How business plans actually hold back many entrepreneurs

business-plan-holds-back-graphic-design-blender

There are a lot of reasons you haven’t started your dream business yet.

Maybe you think you need tons of money to get started (wrong). Maybe you think there aren’t enough hours in the day to make it happen (also wrong).

Or maybe you think you need a seventy-page business plan in order to build a business that actually succeeds.

PS: This post is the third in a series addressing common reasons entrepreneurs never get started on the business they know will bring them the most fulfillment in life. Readers who engage by sharing and commenting during the series will receive a free ebook copy once it’s completed. Thanks for being here!

I’ve experienced it a few times and seen it a few hundred times:

You’ve got a great business idea. Your gut tells you it’s going to be successful. And you’re totally amped up about it.

But you don’t have a lengthy business plan.

And how can you possibly quit your day job on a gut feeling? Shouldn’t you have an in-depth plan that covers all the possible ways you might screw up as an entrepreneur? A plan that talks about growth strategies, acquisition costs, and an exit strategy?

Blah.

No.

How business plans hold many entrepreneurs back

Believe it or not, this mentality is common among budding entrepreneurs.

They think the best place to start is by drafting a huge business plan with graphs, outlines, and an “executive summary.”

So they work for years on building a business plan…instead of building a business.

They fret over every little problem that could come along. They change their business structure ten times. They worry about getting the phrasing right and the wording perfect.

And if you are planning to pitch your company to a huge group of Venture Capitalists Shark Tank style, then maybe that’s a good route.

But if you’re trying to build a self-sustaining small business that allows you to live the life you want to live doing work you love to do, you need to stop stressing about a business plan and just knock it out in one day.

What I’m not saying, and what I am saying

I’m not saying that I think business plans are unimportant.

Business plans, when done right, are a great launchpad for entrepreneurs. They help us think through possible loopholes in our business and can help us reach success more quickly.

If we do them correctly.

So I’m not saying business plan are evil.

What I am saying is that, if writing your business plan is keeping you from actually building a business, then it’s time to finally jump that hurdle.

Do it this week. It shouldn’t take you more than an afternoon.

Follow Chris Guillebeau’s advice from The $100 Startup and identify (1) something your passionate about and (2) something people are willing to pay for. In the convergence of those two things, you have a business you can be excited about.

Once you know what you’re going to offer to the world, write a one-page business plan. You can add to it later.

Include what services or products you will offer the world, how much they will cost, what your profit looks like, a few ways you plan to get the word out, and a series of milestones that are easy to take over the next 6 months.

Piece of cake.

How to stop using your (incomplete) business plan as an excuse

If you’ve been putting of actually starting your business because you can’t seem to build the perfect business plan, stop.

Just stop.

Stop making excuses.

You can write up a one-page business plan this afternoon and start your business tomorrow morning.

Happy building!

Thoughts?

Do you agree? Has this held you back in the past? What advice can you offer to someone who feels overwhelmed by writing a business plan? Comment and let’s talk.

 

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Comments

  1. Susan says

    When I started my business, I was told I needed a business plan, but I didn’t need a 20+ page that 1 page was good enough. If I had to devise a 20 page+ plan I am not sure I ever would have started my business,The 1 page was good enough. I go back to it once in a while and maybe make a change here and there, but I also set up goals to follow weekly, monthly and then quarterly, That tends to help keep my business on track and growing.

  2. says

    That is an awesome post! I have always thought I should have a business plan, but i also find it hard to come up with a business plan when you haven’t even started your business. Calculating profits and such are a huge block for me, because I simply don’t even know what’s realistic.

    In the past few years I have come up with a variety of documents handwritten and typed going over what i want to do, what i can provide, and how much it may cost. I’ve also written down a lot of marketing ideas too. And it is only now that I am realizing this is a business plan! Just not in the traditional sense! So thank you for that!

  3. says

    I fully agree. Thanks for the past. It has come in at the right time. There’s a business idea I’ve been toying with for a couple of months but I didn’t have a business plan. Got a book with details on how to write one but I still found it to be difficult. Your post has liberated me to get started.

  4. Chelsea says

    I agree. I am a student if graphic design (but a mature student, wink, wink) meaning I already have some real world experience. My dream is to freelance when I am done school. I like the idea of setting goals for your business:short term and long term. Would love to see more articles like this. I completely agree that making plans and goals should be simple, short yet important part of any freelancers career.

