Don’t make my eyes bleed. Don’t bore me. How to hack a business plan that makes sense

A guest blog from Neil Davidson, artist, co-CEO & co-founder of Red Gate Software on how to make business plans make sense to someone that has to read them…

Click on the pictures to download a pdf version of this treatise or download direct at:

Don't make my eyes bleed.

Over the past few years I’ve read  a lot of business plans. Hundreds.  They were all too long, and  almost all missed the point. A  5,000 word plan will bore and  confuse me. Maybe worse.

Here are the questions my ideal  business plan would answer.  Everything else is fluff.

Best use of most business plans

What is your mantra?

Make it as simple to understand  as Blinkpipe’s: “Video calling as  natural as a handshake, as  reliable as the telephone and as  easy to install as a toaster”.

What is your mantra?

Who is the customer?

It’s not ‘everybody’. It’s not ‘all 30 year old geeks’.

Who is your customer?

It’s Jess. She’s thirty years old and works in the  IT department of a bank. She lives with three  cats. She hates ice cream. Or whatever.  Make your customer concrete. Give her life.

Jess - my customer

Why will your customer pay for  what you’re selling?

Sorry, why will Jess pay for what  you’re selling? Why will she  knock on your door with fistfuls  of cash?

What problem does it solve? How  did she cope before? How will  your product change her life? How much will she pay?

Make Jess come knocking

How will you reach Jess?

What web sites does she visit? What magazines does she read? How (and why) will Jess shout  ‘holy cow, this is brilliant’ about  your product to her friends and  colleagues?

How will you reach Jess?

How many people like Jess are  there?

How big is your market?

Market share of Jess

Who is in your team?

Why will you succeed where  others will fail?

Who is in our team?

If you want bonus points…

Tell me  how you’ll apply the principles of Eric Ries’s Lean Startup movement to your plan.

Bonus points - The Lean Startup

Click the image to buy the book. Go on. You know you want to.

If you want extra bonus points,  fit this all onto a single sheet of  paper.

It can be large.

Extra bonus points

If you want triple plus bonus marks, don’t fit this onto a single  sheet of paper.

Make it stand out. Be different. You’re an entrepreneur. Since when did you follow dumb  ‘rules’? Surprise me.

Surprise me - just not like this!

I hope you enjoyed this small pamphlet.

If you did, please share it. You can find out more about me at

One response to “Don’t make my eyes bleed. Don’t bore me. How to hack a business plan that makes sense”

  1. Pete Santora says:

    Mark/Neil- One pager can be done at Love using it and it covers the whole business in a nice visual. Plus to get it right, you really have to beat it up.