How to Write a Business Plan in 30-Minutes

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Writing a traditional business plan can take hours, days, or even weeks. 

We recommend a simpler plan—a one-page plan—that you can complete in under an hour. 

Sounds too good to be true? 

We successfully used this easy business plan format to build LivePlan, and it’s a major reason why the product is so successful.

With a one-page business plan, we:

  • Quickly documented our business idea
  • Made fast changes as we refined our idea
  • Optimized our business strategy
  • Figured out what it would take to be profitable

You can do this, even if you’ve never written a business plan. The key is to stick to the structure I will teach you and not worry about perfection.

What is a one-page business plan?

A one-page business plan is a short and simple document that explains the main parts of a business idea. It fits on a single page and covers:

  • What the business will sell
  • Who it will sell to
  • How it will make money,
  • What makes it special compared to other businesses 

A one-page plan helps entrepreneurs like you quickly share your business idea and get feedback without spending too much time writing a long, detailed plan.

By focusing on a single page, you get to skip all the formatting, complete sentences, and paragraphs of text that most people don’t read. 

Instead, you’ll prioritize outlining your business strategy, the business model you’ll use to make money, and the marketing and sales strategies you’ll use to grow.

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What are the benefits of a one-page business plan? 

A one-page business plan is a great tool because it:

  • Saves time by focusing on the most important parts of the business idea
  • Makes it easy to quickly share and explain the idea to others
  • Helps you spot potential problems or missing pieces early on
  • Acts as a clear roadmap to guide the business as it grows
  • Can be updated easily as things change and you learn more about your business and your customers

By keeping things simple and focused, a one-page plan will help you move forward without getting bogged down in too many details too soon.

The one-page plan format is also part of the growth planning process—an iterative process that helps you refine your business idea and quickly adapt as you build your business.

How to make your one-page business plan

YouTube video
Check out our YouTube tutorial for a step-by-step walkthrough for building a one-page plan.

Start by downloading our free one-page plan template and fill it in as you follow this guide.

When putting together your one-page business plan, the goal is to keep each section as short as possible. So, try to stick with bullet points and short sentences. 

Here is what you need to include, along with an example of a bike shop business plan I put together (using LivePlan) in just 27 minutes.

1. Value proposition

This section answers the question, “What does your business do?” 

Your goal is to communicate the value you provide to your customers in as few words as possible. Think of it like this—if you’re at a party and someone asks you what your business does, can you describe it in a single sentence? 

If you’re struggling to create your value proposition, you can always try using a simple formula like this:

We help [Target Customer] who want to [Customer Need] by [Unique Benefit/Solution] unlike [Competitors or Current Solutions].

Use what will work best for your business—just make sure you describe:

  • What you are selling
  • Who you are selling it to
  • Either how you are different or what the customer needs are

For my bike shop example, I used an even simpler formula to create my value proposition. Here’s what that looked like::

We offer [Unique Benefit/Solution] for [Target Customer], unlike [Competitors or Current Solutions]

Garrett’s Bike Shop value proposition: Offering high-quality bike gear for families & everyday people. Includes Garrett’s Bike Shop logo with an orange bicycle icon.

2. Problem worth solving

The next section of your plan expands a bit on the customer need from your value proposition. Customer need and “problem worth solving” are really the same thing and explain:

  • What’s the problem you solve for your customers? 
  • Why would they go out shopping for a solution? 
  • Why does your business need to exist? 
  • Why would they choose you over other alternatives? 

If you can’t answer these questions, try talking to your potential customers so you can get a strong understanding of the problems they are trying to solve and how your business can solve them. 

When you interview potential customers, you’ll discover what their real pain points are and how your products or services might fit into their lives.

Describing the problem your business solves is one of the most important sections of our business plan. Your business has to fill a real need for your customers or it will be very difficult to find success. 

In the bike shop example below, I explain that there aren’t good local bike shops focused on serving families.

A list of problems your business solves: 1. Families don’t have a place to shop; 2. Lack of quality bike shops in area.

3. Your solution

Next, describe your product or service and why it’s better than the alternatives. 

Essentially, what would your answer be if someone asked you what you sell? Your solution should address the market need that you described in the previous section.

In our bike shop example, I highlight that this shop is different from bike shops that focus mostly on serving serious cyclists.

A statement describing the solution: Garrett’s is a snob-free zone where regular people can get top notch gear and expert advice.

4. Target market

Describe your ideal customer. Who are they? 

Be as specific as possible—age, gender, shopping habits, etc. 

If you target different types of people, create market segments for each group. List each segment and its approximate size, if you know it. 

If you don’t know the size, don’t worry about it—you can come back and do that research later. 

For our bike shop example, I listed the following target market segments.

A target market graphic showing 41K prospects with a market size of $36.6M. Target market segments: Young Families (49%, $6M), Trail enthusiasts (17%, $3.5M), Parents 35-55 (15%, $3.5M), College students (12%, $3.5M), City contracts (6%, $3.5M).

