The business plan format is often overlooked in the excitement over starting a business. In fact, many business plan generators recommend starting with a business plan format that is “traditional”. Most business plans fall under one of two basic categories: lean or traditional startup. Traditional business plans are usually more detailed, use a very standardized format, and require you to enter even more detail in every section. They can easily be dozens of pages long and tend to take the work upfront.
Lean business plans, on the other hand, are far more streamlined and allow you to focus more on the strategy and vision of your company. They also make for shorter books and shorter pages. While this might sound bad at first because there are fewer pages, it actually speeds up the process of writing your business plan since everything is laid out in front of you. This is great if you want to get your ideas down on paper before you launch your business.
So which business plan format should you use? The answer largely depends on what you hope to gain from your business plan format. If you are launching a traditional business, then the standard business plan format would be fine. If you are going through a lean startup, or you simply don’t need to include any detail, then the lean format is the right choice. If you are looking to attract investors or acquire new partners, then the full-featured business plan format is ideal.
Now that you know the difference between full-fledged business plans and lean business plans, you’ll probably wonder how to find a good business plan format. There are actually two ways to get one. One way is to find sample business plans that you like and modify them to your own needs. Obviously, you will need to have some idea of what you are doing before trying this approach. It may even require some help so be careful.
Another way is to create your own format using a free business plan template. A lot of websites offer free business plan templates that you can modify to fit your business. Just make sure that the information on the template matches what you plan to do with your business. This way, you won’t need to spend money to find a template that meets all your requirements. You can use it for free and work on getting the information on the template right.
In addition to finding free sample business plan templates online, you can also use “control” sheets and “formatting sheets” that come with many templates. These give you a very rough idea of how your business plan page should look like. Once you’ve got the basic layout down, it’s time to start thinking about what you’d like to include on it. There are a lot of things to think about and put into the plan.
For example, what kind of business does the plan describe? What kinds of products or services do you intend to provide? Do you plan to take on any clients? What kind of sales procedures does the business operate upon? These are just a few examples of the typical questions business owners ask themselves when planning their business plans.
Lean Startup offers many free business plan samples. Most of these samples are in PDF format, so you can download them and review them at your leisure. You can also talk to experienced people who have already completed lean Startup business plans and get some good ideas from them. If you’re really stuck, you can find services on the Internet to help convert your traditional business plans into PDF format. There are many tools available for this, and it can save a great deal of time and effort.