Tim Berry is a very smart man. I remember when I first started working at Palo Alto Software, Tim would occasionally walk through the sales department and listen to our conversations on the phone with customers and give advice here and there. I learned quickly to incorporate Tim’s advice into my everyday explanations about what our software did and how it could help people needing to create a plan for their business.
When I listen to people talk about how unimportant a business plan is, I often go back to Tim’s “root canal” theory and wonder just how many other aspects of their business they are ignoring because it’s boring or too hard to accomplish.
Our customer care department receives a lot of calls from people asking if we have a very specific business plan. One for a pizza and beer restaurant in Colorado or a “green” car wash in Maryland or a hand-made kite store in Minnesota.
And to each one of these queries the answer is basically the same, “We don’t sell sample business plans. You need to write your own plan, not use an existing one.”
People who want the quick fix, who want us to give a pre-made, ready-to-go, fill-in-the-blank solution to their business planning are fooling themselves into thinking this running a business thing is going to be a snap.
I can get you in touch with a lot of people who would be happy to explain how hard it really is.
But here’s the thing. I also hear from entrepreneurs everywhere about how thankful they were that they delved into their business and learned as much about it as possible. How they were better prepared for the challenges ahead than if they’d just opened up shop without a clear strategy in place beforehand.
I actually once read a competition business plan entry where the final summary contained the statement: “We’ve realized during the course of writing this business plan that this isn’t actually a good business to start. Good thing we figured this out before we spent serious money.”
So when you’re tempted to go the easy route, to skip the review of your sales forecasting, or disregard your cash flow because you know you “have money in the bank and that’s the same thing”… stop and think of your sore tooth.
And how it’s better to have a little bit of pain now to save you from a LOT of pain down the road.
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