We find Victoria standing on the edge of needing to write a business plan. The truth about business plans is that most entrepreneurs don’t write them.
Victoria is not “most entrepreneurs” and I’m not surprised to find her sizing up this task that often resembles eating an elephant.
I agree that she would benefit from writing a business plan. She is at the point of rebranding her reinvented business. Her new model requires formally joining forces with other teams and alliances. A business plan will be useful when promoting and attracting these types of relationships.
Due to the array of business goals and the endless variety of circumstance and scenario, there is not such thing as a standard business plan. Add to the mix that a business plan once written must not be allowed to go stale. It is advised to rework it each year or every other year. I offered Victoria a template I use with small businesses. It is a short, sweet version of eating an elephant.
On reviewing the template she realized that it’s not that much different than developing a strategic plan for a nonprofit organization, which she does as part of her consulting practice. The terminology used might be slightly different but the areas she needs to address are pretty much the same.
She looked over my offering and determined that she was going to give it a strong broad sweep. Meaning, instead of writing one chunck at a time (which most folks do) she would fill out the entire template with her first thoughts. That way she’d have at least a complete V 1.0 at the end of her efforts. Then she’ll go back and work on the chunks, always keeping the big picture in mind.
I’m happy to share a copy of my template with anyone who wants one. Simply request it by writing me at firstname.lastname@example.org and placing “short biz plan” in the subject line. Below you’ll find other reasons that an entreprenur might want to write a business plan. They include:
- Attract potential partners and funders needed to grow a business.
- Support you in evaluating the strengths, weaknesses and viability of alternatives for your company.
- Provide you with critical documentation necessary for a potential buy-out.
- Provide you with a baseline comparable to measure growth against in years to come.
- Provide you with clarity and a roadmap. Just as writing up a proposal helps you think through a potential engagement, writing up a business plan helps you thing through a potential business structure.
And in conslucion I’d like to reiterate my originial statement about the entreperneurial tendency to not write a business plan by sharing a snippet take from Inc. Magazine:
One question in this year’s survey of Inc 500 founders asked whether they had written formal business plans before they launched their companies. Only 40% said yes. Of those, 65% said they had strayed significantly from their original conception, adapting their plans as they went along. In a similar vein, only 12% of this year’s Inc 500 group said they’d done formal market research before starting their companies. Seat of the Pants, by Sarah Barlett, October 15, 2002.
At the end of the day it all comes down to each individual needing to size your own need to eat an elephant… or not.