How to Write a Business Plan by Brandon White

How to Write a Business Plan [updated for March 2024]

In this article I show you how to write a business plan in just 11 simple slides. This will allow you to build the modern business plan you need to do business in 2024 and beyond.

Business Plan Resources for You Beyond this Article:

  • Business Plan Podcast: If it’s easier for you to listen to how to write your business you can listen to the Business Plan Podcast  It’s FREE and explains each of the slides along with other things to keep in mind about building your business plan. Listen to the Business Plan on Apple Podcasts, Business Plan on Spotify  or search “Business Plan Brandon White” in your favorite podcast player.

  • Business Plan Book: Back of the Napkin to…Business Plan in 11 Slides, So Easy you can do it on a flight from San Francisco to New York. An Amazon #1 Best Seller. The book has everything you’ll find in this article and more, including spaces to do your work in the book. It’s available in paperback and hardcover on Amazon.

    Sample Reviews of the book:
    “Brandon White didn’t just write a book —it’s a paradigm shift. Infused with lived wisdom and hard-earned triumph, Brandon’s guide to creating a concise, actionable business plan is nothing short of a revolution. This isn’t about abstract theory—it’s a true-to-life playbook derived from the battlefields of entrepreneurship. Very few books seize your entrepreneurial spirit like this one. It’s not just instructive; it’s transformative. If you’re ready to leap forward and scale your venture, let Brandon be your guide.”
    – Joe Mechlinski, New York Times Best Selling Author, Grow Regardless, CEO of SHIFT

    “Insightful simplicity reflects mastery, and mastery is what Brandon White has achieved with Back of the Napkin to…Business Plan in 11 Slides. His thesis is direct, clean, and shockingly easy to follow. This compelling work expresses uniquely refreshing purity of entrepreneurial thought. Delivering an impactful message: keep it simple, keep it real, keep it focused. Do yourself a favor, read this book!”
    – Marty Strong​, Retired Navy SEAL Leader, CEO, and best selling author of Be Nimble: How the Creative Navy SEAL Mindset Wins on the Battlefield and in Business, and Be Visionary: Strategic Leadership in the Age of Optimization

You can build this plan in a relatively short amount of time if you dedicate some focused effort. I spent a decade figuring this template out to make it easy for you.

Now, let’s get your business plan written!

Slide 1: Opening Slide. Your Elevator Pitch

Business Plan Slide 1 Elevator Pitch

You want to include:

  • Your company name
  • Tag line that describes what your business does (if you have a tag line, if not, don’t worry about it)
  • Your contact information

When you are pitching potential customers, investors, or a new recruit for your team, etc… you want to give your elevator pitch here.
Your elevator pitch should be no longer than 45 seconds and ideally 15 seconds.

Read the full Slide 1 Elevator Pitch chapter from my Business Plan book on building this slide here for free.

Slide 2: Problem Slide

You want to include a summary of the problem you are solving with your product and/or service

Aim to be able to give all your talking points on the problem you are solving in less than two minutes

Slide 3: Solution Slide

You want to include:

a description of the solution to the problem you set up in slide 2

you need to be very concise

Aim to be able to explain your business solution in less then two minutes

Slide 3 – Your solution to the problem you set up in sl

Slide 4: Product Slide
Your product that is the solution to the problem you set up

You want to include:

  • picture(s) or video of your product
  • a very short description of your product
  • one or two testimonials from current or prospective customers
  • Aim to be able to explain your product in less then two minutes

Slide 5: Market

You want to include

your total market, total addressable market, serviceable available market, your market share. Make sure you understand and present these correctly Entrepreneurs lose a lot of money and waste a lot of time by not getting this slide right.

a plan to attack the market.

if the market is growing and at what rate

Above all, be able to give this slide, if you have to present it, in less than two minutes. It’ll force you to truly know your mark

Slide 6: Business Model

You want to include:

your business model

what competitive advantage you have using your business model

the financials of your business model along each step

Aim to be able to give this slide in less than two minutes.

Slide 7: Traction

You want to include:

accomplishments to date, including but not limited to your sales

if you are a pre-sales company, put your pre-sales traction highlights

Aim to be able to give this slide in less than two minutes

Slide 8: Competition

You want to include:

who is your competition

how is the competition positioned in the market

where your company fits into the competitive landscape

Again, you want to give this slide in less than two minutes.

Slide 9: Barriers to Entry

You want to include:

a summary of your company’s moat you are creating or have created

what barriers have you created that will keep the competition away or at a disadvantage

I know, I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but you want give this slide in less than two minutes because your about twenty minutes into your presentation already.

