Overnight I got another one of those comments I get: “please forward me a business plan that will be best for a Gym Center.” To be honest, it’s disappointing to me that so many people just don’t get it. Somebody else’s plan, some plan produced as a product, is just a waste. It doesn’t happen that way.

Maybe you can buy a house plan that makes some sense. Maybe you can buy a vacation or travel plan, maybe a diet plan, maybe an exercise plan even; but not a business plan. That’s just refried beans (which is what the illustration here shows).

Every business is different. Think about this one, for example: a gym center. How could it possibly apply if it were produced as a product? For what market? By whom? What are your goals for the gym? What do you know? What do you like to do? What already exists in your market? What do people in your market want? What resources do you have at your disposal?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people making noise in the market happy to take advantage of the mistaken idea that a plan, as if it were a packaged meal or an airline ticket or something, has value. The only plan that does you any good is your own plan, based on your own specific situation.

If you look you’ll see this stuff all over the place. They charge some money, promise things like “an investor-ready business plan,” or “success-proven business plan.” Don’t believe it. Don’t buy it.

And yes, dammit, I am biased, and a bit angry too; because I’m involved with business plan software, people confuse selling pre-written plans with selling tools that help people do their own. Getting a list of common questions makes sense; getting a bunch of pre-written answers doesn’t. Seeing what a finished plan looks like, like a sample, can be a good thing, as long as you don’t think that’s anything more than getting the idea, an example, to help you develop your own. Getting coaching can make sense, too. But never think you can buy a business plan already done.

(Image: Alex Kosinov/Shutterstock)

Tim BerryTim Berry

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