Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Business Plans Suck!" or "How I Succeeded and my Business Plan Collected Dust"

Okay... I said it. Business plans Suck. Yes, not exactly an articulate expression of my views, but a concise one.

But let me be more precise. Do you really need a business plan? The process of developing a business plan is one of the most tedious tasks I have ever had the displeasure of particpating in. In building my first business, Matson Breakey Associates, a social marketing consulting firm, I reached a crossroad where a business loan would have helped me to expand.

Now, up until then, I did not have a business plan. I had a strategic plan in place for marketing and growth, but by every definition it did not qualify as a business plan.

Of course, the bankers wanted a business plan. They wanted numbers, long term analysis, projections, market segment analysis, competition analysis, and on and on and on.

Many websites will encourage you to develop a business plan as the first step in developing your business. But, if you are a creative type like me... that is the last thing you need to do.

Yes, I will say it again... developing a business plan is the last thing you need to do.

HOWEVER... developing a strategic plan is the FIRST thing you need to do!
What is the difference? A business plan can be defined as:
"A document prepared by a company's management, detailing the past, present, and future of the company, usually designed to attract capital investment."

Whereas a strategic plan can be defined as:
"Planning that represents what must be done by the company in order to achieve its long-term objectives and goals."

In my experience, after going through the tedious effort of creating a business plan and even a truncated one, and after the banker or investor had reviewed it, the plan immediately began collecting dust on the shelf and my previously created strategic plan was my tool for success.

So, once again, if you don't plan on going to a banker or looking for financing, don't bother with the business plan, just create your strategic plan.
Now, those of you who ARE going for financing... it can be very difficult to go from idea to business plan... use the strategic planning process as your intermediate step.

Good Planning!

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