There is a famous saying that some business leaders live by and others simply ignore: "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail". This quote brings up a debated topic in today's entrepreneurial world: do you really need a business plan?
Perfect business plans run from fifty to one hundred pages and usually take months to write. So while one entrepreneur may be locked in their room for months, cranking out a perfect business plan, another entrepreneur may be pitching ideas and actually turning profit. So who is really planning to fail in that scenario?
To an extent, an entrepreneur needs a business plan. The length and time that goes into creating this plan, however, is its most crucial aspect. Writing a business plan not only helps an entrepreneur determine whether a business idea is feasible, it also establishes a map for the company's future. At the same time, a business plan should not take months to write. If an entrepreneur takes this road, they could suffer from "analysis paralysis"—a plan that takes so long to create that the business never actually starts. In addition, long, overly-detailed business plans usually become thoughts that never end up happening. Talk to any angel investor or venture capitalist, and almost every single one will tell you that they've never read a business plan submitted to them by an entrepreneur. The truth of the matter is, most business plans are not accurate descriptions of what will actually happen.
So, instead of a one hundred page business plan, take our advice: make a less traditional, more personal business plan.
As stated earlier, an entrepreneur needs some type of plan. A successful entrepreneur must be able to evaluate the product's market, financial potential, and startup costs. By writing these in a bulleted list with the addition of goals to check at the end of each month, the entrepreneur will already be ahead of the game. Including a timeline and measureable objectives to help the company stay accountable and know when it's being successful is another important aspect to writing a personal business plan.
The question is not whether you need to plan before you start a business—this is wildly important. However, whether you need to take months at a time to develop a formal business plan is what many entrepreneurs find themselves asking. Develop a business plan that works for you and for the company—and use your time wisely when writing it out. Who knows, while you're stuck writing in the darkness of your basement, your competitors may be shining in the spotlight pitching ideas.