Seth Godin reckons business plans generally aren’t plans and don’t have a lot to do with business. One of the problems is that they ignore parts of the world that don’t match their vision. That’s why, in his truncated modern business plan, the first section is devoted to telling the truth. How many business plans have you seen, or been involved with, in which basic assumptions are made that are hugely unrealistic?
The second part of the plan is the assertion “what are you actually going to do to make money?” Then, for the next section, look at alternatives. Seth says this is the scary part for most entrepreneurs who don’t want to entertain the idea that their first big idea might not work out.
The fourth point is to look at the people you need to achieve what you’re setting out to do. This will include lynchpins, people who don’t need to be told what to do, they just work to make things happen.
The final section looks at the money but it should only consider making the plan happen. Often plans are driven by the finance department. Try to avoid that happening at your place.
Linda Hailey is another business expert who says the business plan is dead. Instead she advocates the idea of a vision plan, where you image where you want your business to be and work backwards on how you get there. By setting your sights on some point in the future you are less concerned about short term issues that might inhibit your creativity and aspirations.
I think you can combine the two approaches to come up with a plan that will work — just don’t make it too long. As Seth says, don’t make it any longer than it needs to be.