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What Should You Include In a Business Plan?

The Modern Business Plan

A question I often get from people looking to launch their own company is: “What do I think about the traditional business plan?”

The truth is, every business has a story. You already know yours! Now, how can you share that story in a transparent way? There are a lot of ways to creatively piece together what your business will do, why, your mission, your plan, etc. You don’t need to follow the traditional business plan to help investors and other business partners see your vision clearly. You just need to know how to present your ideas in a clear way.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to listen to 7 startups pitch their concepts to a group of investors at Remote Demo Day. It’s hosted by Jason Calacanis from The Syndicate. These startups had 3 mins to do their elevator pitch. Most of them had between 15-20 slides. It’s a lot like Shark Tank!

If you’re a startup looking for an accelerator, you can apply here.

One really caught my ear. The name is Fork Farms, an agricultural tech startup on a mission to get fresh food production to schools and communities. Their pitch was straight forward, well-planned, succinct. 

You Don’t Need a Long-form Business Plan to Launch Your Business

So here’s the deal, you don’t need a 20-30 page plan that no one will read in order to start your business. You can use the 1-page Business Model Canvas to visualize and connect all the business puzzle pieces. Maybe then you’ll create a 10-15 page deck from presentations. But if you’re not aiming to raise capital, then a Business Model Canvas will do.

Here’s what the BMC does: it describes the company, its product’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances, etc. The template contains 9 “building blocks,” as you can see above. Its simplistic nature adds to its appeal. You can fill in all the blocks and choose where your focus should land. In my main business, we pay the closest attention to the 2 Customer blocks, segments which are the channels your customers will fall into and the relationships. It’s also helpful to use the Value Proposition Canvas from Strategyzer to expand on the topic of customers and clarify their profiles as they relate to your business.

This element should address three critical steps on building that customer’s relationship:

  1. How the business will get new customers,
  2. How the business will keep customers purchasing or using its services, and
  3. How the business will grow its revenue from its current customers.

You’ll need to keep in mind the types of customer relationships your particular business needs to succeed. Is your model geared toward Self Serve (like DIY), VIP, Membership, Communities, etc.? This will help you dig deep to think about the Customer Journey, Customer Experience and if your Customer Service is doing it’s best. Tuning into what your ideal customer personas look like, and how and why you can connect with that demographic can truly give you a push in the right direction when it comes to making your plan.

Check out these resources for the Business Model Canvas:

For those who’ve been in biz more than 5 years, you can still use the Business Model Canvas to help you optimize your business! Perhaps you’re already doing a SWOT analysis. Are you doing yearly strategic plans?

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