Small Business Planning – Traditional Business Plans Are a Waste of Time!

You’re a small business. You want to be successful. To be successful you need a business plan, right? We have all heard the stories about writing business plans. So, we assume that we have to do the same thing; spend countless hours writing our plan, with mind numbing detail, excruciating spreadsheets and tons of minutia that we all know is either made up, or useless. And the end result for the vast majority of business plans? They end up sitting on a shelf, never reviewed, never updated. When it comes to small business planning, traditional business plans are a complete and total waste of time, and energy.

First let’s clarify something that is critical to the success of your business. There is a vast difference between a traditional business plan, and business planning, especially when it comes to small business. Traditional business plans were typically used to get a business funded, or by larger companies to acquire an existing business. They were not designed to run a business.

Business planning is about creating a plan or road map for your business. In the cases of most small businesses, planning is something that is usually just put off or avoided altogether. Why? Because they think that planning for your business is the same as writing a traditional business plan!

What’s the alternative to writing a traditional business plan? The best thing you can do is write a plan that can fit on a single page!

How is that possible, especially when we have been convinced that when it comes to business planning, that “length is strength”? Simple, bring everything down to its core. Focus on the key success factors for your business. Again, this is about running your business and creating plan for how you will get there, not impressing anyone with extensive data..

Here are 3 key questions that your plan should answer.
• What is your realistic vision for your company? What will it look like in terms of revenues, markets or regions served and your primary products and services within a manageable time frame, say 1-3 years?
• What is your point of differentiation or what makes you unique?
• What will you measure to know if what you are doing is working?

By keeping your plan to a single page, you will also be able to keep your plan current and relevant to your business. If there is one thing that you do, it would be to make your plan a dynamic tool for your business. If things change in your business, and they will, update your plan. Commit to keeping it updated, and if you have a new idea, or you decide to go another direction, update your plan.

Paul “Bear” Bryant, the famous coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, has a famous quote that really sums up the need for you to plan for your business.

“Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s easy to beat most folks.”

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