Small Business Plan Template: How to Write a Simple Blueprint for Your Small Business

by Bhavesh

Discover a simple, 2-page business plan template to help you create a Dynamic Business Blueprint that provides day-to-day operational guidance in running your small business.

You probably want to go straight to the business plan template. If that's the case, simply click the link below in the “Download Here” box. Instructions are included in the template.

Please keep in mind, however, that the template is written from a perspective that will most likely go against the grain of what you have been taught about writing business plans. In fact, you might want to bookmark this page and come back to it often for rereading as you write your business plan.

That's why, your experience with this way of writing a business plan will be much more meaningful if you read the whole article and familiarize yourself with that unique perspective. If you have questions, please ask them in the comments section at the end.

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Download Here

Simple Small Business Plan Template (aka Dynamic Business Blueprint)
Instructions are included in the template. I recommend that you read the whole article to get the most out of the template. It might help to open the template in a separate window (hold down <Ctrl> key and click on the link) and read the article below. That way, you will quickly become familiar with this format of business plan writing.

Why a Simple Business Plan?

What's more helpful to small and mid-size business owners?

If you are like most business people I know, you either never wrote a business plan or wrote a theoretical one that's written once, forgotten forever and collects dust on the bookshelf. How do you write a business plan that serves as an actionable tool in the day-to-day running of your business while also allowing you to creatively engage with your business on a regular basis?

Many small and mid-size business owners I know recognize the need for a business plan but are intimidated by what's traditionally called a business plan. When we follow some of the traditionally available advice, software tools and templates, a business plan often becomes a theoretical thesis. I once wrote one that was 60 pages long! Such a business plan could win business plan writing competitions but is little help in the actual running of a business.

Here you discover a simple 2-page template that takes the insanity out of creating a functional business plan. Instead, it allows you to create a Dynamic Business Blueprint that becomes the basis for your company's operational guidance on a day-to-day basis. It also unlocks your passion, your vision and your purpose in building and running your business and channels your energies towards creating a successful business. 

Why Do You Want to Write a Business Plan?

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The business plan template provided here was developed for those who choose options 1 through 4. If you chose 5, 6 or 7 you will still gain an important perspective but may want to check out the references provided.
Go with the Flow
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Want a Successful Business?

First forget the business plan!

My eyes became misty as I listened to the speech. The speaker was a successful business owner who had finished telling a powerful story. The story was about how he started his business from almost nothing and grew it into a successful distribution company with over $50 million in sales. He was persuasive and eloquent as he made his final point.

The point was that to be successful in business, you must have a business plan.

This was not news to me. Every business book I read, every consultant I spoke to, every business owner I knew repeated the same mantra: you must have a business plan, you must have a business plan, you must have a business plan.

My personal experience with business plans was quite different, however. I had gone through three copies of them, two of them for the same business. One of them was over sixty pages long and took my team and me thirteen months to complete. Yet business success, so far, had eluded me.

The Secret to Business Success

Hint: It's not the business plan!

Later on, I asked the speaker what he meant by a business plan. As he started to explain, he and I both started to realize that it was not the written copy of the business plan that he was trying to get across as a secret to his success. It was something else, something far subtler, something I had suspected myself but was not quite sure about it yet.

Over the years, through trial and error in my own business and in working with other businesses, I have figured out the truth. The truth is not so earth shattering. It is quite simple. So simple in fact, that if I told you, you would say you already knew it.

Here it is: The secret to business success is not in a written copy of a business plan.

That’s it.

The secret is not in the business plan. It’s in the process of writing the business plan. It’s not in a stack of beautifully bound paper with exciting pictures, graphs and charts. It is in the hearts and minds of the people who wrote it. It’s not in the eloquently laid out arguments, written to convince the reader of the viability of the business. It’s in the expression of our deepest essence, of our hearts and our souls and our minds.

Actually, the important thing is not what people do to the business plan. It’s what the business plan does to the people who wrote it.

Ultimately, the real business plan is written not on a stack of paper but on the psyche of the people behind the business.

Such a business plan is as dynamic as the people who are behind the business. It evolves with the people in the business. It can pass on from person to person. Ultimately, it can outlive those who originally “wrote” it.

Such a business plan is enduring, dynamic and potent.

A successful process of writing a business plan transforms people from mediocre performers to engaged, passionate agents of change.

The Process of Writing a Business Plan

The process is the end, not the means

What does this process look like? Well, it’s a different subject altogether. But let me point out three “tests” that will tell you if you are on the right track.

