What you need is to get off your ass.
I’ve now run three successful business over the course of almost 15 years. Want to know how many times I’ve been asked for a traditional business plan? ZERO.
Yes, you need a plan, but you don’t need a “business plan” in the traditional sense. I’ll say it again: you don’t need to have a formalized, lengthy document dozens of pages long in order to start or run a successful business.
What is a business plan?
Let’s start with this: what do you think about when you hear the term “business plan”? If you’re like me, you’re envisioning a lengthy document, a nightmare of research and writing that covers everything from exhaustive market information to in depth forecasting of sales for the next decade. When I think of this sort of thing it makes me feel overwhelmed, paralyzed, and I just shut down. That problem plagued me for years before I finally realized I could bypass all of it and no one would stop me or ask questions…but the only way I figured that out was by taking the initial leap.
The reality is that you don’t need something so formal, and writing a business plan shouldn’t be the thing that keeps you from getting started. In the words of Nike — if you have a great business idea, just do it. The rest will follow.
I know this sounds odd coming from someone who also sells business plans and templates, so hear me out.
What is a business plan for?
If you’re thinking about starting a business, you may have heard that you need a business plan. But do you really need one? The answer may surprise you. For many businesses, the answer is no. A business plan is not always necessary. In fact, in many cases, it can actually be counterproductive. The main purpose of a business plan is to convince investors or lenders to give you money — but if you don’t have any money to start with, a business plan isn’t going to help make that money magically appear. And if you’re not looking for funding, a business plan can be nothing more than a waste of time. So if you’re not looking for funding and you don’t need a business plan, what should you do? Just start your business! The most important thing is to get started and see if your idea is viable. You can always refine your plans and strategies as you go along. So if you’re thinking about starting a business, don’t let the lack of a business plan hold you back. Just do it; the rest will follow.
What do you need instead of a business plan?
If you’re starting a business, you need to do your research and understand the market. This is especially true if you’re starting an online business. There are a lot of resources out there that can help you with this, including books, articles, and websites. One thing you need to understand is who your target market is. What are their needs and wants? What are their demographics? Once you understand this, you can start to create a product or service that meets their needs. You also need to understand your competition. Who are they and what do they offer? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Knowing this will help you position your own business in the market. Finally, you need to research your industry. What trends are happening? What is the future of your industry? This information will help you make decisions about your business and where it should go.
With these thoughts in mind, it’s easy to come up with a few bullet points specific to your business idea that can form a rough outline to think about. At the end of the day though, spending weeks or months writing and refining a formalized business plan from that outline is going to yield absolutely nothing when compared to the proactive steps needed for business formation. In future podcast episodes and articles we’ll dig in to the specific steps you need to take in order to form a businesses legal and financial structure – both of which are infinitely more important than a formal business plan.
The truth is, though, that in the microbusiness world, having a well-written business plan is no longer a necessity. Instead, what you need is a clear vision for your business, the ability and confidence to execute your plans effectively through tangible action, and the flexibility to adapt as needed. With these three things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to success.
The Bottom Line
Taking action is the key to success when it comes to business. A written plan can provide guidance and structure, but without taking action, nothing will be accomplished. Ideas are great but only when backed up with effort can they turn into something successful. So take a chance, assess your risk and make sure that you have the right resources in place before launching any project; then take a deep breath and start taking action!