How Long Does It Take to Develop a Good Business Plan?

Michael Gallagher, .

When you’re busy, you always have to perform quick time-benefit analyses and when it comes to business plans, many business owners or leaders feel like the time spent will not provide commiserate benefit. Here’s the good news: it may not take as long to develop a good plan as you think.

The length of time it will take to write a business plan depends on:

  • The complexity of your business.
  • The complexity of the overall industry and market.

There is no set time, in other words. If you are a start-up without terribly complex needs, here’s a look at how the process can look when you’re working with someone experienced in developing plans.

  1. First draft: this can be put down in 3-4 hours.
  2. Review: This is the time to make changes. What was right with the first draft, what was wrong, and has anything been missed?
  3. Final draft: All changes are incorporated into the business plan and the final draft is complete.

This can be done in a grand total of 10–12 hours from start to finish. It is, admittedly, a best case scenario. A number of factors can muddy up the works a bit, such as the number of people on the planning team, the status of the company (existing vs. start-up), or intricacies within your specific industry. Your timeline is distinctly your own, but developing a good business plan need not be a time abyss that sucks you in indefinitely.


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Michael Gallagher

Mike Gallagher, President of Michael Gallagher Advisory, has spent the past 20 years helping small business owners and managers develop and implement strategic business plans, achieve sustainable, targeted growth and solve the problems that keep them up at night.