How to Write a Business Plan (KISS Style)

By Stephie Althouse | June 22 , 2018 | 0

As business owners we know: We must plan our work and work our plan. Then why is it that so few of us do it? The answer is simple: Business planning is not usually experienced as being fun. To the contrary, we dread it. It is on par with having a wisdom tooth extracted. Ouch! Furthermore, conventional business planning takes a lot of time. That is time most business owners don’t have. 

The result is that a lot of owners and executives run their businesses without a written plan. They miss out on opportunities and end up opting for exit (e.g., passing on the business via succession or sale) is near.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way! Let’s talk about business planning KISS style. And yes, it can be fun. 

Business Planning KISS Style

kiss

KISS is about keeping it simple sweetie. In the context of business planning it means that you do not write a 20-30 (or even more) page business plan.

Instead, I invite you to write a powerful a 2-3-page business plan.

We call it the Business Power Plan. It is a simple business plan template. You can download it here for free. 

In this template, you express what you are up to. It does not need a lot of words to do that. It You develop and write down a game plan for your intentions. You make it actionable

Simple Business Planning as a Conversation

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When we do this with our clients it takes only 5 hours. You can use the Business Power Plan as a tool with which to have a conversation. We invite you to talk about what you are envisioning doing or are already working on. 

By the way, when we work on this with clients, we write down the conversation. We sort through it and structure it. We fill out the plan together in real time while we are talking. It is as if we are extracting your brilliance right out of your head onto (electronic) paper! In fact, we are doing exactly that, and we call that Brilliance Extraction. You talk. We ask questions, type what you say, refine and structure it. The results are phenomenal. 

Let's look at the process, step-by-step. You can do this! Let's start.

The KISS business plan template is simple

It has only 5 sections:

  1. Vision: What do you want to do? What do you see as possible, now and projected into the future? It is about painting the picture so one can touch it, feel it, taste it, etc.)
  2. Mission: What is this all about anyway? What is the purpose of your business or organization (other than earning money)? First, say it in whichever way it pops into your head. Most of the time the first version is a little long and hard to remember. Work a little on refining it into a succinct 8-15-word mission. A succinct mission or purpose statement is important for 3 reasons: 
  3. a) You and everyone on your team can remember it and repeat it without variation. 
  4. b) The mission becomes a "compass needle" for your path. It helps you not to get distracted by "shiny objects" that will show up along the way. 
  5. c) It brings even more clarity to you why you are doing this work in the first place.
  6. Goals: Here you set clear, specific, measurable goals. Assign a date to each. Break big goals into smaller sub goals so you can see the traction you are gaining as you make progress. 

The goals might start out a bit vague - that is okay. As you refine them they follow this SMARTER format:

S - Specific (e.g., "more money" is not specific - "x$ is specific")

M - Measurable (you must be able to know whether you meet your goal)

A - Achievable (stretch goals are fine; yet don't make it equal to "turning off gravity on earth")

R - Relevant (the goal must matter to YOU; if it is someone else's goal it tends to be much harder to meet the goal))

T - Timebound (the goal must have a date achieved to it)

E - Excited (if you are not excited about the goal - or at least the effect of achieving it, you are not likely to meet it)

R - Recorded (i.e., you write the goal down)

  1. Strategies/ Game Plan: Once we have set the goals let's discuss and write down how to get there. You will have a lot of this in your mind. The benefit of working with someone, is that you get help with structuring it. You get feedback with fresh eyes. Where appropriate, another person's experience might be helpful to make the plan great. 

The point is to make the strategies and goals cohesive with each other. Doing that means the chosen strategies are likely to give you the results you are after. Oftentimes, it takes a bit of going back and forth between sections 3 and 4. The result is you get a clear picture of how to go from point A to B to C.

  1. 90-day Action Plan:  Business plans are (almost) useless if they do not lead to tangible action. That is why our planning tool funnels all the thinking, visioning, goal setting and strategizing into a tangible action plan. Now we write down bitesize action steps that are doable and don't cause you to choke or get overwhelmed. A 90-day plan is so much more tangible and doable than plans that are for a whole year or longer.

Simple Business Planning on 2 or 3 pages – that is it!

All 5 sections don't need to take up any more that 2-3 pages! Yeah to that! Because that means you can use the plan as a living, breathing plan with which to run and grow your business. Most plans do not lend themselves to that at all.

As an aside, if you need this plan to raise money I recommend following this KISS format first. From there it is much easier and faster to create a more extensive plan.  That is because you gain so much clarity while writing the Business Power Plan we are talking about here.

A few more tips for simple business planning

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  1. You can download the Business Power Plan Template for free
  2. We also got another blog post on this topic.
  3. The Business Power Plan method works for all industries. 
  4.  Business planning (for a company or a department/ team) can also be a team exercise.  For example, employee-owned companies are often open to doing that.  
  5. The business part of your life must work with the rest of your life. The long-term success is far greater - as is your fulfillment in life. This philosophy doesn't detract anything from hard-core business success. To the contrary, it adds to it. Our business plan template invites you to think about both your professional and personal goals.
  6. Consider that starting, growing, and passing on a business is all part of your life's journey, and you get to author that. Think of yourself as the script writer for the movie that is your life.
  7. Executing your game plan is a key factor - and it is one where even well-planned endeavors often fall apart. This is where accountability and ongoing coaching are so helpful. 

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