I’ve read many articles and comments in recent weeks from individuals, who lead very successful businesses, which utilise online platforms to run those successful enterprises.

These platforms, for instance, LinkedIn, which was launched in 2002 by Reid Hoffman, had a broad based strategy from the start. It now boasts millions of members, who include people from more than 200 countries and executives from every Fortune 500 company.

Hoffman, after networking his way into meeting with a number of different potential investors was asked: “Have you shipped software before? You’re asking us to invest millions of dollars in your company. You’ve done this before, yes?” Hoffman said, “No, not really. “And they said, “Go get a job first.”

Some exceptional and gifted entrepreneurs, state “I don’t believe in business plans”, “I have the instinct and everything just comes naturally” – sometimes these work, but from my experience, in most cases, they don’t.

I’ve been working in Global Immigration for over 10 years, and I’m confident to state that if you wish to relocate or expand your business overseas and arrive at the overseas Embassy, High Commission or Consulate, stating “I don’t have a business plan, I just have the entrepreneurial instinct”, it is more than likely that your application to expand overseas will be refused. I’ve witnessed small enterprises turn into exceedingly successful worldwide operations by simply putting pen to paper and implementing those plans. Similarly, if you are looking for seed capital or additional sources of funding, and again state to your potential investors, “I just have the entrepreneurial instinct”, you’ll find many, if not all, will ask you to put that pen to paper or simply turn you away.

Whilst, I’ve met some exceptional people, who have apparently never written a business plan and have gone on to be very successful, but, if I was a betting man, I would say the vast majority of those who don’t, simply fail. As Richard Branson, arguably the most successful British entrepreneur of our time, states:

“I didn’t really think too much about my first business plan – I just went ahead and did it. It turns out that this was the best thing I could have done, and it’s a tactic that has gone on to define my approach to business plans. To this day I don’t make formal business plans, but am always crystal clear on the concept of the business. We have a saying at Virgin, if your pitch can’t fit on the back of an envelope, then it’s too complicated. In fact, we have written many business plans on the back of beer mats and envelopes – they have gone on to become successful companies, like Virgin Australia.”

So I feel compelled to write that I understand that businesses change, of course you can’t predict what will happen in 1, 2, 3 or even 5 years’ time (and we’ve seen events in 2016 which are paramount to that), but unless you have that broad based strategy, also known as a business plan, you’re going to find it very difficult to succeed.

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