How do you make a business plan to start a business?

Here is the continuation of the file “How to create your company”. After step 1, find the idea, step 2 is making a business plan.

Have you found the idea that makes you want to get started? Perfect. To move forward, you need to structure your social project now. For this, many entrepreneurs swear by the business plan, this formal document that allows you to present your company and your financial goals. Others, on the other hand, are absolutely not in favor of it. This artificial and time-consuming exercise would hinder the agility of project leaders. So whether or not to make a business plan?

The answer probably depends on each person’s personality. Either way, the business plan will be essential to find financing. “It allows you to have a clear vision of your project to convince a banker, a business angel or a future partner,” says Guilhem Bertholet, “series entrepreneur” and founder of La Cuisine du Web . For him, it is primarily a task for himself to refine his strategic vision. If he agrees to deal with numbers, an entrepreneur can set financial targets and choose the right indicators to monitor his activity.

Christophe Baillon, founder of the Startup Maker accelerator, is a little more skeptical. “The business plan is an exercise that doesn’t necessarily add much value to the project, but you have to know how to handle it because you can’t escape it today.” And to write it with confidence, here are some common sense tips gathered from entrepreneurs and those who support them.

do not worry

“In the collective unconscious, the business plan is one big obnoxious document full of numbers,” notes Guilhem Bertholet. In reality, it is mainly about putting the elements that are already in your head on paper: your product, your customers, your competitors, your commercial strategy and your expected income statement. That was it for the background. As for the form, it’s pretty free, but it’s better to aim for fifteen pages or PowerPoint slides. Choose an efficient approach, because investors read dozens of business plans every week. As for outcome assumptions, no one expects you to actually achieve what you wrote three years ago. “The business plan is a collective lie,” said Fany Péchiodat, founder of My Little Paris. “It mainly allows to see whether an entrepreneur has a well-made head.” In any case, the business plan must constantly evolve with the project. Many successful start-ups are completely out of step with the original idea of ​​their founders. Criteo, the French nugget of Internet advertising targeting, changed its economic model three times before finding the right application for its algorithm.

Don’t waste all your energy

The biggest criticism traditionally made of the business plan is that it can be very time consuming. Especially if you write it before you start your activity. “The worst thing is to write about it for six months to reassure yourself about the feasibility of your project, Guilhem Bertholet warns. If I think at the top of the ski slope of all the ways I could break my leg, I won’t risk it. take it down!” At the beginning of the entrepreneurial adventure, it is better to spend a large part of your energy meeting your future clients. It is the ground that validates a market or not, and that makes it possible to develop a coherent commercial offer. An effective way to fight the garage syndrome where “an entrepreneur spends two years developing a revolutionary product in his corner by using all his financial resources only to realize that there is no market”, according to the description of Christophe Baillon . Finally, I prefer to go back and forth between the field and the business plan, between action and formalisation.

Ask for help

In France, many support structures exist for the creation of companies. For example, the Agence pour la création d’entreprises offers on its website resources to prepare a business plan when you want to set up a traditional business or a small craft business. Local chambers of commerce can also help by offering management training. Incubators and accelerators, private or public, can provide more intensive support (building, consultancy, address book, etc.), but they often take a small stake in the supported companies. Networks of business leaders often prove resourceful. “I was accompanied by the Réseau Entreprendre, says Fany Péchiodat. They gave me a very available coach who helped me a lot. More generally, as soon as I met someone, I turned him into an advisor paid in checks – gifts !” To find help and skills, working with other people with a complementary profile can be a great solution.

Don’t stay locked up

“To me it’s heresy when people say, ‘I’m not talking about it, I’m afraid someone will steal the idea,'” assures Christophe Baillon. On the contrary, it is necessary to talk about it as much as possible so as not to miss decisive meetings. It can also be helpful to have your business plan reviewed by industry professionals so they can improve it. “You have everything to lose by staying in your corner”, supports Guilhem Bertholet, who advises going to the many events organized by and for entrepreneurs, such as Apéro Entrepreneurs or Startup Weekend. And for those who are tired of face-to-face with their computers, coworking spaces, i.e. collaborative work, are a place of fruitful exchanges. You may meet the graphic designer who designs your logo or the developer of your website.

Interview with Margaux Derhyfounder of La Petite Etoile, which supports entrepreneurs in the realization of their business plan.

“Impossible to attract investors without having a real business plan”

What is a business plan used for?

When looking to make money for your business, creating a business plan is essential. Impossible to attract investors without having prepared one. Even before you need money, well before the fundraising, writing the business plan can be very helpful. It’s an excellent exercise to ask yourself the right questions about your project.

What do you put in a business plan?

There are four essential elements to develop. A brief presentation of the project team and its potential mentors is essential. Just like the description of his product by emphasizing its added value. You have to show the “magic” of the product you are offering. Deciphering your environment, i.e. your customers and competitors, is also essential: it’s a matter of proving that you have an enlightened and not overly naive understanding of the ecosystem you want to fit into. Finally, it is necessary to detail its strategy (commercial marketing) by explaining how the start-up plans to make so that all of France knows its product.

What are the missteps to avoid?

The business plan should not become an overly academic exercise, but a real seduction tool. It is also necessary to keep abreast of the “trends” of the business plan or pitch, that is, to know what is happening in your sector. For example, nowadays it is better to give preference to a presentation in 15-20 slides than a block of 50 pages in Word. On the other hand, calculation errors in financial forecasts are really avoidable, because they seriously undermine the credibility of the entrepreneur. Finally, don’t believe that a business plan is something fixed. On the contrary, an entrepreneur spends his time reworking it on the meetings and progress of his project.

Who do you turn to if you need advice to implement your business plan?

It all depends on the type of business you want to start. The Business Creation Agency (APCE) and the BGE are good interlocutors with many resources to support traditional projects, such as opening a business. For digital entrepreneurs, it is better to turn to specialized accelerators and incubators, who can better understand innovative projects. Finally, entrepreneurial networks often offer mentor advice and access to a valuable network.

Interview and article by Clémence Boyer

for further

>> These 4 essential steps to successfully set up your business

>> Step 1: Find the idea


backpacksurvival kit for start-ups, from Maddyness and La Petite Etoile (available to order at

The difficult of difficult thingsby Ben Horowitz, a bible for many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

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