The fourth principle of the 21 Question Business Plan™ is simply that business plans are “living” documents. Just as people change, and businesses change, so to must your business plan change. Too often small business owners and entrepreneurs create a plan at the beginning of the business, and then “shelve” it. They don’t’ look at it again and within just a few days have probably forgotten everything in it. Remember, the purpose of the business planning process was to help you verify your business idea, make sure you can make money at it, AND help you define how you are going to grow the business as well. If you “shelve” your business plan you are losing the opportunity to help grow your business.
Having started and run five businesses I know that the first year of a new business is never easy. All of your assumptions are going to be tested and nothing ever goes like you thought it would in your business plan. Within a month of starting your business, changes will begin to happen and your business plan better be changing as well. Therefore, it is advisable to create a business plan that can change as your business changes.
At the end of the business planning process you will get a final, formal business plan. For my classes (and to get a grade) the student’s present them to me professionally bound with lots of pictures and graphics. In other words, they are very “pretty”! I make a point in class that when you present a plan to someone like an investor or banker, or me, professional and pretty are good things. But since you are really creating a plan for YOURSELF, I encourage the students to put them in 3-ring binders so they become “living” business plans. Keeping your plan off the shelf and close at hand so you can add and subtract as needed is the best advice I can give. Make sure your business plan is not a one-time activity. Continual business planning is a habit that is found in a majority of successful BizOwners.
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