Seattle Community

A.Michelle Blakeley
Micro Business Therapist™
Sacramento, California
Greatly helpful
out of 10
1 vote

Really, what's your excuse?

Are business plans really needed when you are a small business owner; especially when you are not looking for funding, an investor or partner? The majority of small business owners don’t even have business plans.
Written Sep 21, 2009, read 1227 times since then.


Are business plans really needed when you are a small business owner; especially when you are not looking for funding, an investor or partner? The majority of small business owners don’t even have business plans. Why should they? Do you have a business plan? For every reason a business owner gives for not having a plan, there are two solid reasons why you should.

But first, let’s quickly define what a business plan is in its most simplest terms. Although the format and outlines may vary, a business plan will generally cover the same components. Every business plan has the same basic elements: Who, what, when, why, how. The process and time it takes to answer these questions will always prove to be invaluable to all small business owners. Let’s look a few of the reasons for not having a business plan and a few why you should:

Too much work. You don’t have the time or energy to research and put together a business plan.

  • Keep things simple. Start by performing a SWOT analysis. Even if you clearly identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats; you’ll be in a better position than if you attempt to operate your business with no plan at all.
  • For an in-depth analysis of your business, engage a business mentor or consultant. These third party individuals can bring a fresh set of eyes, expertise and experience to help you see what you may be too close to.

Too long and boring. Who has time to draft and flip through 30-50 pages?

  • Keep your plan limited to one to three pages. It need not be any longer than that. Keeping your plan to one-page forces you to think about what is most important and relevant.
  • Why not put the essential information (SWOT, who, what, when, where, why, etc.) on one page? Better yet, as bulleted items for better reading.
  • Grow your business organically. Create plan that provides you with energy and clarity. A good plan will show you how to get through today and next year.

It’s not useful. It is a document that pretty much sits in a file cabinet or stashed in a box in a closet.

  • Having your plan allows you to gauge new ideas and opportunities against it. Do they align with your mission and objectives? Use it to maintain your business consistency and stay focused. It keeps you energized because you know what you need to be working on and spend less time feeling unproductive.
  • Keep it visible and accessible. By keeping your plan visible and accessible, it is a constant reminder of your purpose, what you should be working on and what direction you should be moving in.
  • Flexibility. Do enough planning to understand how, where, when, what, etc. is needed to move forward in an efficient sequence with room to quickly revise as necessary. It is much more effective and efficient to update 1 to 3 pages as opposed to 30-50 pages.

There are two types of business plans. One that is written for banks or investors; and the plan that you create for yourself and for the growth and direction of your business. Without your plan, how do you know where to focus your time, energy and resources? How do you measure progress? Let’s be clear, thinking a business plan is an enormous document intended for obtaining funding only, is the problem. Business planning is not. Plan your business accordingly.


Learn more about the author, A.Michelle Blakeley.

Comment on this article

  • CEO Green company 
Bet Shemesh Israel 
Moshe Flam
    Posted by Moshe Flam, Bet Shemesh Israel | Sep 25, 2009

    "There are two kinds of business plans"

    THAT's the problem! We get so used to lying that we can't do a real plan for ourselves anymore. Give a different name, not "business plan".

    There's a Jewish fable about a thief who lived in a poor town, where nobody had too much. When his daughter was to get married he came to the town charity to ask for help. The rabbi said: Why didn't you put aside a small amount of money every day for you daughters? He answered: I'm a thief. If I steal from my neighbors wouldn't I steal from myself?

  • Markitect 
Berlin, Connecticut 
Bill Doerr
    Posted by Bill Doerr, Berlin, Connecticut | Sep 25, 2009

    @Moshe . . . nice story about the thief! Thank you.

    The reality is there ARE two (2) kinds of plans.

    If you prefer to call one an operating plan vs. a business (funding) plan, I have no problem with that.

    @Michelle . . . you make a good point here.

    What is done to secure confidence and funding isn't designed to be used in daily operations of a business.

    You make a critical distinction and, having done a good deal of work in this area, I must say you've shown the obvious . . . that is not so obvious for many.

    Last, your suggestion to keep it simple is . . . excellent. Too much detail means nothing gets implemented. Good solid advice here. Thank you.