Business Development · Business Strategy

How do you overcome not wanting to write your business plan because you would rather produce product?

James Pagni Owner at CeramicSmokeware.com

December 2nd, 2016

There is more to this question then what I am asking but at the end of the day I feel this business plan is something that must be done in order to sustain a profitable business. I try to bring in steady and consistent revenue with a product based operation that involves one individual manufacturing, selling, marketing, and continuing to develop the product as well as the business. It seems I have to figure out how to make time to write this plan when I also need to be bringing in money from products I constantly have to make and sell. I feel like I don't have the time to write a business plan. I have little business education so sometimes I have a mental block understanding how to simply apply my immediate business ideas to paper in the appropriate manner/context. When attempting to write this with help from a friend he said I am all over the place and looking way to far into the future. So do I just suck it up and make time to learn how to write a business plan that I have little clue on how to do or look for someone with business background to asset me? Does anyone have any advice or tips on some places you think would be a good starting point to solving this issues?

Michael Hartzell Entrepreneur, Addicted to "Yes" - When Everyone Wins

December 2nd, 2016

A cowboy on a horse makes decisions with less of a plan and more of a mission.

They live off the land, depend on no one and round up wild horses, bufallo until they reach their goal.

A sailor is more careful and plans ahead. Chartinf tides and weather is life and death. Food and water planning Aldo saves their life.

When you begin to depend on others, they will want to know where they are going, the vision/mission and direction. Since there are too many variables, it won't be an itemized plan but it will help people stay in sync.

There may come a time when you want to talk someone into taking a risk on you idea.  "I am building the worlds best mousetrap. Here is a photo, I don't have a plan" will not here be them much confidence. They want to get paid.

Tom DiClemente Management Consulting | Interim CEO/COO | Coach

December 2nd, 2016

Hi James,

The idea of using the business model canvas is a great one. However, this is not an interim business plan until you are ready to write more, the business model canvas is THE business plan. Or you can go free-form and come up with your own one-page description of your business and where you're heading that makes more sense to you. Bottom line, if you cannot put your business plan on one sheet of paper, you may be confused about the direction of your business.

You do need to set aside quality time to reflect upon your business, the possible threats and opportunities you may face, and the mission and objectives of your business. The amount of time you spend depends on your attention span. Don't sit there and let the wheels spin without going anywhere. When you reach that point, get back to building revenue. 

But always set aside that quality time. Use time from your most productive time of the day to reflect on your business, where it's going, and building that one-page plan for the future. That time spent will prove invaluable when you encounter an unexpected change in the market or an unexpected move by a competitor.

The purpose of the plan after all is not simply to predict where your business is going but more so to consider and help you react more quickly to a changing environment.

Thanks, Tom

Andre Sr. Managing Partner | Business Funding | Speaker | Mentor

December 2nd, 2016

Your dilemna is very common. Your focus should be on generating revenue! However; a business plan requires a thought process that will make you answer the tough questions for the future that has yet to become an issue. I.e. Your business model, your growth strategy, future trends, financial measurements and balance sheet to tell you when and how much money you will need. If you are revenue generating you may not need a full business plan. How long have you been in business? What are your current revenues? What would be the purpose of the business plan? This is extremely important as there are two types of business plans. 1. Operational (if you are IBM, this applies because you are not seeking money). 2. Fundable: This is designed specifically for investment whether debt or equity. Your post poses more questions than an ability to give you an single definitive answer. If you would like to discuss offline, please contact our Director of Strategy: Carine Dieude at: cdieude@altimabusinesssolutions.com. Again you may only need an execution plan, depends on the requirement for the plan. Last thing is just hire someone!!!!! It will be best use of your time. Still things to consider when hiring someone, so lets chat.

John Hall

December 2nd, 2016

Hi James,
Andre's answer is great, but I would personally look at it slightly differently.  Either working without a plan or planning without work will kill your business.  The closer the two can be integrated the better.  Consider taking the agile approach of doing work at the latest responsible time.  Right now, instead of writing up a formal business plan document to serve as a straitjacket, I would recommend creating a business model canvas.  Make it a work in progress that you update as you run your business.  Dive into or test the things that make you nervous.  You should find yourself naturally supporting the important parts.  When you find you need something more formal, you will have a solid foundation to build it from.

