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do you do business plans?

making-a-living-column-headerBusiness Plans. Some people love them, others think they’re unnecessary, and others of us just avoid them as much as possible. There’s one school of thought that says: business plans are a waste of time because things always change. And there’s a responding school of thought that says: Yes, things change constantly, and that’s why having a Business Plan is important because it gives you a “home base” to come back to and respond to the changes.

So, here’s the question:

Business Plans. What do you think? Pro or Con? Have you written one and benefited? Have you started a biz without one and maybe after the fact wished you had? Do you think they’re superfluous? We want to hear your opinions, pro or con.

I love business plans! They take a fair amount of time and energy, but have always helped me get crystal clear on what I want to do, why and how to achieve the goals I’m setting for myself. It also helps break down my “big ideas” into smaller, more manageable pieces to fine-tune, polish and re-assemble.

It’s like opening the hood of a car and feeling totally overwhelmed by all the parts. By taking the entire engine apart and learning how it all fits together, I have a really good understanding of how, exactly, my idea is going to work (or not work!)

CMMChristine Mason Miller is a Santa Barbara based writer and artist who has been creating, writing and exploring ever since she was a little girl.

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I believe there are two types of useful business plans: the kind that are for your eyes only and the detailed, professional kind you may need to share with investors or your bank. I always start with the kind for my eyes only, which are much easier and much more fun. Having a plan and a detailed timeline of what I want to accomplish and when has been useful to me when it comes time to actually set things in motion.

Many years ago I almost opened a bakery, which had been a long time dream of mine. I created a formal business plan with the help of my bank, a mentor and a planning group and as a result, never opened that bakery. The formal business plan showed me what the actual reality of that business would be, which didn’t match the la-la vision I had in my head. Without that plan I would have made a big mistake with major repercussions of both money and my time. Most of us put a lot of effort into researching and planning major areas of our lives like buying cars, school systems, neighborhoods and houses and jobs and vacations. I think it’s beneficial to put just as much effort into planning a business.

Kari Chapin is an author, product designer and podcast host. Her bestselling book, Grow Your Handmade Business: How to Envision, Develop and Sustain a Successful Creative Business is all about business planning. You can find more about Kari and her shop.

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Do you have a story to share about business plans? Please share your stories here in the comments or on the Mabel Facebook page.

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AND please submit questions that you’d like to see the Mabel Community answer  in this Making a Living • Creating a Life column to:   info@mabelmag.com, subject line: Mabel Community Question

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