You may find that the easiest part is the actual writing of the plan. The real work comes in the data_gathering, which may take you a hundred hours or more, depending on what you already know or have researched. If your new venture is in an area where you've been working, you may already know about your customers, your suppliers, your marketing plan, your organizational structure, your financial and cash flow needs, equipment, inventory, and so on. If you know all of these except for Marketing, say, then this is where you will need to invest some time and effort. You can find a wealth of information by utilizing the traditional data sources such as chambers of commerce, major cities' websites, trade associations, the US Census Bureau, trade journals, magazine and online articles and advertising, etc. Performing keyword searches on Google, or Ask will bring up websites to check out. Following are some places to start: James J. Hill Reference Library (jjhill.org): One of the nation's premier business libraries to bring you FREE and affordably priced tools and resources you can use to create a better business plan based on relevant and credible data. U.S. Census Bureau (census.gov): A source for a variety of useful statistics, especially the Economic Census that comes out every 5 years. American Demographics (adage.com/americandemographics): Just as the title suggests, numerous free reports about consumer demographics in the U.S. nationally and by statistical area. Internet Public Library _ The Census Data and Demographics (ipl.org)/: An especially useful site that has links to information about countries other than the U.S. Corporate Information (corporateinformation.com): Features information summaries on over 350ꯠ companies in the U.S. and abroad for competitive analysis.
When you, and your partners if any, have all the core skills and industry knowledge you need to start right away without seeking experts, napkin notes may be enough to get going. Let's say you are already an expert in technology and social media. Then you, and your team, probably don't need a detailed plan to start developing a new app. You will draw on your knowledge and experience, and you understand that you might need to go back and do some more detailed and formal planning later. Certainly when you reach the point where you are looking for investors or lenders, you will move beyond those first casual notes. Until then, drawing upon your expertise can allow you to quickly jump into the market and perhaps gain a competitive edge by using a minimalist plan.