Do You Need A Business Plan? One Expert Says “Ditch the Plan!”
Do you need a business plan? Most business owners assume this is an automatic yes. Earlier this year, the Women CEO Project hosted a virtual summit and one of the speakers said something that totally shocked me. She said entrepreneurs should ditch the idea of a business plan. I think there was a virtual simultaneous gasp at that moment. For many, your company’s business plan is like having attained the holy grail so hearing that this was not needed was almost irreverent! With December being National Write a Business Plan Month, I knew I wanted this fabulous woman to share her thoughts on the subject So today, my special guest blogger is none other than Felecia Hatcher, blogger, speaker, author and co-owner of Feverish Ice Cream & Gourmet Pops!
Why traction is more important than a business plan
When you’re doing your research on starting a business or even just speaking with people, most will tell you, “Oh, you need to write a business plan, incorporate right away, hire employees, blah, blah, blah.” My advice to you beware of all the BS people tell you, that you need to launch your idea especially the business plan.
As your first step to launching your idea it’s a complete waste of time. Especially with all the technology that is available to us today. You can start and build a business presence quite easily and with a much lower financial barrier to entry.
Pay close attention to the tips below:
Ditch the Business Plan!
Your ideas are worthless! Yep, that’s right I said it. Your ideas mean absolutely nothing without a strategic action plan and execution! Think of how many ideas you come up with during the day, or in a week. Many of them never even reach paper because we think that we cannot move forward until we raise money. Too often, we are more obsessed with the idea of dreaming big and accomplishing the unimaginable than actually doing the work.
My belief is that focusing on the business plan first keeps us caught in the “idea obsession and research phase”
The worst thing that you can do is spend a ton of money and time working on a business plan before you even actually create a tangible product or actually tried to sell your service to someone. It is the biggest mistake ever. On average most people spend 6 months writing their business plan and what usually happens is you invest time and energy into this project, and then when you finally come to the day where you make the product you find out it tastes like crap, or it looks like crap, or the process to make it is horrendous and time consuming, or you hate it and you’ve wasted 6 months on a business plan.
You have to, from day one, actually create the product, or provide the service. You can do it on a super-low budget in your kitchen or living room. It doesn’t matter. Create the product and test it out yourself. Go through the processes before you even start working on the business plan. It makes absolutely no sense not to test it out. Get your family members and your friends to test it out. Find out how much they would pay for it. Hell, charge them for it, make sure that it’s something that is actually going to make you money! Create the Facebook and Twitter accounts and crowdsource your network. Then sit down and put together a step by step strategic plan that outlines how you are going to reach your goals and get traction.
In order to build traction with your big idea, it needs to be practical. Being practical can make it easier to start a business on a Ramen Noodle budget. I’m a big advocate of starting small, but constantly thinking big. You can start a business now, with all of the resources you currently have, and less then 1% of what you think you need to accomplish your grandiose vision. This will put you way ahead of most, because you have actually started, while others are waiting for the finish line to magically appear at the starting line
For example, let’s say you have a dream of starting your own university that will allow free access to higher education for people in 3rd world countries. You envision it will change the dynamics of education worldwide, with thousands of students, campuses all over the world, and expensive technology. But instead of waiting for that perfect day, going into a panic attack writing a business plan and wondering how you will fund it, you start by teaching a udemy.com class this weekend. The technology that is available to us today makes it easier than ever to start a business on a Ramen Noodle budget. You can set up a class today. Tap into your social networks and find people who will pay to learn from your expertise. All you need is a computer, internet access and the will to be patient and execute. You will be in business and it can grow from there.
When we first started Feverish, we purchased ice cream wholesale from a local manufacturer and added our own quirky spin to a mobile ice cream party service. We grew the company organically, and constantly improved as we went along. For the first year, all we did was buy ice cream and show up to parties serving ice cream and playing real music with a lounge area. That was all we needed to become profitable and to start the minimal viable product of our overall goal and test out our idea.
Starting small makes you focus on solving real problems for people. Starting scrappy and getting super creative with limited resources gives you a stronger foundation to grow from. It eliminates the friction of big infrastructure, and gets right to the point. It will allow your company to easily pivot and keep your ear to the ground for customer feedback. And when you finally go back to writing a business plan it will be a much stronger document for you to work from because you will have first hand knowledge on what it takes, how much it cost, and what people will really pay for your product or service.[divider top=”no”]
Felecia is an author, social entrepreneur and the Chief Popsicle of Feverish Ice Cream & Gourmet Pops. For the past decade Felecia has dedicated her life to inspiring a new generation of leaders through her conversational talks on Entrepreneurship, Tehnology Innovation, College Funding and Personal Branding. Hatcher has been honored by the White House as one of the Top 100 Entrepreneurs under 30, Featured on the NBC Today Show-Grio’s 100 African American’s Making History, a TEDxMiami and TedxJamaica Presenter and featured on the Cooking Channel, Inc Magazine, Wall Street Journal Japan, Forbes Travel, Entrepreneur, Essence Magazine and Black Enterprise. Conect with Felecia on Twitter or visit her website at www.FeleciaHatcher.com