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If It Sounds Too Good...

Written by KV on Friday, 07 March 2014 03:28.

I recently read an article about a local business that grew 1400 percent since its founding 5 years ago. I read the article with great interest. It's not usual to achieve such growth - especially in the first five years. Then I got to the part where one of the partners shared "and we never had a written business plan". I lamented. Not because I was disappointed to learn that a business could be successful without a written plan, but because of all the aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs out there who would read that same article and translate that to mean that planning doesn't matter. I imagined their glee: "I knew it! I don't need a plan! All I really need is to just deal with problems and opportunities as they happen...LIVE! Nimble!" Oh no. Reader, beware. The article was not about how successful they had become without having a plan, quite the contrary.

As it happens, if the reader were to have read the article in its entirety, they would have learned that this company created its first product 10 years ago. There was at least 5 years of "thinking about" the business (dare I say planning for it?) before it was formally structured and started. Even if that planning was done informally and was undocumented, there was certainly strategy in considering product development, research, packaging, production, distribution, target markets and more. The reader would also learn that the owners are a husband, wife and brother-in-law team. It helps when you can form strategy, follow-up on execution and determine next steps when you're in close regular contact with your business partners who also serve as the only full time employees.

I don't mean to be the editorial equivalent of a photo bomb, but the reporter chose to frame this story as a start-up company that grew 1400 percent in its first 5 years of business without planning. This level of rapid growth is comparable to winning the lottery: it isn't impossible, but it sure wouldn't be


"Plans are not important.
Planning is."

Dwight D. Eisenhower