Why a business plan may not be the best tool

Writing a business plan is the last stage before getting onto the roller-coaster ride of a start up. It is referred to as the most important stage before starting a business because it clearly dictates the road which you are to take and defines the vehicle that will get you there. However, how realistic is this?

This post has not been written to influence anyone into not writing a business plan, but merely for the person to be a realist before going about it.

The normal procedure behind writing a business plan begins, like everything else in life, with a Google search, “How to write a business plan” or “Business Plan template”. If this is a start up then there would be the word “free” included in the Google box.

 

The result of this would be a document or template with a sample business plan. This is where the process of adaptation begins. We read what is in the document, and transcribe our thoughts about our venture within the document, section by section. We make assumptions, many of them. Days later, and at best, after scrutiny, the business plan is ready. This has been done over a couple of days being stuck behind four walls. 

Alarm bells! How can you prove to anyone, let alone yourself, that the business venture has an X% chance of it working when you have been locked in a room?

True, this might not be the ideal way to write a business plan, and any serial entrepreneur will disagree with this post, but think about it. The step of writing a business plan is done within a frame of mind of excitement. You have been thinking about a concept or venture for a while and are so convinced that it will work that you go through the pain staking process of writing a business plan.

The end result is a business plan that is written with the sole purpose of reconfirming your idea to yourself.

With all that said, the worst part of writing a business plan however is its viewpoint. A business plan is written from the perspective of a business owner looking outwards, looking at the market and building a business case on why the next venture will work. Didn’t Kotler (or was it Armstrong) tell us to deliver what the market needs? How can a business plan understand such a venture when the market information section is treated in the same light as financials when they are compositely different?

A business plan needs to be complimented with other efforts, and all need to be affected before the Google search. Put your idea through the test by interacting with the market. Allow them to criticise it and tear it to pieces. Understand their needs and challenges, as well as the depth of that need or challenge. It is when you start seeing a sustainable amount of customers giving you the nod that a business plan can be written.

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