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Neil Patel

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Need a startup business plan template for your new venture?

What’s the best layout for a business plan? What role should it play in your small business startup? How do you best make it work for you?

The Role Of The Business Plan In Startups

Every business needs a startup business plan template. However, there are different uses for these plans depending on the type of business you are launching, and what you expect it to do for you.

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

    Every entrepreneur needs to sketch out their plans on paper and make sure things line up and to get a handle on their basic needs.

    However, most of the time entrepreneurs are focused on business plans for the others that will see them. Even those who just plan to have a small local business will focus on creating a business plan to take to banks and local lenders. 

    True startups who hope to go really big and really fast and to raise a lot of money hone in on a business plan for their perception of what they’ll need to raise money. 

    Note that these dynamics have really changed a lot in the last few years. Now one of the biggest regrets that entrepreneurs have is spending way too much time on rehashing business plans and pitch decks. Especially, since they get so little attention from lenders and investors. Today, most business loan lenders aren’t going to look at your business plan at all. 

    Angel investors and early-stage investors might look at your executive summary and pitch deck but aren’t going to get bogged down in an in-depth business plan. Firstly, they are too busy. Secondly, they are experienced enough to know that plans change fast when you are a hyper-growth startup. 

    Business Plan Templates

    There are a variety of places to find a startup business plan template and help with business plans.

    Some of the most common are:

    • SCORE which provides advisors for small businesses
    • SBA which also provides small business loans
    • Upwork for hiring someone to write your business plan

    You can also check out my step by step startup business plan template guide for what to include in a full and comprehensive business plan, published on Forbes here.

    Remember that storytelling is everything. Now investors may ask you more for a pitch deck instead of a business plan that captures the essence of what you are doing. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).

    Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

    The One Page Business Plan

    One thing that entrepreneurs need to get over and fast is that increasing the length of the business plan does in any way increase your potential altitude and speed or odds of getting funded. 

    It is important to do some kind of budget and to get a handle on cash flow and have a marketing budget. The number one reason that new businesses fail is running out of money. That can even happen in your best month of sales.

    However, short and sweet didn’t stop Airbnb from achieving close to a $40B valuation and spreading all over the world with just a one-page business plan.

    The most effective business plan, and especially when you want potential investors just to speed through to giving you their capital is one that is brief and simple. 

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    For yourself and your team, you want a plan that just keeps you focused.

    Here are the five things that should be on that one page.

    1. Your Mission

    What are your purpose and mission? What are you trying to accomplish? This will guide your team, make it really clear and simple as to what your business is doing, and give everyone from your customers to investors and employees something to gather around and be a part of.

    This just needs to be a sentence or two.

    2. Your Vision

    What’s your big-picture vision? What does the world look like when your vision is fully realized?

    Again, keep it simple, just a sentence or two. This is what will keep you going during the tough days, and even when you have to change tactics and the path to get there.

    3. Long Term Goals

    What are your specific long term goals? Think 3 to 5 items that you will achieve over the next 5 plus years. These are the big ones. It may include your exit strategy, major partnerships, significant expansion plans, and metrics.

    These are the big things you are shooting for that will tell you that you’ve arrived. Even though there will always be bigger new goals to shoot for.

    4. Strategy

    What are the strategies and tactics you will use to get to these long term goals? What sales channels will you use? What unique positioning will you use? 

    5. Short Term Plans

    What are the next 3-7 things on your to-do list? Are you raising money? When will you raise your next big round? What key hires are you looking to make? What will you do with any new funds? What new markets are you expanding into? What sales goals and milestones are you set on achieving? What key missing pieces do you need to plug in to make this work?

    Summary

    Below is a good video where I go into detail on how to create a business plan

    You shouldn’t be in business without a startup business template and for that you need a startup business plan template. If you try, you probably won’t be in business long.

    However, the rules of business plans have changed. They may not be expected where you think they are any longer. They certainly would be read through in-depth if they are long. You’ll probably rely on them less than you think. However, you still need some type of document to show potential investors and to stay focused.

    This one-page business plan may be just what you need to get going. If you are planning to use it to raise capital, check out this fundraising training course for even more tips.

    FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THE VIDEO:

    Hi, everyone. This is Alejandro Cremades, and today we’re going to be talking about how to write a business plan. The business plan is super important. It’s going to be that document that you’re going to be using, whether that is to raise money from investors or if that is a roadmap that you’re using for the next 18 to 24 months in terms of the execution for your own business. It’s that document that you’re going to be having that full alignment with either your co-founders or with your employees. So, let’s get into it.

    The first slide is the overview. The overview or the executive summary, basically what you’re doing is providing a 30,000-foot view of the entire business plan. Basically, the key highlights that someone can review right away, super quickly about what the company is about, also about the team, also about some of the milestones, the market, perhaps some money that you’ve already raised, and key highlights that you think are going to get someone super interested and attracted into your own business.

    Then, the next one, the next section is the company description. When we’re talking about the company description, this is more getting into detail. You want to get into the weeds. You want to talk about what the company does, what kind of problem, for example, you’re tackling, what is the solution that you’re bringing to market? You can also talk about certain geographic locations that you are focusing on, and again, the sector and perhaps throwing in there also the elevator pitch so that you can ground them in what you’re doing with the business.

    The next section of the business plan is the products and services. Here, what you want to do is, you want to go into detail. You want to go into detail into what you’re giving to customers, what you’re selling, whether that is online or offline. Exactly, what is that tangible or intangible product or service that you’re giving away to customers? 

    Here, you really want to add perhaps some screenshots, some visuals so that you can give them an idea of what you’re doing and what’s the platform or service that you’re producing or providing. That’s basically what the products and services are all about is going into the detail of what exactly you’re bringing to market.

