How to write a business plan in under an hour
You’ve had an idea for a new business. Your friends think you’re a genius. Your family think you’re crazy. How do you know it will work? You don’t. The only way to validate your idea is to write a business plan. But who has time for that? You already work full-time, and a traditional business plan can take weeks to write and research. Luckily for you, there is hope. It’s never been easier to start a new business. Unless you’re seeking mega outside investment, you can write a business plan in under an hour. Here’s how.
Enter the lean business plan
A lean business plan is exactly how it sounds. A simple, tangible plan that outlines your business and brings your idea to life.
It’s less about creating an official document, and more about an ongoing journey of discovery as you develop a strategy for success.
Split into easily digestible sections and no longer than two pages (initially), the plan gives you a platform to learn more about the validity of your idea, the people you’re targeting, and indeed yourself.
Benefits of a lean business plan
A lean business plan is better than a traditional business plan because:
It saves you time – People find it difficult to commit time to something that doesn’t exist. You can create a lean business in less than an hour. And it might just be your ticket out of the 9 to 5 grind.
It gives you clarity – Before it’s clear to other people, it has to be clear to you. Creating a plan gives you the opportunity to develop your idea in real-time without fear of judgement.
It’s more useful – Forget the formalities and walls of text nobody will ever read. Lean planning is about the stuff that matters. Everything you need to know to build a successful business, and not much else.
What to include in your lean business plan
Value proposition – This is the one thing that sets you apart from anyone else, and the main reason anyone should consider doing business with you. Your entire idea boiled down into a one-line pitch. And arguably the most important part of your business plan.
Problem & solution – What is the problem facing your customers? And how does your idea solve it? Now is a good time to go out and gather some primary research. In other words, ask people whether they’d choose your product or not.
Target audience – Who is your ideal customer? And how do you know they demand your product? Think beyond age, gender, and interests. Create real personas, give them names and a descriptive bio. This will help you create targeted, more meaningful marketing campaigns.
Competitors – Unless your idea is truly revolutionary, you have competition. Learn about who they are and how they position themselves in your market. Then plot them on a perceptual map. This visual aid will make it easier to find your place and carve out an advantage.
Funding requirements – Will you be self-funded or seek a bank loan? The latter will require a more detailed plan, but either way, you need to understand how much it will cost to create your brand, and where the cash is coming from.
Sales channels – Where will you sell your products or service? If it’s an online business, what channels will you use to get people to your website? Pay-per-click, affiliate marketing, and paid social media are all routes worth exploring.
Marketing – Turning an idea into a customer-facing brand is no mean feat. You’ll need a website and all digitally designed assets, including graphics, video or animation, copywriting, and campaign strategy. These things aren’t set in stone but it’s useful to anticipate them.
Financial projections – Taking into account all overheads, what is the total cost to get your product or service to market? And what will your daily running costs be? Once you have a rough idea, work out what you’d have to sell to turn a profit.
Human resources – Aka your team. Are you a lone wolf or are you recruiting a small team? Highlight the roles you need to fill now and in the near future and what skills they might need.
Partners – What other companies do you need to work with to make all of the above happen? This might be marketing agencies, publishers, manufacturers, suppliers, freelancers, or co-working spaces.
When you’re ready to take the plunge, you’re in good company. workinc is a co-working space for freelancers, start-ups, and corporates who reject the 9 to 5 grind. With feel at home perks and no lengthy contracts to worry about.
Check out our membership package to find out how workinc can work for your new business.
Remember, this plan is designed to serve only as a guide. Keep it handy, share it with friends, family, and co-workers, and continue to revise it as you gather feedback.
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