5 things you need to know about business plans

Free Business Plans
First, if you’re only reading this article because you want to find a good format for writing a business plan, then you will find some good formats, templates and software at Intuit website – you know, the same people which QuickBooks, Quicken and TurboTax. Well, if you go to the website Intuit, then you will find its new business plan service under the name “jumpup.” And better yet, some of the models and software are free. But I have a feeling you might have some questions about business plans, here are some more pointers.

Second, something is more important, however, than simply writing a business plan. The most important thing is that you decide where you want your business to go and how you want to get there. Your decision on where and how your business goal is more important than writing it.

Third, the next most important thing is your specific use of the plan itself. If the purpose of your business plan is to serve as a beacon for your key personnel, then it will be in this format. If his goal is to create measurable goals to help evaluate progress towards these objectives, and guide decision making, the plan may take a different form. And if the purpose of your business plan to attract investors or to get a loan, then it could be a completely different format.

Fourth, and a special note for start-ups, if the business plan is to start a business and for the last 2 goals (measurable-goals / decision making or investors / lenders), then I recommend a specialized process. First, write a business plan as if you were writing to be your guiding light. I work with many clients with a new business that should not be writing a business plan investor / loan just when they start the company. Why? Because a business plan should not be something that you create just that it sounds good to others (or yourself). The plan should really be a true reflection of the desired destination and the means to get there. So for the new business owner, these ideas and projects need time to evolve. Of course, a new business owner starts with goals, dreams and ambitions. But it takes time for these goals, dreams and ambitions to market maturity. That is why it is important early on to write the business plan, but do it with the “lighthouse” the purpose.

When do you take the next step and write the business plan with the potential investor or lender to mind?
When the heart and mind agree on the destination and the means to achieve it. Then, and only then, is it the right time to turn the “light guide” plan to a business plan for measurable-goals / decisions or investors / lenders.

Fifth, once the mind and heart are in agreement, then it is essential to engage the business plan on paper, because without a clear destination, there is no basis for making decisions. Decisions must be taken with the destination in mind. The writing of how to reach the destination establishes mile-markers that will measure the progress. Without a way to measure progress, we went out with our feelings – and feelings change every day or every moment. Milestones help us to make the necessary adjustments so that the vision of our destinations keeps us on track.
In short, a business plan is important. The pre-work, however, is even more important. Monitoring, measuring our success against the plan, is what gives the plan its purpose.

Copyright 2007, Chuck Markham, MA, LAC ( “Business Coach Chuck”)