Is planning worth all the effort?

Benjamin Franklin said, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail". Simply put, if you don't have a plan to execute your setting yourself up for failure. Many people have great ideas but no plan or idea of how to get there, hence if you haven't planned it you are going to fail.

There is the view that no one besides banks, grant bodies and the late Soviet Union requires five-year plans to forecast complete unknowns. These plans are generally fiction and dreaming them up is almost always a waste of time. Start-ups are not smaller versions of large companies. They do not grow according to plan. If you look at the successful business around Dungannon you see that they ultimately succeed after going quickly from failure to failure, all the while adapting and improving their initial ideas as they continually learn from customers."

Harvard Business Review stated recently, “a strategic plan is not a set-and-forget instrument. It's a work in progress.” In saying all that there is some value in preparing a business plan. For a start it can give a bank some reassurance that you know your business and what you are planning to get in to. Secondly, if it a business idea does not work on paper then there is little chance of it working in practice at all. The NI Business Start Up Programme, funded by the local Councils, gives new entrepreneurs the opportunity to explore their idea with a business advisor and then prepare a business plan.

A new way of thinking towards business planning, however, is the Lean Startup methodology. First coined by Eric Ries, Lean Startups favour experimentation over exhausting planning, customer feedback over intuition and iterative design over traditional "big design upfront" development. And it's not just for new startups either. An increasing number of established businesses are implementing lean startup methods to help them deal with rapid change in the marketplace. For many fledgling entrepreneurs in the idea phase of setting up in business, it can feel like they are simply taking a stab in the dark; but it doesn’t have to be such a hit-or-miss proposition. With a little lean thinking it’s possible to develop and refine your ideas to mitigate market risks. Most start-ups don’t have the benefit of unlimited pots of money, so the lean business model encourages the controlled deployment of resources that you do have. As a way of reducing risk, simply create an initial prototype that allows you to test the water with the aim of refining it into a better version further down the line. It’s a sensible, measured way of understanding whether your product or service has a demand within the target market using the least money time and resources.

Business plans rarely survive first contact with customers. As the boxer Mike Tyson once said about his opponents’ prefight strategies: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Website: Concept NI Web Solutions

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