How to write a simple business plan

When it comes to taking a business from idea to start and beyond you need a workable plan.  Mr Google will provide a myriad of options for business plans, but once you download them you will soon realise that they are so complex you need a double degree in law and finance in order to decipher them.  There is no point having a document that is hidden a couple of layers down in electronic files. You need a simple one-page document that can be printed, written on and actioned.

Even if you have already started your business and you know you don’t have a straightforward working business plan – download the one page plan and grab a pen.

This simple plan is divided into a number of key sections:

My elevator pitch

According to Wikipedia – an elevator pitch is a short description of an idea, product, company, or oneself that explains the concept in such a way that any listener/reader could understand it in a short period of time. It’s also the one or two line bio. that you see on social media.

Try to answer these questions in your statement:

  • Who do you help?
  • What do you offer?
  • How is it helpful?

For example:

  • I train entrepreneurs, small business owners & not-for-profits to implement social media, content & growth strategies
  • We make one of a kind cakes for busy professionals on the Gold Coast
  • I provide administrative assistance to time poor online creatives

What do you do? What’s the value your business is creating?

My clients

You have defined your client in a simplified form in your elevator pitch. You need to define them in more detail. To assume your target audience is everyone is a common trap to fall into. A target audience is a specific group of people with shared characteristics who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. Examples of common demographic information include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Profession
  • Education level
  • Marital status

Ideally, you would have an indication of some of this information from any social media reports you may have access to. If not you will need to research. Go to the social media platforms your audience is likely to be on and look for their questions and pain points.

My delivery

How are you going to deliver your service or products? Most likely there will need to be a website, unless you are planning a bricks and mortar store. Even so, some type of digital presence should form part of your plan.

The two questions to answer here are:

  • How will I get my products/services to clients?
  • How will they pay?

For example:

  • I will have a website where clients can download the products or book a service using woo commerce
  • I will have an Etsy store and will use a courier service to ship products to clients
  • I will use landing pages and social media and checkout will be via Paypal 

My skills

Time to do some skills assessment. By answering the above questions a plan should be formulating and you will be aware of what you can do and where you may need to either up-skill or outsource, depending on your availability to resources (both time and money).

My revenue goals

Most business plans have some kind of convoluted financial assessments. I’m not saying you don’t need to do due diligence – you definitely do or else you will be doomed to fail. Initially however, you need to focus on how you can bring in revenue. Regardless of expenses, it’s the revenue that comes in that determines whether you are running a business or not.

Crunch some figures and calculate what each 3-month revenue goal should be. You can definitely take into account your expenses and what you would like to earn, depending on whether this business is replacing or supplementing an existing income.

My marketing

Jot down all the key details in relation to marketing:

  • Do you have a name?
  • Do you have a brand identity?
  • How will your clients know about you?
  • What email system will you use?
  • What social media platforms will you utilise?
  • Will you use a more traditional form of marketing?
  • Will press releases feature in your launch?

My obstacles

By now some red flags will have appeared for you in your planning. There may be some things that you need to more fully research; or there are obvious gaps in your knowledge or skills; or there may be issues that you hadn’t considered until you started filling in your plan.

My timeline

A dream without goals and actions will remain simply a dream.  A plan without a timeline is simply a wish list. Create some actionable dates to move your business planning forward.

My why

Owning and running a business is hard work. If you don’t have a strong foundation of why you are doing this there are going to be days when you want to throw in the towel and walk away. Create a list of your reasons ‘why,’ so when plans get derailed, (as inevitably they will, to a greater or lesser extent) you have a reminder of why you started in the first place.

My big dream

BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal – an idea conceptualised in the book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, by James Collins and Jerry Porras. The authors stress that it is the long-term goal that changes the very nature of a business existence. A goal so big that you can’t imagine ever accomplishing it; and if you think about it too much, you become scared. It is important to start with the end in mind, so include your BHAG in the one-page plan.

Once you are done take a deep breath and congratulate yourself. You have completed the first of many milestones.

So where to from here?

  • Have you completed your plan?  Send me your completed one-page plan and I’ll provide you with a personalised, next steps complimentary action plan!
  • Do you have some gaps that require clarification? Book an obligation free call and I’ll get you headed in the right direction.
  • Do you have some skill deficiencies? Reach out and I will either be able to fill them for you or point you to one of my team who can assist.
  • Are you nervous? Do you need a pep talk? I can do that for you – send me a message via social media.

You have got this! Talk soon.

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