Have You Ever Built a Tree House?
I remember when we were kids how my brother and our friends from the neighborhood would decide, every once in a while, to build a tree house. I think we would all start with this vision of something that looked like a miniature version of a real house but I don’t ever recall a discussion about what we would build beyond ‘a tree house’.
In our neighborhood, there was a junk yard down the hill on the other side of the wall at the end of our street. We were young, we had energy and we all had access to nails, hammers and even saws. We never built anything approximating a tree house. Why?
Would you build a real home without a blueprint? Fortunately, for all of us who grew up in my neighborhood the answer is no because, even if we were still fool hearty enough to try, zoning laws would not allow it. You can have the most detailed idea of what you want to build but you are required to have professionally drawn up blue prints in order to get the permits to build it.
For those of you who own a business and a home, it is arguable that your business is your most valuable asset. Without your business, it is unlikely that you will be able to afford to maintain your home. So, if your home requires a blueprint, what about your business?
The foundation of the U.S. economy is entrepreneurial business ventures. Pretty much anyone with an idea or a passion can create the opportunity to own their own business. And, while government regulation does not require that entrepreneurs have a business plan, the realities of attracting capital do necessitate a business plan (your blue print). Why?
Capital sources and financiers want to know if you are building on solid ground. They want to know the prospects for actually making money by investing in your venture. They want to know:
- What are you building?
- Why is it different or needed?
- How much money do you need?
- How will you use the money?
- How much money will they get back?
- What are the risks?
- When will they get their return on investment?
But if you are not seeking outside capital, do you still need a business plan?
When we built our tree houses we never sought outside capital. We knew we wanted to build a tree house and we just went ahead and built it. I think the best we ever did was to build a platform that might have supported the weight of two of us – until the single limb that was supporting the platform gave way - and Tommy Flemming’s arm got broken in the fall.
We were kids building tree houses, our parents supported us and Tommy’s arm healed. We could afford to build without a plan. Can you?