Writing a business plan will teach you these three important skills

Author
Andrew Mercer
Business Adviser | Business West
25th October 2017

There’s a new trend in the world of entrepreneurship; to disregard old rules and barriers to entry and create a sleek, new, efficiency focused start-up culture. Expensive office space is being replaced by quirky co-working spaces, locally based in-office staff are being replaced by flexible, remote workers and detailed business plans are being replaced with… a one page summary.

While the majority of the new changes I’m totally on board with, waving goodbye to the tried and tested business plan seems like a naive step too far. What’s most concerning is that these entrepreneurs are missing out on the chance to get to know both themselves and their business on a deeper level, before throwing themselves into the unknown.

Some people say that starting a business without a business plan is a guaranteed failure, and while there are successful businesses that haven’t used a traditional business plan, they are few and far between. This new ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ concept of doing away with business plans gives the impression that it’s oh so easy to start your own business, but it may cause your downfall in the long run.

Aside from an in-depth, well documented business plan being a key requirement for investors and start-up loan companies, writing a business plan is also an important learning curve. It forces you to face up to the realities of starting a business, your true financial situation and the feasibly of your success. The process of writing a business plan is also important, it’s a journey, and one that’s a different experience for each entrepreneur. You will learn new skills that will benefit both your personal and professional life and will make you a better business owner in the future.

Speaking with some of Business West’s fantastic clients, here are the top three skills that they noted after going through the process of writing their business plans:

Patience

Starting your own business is exciting, and if you’ve had a revolutionary idea you will want to get started straight away. Being patient will be the last thing on your mind, but patience is a virtue! (Yes, yes I know…)

In the early stages of starting your business you will probably be running around like a headless chicken, spending every waking moment working on your new business. All of this time and effort is a lot of work and you are justified in wanting to see results. But it’s ok for business to take a while to pick up. You will have to give time to establish your brand, run marketing campaigns and wait for word of mouth to start spreading about your new venture. It might seem like the norm, but a start-up business that hits the ground running isn’t a common occurrence. 

Just because things seem to be taking their time doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong, it’s just the nature of the beast. During this time it’s important to be patient and stay positive, just keep working away and soon enough you will see your customer numbers improving. If you aren’t patient you run the risk of throwing in the towel too soon and missing out on something truly great, convinced that your business was an immediate flop.

Writing a business plan will teach you to be patient because, and this is undeniable, it takes a lot of time! While different for each entrepreneur, writing a business plan can take weeks or even months, depending on how much research is involved. Your business plan is going to act as your roadmap, so you will want to ensure your map is accurate. Developing patience while writing your business plan also forces you to take your business idea seriously. This isn’t a fleeting hobby that you started last weekend and by next month you’ve given up. This business will be your future, your income and your passion. Isn’t that worth being patient, doing the ground work and preparing properly?

Focus

The life of an entrepreneur revolves around being a Jack of all trades. In the beginning you will be responsible for all areas of your business, from marketing to accounts, and you may begin to feel your brain being pulled into a million different directions. How well you can focus may be the difference between the success or failure of your business.

There is a lot to think about when writing a business plan and an unexpected outcome of this is that it will really teach you how to focus! If you set yourself the aim of only launching your business once your business plan is complete, you will have a clear target to work towards. To complete each section of your plan accurately and concisely you will need to dedicate time and attention to it. This is the future of your business!

To put your plan together you will need to delve deep into market research, competitor analysis, financial projections and more. It’s not a walk in the park but it’s definitely a rewarding one. If you’re not used to focusing your attention on one task at a time, it may seem difficult at first, but practice makes perfect and by the time you’re finished you will not only have a fantastic business plan, but you’ll have developed a handy ability to focus, which will serve you well in the future.

Appreciating what makes you unique

We all know that we’re unique, there is no one anywhere in the world who is exactly like us. We all have our own qualities, personalities and experiences, but how often do we actually take note of and appreciate these? 

You might be an aspiring entrepreneur, in a sea of other aspiring entrepreneurs, all bursting with business ideas, but you are still you. Your mind can make or break your business. If you gave your business idea to someone else, they may not be able to turn it into a success. Just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean it will be a hit. 

While you’re writing your business plan you will be continually presented with opportunities to think long and hard about what makes you unique. Your business, yes, of course you need to have a unique selling point and a differentiator from the competition, but also you personally. What strengths, knowledge and experience do you bring to the table and how will this benefit your business?

By choosing not to write a business plan, you’re missing the opportunity to truly appreciate what makes you unique. You might rush head on into launching your business, focused solely on how great your new product is, but relying on the strength of your product alone won’t be enough to get you through. By analysing your unique trails you will not only see how to use your strengths to benefit the business, but you will also be aware of how to work with your weaknesses to achieve the best outcomes. At the end of the day, people buy from people.

The most solid argument for writing a business plan is that if you’re hoping to receive any form of investment or funding, you need one! In addition to that, your business plan will allow you to analyse future opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls and alongside both of these, you will also learn some valuable skills which will benefit both you and your business. 

If you need help writing your business plan or you’re unsure where to start or what you need to include, our business advisers are here to help. They will walk you through what’s required, show you how to tailor your plan to your business and provide you with a template that covers everything you need to get investment ready. Find out more.

Do you want to join the conversation?

Sign up here
  • Take your business to the next level

    Book your place on our business planning and finance workshop today to access all the advice and support you need to succeed.

  • We've helped over 2,500 people through our start-up workshops turn their ideas into real-life businesses.

  • Subscribe to our enterprise newsletter

    Register today to subscribe to our monthly enterprise newsletter, filled with the latest news, events, blogs and guides for entrepreneurs and business owners in the South West. Just select 'starting a business' as your area of interest.