Your business plan is the foundation of your business

A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through the key elements of your business.

Simple/Lean Business Plan

This plan is high-level focus, fast to write, and contains key elements only.

Lean startup format

You might prefer a lean startup format if you want to explain or start your business quickly, your business is relatively simple, or you plan to regularly change and refine your business plan.

Lean startup formats are charts that use only a handful of elements to describe your company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. They’re useful for visualizing tradeoffs and fundamental facts about your company.

There are different ways to develop a lean startup template. You can search the web to find free templates to build your business plan. We discuss nine components of a model business plan here:

Key partnerships
Note the other businesses or services you’ll work with to run your business. Think about suppliers, manufacturers, subcontractors, and similar strategic partners.

Key activities
List the ways your business will gain a competitive advantage. Highlight things like selling direct to consumers, or using technology to tap into the sharing economy.

Key resources
List any resource you’ll leverage to create value for your customer. Your most important assets could include staff, capital, or intellectual property.
 
Value proposition
Make a clear and compelling statement about the unique value your company brings to the market.

Customer relationships
Describe how customers will interact with your business. Is it automated or personal? In person or online? Think through the customer experience from start to finish.

Customer segments
Be specific when you name your target market. Your business won’t be for everybody, so it’s important to have a clear sense of whom your business will serve.

Channels
List the most important ways you’ll talk to your customers. Most businesses use a mix of channels and optimize them over time.

Cost structure
Will your company focus on reducing cost or maximizing value? Define your strategy, then list the most significant costs you’ll face pursuing it.

Revenue streams
Explain how your company will actually make money. Some examples are direct sales, memberships fees, and selling advertising space. If your company has multiple revenue streams, list them all.

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