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Do You Need to Write a Business Plan?

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Ever started a business? If you have did you write a business plan or go for it and hope you would cover all the bases without a plan? Anyone who has written a business plan will tell you it's a lot of work - and usually turns into a long tedious process - especially if you don't have business training or experienced help writing it. The other potential downside is that it takes up time you could be spending marketing and selling your product or service. With all the pain involved is it really worth writing a business plan or is it a thing of the past?

Perhaps the greatest thing entrepreneurs miss regarding the importance of a business plan is the potential value it adds to their business. Unless you are raising capital or getting people to buy into your plan the truth is your plan may add minimal value (if you're trying to raise capital it is a very different deal). That being said for the vast majority of small businesses the process of researching and segmenting your target market, evaluating your competitors and learning more about your target vertical are critical components of your plan. The knowledge and clarity gained during the business planning process gives your business back the time put into the project, many times over.

Many entrepreneurs by their nature are positive people that think they have everything under control, know what they are doing and have all their contingency plans (B & C if A fails) in their heads ready to roll. However, for 99% of CEO's this is pure fantasy, unless they have put the time and energy into actually writing a plan and putting it up for scrutiny. The time and effort each business owner puts into careful research and planning during this phase will pay off later as they avoid roadblocks they planned for and fly through their implementation plans because they anticipated potential problems, and put a strategy into the business plan to overcome them.

Every business benefits from a strong, well thought out business plan. Regardless of whether it is to secure funding from a bank or acquire venture capital / Angel funding, you will need and benefit from a written business plan sooner or later. If you already have a plan it is generally pretty easy to update it and submit it to appropriate parties. Alternatively throwing a plan together in a hurry often results in missed opportunities, information that isn't always accurate and development of a lesser plan that doesn't do the job or worse, turns off potential partners or investors. Remember, perception is reality with a business plan. If someone reviewing it thinks you have thrown it together, don't really know what you're doing and think that is how your operate (based on reading your plan) - your plan has failed!

Do yourself and your business a favor and write a detailed business plan soon. There are lots of business plan outlines available or you can use business planning software that act as a virtual consultant like IMES - business planning toolkit - that asks you a series of virtual questions, writing the plan for you as the business planner progresses through the toolkit.

However you choose to do it, learning more about your business and planning for the future will be well worth the time you put into it!

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