Top 10 Business Planning Mistakes #7: Buying Instead of Building

(Note: this is the fourth of a 10-part series listing my revised top 10 business planning mistakes. The list goes from 10, the least important, to 1, the most important.) It drives me crazy: I see all those ads for prepackaged business plans, with preposterous claims like “investor-proven” and “guaranteed success” and “just fill in the blanks.” And then there’s that big myth that you can farm out a business plan as if it were soybeans or potatoes, delivered when done. don’t buy a business plan. Build your own.  Every business is unique. Your goals, how you define success, your resources, your strategy, your team, your target market, and your business offering are always unique. There’s a post on this blog called Sample Business Plans Suck, a rant about people thinking a sample business plan is anything but just an example to generate ideas and show them what a finished plan looks like. There’s another post on this blog called My Worst-Ever Consulting Engagement,  a true story of how three entrepreneurs thought having a business plan was a problem solved, whether they knew what it said or not. So, if you wanted to take a trip, would you hire somebody to plan it for you? Would you buy the trip plan? If you wanted to take up golf or tennis, would you hire somebody to take lessons for you? If you wanted to get in shape, would you buy some diet and exercise?

(Image: Snail Pace/Flickr cc)


  • Charles Robinson says:

    I’m in the early stages of starting up my own business. I don’t feel I’m at the point I can really do a business plan yet, but I have looked at some examples so I’m familiar with the points I need to cover. Friends have asked me why I don’t just buy a stock plan I can use to get funding. First, I don’t want funding. Second, I don’t think someone else’s plan would work for me. And finally, I want to do the work myself so I know what goes into it.

    So I agree with your premise and the points you make, except this one: “So, if you wanted to take a trip, would you hire somebody to plan it for you? Would you buy the trip plan?” My husband is a travel agent and that’s exactly what he does. Lots of people do purchase trip plans. A better analogy to illustrate your point might be “So, if you wanted to take a trip, would you buy a premade package that doesn’t go where you want?”

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