Don’t Sit on Your Couch to Create Your Business Plan

If you’ve ever told someone you have an idea for a start-up, chances are you’ve heard the question, “Do you have a business plan?” And your answer should be yes. But don’t run out and Google “business plan” if you want to move your idea forward. Because the vast majority of those resources will have you spending the next two months on your couch getting cozy with your laptop.

Take a look at this page from the U.S. Small Business Administration – Create Your Business Plan.  To me, this looks overwhelming and like a heck of a lot of work. Here’s a similar business plan template from SCORE. It contains more than 150 questions!  However, in SCORE’s defense they do concede that the “real value of creating a business plan is not having the finished product in hand; rather, the value lies in the process of researching your business in a systematic way.”

I agree that you need to research your business and have a plan for moving forward. But it doesn’t require answering 150 questions and then throwing it over the wall to the experts and investors and waiting, wishing and hoping for positive feedback.

Here’s what you need to do:
1. Describe your idea in a few sentences. The simpler the better.
2. Be sure you can explain how it solves a significant problem. (BTW, the problem needs to be big enough that people will pay to get it solved, preferably with your idea.)
3. Get off the couch and talk to people with the problem and see if they would pay to have the problem solved with your idea.
4. If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time to move towards creating a prototype or a minimum viable product so you can get more feedback. If the answer is no, you can either revise the problem or revise the idea.

Still not convinced? Here are two articles that I think speak to this concept.

No Plan Survives First Contact with Customers – Steve Blank

Simple Plans Executed Trump Complex Plans Still Planned – Chris Brogan

Additionally, here are some tools that can help you get your head around the important pieces of your start up. Note that not one of them is a template for a 30 page business plan.

Lean Canvas – Your StartUp Blueprint
Lean Launch Lab – free for individuals, paid for teams and larger groups
6 Free or Low Cost Ways to Test Your Business Idea via Ready Set StartUp