Simple Business Plan Template
By the end of this post you are going to know how to write a simple business plan using a template you can reuse as many times as you need.
We will also cover the definition of a simple business plan and why it needs to be simple in the modern business world of today.
Then we’ll walk through a very simple business plan template to get you started building yours.
I’ve used this template to build, raise money for and sell businesses and I know it will work for you.
What is a simple business plan
A simple business plan is one that answers all the questions a business plan should answer, is easy for the audience to understand and conveys your plan quickly. The test for “simple” is that you can present your entire business plan in less than fifteen minutes, using less than five hundred words (To give you an idea how long that is, this is word 169 in this blog post.
If you are saying to yourself, “No way I can do that”, don’t worry… yes you can and I will teach you how. Keep reading….
And some good news about the five hundred word test, it eliminates you having to even think about writing a twenty, thirty or even fifty page business plan. Whew!
As I talked about in the long version of my bio, I’ve written a long version business plan and it’s painful and it’s not dynamic, so it becomes almost useless on first contract with the printer.
Why you need a simple business plan
You need a simple business plan because:
- Complex things are hard to understand.
It will be too hard for you to use a a complex plan as your road map to build your business. Think about when you use Google maps, do you use the text based turn-by-turn directions? I bet you don’t and that most people do not even know where that view is. Why? Because reading long strings of text takes a lot of energy to understand and follow. The Google maps map view is a picture and easy to understand quickly. This is the sort of business plan you need.
- No one reads a long business plan.
You are writing a business plan not only for yourself, but to convey to your team where you want to take the business, convey to your customers what solution you provide for a problem they need solving, and potentially to raise money for your business.No one has time anymore to read twenty, thirty for even fifty pages to understand a business, must less anything. We live in a world of text messages, twitter, and other chat programs that have conditioned people to want short and sweet.
- Simple shows you can make it simple.
Making something simple takes thought. In 1651 Blaise Pascal wrote in his Provincial Letters: Letter XVI, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have time.”. We want to create that shorter letter, or in our case a short, simple business plan. It helps us think through our business, how it will work and how we are going to build it.
The Simple Business Plan Format
Writing a simple business plan is not writing it. The best format I have used over the last twenty years as an entrepreneur is building it in thirteen slides. I prefer to use Microsoft Power Point (you can use Google Docs just as easily) and use no smaller then 32pt. font. Let’ jump in and cover each slide:
- Company Information
Put the title of your company, your company logo, and contact information on the slide. This is also where you give your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch is a short, persuasive speech you give to spark interest in your company, product or service. A good elevator pitch should last between 15 and 45 seconds; about the time it takes to ride an elevator. It’s not intended to tell your whole company history or anything like that, it’s focus is to create interest. You are setting the stage.
Describe the problem that your product or business is addressing. You want to lay this out in a simple to understand visual layout. I always do it in a three step break down of the problem.
Describe your solution to the problem that you outlined in slide #2. I like to have at least two benefits, ideally three that the solution provides.
You should also add a customer testimonial, or better yet a customer story.
We’ve talked about the problem people have, now we expand on our elevator pitch. The elevator pitch set things up and now we reveal, demo our product and talk about it in more detail.
- Market Opportunity
This is where you talk about how big the market is for your company or product. You want to make sure you cover the total market, the total addressable market, the serviceable market, your share of the market and your target customer. Lay this out in a logical order so your audience quickly can get it.
- Business Model
The business model is the mechanism or process through which your company generates its profit. There are really just a few. Identify which model your business is going or is using and lay it out on this slide.
- Barriers to Entry
- Business Summary