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Ask Tim Berry – Do I Even Need a Business Plan?

Ask Tim Berry – Do I Even Need a Business Plan?


Okay, hi, I’m Tim Berry and the question for today is: What about the idea that you don’t need a
business plan? It’s very trendy, you can read it here and
there. And let’s start with recognizing that it’s more fun to say you achieved success without a business plan than it is to say, “Yes, I was planning all
the time.” This is something like the psychology of the people who in their 30s and 40s were Phi Beta Kappa in college and Fulbright
scholarships or what have you, who will say “Oh, I never studied, I was always
dating or drinking or what have you.” And yeah, right. Okay. Do you believe that? So let me rephrase that, you don’t need a
business plan to ask you what about strategy? Focus on key target markets? What about setting down dates, and deadlines and budgets, and who’s in charge of what? Do you need that? Do you want that? What about tracking your assumptions so that
as your assumptions change, you can more easily manage what you might do differently under the new
scenario than what would have been true under the old
scenario? What about keeping long term goals and objectives in mind, while you deal with the short term putting out fires and things like that? If any of that sounds valuable to you, then
the question isn’t “Do you need a business plan?” It’s “Do you want to plan?” And I think in defense of the trendy “oh you don’t need a business plan” opinion that keeps coming up, some of that is because business plans have
been given a bad name by years of people thinking of the plan as
document rather than the plan as part of planning with course corrections and review. And if you’re not seeking investment or you’re not looking to take out a business
loan for your business you might not, strictly speaking, need the plan as document to present as outsiders
as a summary of your business. But don’t confuse that not needing a formal
plan with not wanting to plan and manage your business
better with business planning, course corrections, flexibility, reviews… marking down what your assumptions are so
you can track how they change. That’s what business planning is today in
the real world. It’s not a big document necessarily, most business plans are never even really
printed. They’re used to mange the company better. So I would say please, if you’re starting a business, or if you’re running a business don’t decide you don’t need a business plan. Decide you do want business planning. And think about this: If you don’t want to plan your business maybe then you better keep your day job. So thanks, I’m Tim Berry.

Comments (2)

  1. When it comes to business planning it might help to think of it instead as a set of different plans rather than this big monolithic document of 50 pages or so.

    For instance (and correct me if I'm wrong):
    – Organizational Plan (with strategic vision etc.)
    – Marketing Plan (Where and how)
    – Financial Plan (what is sponged up from the where and how)

  2. That's a good point Memubitsu and a strategy that Tim embraces in his "Plan as you go" approach to business planning. Our software, Business Plan Pro, also endorses the approach by guiding you to create just the type of plan you need.

    Not everyone needs the old standard 50 page business plan document. We have it if you need it but you might just need a Loan Document, Executive Summary or a Financials only plan..

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