Periodically in the process of writing your business plan, ask yourself and your team these three questions:

  1. Are we moving towards confusion or clarity?
  2. Are we becoming more focused or are you becoming more scattered?
  3. Are we becoming more confident about the success of your business or less confident?

You see, as you write your business plan, there will be moments of confusion. There will be times when you will feel scattered. And there definitely will be times when you will feel discouraged about the success of your business.

When that happens, remember this: It’s all a part of the process - the process of writing your business plan.

Yet, if you allow enough time in the process, you will find yourself moving from confusion to clarity, from being scattered to being focused and from nagging self-doubts to resounding confidence.

And that is the secret process of business plan writing that the speaker at the beginning of this article was trying to convey. The process is not always pretty, it’s not always straight-forward and it’s not always easy.

But as far as business success is concerned, the process is infinitely more important than the end product, a written copy of the business plan - no how matter how breathtakingly beautiful it might be.

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." ~ Sun Tzu

A Little about the Dynamic Business Blueprint

Is it different from a business plan?

Instead of calling it a business plan, I like to call my template a Dynamic Business Blueprint. Why? Because, I think the idea of a traditional business plan is quite outdated.

A business plan is a static document that looks at the business-building process as linear, step-by-step and orderly. The real world, unfortunately, is not so pretty. The real world is often messy, dynamic and unpredictable. That's why, I think blueprint, which provides structure but also allows dynamic creativity, is a better context than a "plan" which implies static rigidity.

A blueprint provides a framework within which the business-builder can express her creativity. It's a bit like a painter and her painting. The painter needs the framework - the canvas, the paint and the paintbrushes - with which she can create the painting. The framework in this case is not a hindrance but a help that allows the artist to channel her creativity.

The secret to business success is not in the business plan itself but in the process of writing one. The "stuff' that happens that makes a business succeed is not in the pages of a business plan but in the hearts and the minds of its owners, leaders and employees. A blueprint, I think, conveys this viewpoint better than a business plan.

Instructions for the Small Business Plan Template

Why we hate writing business plans and what to do about it

Have you ever considered why it's so hard for us to write a business plan? If you have never attempted to write a business plan, perhaps you have some experience writing your resume. How was that experience? Most people tell me that they cringe at the thought of writing, even updating, their resume.

The reason is that most of the popular business writing formats are unnatural to the way a human brain functions. When our writing follows our brain's natural way of working, writing becomes easy and effortless. Done right, a space often opens up in our minds that used to be filled with clutter and random thoughts. In the end, we feel clear, focused and confident.

Dynamic Business Blueprint: Heading

To get started, put down the name of your business at the top of the template. If you have not started a business yet and don't have a name, write down a meaningful but short description - 3 to 7 words - of the business you are thinking of starting. Later, as you gain some experience with this format of thinking, you will also use a technique called "telescoping" where you take many of your important projects and goals through this exercise.

Section 1: Why? (Purpose)

Capture your purpose

Let me give you an example. Think about the last time you made a decision to do something simple but important, like going to the theater to watch a movie. You may agree that before you actually decided to go see a movie, you subconsciously went through a bit of a process. Perhaps a part of you was not feeling quite right. May be some part of your living had become routine, dull or a little boring. Something was missing and you were looking to do something to break that pattern. This might have happened for a few days, a few weeks or even a few months. But it was there. Some sort of dissatisfaction with the routine of life.

This was your "Why" for spending an evening out watching a movie.

Dynamic Business Blueprint: "Why"

As you begin to write the Why's for your business, please make sure that you don't think too hard to come up with the answers. There is a good chance that you have already been thinking about those Why's, perhaps subconsciously. All you have to do is write the first thought that comes to mind. And then next. And next.

Section 2: What? (Vision)

Clarify your vision

At some point, an idea may have popped in your head that going to a movie might help. It might have even been suggested by someone with whom you agreed. So you started thinking that going to a movie would help. But the movie itself is not the only part of the Vision. The Vision is the whole experience of the event. How you feel before, during and after the movie. What you think about and not think about as you watch the movie. What your sensory experience is like. Who you are going with and what it's like to be with them. This whole experience is your Vision.

Dynamic Business Blueprint: What (Vision)

Just like in "Why", there is a good chance that you already have some ideas on what you want your business to look, feel and sound like in the coming weeks, months and years. To get started, write down what comes to mind first. If you get in the flow and ideas start coming fast, try to keep up and keep writing without editing or pausing to think too much. You can always clean up and organize what you have written later.

