The Plan: Do I have a business?

What may seem like a good idea to the budding entrepreneur may not make for a good business, says Marty Zwilling in an article that caught my attention last week.

It’s easy for the patent and prototype to eat up all my time, which leads to me easily forgetting about the fundamental business plan. The business plan is the last thing I want to work on, yet when I sit down to pound it out, it is the most essential. Without a plan, it’s just winging it. And winging it, on the risk scale, is risk turned up to the insane-extreme level. A business plan mitigates risk. Since I’m jumping into the highest-risk profession there is, that of a tech startup, the business plan becomes all the more essential.

When educating myself on how to put together a business plan last Fall, I found out pretty quickly that I should take the exercise seriously. It wasn’t until I began shopping for an attorney that my brainstorming efforts on paper began to synthesize into what I thought was a really decent draft mini-plan. It ran about five pages. As my thinking turned into words on paper, my creative synapses were going crazy, and I gained incredible insight into how the company could really take off.

After speaking to an attorney who has counseled startups, she burst my bubble when she said, candidly, that my plan looked more like an “overview” than a business plan. As I researched more business plans after that, I started to get what she was saying. For nearly seven pages, I lacked the critical data – the numbers – that would demonstrate a plan toward profitability. My plan was still full of risk, because there was really no plan.

Since then, I’ve given the plan more thought. As I think about it as a risk-mitigation document, each section’s purpose becomes clear, where before, I was merely trying to use flashy business jargon to win over the skeptics. Now, my aim is simple: to show how my product can go to market, turn a profit, and what I need to get there.

My goal is to have a solid plan in my hands by the end of April. It will take me a little time to track down accurate numbers, but with a self-imposed four week time clock, I’m motivated to make it happen.

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