Every business (startup, existing business, non-profit) should have a business plan – and, in fact, even individuals should have a business model & a plan for themselves. The reason is because

(1) writing it down makes your idea concrete, and (2) it is the first step to business success. 

Here are some key elements of a business plan:

  1. Target Audience: Who is the customer? Is this customer new or different from your existing customer?

  2. Value Proposition: Why should the customer care about your product? What customer need/want does your product satisfy?

  3. Customer Experience: Does the product meet the customer experience promise? Does this customer experience help build/maintain your brand?

  4. Product Description: How will you describe the product to the customer? Is it a service, solution, resource or something else?

  5. Target Market: What is the overall market size and growth rate? What are analysts saying about the target market?

  6. Competition: How is your product different from the competitor? How will you describe this difference to the customer?

  7. Pricing & Revenue Model: What price will the customer pay? What do your revenue projections look like over 6 months, and up to a 5-year period?

  8. Sales: Who is selling the product? How are they selling it? How are they getting compensated to sell it?

  9. Marketing: Who will market your product? What tactics (traditional or new) will they use? How will they work with your sales team?

  10. Customer Service & Operations: Who will make sure customers are getting the support? Who will make sure that underlying infrastructure supports the end-to-end customer experience?

If you have written a business plan, you know writing one is both is an art and a science. I say art because writing a simple and clear business plan takes time and clarity, and science because you need the data/numbers to support your claims. If you already have a product, service or a solution, then don’t fall into the trap of “we will build it and they will come” – answer these 10 question areas today, and create your roadmap by writing down your plans.