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16′ trailers, 16′ standard.

Need more space? The 16’ Standard provides you with more space and all the features you need for comfortable and memorable journeys.

Enjoy modern optional amenities such as a refrigerator, a stovetop, and a compact bathroom, ensuring you have all the comforts of home while on the road.

Whether you’re embarking on a solo adventure or hitting the road with loved ones, this trailer offers the perfect combination of durability, style, and roominess to make every trip an unforgettable experience.

2024 Standard Features

  • 2 Burner Propane Stove
  • Prep for A/C
  • Kitchen Sink
  • Cabinet Over Sink
  • Spare Tire & Cover
  • Mounted Rear Jacks
  • Electric Brakes
  • 2” Receiver
  • LED Exterior Lights
  • 45 Amp Power Converter
  • Outside GFI Outlet
  • Battery Disconnect Switch
  • Grey Water Tank
  • Black Water Tank w/ Toilet Pkg
  • 12 Volt Water Pump
  • 12 Volt USB Station
  • Tank Monitors
  • Water Heater
  • Refrigerator
  • 24 Series Battery Pack
  • Screen Door
  • Room Darkening Blinds
  • Rear Overhead Cabinets
  • Single LP Tank & Gauge
  • Silverware Drawer

Optional Features

  • Sink in Bathroom
  • Roof Air Conditioner
  • Heatstrip for Air Conditioner
  • Glass Stove Top (Upgrade)
  • Furnace (19,000 BTU)
  • Group 27 Battery Pack (Upgrade)
  • Wireless Brake Control
  • Backup Camera
  • 12 ft Awning
  • TV Cable Hookup
  • Dual 20lb Propane Tanks
  • Wheel for Jack
  • Storage Cover for Trailer
  • Outdoor Shower
  • Solar Panel Kit
  • Electric Tongue Jack
  • Aluminum Wheel Upgrade
  • Entrance Grab Bar
  • Trailer Anti-Sway Bar

16′ Deluxe

At 16 feet in length, this deluxe model strikes the perfect balance between spaciousness and maneuverability. Its sleek and sturdy fiberglass exterior not only ensures longevity but also adds a touch of contemporary sophistication to your travels.

Stay comfortable in any weather with efficient climate control options, or Expand your living space with the optional awning, providing the perfect setting for outdoor dining, relaxation, and taking in the scenic beauty of your surroundings

2024 Deluxe Features

  • Grey and Black Water Tank
  • Choice of Oak or Birch

16′ Floorplans

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16 ft travel trailer for sale

Casita 16 RVs for sale

1995 Casita 16

1995 Casita 16

New Braunfels, Texas

Make Casita

Category Travel Trailers

Posted Over 1 Month

1995 Casita 16 Lite Weight

2001 Casita 16 LIBERTY DELUXE 16

2001 Casita 16 LIBERTY DELUXE 16

Casa Grande, Arizona

Model 16 LIBERTY DELUXE 16

Interior update, new tires, new battery, awning w/window awnings, microwave, TV w/blue ray player, heat and air, spare tire, sway bar, holding tanks, two propane tanks, up grade LED lighting, wet bath, wheel covers and much more.

2016 Casita Spirit Deluxe 16

2016 Casita Spirit Deluxe 16

Dillsburg, Pennsylvania

Model Spirit Deluxe 16

Casita Spirit Deluxe 16 rear dinette that folds into a bed, single side dinette (seats 2), kitchen with sink, stove top burner, refrigerator, microwave, front bathroom/shower, front lower air conditioning. Options on the unit are awning, tv shelf and tv antenna. Currently located in Lakeland Florida.

2009 Casita 16 FREEDOM DELUXE

2009 Casita 16 FREEDOM DELUXE

Granbury, Texas

Model 16 FREEDOM DELUXE

LIGHT WEIGHT AND CAMPING READY! Additional pictures and description coming soon.

