She said the next day.

By the end of the conversation, we had an action plan with “next steps” of:

Order the required materials in 2 days

Engage the artisans and settle on a fee the next day

Start production in 7 days

Take nice photographs of the finished products in 14 days (consider engaging 1/2 models)
Share photos of the product on chosen marketing channels
Sell the samples and take pre-orders

Her face lit up and she was “gingered” to get going. Nkoli said, and I quote, “For the first time, I’m certain I know exactly what to do and how to do it”.

Whether you’re launching a new business or a new product within your existing business, I always encourage entrepreneurs to focus on how soon they can get samples of their product into the market for testing.

Solid businesses are not built on lofty documented theories but rather based on data that comes testing your product in the market plus continuous iteration.

Execution remains paramount!

About the contributor

Stephanie Anyamele is a Small Business Consultant & Chartered Accountant with over 7 years’ experience in financial advisory, operations management and business strategy. She is the Founder & Principal Consultant of Charles Ardor & Company, a boutique management consulting firm working with owners, leaders and managers of small businesses to improve their financial and operational performance.

She is also the Founder of “What Next, Coach?”, a business support membership platform that prepares small businesses to grow into medium-scale enterprises. Connect with her via Instagram (@stephanyamele), email (s.anyamele@charlesardor.com) or LinkedIn (Stephanie Anyamele)

Nkoli had a wonderful idea to make and sell slippers for a specific group of people: Tall ladies with big feet. READ ALSO: How to Attain Top of Mind Status For Your Small Business For many years, Nkoli struggled to find shoes that fit her. Traditional shoe brands and stores rarely stocked her size and if they did, they were anything but fashionable. As she often lamented on her social media pages about this dilemma, she soon realised she wasn’t alone. There were many other women with the same pain point. Nkoli was encouraged to do some basic research into what it would take to manufacture and sell fashionable footwear for this undeserved audience. After speaking with different people about the idea, she decided to write a business plan. She went online and found some templates but she found the process of filling out these templates cumbersome and even counterintuitive to a certain degree. She then put out a request to her network for someone who writes business plans. She found a consultant, paid a hefty sum and received a 20-page document. It was a well-written document that covered all the basics from the marketing plan to financial plan and an operational plan too. Nkoli was pleased. Two weeks later, Nkoli was perturbed. She was yet to take any action since receiving this business plan. Why? She didn’t actually know where to begin. She had this detailed document sitting on her desk but it was all theory. Plus without any prior business skills, she didn’t know what she should focus on first. When I met Nkoli at an event and got talking, that was when she mentioned her idea to me. I I loved the sound of it and I asked about her progress to which she responded, “well, I have a business plan but I don’t really know where and how to start”. The rest of our conversation became an impromptu consultation with pen and paper. I asked her the following questions: Do you have a first shoe design in mind? She said yes. Do you know where to source the materials you need to make the shoe? She said yes again How much would it take to make one shoe? She gave a figure. What selling price did you arrive at? She shared that with me also. How many samples of your first shoe design could you make to begin with? She said 10 pairs How much would the materials and labour for making these samples cost? We calculated an estimate based on the figure she had and turns out she could afford to make 20 pairs How soon can you get started? She said the next day. By the end of the conversation, we had an action plan with “next steps” of: Order the required materials in 2 days Engage the artisans and settle on a fee the next day Start production in 7 days Take nice photographs of the finished products in 14 days (consider engaging 1/2 models) Share photos of the product ...


Nkoli had a wonderful idea to make and sell slippers for a specific group of people: Tall ladies with big feet. READ ALSO: How to Attain Top of Mind Status For Your Small Business For many years, Nkoli struggled to find shoes that fit her. Traditional shoe brands and stores rarely stocked her size and if they did, they were anything but fashionable. As she often lamented on her social media pages about this dilemma, she soon realised she wasn’t alone...


Nkoli had a wonderful idea to make and sell slippers for a specific group of people: Tall ladies with big feet. READ ALSO: How to Attain Top of Mind Status For Your Small Business For many years, Nkoli struggled to find shoes that fit her. Traditional shoe ...