How do I write a startup business plan?

What should you include in a business plan? Find the top startup business plan examples and a step-by-step guide to creating your own in this article.
Amal Alshamsi
by 
Amal Alshamsi
How do I write a startup business plan?

Key points:

  • Throw away what you know about business plans! They’re the easiest part of your founder journey
  • A business plan shows an overview of your product, target customer, business model, and marketing strategy
  • Research the market and your competitors by going on Reddit threads, review sites, and social media trending pages to strengthen your business strategy
  • Founders need a lean, easy-to-read business plan, use the Business in a Deck or Business Canvas templates
  • Write a really strong value proposition statement that proves why customers should choose your product/service above all others. You can use this in your landing page and ads!

When you’re about to launch your business, you may be facing an intimidating hurdle: writing your business plan. You may even be asking yourself: Is a business plan necessary? It is, don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it seems.

The most common misconception is that a business plan is a long document describing every detail of your business that takes a lot of time and effort. Entrepreneurs spend way too much time on their business plans.

Don’t get us wrong, you need to plan your business. But as a startup founder in 2022, there’s an updated formula for you to follow.

What is a business plan?

It’s super simple. A startup business plan is an overview of:

- Your product (core problem and solution)

- Your goals

- Your methods for reaching them

- Who are your target customers 

- How you're going to charge them for the product or service

We encourage following a lean approach (learn more about this framework that every founder needs here). So, instead of writing a long document that takes hours and quickly becomes outdated, we have a foolproof business plan template that saves time and resources. Every entrepreneur in the past 15 years has built a business plan in this lean way, so you are in good company!   

The old business plan template that you may have seen before is outdated. Having pages worth of writing in an essay format, including an executive summary, team profile, and financial data, makes no sense for an early-stage startup.

Why do I need a business plan?

1. Steer your business in the right direction

Treat your business plan as a roadmap that you’ll refer to as you grow your business. Whenever you hit a bump in the road or your growth is stalling, you have an easy way to look over what your goals are and what elements you can change to fix your trajectory. Having your strategy laid out in one place is great for motivation as you know what's up ahead and how you can tackle it.

2. Nail down what your product is all about

Business ideas can seem complete in your head but you may be overlooking some key aspects that are imperative to launching the company. Make your idea tangible by putting it onto a page and mapping it out. That way, you can ensure you have covered all the bases. Knowing how to expertly convey your product will be super helpful when you start talking to customers, clients, partners, and investors.

3. Have a ready presentation for potential advisors, investors, and mentors

Once your business is presented on the Business in a Deck or Canvas below, you have an easy format to share with a mentor, advisor, or even early-stage-investor. e

4. Scale up your marketing and growth

Planning out your marketing strategy in the early days allows you the time to build up your network and expertise in the field. From there, you can plot new ways to scale up your product and set traction (click through rate, subscription numbers, and waitlist sign ups) goals.

How do I write a business plan?

Now that you know the core parts of a lean business plan, let’s get into how you’ll write your own.

 

Here’s what you’ll need to prepare:

1. Problem research 

Find out the relevance of the problem you’re solving. 

1. Some creative ways to do this are by going to Reddit threads related to your product or service and seeing what people have to say. 

2. Find out what people are struggling with and what they currently feel is lacking in the market. 

3. You can also talk to family and friends about what they think about the problem and how you’re planning to solve it. 

For example: If your business is a camera rental marketplace, you can go to online communities of micro-influencers, Youtubers, or filmmakers and find out what they struggle with when they are trying to find camera equipment. Reach out to them personally to find out more.

2. Competitor analysis 

Know who you’re up against. 

1. Check out the websites of companies in similar industries or targeting the same audience.

2. Read their reviews from customers on Trustpilot and find out what customers like (what you can copy) and what they don't (what you can do better or stay away from)

3. Look at their online presence and their sales pages to note down what works for them and what you can do better.

4. List out the features that they have and what they lack. 

3. Market research 

Keep a finger on the pulse of the market or your relevant industry. 

