Beware the temptation to jump into business before you’ve done the proper planning. And don’t underestimate that temptation. Once you have made up your mind to start a business, it is difficult to wait to get going. You want to start moving, making money, living the life you’ve dreamed of. But if you want your business to succeed, you must take the time to understand it, yourself, the industry, and the market.
It helps to consider how you would approach buying a house. Would you sign a check and move on in? Or would you research everything first to make sure you aren’t getting a lemon? Treat starting your own business the same way. Don’t invest your time, money, energy, and dreams in a business you don’t understand inside and out. More businesses fail for want of proper planning than do for want of money.
Business plans are perfect for taking you from ignorance to understanding. In order to produce a good business plan, you must learn all the ins and outs of your proposed business. And the process of preparing the plan will teach you much of what you need to know in order to run that business.
The main reasons people skip business plans are often the same as the reasons people avoid accounting: 1) many people don’t like to write and 2) the time it takes to prepare the plan takes away from the time to run the business. But those reasons – those excuses, really – are just as inapplicable here.
Just because you don’t like doing something doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it. Running your own business will mean sacrifices. Luxuries like vacation time, sick days, salaries – these are the first things to go out the window (at least in the beginning). Taxes must be paid, shipments must go out, decisions must be made, invoices must be sent, and bills must be paid – whether you like it or not. Same with accounting. Same with planning. And, as with accounting, you can always hire someone to prepare your business plan for you.
The second reason people often skip the business plan stage is because they want to spend the time it would take to plan their business to be in business instead. They see the planning stage as taking time with no reward. But not only is that not true, it is also supremely short-sighted. It may be true that taking time upfront to plan your business will increase the time until you can start making money. But it will also likely increase the amount of money you can make. Writing a business plan allows you to explore your business before you start. It allows you to make your mistakes on paper rather than in the real world.
Write a business plan. You’ll be better for it. It will save you hassles and make you money in the long term.