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Those %$#@# Business Plans!

No business plan survives first contact with reality. (paraphrasing Prussian Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke)
Be careful when starting your business plan as there is no bigger sinkhole for entrepreneurial energy. Every budding entrepreneur sets out to write the finance winning plan in 30 days and ends up spending two to three times that long at it. What’s makes it worse is that maybe 5% of business plans are actually read by anyone. The rest are never even cracked open. People who have no clue about entrepreneurship will always emphasize the importance of having a well researched business plan before you start. Frankly, these people really ought to just shut up. Asking for your business plan is also an indirect way of getting rid of you. When someone you have tagged as a potential investor asks for a copy after only a few minutes of conversation, it’s almost a sure bet that they lack the intestinal fortitude to just say that they’re not interested. But don’t take it from me. Read what America’s leading academic on entrepreneurship says about business plans.

Free Business Plan Samples

So what then if not a business plan? I recommend that in most cases you begin with a well thought out business model and an expanded executive summary of 2 to 5 pages. If these two items are not enough to line up a face to face meeting with potential investors, then nothing will be.

Still want to work on a business plan?

Here are some well formatted examples for your viewing pleasure in pdf.

Executive Summary Example

Business Plan Example #1

Business Plan Example #2

Revisionum ad infinitum

Be wary of getting caught up in this game as it’s a bottomless sinkhole for your time and energy. It starts off when the first investor you pitch to gives you his personal feedback on how to improve your plan. So you go back home and spend a day or two rewriting it. Then the second investor you pitch to gives you her unique feedback on how to improve the plan. So you invest another day incorporating those changes. Of course the third party you do your dog & pony show for gives you yet more business plan improvement advice.

If you’re quick, you will begin to see two facts: 1) that a lot of these suggestions contradict each other, and 2) the person who gave you the free advice probably never really read your plan and is not really interested in your deal.

Lesson: invest the time in rewrites only if you are assured the prospect is really serious about investing in your venture. Otherwise just remind yourself next time someone offers you a pearl of wisdom that business plan improvement ideas are like belly buttons–everyone and his canine companion has one.

Occasionally, but rarely, someone will offer a suggestion which is worth the time called for to incorporate into your plan. The trick is in recognizing it. More on business plans.

How to Write a Business Plan Books

Books on how to write a business plan are all pretty well the same since every plan must answer the same basic set of questions. You can in most cases find all the tips you need online for free. See the recommended reading page as well.