When it comes to business planning, unless an investor has asked you to provide a formal business plan, we recommend writing a Lean Plan instead—it’s faster, more flexible, and the business plan elements you detail in a Lean Plan will remain relevant throughout the life of your business.
Usually, a Lean Plan will include your “pitch”—an overview of your strategy, tactics, and business model, and a schedule of who is doing what and when—as well as some core financials like a sales forecast, an expense budget, and a cash flow forecast. You will test your ideas and hold monthly plan review meetings to ensure that you are still on track to meet the goals you assigned yourself or your team.
To give you a better overview of Lean Planning, the necessary business plan sections for a Lean Plan, and how it can help your business, we’ve curated a list of some of our best articles on the topic. If you have any questions about the process, let us know!
All about Lean Planning
What is Lean Planning, where did it come from, and how do you use it to your advantage?
In this comprehensive guide, Noah Parsons, COO of Palo Alto Software, walks you through the origins of Lean Planning and how to do it, step-by-step.
If you know nothing about Lean Planning, this is a good place to start. Our introductory guide to Lean Planning on the LivePlan blog is also a great primer on the topic.
If you’re looking for a little more detail on the benefits of Lean Planning and the Lean business plan components (and maybe even some information on when you need more than a Lean Plan), this article will give you a good overview.
If you’re a visual person, there are plenty of illustrations to help you understand the methodology even better. Auditory learner? Check out Tim Berry’s video on Lean Planning, or listen to his interview on the Bcast.
One of the great things about the Lean Planning methodology is how suited it is to companies that to iterate on their ideas fast and often—in this case, the software and startup industry.
In this guide, you’ll learn a lot more about how to use Lean Planning to test your ideas, as well as manage your business.
Validate your idea using Lean Planning
To figure out whether or not you have a good idea for a business, your first step is going to be getting the idea out of your head and onto paper.
Now, you don’t need a detailed plan including all the necessary business plan sections to do this—you simply need to write a “pitch,” or a one-page overview of your business, including the problem you’re solving, your solution, an overview of your market, your competition, and your team. By writing a Lean Plan, you can quickly sort the wheat from the chaff, so that you end up with a business idea you can really get behind.
Start writing your Lean Plan
The first step in the Lean Planning process is documenting your business idea. You can do this using a Lean Plan, which is your best guess at the problem you’re solving and a summary of your solution, as well as an overview of your intended target customer.
If you want to figure out your business strategy right from the start, this article will explain how to do just that. Within one hour, you’ll have something to work with!
Manage your business using Lean Planning
If you read our introductory articles above, you will know that part of the Lean Planning process is adjusting your plan on a regular basis so that you’re still on track to meet goals.
We advocate for reviewing your plan once a month, though you can set your own timeline. In this article, COO Noah Parsons walks you through the things you need to consider in one of these meetings.
Got any questions about Lean Planning? We’d be happy to answer them. Get in touch with us on Twitter.