If you have a business idea but don't where to start, this article is for you. If you have a startup that's progressing slowly or maybe needing venture capital, this article is also for you.

The business plan is one of the greatest learning experiences an entrepreneur can encounter. Contrary to popular belief, the business plan is not for investors, or partners, or banks. The business plan is for you. It's a special time for the entrepreneur to fully understand who they are, the viability of their idea, and the strategies they will use to turn their dream into a profitable reality. It reminds me of this famous quote:

He who fails to plan, plans to fail.

Over the last 12 years, I've written 11 comprehensive business plans. I have executed the strategies with success and I've even raised over $2.5 million with them. But comprehensive does not necessarily mean long. My typical business plan is 10-15 pages.

Below I am going to provide you with the structure that's served me well this past decade. They are broken down into 3 sections.

  1. Section One: Company Overview
    • Customer Pain – What is the problem and how are you solving it.
    • Who Are You – Mission, vision, core values, and description of business.
    • Executive Team – Founders, key executives, investors, and board members (if applicable).
    • Org Chart – Current staff structure. Include freelancers, part-timers, and near future positions which are currently not filled.
  2. Section Two: Product & Operational Strategies
    • Product Overview – Physical details, sourcing, supply chain, hard costs, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and technology.
    • Customer Overview – Demographics, psychographics, data, market trends and benchmarks.
    • Marketing Overview – Metrics to be monitored, social, influencer, online marketing, traditional advertising, and PR strategy.
    • SWOT Analysis – Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  3. Section Three: Financial Projections & Capital Needs
    • 3, 6, and 12 Month Financial Projections – Include revenue, expenses, margin, and net profit.
    • Competitive Environment – List at least three potential competitors, their strengths and weaknesses.
    • Capital Needs (if you're looking for investors) – How much money do you need?
    • Use of Funds Schedule – Exactly how you will be spending investor's money (if applicable).
    • Exit Strategy – When would you like to sell and to who (if applicable)?
    • Contact Information – How can investors get in touch?

All in all, your plan should never exceed 15 pages. I also encourage entrepreneurs to include photos, quotes, and even physical product with every business plan presentation.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below. I'm happy to help.

I also found this practical infographic covering another structure for a successful business plan. I thought it was quite helpful. I hope you enjoy 🙂

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20 thoughts on “How To Write A Killer Business Plan in One Week

  1. David Ramos says:

    This is such an awesome resource! It seems so doable when you break it up into 3 parts and those parts into a few steps.
    I also see how you can kind of morph this – from a business plan to a plan for any dream really. Hmm, you’ve given me some good stuff to think about.

  2. Sara says:

    In your “Customer Overview” where does one go to find the demographics and data pertaining to the business they are interested in?

  3. Shiku says:

    Hey Dale. I’ve written several business plans in the past (with difficulty) this is the easiest structure I’ve seen. Another eye opener was the comment ” the business plan is not for investors ……. it’s really for you” Food for thought ! Thank you…

  4. Anchored By Christ says:

    Writing my first business plan and excited to start this business the right way. Thanks Dale

  5. brianrusso83 says:

    This outline is great and super helpful! Do you have anything you would add or take away for a non-profit that is four years old and looking to re-structure? Thank you for writing this!

  6. Sarah Buchanan says:

    Would you change your approach in any of the sections if you were building the plan for a start-up nonprofit?

  7. Mandi says:

    I’m doing a group project in my “Business Models” class at college now, and this is a wonderful source. You really simplify things in the most powerful way. In class, we weren’t told about including photos/quotes/product with the plan, and I really like that idea 🙂 We’ll use this as a big reference with proper credit.

  8. Johanna M says:

    I have been trying to get started on a business plan for a bit now. This broke it down for me in a way that feels achievable. Thank you so much!!

  9. Jaqui says:

    I’m starting my first business. An online marketplace. Step 2 and 3 of the business plan is like another language to me (poli sci major here!) ;( How does one go about gathering the metrics? The financial projections? The hard numbers. Where do you conduct research? I feel like I have a very intrinsic understanding of my business and why it works…but I don’t know where to go to gather the hard numbers. How do people calculate this stuff?

  10. Jaqui says:

    I’m starting my first business. An online marketplace. Step 2 and 3 of the business plan is like another language to me (poli sci major here!) ;( How does one go about gathering the metrics? The financial projections? The hard numbers. Where do you conduct research? I feel like I have a very intrinsic understanding of my business and why it works…but I don’t know where to go to gather the hard numbers. How do people calculate this stuff?

  11. maggi says:

    So.. You wrote 11 business plans in 12 years! And the Title post talk about writting a killer business plan in ONE WEEK.. .. This don’t make sense for me. Therefore my question is: Why are you talking about one week?

  12. Jessica McGarity says:

    I am thinking of starting a business to help the community and it is going to have to be in stages do you have any advice on how to organize that into a business plan?

  13. Dave Russ says:

    Indeed, business plan is crucial to any business. Even if you have goals, but without a proper business plan, is just a wish. Thanks for sharing what you know. Keep up the awesome blog!

  14. Jeff Benson says:

    On point. Great list you pointed out here. Also, it’s important that you have the right people in your roster to make planning even more effective.

  15. Ms. J says:

    Great Helpful article. I am very glad I came across this. Anyone who would stop reading the article because of a typo in the first sentence isn’t very smart.

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