Thanks to John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing for his post “I Hate Business Plans,” which I love because he says some nice things about my new book, but is also a really interesting new take on the subject of business planning.
John starts out explaining his quirky title:
Okay, anyone who knows me at all knows that I don’t really hate anything, and I don’t really hate business plans, what I dislike is the way people think about, and then consequently use, business and marketing plans.
To me, a plan for anything is an action plan. In fact, the first step in creating a plan should be to decide how to update the plan. The document itself is merely a guideline. Things change, you grow, shift and bob and weave in this thing called a business. It’s the planning process, the digging to get some of the answers for the plan that contains the real value in this process anyway. It’s a bit like preparing the soil for a garden. The crop is what people want, but it’s the soil preparation that makes the difference come State Fair time.
He asks readers to fill in a comment with “I hate business plans … but I love business planning because …
He got 40 some comments on that theme, which make fascinating reading. Here are some of my favorites:
I hate business plans. Especially ones printed out. Nothing is more static and confining than a plan that refuses to change, made from dead trees.
I love business planning. How much of my annual sales will go back into marketing? How much resource labor do I need to accomplish a growth goal? Who is my ideal customer? Great questions but the answers change sometimes daily! I’d love to have competition that use a paper plan.
I hate business plans but I love business planning for basically the same reason…business plans force you to take all the big ideas and distill them into workable action plans. This can be a time consuming and difficult task, particularly when there is a lot of other work to be done. And when we have so many ideas and big dreams for the future, with only a limited budget to work with right now. Business plans force you to prioritize and make the tough decisions for what to do now, next month, next quarter, etc. They also help you to keep an eye on the future – where do we want to go, and what’s next for the business? Sometimes getting the ideas on paper helps really define the goals. Working up a business plan is an essential exercise to go through. Even if it’s not a full-blown, fancy document, it’s important to get something on paper…
Being without a plan is like being without a map. A map isn’t functional until you know where you are on it. Locating yourself on a map provides a point of reference for motion; how much is required and in what direction. In the same way, a plan in business is critical for understanding what you have achieved, where you are, where you need to be and how you proceed in making headway.”