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John Debrincat
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MaddisonJ, post: 265835, member: 114144 wrote:
Hello Flying Solo community,
I am currently studying in a ‘New Small Business’ course at the moment and am learning about business plans, templates, the importance of them and how to get them started.
I am curious about other business owners out there; first time owners or people who have even run multiple companies, perhaps even people who are helping to run one… what was YOUR process of developing a business plan? What importance do YOU place on your business plan? What were the main things you learnt? And what are some of the things that you changed along the way?

Thank you ALL for answering these questions that I have and I really look forward to learning a bit more about you, your business and your journey!
Hi [USER=114144]@MaddisonJ[/USER] if you are a small business then there are many reasons that you might write a business plan:

  • To enable you to determine for yourself if the business that you want to start is worthwhile and the effort needed.
  • To enable you to convince other people (like the bank) that business will be viable.
  • To market your business (yes business plans can be a good marketing tool).
  • Because someone told you that you needed one.

If you don’t believe you need a business plan don’t waste your time. Sounds a bit cynical doesn’t it but that is the reality.

Personally I have lost count of the number of business plans that I have either authored or been involved with. What I can tell you is that no business plan is static and that for successful businesses either start-up or mature they will change.

My approach has always been to get some trusted people together and start the process with a SWOT (Strength Weaknesses Opportunities Threats). Normally with a lot of butchers paper (yeah I know old school), sticky tape, wall space and string (string connects items across the walls:)). After that write it up as you see it. Maybe on a word doc or spreadsheet or powerpoint. Might be one page or a book whatever makes you happy. Be aware most people won’t read the book version!

The business plan IS NOT the holy grail so stubbornly sticking to a plan is like wearing your snow gear to the beach. You need to keep checking the weather forecast.

Lessons:

  • If you develop a bad plan you are guaranteed to end with a bad business.
  • If you develop a good plan you might still end with a bad business.
  • It is all in the execution.

The execution is about starting, building and running the business. All too often those people that start a business believe that they are experts in everything. Apart from myself, of course, that is never true! So connect with people that understand the execution part and don’t try to be all the roles that the company needs.

John