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Does everyone have or need a Business Plan?

Discussion in 'Get productive' started by RapidEntryBiz, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. RapidEntryBiz

    RapidEntryBiz Member

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    I'm a great believer in planning and modelling, do fellow soloists believe in the Business Plan as much as I do?
  2. AgentMail

    AgentMail Renowned Member

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    I think the need and depth of a business plan is determined by how serious you are about growing your business. Many businesses fall into it from being a hobby or a bit of fun. For these people, where there is no major investment, apart from the love of it probably don't rely on or even have a business plan at all.

    I think the sad part is those that do want to grow, when they ask if they have a business plan, the reply is 'Sure, I wrote one when I needed a loan 5 yrs ago'. A business plan is supposed to be a working, ever evolving document. It does not need to be your guiding light, be should be referred to with any major decisions, to see if you are tracking as planned, or if you need to adjust your goals.

    To answer your question from a personal point of view, I have a business plan, I know I do not refer to it enough, but my business is such a small operation at this point, and I am happy with where it is. If I wanted to take it to the next level, my business plan would be right there alongside my general ledger and bank account details :)
  3. JaneB

    JaneB Active Member

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    Yes, I've always had a business plan even though my businesses started as hobbies. All of them have been successful financially and I think it's because of the planning.

    My plans start in a notebook (the old fashioned paper kind!) that I carry around with me. Each page is devoted to what would happen if this happens or if that happens. When I've worked it out I transfer it to a spreadsheet.

    For instance - in my first accidental business success (teaching disabled teenagers how to cook) my Plan A was to keep it as a once a week hobby with no licensing or advertising required.

    Plan B was sprung into action when I got a referral which increased business. At that point I had to get a business license, acquire a food safety certificate, and work in a certified kitchen.

    Plan C was put into effect when I got further referrals and needed to employ people. Because I'd worked it all out ahead of time, it was easy enough to follow the laws and codes and have everything shipshape for expanding the business rapidly.

    I'm now doing a business plan for my new music venture, but I'm finding that it takes more time now to work out the social networking side of things involving websites, twitter, etc than the business side.

    This site is helping me enormously in understanding this networking aspect.

    Jane
  4. Apples1

    Apples1 Member

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    Yeah i always have a business plan, I'll admit i struggle with writing them but i do it anyway because i recognise that it is a requirement for any business. Maybe i don't need to have one now but at some point in time I'm going to need to use it.
  5. RapidEntryBiz

    RapidEntryBiz Member

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    JaneB, that's how I use it. The last time I looked at it and updated it with changes is the last take I had on what I'm doing, the direction in which I'm heading - since then I'm just doing what my plan knows I'm doing.

    Replied to a thread on this forum recently where a businessman had rented a studio (office) now he is wondering how he will pay for it with no contracts on the horizon. A business plan would prevent that because you would see, when filling in the current details of the business - updating the plan - that it wasnt the right time to do that. It sounds miraculous but its not, of course - it gets you thinking about things/devoting time to thinking about them.

    Spoke to a client this morning who didnt want to know about financial modelling. I see his point. He doesnt need that extra 'noise' when he knows (as a soloist) where he's at financiallly. He has all the information he needs to make his decisions and I'm not going to burden him with stuff I think he should know when he's doing alright without it.
    Business Plans, like financal information are only useful if they're an asset. They're a planning tool, something you use, not something that's given to you. Like Agent Mail said, its an evolutionary document, something you use to refer to and to hold information and to help you with your business development.
  6. mexham

    mexham Member

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    Yes totally, I think so.

    We have a business plan, short and long term and spend a few days every year specifically going over this. We look back and see what we have achieved and work on putting in place new goals and plans, plus altering existing ones if need be.

    Just as important as setting them is following and reviewing. Without a plan where are you going?
  7. MatthewKeath

    MatthewKeath Renowned Member

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    Yes.
  8. GailH

    GailH Active Member

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  9. Steve_Minshall

    Steve_Minshall Well-Known Member

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    Ok here goes, now where is the really small font?

    I don't have a business plan

    Wow, did I really admit that on FS?

    I have a detailed financial forecast for sales and expenditure for the following year which I prepare about 2 months before the end of the tax year. This helps me run the business, keep spending in line with revenue and helps me check every month if I get to keep the house or not.

    But this is not a business plan. A business plan is about what marketing activity are you going to do, when are you going to do it, what customers are you going after, how are you going to do this, what improvements are you going to make to the operations of the business, what new products are you going to look at. How might you raise capital etc. etc.

    But how can i possibly justify not putting all that down on paper?

    Because I am a soloist with a just a few employees. In reality even though my business is growing nicely and is a healthy operation there are only so many things I can achieve in a year. I have a couple of big hairy goals a year (moving into new premises, building an industry leading website etc.) and then 10 or so smaller things to improve the business. And I think about this stuff all the time, at work, driving to work, brushing my teeth, brushing the yard, all the time. So I don't need to write it down because there really isn't that much to remember. I have my goals for this year, I think about how I am going to achieve them, I mull, I modify my ideas and as long as I have achieved what I want in a time frame that I don't feel guilty about then all's good.


