Business Plans - Dont waste your time!

ProfDavidProfDavid Posts: 2subscriber
edited October 2007 in Business Planning
Whilst a business plan can be a great source of guidance and brings structure to many younger businesses, I have known hundreds of people who have spent so much time crafting a business plan and very little doing the business.If you do put a Business Plan together make sure it is alive and fit for purpose.Sadly I have met quite a few people who thin k writing a business plan is all they need to do.Personally I have never written one in my life - this is a bit of a personality thing, but also I find them quite distracting in start up phase.Should I spend three days writing a busines plan or three days selling - Selling!Best WishesDavid
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Comments

  • robertjrobertj Tampa Bay, FloridaPosts: 0subscriber Member
    David,
    While I have met several people who think that writing the plan is all that is needed - I have met many more whose business did not succeed because they had no plan at all.
    I believe the process (the thinking, research and decisions) is invaluable to most would be business owners.
  • ToddFToddF Posts: 3subscriber
    Hummm, I guess our business is 50/50. We have spent the time to do a business plan, it`s not "finished" but it good enough for us. I can`t imagine NOT having it, we would be sooooo lost. I`m not saying you must have one to open, but you should seriously consider writing one. We use ours in so many ways it`s no funny. It`s a document that pretty much sits on the desk all the time. When an idea is generated we gauge it against the plan to see if it fits, sometimes they do sometimes they don`t. The plan has helped us stay focused on our goals, and like any small business owner knows, it`s way to easy to get distracted. This plan is our business bible............ToddF2007-10-2 13:22:20
  • robertjrobertj Tampa Bay, FloridaPosts: 0subscriber Member
    Toddf,
    You hit on a point when you said "it`s not finished". I do see people who spend a lot of time trying to "finish" (perfect) their plan, which can waste a lot of energy and time. However, the "ready, fire, aim" approach can be mistake filled and thus costly.
    We encourage our clients to strike a balance. Do "enough" planning to understand how, where, when, what, etc is needed to move forward in a efficient sequence while regularly "revising" and adding to their plan.
  • breathebreathe Posts: 0subscriber
    There are business plans - long boring stuff that I think that only money lenders read and then there are hands-on business plans.  The one I use has bulleted items- no long drawn out paragraph - that I can see at a glance if I`m following.I`ve used my mission statement when I`ve had to make decisions on marketing, hiring/firing and supplies. I`ve use it as a way of evaluating my results and retraining my sales team when they are not producing.   My plan`s helped me and our team stay on track when otherwise we might have lost focus.And, 3 days to write a business plan!  It took me 5 hours to fill it in and 3 years to fine tune it.  And we review it every quarter .
  • bizbuddybizbuddy Posts: 0subscriber
    ....5 hours to fill it in and 3 yrs to fine tune....review it every quarter...
    Take a huge breath breathe.  You hit the nail on the head, spot on!
    For everyone wrestling with the "business plan" avoidance syndrome. 
    It takes a few hours to write and a lifetime to master - get on with it.
    A plan isn`t written for investors. (if your shopping your plan to raise money - think again)
    A plan needs to be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in your business and market conditions (it`s a living document it`s not carved in stone)
    A plan is a road map for execution and MUST be written by the business founders
    A plan is an exercise in thinking through the entire business paradigm.  It`s who, what, when, where, why and how much. 
    It`s OK to not have all the answers to every question.  But, you should have at least asked the questions and researched your industry and competition.
    Relax and just do it.  Find a good software suite and start answering the questions.   
     
       bizbuddy2007-10-2 16:39:18
  • ProfDavidProfDavid Posts: 2subscriber
    Seems like its a split decision so far on the Business Plan issue, with a slight swing on the side of Business Plans as a good thing.My intention is always to get people to stop and think about what they do and why they do it. As I say, I wont do it until we are seeking finance, and even then it could be the reason we dont move forward. Initially because the writing aspect would delay me, but moreso because I am reticent to get bogged down in external funding for our business.David
  • RyanGromfinRyanGromfin Posts: 4subscriber
    I am in the process of writting a business plan for my restaurant.  I have started 3 in the past ang gotten close to finishing them.  They have helped me define my business, craft it, research it, find out if it really makes me tick.  The 3 previous were great ideas, but I started to get bored with them durring the writting stage.  My current one get`s my juices flowing.  I can`t stop thinking about it.  I could not imagine having not written this or the previous ones.  My idea is getting so fine tuned.  6 months ago it was kind of this, kind of that, now I am getting so close to knowing exactly what it is.  I will be amble to paint a clear picture to my investors, contractors, land lord, customers, marketing, PR etc.. by handing them my plan.  This process in invaluable and should I succed or fail, it will not be for lack of planning, vision, or organation.
  • BlizBliz Posts: 1subscriber
    Writing a business plan for me was the most toughest and grueling thing
    I
    ever had to do, but at the same time, it was the most rewarding thing for
    me. Although the SBA rejected the loan I was initially applying for at the
    time, I was left with a solid vision and plan, of which would have been
    absent had I not gone through the process of putting things together.
    Writing the plan offers perspective in advance of having to learn things
    the hard way. I found it akin to taking castor oil... although it doesn`t go
    down smoothly, it has a long term benefit.

    Sometimes there are blessings in the briar patches when it comes to
    owning and operating a business. Only those who are willing to go
    through the thickets will gain the benefits associated with having to write
    and tweak an organic business plan.

    Just my 2 cents... Bliz2007-10-16 12:47:3
  • digitalvision313digitalvision313 Posts: 3subscriber
    I`ve seen successful businesses with both a plan and not a plan. But they shared one thing.

