If you have a business idea that you’re passionate about, chances are you’ve started to write a business plan. There are lots of resources online that offer templates, descriptions, and even reports that you can use in your research. It’s really easy to start writing a business plan.
But it’s not nearly as easy to finish.
Finishing the business plan is such a huge obstacle for many entrepreneurs that they’d rather start, then restart, then start again, using different templates each time, hoping one of them will make it easier. But I promise that no template will help you finish your business plan until you a) set the time aside to get it done and b) develop the skills to think like a business owner.
Why Your Business Plan isn’t Finished
There are lots of reasons why people never finish their plans. We often hear entrepreneurs lamenting that they don’t have enough time, the rest of their life keeps getting in the way, they are stuck on the financials, or they can’t find the information they need to finish the research. Sometimes, the entrepreneur realizes partway through the process that their business model doesn’t work, and they’re not sure how to turn it into something that does.
What You Can Do About It
Here are some actions you can take right away to get that business plan written and ready for funding:
- Schedule two hours a week, every week, to concentrate on your plan until it’s finished. No distractions allowed – no emails, no kids, no Facebook.
- Take a business planning workshop and get some insight from other entrepreneurs and an experienced facilitator.
- Set a deadline to complete the plan and make yourself accountable by telling your friends and family what the deadline is.
- Join a mastermind or a peer mentoring group to help you get past your business hurdles and answer your questions about the plan.
- Read some business books or buy a business planning guide to find some inspiration.
If you’re not sure what to do next, just start asking your friends, coworkers, anyone you feel comfortable with, even if you don’t think they can help. You might be surprised what insights an outside perspective can bring.
How You Know When it’s Done
The truth is, your business plan is really never complete. To make it useful for your company, you have to tweak and revise it regularly – usually at least once a quarter, especially when you’re just starting out. So, how you define ‘done’ is really based on what you need the plan for. If you’re planning to submit it to a bank for funding, then the plan is finished when you’ve address all of the bank’s concerns, including risk management, revenue forecasts, market research, cash flow, and projected gross and net profits.
Your business rarely progresses the way you thought it would, but that doesn’t make the business plan irrelevant. Just having those goals and benchmarks written down, and an analysis of your target customers to refer to, can really help with your decision making as your business grows.