I’m amazed how often I still get emails asking me to either write a business plan or recommend a business plan writer for somebody who has a great idea and mistakenly thinks having a business plan done for them, by a supposed expert, will sell that idea to investors.

Sorry, it just isn’t so. Your business plan is the key to what you say in the pitch, and how quickly you can respond to questions. Investors want you, not an outsider, to plan your business. And that’s what they’re after — planning, which leads to management and controlling your destiny — not just a plan document.

I say “still” in my first paragraph because this should be common knowledge by now, but the myth of the “great” plan lingers on.

When you imagine a business plan document so great that some investor will read it and want to invest, you’re being wildly unclear on the concept. They don’t want the business idea by itself; they also want people who can make that idea a reality. The idea by itself isn’t enough.

Anybody who can develop a business can develop a business plan. A plan is good or not based on its content, specifics, milestones, scalability, defensibility, financial projections, and team in charge. It’s not style, writing, or formatting.

Maybe a coach can help, somebody to look over your shoulders, particularly on the financial projections. You want the math and finance to be correct. But having it your own plan, that you know backwards and forwards, and that you can change in an instant, is many times more important than any quality you’ll get by farming it out to an outsider.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.