If you've ever done a Web search for "business writing," you know just how many "business plan" results occur. Obviously, writing a business plan is an important topic. From the content of those search results, it's just as obviously a daunting one. Most people launching a small business seem more comfortable just jumping in and adapting to whatever happens than writing a business plan to prepare first.
If only they realized that a business plan can be approached the same way: Jump in, get started, and adapt as you discover what's needed.
A business plan is not a marriage contract. Instead it is a guide - merely a guide - pointing out the direction you want to head, what you predict will be encountered along the way, and what resources you have for those encounters. Think of it as a vacation itinerary. Few people set out on a road trip without mapping a route and setting aside some funds. Although they know the route may change (whether due to road work or an unexpected side attraction) and expenditures won't exactly match what's forecast (usually costing more), the itinerary provides a yardstick for measuring reality versus predictions, so that intelligent adaptations can be made.
Certainly if you're applying for a bank loan or courting investors, you'll need to prepare a business-like document. The US Small Business Administration provides a great business-plan outline. Just remember that its purpose is to make your task easier. Use it like a tourist guide to make sure you visit all the significant spots. Don't worry about formality till the end, as we often state in this blog.
Writing a business plan doesn't have to be a frightening or laborious task. Think of it as an adventure, an exploration of your own hopes and dreams, dressed up respectably for presentation to other people (like a good vacation slide show). There's no reason not to enjoy yourself along the way.
- Lester Smith