    When would I consider preparing a formal business plan.
    1. At start up
    2. When more than one person runs a business
    3. When I want to sell the business
    4. When I need to source financing

    So go on who else is going to come out of the closet???
  10. [Former] FS Concierge

    [Former] FS Concierge Renowned Member

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    Ha ha, you are a very brave man Steve!

    But actually, I think you DO have a business plan, it's just not on paper. If you needed to take it to the bank or something, it sounds like you could knock it up in about half an hour!

    Love your work!
    Jayne
  11. RapidEntryBiz

    RapidEntryBiz Member

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    A business plan is about what marketing activity are you going to do, when are you going to do it, what customers are you going after, how are you going to do this, what improvements are you going to make to the operations of the business, what new products are you going to look at. How might you raise capital etc. etc.

    Hi Steve,
    I wondered so I asked the question, expecting almost everyone to say yes. so glad you put up your hand. FS arent pedantic and you being on the nay side proves that.
    You'll agree that the Business Plan consist of three parts - (small b) Business Plan, Operational Plan and Marketing Plan. I think you've misinterpreted the requirements of the BP from your comment above. You dont have to have all that stuff-something that demanding sounds like the tail wagging the dog. I dont have a clause about raising capital or new products but i would if the business evolved that way. Thats the key though, its an evolutionary document. It evolves. You update it. It helps you put your ideas into perspecitve. I dont have any employees but I have a BP. I find it frees up my brain to concentrate on my work.

    You have a detailed financial forecast? One of the hardest things to budget for is expected income, so you're not a slacker! In fact you are probably as Jayne says, a closet BP'er.
  12. Steve_Minshall

    Steve_Minshall Well-Known Member

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    Oh cool, I get to debate on a subject that has nothing to do with SEO!

    I don't have a business plan but that does not mean I'm a stranger to them. I had a very comprehensive one when I started out and was fully involved in the preparation of several during my corporate life and during business studies.

    I agree that a business plan does not have to include (or be limited to) all aspects of business planning mention before. It may even be published so as to give only certain information to certain people.

    However, I disagree that a business plan is an evolutionary document. It is a plan set down as guidance for everyone as to what are the aims of the business for a defined period. It is a fixed document.

    It is not the tail wagging the dog. It is the dogs brain writing down how and when the tail should wag.

    You create the plan, you run the business with the BP as guidance for the period of time specified. You look at what you said you were going to do verses what you actually did. You create a new plan based on the latest data available and start again. The plan runs the business.

    This is evolutionary but only in steps, typically one year increments. It is not fluid. Which is why I don't use one (other than for financial metrics).

    If you have a document that is fluid it is not a plan. It is I guess a planning tool, a to do list, a goals list, a way of clarifying your thoughts but it is not a business plan. In anything other than the smallest of businesses a constantly evolving document would just not work because the goal posts would always be moving causing annoyance and confusion.

    In my business the goal post are constantly shifting. But so what? Only I knew where they were in the first place and as long as my staff know where they are during their current session of play we're good.
  13. MyGreatIdea

    MyGreatIdea Renowned Member

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    Hi Steve

    Sounds to me like you DO have a business plan and a very detailed one...just not written down!! And that's a step further along than me. I keep moving my task "Begin Business Plan" (in my Outlook Calendar) from week to week...I'll get to it eventually.

    Wendy
    www.coupleit.com.au
  14. RapidEntryBiz

    RapidEntryBiz Member

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    Wendy,
    take a look at the ANZ biz plan template, its impressivel DM me and I'll email it to you (not affiliated, just love planning and analysing!)
  15. MyGreatIdea

    MyGreatIdea Renowned Member

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    Thanks Dianne

    [email protected]

    I'll let you know how I go !!

    Wendy
  16. Adam Stanecki

    Adam Stanecki Active Member

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    The guys from 37 Signals got it right in their book Rework when they said "Plans are guesses."

    How many times have you written a full-blown business plan and then shelved it and not looked at it again?

    I think 42-page written business plans are over-rated.

    My business plans are generally 1 A4 page. The page includes:
    • the dream
    • the passion (why I'm doing it)
    • the model
    • the audience
    • the channels

    Everything else comes from there. Yes, I have new ideas, other plans and timelines but I don't bother with 5 year projections and all that jazz because I've found it irrelevant to getting the stuff done that really needs getting done.

    Plans need to be fluid and changeable.

    In every case, my business plans sit atop my personal mission and dreams.
  17. RAds

    RAds Member

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    I really need to write one but am having huge trouble actually working out the costs of doing business. Its a bit hard to write a plan when you don't know those fundamentals.

    Currently looking like I can't afford to startup without either a loan or VC, both of which require a business plan.
  18. bridiej

    bridiej Well-Known Member

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    No, I don't have one and never did....
  19. Michael Soininen

    Michael Soininen Member

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    Yes. A business plan sheds light on your path forward - as opposed to stumbling in the dark. ;)

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