Simple Business Plan Template – A Proven and Easy 10-Step Formula

There are a very few reasons why you would want to write a business plan.

1. To evaluate initial startup costs.

2. To establish the fundamental viability of a project

3. To define your products, services and customers and assess competitors.

4. To map out the business model, the goals and the strategy used to achieve them.

5. To communicate to others (banks, investors, partners, etc.) the business idea.

A simple business plan can be written very quickly by just completing the following easy 10 step formula.

1. I am…

Introduce yourself. Tell the reader of your business plan who you are, your background, education, professional experience, your successes to date.

2. My product or service is…

Tell them what product or service is, what it does for the customer, any unique features or facets, how it is produced, etc.

3. My customers will be…

Describe your target customers and why you have chosen to market to these customers. Use any back-up evidence from your experience, reports, white papers, market research, etc.

4. My customers will buy from my business because…

Describe any unique selling points or advantages you have. Are you providing better value, guarantees, superior quality, reduced risk, better location, etc?

5. My customers will pay…

Explain how much your customers will pay for each of the products or services you will provide. Describe any up-selling or cross-selling opportunities and how many times a customer will buy from you in a typical year.

6. I can make…

Explain how many products you can produce or services you can provide in a typical year. Back this up with whatever evidence you have to support this.

7. To make each unit of product costs…

Explain how much each unit of product costs to produce. If your business is a service business describe how much it costs to provide the service.

8. The start-up investment I require is...

Detail how much start-up investment the business will require and what you require it for.

9.I have a viable business because

Explain why your business is viable and what evidence you have to support this claim. This will require some market research to demonstrate their is a viable market for your product or service.

10. In summary…

On a single page, list the main points of you plan in bullet point form. This is single most important part of your business plan. It will be read first by all readers of your business plan and will determine if they will read further and ultimately support you business idea or not. Write this summary last but put it at the front of you plan.

Now that you drafted a simple business plan you are in a great position to assess the initial viability of a business at a very high level. You may want to consider fleshing out this simple business plan into a more standard, detailed business plan format before presenting it to potential investors, partners or banks. They will want to see some detailed financials also – Income Statement (Profit and Loss), Cashflow Statement and a Balance Sheet.

Do I Really Need a Business Plan?

Writing a business plan not only helps you to establish whether your idea is a viable one but it also helps you to lay out a direction for the future of your company. Without it, your business could simply meander along with no real direction and with no means of measuring its success.

It may not be an easy process but going through with writing a plan could force you to think carefully about your business overall and whether the model will work. Once complete, you’ll have a much better idea of whether you can make your venture work and whether you still really want to go ahead with it. Before you invest your own time and money into any idea, wouldn’t you rather have done a plan first to make sure that you know it can work?

There is now software available which can help you with writing a plan so it does not need to be such a mind-boggling task. There are online sites and a whole host of self-help resources out there which will help you to draw up a plan and carry out an analysis of your proposed ideas.

To carry out just a quick assessment or executive summary of a business idea will only give you a very brief overview and will not go into enough depth about whether the business could be viable should any extenuating factors get in the way – and let’s face it, there will be many!

In your business plan, you can expand it to include critical factors such as contingencies should you need them. You can work other factors into it that needn’t be too complicated but will give you a good idea of where you might be in, say, five years’ time. It will help to focus your mind on your goal and show others how you plan to keep yourself afloat.

And once you have your plan, it is never lost. All good projects or ideas start out with a plan. The plan then changes as it goes along if need be and you can keep reverting back to the original plan to track and measure your successes or failures.

Of course, having a plan does not ensure success and some would argue that a full business plan for a small venture is not necessary; that your time would be better spent on getting your business up and running rather than worrying yourself with laborious documents. However, you can make your plan as minimal or as in depth as it needs to be, according to the size of your proposed venture.

But bear in mind that, as with any plan, it could be seen as a restrictor and actually remove the entrepreneurial spirit in which the business idea was first created. You should always remember than any plan can be broken, changed or amended at any time and that it’s important for small business owners not to lose the importance of free will.

So, ‘to plan or not to plan?’ – that is the question.

Why Your Business Plan Failing Could Be a Good Thing

Did you know having your business plan fail can be the best thing that can happen to you? Sounds crazy right? But it’s true, and here is why.

Why Plans Fail

Business plans, marketing plans, heck any kind of plan is going to fail. Some just a little and others spectacularly. It’s not for lack of work or analysis. It’s because we can’t predict the unpredictable, and when we try we aren’t very accurate. Customers and markets are fickle. Something unexpected occurs. Or we just screw up and it all wrong.

I’m sure New Coke looked great on paper. Anybody remember the Apple Lisa or the Cube?

Plan to Fail?

So if plans are going to fail, why bother with them at all? But a better approach is to don’t sweat getting your plan right the first time out since chances are it is going to fail anyway. Its more important to understand this and think about your plan B. And remember, this isn’t just for business plan, it is for any kind of plan.

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything for success

Since we know change is going to happen and things are going go wrong, why are we got off guard all the time when they do?

The most successful people recognize this happens and are prepared to adjust. And not adjust by blindly taking another, different stab and things. They have planned ahead. They look to the market and find what is working with their plan. They run with the things they got right, They see what isn’t working and adjust.

Getting to Plan B

I started to think about this after I read an interview with John Mullins who wrote a book called Getting to Plan B. In it Mullins lays out some approaches you can use to see if and how your plan is failing and how to fix it.

Make no mistake. Unfortunately this isn’t a license to be lazy and count on working it all out later. Quite the opposite. You have to do more work, but it is smarter work that gets you through failures and has its rewards in the end.

They look at what others who have succeeded did or didn’t do. Same for those who failed. They find the lessons from failures. When they do that they are able to make better decisions. Then they just do it all over again until they get it right.

The lesson is that they are always planning. It’s like the idea of the one page business plan. You still have to put in all the prep time on it. No shortcuts. But the what makes this work is that you regularly review and update your plan. You don’t just toss it aside when you are done or scrap it if you hit some problem. Fix what isn’t working. Adjust to changes and any new or missed opportunities.

This really works

This is how software gets developed only they call it the iterative approach. You don’t write a program all at once. You work through it in cycles, getting more done each time. You fix the broken parts and add new features until you are all done. Then you sell it. Unless of course you’re Microsoft. MS sells and lets us find the broken parts, but that’s a different story.

I worked with a microbusiness that wanted to do consulting on importing/exporting industrial equipment. We found there wasn’t a market for their consulting services, but we did find out there was a big need for technical translation services. Okay, we rethought the business model and changed. I worked with another small company that did custom software development. They only wanted to do work on big projects, but they found out that they were making much more money doing body shop work–putting individuals into specific contracts as consultants instead of taking on big projects as a team. Time to change directions.