Why should you read another article on the business plan? There are hundreds of articles, books and websites on how to write a business plan. If you read my first post on the topic you understand my stress on the thought process and less on document or the physical output. So for completeness I want to address this important step with emphasis on the thought process. Without belaboring much we will cover the cliff notes of a business plan.
It is a good idea to do the business plan on power point first. It works for me because I am not a good writer and need a lot of time crafting the message and content. At least with power point, simple bullet points will work, while you focus on the thinking process for the message and content. The key elements of a business plan are; The Problem – you are addressing, The Solution – your unique value proposition, The Model – your revenue streams, The secret sauce – the most important thing about your solution that will create customer value, Marketing & Sales – Who is your customer and how will you reach them, The Competition – Never say there is no competition, just look harder and wider, The Team – show how you complement each other, Projections – Stress more on the costs and expenses side of things than revenue (for fresh startups), The Status & Conclusion – customize to your audience.
Doing a power point gives you the opportunity to focus on the thought process rather than the nuances of English language. For a person with ADD, this is a savior. As you go through each topic, you must, think from an outside point of view. For instance, you say you tools are easy to use, then, the customer point of view asks ‘so what’. You say, your product price is $99 and the investor point of view asks ‘tell me why’. If you are a fresh startup, every bullet point on the power point is likely to generate questions about the underlying assumptions and risks. For instance, you say, that potential college students crave the information on social life at universities. This should generate several assumptions checks validation tests such as; What specific aspects of social life do the students care about most? Are there specific segments of students (example: undergrad Art Students) that care about information we provide more than others? A good way to identify the assumptions is the good old way to repeatedly ask “why?” to your bullet points.
Finally, when you start writing your plan, I suggest you write the table of contents and each section before the executive summary. Use a lot of exhibits and graphics, they make it so much more readable and visual (Just any article on Facebook marketing to understand why). And do not put them all in the back under appendix. A great tip is to convert your slide to a visual and explain the slide in words. Of course, if the graphic is purely for supporting info, then by all means move it to the appendix. The executive summary must be the last thing you write. You must spend significantly more time on it than any other section. If you do it right, a busy executive will read your first page and glance at the graphics of your slides and read only when the graphic has piqued his curiosity.
Good luck with your Business Plan, if you are in the process of doing one. Beware, that it may be obsolete (well, I mean, parts of it) by the time you finish it. Share with us, on why and how you wrote your Business Plan?