I’ve read a lot of business plans. Hundreds. They were all too long, and almost all missed the point. A 5,000 word plan will bore and confuse me. Maybe worse.

Here are the questions my ideal business plan would answer. Everything else is fluff.

What is your mantra?

Make it as simple to understand as Blinkpipe’s: “Video calling as natural as a handshake, as reliable as the telephone and as easy to install as a toaster”.

Who is the customer?

It’s not ‘everybody’.
It’s not ‘all 30 year old geeks’.

It’s Jess. She’s thirty years old and works in the IT department of a bank. She lives with three cats. She hates ice cream. Or whatever. Make your customer concrete. Give her life.

Why will your customer pay for what you’re selling?

Sorry, why will Jess pay for what you’re selling? Why will she knock on your door with fistfuls of cash? What problem does it solve? How did she cope before? How will your product change her life? How much will she pay?

How will you reach Jess?

What web sites does she visit? What magazines does she read? How (and why) will Jess shout ‘holy cow, this is brilliant’ about your product to her friends and colleagues? 

How many people like Jess are there?

How big is your market?

Who is in your team?

Why will you succeed where others will fail?

If you want bonus points, tell me how you’ll apply the principles of Eric Ries’s Lean Startup movement to your plan.

If you want extra bonus points, fit this all onto a single sheet of paper. It can be large.

If you want triple plus bonus marks, don’t fit this onto a single sheet of paper.

Make it stand out.

Be different.

You’re an entrepreneur.

Since when did you follow dumb ‘rules’?

Surprise me.

I hope you enjoyed this small pamphlet.

If you did, please share it.

You can find out more about me at neildavidson.com.


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Thanks to Neil for letting us use his work.

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