The living business plan — 30 years ago.

How remarkably anachronistic.

It’s a Saturday afternoon, I wasn’t doing too much, and I didn’t intend to be posting, but I just found this post while browsing the “business plan” topic in Google reader. It brings back good memories. When I first got into business planning in the middle 1970s, I always used and recommended a business plan in a loose-leaf binder, to be used pretty much as Jacqueline O’Donnell suggests. Here’s the quote:

“One of the best ways to ensure your business plan is used and not gathering dust is to have your copy on your desk at all times. Don’t print it in color. Don’t bind it. Don’t make it look nice. Add margin space and leave some half blank pages throughout. Many business plans are viewed as finished documents because they are put into “presentation format” when they are initially produced. This is great for taking to the bank manager but it is not so useful within your business. By leaving it in a non-perfect form, with spaces for handwritten notes and ideas, you will break the mental pattern that sees your plan as being complete.”

“Instead, whenever you are considering a change of direction or a new opportunity, pick up that tattered, dog-eared document and flick through … ”

“Make notes on your business plan, highlight sections and cross out information that is no longer relevant. Every now and again, update it and print out a new copy. Then use it and abuse it as much as you did the last copy. Of course, for this to work it does have to be a well-written business plan in the first place.”

I agree with the underlying sentiment so much that I couldn’t resist posting it here with extensive quotes. How rarely is someone so right and so wrong at the same time.

Right with the whole idea of the living business plan. Yes, please; every business plan should be kept at hand where it is also kept in mind, and is easy to reference and update as business reality moves forward.

Wrong, however, with tying the plan down into hard copy, physical paper, and cluttering your desktop. Not your computer desktop, mind you, but your actual physical desktop (by the way, do we call that your analog desktop?). Why in the world not just keep the living business plan mentality, keep it fresh, keep it close, and update it frequently, but on your computer. Please, your desktop has a computer on it, right? Don’t keep it in paper.

Aside from the problem of physical desktop clutter, there’s also the problem that those hand-written updates then have to be typed back into your computer. That’s a waste. Don’t depend on physical clutter to remind you, just keep the business plan in your mind, on the virtual back burner, and click appropriately to grab it and update it while you’re working.

Here’s the link to that post:

Ground Report | The living business plan.

— Tim


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