Investors typically don't read them. Founders never refer to them. Startups don't follow them…so why do people still think you need to write the 30+ page narrative plan?
We've blogged many times about the fact that there's no question a business plan is a necessity and that the real question is "Who is the audience and what do they want to know?". But recently we had an experience where the Bizignite.co approach may have saved a startup.
This is what happened…one of the companies we're coaching recently had a major, if not a company closing experience. The company had scheduled a seminar for their customers, which was a milestone for them and extremely important for the company. But 10 days before the event not one person had signed up, so when we met for our coaching session the meeting's tone was one of should we bother continuing, perhaps it's time to close this clambake?
I asked what had been done to promote the event and I reviewed some of the marketing copy that had been used which seemed ok. But I proposed we compare it to The Story, Customer Segment and Unique Value Proposition cells in their Bizignite plan to make sure the marketing copy correctly represented the company's business plan.
BINGO! We immediately saw that the marketing copy did not reflect the plan at all! It was targeting the wrong audience, contained the wrong message and omitted the benefits! In just seconds their Bizignite plan had shown the team what the problem was!
Now that's what a business plan should do!!
One could argue that your 30+ page plan could do the same thing, but lets be realistic here. First, where is the latest version of the plan located? Can it be accessed in a few seconds and can we all view the same information at the same time? Maybe it's a shared document somewhere, but my experience is that after a few weeks the team forgets where this document is. Second, how long would it take to review the 30 pages before you find what you're looking for. Again, my experience is the team doesn't want to return to the document to scan it. They typically believe it was something they should have for the investor and don't see it as a useful tool to keep them on track.