1. Subscribe to newsletters that are relevant to your product to know what’s going on and who are the key players. 

2. Follow trending topics on Twitter and keep in touch with micro-influencers on Instagram. 

3. Use Google Trends and AnswerThePublic to figure out what potential customers are talking about or interested in. 

4. Get started on your business plan template(s) 

Find the perfect template for your startup below. Use the guiding categories to plan out your business and keep it handy on your desktop for easy reference. 

Can I change my business plan as I go?

The short answer is: Yes! We actually encourage you to frequently update your business plan as your business grows and you talk to customers. 

Steve Blank, a successful entrepreneur and legend, taught us that startups are, by definition, temporary companies built to test scalable ideas and business models. What this means for you as a founder is that you need to constantly rethink your approach and try out new ways. With startup businesses, a sense of uncertainty is healthy! So you’ll always need to keep your business plan flexible and update it as you make changes to fit the market. 

For this reason, it is typically not a good idea to spend a lot of time defining every detail of your startup business plan. Almost all aspects of it are likely to change very fast. 

What business plan template should I use? 

Alongside experts, we’ve sourced two business templates that will succeed in 2022. 

Template 1: Business in a Deck

We all know that entrepreneurs use pitch decks to present their businesses to potential investors. Well, you can start using that format right from the start. 

Download the Oneday Business in a Deck template here

You’ll be filling out:

- Business elevator pitch

- Assumed target niche and ideal customer

- Customer pain points (the top 3 pains)

- Competitor analysis

- Your solution

- Business model

- Risky assumptions

- Your validation plan

In each slide, you’ll find a description of what you need to consider for each category. Each of these will strengthen your business idea and give you a sense of direction for your upcoming ad campaigns, MVP landing page, and customer conversations. 

Find out your next steps further down in the article. 

Template 2: Business Model Canvas

Top entrepreneurs and experts use this one-page Business Model Canvas to think about key elements of their business. 

Download the canvas here

The main elements include:

Pain-point

Value Propositions

Target Customers

Revenue Streams

Cost Structure

Don’t worry too much about these just yet, you’ll figure this out as you go along:

Channels

Key Partners

Discuss your business plan with a mentor here
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How do I write a startup business plan?

What should you include in a business plan? Find the top startup business plan examples and a step-by-step guide to creating your own in this article.

Key points:

  • Throw away what you know about business plans! They’re the easiest part of your founder journey
  • A business plan shows an overview of your product, target customer, business model, and marketing strategy
  • Research the market and your competitors by going on Reddit threads, review sites, and social media trending pages to strengthen your business strategy
  • Founders need a lean, easy-to-read business plan, use the Business in a Deck or Business Canvas templates
  • Write a really strong value proposition statement that proves why customers should choose your product/service above all others. You can use this in your landing page and ads!

When you’re about to launch your business, you may be facing an intimidating hurdle: writing your business plan. You may even be asking yourself: Is a business plan necessary? It is, don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it seems.

The most common misconception is that a business plan is a long document describing every detail of your business that takes a lot of time and effort. Entrepreneurs spend way too much time on their business plans.

Don’t get us wrong, you need to plan your business. But as a startup founder in 2022, there’s an updated formula for you to follow.

What is a business plan?

It’s super simple. A startup business plan is an overview of:

- Your product (core problem and solution)

- Your goals

- Your methods for reaching them

- Who are your target customers 

- How you're going to charge them for the product or service

We encourage following a lean approach (learn more about this framework that every founder needs here). So, instead of writing a long document that takes hours and quickly becomes outdated, we have a foolproof business plan template that saves time and resources. Every entrepreneur in the past 15 years has built a business plan in this lean way, so you are in good company!   

The old business plan template that you may have seen before is outdated. Having pages worth of writing in an essay format, including an executive summary, team profile, and financial data, makes no sense for an early-stage startup.

Why do I need a business plan?

