How Do I Write a Business Plan and Why Is One Important?

Posted on June 28, 2023

This article accompanies a mini-series we did with Brandon White on our Small Business Tax Savings Podcast. Brandon was generous enough to share the information and content for this article.

Brandon just launched a book that discusses everything here in more detail that I highly recommend. You can purchase on Amazon here:

Back of the Napkin to… Business Plan in 11 Slides: So easy you can do it on a flight from San Francisco to New York

In this article Brandon shows you how to go from back of the napkin to business plan in just 11 slides. This will allow you to build the modern business plan you need to do business this year and beyond.

Learning how to write a business plan is essential because it is:

  • the foundation of your business
  • your roadmap to grow your sales
  • a playbook to grow your team
  • a tool that shows you aspects of your business you didn’t think about when you came up with your business idea

And if that’s not enough motivation for you learn how to write a business plan…

It’s scientifically proven to increase your chances of success. Yes, scientifically proven. See the FAQ section at the end of this article for the Harvard article that was written about it.

And you’re going to love this framework even better because this 11 slide business plan can also…

  • serve as your pitch deck for investors
  • sales pitch
  • recruiting team members deck
  • board member recruitment deck
  • advisory board recruitment deck

You can build this plan in a relatively short amount of time if you dedicate some focused effort. I spent a decade figuring this template out. 

Dynamic Business Plan

This business plan framework is dynamic. Just like Google Maps is when you use it to navigate to a destination and there is a traffic jam. Google Maps routes you around it to save time, gets you to your destination faster and reduces the stress of sitting in traffic.

This means you can easily adapt it to use as you’re growing and scaling your business to hit the goals and milestones you’ve set.

Lets dive in…

Slide 1: Title & Elevator Pitch

You want to include:

  • Your company name
  • Tag line that describes what your business does (if you have a tag line, if not, don’t worry about it)
  • Your contact information

When you are pitching potential customers, investors, or a new recruit for your team, etc… you want to give your elevator pitch here.

Your elevator pitch should be no longer than 45 seconds.

Slide 2: Problem

You want to include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving with your product and/or service

Aim to be able to give all your talking points on the problem you are solving in less than two minutes

Slide 3: Solution

You want to include:

  • a description of the solution to the problem you set up in slide 2
  • you need to be very concise

Aim to be able to explain your business solution in less then two minutes

Slide 4: Market Opportunities

You want to include:

  • your total market, total addressable market, serviceable available market, your market share. Make sure you understand and present these correctly Entrepreneurs lose a lot of money and waste a lot of time by not getting this slide right.
  • a plan to attack the market.
  • if the market is growing and at what rate

Above all, be able to give this slide, if you have to present it, in less than two minutes. It’ll force you to truly know your market.

Slide 5: Go to Market Plan

Your Go to Market (GTM) slide is the second punch of the one-two combination that you set up in the last slide. It started with your Market Sizing and now that you know your share of the market and who those customers are, you’re ready to lay out the details of how you’re going to sell your product or service to this part of the market.

Think of your GTM plan as the foundation of your sales and marketing plan that you’ll add to as you grow your sales and expand into bigger parts of the market.

Slide 6: Traction and Milestones

You want to include:

  • accomplishments to date, including but not limited to your sales
  • if you are a pre-sales company, put your pre-sales traction highlights

Aim to be able to give this slide in less than two minutes.

Slide 7: Competition

You want to include:

  • who is your competition
  • how is the competition positioned in the market
  • where your company fits into the competitive landscape

Again, you want to give this slide in less than two minutes.

Slide 8: Financials

You want to include:

  • a summary of your financials. This includes your sales, gross margin, SG&A, EBITDA, and net profit
  • a graphic to make your numbers easy to consume
  • have your full financials (in excel) as a back up and separate document that you can send to a potential investor and which you use on a regular basis to monitor and scale your company.

