At the beginning – probably not! It’s more important to focus on creating and testing your business model. But eventually – to raise venture capital and to run your business, yes, you’ll need a written business plan. And you’ll need an annual operating plan – but that’s a different topic!
Writing a Business Plan
Of course, every business plan is unique. A software company plan is clearly different from a manufacturing companies plan. But to obtain funding (and to increase the likelihood of the company’s success), any plan must cover certain critical topics (see the outline in the Startup Roadmap or the outline of business plan on the Downloads page.)
Your plan must be compelling if it’s going to convince someone to invest in it. Keep it under 20 pages, with a 2 to 3 page executive summary. Remember that as a startup, you’ve already got 2 challenges working against you:
- Your company is unproven
- Your product is unproven
So to be successful, the need in the market, and your advantage in providing a solution, must both be very, very compelling.
Finally, remember that the business plan is not just a planning tool. It is a piece of sales collateral. You’re selling the credibility of yourself, your team, and you plan. So make sure the plan is professional in appearance, and is well edited for typing, grammar, and formating problems.
Stepping Through the Plan
The Startup Roadmap steps through each section of a typical business plan, with suggestions for the content of each section. We suggest you start at the top, and work through the outline!
In our Resources page see the Business Plan Outline, the Business Plan Checklist, and the Financial Projections Spreadsheet