2014 Casita Freedom Deluxe 16

2014 Casita Freedom Deluxe 16

Springdale, Arkansas

Model Freedom Deluxe 16

2014 Casita Freedom Deluxe 16, 2014 Casita 16 Freedom Deluxe This little travel trailer is well built and can be pulled with a small truck or SUV! Very Nice! 16 foot Casita Freedom Deluxe featuring dual seating areas including a table with two captain chairs and a convertible dinette that converts into a double bed. The kitchen is loaded with a conventional oven, two burner stove top, fridge, sink along with cabinets for storage. Also has HD TV, sound system, very nice flooring and a roomy all-in-one bath. This is a must see!! Call Wheels RV for more information on this unit or others like it. Call 1.877.681.5051 or visit us at . Stop by and take a look at 1358 W De Tonti Blvd. or Hwy 412 West in Springdale, Arkansas Unit Features: Convertible Dinette, Couples Camper, Dual Dinette, Fridge, Front Bathroom, Half-Ton Towable, HD TV, Manual Awning, Shower, Sleeps 4, Sound System, V6 Towable, Vinyl Floors

2013 Casita SPIRIT DELUXE 16

2013 Casita SPIRIT DELUXE 16

Ellicott City, Maryland

Model SPIRIT DELUXE 16

Sadly, we must sell our Casita due to health issues. It is a 2013 16’ Casita Spirit Deluxe. It has been on three trips one Baltimore-Boston and two Baltimore-Gettysburg. It has a Reese weight distributing hitch and anti sway system. There are some very fine cracks in the fiberglass, and a missing rivet cap. Although the tread is good the tires and battery are original so these may need replacement. Other than that all systems were working on the last trip to Gettysburg in 2015. There is anti freeze in the gray and black water tanks. The fresh water tank has never been used as we always had a water hook up. This trailer weighs 2800 pounds and we towed it up hill at 70 mph with a 2004 Honda Odyssey with 3.8L V6. With the weight distribution and anti sway system we barely knew it was there. The only issue I have had with it is that the AC is not quite strong enough for a very hot and humid East Coast day. Includes the cover and wheel covers (not shown) and numerous accessories. I'm still researching what a fair price is for this little used 3 year old trailer.

2008 Casita Casita 16 SPIRIT DLX

2008 Casita Casita 16 SPIRIT DLX

Houston, Texas

Model Casita 16 SPIRIT DLX

2008 Casita 16 SPIRIT DLX, Stock Number: T17416' 2008 Casita.This 2008 Casita Spirit Deluxe has been Used Very Little. Always Kept Inside or in Covered Storage. Features include....1 Non-Ducted Air Conditioner, 3 Way Refrigerator and 2 Burner Range. Easy to Tow - Hook Up and Head Out!FOR MORE INFO CONTACT US AT [email protected] OR CALL 1-800-755-4775

2012 Casita Spirit 16

2012 Casita Spirit 16

Tempe, Arizona

2012 Casita Spirit 16, Greetings Campers, This Casita is in pristine condition! Don't miss out on this one. It's loaded with AC, furnace, water heater, microwave, stove, and much more. Its cleanliness is what will sweep you off your feet. Please come by our store or call 480-894-1267. Sincerely, Tom's Camperland

2014 Casita 17' SPIRIT DELUXE

2014 Casita 17' SPIRIT DELUXE

Corsicana, Texas

Model 17' SPIRIT DELUXE

Running Gear/Chassis -15" Tires/Wheels D-range - OptionTorsion Rubber Ride SuspensionHigh Lift Axle - OptionSpare Tire w/CoverElectric BrakesSafety ChainsWelded Stabilizer JackCurt Friction Anti Sway Control - OptionTongue Jack WheelLug WrenchExterior -2 Piece Custom Marine Grade Fiberglass BodyOutside Storage CompartmentExterior Door Light Two 20 lb Gas BottlesLP Tank CoverAutomatic Change Over RegulatorLicense Plate Holder w/LightLED Running/Tail/Stop LightsCity Water Connection25' Service Cord, 30 AmpLocking Power Cord HatchLocking Fresh Water Fill12V Battery Pack110 Volt Exterior OutletBubble Levels Interior - Custom Marine Grade Fiberglass FurnitureWrap Around Overhead StoragePlush Carpet Lined Storage CompartmentsSide Overhead Carpet Lined Storage12 Volt Lighting12 Volt Outlet110 Volt Interior OutletsIndoor/Outdoor CarpetVinyl Flooring - Option4" CushionsOpening Screened WindowsMini BlindsWardrobe ClosetFantastic Power Fan Roof VentConverter/Battery ChargerDeluxe InsulationScreen DoorBathroom and Plumbing - Custom Marine Grade Fiberglass Bathroom ShowerLavatoryToiletOpening, Screened, Bath Window w/Obscure Glass15 Gallon Black Water Tank25 Gallon Fresh Water Tank - Option32 Gallon Gray Water TankWater Heater 6 Gal, Gas, Electric, Electronic Ignition12 Volt Power Bath VentWater Heater By-Pass Kit12 Volt Demand Water SystemOutside Shower/Wash Station - OptionSewer HoseSewer Hose StorageSafety - Safety Egress WindowSmoke DetectorLP Gas Detector Safety Fire ExtinguisherSafety Breakaway SwitchSafety ChainsDead Bolt Door LockGFI Electrical CircuitKitchen and Appliances - Power Range Hood w/LightRange Cover - OptionSink Cover - OptionTwo Burner CooktopSilverware DrawerMicrowave Ready Package3-way Refrigerator 4.0 cu ftRoof Mount A/C w/Heat StripFurnace 16,000 BTU - Option22" Samsung Flat Screen HD Television - Purchased and Mounted by the ManufacturerTV Shelf - OptionCable Ready - OptionAwning - OptionWater HoseBlow Out PlugWater Pressure RegulatorHitch LockDish Network Dish and Receiver - Purchased

