Business Plan — Should you have one?

Most small business owners or would be entrepreneurs start out with the simple question in mind: “Should I have a business plan?”

The answer is often mixed with strong opposing forces on either side. Today, I’ll break it down for you in a short, sweet, and to the point manner.

Problems with a business plan:

1. Owners often enter what is called paralysis by analysis. This means that owners will sit down with their business plan for weeks, months, maybe even years before they ever begin to actually start the business. As you can see, this is a significant problem because we all tend to be perfectionists when it comes to our dreams of owning our own business. The takeaway? Create a plan in a succinct manner and finite amount of time. Set up a rough draft with milestones for you to achieve and apply an iterative process to your business plan. (Side note: If you are looking for investors you may need a thorough business plan, OR a pitch deck)

2. Owners will never deviate from the business plan. They tend to write out a business plan and forget to go back to it. This is a problem for the future of the business. If there is a great opportunity down the road, owners will look at their business plan and fail to embark on any new journey because “it is not in the original plan.” This obviously limits the success of the business. The takeaway? Make sure your business plan is a living document. Something that you will go back to time and again with updates, ideas, thoughts, and opportunities.

Should you have one?

Aside from the need to have one in situations where law, regulation, investors, or banks are looking for a thorough one, the answer is no. If you want a road map and guide for the future but understand that you will make changes as you go, then yes, by all means create one. And finally, if you have perfectionist tendencies and know that you will sit there for days or months creating a plan that will never be put into action, then you should check out alternatives like pitch decks or just be sure to set deadlines.