Do you need to think about where you want your business to go, how you want it to grow, or what the intermediate steps might be? Do you need to determine your own destiny? Do you need to focus on priorities and allocate your resources to where they are most needed? Do you need to plan cash flow? Do you need to plan hiring policies and management structure? Do you need to take a step away from the details and look clearly at your market? Do you need to look at your business’ strengths and weaknesses, and at its opportunities and threats? Do you need to develop and implement strategy? A business plan can help you do all that and more.
A plan is like a map, and you don’t need a map if you are going somewhere you’ve been before, or if you don’t care where you’re going. But even if you don’t strictly need a business plan, you do need a planning process to help you optimize your business and manage it as well as possible. Maybe you can do this all in your head, but most of us find we plan much better when we write it out. To me, this is a matter of trying to do well at whatever you’re doing. Maybe you can do it despite handicaps like not having a plan, but isn’t it easier to plan?
You will absolutely need a written plan if you’re seeking investment, and you’ll probably need a written plan if you’re applying for a business loan or credit card merchant account. You’ll also probably need a plan if you’re managing growth and sharing strategy and implementation details with your business team.
I think it’s a shame that people associate business plans with starting a business more than with running a business. Every business needs planning, ongoing and existing businesses as much as startup businesses.