Do I need a Business Plan? We get asked that question all the time. The truth is, yes. Every business should have a business plan.
There are a variety of reasons a business plan may be required for both new and existing businesses. Including, but not limited to:
- You have an amazing business idea but have no idea where to start
- Your business is up and running but you think you need to adjust
- You are looking at selling your business
- You require more funding for your business
- You want to test the feasibility of a new idea
- You need to pitch a new idea to investors
- You want to adjust your marketing plan
You just never know when a situation where you require an up-to-date business plan may pop-up. Treating business planning as a constantly evolving process rather than a needed task when a situation requires one could not only save you from sticky situations, but it could also help your business grow faster.
A good business plan guides you through managing your business no matter what stage the business is in. It outlines every aspect of the company from marketing to finances to operations giving owners, employees and potential funders or investors a clear idea of the company’s goals and objectives. It ultimately becomes your roadmap – where are you going and how will you get there. Your plan also allows you to minimize risk because you’ve thought about all those things that might go wrong and have identified how you are tackling your business’ weaknesses. You’ve done your research, set your goals, and can now make better and faster decisions based on your roadmap and your priorities.
Does that mean you have to spend hours every quarter reviewing and adjusting a formal document “just in case”? Of course not!
There are many brainstorming and strategic management tools available, such as the Business Model Canvas, SWOT, or Lean Canvas available that provides a simple and easy visual representation of your company’s business model.
Once you find a business planning tool you like, we recommend using sticky notes to help keep a “lean” business plan that is constantly evolving and working for you. Simply adding or removing sticky notes as your business changes will allow you to easily work on the area of the business plan that requires attention until you are back on the right track. If you keep your brainstorming visuals current, when the time comes where you need to present a formal plan you can simply pull the information into a document rather than spending hours stressing about how to make it “just right”.
One final tip is to remember that your business plan will always be wrong and will never be done. Yes, you’ve done all the great work to build your plan, but that is all based on a single point in time and based on assumptions for the future (which we rarely get right!). Unless you are constantly reviewing and adjusting your assumptions and their impact on the plan, it will quickly become obsolete. Following a plan that has never been reviewed and updated will most likely keep you heading down a path to nowhere.
So, if you think you need to re-visit or start your business plan process, feel free to reach out to your Community Futures team!