Business plans have certainly changed over the years. It wasn’t that long ago that a business plan required you to spend hours doing market research and slowly charting the course of your business. You would have to take data from multiple sources and do your own legwork. Now, you don’t necessarily have to do all of that work to develop a business plan. In fact, many entrepreneurs give up on the idea of a business plan altogether, while others favor flexibility and the ability to pivot instead of sticking to a script.
Regardless of how you plan to create your business plan, having one – or at least an outline – is a critical step to success. Business plans are a roadmap of how the business is to grow and develop over time. A business must have a clear direction; otherwise, it becomes impossible to make decisions that lead the company to achieve its goals.
Using tools and resources to develop business plans gives owners an advantage as it allows them to tap into general knowledge of the field. From an industry-proven in-depth dive to simple one-page documents that outline the basics, business plans can take many forms. Here, 19 YEC members share their favorite tools and strategies for crafting those business plans, whatever the style.
1. Skinny canvas
“My favorite tool for developing a business plan has nothing to do with software. This is a simple one-sheet model called Lean Canvas. Instead of getting bogged down in detail and paralysis of analysis, Lean Canvas provides a high-level view of the key risks the business faces, as well as areas of opportunity. It is a model that we can always refer to, to guide more granular plans. “Matt Diggity, Marketing Diggity
“I like using Slidebean to create a deck first. They have a ton of pitch deck templates from famous startups. You can use them as inspiration for the flow and storytelling. Most investors don’t. no need for a traditional full business plan, but it’s always good to have one. I start by making a deck to reach the main points, then I can create a detailed business plan using the deck as plan. “Christopher Seshadri, PhotoSesh
“I’m a teamwork guy, that’s why for me lately it’s Lunchclub. It’s fantastic. It puts you in touch with people who match you, your expertise and your situation. J ‘ve met amazing people and made projects with them. Some projects are already halfway into production. This is what happens when enthusiasts interested in the same project do projects. ” Joey Bertschler, dorfnetz.li
4. Live plan
“My favorite is LivePlan. It costs just $ 20 per month, and it’s easy to forecast, budget, and track how a small business is performing. It’s a great place to start. You can set goals and define your KPIs, and that really helps develop a holistic picture of what you’re trying to accomplish. “Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions
5. A trusted mentor
“It helps to use a mentor you trust to guide you in developing a business plan that you feel confident in. It doesn’t have to be 100 pages long and go into great detail about things investors don’t care about. A mentor with experience can help you create a plan that works for your specific business and pushes you in the right direction. ”- Stephanie Wells, Awesome Shapes
6. The Lean Startup approach
“It might sound counterintuitive, but the Lean Startup approach of figuring out how to prototype in front of a few clients in a one-week sprint is the best tool I’ve used to create a business plan. It gets you talking to your customers from day one, quickly validating (or denying) your hypothesis. Plus, customers will give you so many ideas! “Cody Candee, Bounce Back
7. The Scrum method
“We live in exciting times where our hard work can be so much smarter. Staying free from business plans that serve to obscure productivity instead of cultivating it is key. The Scrum Method can help you create a modern business plan that is simple, measurable, and easily updated. Any plan without these three elements is probably outdated and cumbersome. “Reuben Yonatan, SaasList
8. Other business plans
“Study other plans. The fastest way to find out what is working is to learn what is not. Gather the business plans that you have read and found interesting, and determine which aspects of the plan you find most useful. From there, focus on developing areas of your plan. Don’t worry about the length, it’s clarity and content that matters most initially. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Legal Counsel, PA
9. Outline of the business model
“The Business Model Canvas is ideal for startups because it doesn’t require you to have an operations history to plan. It is designed to be continually updated as you talk to customers, learn, and validate or invalidate your assumptions. »Keith Shields, Designli
10. Websites and Industry Associations
“There are many industry-related websites and associations that offer business plan templates. My advice would be to look at one in your market or industry and use those models as a basis. They will help you create a solid first draft while showing you where you need the help of an outside expert. Depending on the resource, they may also have referrals to this expert help, making it even easier to do everything. “Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
11. A SWOT analysis
“Running a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis is crucial. It’s a great way to get a quick and intelligent view of the market, and whether your potential solution has any chance in the market. working on a good SWOT will save you thousands of pivot hours and regrets in the future. ” – Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Conseil inc.
12. Google Suite
“Google Suite is a great option. No need to complicate things too much. Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets are great free tools for building your business plan. They all have great collaboration features for you to think about. with others while developing your business plan. ” – Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff
13. Microsoft Word
“Keep it simple. For example, Microsoft Word has a dozen marketing plan templates that are great for creating a professional, accessible, and affordable business plan. It’s important to note that the templates are flexible enough to accommodate even the most unique and creative businesses. They also encourage you to create a clear picture of what your business is, where it is now and where would you like it to go. Shu Saito, SpiroPure
“With so many great business ideas, your presentation can be almost as important as your idea itself. For around $ 200, entrepreneurs can have their presentations professionally designed on 99designs.com to get that first impression. I shared my favorite ’99designers’ with three classmates before the Wharton Business Plan Competition. Out of almost 100 entries, they all made the top eight. ”Andrew Pietra, Qorum Inc.
“MindMup is a great tool for mind mapping and brainstorming new ideas. I use it all the time and have saved several ideas and business plans for future use. Even if you don’t live with your new one. business idea, it’s still a great platform for planning your content creation and marketing efforts. ” Zac Johnson, blogger
16. Business plan
“Building a business plan can be overwhelming and requires strong business writing skills. There are a lot of tools out there, but pick one that makes your job much easier. Personally, I use Startups.com’s Bizplan. It’s a great tool that walks me through the process with educational videos. There are, in fact, 650 videos, plus you have direct access to the experts. “Vikas Agrawal, Infobrandz
17. Y Combiner
“I would recommend using Y Combinator. They have a ton of fantastic resources to build your deck and the best ways to tell your story in a cohesive way.” Josh Weiss, Reggie
“If you’re short on time but don’t want to miss out on writing a business plan, consider using a tool like Enloop. You fill in some information and it automatically generates your plan for you. You can collaborate with your co-founders or your leadership team so that all of you can contribute. Enloop also gives your plan a best practice score, so you can improve it by modifying it over time. “- Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
19. A notepad and a pen
“A business plan doesn’t have to be 100 pages long, so I like to use a notepad and pen to write and complete my business plans. It’s a quick and informal way to ‘Get a business model, target markets, and revenue streams into one plan without spending a ton of time on unnecessary projections and models. ” Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media LLC