Business Plans – Is Your Plan a “Me Too” Document?

A business plan falls on the desk of an investor. They pick up the document and begin to read. A few pages in it has become crystal clear that this is the same plan they read earlier in the week, sometime last month, or dozens of times over the past year. While it may be written on different paper by a different management team, the business plan is obviously a “me too” document.

What is a “Me Too” business plan? It is a document that outlines a business model or strategy that closely mimics that of competitors in the market without bringing anything new or original to the table. It outlines a path that is already heavily travelled by competitors. It does not clearly identify why you will do it better than your competitors, or why you are taking a different approach from those that have already tried and failed. It jumps upon the latest “it” business model without directly addressing the issue of how you will differ from the hundreds or thousands of others on that same bandwagon.

In the hyper competitive and crowded business environment in which we all operate, it is critical to create a plan for your company that clearly, concisely and compelling demonstrates how you will succeed by taking a road that is all your own.

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Business Plan – A Better Idea

Pick up almost any document on starting a business and you’ll be advised that you should promptly undertake the creation of a business plan. I am a big fan of business planning but here I’ll disagree. A better idea is to complete a feasibility study. A feasibility study and a business plan share a lot in common but the feasibility study is much shorter and can be completed in less time than a full business plan.

The whole point of the feasibility study is to determine if the business concept is feasible. There is no need to go to all of the detail required by a business plan if a general testing of market numbers indicates the idea will not work.

It is alright to use educated guesses for the numbers. You can increase accuracy and detail in the business plan to follow if your initial study indicates it is warranted. A good feasibility study should answer at least the following questions:

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First Rule When Starting an Online Business – Create a Business Plan

o Which direction is your business heading?
o Can you tell others where your business is heading?
o Do you have a sense of commitment, as you tell others your business objectives?
o Do you have a sense of achievement, as you see your business progressing in the way you had envisaged?

You know you have never created a business plan, and now you are wondering where you should start. You have a blank piece of paper or a new page open on your computer and writing the opening sentences will always be the hardest. What do you do next?

You know you can make the plan as complicated as you want, but there are really four elements that all business plans need to cover.

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