1. Steer your business in the right direction

Treat your business plan as a roadmap that you’ll refer to as you grow your business. Whenever you hit a bump in the road or your growth is stalling, you have an easy way to look over what your goals are and what elements you can change to fix your trajectory. Having your strategy laid out in one place is great for motivation as you know what's up ahead and how you can tackle it.

2. Nail down what your product is all about

Business ideas can seem complete in your head but you may be overlooking some key aspects that are imperative to launching the company. Make your idea tangible by putting it onto a page and mapping it out. That way, you can ensure you have covered all the bases. Knowing how to expertly convey your product will be super helpful when you start talking to customers, clients, partners, and investors.

3. Have a ready presentation for potential advisors, investors, and mentors

Once your business is presented on the Business in a Deck or Canvas below, you have an easy format to share with a mentor, advisor, or even early-stage-investor. e

4. Scale up your marketing and growth

Planning out your marketing strategy in the early days allows you the time to build up your network and expertise in the field. From there, you can plot new ways to scale up your product and set traction (click through rate, subscription numbers, and waitlist sign ups) goals.

How do I write a business plan?

Now that you know the core parts of a lean business plan, let’s get into how you’ll write your own.

 

Here’s what you’ll need to prepare:

1. Problem research 

Find out the relevance of the problem you’re solving. 

1. Some creative ways to do this are by going to Reddit threads related to your product or service and seeing what people have to say. 

2. Find out what people are struggling with and what they currently feel is lacking in the market. 

3. You can also talk to family and friends about what they think about the problem and how you’re planning to solve it. 

For example: If your business is a camera rental marketplace, you can go to online communities of micro-influencers, Youtubers, or filmmakers and find out what they struggle with when they are trying to find camera equipment. Reach out to them personally to find out more.

2. Competitor analysis 

Know who you’re up against. 

1. Check out the websites of companies in similar industries or targeting the same audience.

2. Read their reviews from customers on Trustpilot and find out what customers like (what you can copy) and what they don't (what you can do better or stay away from)

3. Look at their online presence and their sales pages to note down what works for them and what you can do better.

4. List out the features that they have and what they lack. 

3. Market research 

Keep a finger on the pulse of the market or your relevant industry. 

1. Subscribe to newsletters that are relevant to your product to know what’s going on and who are the key players. 

2. Follow trending topics on Twitter and keep in touch with micro-influencers on Instagram. 

3. Use Google Trends and AnswerThePublic to figure out what potential customers are talking about or interested in. 

4. Get started on your business plan template(s) 

Find the perfect template for your startup below. Use the guiding categories to plan out your business and keep it handy on your desktop for easy reference. 

Can I change my business plan as I go?

The short answer is: Yes! We actually encourage you to frequently update your business plan as your business grows and you talk to customers. 

Steve Blank, a successful entrepreneur and legend, taught us that startups are, by definition, temporary companies built to test scalable ideas and business models. What this means for you as a founder is that you need to constantly rethink your approach and try out new ways. With startup businesses, a sense of uncertainty is healthy! So you’ll always need to keep your business plan flexible and update it as you make changes to fit the market. 

For this reason, it is typically not a good idea to spend a lot of time defining every detail of your startup business plan. Almost all aspects of it are likely to change very fast. 

What business plan template should I use? 

Alongside experts, we’ve sourced two business templates that will succeed in 2022. 

Template 1: Business in a Deck

We all know that entrepreneurs use pitch decks to present their businesses to potential investors. Well, you can start using that format right from the start. 

Download the Oneday Business in a Deck template here

You’ll be filling out:

- Business elevator pitch

- Assumed target niche and ideal customer

- Customer pain points (the top 3 pains)

- Competitor analysis

- Your solution

- Business model

- Risky assumptions

- Your validation plan

In each slide, you’ll find a description of what you need to consider for each category. Each of these will strengthen your business idea and give you a sense of direction for your upcoming ad campaigns, MVP landing page, and customer conversations. 

Find out your next steps further down in the article. 

Template 2: Business Model Canvas

Top entrepreneurs and experts use this one-page Business Model Canvas to think about key elements of their business. 

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