Section 3: How? (Brainstorm)

Create many paths to success

Once the Vision and the Purpose are there, you naturally and effortlessly begin to brainstorm about how you will go about making that vision come true. May be you will visit the Internet and find out what's playing in the theaters. You may wonder whether a matinee or a late-night show would be a better choice. You may mentally run through the options of who you can invite along. You may ponder over whether or not to take the children.  If not, you may consider some options for them to spend their time elsewhere while you are at the movies. You may choose to review some movie trailers with your partner. You may even do so with someone over the phone or check in with you Facebook friends.

This process is called brainstorming. Simply speaking, it's considering a lot of ideas about doing something - strategizing - without being committed to any single one of them. Again, this is not something that we have to learn to do. Every one of us human beings is equipped to do this and we all do it naturally.

Dynamic Business Blueprint: How (Brainstorm)

For your business, write down as many ideas as you can come up with to accomplish your "What" for the reasons you have written down in "Why." Quantity is more important than quality at this stage. Keep writing and don't stop. Eventually, you may come to a point where an organization begins to emerge and you may begin to see patterns and groupings in which to organize your actions. This is a good time to move to the next section.

Section 4: How? (Plan of Action)

Chart a course and move forward

After having considered your options for some time - the process could take a number of days or a number of minutes - you begin to formulate some decisions. You choose the movie you will watch and with whom. You decide to call a favor with your teenage niece or pay her to babysit your children. You decide that it's actually a better idea to go to a theater that's farther away than the one that's closer to home because driving relaxes you and you get to extend the conversation with your partner. You may also realize that one of the restaurants is right next to the theater and decide to make a reservation there.

Once a plan is formulated in your head, you follow through with the actions and do what you need to do make the evening relaxing, entertaining and, hopefully, memorable.

Dynamic Business Blueprint: How (Plan of Action)

With your business plan, this is the stage when you naturally begin to group projects and activities into categories such as sales, marketing, operations, research and development, manufacturing, leadership and management, human resources, etc. Most traditional business plans try to force these on the author. This, in my experience, is counter-productive. The groups and divisions are best formed naturally and organically in the minds of the leaders. This way, the business is built from the inside-out and the divisions and groups are custom-made for the business. Even if you end up using the names suggested by traditional business plan format, when the groupings emerge naturally as the by-product of the owners' thinking process, they carry a deeper and more compelling meaning.

Business Plan Writing for the Traditional Thinker

I sincerely think that if you are writing a business plan to help you run your business day-to-day, the Dynamic Business Blueprint is the only tool you need.

However, if you are looking to raise money from bankers or venture capitalists, they may expect to see a traditional business plan. Also, if you are more of a traditionalist and want to think in terms of a traditional business plan that your MBA school hammered into you (sorry, couldn't resist that!), the One Page Business plan is a great solution for you.

Another alternative for the traditional thinkers is Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan. This approach is still traditional but recognizes and addresses the issue of a business plan becoming an intellectual exercise that's often rendered useless in the real world.

An interesting and fun alternative is the Right Brain Business Plan where the creative, imaginative side of the brain is engaged in developing a business plan.

It's perhaps a good idea is get started with the Dynamic Business Blueprint laid out here and then explore these three alternatives to compliment and enhance it. 

Business Management and Organization Development

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Awayre Business Coaching

What Went Wrong?

Awayre Business Coaching
Awayre Business Coaching (ABC) is intended for those business owners and presidents who started their business with a certain vision but somehow ended up with a business that's less than what they thought it would be. I'm the first to admit - it's not for everyone. Nor would I accept everyone as a client as I would be doing them, and myself, a disservice if I did. For people who work with me in a coaching relationship, business-building is an inner journey first and foremost. No exceptions. That's why, the ABC program is designed for those business builders who are willing to take a brutally honest look at themselves as the source of all their business problems, and also the inspiration for all their solutions.

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Updated: 02/16/2018, Bhavesh
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Bhavesh on 03/01/2012

Hi Nelle, Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your goal. Great points about having goals and then taking actions. I would even take a step back from the goal and ask: "Why is that important?" ("Making $______/m doing what I love to," for example.) That would give you a higher level goal - or a Vision - of which "Writing 100 Wizzles" would become a sub-goal. It would free you up to conjure up other factors of that vision and come up with a few other ways to attain that Vision. The business plan template helps you loosen up thinking around a goal so it becomes emotionally engaging with a broader, inspiring perspective.

Nelda_Hoxie on 03/01/2012

I have clearly defined goals and then actions that will get me there. For example one of the the actions is to write 100 retirement-based Wizzles here. I don't know exactly how much money they will generate. But they will make more than if I didn't write them. Then I'll know if I should write more retirement Wizzles, write about another topic, or not write any more Wizzles at all. But I have to take action to find out what to do next.

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