Here at UpMentum we see a wide variety of entrepreneurs. From the single man operation pulling an idea together in a garage, to a brick and mortar business looking to make that big push for growth. The one thing most of these entrepreneurs have in common? No business plan.
I know that when most people hear “business plan” they think about a final project for an MBA student, or a document that 20-somethings put together to try and pitch to their first VC firm, but they are so much more than that, and it’s time that we start looking at business plans not as a “nice to have”, but as a “must do” on the path to success.
But I Don’t Need Funding!
Ah, the most common of all responses when people don’t want to write their own business plan. All too often entrepreneurs get this idea in their head that they only need a business plan if they’re looking to raise money: “But I’ve already got all the funding I need, so there’s no need for that business plan thing, right?” Wrong. Business plans are much more than just fund raising devices, they are introspective tools that force us to review our own goals, how our business is put together, and how we will measure our progress moving forward. Fundraising is great, but you can raise all that capital in the world and if you don’t have a plan, not even one penny will matter.
Being Critical of Yourself.
The most beneficial part of the business plan, especially for the early stage entrepreneur, is the opportunity to be critical of yourself, and your company. Business plans are the first step towards establishing accountability, and you are empowering yourself to be responsible for the fate of the business, good or bad. It is an exercise that many shy away from due to the uncomfortable nature of establishing responsibility and accountability, but as an entrepreneur, you need to be ready to lean into that uncomfortable feeling. Live with it, and allow yourself, and your business, to grow within it.
Get It All On the Table, At One Time.
There’s no room to hide in a business plan. That issue you’ve been putting off? The task yet to be completed? Those meetings you haven’t scheduled? No stone is left unturned in a business plan. You’re forced to consider everything at once, good or bad, and inevitably, those pain points you’ve been avoiding will rear their ugly head and finally force you to address them. Business plans include everything to make your business an end-to-end success, and as a result, will unearth some issues you’d rather not think about, but should absolutely address. Business valuation, operations, marketing, finance, strategy, staffing, they all come into play with a business plan. A business plan is your opportunity to get it all on the table, at one time.
Business Plans As A Growth Tool.
Getting everything out on the table is a great way to not only address current concerns, but plot for future growth. Your business plan will allow you to document all of the connections and links within your organization that you may have missed had you not otherwise written them down. You may note that your sales force doesn’t match your projected growth over the next year, and thus, can anticipate a hiring event in the future. Perhaps marketing shows your company mapping to a vertical that you don’t yet have back-end support for. All of these issues come to light in a business plan, and using it as a tool for growth, as opposed to a static “fire and forget” document, will allow you to not only remove barriers to growth that you’re currently facing, but take a proactive stance to barriers that may occur down the road.
Attracting Talent With An Awesome Business Plan.
Remember, business plans aren’t just written and immediately placed in an executive’s desk never to be touched again. Business plans can act as strong marketing tools, allowing you to attract talent, not only internal to your organization, but external by way of investors and strategic partners. Now, instead of crossing your fingers and delivering your elevator pitch to a prospective partner or hire, you can hand them a plan that shows your entire business overview. It shows the prospect that you’ve not only taken the time to analyze the current state of the business, but that you can also map what success looks like and have a plan of action to deliver on that vision.
Ready To Start Planning?
Remember, your business plan is not just a fund raising tool, it’s the roadmap to your success. Whether you’re just starting out, or have been in the game for years, a business plan can make the difference between a successful future, or a grinding halt. A business plan does not just plot future success, it gives you a definable map to get you there.
You wouldn’t go on a trip without packing a map, then why start your business without one too?
UpMentum helps entrepreneurs, early, and growth stage companies develop the strategy, skills, and vision they need to be an ultimate success. Business plans are just the beginning, see more at: www.upmentum.com