I currently run five different businesses and I’ve never written a single business plan. I know I’m going to get comments from people who swear you absolutely have to have one. But here’s one thing I’ve learned from running a small business. There is no definitive rulebook.
In looking back on each small business I would have to say that even if I had written a business plan, within a few months it would have completely changed anyway. No matter what I do there seems to be a certain learning curve every time I try something new.
With a brand new invention I thought I knew exactly who my target market was. After all, I invented it for that market. But no matter how many times I knocked on the door, it wouldn’t open. It was only after I experimented with different markets that I finally found the one where the product sold the most and sold almost effortlessly. This would never have been in my business plan because I didn’t even know about it.
In my sponsorship business I used a proven business model that I was sure would also work for me. But I found out that just because a business model has worked brilliantly for others, doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. If I had written that business plan it would have been scrapped in about 2 months.
So, am I saying you shouldn’t have any kind of plan? No. You should do as much research as possible before starting your business. Learn everything you can about how others have done it and how you could apply those lessons to your business. Maybe even write up a marketing plan. I find those much more useful than a business plan.
And if you eventually want to raise capital or sell your business you will need a business plan and marketing plan because other people will want it. But when you’re starting out, being a bootstrapping entrepreneur, what you’ll find is that a business is a work in progress. You never know what direction it’s going to take and who you will draw in with you as you go on that journey. If you open yourself up to serendipity you’ll be pleasantly surprised.