Business Plan Template

It’s well documented that I’m not a big fan of business plans. Mainly because we live in a world of flux. But if you must use one – which I’ll call a 1 page mud map – then here’s a template. I’ve used this and I’d recommend it for ‘real entrepreneurs’ – that is non VC seeking bootstrappers.

What is it?
Describe your business or service in a single sentence. If you can’t do this, you don’t know what you’re doing.

Who is it for?
The audience who need or want this thing you’re about to create. Define them in whatever terms you please, demographically, socially, behaviourally, geographically. Just be succinct and tight in your clustering.

Why do they need it?
How is it better than the current substitute options?

How will they find us?
Where will we gain distribution? Maybe we’ll leverage a strong retail chain. A singular high traffic location. If web based strong SEO / brand awareness will be required. Maybe we already have an audience who we’ll bring a product to. This should be the most detailed part of the plan. It should include brand awareness activities and promotions. It still should only be a round 1 paragraph long.

Cost to build Version 1.0
Just estimate it – then double your estimate. Now this is the bare bones version, the absolute minimum required for launch. Outsource every element of production were possible, unless you are the major factor of production. Keep the cost low. It enhances speed, and reduces fear of failure and inertia.

Revenue Stream
There is no such thing as ‘Free’ – just a delayed revenue model. Ideas include: Sell item for price, Percentage of sales, memberships, premiums, selling advertising among others. Your plan is not finished unless you can answer this in a way your mum can understand.

Next Steps
These steps are related to launching the product. We stop typing and start prototyping. Here’s where we have 3-5 bullet points on how to get to version 1.0 The quickest possible route to being live in market. The steps to when you can out there and start selling & promoting.

That’s it. In fact you final plan should be as short as that we see above. Print it, put it up in your office and get to work.

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9 comments

  1. Tim Cinel · July 28, 2009

    Wish they’d accept this kind of business plan in RMIT’s Business Plan comp.

    del.icio.us’d for when I have my next flash of business idea inspiration. This would a perfect pre-pre-pre feasibility analysis (if you will).

    Thanks.

  2. Ben Rowe · July 28, 2009

    That last point is the key … it’s so important to print it and pin it up, so that you keep referring to it, and staying on track.

    Nice post Steve

  3. Pingback: Tim Cinel » Blog Archive » 2009-07-28 - My Daily Summary
  4. Carma · July 28, 2009

    Hi Steve,

    I have to admit, I’ve struggled with the traditional business plan format for much the same reasons you did, as well as an innate need to be creative and not boxed in.

    This is an excellent template. The only thing I see missing is a built in monitoring system that helps the entrepreneur keep on track. You might want to check out the system I finally cobbled together. I’d love your feed back! I put a summary of it in e-course format at http://www.planyourbusinessvision.com.

    – Carma

  5. starting business · July 28, 2009

    In ten years of business I have never been asked to produce a business plan. I know a company formation agent that forms thousands of companies and they have found that very few banks request them either.

  6. bradleycallow · July 28, 2009

    This is AWESOME; used it at least six times already.

    Youre the man! Quick and dirty!

    -B

  7. Company Formation UK · July 28, 2009

    Business Plans are certainly important in business. Even when carrying out a company formation having a business plan is a good idea for seeking finance or simply keeping a check on how the business is performing over time.

  8. Kiki.Lightbourn · July 28, 2009

    Awesome post! I had no clue how to write up a business plan, so I had pages and pages of junk. This really helped me streamline everything.

  9. Larah · July 28, 2009

    I know this is an old post, but if anyone is interested I have created a simple business plan template for blogs. It’s free and available on my site under Helpful Links (not sure if I am allowed to post links here) :-)

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