Don’t Need Financing? You Still Need a Business PlanPosted by Jessica Oman
If you’re starting a business and you don’t need any capital funding, lucky you! You’re in a great position to launch a start-up company if you can fund it yourself. You might be thinking you don’t need a business plan if you don’t need funding, but I’ve got news for you: you’re wrong! While you don’t necessarily need the type of plan we’d create for bank or investment financing, you still need some sort of plan to help you reach your business goals.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Write Ahead was founded with $170. Without any company debt, we were in fantastic shape right from the start, and just had to find innovative ways to grow organically. That required me to write a business plan (as well, I figured I better practice what I preach!). I considered a few ways to go about this, and evaluated these options:
- A “traditional” business plan
I call this “traditional” because it’s what most people think of when they hear the phrase “business plan”. This type of plan is suitable for a bank or investor. It might be 20-25 pages long, and usually includes 3 years of detailed financial projections, including a monthly cash flow statement. If you want very detailed numbers to help you with benchmarking, you may choose to go this route. We did, in order to show our clients how it worked and take ourselves through the process.
- A one-page business plan
Here is a business plan you can write in an hour. Different experts suggest different formats, but Natalie Sisson‘s structure is one I really like; it asks you to articulate your business Mission, choose the goals that are important to you, and set clear revenue targets. It also gets you to consider your personal needs and not just the growth of the business. This is a great option for people with lifestyle businesses – just make sure you revise it frequently to make sure you stay on track.
- A pitch deck
This isn’t really a business plan, but it is another way to describe the future of your business, the way you envision it. Typically used in presentations to angel investors and venture capitalists, a pitch deck is more of a presentation than a written document. The key word here is “pitch”; this is how you sell your business idea, yourself, and your company’s potential in a succinct and enthusiastic way. There are many ways to write a pitch deck, but if you’re creating one for internal use, take care to stay realistic about your business growth and don’t exaggerate its potential. This type of plan might work for you if you are more of a visual person.
Whatever type of plan you choose, just choose one. Today. Set some time aside to work on it and share it with others in your company to get their feedback.
Repeat after me: plan – write – revise. Plan – write – revise.
Have you written your business plan? If not, what’s holding you back?