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Write a business plan, do some soul searching

So, here’s the thing. Yesterday, I was reading a story in The Wall Street Journal about how plain old e-mail is becoming the next spam problem. And I had the realization: This story is SO all about me. For me, e-mail is a procrastination tool. I’ve been trained to justify jumping at every alert when I should be writing a story or, better yet given my employment status, developing a business plan. Being involved with the IT channel really promotes the rise of attention deficit disorder.

Note to self: Set certain hours to deal with my electronic inbox. This strategy actually has been used to good effect by my friend David Dadian, CEO of, who has set up an agent letting e-mailers know that he won’t focus on their messages until after hours because his focus needs to be on clients. If it’s a true emergency, the auto-responder contains information about how to escalate the problem. Score two for David: Not only does he restore some sanity to his work existence, but he lets his customers know that they are his most important priority during most of the day.

Earlier today, I caught up with a long-time VAR colleague. While we were chatting about e-commerce and business management issues, his four-month baby girl was crying in the background. Being a small-business owner, he often brings her to the office to share his day.

My friend, whom I’m not going to name because I didn’t ask his permission, has been doing the sort of soul-searching associated with a life event of the birth magnitude. He recently came to the conclusion that he needed to sit down and write a business plan for his company (even though we’re talking about a successful VAR who has been around for a number of years). Long story short: It’s been the hardest exercise he’s ever had to deal with as a manager, especially when he realized how unstructured his own day-to-day activities have been.

After I hung up the phone, I realized I was in the same boat. Earlier this week, my career counselor actually challenged me to write my own business plan. But I’ve been living so “of the moment,” I don’t even know where to start.

So, here’s my question: How many VARs actually have a business plan or credo by which they do business every day? I don’t even care if you’ve shown this plan to your banker or your board. But if you’re presented with 10 different emergencies, do you know which one should have priority attention simply because that’s what your company is attempting to accomplish? Is developing a plan easier if you’re marketing yourself as a managed services provider? For that matter, is a plan easier to write if you have hired a marketing executive? What advice would you give your peers out there in channel land? (Good or bad.)

E-mail me comments and thoughts to Heather Clancy and we’ll have an online dialogue. I swear it will be MY priority to share your responses.

Heather Clancy is a business journalist and communications consultant who has been following the high-tech channel for more than 18 years.

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