I really enjoy talking to people that are starting a business. Whether they have written a business plan or not yet does not matter.
The first think that jumps out is the fact that new business owners or people putting together a business plan for the first time truly have no idea about sales. There is a good chance that they are projecting sales that are completely unrealistic. It would be better if they project a horrible struggle for every minor sale and they plan out ways to stretch out their meager capital to survive few sales for a long time.
You can download all kinds of free sample business plan templates from the web and they are very good for understanding your business. However, if you look at PlanHQ (They have a free 30 day trial) you will see that they help you plan your business but really focus on sales projections and setting sales goals. That is ultimately the only way you can stay in business and succeed.
In fact, when you get a free sample business plan you should remember what Guy Kawasaki said. (I remember this but am paraphrasing) – Many businesses should be launched for under $5,000 and proven in the marketplace before more investment is made.
The fact is, in many cases you should try to make sales before you even write your business plan. Later when you do the planning, it will be much more accurate.
Do you need money for product development in order to start up? Then why not form partnerships or get sponsors for the project? If you cannot do that, you probably cannot sell the product later either.
And don’t worry if it turns out your idea is a dud. That happens to most of us but you can learn from it and come up with something that addresses real needs in the marketplace the next time around. It is best not to fall in love with your business plan.
This brings me to the last point I would like to make in this post about business start ups and business plans. Do not imagine you will raise a bunch of money, open offices, staff up big time and then start doing product development. This just does not happen. Instead, work nights and weekends and get help from others that will help for a low rate – try finding people on sites like oDesk.com – and keep your start up costs small and your start up business plan in perspective.