A Good Business Plan is Never Done

This is true for all business planning, not just the lean version:

“A good business plan is never done. If the plan is finished, the business is finished.”

It’s a lot like the legendary farmer’s axe, that has had its handle changed four times and its blade changed three times, but it’s still the same axe.

The farmer’s axe

As your company gets used to the planning process, the plan is always a work in progress. It gets a big refreshment every year, and a review and course correction every month.

Lean planning is especially good for dealing with this essential reality, because lean is faster and easier to do and therefore easier to review and revise. Streamline it. Make it just big enough to run the business.

Keep it Live

The idea is that you always have your lean plan up to date. You meet every month to review it. Every so often, as business plan events come up, you spin out of your business plan a formal output piece, whether it’s a pitch presentation, an elevator speech, or a full-fledged formal business plan document.

Do understand, always, that the document, summary, or pitch is not the plan; that’s just output from the plan. It’s the latest version. But the lean plan goes on, like steering, walking, dribbling, and navigation.

Don’t ever postpone things waiting to finish a plan. Get going. Start simple with just the bare necessities, and keep reviewing and revising as business goes on.

Case in point: the Palo Alto Software business plan was first started in the late 1980s. It is still going on today, in 2021, with regular reviews and revisions. It still isn’t done. The management team meets for a regular monthly review session, and revises as necessary.

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