By Jim Gallagher, President Jim Gallagher Consulting.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

You may have seen those reality shows where an expert in the restaurant or bar industry goes to a struggling business and in less than a week fixes all of its problems and puts the business on the path to success. These businesses often struggle because they does not know the cost of the goods they sell, how to price their products, how to market their services, have poor management and poorly defined roles within the business, or have any good systems in place to monitor their success or failure.

My guess is that most of these businesses have never sat down and wrote out a business plan. The business plan is a living roadmap that shows how a business will operate.

Business is not easy. The “build it and they will come” philosophy rarely works. The first two years of a business is especially critical. Thirty percent of new business ventures fail within the first two years and up to 50% of new businesses close their doors within five years.

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