Disclosure: I own Palo Alto Software, which publishes LivePlan, web app for business planning.
The fact that it’s social media doesn’t really change what a business plan needs to cover in order to optimize management, build in accountability, and run the business:
- Review schedule: set a day of the month (for example, third Thursday) to review plan vs. actual.
- Key assumptions: you have to list them so that when the assumptions change (and they will) you’ll know what to expect to change in the plan. Review the assumptions in every monthly review meeting.
- Strategy: focus. Focus on the target users, their needs, their wants; and the offering, the site, the interface, the key benefits. This doesn’t take a lot of words. Pictures are sometimes better.
- Milestones: what’s supposed to happen when. Who is responsible. How much does it cost, and how much does it bring in.
- The basic numbers: what really matters is the cash flow but you can’t project cash flow without projected sales, costs, expenses, profits, and balance sheet.
If you’re talking about a business plan that will be the source document for seeking outside investment, which means it’s the source for the pitch and summary and so forth, then you need to make sure you also cover the following additional points:
- Management team: background, experience, expertise, responsibilities.
- Monetization (or not)
- Potential growth
- Possibility/likelihood of future exits
Everything I’ve written here applies to a social media venture but, for the record, also applies to a butcher, baker, and candlestick maker.