You Should Do This Before You Write Your Business Plan

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When you start a business, you typically have researched your business idea long before you come to write your business plan. A big problem is when you haven't entirely considered all available options and go too narrow. You should do this before you write your business plan:


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Going too narrow

Most entrepreneurs will have started to research their idea long before they come to the formal planning stage. Often, the idea has grown out of a long period of personal interest and the “research” is based on:

  • Personal experience
  • Talking to friends
  • Talking to suppliers

A big problem for entrepreneurs is that the idea for the business is already fixed in the mind of the entrepreneur, without taking the time to consider properly all the options that are available.

As a result, any analysis that is done can be too narrowly focused and thus valuable insights lost.

Recommended reading: 10 Practical Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Suspend judgement, spend time and build a portfolio of ideas

Before you do anything (including writing a plan) you should devote at least a few months to:

  • Suspend judgement and just absorb the information
  • Read up on the subjects that are related to the idea, using the web, business magazines, etc.
  • Talk to as many people as possible
  • Examine the trends in the sectors you want to operate in
  • Take a view on the future and the fit of your idea in that future
  • Expanding your idea to its limits, using creative thinking and ideas generation techniques
  • Identifying other opportunities linked to your idea, thus expanding the success platform you start from
  • Build an ideas portfolio

Recommended reading: Tailoring Your Business Plan For Different Readers

Only when you have developed a portfolio of ideas and have gained a better understanding of your proposition do you examine whether your original idea is right in terms of:

  • Your own experience and skills: Can you execute it?
  • The market: Does the market want it? Is the market big enough?
  • Timing: Are you, the market and any necessary technology ready?
  • Resources: How much resourcing does it need it time, money, people and can you secure that?
  • GO? (or NO GO, which is just as valid)

Over to you now. How did go about refining your initial business idea before you wrote your business plan? Tell us in the comments below. 

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Thursday, 13 December 2018
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