As in just about every area of life, the importance of planning really can’t be overemphasized for the entrepreneur.  This old saying is very true:  Failure to plan is a plan for failure.  Even though some entrepreneurs may “luck” into success without going through the process, a lack of planning really is a formula for failure.

The business plan does not need to be complex or long, but it is necessary.  In simple terms, a business plan is a written description of your business, a document that describes what you plan to do and how you plan to do it.

What is included?

  • A business plan conveys the business goals and the strategies you’ll use to meet them.
  • It discusses the potential problems and risks that may confront your business and ways to solve them.
  • The plan highlights the organizational structure of your business and who the team members are.
  • It demonstrates that there is a market for your product or service and that you know how to tap that market.
  • The plan highlights how the product or service will be produced.
  • It also discusses the amount of capital required to finance your venture and where you expect that money will come from.

Clay Hickson advises a TowsonGlobal business

Business plans have several purposes. They’re used to seek support from potential lenders or investors.  They also may be used to attract key team members, win new business, work with suppliers, and understand how to manage the business better.  However, just because you have a plan doesn’t mean that everything is covered and that there won’t be surprises.  It does mean you will be much better prepared and more likely to achieve success.  Even so, once you have the plan in place, it doesn’t mean that all your work is done.  A business plan is a living document that should be regularly revised as conditions and goals change.

There are numerous resources available for guidance on developing a business plan.  Small Business Development Centers have workshops that teach all the basics.  Their counselors and those of a Small Business Resource Center or of the Service Corps of Retired Executives also can help.  Of course, there also are templates and other resources available on line, such as from the Small Business Administration.  In addition, participation in a business incubator program like TowsonGlobal can provide an entrepreneur significant help in fine tuning his or her business plan.

This nautical analogy sums it up pretty well:  “It’s better to be 5 or even 10 degrees off your charted destination than to have no port in mind at all.  After all, the point of sailing is to get somewhere, and without a plan, you’ll wander the seas aimlessly, sometimes finding dry land but more often than not floundering in a vast ocean.  Sea captains without a chart are rarely remembered for discovering anything but the ocean floor!

Do you need a business plan?  Yes!