Did you know that December is National Write a Business Plan Month? If you’ve been putting off writing your business plan—there’s not enough time, the financials are too complicated—it’s not too late to cross it off your list before the new year. If you’re not sure if you really need to write a business plan, watch our video and read about some of the reasons why having a business plan is important.
First, get clear on why you’re writing a business plan, so you know what type of a business plan you need to write—that’ll impact how long your plan should be, and will probably affect how long it takes to write. Check out this article on the types of plans and their purposes, if you’re not sure.
Then, set some micro-goals to break the process into manageable parts. Maybe you make a to-do list, maybe you write them out on post-it notes. The point is to make it less overwhelming. Micro-goals might include:
- Get a business plan template or business plan tool
- Spend X time doing market research (or getting customer feedback)
- Write the ______ section of the plan (opportunity, execution, management, marketing, financial plans, etc—see a list of sections in this article).
If you’re writing a one-page business plan (a lean plan) you might just have one goal: complete your plan in less than an hour. The point is to make this process easy, not to overcomplicate. As much as possible, make goals SMART—even micro-goals. SMART goals are: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Tell someone you’ve committed to writing your business plan
There’s something about telling someone else that you’ve set a goal that introduces some accountability to the process. Tell your business partner, your business mentor, your life partner, your Twitter followers #businessplan, the Indiehacker community, the r/Entrepreneur subreddit—it really doesn’t matter who. Then make one of your micro-goals to check-in and update them on your progress.
Set your timer
Don’t fall into a rabbit hole. Turn off your phone, close all your other browser windows, and give yourself the gift of no distractions. Set your timer—an hour, 30 minutes, even 10, if that’s all you have. Don’t make one of your avoidance techniques the story that you don’t have time.
You can do this, and it doesn’t have to take months or even weeks.
If your business is in an early stage, especially, you might run into roadblocks or things you need to research more. When that happens, make a new micro-goal to address it, but don’t let it become a mental block.
Note it and move on, so you don’t end up chasing something unrelated by accident. You set the timer, you set the micro-goal, so focus on the specific thing you need to accomplish in this particular session.
Share your accomplishment
When you accomplish a big piece of your plan, or when your plan is completely finished, follow up with your “accountability” person or community. Celebrate the accomplishment for a moment! Share your plan with your team and stakeholders who are helping you reach your goals.
Create a calendar event to remind you to update your plan
Spoiler alert: your business plan should never really be “finished.” Business planning is never really one, and there are some proven benefits—faster growth, for one—associated with a regular, ongoing planning process.
One of the best things you can do when your plan is finished is to set up a monthly business plan review meeting. If you’re running your business solo, this is just setting aside time to go over your own numbers; if you have a team or a mentor, schedule this meeting with them. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable to your business goals and make sure you’re nimble enough to respond to challenges and opportunities as they arise.
Use business planning tools and resources to make it easier
If you’re not sure what to include in your business plan, or if you’ve never written a plan before, these resources will help:
- Free, downloadable business plan template
- 500+ free, downloadable sample business plans
- LivePlan business planning software: it walks you step-by-step through the process, including financials
- Guide to writing a business plan
- Guide to writing a one-page lean plan
- Market research resources
- Financial plan resources
Sometimes you just need a nudge to get started. Consider this December your engraved invitation to write your business plan!