5 Business Planning Lessons Learned from Riding the BusPosted by Jessica Oman
I don’t use a car to get to and from Write Ahead’s HQ. I ride a bicycle, or if I have my dog with me, I take the bus. This morning’s public transit commute in Vancouver was particularly annoying. The bus was late. It was crowded. A man became irritated with me for pushing past him, even though I politely said “excuse me”. Someone was listening to her headphones really loud. Another person wouldn’t take his backpack off.
It was one of those days. You know the kind.
So what does this have to do with planning your business – or writing a business plan?
Well, a lot of the habits you observe around you are habits you can learn to promote – or avoid – when you’re writing your business plan and launching your company. Here are five lessons you can learn about your business by riding the bus:
1. Make Way for Others.
The more people whose businesses you support as you’re developing yours, the more successful you’ll be. People tend to reward kindness with kindness. By allowing people to have their moments in the spotlight, you’ll get more of a boost when it’s your turn. Much unlike the fellow who uttered “Geez! Come ON!” instead of just moving slightly so I could get past him.
2. Be Careful in Overcrowded Markets.
No one’s comfortable on a crowded bus; there’s too much competition for seats, and everyone just feels a little too close. When you’re growing a business in an industry that’s really competitive, it’s hard to stand out, and even worse, everyone wants your seat.
3. Don’t Make Too Much Noise.
Constant self-promotion is guaranteed to irritate people. Like the blaring headphones, it screams “Pay attention to me! I need everyone to know I’m here and I’m really cool!”. You’ve got to add more value than that if you want people to buy from you. See point #1.
4. Think About Your Timing.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have left my house at the peak of rush hour. A bit earlier or a bit later, and I could have avoided a lot of problems. Timing is a key part of any business plan. You don’t necessarily want to rush to market at the same time as everyone else, because your launch might not have a big of an impact if you’re fighting with a competitor to gain customers.
5. Bigger Isn’t Always Better.
There’s always that one person who’s so unaware of the space around them (or lack thereof), that they fail to notice how many times the person next to them has almost been knocked over with their giant pack. Likewise, blind obsession with growing your business could actually prevent your company from enjoying efficiency, and could even hurt net profits. If you’re losing money with every transaction, scaling up isn’t going to solve anything.
In the end, I made it to the office, safely, albeit slightly later than I wanted to arrive. It’s not a big deal that things didn’t go my way; I’ll adapt my schedule and work a bit later today, to compensate. Remember that your business won’t grow exactly like you plan it. But if you adapt to the obstacles that present themselves, you can turn them into opportunities to thrive.
Photo credit: Jason McHuff