Sunday, November 23, 2008

Business Plan = Evil Monster

Business plans can be like a vampire. A vampire that sucks the very blood of your existence: time.

If you have floated around business circles long enough you would have heard painful cliches like "fail to plan, and you plan to fail". It's the kinda phrase that business dreams are made of. That is, if your dream is planning and projecting and never doing anything.

Of course this over-used phrase does carry with it a certain commonsensical premise: you cannot hit a target you do not have. Don't walk in the dark. Look both ways before you cross the street. Now that you have all vomited from cliche sickness, let us focus on a few practical truths.

1. You only have a limited a amount of time

Planning takes time. Particularly when dealing with financial projections when the business has yet to even commence. Test the market first! Steve jobs-esque vision will tell you that you need to offer a solution to a fundamental problem that people have. Create something that the market needs. The only problem with this approach is: how do you know what the market needs?

After a strong morning latte and a wiff of fesh city air you may consider your own personal problems big enough to represent the market. But be careful. You may have even asked your friends or family and significant other whether they agree with you. More often that not they will. More often than not, you are no closer to finding the truth.

2. Planning is a close friend of procrastination

You don't generate income from writing a comprehensive business plan.

In fact, the longer your business plan, the more likely it is that your concept is not cohesive. You should be able to pitch you business plan in a few well constructed sentences. In other words, if it takes ten pages plus numerous statistics, graphs and charts to ouline your idea- your audience has most likley left the room or fallen asleep.

"So how is your business coming along? When are you going to get started?"

The inevitable reply is: "I'm just drawing up a business plan".

A business plan is comfort. Enterprise is about risk. If you hide under the blanket of financial guesswork and hypothetical market analysis for long enough, chances are you will never get out of bed.

Business planning is a clsoe friend of procrastination.

What to do? Define your mission. Keep it brief. And take it to the market. Let the real world fill in your blanks.

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