Do I need a business plan?

In order to have a successful business, do I need to have a business plan?

Top voted answer
Lisa Ormenyessy

Lisa Ormenyessy, Business Coach and Marketing Specialist at

Hey Collin,

Yes! There is a very apt quote by Benjamin Franklin that says...

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

That said, a business plan for finance, or to take to the bank is much different than a business plan for your own personal use; which again may different to what you might share with your team.

A better question may be "what kind of business plan do I need for my purposes".

John Eustace

John Eustace, Principal / Communications and Media Strategist at

Spot on Lisa! You are not "in business" if you haven't developed a plan to be in one.

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Brett Elliott

Brett Elliott, Enterprise Strategy Consultant at

I have written over a dozen business plans and offer documents for emerging enterprises.In my opinion, a business plan is a sales document. (It might sound strange but hear me out...)You need to sell yourself on the idea of the business; developing conviction in, and commitment to your enterprise, its principals, its structure, and processes, as well as be comfortable with the risk profile for you as the founding sweat equity partner. If you are the business owner and director, you are the principal stakeholder that needs to be sold on the enterprise you are undertaking. If you are sold on the business and 100% committed the roll out process outlined in your business plan, you can sell it to other stakeholders, which may include sweat equity partners, investors, and early stage customers.They aren't necessarily going to want to read your business plan, but you will need to be able to answer the key questions a well-written business plan will provide.A business plan provides a structure to flesh out all the nuances of the enterprise, test assumptions, reduce risks, and zero in on challenges and opportunities. It also provides the foundation thinking from which your website, sales tools and branding material are drawn from. It will also provide essential content for your offer document (if raising capital by selling equity).However, as a business owner, particularly if early stage, your focus is going to be sales, so don't let the writing of a business plan become a form of procrastination that holds you back from getting out there and sellnig your product or service.

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Brian Dorricott

Brian Dorricott, Business Specialist at

Top 10% Startup

No. You don't need a business plan.

However, that does not mean you don't need to understand all the elements of what is required to put a business together and make it work. Yout still need to be able to understand the problem you are solving for customers, how to make your product/service, how your customers will find you, how you are unique, how everything is financed, etc.

Having a business plan is useful for finding funding and proving to others that you know what you are doing.

However, it can simply be bullet points and pertinent details. The best one I've seen was just 5 pages (and yes, they did get funding from Business Angels off the back of it).

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John Eustace

John Eustace, Principal / Communications and Media Strategist at

Do you need a business plan! If you needed to ask this question, than maybe there is no point Colin. Serendipity or failure are the only other options, it is a no-brainer.

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Stuart Reynolds

Stuart Reynolds, Partner at

The simple answer is Yes, you need a business plan if you’d like to have a successful, sustainable business. 
 
The longer answer is that the type of business plan you need depends on your business and your goals. If you have a small craft business, for example, where you’re making products to sell at the markets and on your e-commerce store with no intention of expanding or seeking investment, your business plan might be a couple of basic pages outlining your audience, how you’re meeting their needs, and your products and future plans. It provides clarity for you as the business owner and will help you make effective decisions. 
 
On the other hand, if your business involves a new Software as a Service (SAAS) idea, development of new technology, the need for serious investment and dreams of global domination, you may need a longer, more complex business plan! Financial models are also highly recommended here so you can gauge the impact of different pricing strategies, user growth, staff headcount and much more.
 
Before you begin, think about what you want to achieve with your business and how it will be used. This sets the context and helps define the direction of your business plan. 

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Shane van de Vorstenbosch

Shane van de Vorstenbosch, Director at

There are times when they are essential, especially when dealing with finances. Banks and investors love them.  Likewise if you are thinking of selling your business.

For small businesses, they are of limited use. It is worth going through the topics in a business plan to make sure you could answer them because they are asking if you understand your business, your market, the competitors and your direction. 

But to actually spend the time to make one could take days.

Like all things in business, the magical question is "what's my ROI for the time I will spend on this?" 

If it is something that you make and it changes nothing then it is a waste of time.

If it reveals something that you need to act upon, and you act upon it, then it may be worth its weight in gold. 

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Tania Willett

Tania Willett, Owner and PR Consultant at TJW Public Relations

Top 30% Recruitment

A business plan is very important. It provides structure, acts as a point of reference and much more.

However, I also believe that it's important, particularly for small businesses and start-ups, to not get too caught up with getting that business plan perfect before you start acting. Ideas, concepts and strategies change over time, and that change usually comes about through trial and error. It's ideal to go out and test the market and see if there is a real need for a business, service, product or concept. Then you can regularly check in with your business plan and adjust accordingly.

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Melanie Gray

Melanie Gray, Managing Owner at

Top 10% Accounting

It's always worth doing a business plan. How will you know what you want to do and achieve? It's a lot clearer when it's on paper. A two page of hand written notes might be all you need to start with. Dedicated at least 1/2 hour to start with and braindump. The more you plan, the more likely you are to succeed. Good luck

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Roland Hanekroot

Roland Hanekroot, Founder at

Hi Collin,

Just came across your question.

The simple answer is Yes... As I say: "A business without a business plan achieves everything in it"...

but the trick is that all business plans were not created equal.

First you need to decide what the purpose of your business plan is. If the purpose of the plan is to impress the bank to give you a loan, the document you need to create is very different from a plan that is meant to help you focus on your priorities for the coming year.

Also, You need to understand that an effective plan is never about the document (Unless is it created to impress the bank), but it is always about the work that goes into created the plan. Plans are guesses at the best of times, so often the document will be out of date the moment you've created it. but the work that goes into creating the plan is invaluable.

Hope that helps, I can go on and on about planning, and I often do... let me know if you have more questions

cheers

roland

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