The prospect of writing a business plan can be daunting. A lot goes into one, including a competitive analysis, market research, financial projections and lots and lots of writing. So let's take a look at some of the main reasons that keep people from writing a business plan, and solutions to those challenges.
You think it has to be long and time-consuming
Why sit down to write a business plan when market conditions change so fast, you might have thought to yourself. Well, a business plan provides an invaluable tool for talking with potential investors, partners and employees. The One Page Business Plan is a guide that demonstrates that planning can be something that takes a matter of days, rather than weeks or months. If you don't feel you have lots of time to write a business plan, consider writing a truncated version that will at least allow you to get your vision on paper.
You struggle to find time and motivation
Lack of time and motivation are common reasons entrepreneurs put their business plans on the back burner. But think of it this way, if you don't have time to write a business plan, then where are you going to find time to run a business? A better goal is to make time management more of a priority. Look here for tools and strategies.
Peer support can be a huge motivator to complete an effective business plan. Consider forming your own "business support network" -- that's a group of like-minded entrepreneurs who meet on a regular schedule to exchange ideas and keep each other on task.
You have no idea how to gather all the information you need
Being overwhelmed with details is a feeling that many entrepreneurs know well. But spending time to really research your target market will pay off hugely when you start up, saving you from a number of costly mistakes. Want to know where to start? Spend an afternoon or two at your local public library. There, you'll not only gain access to a number of invaluable books, directories and databases, you may also enjoy the opportunity to use dedicated business resources or take a relevant class on business skills.
You like to do things "your own way"
Entrepreneurship draws in the individual, the person who likes to carve out innovative territory. But don't mistake "innovative" for "unprecedented." "Never say 'We have created something totally unique - we have no competition' unless you never want to be taken seriously. Every idea has competition. If you can't see it, you're not looking hard enough," writes Christian Buckley, Managing Partner at entrepreneurial research and advisory firm Red Hill Partners. The business planning process gives you a chance to bring yourself down to earth, really kick the tires of your ideas.
You think your business will magically be successful without it
What you don't know can hurt you when it comes to starting a business. Writing a business plan is how you fill in the gaps in your knowledge and experience so that you can successfully confront changing market conditions and the inevitable challenges that will crop up. While not every business employs a business plan, every successful entrepreneur needs to protect him- or herself from magical thinking.
You don't know what one looks like
First of all, realize that business plan guidelines are just that -- guidelines. It's up to you to fit your business goals and vision into that template, even if that means bending the rules sometimes and leaving parts in or out. But the good news is that lots of great outlines exist out there -- look here to get started on the component parts of a business plan.