    In my experience, having written and not written, I can tell you it`s really about having solid goals, and setting out
    how you`re going accomplish them.

    I heard somewhere (I think it was Keith Ferrazzi) that there is a huge difference in success between people who
    have goals and those who do not.

    In a Harvard class (not a bad school - everyone on relatively equal footing at a university of that level, so a good
    test case) - the numbers are rounded - 83% of people said that they had no defined goals. 13% said they have
    goals, but didn`t write them down. Remaining 3-4% had goals and wrote them down.

    Here`s the kicker - the 83% were the baseline - average. The 13% who had goals but didn`t write them down made
    twice as much money than the 83%. And the 3-4%, they made twice as much money as the 13%.
  • BananabeanBananabean Posts: 2subscriber
    Rather interesting to read all the above. 
     
    For someone starting out as a newbie I think the advice SUN gives for Starting a Business is invaluable.  I didn`t know how to put my thoughts onto paper although I knew what I wanted my business to say about me and where I wanted to go with it...sort of.  SUN hits the nail on the head, breaks it down, and makes it all come alive.
     
    I spent about 2 hours evaluating my thoughts and haven`t finished writing it yet but I have a far clearer idea now.
     
    I would say it is vital for anyone starting out - even if you have an outline in bullet form with SUN`s  guidelines to help.
     
    Thank you StartUpNation.
     
    Neelam
     
  • CooltruthCooltruth Posts: 0subscriber
    I`ve never been much of a `planner` as it`s easier for me to just do it than to plan how to do it. Anybody who would feel too lost without a plan should make themselves a plan to keep their focus. For those who are more `freeform` it may be better to just jump into their business without bothering to write any plans. It comes down to what your personal working style deals with best.
  • SandraPSandraP Posts: 3subscriber
    My favortie P`s - Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
     
    Whether it`s in your head or a formal document on paper, you have some idea of what you are doing and where you are going. I think what is being debated here is merely a matter of style and that is simply a personal preference.
     
    ~Sandra
  • cswincswin Posts: 1subscriber
    David, as a business consultant, I say, although a business plan is an important tool to have when starting a business, it really depends on it use.  If you just need a plan for direction, I recommend a strategic plan, which outlines, what you want to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, and benchmarks for when you need to acheive them.  Also, have a marketing plan, this is the driving force for making money.  If you plan on securing capital, whether with a traditional lender or investor, a full business plan is required. 
    I know many business owners who are very successful and never had a plan.  It depends on the person and situation.
  • trendytrendy Posts: 1subscriber
    I prepared a business plan for my Photography Business a year ago. I am planning on moving as soon as I sell my house, so I revised my plan recently. I am going to use it to guide me as I make my move to another state. With my Business Plan I will be able to make decisions wisely not at the spur of the moment. A Business Plan might take a while to prepare properly. But it really gets you to thinking in depth about your business. It makes you take your business more seriously.
     
  • KimPaluchKimPaluch Posts: 0subscriber
    Having read far too much already, I thought I`d chime in.
    Writing a business plan accomplishes several things. First, it brings your attention to your business. Most businesses need to be focused. If you`re throwing together an online hodge podge of internet businesses, you might not need one. If you`re serious about your business, are in business alone, and have an extremely singular focus, you might not need one.
    If you want financing, you will need one of these. If you`re not sure what your business is, you need one of these (and a lot of help). If you are not in business alone, you need one. If you aren`t sure just what makes you better than any other business doing/selling/servicing the same thing as you are, you need one.
    This doesn`t mean go find a business-in-a-box source for business-plans-in-a-box. Those don`t help too much, and getting funding requires some original thought or a house to mortgage.
    The process of building a business plan may seem trite, even ridiculous to folks looking to make their million on the internet. Ignore it...if you`re already making millions without a business plan, vision or mission statement, why bother now? Enjoy your money and life.
    Creating a business plan means knowing who you are (as a company), what your company values and ethics are, what you do and what you don`t do...it takes knowing who your competition is, knowing your niche...and if you don`t have one, whether you need one or not. Business plans help focus your efforts as a business owner, whether there is a market for your product/service and how best to reach your customers/market. A business plan includes an idea of a marketing strategy...or who to hire to support your marketing strategy. Do you need a tax advisor or accountant, or will you handle all of it yourself. How many people will be working for you? What sort of business will you be acorporation? LLC? are you a sole proprieter or do you have partners? Do you know the benefits of each type? Who are your advisors ? what technology and what tools do you use? Are you up on latest technology for your business? What publications will you need, and what other resources? Where do you want your business to go? What are your financial projections? What if you make money, but nowhere near enough to consider it viable? What if you`re ridiculously successful? When do you sell it, or get out of business?
    Well, some of us rely on our business plan for many things. It isn`t the actual plan itself (this is handy for financial people, employees, investors, accountants...) that steers the business, it is the knowledge gained by going through each of the areas involved. Sure, you can take an hour to fill out the formulated, generic business plan builder, but then, what is the point? It won`t tell you how to market your business, where to find investors, where to find wholesalers, what markets you are unwilling to work with for ethical reasons, etc. It is knowing what you need to know to succeed, knowing what failure means to you and what failure in your business arena is equal to.
    For myself and my partner, we are working on a business plan. We are also working on our products. We know who we are, we`re studying who our customers might be and how best to meet the customers` needs. We`re learning all we can so that we will know if its time to make a change, drop a line or add one, or make an overhaul of the entire business.
    Good luck to everyone, with our without a business plan.
    Kim
    [email protected]
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