Idea Builder - Business Plan - 3 - Idea Plan

Idea Builder - Business Plan - Idea Plan


The Idea Plan is where you’ll build out your business plan and where it can be refined through feedback. The idea page breaks the segments of a business plan into individual modules that are filled out separately. To help you improve your plan, each section can receive feedback through comments and votes. You can edit each section and can invite others to do the same as you see fit.

Sections can be reordered by dragging and dropped with the grid icon image

Sections can be edited by clicking the edit icon image

You can expand the edit window while editing by clicking and dragging the triangle icon image in the lower right corner of the edit window.

Keep things short and clear. Test and validate everything, especially before going into lengthy descriptions and depth that could be proven irrelevant.

Start with details, sketches, charts, graphs, tables – anything that gets your points across in the simplest way. It can be disorganized at first, but your goal should be to eventually distill each section of the plan into data that could fit on 1 or 2 paragraphs/slides or infographics. This is a good rule of thumb for an investment pitch as well as a business plan.

Problem – The problem(s) you’re solving for your customers is the foundation of your business. Everything else is built on top of this – you need to prove strongly to advisors and potential investors that you understand it well.

  • Are you sure you’re solving the right problem?
  • Are you sure the problem needs solving?
  • What hidden factors/motivators/subconscious drivers are behind the problem?

If you’re solving more than one problem, try to limit it to the top 3.

“A problem well stated is a problem half-solved.” - Charles Kettering

Solution – What is your solution to the stated problem? What is the minimum viable product for your solution? Describe, list and defend the absolute minimum feature set you need to validate your solution(s). Think about whether there’s any way to simplify further before continuing. The more complicated the minimum viable product, the more work, funding, and investor risk will be required.

User or Customer Base – Define your user or customer base in as much detail as possible. Illustrate how well you understand their needs and motivations and describe the ways you validated it. Ask yourself if the segmentation can be even more specific. Depending on the uniqueness of each segment, you may need to address each separately in the other sections of the business plan too.

  • Who are you creating value for?
  • Are they people, businesses, something else?
  • Where are they?
  • How do they think?

Competition – How are your potential users/customers solving the problem now? Prove you’ve done your homework on the competition and the threat they pose. What are their weaknesses and their strengths? Even if you’re in a completely new industry, never believe there is no competition. How are people solving their problems or meeting the same underlying needs in the absence of your new product/service?

Unique Value Proposition – What gives you your edge? If close competitors exist, you may need to provide a solution that’s an order of magnitude better to compete. Even if there are no close competitors currently, if your model works, expect competition. You need an edge that cannot be copied or bought. Investors will pay close attention to this. Do not move further in the plan until you can make a strong argument in this section. If you have multiple parties involved in your business model – for example, a marketplace with buyers and sellers, what is the unique value proposition on each side of the transaction.

Channels – Where are you going to find your customers? Be as specific as possible. How are you going to tell them about your solution? What activity(s) will they be doing and when you reach them? Which channels will be free or paid channels? Think about how you’ll advertise and build a network/community. The bigger the network/community you can build, the easier it will be to raise capital when you need it. Be mindful of how you will track the size of your community and maintain engagement with them. Are there any partnerships you could pursue relationships with? If your business has a chicken/egg problem, how do you solve it? Some examples of channels:

  • Sales promotions
  • Social media and social media advertising
  • Affiliate marketing
  • SEO
  • Viral marketing
  • Speaking engagements and conferences
  • Blogs
  • Journalists
  • Offline advertising
  • Networking
  • Direct marketing

Cost Structure – What are your fixed and variable costs? List and describe them in detail. This is going to be useful for you and for investors. It will help you determine how much capital you need as you scale. Are there any unique risks that need to be addressed with expenses, like licensing, registrations, or intellectual property etc?

Some cost examples:

  • Production/manufacturing costs
  • Marketing and sales expenses
  • Office space or real estate expenses
  • Hiring and labor costs
  • Hosting, web, storage costs
  • Legal expenses
  • Accounting expenses
  • Monthly service fees
  • Insurance
  • Regulatory or licensing fees
  • Licensing
  • And, of course - Your own time

Revenue – What is your revenue model? Some examples:

  • Subscription
  • Ads
  • Freemium
  • Pay per product
  • Fee for service
  • Fixed rate
  • Commission
  • Referrals
  • Royalties
  • Dividends
  • Equity

Include projections and describe your assumptions if applicable. Some examples:

  • Break-even point
  • Gross profit margin
  • Life-time value per customer

Also, remember to include how you arrived at your price points and how you validated or can validate you’ve picked levels that aren’t too high or low. Are there multiple pricing tiers? If you have multiple revenue streams, how do they fit together?

Success Metrics – What are the most important metrics you need to track to drive the success of the business and hold yourself accountable to improve results? There’s a lot of things you can measure, but what’s going to prove to you and your investors that things are on the right track? Focus on what’s appropriate for the current stage of your business. Some guidelines:

  • Early stage, still proving product/market fit – Focus on value metrics. Value metrics are what drives your pricing model. Value metrics connect what you offer to the need(s) of your customers. For example, if you’re a SaaS company offering many features, which features are most important to the customer and how do you quantify those to track usage
  • Already established product/market fit – Focus on what’s driving growth: what’s growing revenue from each customer, what’s increasing the number of customers, and what’s retaining existing customers



Custom Section – below the template sections is a blank section you can create a custom section with. Custom sections can be edited, commented, and voted on just like any template section. They can also be reordered in the list by clicking and dragging their grid icon image.

You can add custom sections as needed and can come back to this editor to make changes anytime.


Click Continue to move on to the next step.

This tutorial continues here.