Martin Omansky Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional

December 2nd, 2016

I have written and evaluated many business plans over my checkered career, so here goes: good clear thinking precedes good clear writing. If I were you, I would run the business as a first priority and hire a professional (not a friend) to help draft a written version of your best thinking. Having a written document is an effective way to communicate your vision to others. BTW, I don't like pitch decks except as a teaser. Also, writing a business plan imposes a structure and discipline to your efforts - something most entrepreneurs lack. Even if you have no need for the plan to be used for fund-raising, the business plan can be an important internal planning tool. Last comment today: most people can't write anything, so don't try to achieve perfection - let a pro (such as a business school professor) do the heavy lifting. Sent from my iPhone

Rob G

December 2nd, 2016

starting with the business model canvas first is a good idea. That will get you thinking in the right terms and at least headed toward the ball park - without it you don't even know which direction the ball park is in.  It also helps you pin down the major inputs to a more detailed operational and planning model.  second, let's be clear on what a "business plan" is - it's a tool that helps you get where you want to go and allows you and your stakeholders to all get on the same page.  Maybe that's investors or employees or partners or customers, or vendors or all of the above.  I like Michael H's analogy - if you intend to get others onboard for a journey you will need to show them that you have a viable plan and you've addressed the 'what ifs'.  Spreadsheets are your friend. If you don't know Excel or Google docs then take some time to learn.  Producing, or even worse, paying someone else good money to produce, some monolithic paper document is a nonstarter.  Build a business/financial model in Excel/Gdocs that will allow you to do 'what if' modeling. You don't need a lot of formal 'business education' to build this model - the real world experience you already seem to have is enough. If you plan to pitch investors some formal polish may be in order, but again, i would encourage you to do this yourself - if you pitch investors you will need to know all the numbers inside and out and there's no better way to learn than doing.  You already know that revenue minus expense = profit/loss.  That's pretty much the secret sauce.  You are already planning materials, buying materials, turning raw materials into finished goods, consuming labor, marketing, selling, collecting payment, paying bills, etc.  There will be at least 1 tab for each of these in your new business modeling tool. To expand you will likely need to look at adding employees or contractors which adds a significant layer of complexity.  The time value of money/cash flow will start to become more important.  Your spreadsheet will allow you to visualize what happens to the secret sauce (expenses, revenue, profit/loss, cash flow, retained earnings, etc.) when you tweak 1 or more inputs, i.e. if i add a part time contractor in month 4 to do these 3 things here's what my costs look like in months 4-12 (including additional raw materials, etc.) and here's what i will need to sell in months x-y to afford this expense at the end of month 4 and by month 12 the results are ___.  What happens if i hire an employee instead - As Martin O points out, you need this model not just to pitch investors, but more importantly to help you plan and execute. I would suggest a monthly model for the fist 12 months then quarterly for years 2-4. beyond yr4 gets more speculative than it is likely worth.  You may see it as a burden and a time sink right now, but i suspect once you get started you will be driven to complete rev1 (it will never really be finished) because it will open your eyes to the possibilities. Yes, there are templates out there and you might look at a few to get some ideas, but i have found it is more work trying to interpret and customize someone else's model than to build my own from scratch.  good luck. 

Marvin Schuldiner Problem Solver at Sanns, LLC

December 6th, 2016

Dwight Eisenhower once said "Plans are nothing, planning is everything."  The point is to think it out, not necessarily write it down (unless it is for others).

Paul Nielsen Founder at Tejon Tech

December 5th, 2016

Rob Gropper is 100% correct. just watch some YouTubes on Business Model Canvas and perhaps pick up the Business Model Generation book, and then sketch out the business model. That's all you need at this point. 

Sandeep Jainapur Instructional Designer at Focus Edumatics Pvt Ltd

December 13th, 2016

Initially write down your business idea and then jolt out what is your core business and what is secondary. Write down these. Then try to approach step by step. I hope this helps.

Sidney Sclar SID the SECURITY PRO at sidthesecuritypro.com

December 2nd, 2016

Contact Deborah Bowman Stevens at Clasid Consultants Publishing and bowmanauthor.com
Ask Deborah how she finds time to be a client of herself?