How to Write a Good Business Plan.

The Unicorn Is Found. From the Unicorn Tapestries 1495-1505, probably still up at The Met Cloisters, New York.

The Unicorn Is Found. From the Unicorn Tapestries 1495-1505, probably still up at The Met Cloisters, New York.

A good business plan will be the most valuable story your business ever tells. A well-written business plan will raise your business its most significant growth capital. A successful business plan is the story that will be adapted by your HR and marketing operations to attract and retain the coworkers and customers that help your business move beyond the overcrowded crossroads of potential.

It may not surprise you to learn that we’ve never encountered a Unicorn business plan client who disagrees with any of that. It may surprise you to lean that a lot of clients come to us thinking that there’s something wrong with them. They’re founders and CEOs who erroneously believe that it’s their job to know how to write a successful business plan. Some of our clients have MBAs, others have successful track records in business, and others are doing everything for the first time, but what unites them is the belief that when it comes to getting ready to raise, the buck stops with them: if getting ready to raise means producing a successful, brilliantly-formatted business plan, or a winning pitch deck, then so be it - they expect to have to roll up their sleeves and get cracking.

We love our clients. They’re passionate about what they do. They’ve often built their successful or highly-promising business from the ground up and it’s that bootstrapping, DIY attitude that’s got them to where they are today. At Unicorn we like to honor that, and also say:

‘Hey, give yourself a break!’

There’s a trick to writing a successful business plan, or a winning pitch deck. Just like there’s a trick to writing advertising copy, or getting your taxes right. It’s often the best idea to reach out to someone who can give you a hand. Unicorn wants to demystify the process around how to write a business plan. There are a few tricks involved, but despite our name, it’s not magic. Consider this a free business plan template, or a great business plan example, or a successful business plan sample based on successful business plans we’ve created for our clients: it’s all about the story.

Unicorn tackles business plans and pitch decks for clients from all walks of work. But our approach to every single one comes down to two simple questions:

Your Best Business Plan Question 1:

Whose problem is your business plan most likely to solve?

Note that this isn’t a question about what. It’s about who. One of our US-based Unicorns was raised in New Zealand. Downunder, the Māori people have a saying:

“He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata."
- What is the most important thing in the world? It is people; it is people; it is people.

Where we see a client’s home-made business plan come unstuck, it’s often because their business wants to solve an unquestionable problem, but they haven’t done enough to explain who exactly has that problem. In the words of a folksy-sounding quote that we just made up:

“A problem doesn’t pay to solve itself. People pay to solve a problem.”

Knowing whose problem your business is solving is great for you, and it’s purse-string loosening catnip for investors.  

Successful business plan sample based on question 1:

We do a lot of business plans and pitch decks for clients that provide services for private aviation. One of our clients was creating a luxury FBO - a private airport terminal where high-net worth passengers can enjoy the luxury experience they expect, and park their private jets. Made sense to us - high-net worth individuals want luxury facilities when they fly into this particular part of the US. They had all the data to show that these people are more than happy pay for the service. But, then, in a casual aside, they told us whose problem they were really solving - just as effectively and for 10X the revenue - the pilots. The pilots have a lot of say when it comes to deciding where to land. In the same way that powerful patients will agree to get more sleep on doctor’s orders, when the person flying your plane says ‘let’s land here’ you tend to say ‘OK.’ Jet pilots aren’t thinking about luxury facilities, they’re thinking ‘where can I refuel?’ The refuelling business is worth about 10X the already considerable amount that the luxury passenger terminal facilities could bring in, so our client makes sure they do both. Now their business plan is solving the pilots’ problem by making it easy and cost-effective to fuel up, and their business plan is solving the jet owners’ problem of having a nice place to touch down. Now there is absolutely no reason not to use our client’s facility. Our client raised US$5 million within a week.

Your Best Business Plan Question 2:

How does your business plan show that you’re better placed to solve these people’s problems than anyone else?

This seems like such an easy answer. But it’s not. Dozens of clients come to us with a fantastic comparative advantage over their rivals - they’re first movers, they already have a large customer base, they’ve got a team with a stunning track record in a similar area and they know EVERYONE they need to know to make their business work. All that kind of stuff is great - it helps a lot, but at Unicorn we add even more value by making sure we help you write a business plan that zeros in on your unfair advantage. This is the aspect of what you do that your rivals simply can’t match for love or money.

Successful business plan sample based on question 2:

One successful Unicorn business plan client based in South-East Asia has a brilliant business that solves a big problems for the owners of large seagoing vessels - like container ships. Each ship has lots of saltwater pipes. Legally, these pipes have to be replaced every few years for safety reasons. Making news pipes for old ships is expensive. It takes a long time and the new pipes often don’t fit properly - which creates its own safety issues. So our client developed a proprietary method of refurbishing a ship’s existing pipes in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost in a way that gives a much better result than starting from scratch - all while avoiding tons of unnecessary waste. Our client’s business is booming because of its unfair advantage - and that’s why it’s expanding throughout the region.

In Conclusion

Those two simple, story-based questions are Unicorns best possible version of a free business plan template, a free business plan example and a free successful business plan sample. What we do is turn the answers to those questions into your 35-page business plan - one  that conveys the story of your business clearly and concisely using crafted copy, rock-solid numbers and compelling industry statistics. Other companies might ask you to consider your ‘company overview’, ‘executive summary’, ‘sales and marketing strategy’, ‘financial overview’ etc. etc. But at Unicorn we believe that if you don’t know where the target is, it’s hard to hit a bullseye.

As a company founder, or CEO you’re really well placed to articulate the vision for your company, and to get the best people on each task. Unicorn knows how to write a great business plan. We’re happy to share everything we know about it with you. If you’ve got any more questions, or you’d like to discuss specifics of your own business plan, get in touch.


The Unicorn Business Plan Team.