Selling tires takes money. Unless you invested in your business out of personal savings or inherited the family business, there is a pretty good chance you developed and followed a business plan to get your tire business up and running.

Bankers want to see them. Sophisticated investors won’t even talk to you without one. And it is possible that even if you did not need to raise capital to start your business, you were enlightened enough to prepare one just for yourself.

Assuming that you prepared a business plan at one time, odds are that it has not been updated since you wrote it.

Feeling uncomfortable

If that is the case, this article should make you a little uncomfortable — at least to start. Uncomfortable because you will remember all of the things you said you would do that you have not quite gotten around to. The numbers you boldly forecasted now make you wonder what you could have been thinking!  You have a lot of company. Don’t sweat it. There is good news.

Your business plan represented your best hopes at a point in time. You now have something real against which to compare it. You know the types of tires your clients use and the precise cost of the labor and materials to perform the various auto repairs that come in.

You know what equipment you have and what you need when you have the opportunity to make new capital investments. You know your inventory levels for the different types of tires and related products you use and what it costs to buy them in today’s market.

You know what you didn’t know at the time. Undertaking the “rewriting” of a business plan is not nearly as daunting as starting one from scratch. If you have never written one, it is actually pretty easy once you are already in the business. There is a lot less guessing. And, your numbers will be a lot more realistic because you are working from experience instead of hope!

But, you may ask, why would I want to write a business plan, or even update an old one? The answer pertains less to planning than to thinking. Using the business plan as a framework simply focuses that thinking more easily. Besides, business plans have followed a pretty standard format for years. Ever wonder why?

A new look at an old plan

If you look at a few common components of typical business plans, you can restructure them into points that focus on current challenges you may be facing. By reworking the key elements of your tire business in your head, you will come away with a clearer awareness of time management, specifically how to spend:

• less time actually running the business, and

• more time focusing on growing it — and, having a life of your own.

Digging out that old business plan and looking at it with new eyes will clarify what you have learned since you started and the things with which you are living while keeping the business going today. By reframing the business with “entrepreneurial eyes,” you are very much likely to see your business as much larger than you ever have before.

“How to Write a Business Plan... Made Easy” is a downloadable book that goes into great detail about all of the elements you should consider, and includes sample plans, financial plan worksheets and a quick-start guide, all for under $30. To read about it go to: http://tiny.cc/business-plan. For guidance more specifically for the tire business (but, at $70, a bit more expensive), check out www.tiny.cc/tire-business-plan.

A scorecard for the players

When reviewing your old business plan or starting a new one, a good starting point is to list the people on your payroll and the jobs they do. Make note of what percentage of their efforts require input from you.

As you review this section of your plan, think hard about those who require the most and the least hand-holding. What policies could you put in writing that would eliminate a high percentage of your involvement with the kinds of questions you deal with daily?

Roger McManus is author of “Entrepreneurial Insanity in the Tire Industry,” a new book that challenges business owners to examine why they opened their businesses and explore whether they are achieving the personal freedom that business ownership was supposed to deliver. “Entrepreneurial Insanity in the Tire Industry” is available through Amazon in print or Kindle form. If you buy your copy from the Tire Industry Association Web site (www.tireindustry.org), the publisher will make a contribution to the Tire Industry Educational Foundation. You can contact McManus directly at roger@ensanitypress.com.

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