Before you start breaking out in a stress-sweat just thinking about writing a business plan, let me tell you how easy it is to do. For one thing, those huge, hefty ‘books’ of the past are just that – in the past. Now, it’s about being creative, exciting and succinct. There are so many startups out there (in fact, I work for one in my day job!) and they’re all handing out their business plan to as many angel investors as they can find. So, how do you make yours stand out?
First of all, give yourself a One Page Challenge, in which you figure out the most important and pertinent parts of your business idea. Create 10 sections and pretend like you’re on Twitter – no more than 140 characters for each section.
1. Value Proposition.
Write a one-sentence description of your business. Be short, be snappy, be creative. What is your business all about.
2. Market Need.
The “problem” your product is responding to by being in the market.
3. Your Solution.
A description of your products (photos are always appreciated).
4. The Competition.
Who else in the market is doing similar things and why your products are better?
5. Target Market.
Who buys your products (or will buy your products)?
6. Financials, Including Budgeting & Forecasting.
How much does it cost you to produce one of your products? How much do your products cost, how many of them will you sell this year, and how will I make a profit?
7. Sales Channels & Marketing Strategies.
How do (or will) you market your products?
What are your business achievements? What are you working toward?
9. Management Team.
Who are you, and why are you the right person to lead your venture?
10. Funding Needs & The Use of Funds.
How much money you need to launch or grow your business, and what specifically will you use the funds for in your business?
Not too hard right? With this quick activity, it’s important to think about it as a “Pitch First, Plan Second” approach to a business plan. It’s become a best practice in business these days and inspires action and motivation in those you’re planning on presenting your business to.
Now that you’ve got your 10 answers to the above questions, it’s time to start fleshing out your plan. And remember, Business Plans are not actual set-in-stone plans.
Business plans are really all about making huge assumptions! They’re full of (very seriously estimated) guesses and the sooner you realize that the sooner you can get to work, dreaming and building your business idea – as opposed to thinking you have to plan out every single possible eventuality. You don’t want to waste your creative juices (you know, the ones that gave you the idea in the first place) by stifling them in a boring business plan. You want to be able to read this later and inspire yourself all over again – not despise it so much that you never want to think about it again when it’s done!
Keep things creative when you’re compiling your plan – include diagrams, graphic design, graphs and charts even so it’s not just big, fat blocks of text. That will make it easier to digest in the long run. You will eventually have to get down to the nitty-gritty research and crunching numbers, but by keeping the process creative and fun, you won’t get bogged down by it all.
Got a great business idea? Share with us in the comments below!