A must read article for all Business Founders interested in doing Startup Business Planning.  Planning the development of your start-up can be one of the most complex and ambiguous pieces of strategy development that many business founders will ever face.  Due to the difficulty of start-up business planning, many business founders prefer to put the process off. Not only do they not know where to start, but the level of ambiguity an number of options for their start-up makes the process quite daunting, even with a basic template or business planning guide.  There are a number of different approaches that start-up founders will use when deciding to create a business plan, some even believe that a plan is not required. Those that are from the "I don't need a business plan" camp usually are trying to avoid the inevitable, particularly if they are seeking to raise capital. Some techniques used include: creating a simple business model rather than a complete business plan using something like Osterwalder's Business Model Generation. Those looking to create a complete business plan start at the wrong end of the process. Rather than starting with a business planning methodology (as a consultant would), they usually start by looking for document templates, a consultant, or business planning software..

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Tip 1 - Don't start with a template

Creating a great start-up business plan is about much more than just the document. In fact most of the value that can be obtained by creating a plan is in the planning process itself. Starting with a template gives you some guidance on the end document structure, but does not assist you at all in creating a great plan.    Anyone experienced in the art of business planning will use a structured and proven methodology. Such methodologies are seldom available to business founders directly, so the revert to using a template. This unfortunately is a false economy and really doesn't help at all in the planning process.   For those founders with experience in business process and methodology design, they should start be developing a structured planning methodology, rather than worrying too much about the final document layout.   If you are able to, put your template to the side and focus on developing a clear start-up methodology. Unfortunately much if this information is proprietary and hence you won't find much information online to assist.

Tip 2 - Ensure you employ a proven planning methodology

Your start-up business plan is not all about the document itself. The most important element of the planning process is aligning strategy with action and developing this in conjunction with all your team members.   Proven planning methodologies are difficult to find and often considered proprietary information by the major consulting firms. When the author of this article was at Deloitte Consulting, we used methodologies that cost many millions of dollars and thousands of hours of experience to create.   One of the best ways to access a proven planning methodology is by using a tool known as HyperQuestions. HyperQuestions are an innovative technique that drives your thinking via the use of an embedded methodology using very specific questions tailored to your business situation.   Whilst you could search for "start-up business planning methodology in Google", unfortunately there is very little information that will help. Probably the best place to start on-line would be to Google HyperQuestions.

Tip 3 -   Find out what planning methodologies will actual deliver results for the complexity associated with start-up businesses

Unlike creating a business plan for an existing business, start-up business plans usually have a much higher degree of difficulty. This is due to the fact that many of key business model elements are not already structured. Whilst some think that this means a business plan is not required, it actually makes the planning more critical. A great plan can assist to guide you in the allocation of very scare resources.   Most business planning tools and methodologies do not handle this additional complexity. The leading strategic planning and business planning solutions do not take account of the fact that many of the planning foundations have not been established. Business Planning HQ   Try to find a technique and methodology that has been developed specifically for Start-up businesses. Whilst tools such as the Osteralder Business Model generation may provide some assistance, they are considered to be too high level for creating an actionable allocation of resources.  

Tip 4 -  Also Consider the power of methodologies embedded in questions (HyperQuestions) to accelerate the creation of your Start-Up Business Plan

HyperQuestions were developed by a leading management consultant with deep experience in the venture capital industry. This technique was developed specifically to assist business founders navigate the immense complexity in a simple and guided manner.  As a relatively new business planning technique, many business founders simply aren't aware of the power of this approach to assist them in creating a better plan in less time. The collaborative nature of the approach enables all members of the Start-Up to be on the same page.  HyperQuestions break down the start-up business plan in to a series of manageable steps, enabling the completion of your total plan in as little as 4 hours. Those that have been through the process claim that it has saved 2-4 weeks of stabbing around in the dark. So why not check it out to to work out if HyperQuestions are for your business. They are used by leading incubators, angel investment networks and venture accelerators to accelerate and improve the process of creating a start-up business plan. Why not check it out by Googling HyperQuestions now.