When you’re starting a business, planning things out (in some form or fashion) is critical. Many new entrepreneurs wonder, “Do I really need to write a huge complex business plan?” We’re here to tell you, well, it depends. If you’re like the majority of our readers, probably not, but we’ll get into it below.
Let’s explore the 3 most effective ways businesses are planned today in our ultra-fast-paced entrepreneurial era and the types of tools that can help you along the way. Enjoy!
The collegiate approach, or business school approach to planning your business. However, without software the big downside here is that it takes time, substantial time, to truly learn and execute this methodology.
It’s like a business constitution, extremely well-thought out and typically 40 pages or more in depth. Is it effective? Absolutely! We’re talking highly organized goals, objectives, financials, marketing, projections, and so forth. These days though your average solopreneur or bootstrapping startup veers towards a more streamlined approach.
You can use the links below to dive into a comparison guide between the best business planning software options or dive right in to our favorite option (LivePlan) and get 50% off.
A less formal mapping-style approach like whiteboarding with markers and Post-it notes. The canvas is an outline, usually in customizable template form which helps break down a smaller number of key components.
This visual method grows in popularity more and more for obvious reasons: less time, less complexity, and great for beginners with little to no experience who need more focus and flexibility.
If you’re interested, through the links below you can learn all about in a free step-by-step guide, or see how to leverage simple streamlined software like Strategyzer that walks you through the entire process.
The leanest of lean version of conventional business planning, the focus being on a small amount of critical data sets – a pitch page, straight to the point.
You can either whiteboard it, write it out in a Word document, or use software that packages the data into a “presentation-ready” business plan. These days most people don’t want to see your 40-page conventional business plan until they’ve had a chance to look through one of these.
We suggest at least seeing how software helps make it organized. Instead of needing to hire a designer to put something custom together, you can brand it in a few clicks and make one of their gorgeous templates yours. We also put a guide together to show you the highlights if you’re not quite sure a one page business plan will cut it.
What problem are you solving for customers?
It might sound easy, and it may be to a certain degree, but being REALLY specific about the problem you’re addressing typically isn’t. The general goal is to refine and then communicate your solution in as little words as possible and in the easiest way possible. Make sense?
What sets your business apart?
At the end of the day, the best answer not only revolves around your product/service but the people behind it! You and your team if you have one. Because after all, you’re unique and your team is composed to individuals.
Who is your ideal customer or user?
Again, it’s about specifics. Are general demographics useful? Yes, of course, but the more you dig into this the more productive it will be. For example, you can use a powerful customer persona to create the voicing of your brand, focus marketing efforts, and narrow the playing field.
How will you handle promotion/marketing?
This can get complex fast, so keep it as simple as you can in the beginning. We recommend doing a search to find the most effective marketing channels for your industry, which should align with your ideal customer personas.