Initially, I just listed the types of people I thought would shop at this kind of bike shop. Later, I figured out how many of each type lived in the city where the bike shop was located and added that information.

5. Competition

Every business has competition

Who do your customers buy from if they aren’t going to buy from you? What makes your business and products better than the alternatives out there?

You can either list specific businesses as competitors or just groups of businesses to cover the different types of competition. 

For the bike shop, I decided to use groups of businesses instead of listing out every bike shop in town.

A table comparing competitors and how our bike shop solution is better. Competitors: Local bike shops, Big-box retailers, Online retailers. Solutions: Welcoming, family-friendly space; Higher quality gear & expert advice; Ability to test drive and local repair.

6. Sales channels

These are the places where you will sell your products. 

If you’re selling online, your online store is a sales channel. If you also have a physical store, that’s another sales channel.

Many businesses are fairly simple and only have a single sales channel – that’s normal and fine. Don’t add more sales channels than you’ll actually have.

A list of sales channels: 1. Store Front; 2. Website; 3. Repairs; 4. University Contract.

7. Marketing activities

What will you do to market your business

If you plan on buying advertising, list the types of advertising you plan on doing here. Remember, different target markets might need different marketing activities to get your product in front of them.

Tip: If you’re unsure what marketing and sales channels are right for your business, use the LivePlan Assistant to generate recommendations and incorporate them into your plan.

A list of marketing activities: 
1. Host social media pages and website; 2. Partner with Travel Northwest; 
3. Attend outdoor enthusiast trade shows; 
4. Grand opening with deals, contests, etc.; 
5. Advertise in local publications.

8. Budget and sales goals

How much will it cost to run your business? What sales goals do you need to reach for your business to be a success? 

Don’t sweat the details to start; just think in broad strokes to get a rough idea of how your business will work financially

You can start by just listing your primary revenue streams and your major expenses. As you learn more about the details, you can start to add estimates for how much sales you’ll bring in and what your actual expenses will be.

Eventually, you’ll expand these broad estimates into a more detailed forecast, but initially just stick to high-level estimates.

For the bike shop, I started with simple lists of revenue streams and major expenses.

A forecast table showing revenue streams and major costs. Revenue streams: Bike, parts, and accessory sales; Service and repairs; Bike rentals; Classes and workshops. Major costs: Equipment and parts inventory; Rent and utilities; Salaries.

I later came back and added in details so I could calculate potential profits. With that information, I changed the list into a few simple charts to show my revenue, expenses, and profitability at a glance.

A financial projections chart showing revenue, expenses & costs, and profit for 2023 to 2025. Revenue: $724K (2023), $718K (2024), $736K (2025). Expenses & Costs: $724K (2023), $718K (2024), $736K (2025). Profit: $42K (2023), $40K (2024), $40K (2025).

9. Milestones

What are the major tasks you need to accomplish to get your business up and running? 

Defining what to do and when will help you stay on track and meet your goals. 

For most businesses, you should focus on the near term and highlight what you want to accomplish in the next few months. Shorter-term milestones might include signing a lease on an office or designing your first prototype.

Other businesses may have very long research and development cycles and should map out key milestones for the next 12-24 months. These businesses might have milestones for getting regulatory approval or entering clinical trials.  

Regardless of the timeframe, assign a date and specific people to each milestone, so you have real responsibility and accountability.

The milestones section of the business plan with three milestones: May 2, 2024 - Review forecast; June 21, 2024 - Hire new technician; August 16, 2024 - Create new inventory plan.

10. Team

Even if you’re starting out with just yourself as the only employee of your business, write a few quick bullets about why you’re the right person to run this business. 

If you need to hire key people in the future, list those positions as well, even if you don’t know who specifically will fill those positions right now. 

You also don’t need to include headshots, but there may be some value in putting a face to the name depending on your audience.

Team and key roles section of the business plan with headshots and names of team members. From left to right: Garrett McKenzie, Founder / Owner; Jill Bloom, Shop Manager; Tom McKey, Advisor; Heather Gibson, Investor.

11. Funding needs

Nearly every business needs some money to get off the ground. Think about how much money you’ll need and how you plan on using it. 

Even if you’re starting your business with your own savings or using credit card debt, it’s a good idea to plan how you will use the funds until you start making sales.

If you don’t know how much money you need, just skip this section for now.

Remember, the goal is to get your initial plan done quickly. You can always come back to this section once you’ve had a chance to figure out what it will take to start and run your business.

The funding needs section of the business plan showing $125K needed to expand store footprint by 25% to include more new bikes and increase sales by mid 2025.

Example of a complete one-page business plan

Let’s put all of those sections together to get a look at our full one-page plan.

Example of a one-page business plan for Garrett’s Bike Shop. Sections include: Value proposition, Problems worth solving, Our solutions, Target market, Competitors, How our solution is better, Sales channels, Marketing activities, Financial projections (Revenue, Expenses & Costs, Profit), Funding needed, Milestones, Team and key roles.

See how easily you can understand my business without having to read a 40-page document?

