As a business advisor it may seem strange that I should ask that question at all. Don’t all advisors/mentors/coaches stress the need to have a business plan and say things like, “fail to plan is a plan to fail”?
In my opinion it comes down to the type of business plan that is produced and the length of time it takes to produce it. Many business plans ARE a waste of time because they are too wordy, too “corporate”, don’t motivate staff and are not connected to the day-to-day operations of the business. I read an article recently on writing a business plan (unfortunately I can’t remember where) and it said that a business plan could take between 400 and 500 hours to produce. ARE YOU KIDDING! Who in small business ownership world has a spare 500 hours to produce a business plan, and probably one that no one will look at again for another year! That would be a huge waste of time.
What is of real value is the planning PROCESS involved in putting a business plan together. It’s all about the journey, rather than the destination, in my opinion. Also how the plan is IMPLEMENTED and used to guide daily actions. I do encourage business owners to take some time (not 500 hours however) and examine where their business is at, what went right and wrong over the past 12 months (a SWOT analysis can help here), set some realistic goals for the next 6-12 months and think about the strategies, budget and tactics that will be required to achieve those goals. Then regularly review progress towards their goals using a combination of monthly reporting and quarterly themes that aligns people’s daily activities.
The output from this process need not be a 50 page document that is put on a shelf to gather dust, but a summary on a couple of pages that remains a living, working document on a constant basis. It is important that the plan is nimble document that can be changed to reflect the current situation, but still provide a framework and target for people to be united behind. Not many people could have predicted how dramatically 2020 has changed and I would think any plan developed at the start of the year is now redundant. You need to develop a NEW plan for the balance of this year and to take you through the next 12 to 24 months. And you need to do this quickly.
Business Plan Templates
There are a million planning templates out there that you can use to base your own planning process off. Most unfortunately focus on the end document and tend to result in a long and dusty plan that fails to inspire. Two models that I have used with success in the past with several businesses are the 1-page plan (actually 2 if you use A4 instead of A3) developed by Verne Harnish of Gazelles.com, and an even simpler 1-page plan that Taki Moore (a coach who helped me) recommended.
It takes a bit of time and effort to develop the Vision and foundation parts, but once you have done that, you can quickly update it on a weekly and quarterly basis to provide a short but clear path to guide your business into the future. Here is the link to download here a copy of Gazelle’s classic 1-page plan and then you can either go to their website to download a guide on completing it, or buy his book, The Rockefeller Habits, that also explains it. The 1-page plan from Taki Moore is simply an A4 sheet of paper divided into 4 quadrants, covering different planning time horizons. I can help you with what to include in each quadrant and how to drive your weekly actions using this plan.
At the end of the day putting a business plan together is NOT a waste of time, but you want to use the right type of plan that suits your needs and will be of maximum value to you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a review of your planning process and discussion on how it can be enhanced.