Strategic business consultants can and often debate this until the cows come home. When does it make sense to create a business plan, and when does it make sense to create a business map instead? Whether one chooses a business plan or a business map, there is no question that one of them is a necessity for every successful business. It is undeniable that businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail.
I would suggest that a plan and a map are not exclusive. When creating a new company, it's important to take the time to create the foundation that will guide all future decisions. A full-blown business plan acts as the lighthouse that will guide your ship through the calmest and most turbulent of waters, offering light to avoid all the pitfalls along your journey. Yes, its a daunting document requiring a lot of hard work, effort, research, and input, but doing so upfront pays dividends in the long run. It gives the entrepreneur the opportunity to create a paper hologram of the organization before investing precious resources, perhaps in endeavors that do not pan out or become too costly to be affordable.
Folks like Tony Robbins are all a-twitter over the use of a business map now, instead of a business plan. A business map asks a series of shorter questions that lead an entrepreneur to draw a diagram or create a document that looks more like mind-mapping. It doesn't necessarily require the depth of research to answer the questions that a plan requires. For someone who's already running a business that doesn't have a plan in place, I believe this may be a workable alternative.
Why would I suggest the need for both? The plan is definitely necessary if one is going to seek external funding from banks, venture capitalists, angels, etc. They want to see that you've completely planned your success and how you're going to achieve it. This helps them establish trust in the entrepreneur's passion, skills and ability to follow through.
A business map tells others how you plan to achieve that success in a succinct fashion. It doesn't necessarily require in-depth supporting financials, and hard data from focus groups or market studies that might be included in the plan.
If you're an entrepreneur, there are things you need to consider in planning for your success. If you're unsure what they are, contact me. If you don't have a written plan or map, contact me. If you're off-course from your initial plan, contact me. Let's get you on the road to success quickly.
Ronnie Roll has started several businesses from the "I Have An Idea" stage to grand openings and beyond. Her passion is helping others achieve their dreams, and her art mediums are business modeling and food.