Business Plans – Write one or not?

It’s strange. I know a lot of people (including us!) pour hours into writing a business plan.  When we first launched, I know I devoted a ton of time writing one.  In the years since then, I’ve worked with a few other businesses and launched others and in all these cases, the work being done being an Internet / Digital business, we didn’t bother with a business plan.  A lot of the time, those businesses failed, a few times, it went well.

Looking at our options and what we did, I wonder if it makes sense to write one.  I know, best practice wise that you should.  However, after a while,  you realise that you end up asking those questions yourself anyway.  Of course, it might vary a bit depending on how much money you are really talking about – most of our other businesses that we ‘launched’ we were talking $5-10,000 in expenses.  Launching a business like Starlit Citadel cost significantly more.

However, if you know the business (or just business in general), sometimes the time taken to write a formal business plan could be spent doing more important things – like research into your location or your competitors or ways to save money on the business.   To me, a business plan is a way of asking the important questions in a structured way, but if those questions are being answered, perhaps it doesn’t matter if it isn’t written in Times New Roman, 12 font, double-spaced with proper titles.  Maybe it’s just better to make sure the questions are answered and you are moving ahead.

Certainly, I’ve seen a number of businesses die in the business plan phase, not because of the lack of capital or time but because businesses moved too slow and another business came in and did it.  Sometimes, it might just be better to fly with the seat of your pants.

Just don’t spend more than you can afford to lose.