There are entrepreneurs who succeed with the combination of right business skills and a bit of luck, and without ever creating any business plans at all. So, is a business plan inevitable to achieve success? Not really. Still, there’s a way bigger chance that without it, your project will fail.
Done is better than…
… perfect. When it comes to business plans, the most important thing is to have one. At first, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the best, or in its final form. When we decided to run a startup and present our internal tool to the world, we started with a simple excel file. Even though it didn’t necessarily have a proper business plan structure — it was something easy to transform into a real business plan later on. Our first assumptions were pretty ambitious, and as it also later turned out — pretty wrong. But what we’ve learned in the process is that even an inaccurate business plan is a benchmark for growth.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s always better to make them on paper to avoid making them in a real business. The form and layout don’t matter when you’re just starting. What’s important is to update your business plan and correct it to develop a brand new, better one — based on the comparison of what you wanted to achieve and what you achieved, with your needs and possibilities in mind.
Adjusted to taste
Now that you understand why you need a business plan, you should spend some time gathering all the information you need to create it and write everything down. For many entrepreneurs, doing so is the first step in making a decision whether to start a business or not.
It’s a huge mistake to treat a business plan as means to convince investors to fund your ideas. First and foremost, you should convince yourself. After all, it’s mostly YOUR time, money and effort on the line
A solid business plan should be a kind of recipe for successful business. This comparison is very accurate because while creating your files you determine the ingredients of your business, and later — adjust the amount of each to your taste (needs), and describe the method. It should clarify your strategy, outline marketing, and sales plans, create an action roadmap, and in the end — attract investors.
Be objective and honest to yourself. What seems like a good idea in your head, may prove wrong after some thought and analysis because that’s simply not what the market needs at the moment,
or because of limited finances or resources. Approach each idea with enthusiasm, but also with purely an analytic angle.
Find an outsider who doesn’t know much about your business and let him ask you all the uncomfortable questions like — why this way? Why so little or why so much? That’s going to force you to rethink everything once more carefully.
Split your energy between writing a business plan and your other obligations wisely. Don’t devote hours and hours of work to perfect your initial roadmap. It will be undergoing changes as your project develops anyways. Remember, that in the beginning — it’s more like a benchmark for creating more realistic assumptions later.
Before you act
Successful companies should know how to manage change. They learn from mistakes, react and adapt to conditions they’re facing: clients, products, markets etc. Creating a business plan lets you identify opportunities and challenges. It also lets you react to them without risk. It’s a great way of reviewing your ideas before investing any money. Many people think about writing it as a necessary evil. Instead, try to look at it as a cost-free way to explore the viability of your potential business and avoid expensive mistakes as you go.