HPT 1: your full financials should include your Profit and Loss (P&L), Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, a sales and marketing tab, KPI tab that is driven from your sales and marketing tab, HR tab that shows team members salaries, taxes, benefits etc… And your HR tab should feed your other tabs.

HPT 2: This is one of the most often asked questions when figuring out how to write a business plan and ironically one of things entrepreneurs fail to get right that leads many to fail. Don’t make that mistake with your business. Get this right!

You’ve got to be able to give this slide in less two minutes because it will show you really know your financials!

Slide 9: Team

You want to include:

  • who is on your management team
  • your board of directors
  • any other team members that someone should know is part of your company

And you want to give this slide in less than two minutes.

Slide 10: Funding Needs

You want to include:

  • how much money you need to start, scale, grow your company
  • how you are going to use the money
  • where you are going to get the money
  • your cash flow statement to back up your financial projection

Moreover, this is a two minute slide. I’m sure you’ve got the hang of this by now, right!? 

Slide 11: Summary

You want to include:

  • a easy to consume summary of your business

HPT: this page can serve as your executive summary

Importantly, give slide in less than one minute. You can use a version of your elevator pitch.

How to Write a Business Plan FAQs

Q: How long will it take me to write my business plan using this format?

If you are starting from scratch and dedicate full days, it’s possible that you can complete it in a week using this outline to jump start you.

This estimate assumes you are good using power point or google slides, excel or google sheets, understand some finance and have some thought already done about the elements of your business.

If you have to learn the programs themselves and elements of business such as market sizing, what is a cash flow statement etc… it will take you longer.

This business plan template will get you jump started.

Q: Is a business plan really scientifically proven to increase a company’s chance of success.

Yes. An article in Harvard Business Review July 2017 edition explained that researchers found that Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical non-planning entrepreneurs.

Also, they found that “business plans remain vital for external fundraising because it builds legitimacy and confidence among investors that the entrepreneur is serious. Further, it reassures staff, suppliers, customers, and other key stakeholders”

The 11 slide business plan pitch deck outlined here is what has lead me to my success of starting, scaling and selling two companies (so far). If it can work for me there is no good reason it can’t work for you as well.

Q: Do I really need financials for my business plan?

Yes. Successful entrepreneurs suggest that if you are starting a company with out having built your financials you’re on a path that could lead to losing a lot of money.

Q: What is the purpose of a business plan?

The purposes of a business plan is to:

  1. Map out where you are taking your business. It’s your roadmap, just like using Google Maps
  2. Set goals for your business
  3. Determine if your ideal is a viable business
  4. Determine how much money you can make if you hit your goals
  5. Understand how you are going to sell your product
  6. Attract talent you need on your team
  7. Attract funding for your business

Q: What are the top 3 reasons to learn how to write a business plan?

  1. Map out where you are leading your business. It’s your roadmap, just like using Google Maps.
  2. Attract talent you need on your company’s team
  3. Attract funding for your company

Q: If I don’t know how to write a business plan can I hire someone?

Yes. And to get the best business plan for your company plan to spend time sitting down with the person you hire.

Q: Do I need to go to business school to learn how to write a business plan?

No. The 11 slide business plan template outlined here will get you jumpstarted.

Q: What does “HPT” stand for?

HPT is a “high percentage tip”. They are tips to help your business be successful.

Q: Where did HPT’s come from?

HTP comes from the sport fishing world where anglers call fishing spots that you can goto and almost always catch fish, a, “high percentage spot”.

Brandon adapted HPS’s to HPT’s to teach how to build a business

Again, this article accompanies a mini-series we did with Brandon White on our Small Business Tax Savings Podcast. Brandon was generous enough to share the information and content for this article.

Purchase his book below and be sure to check out everything Brandon is doing on his site here!

Buy the Book On Amazon:

Back of the Napkin to… Business Plan in 11 Slides: So easy you can do it on a flight from San Francisco to New York

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