Many of my clients use business plans. I wish more did, as it gives them a chance to:
1) See how they have done
2) See what they did right
3) see what mistakes they made in their planning
4) Frame their thoughts on they want to go. It is not essential, but it is a good idea.
I have never seen anyone regret doing one.
I confess I have changed much of my mind about doing business plans in SMB. So here is my updated experience.
Although it is recommended that the plan be done three months before it is needed. No one ever does that. In my experience, most people put them together sometime before they think they need them. Besides, with the elections coming up in a few days, it makes sense to wait till early June to start putting one together for the next financial year.
In my experience, there are three reasons for people to do business plans, none of which are mutually exclusive
1) To clarify their thoughts. This option is underrated.
2) Get stakeholders and critical staff on the same page
3) They need money from banks, lending institutions or investors.
The closer to (3), the more likely, the business plan will be professionally designed and written up.
If you want to do it yourself, it is best to do it with pre-written templates. Your bank will often provide you with one free. Of course, the significant advantage of using your banks is that they know it.
If you are doing such a short business plan it will take you a few hours of work. It is best to do it with other people around, so you can discuss and get a collective sense of the plan. When filling it out, do not worry about it not being perfect; nothing ever is.
If you cannot get one from the bank, I found this one here, which is extensive and presentable.
You can get a professional to write you a plan if you want. If so, budget about $5,000, and they will need a month to do it. The problem here is that the professional knows what to do, but they need to get the information out of you. Then they need to understand the business, which takes many hours. If you are going to get them to write it, Do it yourself first and then present it to them. It will save time and money.
Lastly do a section on budgeting for this year. I will discuss this once the elections happen.
Of course, once you have a plan, it does not take that long to do the next year. Most of the stuff is similar and only about 20% changes every year.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin.