How To Have a Plan Without Making a Business Plan

The current reigning wisdom in small business circles is that in order to be successful, you have to have a business plan. You need one in order to apply for an SBA loan. University undergraduates take whole courses on how to write the perfect plan and market it to potential investors with the idea that they will be ready jumpstart their business the day after graduation. Quite a few business advisers seem to insist that it is necessary to know exactly what your company’s vision, structure and future projections are from the very beginning. What is this commonly accepted practice isn’t actually essential, though?


Being able to write a great business plan may serve as a comfort to ambitious graduates eager to be their own bosses. This dream is fueled by the success stories outlined in the case studies presented throughout their academic career. It’s both impressive and motivating to hear tales of people who started businesses in their early twenties and became successful leaders quickly.


The average age, however, at which people start successful businesses is closer to 40 than 20. These seasoned innovators have about 15 years of business experience under their belts before they strike out on their own. A formally articulated business plan may not be necessary when you have already built successful habits through both knowledge and experience.


This is not to say that everything a business owner does is completely spontaneous, lacking in forethought or preparation. You can have a clear idea of the kind of company you want to build without having every detail set in stone, though. Many successful companies didn’t start out by writing their plan out and putting deadlines to their goals. They started out with a great idea that people liked and scrambled to support.


A less rigid outlook than a formal business plan requires may actually foster success more readily. You can do everything exactly as you planned and still not reach your projected goals. This can happen because of a variety of reasons, such as a downturn in the market or unexpected expenses. If business owners are too closely wed to their plans, they may even find their businesses failing because the plans don’t allow them the flexibility to make necessary adjustments.


It’s good to know where you’re going, but it’s better to know how to change course if you need to do so. Armed with the knowledge gleaned from experience, you may find that you value adaptability over a formalized road map.


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