While I used LivePlan to create this plan, you can start by downloading this free one page business plan template

4 tips to quick-start your business plan writing

To put together your business plan in 30 minutes, you’ll need focus and a willingness to let go of perfection. 

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Don’t worry about the details—you can come back and fill those in later.
  2. Write what you know and skip what you don’t know. Don’t let a single section prevent you from getting to the rest of your plan.
  3. Know who your customer is—knowing who you are building your business for makes the rest of the process much easier.
  4. Skip the numbers at first, but don’t ignore them. Afterall, your business has to be sustainable eventually.

Remember, you likely won’t get your idea right the first time—you have to adapt and adjust to find the right formula. A one-page plan will make this process easier, but only if you commit to making it short and imperfect on your first attempt. 

What to do after completing your simple business plan

Now that you’ve saved all that time writing your business plan, what should you do next? 

With an initial plan in place, you’re primed to use a process known as growth planning that helps both startups and existing businesses grow more quickly and nimbly than their competitors. 

Here are the initial steps you can take to put your new plan into action and start growth planning:

Test your idea and revise your plan

It’s rare to get a business idea right the first time. Almost every business owner makes changes to their initial idea to become a successful, growing company. 

That’s why it’s important to test your idea early and make adjustments before you sink too much money into your business. 

There are plenty of ideas in the article linked above, but the core concept of validating your business idea is to go out and talk to potential customers and gather feedback. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a tech company or a cookie business. Get your app design or your cookie samples into potential customers’ hands and hear what they have to say.

Once you have feedback, revise your plan. 

Your marketing or sales strategy might change, or perhaps you decide to change your overall value proposition. Either way, revise your plan and test again until you have a business model that works.

Expand into a more detailed business plan

The one-page plan is simple and effective, but there may be a time when you need to expand your plan. 

Lenders and potential investors may want to see a more detailed business plan or financial projections if only to prove that you’ve taken time to think through all the details of getting your business up and running. 

Or, maybe you just want to expand beyond the single page to make the plan more useful. This may include more robust market research, expanded financial forecasts, etc.

Luckily, by starting with a simple business plan format, you can easily expand on the necessary sections without having to start over. 

The real value in detailed planning is the process that you go through to create the plan. 

You’ll be forced to answer questions about your business that you might have been tempted to gloss over or ignore completely if you skip the planning process. 

If a detailed format sounds like the type of business plan you need, check out our step-by-step guide, and download a free template to fill out as you read.

Review your performance and adjust

Once your business is up and running, it’s important to set aside time to review your business performance. 

You’ll want to hold a monthly “plan review” meeting to go over your sales, expenses, and cash flow. The goal of the meeting will be to compare your actual performance to your plan and see if you’re on track financially.

Based on your performance, your sales goals might need to be adjusted or you might need to adjust your expense budget. During this process, you might change your business strategy,  use different marking and sales tactics, or pivot to try and sell to a different type of customer. 

Your one-page plan is a great place to document those changes and will help you track your progress toward your goals.

When you update your plan, you set new goals to strive for. You also ensure that your business strategy is documented and ready to share with new business partners, investors, and employees. 

I’ve found that sharing my company’s plan with employees improves transparency and gives everyone the big picture of what we’re trying to do. It ensures that everyone is moving in the same direction.

Free template and one-page planning tool

Ready to write your one-page plan?  Download our free one-page plan template. With that, you will be well on your way to a better business strategy, without all the time and hassle of drafting a lengthy business plan.

To elevate your ability to build a healthy, growing business, you should consider using LivePlan. It includes a one-page plan builder with a built-in AI Assistant to help generate ideas and draft sections of your plan. 

Plus, you get access to all the tools you need to build a complete financial forecast. 

When your business is up and running, you can keep using LivePlan to automatically track your actual results compared to your sales forecast, expense budget, and cash flow.

Try LivePlan today risk-free and start creating a business plan that is more than a simple document. 


How long does it take to write a business plan?

You can write a simple, one-page business plan in as little as 30 minutes. A detailed business plan may take a few days to complete, depending on how much research you need to do. 

Some of the most time-consuming parts of business planning are doing market research and gathering the information required to define your target market, revenue streams, and expenses. Using a good business planning tool will automatically create the financial reports you need, saving you time and effort.

How do I start a business plan?

The simplest way to start a business plan is to fill in what you know first—you can start anywhere that you’re comfortable. If you know the most about your product or service, start by describing it first. Then move on to describing your target customer. From there, working on your financial forecasts is a good place to focus on next.

How do I write a simple business plan?

To write a simple business plan your best option is to use the one-page plan format. It covers the essentials of a business plan in the most basic way possible while not excluding critical details. 

If you’re writing a detailed business plan, you can keep it simple by using bullet points instead of long paragraphs of text. Be sure to also write your plan for your audience and exclude sections of the plan that your audience doesn’t need. 

For example, if you’re writing an internal plan, your audience probably doesn’t need a section discussing company history and location.

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Noah Parsons
Noah Parsons
Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan.
Posted in Business Plan Writing

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