Keep Your Business Plan Simple By Using The 5W’s

Don’t make things complicated. Stick to the basics

When it comes to finding a business strategy, most people seem to overthink the process. At the start, we want everything to be perfect — which is our biggest mistake. Nothing is ever perfect.

Many startups end up getting nowhere fast by trying too many strategies at once. While trying to get their name out there, they end up trying to do more than they need to.

Plan your work and work your plan.”

Marketing is anything but simple. Marketing can be very complicated due to the changing culture and trends in society. Just when you think you’ve come up with a good marketing strategy, things change. In this case, it’s best to start with basic information. Dare I say, an elementary approach to a marketing plan.

What are the 5w’s anyway? They’re a simple way to figure something out. You may have heard them in school:

Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Using these 5W’s has helped me figure out difficult tasks in a way that I can understand. The more simplified things are, the better. Once you’ve covered the basics, you’re able to build and grow from there. Let’s see some examples of how to use the 5w’s.

For hypothetical purposes, let’s say I wanted to start a sports beverage company, yet I don’t know where to start. Using the 5W’s will help me narrow down the specifics of what I’m trying to do and how to execute the business plan.


The “who” is all about identifying. Who are we? Who is our target customer? Who are my teammates? Who are our competitors? This can be applied to many different things.

Who are we? A sports beverage company.

Who is our target customer? Athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

Who are my teammates? My teammates are 2 friends I met at the gym. Person 1 has marketing experience and Person 2 is good at product design.

Who are our competitors? Our competitors are Gatorade, Powerade, BodyArmor, Vitamin Water, and Propel.


What can we offer that’s not already available? What is our mission? What are our long term and short term goals? What is your exit strategy? This is the second most important question to ask. It’s looked at as an action question — it gets your mind trying to figure something out.

What can we offer that’s not already available? Most sports drinks aren’t that healthy and don’t do the job for intense workouts. We can offer a drink that will keep people hydrated throughout their workout and also during recovery.

What is our mission? Our mission is to provide a healthier alternative to brand name sports drinks.

What are our short term and long term goals? Our short term goal is to gain attention through fitness expos and conventions. Our long term goal is to become a household name and become the optimal choice for sports drinks. We also plan to sponsor athletes and influencers.

What is your exit strategy? Our exit strategy is to remain private, although acquisition isn’t completely off the table.


When do we plan to launch? When can my teammates fully commit? When do we expect demand? When is figuring out when the plan is going to be carried out. It’s fitting that it comes after out “what”, knowing what we are looking for we can now decide the best way to carry out the plan.

When do we plan to launch? We are looking to launch the business after the legal work is straightened out. The timeframe aims to be around Fall 2020.

When can my teammates fully commit? All of us on the team are working full-time jobs at the moment. Once sustainable momentum is reached, we can make the leap and dedicate our full attention to growing the business.

When do we expect demand? There are people already looking for a healthier alternative to drinks already in the market. Once we bring our products to market we can expect to gain a fair amount of traction.


Where do you see yourself in 5–10 years? Where are you located? Where will your products be sold? Where is primarily about location and timing. The “where” can be altered as time goes on. Some answers may be similar to “what” questions.

Where do we see ourselves in 5–10 years? In 10 years, we see the business making at least $5m MRR and having an established brand that’s popular with many sports athletes.

Where are we located? We are located in Orlando, FL.

Where will our products be sold? Our product will be available online and also in local gyms, health stores, and supermarkets.

Photo by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash


Why are we doing this? Why should people buy our product? The “why” is the most important factor in the business plan. The “why” can be seen as the heart of the business structure. Without a “why,” there isn’t a reason to do the business.

Why are we doing this? We are doing this because we have used popular drinks in the past and didn’t have the energy to continue working out or suffered during recovery. We want to provide consumers something they deserve.

Why should people buy our product? Like others, we love working out and trying to reach new levels in fitness and sports, but don’t want to consume inadequate drinks that don’t do the job. During testing, we’ve seen a noticeable difference between popular drinks and the products we offer. We want to be our best in everything they do and we want the same for others.

A Power Bonus: How?

How do we plan to get our first customers? How to we plan to maintain customers' attention? Sometimes we’ll add a sixth question to really drive the point home. For the “how”, this can be answered by reviewing the 5W’s above.

My goal wasn’t to get too deep into analytics, rather give an example of how the 5W’s can help you simplify things until you can expand on your plans. Once you have answered the 5W’s, expand on your research, and put your business plan into action.

As far as work ethic, we as humans can learn a lot from ants. Don’t be nice, be kind.

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