Whether you “need” a plan or not, you want to plan because planning is management. Maybe you don’t have to print it as a formal document, but think of a plan as the first step in planning. Dwight Eisenhower said it: “The plan is useless. Planning is essential.” Maybe you don’t need to print it, so in that case just leave it on your computer.
Start anywhere. Business planning doesn’t have to be sequential so start where you feel best and think of a plan as blocks. Get going. It should never be done, so don’t think you’re going to wait until it’s done before you do anything. Start planning today and start using that plan tomorrow.
Your plan will be wrong but don’t worry, planning in today’s world assumes that assumptions change and planning is a process. Keep your assumptions on top, visible, so you can distinguish between changed assumptions and changed strategy. You want to track how and why it was wrong, and in what direction, so it can lead to management.
The heart of your plan is the combination of market need, your unique business identity, and your strategic focus. The flesh and bones of your plan is a matter of specifics, concrete details including dates, deadlines, budgets, task assignments, and financial projections with special emphasis on cash flow.
And particularly, in the context of partnerup.com, remember that the planning process is a good viewpoint for evaluating your team. Most startups are done by teams, not individuals. If you dread the idea of planning, get somebody on your team who relishes details. If you hate doing financial projections, or, quite common, you fear them, then get somebody on your team who loves working with numbers. You don’t have to do it all yourself, but make sure you have a team that can do it.