I was recently asked about Business Plans. Â Below is my response.
Business plans can come in any format. I actually delivered one as a rap one time! The important part is that it succinctly communicates the entrepreneur’s vision, and has some realistic numbers.
Sales projections (with a plan to hit them), economics of a unit, and a monthly break-even analysis are the calculations that are especially important to me when I look at a plan. None of that is rocket science, and some of it can feel more like creative writing at times!
Even though people use business plans to apply for funding, the process of writing a business plan forces every entrepreneur to answer a lot of questions, and the process of answering these questions is probably a lot more valuable than any funding that might be received.
I’ve used Business Plan Pro software before, and it was effective for me. Of course, the quality of plans made with software is highly variable – you only get out of them what you put into them. Here’s a link: paloalto.com/business_plan_software.
The Small Business Administration has some good links to help with writing a business plan: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/how-write-business-plan.
And SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, has some business plan templates that you can download and use for free: http://www.score.org/resources/business-plan-template-startup-business.
I’m not big on business planning these days. In the Army, they say that no plan survives contact with the enemy. This is often true in business, too. I’d rather have my students ship one unit, and figure out how a customer uses it. That’s when they learn their real value proposition, because we ultimately are making products and services for customers. But the process of planning has some validity, and checking for realistic numbers is the most valuable part of the process.