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.