    The next section of the business plan is your marketing plan. What is that marketing plan? How are you planning to get customers into the door? The build it and they will come doesn’t exist. What you want to do is first, you want to get clear as to how you’re planning to get people in the door and to offer whatever you’re planning on doing.

    So, the best marketing plans are those that include organic distribution channels. That is channels where you’re not relying exclusively on Facebook ads or Google ads to bring people in, where you are actually creating content, or being a thought leader, or basically search engine optimization, or perhaps even partnerships that help with the distribution. Ways in which you can continue to scale your business so that people get excited because you have then a competitive advantage above any other player in your field.

    Now, when it comes to the marketing plan, you really want to nail it on how you’re planning to get the word out there if you’re going to do sponsorships, if you’re going to perhaps do Facebook ads, Google ads, or maybe like the organic distributions channels that we were talking about. Perhaps some of the partnerships or business development deals that you’re thinking about doing, all of that is really that you want to put here. Outline it very nicely so that they know how you’re planning to get the word out there.

    The next section is the operational plan. When it comes to the operational plan, you want to talk about the equipment, the tools, anything that you’re going to need in order to get the business up and running. Here, you’re going to want to go into detail. You want to talk about, perhaps, some of the cost of that equipment, or those tools, or that software that is going to be included, and you want to put in detail, so the investor or whoever is reviewing this has an idea that you’ve done your homework and that you are very grounded with whatever you need to get this thing in motion.

    The next section is the management and the organization. When we’re talking about this section, what the investor wants to know is that you have the right people seated on the right seats of the bus because, at the end of the day, a startup company or any business that is starting out is like a bus without a direction. So, they want to know that you have the right people seated on the right seats of the bus because that is essentially what is going to get you to the successful outcome.

    With that being said here, what you want to do is you want to put before the leadership team, and then you want to put the other members. I think the team that you want to start first with is the founders, then the leadership, and then you start going down. What you want to do here is, you want to maybe put in bullet points where you’re talking about the key accomplishments of every single member of your team.

    Here, maybe you can add some logos or anything that could add some visual that would make it pop. It’s all about giving the idea to the investors that it’s all about the people that you’ve been able to put together and that these people are qualified and that they’ve done something in the past that gives them that background, that level of assurance or guarantee that they’re going to help you to push this thing in the right direction.

    Then, also, you want to talk about the organization. Maybe you want to talk about the structure. Maybe you can even dive or throw in some legal components on how you’re planning to put the corporate structure, or maybe you even want to talk about the advisors or the board members that you have. This is all about the structure and the team. That’s the way that you want to dive into it when we’re talking about this section.

    The next section is the startup expenses and the capitalization. When we’re talking about this section, what you want to dive in with is perhaps the amount of money that you’re going to need. You want to talk about how you’re planning to get out there. What’s going to be the structure of the financing? What is the profile of the investor, and maybe the network that you want to get from that investor that you want to leverage in order to get things to the next level because remember, it’s not about the money? 

    You’ve got to turn things around so that you’re able to see clearly who the people are that are giving you the money because you want investors that are going to be actively involved with your business, investors that can push you, that can introduce you to perhaps other investors, to other business development deals for distribution, or even to people that could acquire your business.

    Here, you really want to give as much detail as possible and the type of profile and the level of support that they can contribute. Also, you want to talk about what is going to be the breakdown? How are you planning on grabbing that money and investing it and allocating it? 

    Here, you want to go into perhaps rent. You want to go into personnel. Maybe you want to just give a little breakdown on that summary, but don’t get too into it because that’s going to happen more on the financial details on the financial projections, which is going to be the next slide.

    The next slide is the financial plan. When we’re talking about the financial plan, what you want to do here is talk about what the next five years of operations are going to look like. You want to forecast. You want to model that out, and you want to give an understanding to the investor that you have a clear grasp on what the future holds. This is supercritical. 

    We don’t know where we’re going to be in three to five years from now, but the investor is going to use this to have a clear understanding on how much homework and how grounded, at the end of the day, you are with your business. If you don’t know what the numbers are of your business, they’re going to be very worried about giving you any type of money to allocate.

    Here, you want to go into detail. You want to make sure that you have everything broken down. Make sure that you do your research. Don’t make the mistake of perhaps if you’re looking to hire an engineer, let’s say to throw in a geographic location in New York, don’t put that it’s like $30,000, a junior engineer because that’s going to cost you $85,000, at least.

    Eventually, the investor that is obviously going to see that, they’re going to go, “Hold on a second. You have not done your homework. Why would I give you my money?” Remember that investors are always going from their lens or from the perspective of trying to find reasons to not invest in your business. For that reason, you really need to get grounded on the numbers and make sure that you have as much detail as possible on the financial plan.

    The next section is the appendix. On the appendix, what you want to include is any type of information that is not supercritical or super interesting for the investor to read throughout the plan. Here, you may want to include certain things like contracts, partnership agreements, anything that could add more to the story. 

    Any type of documentation that talks about your traction as a business, like maybe some nice graphs about the progress that you’ve been able to achieve over the past months. Or, what you can do, also here, is add some nice testimonials of people or some quotes from press articles that you have gathered. It is to beef up the business plan a little bit more.

    All-in-all, that’s what the business plan entails. Again, you can use this for either seeking capital or as a roadmap for you and for your team for the next 18 to 24 months of execution. If you like this video, make sure that hit the Like button. Also, make sure that you click the subscribe and also comment below. I’ll be getting back to you right away. 

    Also, don’t forget about our fundraising training where you are going to have access to all the templates, all the agreements, all types of live Q&As and everything that you need because what we do is help founders in the journey of raising capital from A all the way to Z. Thank you so much for watching. 

     

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    Neil Patel

    I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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