Are business plans a thing of the past?
With the introduction of lean canvases, do we still see value in creating business plans?
Laura Humphreys ,
Freedom Mentor at Liber8 your Business
That is like asking if maps are a thing of the past. You need a map to get where you are going - especially if you've never been there. These days you have a GPS, but it's still a map, just using technology to make it more efficient. Business is about having a vision then knowing how you are going to get there, and executing your strategies. A sloppy business owner will attempt to do it blind, without a plan. A disciplined business owner will articulate their strategies in writing, relate these to the targets they set, then monitor and adapt as they go. When you write these things down, it comes out as a business plan. Time doesn't change this, no matter what technology is doing for us, we still need to have an idea of what we are building, what problem we are solving, the size of the market for our offering, the competitive landscape and how it will scale and then put some disciplines in place to ensure we do things effectively.
For small businesses 100 page plan documents full of fluff and not a lot of real accountable substance are few and far between.
From what I have seen even a 1 page plan which is actively followed, monitored and updated every 3 - 6 months is very now and worth its weight in gold.
A practical approach I have more recently incorporated is best summarised as follows:
Jef Lippiatt ,
Owner at Startup Chucktown
I think it really depends on the type of venture you are trying to launch. I think funding, is probably the single biggest factor determining if you need a business plan or not. If you are looking for traditional funding (bank loans, angel investors or venture capitalists) they most likely will still expect some type of business plan that has a bit more depth than a Lean Canvas. Banks, specifically will probably be the pickiest about having a professional and polished business plan.
If you are planning on using crowdfunding (either from average people or accredited investors) you will still need to present your story clearly to get people excited enough to contribute to your venture/product.
If you are funding the business entirely on your own or bootstrapping, a Lean Canvas may be enough. But whatever method you use, it should have enough clarity for your own consumption and benefit. The more people involved (co-founders, investors, etc.) the more detailed the plan should be so it is clear to all involved.
The worst thing to do is nothing. Documenting your goals, ideas and strategy is the best way to keep it from getting away from you.