WSJ published a great piece early this summer entitled How to Write a Good Business Plan that starts off pointing out why a down economy is a great time to start a new business (lower costs, less competition) and then goes on not to tell you about the right way to do everything but some of the pitfalls to avoid.
I had fun with the piece but was drawn mostly to the table (at the end of the online version) that cites overused phrases/concepts in really bad business plans including two of my favorite pet peeves:
1. HUGE — as in the market in so huge, everyone is going to want to buy our product. Get a grip. there may be lots of biz opportunity out there but if you can’t quantify your market opportunity, you’re never going to be able to put together a business plan much less a marketing plan to go after them. I’m constantly faced with owners who want to market to everyone… and can’t afford it.
2. NO COMPETITION — For real? There are very few entirely new concepts out there, just new and better ways of marketing them. Don’t be so naive to think that you have no competition. Everyone has competition. The trick is figuring out who they are and how to do a better job of attracting customers.
If you’re in the market to write a new business plan, you may find the updated release of Biz Plan in a Day from Rhonda Adams to be helpful. I’m not endorsing her product as the best solution but for a quick and dirty workbook to get you started, it is definitely a running start.