Why You Need But Don't Want a Business Plan

Julie Sellers

Let me begin with a confession: I love a solid plan.

However, this does not mean that I like the process of planning. For example, I want to want to meal plan; but I just cannot talk myself into sitting down to do the planning. What I really need is Lindsey’s Master Meal Planning class. One day I vow that I’ll try it, but for now, all my planning discipline is directed to other areas of my life, like planning for my business.


But let me tell you what I do like about planning: the outcomes. Building a business (or meal) plan helps one move forward with control, strategy, and intention. And if you’re more interested in the quantitative outcomes than qualitative, I’m with you. In one personal example, building a business plan helped me see why I shouldn’t launch a fintech business that had been in my brain for years, which saved me time, money, and distraction from a market that wasn’t right for me.  And in a more recent positive example, spending six months on a plan in 2017 helped me secure $20,000 of income before I’d even “officially” had a business or filed the LLC paperwork.


I’m not clueless.  I know that making a plan doesn’t sound sexy. The temptation is to “just do” (for me too). I am not telling you to not do. In fact, you should be doing and planning at the same time; the two are intertwined and iterative. In my own example, I was obviously doing some amount of “do” to get clients pre-launch. However, if you're all doing and no plan, one of two things will happen: (a) you become of the 80% of business that fails or (b) you can do just fine, but you grow through reaction. You allow others to dictate (with their dollars) what your business is selling and where it goes.


This is how people end up on what I call the “small business hamster wheel.” They end up in their business instead of on their business. Let’s be clear though: a plan doesn’t guarantee that your idea is great or that the business is going to work. However, it greatly increases your odds – by at least double. While this research shows that you’re more likely to be granted a loan, win capital, and grow your business if you have a plan, there are other reasons too.


Here are my top three reasons for having a business plan:
1.    It helps you objectively evaluate what isn’t a good idea. Sure, your gut says that your idea is the next Drybar. While I’d never advocate ignoring your gut, I would advocate: question your gut. Do the objective evaluation that at a minimum, will give you extra insights – either for or against your idea. To really test yourself, you should be trying to both prove and disprove your ideas.
2.    There is so much outside our personal span of control. So much! But there are some things that you can control – like preparedness. Why wouldn’t you control the very few things that you can, in order to increase your odds of success?
3.    It gives you information to differentiate yourself and forge an individual path for you alone. Can I get on a soapbox for a minute? I am so tired of Facebook masterminds, online info products, and launch plans in a box. Know why? Because everyone following these formulas looks the same. It’s tacky, and everyone starts to blend together. But fear not, there is another way! If you’ve taken the time objectively identify your strengths, weaknesses, external opportunities, etc. you can pull them together to identify a niche, unique positioning, principles, and a strategy that are yours alone.


If you don’t believe me, I was delighted to learn that venture capitalist Mike Maples, Jr. has a course at Stanford based on these very principles {CLIP}. 


In conclusion, if any of this resonates with you – because I insulted how you’re currently doing things, you’re yelling “amen,” or what you’ve been doing hasn’t landed quite in the way you wanted, I’d love for you to join us on Tuesday evenings, beginning September 4. 


If you’re
•    an individual who’s been thinking about starting a business,
•    a solopreneur or freelancer wanting to treat your business more like a business, or
•    a small business owner, wanting to take your profit, time, or operations to the next level
This course will give you the perfect space to take a step back and get on your business – so that you’re leading it forward on purpose – creating the outcomes at work and life that you’ve been dreaming of.

Written by instructor Julie Sellers. Class: "Turning Your Passion into Your Business Plan"