Category Archives: Business Planning

Smart Entrepreneurs Cruise with Business Plans

smart_entrepreneursA 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.

  1. You’ll know whether your business stands to profit or lose money.
  2. You’ll understand the flow of cash in and out of your bank account and if or when you might need to borrow money.
  3. You’ll be able to identify significant risks and figure out how to avoid them.
  4. You’ll have a marketing strategy for getting your goods into the hands of customers.
  5. You’ll use market intelligence to develop realistic sales projections.
  6. You’ll get a clear picture of your business expenses.
  7. 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.

To Business Plan or Not: Is That Really the Question?

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?

Win With a Business Plan

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.

Burning Business Plans is Sexy LOL

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

Everyone Needs a Good Business Plan

everyone_planMention the need for a business plan to the uninitiated, and they will likely give you a lot of reasons why they don’t need one. But anyone who has successfully completed a business plan knows it is a healthy learning process that enables you to manage risk and confidently start or grow your business.

Keep the body of your business plan brief. Attach important detail and supporting information in the appendices. In the body of your plan, make reference to the appendices so your readers will know where to find details.

Write for your average reader. Don’t try to baffle your reader with big words. Explain any terms that might be confusing. Break the complex down until it becomes simple.

Clarify your assumptions for the reader. You will be doing some guessing. If you’re assuming an interest rate of 8 percent, say so. Use only the safest assumptions, and use them sparingly.

Support your narrative and financial assertions with relevant documentation. There are a number of possible appendices that might add to the credibility of your business plan. For example, if your resume will help your reading audience to understand why your experience qualifies you to own and operate the business, attach it to your business plan.

Don’t slag your competitors. They are not necessarily enemies, just people who have similar goals to yours. When describing the competition in your business plan, never be critical of them; focus on your strengths and positives rather than the competitors’ weaknesses and negatives.

Prove your business case. First, identify any potential flaws or reasons your business might fail. After that, if you still have confidence in the idea, go all out to prove the business case. In its simplest form, this means ensuring that your business can survive in the gap between supply (cost) and demand (price). If you can’t prove your business case find a different business or get a job.

Eliminate inaccuracies and inconsistencies. A good business plan will increase your confidence by enabling you to minimize uncertainty. On the other hand, mistakes erode confidence. Always have someone proof read your draft plan before attempting to use it to apply for a loan.

Don’t make your reader to go fishing for information. Create one complete, cohesive communication package that makes it easy for your reader to read and understand.

A good business plan template provides you with a checklist so you don’t miss important points, and a sensible structure in which to organize your thoughts and information. A business plan makes it possible to identify and solve potential problems before you risk your house equity or savings on a business venture.

For a free business plan template visit

Related Articles:

Make a Plan to Succeed in Business

Eight Tips for Planning Your Business

Does Your Business Plan Prove Your Case?

Prove Your Business Case: Selling Laptops to Polar Bears

The purpose of business planning is to prove or disprove your business case.

Scary as that might sound, it’s as simple as making sure your business will draw enough customers to pay enough money for your products or services to enable your business and you to survive and perhaps even thrive.

What’s proof to some may not be proof to others. While absolute proof is hard to come by, there are many ways to strengthen or weaken your business case. The stronger your case, the more confident you will be in your business idea. Your confidence will come about as a result of a number of things you do. The important thing is to use building blocks that make sense to you, and to those you may be trying to romance with your business plan.

Newbies tend to experience uncertainty at the beginning of any business venture. A business plan provides an opportunity for you to gain confidence in your ideas. In other words, prove it to yourself and you will be in a better position to convince others.

Here is a glimpse of how it works. Imagine you have $100,000 and I am trying to entice you to invest it in my hot new business idea; selling laptop computers to polar bears.

When I first mention my business idea, you might think I’m crazy and set your browser to block my emails.

If I back my claim up with letters of support from the Northern Polar Bear Association, you might be curious enough to want to know more.

If I show you written orders for 20 laptops, signed by furry bad-breathed polar bears, you might start returning my phone calls.

If I increase the number of orders to 100 and include a couple of long-term contracts with established retailers in polar bear country, you might take me more seriously. You might even Google me, my ancestors, polar bears (your misdirected search for “bare laptops”, proves to be nasty!).

If I provide you with credible financial projections that detail how you can earn a staggering return on your investment over the next 18 months, you might consider the case “proven” and lunge for your chequebook.

The business plan is an opportunity to build your business case, step by logical step. By the time you get through it you will either have proven your business case, or not. Prove it and you may be ready to go into business. If you can’t prove it, don’t give up your day job just yet.