A Simpler Business Plan

Yes, you need a plan, no it doesn’t have to be a traditional business plan document. They are outdated because we find that they often contain projections that are only based on assumptions and don’t necessarily reflect in reality.

Instead, new business owners should come up with a detailed idea of what they hope to achieve and a concrete plan of how they will start. This plan should still consider the factors of cash flow, possible growth, expected costs, and more, but should be a lot more flexible, open to pivoting when it looks like things aren’t panning out the way they assumed.

Here are some questions to ask yourself so that you can put a plan together that you can actually use as you build your business, and tweak as you go along. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers, and nothing needs to be set in stone.

What is your purpose and passion?

If you don’t have an answer other than “I want to make money.” you need to stop in your tracks and dig deeper. Knowing your why will keep you grounded and will help you navigate moments when you find yourself confused or frustrated throughout the course of running your business.

Businesses without passion behind them don’t make it. It takes a lot of work and difficulty, so if you don’t love what you are doing you’ll give up, or cut corners, and waste time and money in the process. To figure out your purpose, ask yourself:

  • What is the primary aim?
  • What will this look like when it’s ready to launch?
  • What will the business be known for?
  • What will the business values be?

Then look at what you respond with. Are you inspired by these answers? Are you excited? If not, tweak your idea and your values until it aligns more closely with your passions.

What is your strategy?

Businesses with good strategy can survive a number of challenges, whether unforeseen like a pandemic, or more common like bad leadership. However, even the best leadership cannot survive without a good strategy (and, to be honest, the best leaders come up with good strategies.) Ask yourself these questions to determine if your strategy is on the right path:

  • Is your strategy well-defined?
  • Can this strategy generate significant profits and growth?
  • Is this strategy sustainable?

If your answer isn’t a confident yes, it’s time to rework your strategy. Consider looking up other businesses in your space and see what successful strategies they implemented and work some of their ideas into yours.

How will you execute?

One trick is to break your strategy down into quarterly plans, with actionable goals. The goals should be SMART:

  • Specific: Who is doing what? Where and how will they do it? Why are they doing it?
  • Measurable: Consider specific metrics that you can track and measure like time spent or profit gained.
  • Achievable: Don’t shoot for the moon with lofty dreams here, instead take baby steps that you know you can achieve with time and effort. 
  • Relevant: Keep your goals in line with your purpose and strategy, stay focused on the specific things you aim to achieve within the quarter.
  • Time-bound: Give yourself a realistic deadline to meet this goal, preferably within the quarter. Some long term goals require more time, but if that’s the case, break them down further into steps that can be achieved in shorter time frames.

Here’s an in depth guide with more on how to write a SMART goal. Remember that goals are meant to be achievable, so the more specific and realistic they are the better.

If you need a traditional business plan because someone is asking for it, go ahead. Just remember that the best use of your time is to create plans you can actually use to propel yourself forward, and those often are much shorter and a lot more flexible than the business plans of the past.


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