4 Reasons to Have (and Use) a Business Plan

Use a Business Plan to Focus Your Efforts and Reach Your Goals Faster

» Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in Business Strategy | 1 comment

4 Reasons to Have (and Use) a Business Plan

Let’s say it up front.   Business is hard.   There are always a ton of things to do and not enough time, money, or mind share to get them all done.   Throw in the occasional business problem, personal crisis, and uncooperative market and it is a mystery why any businesses at all are successful.

Yet, they are.

Business Plans: Increase Your Chance of Success

Going through the effort of putting together a business plan (and using it) is one way to maximize your chances of success.   Not to say that your business plan for revivifying International buggy whips will guarantee success, but not having a plan may guarantee failure.

Here are four reasons why:

1.   A business plan counteracts the “Shiny Effect.” My wife and I joke that people (and men, in particular) have a problem with “the shiny effect.”   We (speaking as a male) have a tendency to focus on whatever is in front of us rather than what we know in our heart of hearts we should be focused on.   Everyone does this, but having a plan makes it easier to focus.   Lou Holtz, the famous football coach (and great speaker) called this WIN, or “What’s Important Now!”   If you do what is important now, rather than what is just important, it will help you to be successful.   It helps you to be productive, not just busy.
As a business, how do you know if you have “gotten there” or are even on the right path if you have not thought about what your goal is?   We run into many intelligent people in our consulting practice who know through experience many of the right things to do, but get off track.   Why?   What seems to happen is that the sensible, correct steps become forgotten as some of the four thousand distractions come into play.   Too often, investors, their bosses, or partners get frightened during the process.   They lose track of the long term plan and run off in a different direction, or are at least distracted from what needs to be done.   A solid business plan can act as a tool to calm people down and keep moving in the right direction.
2.   A business plan helps you to convince others. You are never going to get anyone to lend you money or invest in your business without having a plan. Like having business cards or a website, having a business plan gives you credibility when discussing your business with others, particularly when you want their money.
3.   Writing them down helps you clarify your goals. You may have seen the studies research why some people are more successful than others. When polled at college reunions, one thing that comes up again and again is that the most successful people physically wrote down what they wanted to accomplish. I would argue that a written business plan does the same thing. Writing down an idea seems to “give it life.”
4.   It helps you to get help.  Having a plan that you can share allows you to get advice from people that you respect. Often an old boss or even someone that you don’t know that well will be delighted and flattered to be asked their opinion. They may give you advice that you had not anticipated or may even help to point you in a direction that you had not thought of before. A good friend who is a successful west coast marketing and sales executive calls this being a “scout”. Successful people are often willing to help other people become successful – but they can’t do that if you don’t have a clear document explaining what it is you are trying to accomplish. This means that you can communicate with potential help – and that they can email the plan to someone else they’d like to draw into your team.
It may seem that you simply don’t have time to spend on writing a business plan as you go through the list of items you need to work through to launch your business. You may feel like you’ve missed the boat and it’s too late now to go back and write one. But take the time, wherever you are in the process, to put a business plan in writing. Make it professional and clear. In the long run, it will save you time in reaching your business goals.

Harry McNabb works for Spalding Barker Strategies, a consulting firm helping companies to meet their business goals. Learn more about us at www.spaldingbarker.com or email me at harry@spaldingbarker.com.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. I just forwarded your tips to a lawyer friend who recently told me he wanted to start his own business…told him he needed to start reading you. Tips are sensible and help with focus. Thanks.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>