Just How Exacting Should Your Business Plan Be?

Posted on December 24, 2018 in Planning & Advisors

Entrepreneurs approach the business planning stage differently.  Some need to cross every “T” and dot every “I” — not a bad approach if you’re seeking financing from sources outside yourself.  Others find are a little more relaxed about it.  As Harry Karanja, a web cafe entrepreneur in Nairobi, Kenya, described his thought process:

My preferred approach is to have a general idea of what the business is to achieve and write the plan as I go along, reacting to customers, suppliers and processes. I nevertheless ensure that I stay true to my business partner Stephen Alala’s mantra that any business should be “anxious for profits, but patient for growth.”

Unquestionably, a business plan is a living, breathing document, which should change as your assumptions are tested, and your dreams are confronted by reality.  The business plan that is not revisited on at least some regular basis is a dead document, rather than a business growth tool.  It becomes merely a snapshot of where you were and what you thought when you wrote it.  Chances are, you’ve learned a couple of new things since then . . . so why hamper your business growth by hanging on to outmoded ideas?

“How do you approach business planning?” is also a great “test” question for business partners.  Do you share the same planning style?  Does one of you need to research every tiny detail while the other prefers to fly by the seat of her pants?  Can these different styles co-exist?  Or will you devolve into name calling:  “You’re too stifling (and a fraidy-cat!), trying to plan every contingency!” “You’re too reckless (and lazy!), not wanting to give anything any forethought!”  Are you running the risk of having resentment ruin your business partnership?


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