I’m not exactly sure why the creators of National Write a Business Plan Month, which kicked off Saturday, chose December for this endeavor. After all, it’s not like there’s nothing else going on this month. Even if you leave out religious observances, there are still all those year-end activities both work- and play-related. Seems like a slower month might be more effective, but they didn’t ask me. In observance of WBPM, I’ll be publishing a post or two each week on a related topic. Here's the first.

Establish your business plan's big picture

Before you start drafting the various sections of your business plan, set the right stage. Step back and think more broadly. We use a tool called the Content-Purpose-Audience® Strategy to compile this information:

  • Define your audience carefully. It’s not all investors, it’s "Investors who…" something. And those investors have 3 or 4 big questions that you should consider addressing right up front, so jot those down – even if you’re kind-of guessing.
  • State your purpose. Beyond giving a 30,000-foot view of what’s in the plan, focus on what you want investors to think, do and feel after they’ve perused it. This helps you determine what details to include and the right voice to use.
  • Develop the content. Pull it all together by coming up with a main idea (the most important thing you want investors to know) and relevant details that support your idea and purpose, and address some of the questions.

Doing this first gets you in the right frame of mind and builds a framework on which you can hang the business plan itself and even your slide decks. Think of it as your guiding principles.

Action Item: Use the Content-Purpose-Audience to frame your business plan for better results.Get detailed instructions on how to use the Content-Purpose-Audience Strategy.

Good luck!