How To Write a Simple Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated.  

Really, it doesn’t.

Having a simple business plan can help your business tremendously.  Regardless of the size or length of time in business, all companies should have some form of business plan on file.  

I’ll even tell you how to write a business plan step by step.

What is the importance of a business plan?

 Think of a business plan as a roadmap for your business.  It outlines your goals and benchmarks and provides an actionable plan for reaching them.

Another common purpose of a business plan is to get funding. This is the most common reason that entrepreneurs seek out a business plan.  They’ll write a business plan for investors they are looking for.  Or they’ll write a business plan for a bank to get funding.

Banks want a business plan.  Investors want a business plan.  You should want a business plan.

You should want to have a reference point for your business goals, and your goals should be written down.  Having a simple business plan will check all of those boxes.

What are the components of a business plan?

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty here.  Let’s talk about the business plan structure.  You want your business plan to be reader friendly and easily consumable.  

Remember, we are writing a simple business plan.  This isn’t a 40-page monstrosity of a document that no one will ever read.  You only need the most basic elements of a business plan for this.

So let’s outline the simple business plan components:

1. Table of Contents

Yes, your business plan should include a table of contents.  This will make it easier to read and jump to the important sections.

2. Mission Statement

Before you can begin describing your business plan and business goals, you need to have your mission statement prominently displayed.  This will give the reader a reference point for every other part of the business plan.  

Want to learn How to Create a Mission Statement?

3. Objectives/Opportunity

Describe what market opportunity you have identified and what products/services you will offer to meet these needs.  Talk about your goals in regards to your customers.   Be specific.

4. Company Overview

In this section, you will introduce your company and talk about the organization of your company.  Who are the owners?  Managers?  Executive team?  This doesn’t need to be an entire history of your company, but simply give some background.

5. Market Analysis

Uh oh, I said analysis… don’t leave me yet! This analysis does not need to be overly in-depth, but it does need to cover some specific points.  A simple market analysis should include:

      • Demographics of your target market

      • Basics of your marketing plan

      • List of your main competitors

      • A little background to the industry as a whole

Again, this doesn’t need to be super specific or overly detailed.  It just needs to show that you have done your research in your industry and you know who your ideal customer is.

6. Execution Plan

In this section, you’ll outline your strategies and specific actions to achieve your goals.  Be detailed here, as this is really the bread and butter of a business plan.  This is the plan of action.  Some things to think about in this section:

  • How will you reach your goals?

  • What are your milestones?

  • How will you measure each milestone?

  • What will you do to ensure your milestones are met?

  • What are your specific objectives?

  • What steps do you need to take to execute your plan?

  • How does this plan relate to your mission?

7. Financial Plan

The final critical element of your business plan is the financial plan.  In this section, you will address funding, budget, and projected financials.  Your goal here is to determine if this business is a viable business financially.  

  • How much funding is needed for launch/expansion?

  • What current sources of funding have you acquired?  This could be your own investment, cash from business profits, other investors that have been secured, etc.

  • What are the projected expenses?  There will be general business expenses (rent, payroll, licenses, etc) before the business starts bringing in money, so project out how much that will cost and outline it.  Include how long you expect to need to pay these items before you start bringing in income.

  • What are your projected sales?  When you do start bringing in income, include what you expect your first few months of income will be.  Do this monthly and project out at least one year, broken down monthly.

  • What is your breakeven point?  Be sure to include the point in time you expect to start pulling in a profit from your business.  This should be one of your benchmarks.

Tie all of these together by outlining what your projected net income(loss) will be in your first year, first 3-years, and first 5-years. The financial plan is one section of your business plan that you want to spend plenty of time on and ensure it is accurate and well thought out.  

 Keep it Simple

There are tons of different types of business plans, but all of them should be kept as simple as possible.  This particular article is in reference to simple business plans, so they should definitely be simple.  

  • Use charts and other visuals

  • Avoid technical jargon and acronyms (assume your audience doesn’t know the industry)

  • Use bullet points

  • White space is your friend

  • Keep it under 10 pages… less is more!

Generally, just don’t go overboard!  Don’t use too many graphics either.  Stick to only things that add value to your business plan.

See, the business plan process isn’t so bad!  

If you just stick to these simple components, you can have a great business plan that is easy to read and covers all of the bases.  

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Stephanie Yarbrough

Stephanie Yarbrough

Business Strategist

Hi! I’m Stephanie, small business strategist, business planning superhero, and owner of Portage Consulting.  I live for hiking and snow skiing ...oh, and helping small business and startups develop growth strategies and achieve financial success.

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Author
Stephanie Yarbrough

Stephanie Yarbrough

Business Strategist

Hi! I’m Stephanie, small business strategist, business planning superhero, and owner of Portage Consulting.  I live for hiking and snow skiing ...oh, and helping small business and startups develop growth strategies and achieve financial success.

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