I’ve helped several people put together business plans. The business plan I put together for my comedy club was used as a sample form in a book on business plans. Theoretically, I know something about business plans. I’ve seen some bad ones. The worst ones I’ve seen tend to be bad for one of these reasons.
3 Reasons Why Business Plans Fail
1. Filling in the Blank
There are plenty of software packages and business plan templates out there on the tubes of the Internet. While they can give you bit of structure when you’re completely lost and on your own – they can also have you focusing on issues which make little sense if any. A business plan that’s intended for venture capitalists or other serious investors needs to have an exit strategy – a plan for cashing out the investors. If you’re putting together a business plan for a small business or some business that you want to build and grow – you don’t need an exit strategy. Your exit strategy is filing for bankruptcy and moving back to your parent’s basement. Don’t fill in the blanks if you don’t understand the blanks.
2. Failure to you know, plan
Want to create a bad business plan – don’t use it to detail what you’ll actually do, use it to provide a 10,000 foot view of something you need to have microscopic insight into. This tends to be compounded by the fill-in-the-blank approach, where a business has a ‘marketing plan’ consisting of ‘generating great word of mouth, building the brand and engaging in social media.’ I’m reminded of a stand-up comic who asked an audience member what he did for a living. The guy in the audience said “Nothing” to which the comedian replied “Then how do you know when you’re done?” If your plan is that vague, how do you know when you’re doing it?
3. A Plan for World Domination
Not every business is going to be successful. And yet every bad business plan seems to not only promise success, but promises the kind of success that results in each investor ending up with enough money to buy their own island and flood it with enough filthy lucre to sink the damned thing. Project a reasonable growth arc and realize you’re not going to turn a web design company into the second coming of the Roman empire.