A quick search of the Internet will get you a mess of articles extolling the pros and cons of business planning. The advocates claim that anyone getting into business must have a business plan. On the other side of the argument are those who think business planning is a waste of time, including a few seasoned owners who matter-of-factly claim they’ve never had a business plan.
This can be confusing for those new to business. It’s hard to know what to believe, and naturally nobody wants to waste precious time if a business plan is not needed, nor should they—unless there are tangible benefits.
Let’s kill a myth. Most of those who will tell you they have no business plan, when questioned further, will admit that they actually do have a plan; it’s just that they don’t think of it- or refer to it as a formal business plan. Make no mistake about it; where there’s a thriving, sustainable business, there is a plan.
Many who started without written business plans did so back when it was possible to travel the railways with manually powered scooters. Trains were much slower then, and a hardy lad could almost always yank the scooter off the tracks before being crushed by an oncoming train. Nobody worried too much about having a train schedule; you could wing it and live to tell about it. Since then, railways and the world of business have gotten more complex. Nowadays, rail workers wouldn’t dream of travelling the rails without a lineup or traffic schedule, nor should entrepreneurs take unnecessary risks in today’s business climate.
Entrepreneurs who take the time to develop business plans will enjoy the following benefits.
- You’ll know whether your business stands to profit or lose money.
- You’ll understand the flow of cash in and out of your bank account and if or when you might need to borrow money.
- You’ll be able to identify significant risks and figure out how to avoid them.
- You’ll have a marketing strategy for getting your goods into the hands of customers.
- You’ll use market intelligence to develop realistic sales projections.
- You’ll get a clear picture of your business expenses.
- You’ll know whether the business will meet your personal needs and whether it is a wise investment of your time, energy and money.
In the complex marketplace of today, some sort of planning process must precede a business start-up or expansion. Smart pilots don’t fly without maps; savvy entrepreneurs don’t cruise without roadmaps. Marketplace graveyards are littered with the bankruptcies of those who were fooled into thinking they didn’t need a business plan.
If you’re starting or growing a business, do you really need a business plan? If you’re risking any more than chump change, yes. If you can afford to lose the investment, lottery tickets are a more efficient way to part with your money than failing a business. When putting serious money on the line, a success bound entrepreneur will always be stronger when armed with business plan.
After coaching many people through the eye of the business planning needle, I’m intrigued and bewildered by the gap between “what business planning is” and “what people seem to think it is.” Time and again I see intelligent people going to great lengths to avoid business planning when it’s exactly what they need to navigate the complexities of start-up.
Whether they admit it or not, those who succeed in business do some sort of planning – or hire someone to do it for them. The pieces of a successful business don’t fall into place perfectly by themselves without some kind of high-level roadmap to get them flying in formation. The elements of success come together because someone—usually the business owner—plans, agonizes, organizes, pampers, and weaves the threads together to achieve the desired positive result.
So, what is this aggravation called business planning? Continue reading To Business Plan or Not: Is That Really the Question?
No matter how small your business idea, a business plan can help you build the confidence you need to get to opening day. Business planning is not just for large or high-growth ventures, and it really shouldn’t be put off until you need to borrow money.
As healthy as the planning is, many small and micro-business owners will put it off as long as they can. And it’s easy to understand why. Business planning involves the tedious process of organizing your thoughts and getting them onto paper, or more likely, into a word processor. It includes a whole whack of potentially unfamiliar activities, such as researching, writing and building a credible set of financial projections.
Indeed, why would anyone knowingly put themselves through such pain? Thankfully, the benefits far outweigh any negatives. Here 11 ways you will win by taking the time to develop a business plan:
- You know where you’re going
- You will have a roadmap or blueprint for your business
- You will have a document to look back on in order to measure your progress
- A plan will help protect your investment and equity from loss
- You will find out if your idea will work
- You can discover and solve problems before starting the business
- You will build confidence in your business idea
- The plan can help you get financing
- You become the expert for your business
- You will prove your business case
- You will have a document to use for communicating with others, family, partners, investors, bankers
Business planning can appear larger than it really is, until you step up and embrace it. Think of it as a cost-effective learning process for anyone aspiring to operate a successful business in today’s complex global work environment. A business plan can be a giant step toward making your dream business a reality.
Planning your business doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time or money. Whether you are thinking of starting, buying or growing a business, I urge you to first develop a business plan. Once you take the plunge, you might just have fun doing it!
After all, it is you who really wins with a business plan.
Last week I was compelled to click on an article that dissed business plans… again.
Why, when the Internet is cluttered with articles that extol the benefits of writing a business plan, would I invest time reading anti-business plan rhetoric?
It is fear? Fear that some guru has figured out a way to bypass the business plan and transformed business start-up into a safe, clean, effortless experience. Not really. Nor have I discovered any such gem—in fact, it seems to get more and more complicated to own a business, not easier.
Perhaps it’s a fascination with the idea that people are generally more easily attracted to negative news than positive. So, it rather makes sense that a headline that slags business planning would attract more reads than a positive title might. Maybe.
Perhaps I resent just a bit that people are drawn to articles telling them to take the lazy approach. It’s plain sexy to imagine that you can create the next Facebook without lifting a finger or getting your hands dirty.
Invariably, once I read the article bearing the business plan dissing title, I find it’s either a blatant marketing campaign for a slightly different product or someone advising entrepreneurs not to bother with writing a business plan. It’s easy to negate the benefit of a business plan when it’s not your investment or risk on the line.
And now, I have shamelessly used a negative title to get you to read this blog. Guilty. Oh well. If you read this, perhaps the end justified the means.
So, while you’re here and I’m shamelessly marketing, I invite you to check out the Online Business Planner’s RoadMap at http://www.riskbuster.com/online-business-planners-roadmap-description/