Woman wearing a shirt and glasses ponders her business idea as she learns how to write a business plan with a mind map at her desk, with a notepad, pen, laptop and plantWoman wearing a shirt and glasses ponders her business idea as she learns how to write a business plan with a mind map at her desk, with a notepad, pen, laptop and plant

Write a business plan with a mind map 

Why using mind mapping for business plans sets you up for success

When you’ve had a new business idea, creating a business plan may not sound like the most exciting task. However, most experts insist that a solid business plan is crucial for your business to succeed. A business plan helps you define your business direction and set priorities. It allows you the freedom to aim high and yet it requires you to validate your targets with facts, research and projections.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish,” said French writer and pioneering aviator, Antione de Saint-Exupéry. A business plan helps you work out your goals and plan strategies to bring them to fruition.

Why entrepreneurs need solid business plans

Clemson University’s professor William B. Gartner, an expert in entrepreneurial research, says business plans are essential. Gartner’s work has combined data analysis with a focus on the experiences, stories and narratives of the entrepreneur, and his findings show that the importance of a comprehensive, thoughtful business plan cannot be over-emphasized.

Here are four of the many reasons why a business plan is essential for entrepreneurs:

  1. Communicating your idea to stakeholders
    Having a detailed resource makes it much easier to communicate your ideas to stakeholders. An added benefit is that your message is precise, consistent and consolidated into one place.
  2. Pitching and raising funds 
    A business plan is essential for raising finance because potential investors want access to an in-depth look at your company, business idea, growth potential and revenue plan before they invest.
  3. Supporting decision-making
    As an entrepreneur, having a business plan helps you make sound decisions. By continuously refining and reviewing your business plan, you ensure that your strategy is on course and that every last detail is put into practice.
  4. Raising awareness of your weaknesses
    Having a lot of information about your business collated into one document means you have easy access to materials that you could share with peers or a mentor for advice. This is a great way to reveal any holes and risks in the business that you still need to fill or address.

When a strong business plan pays off

Take the story of Zoom, the communication platform that is targeting a market expected to hit $43.1 billion by 2022. After gaining experience in Silicon Valley, Eric Yuan founded Zoom in 2012 and the platform grew to 40 million users after just three years in business.

Yuan says that Zoom started as a daydream and a solution to a long-distance relationship that required a 10-hour train ride to see each other. Now it connects teams through video and audio conferencing, collaborative workspaces and chat.

Helping remote teams and distributed companies meet face-to-face no matter where they are in the world, Zoom has a competitive advantage because it understands what customers want. Both the technology and customer service deliver better value than its competitors’ do.

Zoom’s revenues doubled to $331 million in January 2019, during which it earned net income of $7.6 million. A solid business plan means that this company fulfils its goals and is growing at over 100% a year.

What can happen when you don’t have a business plan

Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” and unfortunately, some business owners learn this the hard way.

One business owner with a dream of starting her own business dived in and rented office space in New York City to start her virtual marketing assistance company. This was Lucinda Cross‘s first step before even considering how she was going to get her customers through the door.

Admitting that her “business plan was to wing it,” after two years of doing just that, unfortunately for Cross, everything crumbled. The business had been slowly failing until finally “lights were turned off, cars were repossessed” and Cross admitted defeat.

Sharing that the failure of the business was largely down to not having a solid plan for her business, Cross called it, “a huge mistake, a six-figure mistake.” However, Cross didn’t give up. Learning from her mistakes, she hired a business coach to help her restructure the business.

“Every business owner will tell you to have a solid business plan in place before you launch your business. We’ve all heard this advice, but so many people, including myself, disregard this golden piece of information,” said Cross.

Position yourself for success by creating a solid business plan. A great way to do this in a clear and concise way is with a mind map.

Use a business plan template

Business plans set you up for a successful future, and it’s never too early to start working on one. “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now,” said Alan Lakein, an author specialising in personal time management.

At Mind Doodle, we know how useful it is to have a mind mapped structure of a business plan. That’s why we’ve already created a template for you to use, making it even easier and more convenient to start working on your business plan.

Mind map template for writing a business plan

The business plan mind map covers the following areas:

  • Competitor analysis
    • Branding
    • Competitors’ pricing
    • Features
    • Quality
  • Costs
    • Legal, insurance etc.
    • Marketing
    • Misc
    • Office
    • Product development
    • Sales
    • Servicing staff
    • Support staff
  • Offering
    • Pricing model
    • Products
    • Services
  • Sales channels
    • Advertising
      • Online
      • Print
      • Radio
      • Television
    • Lead generation
      • PR
      • Outsource
      • Social media
  • Target market
    • Achievable market share
      • Value
    • Competition
      • Total addressable market
  • Summary
    • Profit and loss
      • Break even
      • Investment required
      • Valuation

If this structure doesn’t fit with what you need for your business plan, you can delete, rename and move around ideas in our template, or start from scratch with a blank mind map and customise it to reflect your needs.

Develop a new business plan with a mind map

To make a new mind map, start with the name of your business idea in the centre of the mind map. From there, connect new ideas for each of the most important parts of your business. Expand on this by adding more niche and specific ideas to each of the initial points. Continue this process as you grow your mind map outwards, making it larger and further reaching. This is a visual representation of how your business plan will grow and reach farther, too.

After adding your ideas, drill down into each element of the business plan to develop your plan and fill in the finer details. You can do this by hovering your mouse over an idea in your mind map and clicking the icon that resembles a pen making notes.

Screenshot showing icon to use to add notes to business plan

Here you can summarise your thoughts, add in-depth notes or capture key information to fit the needs of your plan.

Screenshot showing notes added to a mind map of business plan

You can also attach files and resources and set tasks when you are ready to put your plan into action.

When you are ready to share your business plan, you can export it to Word Document or PowerPoint, or invite colleagues or shareholders to collaborate with the online version at minddoodle.com.

Even after your business is up and running, you should continue to return to your business plan and assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats using Mind Doodle’s integrated SWOT analysis tool.

Paving the way for success

Creating your business plan with a mind map means that you’ve got a clear, thorough vision to communicate to yourself and your stakeholders.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” A strong business plan positions yourself and your business for success.

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