Hi Mark, Mike and Listeners
I am not a manager, but I get a ton from listening to the podcasts. I am asking for help here because of the broad experience and exposure to materials.

I have an idea for a business and need to write a business plan. I have never done this before. Where do I go to get good guidance for a writing an effective business plan.


chaser's picture

We have been using Business Plan Pro from

This will help you organize, but will not tell you whether or not you have covered off all the elements to make your business successful. This is really set up to produce a document that you can use for potential investors and as a communication tool to employees/customers/suppliers, etc.

As for the details of how to go about reviewing and ultimately executing your business plan, I would suggest that you find someone to look over what you produce. Someone who has the experience and expertise to help you.

You should also not jump into this without advisors on board and a whole host of other things. There are many sources on the internet as well as on Amazon which you may find useful.

Good luck.

atigo's picture

You may benefit from reading a few well done business plans. PriceWaterhouse Cooper has some excellent sample business plan on their website. If the link below doesn't work, trying searching for "Business Plan" from their website.

There is also a collection of business plans from a business plan competition available at:

Best of luck on your venture.


pmoriarty's picture
Training Badge

What is the purpose of the plan? To help you figure out how to run the business or to raise money? If the latter, you might want to read why successful entrepreneur Paul Graham says you shouldn't waste a lot of time on it.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

I won't argue with any of these, but unless a VC requires it, I don't think you need one. I've started 4 companies, and have never had one.

I'm quite serious. There is NO NEED.


bflynn's picture

Mark, spoken like a true high D. "There's no need to write it down because I already know it all." Classic! :)

I think (I hope) what Mark is saying is that you don't necessarily need to write down your plan in detail. You'd better have a plan though! You need to have an idea of how you'll handle certain circumstances, such as what employees you need, what tasks need to be done to get your product to market and how you're going to make money.

Many people write this down in a formalized document called "The Business Plan." If you can do that in your head, so much the better. The content of the plan is far more important than the document. Writing can be a good way of organizing and sharing the plan. If you have other methods of getting the information out, writing might be just a time sink. A former professor once suggested that 1 in 10 potential companies died at the step of writing the plan, because of the admin burden.

At a minimum, if you've never gone through the steps, look at some of the table of contents from the previous links. They're pretty good synopsis of the topics you need to consider. As your new company grows, you may find that a written plan helps to keep the team singing the same song, if not in the same key.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


That is not only not what I meant, but not what I think at all.

First off, I think it's important to note that I believe many people confuse style with substance. I know I come across as High D/High I on our casts. While our guests at our Effective Management Conference will surely note this, neither of these is a complete portrayal of my behavior and approach. I believe that those behaviors "work". That is to say, regardless of what my style was, I would more likely be this way because it helps the vast majority of audience members learn. Forcefulness and hyperbole are often valuable as emotional tines and anchors. All learning is an emotional endeavor.

Further, from a substance perspective, it might help folks to understand that I'm not just riffing on my personal convictions when I answer forum posts and blog comments. I think it would be easy to "hear" that, but let's remember that leader behaviors in large organizations are skewed towards High D and I. It's not "me"'s the world of management.

And finally, I have never believed, nor did I when I started my firms, that I "know it all". Quite the contrary. I simply believe that action is often a good teacher, if for no other reason than it is faster (I personally learn more quickly) than study and in business often brings income.

I know it would be easy to draw the conclusion that I'm speaking from MY perspective - and it certainly would be easier to DO - but then our recommendations would neither be as good or as valid.

And I'm not that smart.


bflynn's picture

Mark, I did not intend to put words in your mouth - on a second reading, I realize that the way I wrote this was a poorly attempted joke and I apologize for leaving the impression of speaking for you.

The advice in this thread is valid. Too much planning will prevent doing and when starting a business, doing is the most important thing. But, doing without a plan might not be effective. If you want to start a business, you have a plan, the level of detail is just a refinement.


slymcmosa's picture


Mark is quite write and there are many other experts out there who agree.

May I suggest you take a look at the study mentioned in this article:

and also the WSJ article if you have access.

I have been involved with 4 startups, 2 of them as part of the management team. In every case the business plan that would have been written (in one case, actually was) was significanctly different within 6 months.

I just finished writing a business plan for the founders at my current company. The reason, they are beginning to approach Venture Captial firms to fund growth. We have been in business for 1.5 years. Even at this point, the document is only 17 pages with 2 dedicated to financials.

Good luck in your venture. It can be phenomenally rewarding. My humble suggestion is to join any local groups which have collections of Small Business owners.


mjpeterson's picture

The need for a business plan might also depend upon how the business is financed. If you are going to borrow a bunch of money and hope to start turning a profit before it runs out, the need for a plan is more important. If however, you can start the business with lower overhead and operate profitably from the begining, the need to get a business plan in place is not as critical.