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Writing a Business Plan

Writing a Business Plan

A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through the key elements of your business.

Business plans help you organize your business affairs, work with your team, and plan for your future. Your business plan is the tool you’ll use to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.

Lean Startup & Business Model Canvas

Lean startup formats are charts that use a handful of elements to describe your company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. They’re useful for visualizing tradeoffs and fundamental facts about your company.

There are many versions of lean startup templates, but one of the oldest and most well known is the Business Model Canvasdeveloped by Alex Osterwalder. You can search the web to find free templates of the Business Model Canvas, or other versions, to build your business plan. We’ll discuss the nine components of the Business Model Canvas version here.

Building out your business plan can be one of the most difficult aspects of your business. Don’t worry, there are many resources available to help you through this. The Vanderburgh House team is a great place to start. In fact, Hunter Foote has taught the Business Model Canvas in a graduate course at Harvard University!

Key partnerships

Note the other businesses or services you’ll work with to run your business. Who are your top referral sources for new residents? Who are your House Managers? What advisors will you have to ensure your success?

Key activities

List the ways your business will gain a competitive advantage. Highlight things like networking with referral sources, drawing from the experience of advisors, or financial sponsorship from other local businesses.

Key resources

List any resource you’ll leverage to create value for your customer. Your most important assets could include staff, capital, or other resources that are key to your business.


Value proposition

Make a clear and compelling statement about the unique value your company brings to the market.


Customer relationships

Describe how your residents and referral sources will interact with your organization. Is it automated or personal? In person or online? Think through the customer experience from start to finish – both for the resident as well as the referral source.


Customer segments

Be specific when you define your referral base. Will you focus on clinical treatment centers? Criminal justice system referral sources? Residential recovery programs? Clearly lay out your categories.



List the most important ways you’ll attract residents. Most Vanderburgh House homes use networking (tracked through HubSpot) to build a strong referral base. Face-to-face meetings are challenging lately. Maybe an email campaign will work? Maybe telephone calls are enough? How else will you spread the word?


Cost structure

Will your company focus on reducing cost or maximizing value? How can you reduce vacancy? How can you save on utility costs? Define your strategy, then list the most significant costs you’ll face pursuing it.


Revenue streams

Explain how your company will actually make money. Are you going to ask for financial sponsorship from local businesses? How will you ensure prompt payment from your residents? Will you charge a weekly or monthly fee for high-energy appliances like A/Cs and space heaters?

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