Slide 9 – barriers to entry into
Slide 10: Financials

You want to include:

  • a summary of your financials. This includes your sales, gross margin, SG&A, EBITDA, and net profit
  • a graphic to make your numbers easy to consume
  • have your full financials (in excel) as a back up and separate document that you can send to a potential investor and which you use on a regular basis to monitor and scale your company.

    HPT 1: your full financials should include your Profit and Loss (P&L), Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, a sales and marketing tab, KPI tab that is driven from your sales and marketing tab, HR tab that shows team members salaries, taxes, benefits etc… And your HR tab should feed your other tabs.

HPT 2: This is one of the most often asked questions when figuring out how to write a business plan and ironically one of things entrepreneurs fail to get right that leads many to fail. Don’t make that mistake with your business. Get this right!

You’ve got to be able to give this slide in less two minutes because it will show you really know your financials!

Slide 11: Team

You want to include:

  • who is on your management team
  • your board of directors
  • any other team members that someone should know is part of your company

And you want to give this slide in less than two minutes.

Slide 12: Business Funding

You want to include:

  • how much money you need to start, scale, grow your company
  • how you are going to use the money
  • where you are going to get the money
  • your cash flow statement to back up your financial projection

Moreover, this is a two minute slide. I’m sure you’ve got the hang of this by now, right!? 🙂

Slide 13: Summary

You want to include:

  • a easy to consume summary of your business
    HPT: this page can serve as your executive summary

Importantly, give slide in less than one minute. You can use a version of your elevator pitch.

How long will it take me to write my business plan using this format?

If you are starting from scratch and dedicate full days, it’s possible that you can complete it in a week using this outline to jump start you.
This estimate assumes you are good using power point or google slides, excel or google sheets, understand some finance and have some thought already done about the elements of your business.
If you have to learn the programs themselves and elements of business such as market sizing, what is a cash flow statement etc… it will take you longer.
This business plan template will get you jump started.

Is a business plan really scientifically proven to increase a company’s chance of success.

Yes. An article in Harvard Business Review July 2017 edition explained that researchers found that Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical non-planning entrepreneurs.

Also, they found that “business plans remain vital for external fundraising because it builds legitimacy and confidence among investors that the entrepreneur is serious. Further, it reassures staff, suppliers, customers, and other key stakeholders”

The 13 slide business plan pitch deck outlined here is what has lead me to my success of starting, scaling and selling two companies (so far). If it can work for me there is no good reason it can’t work for you as well.

Do I really need financials for my business plan?

Yes. Successful entrepreneurs suggest that if you are starting a company with out having built your financials you’re on a path that could lead to losing a lot of money.

What is the purpose of a business plan?

The purposes of a business plan is to
1. Map out where you are taking your business. It’s your roadmap, just like using Google Maps
2. Set goals for your business
3. Determine if your ideal is a viable business
4. Determine how much money you can make if you hit your goals
5. Understand how you are going to sell your product
6. Attract talent you need on your team
7. Attract funding for your business

What are the top 3 reasons to learn how to write a business plan?

1. Map out where you are leading your business. It’s your roadmap, just like using Google Maps.
2. Attract talent you need on your company’s team
3. Attract funding for your company

If I don’t know how to write a business plan can I hire someone?

Yes. And to get the best business plan for your company plan to spend time sitting down with the person you hire.

Do I need to go to business school to learn how to write a business plan?

No. The 13 slide business plan template outlined here will get you jumpstarted.

What does “HPT” stand for?

HPT is a “high percentage tip”. They are tips to help your business be successful.

Where did HPT’s come from?

HTP comes from the sport fishing world where anglers call fishing spots that you can goto and almost always catch fish, a, “high percentage spot”.
Brandon adapted HPS’s to HPT’s to teach how to build a business

Audio lessons on how to build all your business plan slides outlined in this blog posted on the Business Plan Podcast

Part 1 – Overview of the 13 Slides for Your Business Plan
Part 2 – How to Build Your Elevator Pitch
Part 3- 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Giving Your Elevator Pitch
Part 4 – Problem Slide
Part 5 – Solution Slide
Part 6 – Product Slide
Part 7 – Market Opportunity Slide
Part 8 – Business Model Slide
Part 9 – Traction Slide
Part 10 – Competition Slide
Part 11 – Barriers to Entry Slide
Part 12 – Financial Slide
Part 13 – Team Slide
Part 14 – Funding Slide
Part 15 – Summary Slide
Part 16 – 7 Tips to Put Your Business Plan Into Action