This question may not belong here, for that I apologize in advance.
I work with my father at his small company that he started. About 5 years ago is when he moved into his first physical location. We do web development + computer repair.
My question is, don't most, if not all, startups / small businesses have a specific idea of where they are trying to move? Don't they have a general idea of what numbers to expect in certain time frames?
I ask this because I feel our company is simply "there". There is no grand scheme to things, except that we want there to be success at the end of the road. Obviously we have talked about the future before, but my father refuses to talk specifics. We don't crunch numbers or consider certain outcomes. He likes to wait until things have to be addressed instead of pre-planning. There is no flagship product that we're developing, more of just working as work comes in, which doesn't seem right at all.
So isn't this abnormal? It's hard to evaluate things when it is only he and I here. There are no other opinions or people to seek advice from. I'd just like to know if most startups and small businesses have a more specific plan of what they're doing.
You don't need a business plan. But you do need a vision. At my first starup, we were very similar to your company. Work was coming in, we worked hard, more work were coming in etc. But I felt bad. It sucked. What's the goal here? Where I want to be? What the hell am I doing here??
I've decided to do something else. I've picked the problem I knew about and created a product to solve it. That's all good, company even earned some money from it. But something was wrong again. It sucked again. Lack of passion.
On one sunny April day, my buddy and I were sitting and discussing the business and we figured out that we are on the wrong tracks again. We've discussed more about collaboration issues in our company than the business it self. There it was! We are passionate about solving collaboration problems within the company and we've spent years of efforts to make that better. There's the problem, there's the passion, there's the vision - make a product for it!
That's what we're doing since then (April 2012). It's hardest than ever (lack of money and support) but we're happier than ever before. And we have a dream :)
What a great question. I think a lot of small businesses do start out without having a business plan or an end goal in mind. They are created to serve a niche market and the people that created the company get wrapped up in the day to day and don't think about what their hopes and dreams for the company are in the future (which is incredibly easy to do).
Seeing that you are already thinking about these issues, it may be a perfect opportunity for you to put a business plan in place even if the company has already existed for 5+ years. Good luck!