Should I Create a Business Plan Before I Launch?

When you start a new business, it's important to plan ahead. It may seem like an overwhelming task to create a business plan, but if you take the time to do so, you might be surprised by what you learn. Even if you do not need a business plan to secure funding for your company, it's helpful to think about the finances, marketing, and logistics involved in creating your new brand. When you create your business plan, it will be easier to determine whether you have a viable business idea and where you might be able to improve your idea to create a more profitable business.

If you do feel overwhelmed by the task, you can break the plan up into manageable sections that you create one at a time. There are some great templates out there. You can use whatever you prefer, but I recommend the Tory Burch Foundation business plan builder. No matter what template you choose, your business plan will provide an in-depth look at your offering, marketing, finances, operations, and your team. Within marketing, you'll also take a closer look at your customer profile and the market that you are about to enter. Within finance, you'll determine when your company is likely to be profitable.

You can tackle the sections in whatever order you prefer, but you should save the Executive Summary for last. I like to work on my favorite sections first so that I get a sense of accomplishment before heading into the sections that are more difficult. I do the marketing sections first, followed by operations, then financials. After that, I write the corporate structure sections and finally the Executive Summary.

As you research and write each section, provide as much detail as you can about the information that you know and can reasonably predict. If you also have unknowns, provide both best and worst case scenarios. Your actual situation will likely fall somewhere between. Consider what might happen if your preferred supplier can no longer provide your core offering. Do you have a backup supplier? What is the incremental product cost of switching suppliers? What is the potential lost revenue of an interruption of service? Writing your business plan will help you create contingency plans for your marketing and operations. Hopefully, you don't need them all.

You'll read that a business plan is stale as soon as it's written. In some ways, that is true. However, if you take the time to truly research the market, determine your logistics partners, and objectively look at your finances and organizational structure, you can position your business for success. Even if you don't write everything down in the hope of securing financing, looking at each element of the business plan can help you determine where you'll be highly successful and where you'll need a bit more help. This information will help you plan for your launch, as well as for both positive and negative events.