... then it doesn't exist.
That was a statement a business professor once made to me and I found myself repeating to one of my students this past week. It's a solid piece of business advice no matter what industry, market, or profession you're in. However groundbreaking that idea was or whatever innovative concept you just created is worthless if you forget to write it down.
How many times have you thought, "wow, I should pick up some _____ at the grocery store," only to walk through the magic automatic doors to forget what you came in for? How many pivotal thoughts have you had on the job that would have earned you a promotion if only you had stopped to put them to paper?
Since that day in business school, I have strived to jot down everything that comes to mind. As an unfortunate result, most of my meeting notes are entirely indecipherable - I have notes on everything from our product release schedule to what I plan for dinner next Thursday to my opinions on the latest Economist article ... all on the same piece of paper. (I usually find myself transferring the most important information to my computer later, don't worry.) It's a step in the right direction, at least.
So now that you've been in business for some time, you've probably revisited and revised your business strategies at least once or twice. You've redrafted your perfect customer profile and redefined your assumptions about the ebbs and flows of the market. But now the big question - did you write these changes down or just make them in practice?
Better yet, if you vanished tomorrow, would someone else be able to step in and run your business the same way you do today?
A great business plan is worthless if it exists only in your head. Even a mediocre strategy will beat an unpenned one if given enough time and man-hours in the market.