How to Write a Business Plan in Under an Hour


Most people think that writing a business plan has to be hard. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, it’s possible to write your initial business plan in less than an hour. After all, you’re always thinking about your business and the strategies you’re going to use to grow, so getting those ideas down on paper shouldn’t be hard—it can even be an enjoyable experience.

Listen to Peter and Jonathan discuss this article and try to make their own business plan on the second episode of The Bcast, Bplans official podcast:

A business plan no longer needs to be a long document that takes weeks to write and research. It’s not something that you print, bind professionally, and then stick on a shelf. You probably only need a formal, traditional business plan if you’re seeking a bank loan or outside investment—you’ll be expected to provide one in those instances.

But for most businesses,  business planning should be a simple, ongoing process that helps you discover your ideal business strategy. It’s a lot less about putting together a document, and more about frequently reviewing your strategy and financials so you can respond quickly to challenges and opportunities. Plus, just doing the process of business planning has been scientifically proven to make you more successful—and there are a lot of other reasons why having a business plan is important as well.

I encourage you to embrace a concept called Lean Planning—it has all the benefits of traditional business planning without the pain and hassle of creating a long business plan document.

You’ll start with a short overview of your business—a . It’s your business strategy, written in brief, with just the essential business plan components, so that you can update quickly and easily as you learn more about your business, your customers, and yourself. It’s also a great starting place for making sure your amazing business idea is really viable.

When you’re writing your Lean Plan, channel Twitter and try and keep each business plan section as short as possible:

  1. :
  2. :
  3. :

As you think about each of the areas above, don’t think “business plan.” Instead, imagine that you are having a conversation with someone at a cocktail party and you’re explaining your business to them in simple terms.

It’s much better to approach this as though you’re “pitching your business.” After all, the idea of pitch first, plan second is a best practice in business and is a much faster and more effective path to success than the traditional business plan.

I’ve always wanted to own a bike shop, so here’s a Lean Plan that I built in 27 minutes, well short of one hour. As you can see, a Lean Plan doesn’t have to be complicated, and I still had time left over to do another one and try another business idea on for size.

I admit, I cheated a little bit and used LivePlan to create this Lean Plan which made the process easier, but you can create your own Lean Plan just as easily using our free template or just by writing down your notes for each business plan section in a document.

The key is to remember to keep each business plan element brief. Don’t add more than is necessary.

If you’re ready to start working on your own Lean Plan, download our free template and get started right away. Use markers or sticky notes to jot down your ideas quickly. If you want an online version that you can share with business partners, give LivePlan a try.

And, if you need a more traditional business plan, you can download our free template or browse through over 500 complete business plans. If you decide to leave it up to the pros, try LivePlan’s business plan consulting—you’ll get an MBA-written, long-form business plan in five business days that will be perfect for bank loans and investors.

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