The importance of writing a clear business plan

“Passion and drive make an entrepreneur. The very last thing you want to do is to write a business plan,” says Bill Morrow, founder of business investor network Angels Den, “but it’s an important process.”

Indeed it is, writes Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurs at chartered advisory Smith & Williamson. Over the years, I have witnessed many examples of potentially great ideas falling by the wayside through the lack of a coherent plan or roadmap. I have seen businesses start up and spend significant sums, only to find that insufficient research had been carried out and their business model was fundamentally flawed.

Fail to plan; plan to fail…

So barring the odd ‘no brainer’, the general rule is that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Apart from anything else, this is because a properly executed business-planning process will make you consider a host of issues that might otherwise slip under the radar.

The pros of a business plan

Contrary to some entrepreneurial thinking, planning need not dampen drive or hamper creativity or passion. Indeed, planning can be an illuminating and inspiring part of the business-building process, as research leads to new ideas and, occasionally, that elusive Eureka moment!

Another powerful reason for having a business plan is that it creates a stake in the ground and a roadmap which gives guidance and can be followed. If you choose to take an alternative route, which from time to time will be both inevitable and desirable, the business plan will be there to remind you that you are changing your approach. It will prompt you to evaluate and justify your actions. Without a plan, many businesses simply drift from one unfocused activity to another, not really understanding what they are doing and why.

Fortunately, a carefully researched roadmap can provide focus, prevent business drift and reduce risk. It will help business owners (and their teams) to prioritise, set and achieve their goals.

No plan is set in stone

But what about flexibility? What if you need to change your plan?

Business plans should not be written and put in the bottom drawer. They are living documents that need reviewing and updating on a regular basis, enabling you to focus on the right priorities at the right time and moving each area and function of your business towards your chosen goals.

Jun 7, 2012
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