I’m often asked about using any of various templates to aid in the writing of a business plan. I’m not a big fan of any particular template, rather, I’m a big fan of critically thinking through the important questions. So, by all means, if you have a template you feel comfortable with go with it. Side note: I’d be happy to send along the one I use when I write a play, email me and I’ll send it along, firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I work with an organization in creating the planning document, here are some guidelines I follow:
- I ask that the CEO/ED actually write the plan. It’s expected, of course, that various planning team members would provide counsel and guidance, however, the top chief needs to be the final writer. I don’t use the word ‘author’ here on purpose as in fact your entire team has had a hand in this effort so far and presumably will be throughout.
- The plan will go through several versions. When I write a plan I expect that I’ll have upwards of 40 versions (no joke) and that’s before launch. Of course after launch there’ll be – absolutely should be – changes to the plan on a regular basis.
- Given the previous point, don’t get overly caught up in form or writing beautifully, especially in the early drafts. I oftentimes simply bullet point I want to lift out of the feasibility work into the sections and then invariably move them around as I get further along in my drafting.
I always recommend having a set of reviewers, a couple or few outsiders, to make sure the plan flows nicely and give a complete picture of the venture. Send them a draft at the point you’re ready for feedback and ask them to really hammer it. It’ll make your plan stronger for sure.