IFEL – Creating a roadmap for your business

Blog Series: Building Great Businesses

By: ellis j. still

For the past three years, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership( http://www.ifelnj.org ) has been sponsoring a business plan competition for entrepreneurs in within the State of New Jersey. IFEL is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports economic development of New Jersey’s inner cities through business plan development and a host of business and leadership training programs.

In my first year of participation, my plan did not do well. I was crushed. I thought that the plan was brilliant – that the good people at IFEL would be falling over themselves to give mention to my eloquently written plan. The fact of the matter is that it was not remotely as good as I thought it was. While the vision was sound, the plan was not in touch with the realities of executing the plan. I didn’t place that year, which made me go for it even harder the following year. 

That next year was a test of patience. I wanted to rush to open the store that year and I saw no reason to, since things were evolving on paper. When it didn’t happen I was even more discouraged, but not defeated. I relied on the hope and the desire that God put in me to make this happen. In retrospect, now I know that during the next year of updating the business plan, the preparation and IFEL coaching & feedback forced me and my venture to mature spiritually and professionally (both are inter-related), and learning patience along the way. As a result of the growth, my plan placed among the top and I was a finalist presenter during last year’s awards ceremony. 

IFEL is a wonderful resource for not only planning your business but also executing into reality what you plan for, which is the purpose of the business plan in the first place. The business plan is a road map towards what makes your business tick, what will make it successful, and what will make it grow. Some entrepreneurs opt to pay others to write their plans for them. I recommend against it due to the need for your vision being put into words, and no one else can articulate your vision better that you can. However, I do recommend that you have someone write your plan with you.  You as an entrepreneur need to provide feedback such that you have ownership of the vision of the plan and you can realistically act it out. A business plan is more than an assemblage of words put together about your business; it is a part of you. A few things that I have learned include: 

1.)     Don’t look at setbacks as failures, but as opportunities unveiled.

2.)     Be teachable: take in everything with a genuine heart, and shelf the things that do not apply to you right now.

3.)     Patience is underrated, especially in the service industry. Sometimes we tend to do “stuff” in an attempt to move forward, but often it lacks direction and is a waste of time and resources because we did not take the time to research and ponder over what will make it work.

4.)     Do not take any experience for granted. All experiences are learning experiences… for better or for worse. if you remain teachable in all of your life dealings, it will translate over into your business. 

IFEL also offers webinars through its network of speakers who specialize within their given topic, as well as an assortment of small business offerings (see http://www.ifelnj.org for more information). 

Questions: What is in your plan? Have you taken the time to map out your business for the present and for the future? 

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


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