The First Principle of the 21 Question Business Plan(tm)

            Over the course of the next few blog posts I will be discussing the four major principles that separate the 21 Question Business Plan™ from all other business plan templates and software.  Principle #1 is that the process of creating a business plan is more important than the plan itself.  It is the process that helps the new BizOwner decide if the business they want to start is the right business for them.  It is the process that verifies that the business will meet the BizOwners financial and psychic goals.  It is the process that identifies the holes in the plan that make it vulnerable to failure, and it is the process that gives the new BizOwner the necessary belief and confidence to start and grow the business.  At the end of the process you do get a plan, but the plan itself is not nearly important as what you went through to create the plan.

            I have taught a formal three-credit business plan class over 37 times in the last eleven years.  In every class between 10-20% of the students change their business idea during the process of creating a business plan.  The reason they change their business is that the process of creating a business plan has showed them, in some dramatic way, that the business they wanted to start had little chance for success.  Here are a few examples of how the business plan process changed people’s business ideas:

-Penney wanted to open a scrap-booking store but when she saw the margins she would make she changed her idea and opened a successful furniture consignment store instead.

-Randy wanted to open a deli, but when he realized the amount of overhead a retail deli would have, he changed his idea to a food truck and got his business launched faster.  He also reached positive cash flow in the first 30 days!

-Connie wanted to open a Bed and Breakfast with her husband but the business planning process showed her she needed some experience before she could make her dream real.  She used her plan to get a job managing a Bed and Breakfast and after a year the owner sold her and her husband the business!

            In each of the examples the people went through the planning process.  By going through the process they discovered the necessary information to make the right decision for them.  The business plan process is what makes all the difference in the world!  Principle #1 of the 21 Question Business Plan™ is that the business planning process is more important than the final business plan.

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