Often the first act of entrepreneurship is formalizing a business plan for a prospective company. Business plans, which serve as something of a roadmap for how a founder will turn an idea into a full-fledged business, typically include information like an executive summary, a market analysis and financial projections.
Business plans can be vital for entrepreneurs and business owners interested in lining up a bank loan or attracting other stakeholders such as investors. And though a plan may change over time, entrepreneurs and owners often say the process of mapping out how a company will operate and who its customers will be is invaluable.
Still, as the lean startup trend has taken root in recent years, debate has arisen over whether entrepreneurs actually need business plans. Many investors and others within the entrepreneurial community suggest that in a startup, time is of the essence. And since a business plan -- and often the business itself -- will surely change anyway and it might be of little use to put in the effort. According to some, it's better to simply go and do, and then based on an owner's progress, raise funding later, should that be necessary.
For groundbreaking companies like Twitter and Pinterest, business plans take a backseat to growing traffic. Thanks to the excitement over the expected Facebook IPO, it's starting to feel like the dot-com boom all over again.
Don't fall prey to analysis by paralysis. Writing a business plan isn't all it's cracked up to be. If you're agonizing over a written plan, your time might be better spent talking to potential customers.