Putting together a full-blown business plan for a new or existing business is a daunting task!  It can take days or even weeks and by the time you really sink into the work, chances are that you will be thinking more just about getting the plan done, rather than trying to focus on how you can use the plan to make your business awesome.

Well, I have great news for you!  You don’t have to create a complete business plan. In fact, you will likely benefit your business more if you don’t create a complete plan, especially if you are creating a plan aimed at trying to run your business better as opposed to a plan to impress investors.

Specifically, I suggest that you consider only writing up the parts of the business plan that matter the most to your situation.  By avoiding the huge time sink of whipping up a complete business plan, you will be able to put a lot more thought and effort into the parts that matter.

So, which parts of your business should you focus on?  Not necessarily the worst performing aspects, but the very few places in your business that if you improve them or do them very well that you will most be able to improve the overall performance of the business.

You may want to start with a detailed outline of a business plan and note which areas you think are most problematic, could use the most improvement, are the most critical for your situation or are the least intuitive.  Then you should narrow down your list to just a very few manageable areas that you could really focus on and likely make significant headway improving at the same time.

If you are a new business, then perhaps many parts of the plan will matter but chances are that some will matter a lot more than others.  Hence unless you can’t wait to whip up a complete business plan, I would suggest you consider very carefully and thoughtfully put all of your energy into the parts that matter most.

If you are running an existing business, it may be a lot easier to determine which parts of your business plan matter most.  I would suggest to you that very few parts of your business plan will matter by far the most.  Which parts?  The parts that describe the elements of your business that you will substantially change during the year.

How many parts of your business should you radically change each year?  I remember attending a presentation by one of the largest private equity firms, Bain Capital.  In their presentation, they emphasized that trying to change more than 3 key things at any time in any business would be a mistake.

By trying to change more than 3 things they found out that your focus on changing anything at all would be lost, and you would likely end up with a business that was very much like the one that you started with.  Furthermore, they found that by carefully selecting 3 key factors that really mattered, that you dramatically increase the performance of a business.

At the end of the day you need to ask yourself.  What am I trying to create?  Is my ultimate goal to create a beautiful well balanced business plan?  Or is my ultimate goal to create or change a business that will find its unique place in the market and run in circles around its competitors?

If you are trying to do the later, I believe you are better off spending as much time as possible on as few elements of your business plan as possible.  This will allow you to spend more time thinking and less time writing.  And you will end up with a plan with a sharp focus that you will have a much better chance of successfully executing.

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