The "Back of a Napkin" Plan: It is the source of entrepreneurial legend and lore, the million_dollar idea that was hurriedly scribbled on a bar napkin. Yet, for most potential business owners this option for business planning remains a fantasy. However, like any myth there is a tiny grain of truth inside. A quickie business outline can work as a launch plan under the right circumstances. If you need to get going quickly to ride the wave of a fad before it fizzles, then fast, bare_bones planning may be all you've got time to execute. This works best when you've already got the infrastructure in place, perhaps from previous projects or an established business, and you can simply shift energy and resources to the new idea. When you, and your partners if any, have all the core skills and industry knowledge you need to start right away without seeking experts, napkin notes may be enough to get going. Let's say you are already an expert in technology and social media. Then you, and your team, probably don't need a detailed plan to start developing a new app. You will draw on your knowledge and experience, and you understand that you might need to go back and do some more detailed and formal planning later. Certainly when you reach the point where you are looking for investors or lenders, you will move beyond those first casual notes. Until then, drawing upon your expertise can allow you to quickly jump into the market and perhaps gain a competitive edge by using a minimalist plan.
There are many reasons for utilizing such a document. Is the final document going to be about implementing a decision already having been reached or is it about analysis and recommendations for a newly proposed activity. As noted above, a finished document may be for internal or external purposes. Externally they are often used to solicit funding for a start_up or joint venture. Whatever the purpose, do not confuse effort with say, a marketing or a production plan.