Every business needs a plan of action; at the very least a 12-month roadmap of where you’re going. Now, if you’ve got a great idea and you’re just getting the business up and running then a plan is even more essential. The value of a business plan has been debated but the skinny is that a good plan highlights the business strategy, direction, and key deliverables for the next 1 to 3 years, with a specific emphasis on the next 12 months. This is so that the management team, key stakeholders, and potential investors can get in alignment. Notice I didn’t say a long business plan, which was more typical 10+ years ago when plans were often in excess of 40 or 50 pages!
Many business plans, especially those prepared by MBAs tend to be extraordinarily long-winded. I came from this exact same background and I fell into this trap. I wrote pages and pages describing the industry, competitive landscape, and excruciating detail about what my product was going to be and wasted the time that I could’ve better spent outlining the concrete steps to actually get my product launched. These areas are important but a couple of pages would have been sufficient.
So, here are two robust plan template from WickedStart and SCORE that are free to use. These templates can be modified for just about any business (or business idea). They’re comprehensive so you only need to use the parts that are relevant for you. We used these templates to create a real business plan for a company that we helped get funding for- so we know they works. Now, if you want to purchase a plan or planning services, I recommend iplanner, a great new startup too!
Go get these templates and keep me posted on your progress!