  5. Vipul Raithatha says

    This is great, I’m in the exact position you describe. Coming from a background in sound engineering and sound design I have now started my own graphics design business. Not having done graphics design as a profession nor having studied it, but purely decided to start the business from a passion for design and as a hobby. I find it difficult at times and laid it off for a year or two whilst trying to plan how I would do it. Recently being made redundant from my job as a sound engineer forced me to start my business without a full business plan and I do not regret it. It is still early days and you learn as you go along and I have to give you guys credit here at GDB for all the helpful and encouraging blogs you post daily. Great Job!! Thanks guys!

  6. Alan G Legarreta says

    This is yet another inspiring post Preston! (Actually from all of you guys) Every time I come to this blog I end up getting more pumped up and exited about freelancing!

  7. Eduardo says

    I agree with the article, many times we spend more time with the business plan than with the business building. I also have missed any reference to the prevision balance. How do you expect I know my earnings for the next 5 years when i don’t know how much I have in the pocket now?

    Although we are not business fat cats we have to be in mind that the business plan is very important to know the viability of our project.

  8. says

    True that. We have a 20+ pages business plan which absorbed a lot of valuable time writing it, and making it freaked us out so much that we were sort of paralyzed afterwards. Now we just go along on ideas, not ideals. Ideas that fit us and the way we think, and what we believe in. Sometimes successful, sometimes less successful, but making us more and more focused. Just start doing!

  9. legend says

    I am not really one to sit and ponder on completing paper works. I more or less learn things on the fly. Reading the $100 startup… Pretty amazing stuff… I like this post. Lol not bcoz it supports my ‘lazy’ attitude towards planning but its emphasis on not letting seeming incomplete parts of your great dream hold you back.

  10. Alee says

    I agree, but I think the business plan i’ts important, many times doing a short business plan helps you to know what direction you should take and why. Not too important as one month business plan, but maybe a week.
    Now I’m starting my business and yes, I’ve just finished my business plan just couple minutes ago and I will start working in a few days.

  11. says

    I just jumped right in an started my business without a business plan (I know, I know). I had been moonlighting as a freelancer for years. Once I graduated with my Masters in May 2012 and had more time to take on more clients (I was used to juggling a day job with school projects anyway, and thought, what the heck?), I just went for it. And you know what? My business is growing! Imagine that.

    I am now registered with my State and the Feds – next step is to open a bank account. All without a business plan – on paper at least. There’s one whirling in my head, but like you said, I just need to get it down on paper. And it’ll probably only take up one page, anyway!

    So all of you out there who are wishy-washy about starting your business, go for it!

  12. Jana says

    I totally agree. You do have to do the business side of your business, but you can not for any reason allow that to prevent you from doing your actual business.

  13. Kylie says

    I haven’t done a business plan and not sure where to start. It could possibly help in setting business goals and define clients in my freelance design business etc. thing I struggle with is project management and time management around part time corporate job and family.

  14. says

    I did learn quickly how slaving over developing a business plan can hold a person back. Instead of slaving over producing a business plan I learned to have an idea direction of what I wanted to do, which direction and those two helped me simplify my business plan.

  15. says

    I plan a LOT now (you kinda have to when you’ve got 20 staff, lol) but when I started as a freelancer I think too much pre-planning would have killed my momentum. Still, you have to know your idea is valid and so the $100 startup guy has it right.

    Something I’d suggest when it comes to basic planning and strategy, is to use a mindmap app like SimpleMind+. It’s a great way to see the big picture of how all the pieces fit and it’s great for brainstorming and generating more ideas. Give it a go!

  16. Dennis Demeterio says

    When I started my Graphic Design business, I don’t have a business plan too. But, I know where and how can I get my target audience. Thank God the business is still ongoing.

    Calculating profits are a huge block also for me, because I simply don’t even know my fix and unfixed expenses. – Overheads costs etc.

    I suggest IF, you are going to start a business. Financial Planning is a must.

  17. Jason says

    Phew.. Just in time, I have been dithering with this whole business plan thing for all to long. Thanks guys… No plan, no Money, No time, No Worries..

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