After 20 years of self employment and the last 4 as a small business consultant and coach helping people to start or grow their businesses, I can say with no shame I used to feel that business plans were only for wimps. That was until I did one.
It is easy to knock something you've never tried. After many years of not only starting businesses but actually succeeding in them it would have been easy to think that business plans aren't necessary. Part of that lies in the fact most entrepreneurs are actually working a job not growing a business. That is certainly where my maturity as a self employed person was until I hit my mid 30's. Sure I had earned an income and eeked out a life in a business of my own but I really didn't see the business of the business. What I saw was that I got what I wanted which was to not have to work for someone else. Woo hoo... I was my own boss. Truth be told it was my lack of planning out the business that hindered my growth and financial prosperity. Thankfully I figured it out and now, my newest business is going places I never dreamt possible when I lacked a plan. Doing a plan, the very act of doing it, almost in its very nature is enough to take you to the next level as an entrepreneur.
You see, put simply, when you plan a business you begin to understand it as a business. When you don't plan a business but still go into business for yourself, you more than likely created a job. For example with lawn maintenance we think of the cutting of the lawn, not the structure of the organization, the future growth and direction of the business, the various marketing strategies etc.. There is a critical difference between having a business and the business of business and that requires another article of its own. So, if you ever want to get out of the grind and truly grow a business you need to plan to grow it. Plan every little bit of it and then re-visit this plan often and make changes as things evolve. We've all heard it before - "when you fail to plan you plan to fail". Only when we sit down to do a business plan do we see it is so much more than that. Not planning a business causes us to fulfill the role we "thought of" when we thought of that business and not see the things planning would have taught us.
Yes, most business planning is boring with a capital B and a really long "O" but that is because most planning mechanisms and information on the topic is intellectually based and they have you planning at a level of logic - business, marketing, operational procedure, organizational structure, customer service, accounting - when we plan these things we are mostly adult minded and leave the excitement, the passion out of it. So when it is done the traditional way, you're left with a stack of paper, a business plan that bores you and leaves you uninspired. That to me is a waste of time. Be sure to put the fun into planning a business. Have it appeal to you on an emotional level because that is what drives results and stop worrying what type of business planning procedures the academic world is trying to push. Fewer than 10% of businesses in the Fortune 500 ever borrowed start-up money from a formal institution. They got it from friends and family. So most likely a banker won't see your plan anyhow. Make the business plan appeal to you first and foremost. Happy planning.