The "One Pressing Issue" Plan: Business planning does not stop the day you open for business. Under the best of circumstances you should be revisiting your plan once or twice a year to see how things are going, and where perhaps you've veered away from your original goals. Remember, changing the direction of a business isn't always bad, but it should be intentional. Then there are the moments when something seems to be going wrong, when one or more areas of the business just don't seem to be working. Cash flow is anemic or the marketing message is flat. Perhaps customers have shown a marked interest in only one particular product or service, ignoring all your other offerings. This means it's time to revisit your business plan, more precisely it's time to revisit the questioning process that helped you craft your plan. Look at the assumptions you baked into your original plan. Did the city follow through on opening that new park across from your location? Were insurance rates what you expected? How many hours of accounting or web design help did you really need? Are your online inquiries out_stripping your face_to_face sales? Or vice versa?
Business Plans are Guesswork _ Almost everything you write in your business plan will be guesswork. Even worse, there'll be some pretty inflated and optimistic claims in there that won't reflect reality at all. Here's some reasons why you're going to be doing a lot of guessing: You don't really know how many widgets you're going to sell until you try to sell some. You don't know what price point to use until you test to see what your market will accept. You don't know whether your customer even wants your product/service until you find a market and ask them. You don't know how to market your business until you try various methods, split test and see what works. You don't know how new tools like Twitter might transform you business, if they aren't yet invented when you write your five year plan. So we've established that a business plan is largely a work of fiction. What other reasons are there not to write one? They Give You a False Sense of Security _ I don't mind admitting I've written business plans in the past for some pretty bad ideas. Yet, I managed to make the business sound really viable, enough to fool even myself. This is a dangerous thing to do because having a plan in place which looks great can give you a false sense of security. With all the guesswork involved you'll have a free rein to make your plan reflect what you want to happen, rather than what is likely to happen. This can lead you to think you have a great idea when maybe you don't. If you use your plan to convince other people it's a great idea then the problem can escalate. Now those you seek approval from also think it sounds like a good idea, all based on fiction. Those who have read anything I've written before will already know that I believe guesswork doesn't contribute to a good business mindset and should be avoided whenever possible. It's best to just take action, try it out on a small scale with minimal cost and you'll know very quickly whether it's a good idea or a terrible idea. Writing a plan doesn't make your idea any better, it jut makes it sound better.