A business plan does not have to be a time-consuming task that takes weeks or months to complete. You don’t have that kind of time as an entrepreneur. Writing a business plan requires only a little forethought and a methodology to guide you through the process step by step.
In this article, we’ve set out to do just that. It’s not just about learning what goes into a business plan; it’s also about learning how to put one together quickly.
Is it possible to write a business plan in a single day?
It is true that a business plan can be written in a single day. In fact, during the always fun and energizing Startup Weekend events, I’ve seen many people not only put plans together but also get businesses off the ground in a weekend. Writing a business plan in a day is certainly possible if you have a good understanding of the business you want to start or the business you’re already running.
Before we get into the methodology for writing a plan in a day, here are a few pointers to remember:
Understand why you’re writing a plan and who you’re writing it for
Business plans come in a variety of sizes and shapes. What sections you must include and what sections you can skip will depend on who your audience is and what the plan’s purpose is.
You can skip all the sections about company history and team members if you’re writing an internal business plan to figure out how you’re going to expand. If you’re writing a business plan for investors, however, they’ll want to know about the people behind the company.
There are no bonus points awarded for length
The shorter the better when it comes to business plans is a general rule. You want to write as little as possible. This isn’t a school paper with a strict word count requirement. It is the goal of a business plan to communicate your ideas as simply and as directly as possible.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
It’s important to remember that the vast majority of entrepreneurs and business owners lack a business or accounting degree. They, like you, have a great idea and the determination to turn it into a successful business. A business plan does not necessitate any special knowledge or a graduate degree. It only requires that you understand your industry.
6 steps to create a business plan in one day
With these suggestions in mind, here are the six steps you’ll need to follow to complete your business plan in one day.
1. Before you start writing, do some market research
The market analysis section of your business plan is likely the most important. This is where you describe your target audience and why they require and desire your product.
The importance of this section stems from the fact that a company would be nothing without its customers. Understanding your customers is crucial to running a successful business, so don’t skip this step.
This section of your business plan will be simple to write if you already have a good understanding of your customers. You’ll need to describe your ideal customers, including their interests and needs, as well as their key demographics (age, gender, economic position, job position, etc.). You might also want to look at your customers’ psychographics, which is a description of their attitudes and aspirations.
If you haven’t given much thought to your customers yet, doing so before writing your business plan will make the process go much more quickly. Not only that but knowing your customers and their needs is crucial to running a successful company. When your product or service meets the needs of your customers, you’ve achieved “product-market fit,” coined by renowned investor Marc Andreesen.
As repeat purchases are often the primary driver of business success, this ensures that your customers become long-term customers.
2. Make a rough outline of your business plan’s sections
Building a business plan, like building a house, necessitates laying a solid foundation. You should begin your day by creating a business plan outline so that you have a strong foundation for your plan and are aware of all the components that will be required to complete it.
The sections of a typical business plan are as follows:
- Executive Summary
- Products & Services Description
- Market Analysis
- Marketing & Sales Plan
- Organization & Management Team
- Financial Projections
You can customize sub-sections within each section to meet your company’s needs.
If your company sells widgets that it buys from suppliers, for example, your supply chain must be described in the Product Description chapter. If you plan to sell your widgets in stores, you’ll need to include your distribution plans in the Sales Plan chapter. If you’re starting a restaurant, however, sections like supply chain and distribution won’t be as important, and you’ll instead focus on location and marketing.
Download a business plan template and see a complete, detailed business plan outline.
3. Take a look at some sample business plans
After you’ve created your business plan outline, go over some sample business plans. This will give you an idea of the language used in business plans and will hopefully inspire you.
Don’t try to replicate a sample business plan. Because every business is different, this is never a good idea. Knowing what a completed business plan looks like, on the other hand, is a very useful part of the planning process.
4. Begin with what you already know
It’s time to start writing your business plan now that you’ve completed all of your preparation. The key is to work systematically from beginning to end rather than starting at the beginning.
Instead, begin with the sections that you are most familiar with. Describing your product or service is a great place to start for most people. That’s most likely the section you’ll be most familiar with. Then proceed to the next section that you are most comfortable with.
This method will assist you in starting the writing process and getting the easy work out of the way. That way, you won’t get frustrated by a more difficult section if you get stuck early.
One piece of advice: save the executive summary for the end. Because the executive summary is a summary of your entire plan, you’ll want to complete everything else first.
5. Create very basic financials
Forecasting financial data can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Begin with the basics and work your way up.
To begin, make a sales forecast
Your sales forecast is the best place to start. Based on what you know and what you hope for, make your best guesses about your future sales. The key to sales forecasting is to consider a “bottom-up” approach. Estimate the number of potential customers you can reach in a month and the percentage of those prospects who will buy from you. Check out this guide for more information on sales forecasting.
Make a list of your expenses
After that, go over your expenses. Again, it’s fine if you don’t know the exact figures. Make educated guesses about expenses like rent, insurance, payroll, marketing, and so on. As you learn more about your business and obtain more detailed data, you can continue to refine your forecast. For more information, see our income statement guide.
Recognize your cash flow
After that, you’ll need to create a cash flow forecast to ensure that you always have enough cash on hand to run your company. This is a little more difficult, but using business planning software can help you save time. If you want to complete your plan in one day, the software can save you hours of forecasting time. You won’t have to worry about spreadsheets or custom formulas because of it.
6. Have someone ready to go over your plan with you
Working with a business partner can significantly speed up the planning process. Using a “divide and conquer” strategy will assist you in working through the planning process and allow you to write a plan in a single day.
If you don’t have a partner, find a friend or family member who will read your work while you’re working. Having someone else review your plan not only gives you valuable feedback but also solidifies your commitment to writing. It will be much more difficult to procrastinate or put off plan writing until another day once you have someone else ready to work with you. It’s always easier to plan with a partner or helper, just like it’s always easier to go to the gym with a friend.
Having someone else look over your plan will also help you spot inconsistencies and mistakes. If you’re writing your plan out of order, as is recommended, it’s easy to make mistakes as you go back and forth. A coworker who reads your plan as you write it will help you ensure that it is coherent when it is finished.
Learn more from business and read Business Plan Vs Operational Plan Vs Strategic Plan—Differences Explained.