2013 Casita 17' SPIRIT DELUXE

2013 Casita 17' SPIRIT DELUXE

Paris, Texas

Like new! Excellent condition. Every option loaded even Custom memory foam mattress and custom leather cushions. Been used about 5 nights! One owner female(girly curtains,lol) but has all the original cushions( blue set )that came with camper never been set on! See specs in pic ,sleeps 2-4, length 17', height 8'11",Brand new 15" tires, high lift axle, spare tire W cover, electric brakes, safety chains, welded stabilizer jacks, electric tongue jack, torsion rubber ride suspension, marine grade Fiberglas body,2 -20lb gas bottles,Lp tank cover, 12v Battery pack,110 v exterior outlet,bubble levels,vinyl flooring,fantastic fan, converter battery charger,deluxe insulation,screen Door, carpet lined storage, 12v lighting, 12v outlet, 110 volt outlets, mini blinds,25 gal fresh water,32 gal grey water,15 gal black water, marine bathroom shower-lavatory- toilet, water heater 6 gal gas/electric electronic ignition, 12v demand water system, sewer hose & storage, refrigerator/freezer 4.0 cu ft, 2 burner cooktop w cover, power range hood w light, sink w cover, roof mount AC w heat strip,16k BTU furnace,flat screen HD mounted TV w DVD,tv antenna w amp,cable ready w extra outlet for satellite, full length front awning, water hose, blow out plug, water pressure regulator, hitch lock, lots of overhead and beneath storage.Outside shower/wash station,smoke and Lpgas detectors, fire extinguisher, safety break away switch, dead bolt door lock, GFI electric circuit, safety egress window. 5000 lb hitch rating with 500 lb tongue load, and much more..This unit has every option available on 2013 Spirit Deluxe . I love my trailer.. but I'm wanting a motor coach.call or email me with questions.

2015 casita patriot 13' fiberglass trailer in new condition

2015 casita patriot 13' fiberglass trailer in new condition

Reno, Nevada

Model Patriot

2015 casita molded fiberglass travel trailer,13ft long (overall length) patriot deluxe model with bathroom,The patriot model is no longer being made it is discontinued,Will be sought after and hard to find as they are no longer available,Trailer is still in brand new condition only used once on a weekend trip,Garage kept, bathroom stove hot water heater and air conditioner never used,1 owner ordered new from casita Dry weight is 1880 pounds and has a hitch weight of 245 pounds,Very light and easy to tow with smaller vehicles, Included amenities, High lift axle for better ground clearance, 15" wheels/tires d range, Rear bumper mounted Spare tire with cover Stabilizer jacks, Electric trailer brakes, L.E.D lights throughout entire trailer, Fantastic fan, Air conditioning, thermostatically controlled furnace 16,000 B.T.U, Interior convenience package, Optioned with vinyl flooring instead of carpet, Under cabinet mounted LCD Tv/DVD player done by casita, Sink with cover 2 burner stove with cover and 3 way dometic fridge, Holding tanks, fresh 16 gallons, grey 13 gallons, black 15 gallons, 6 gallon hot water heater gas/electric, Dual L.P.G. Tanks 5 gallon each, Plus all standard equipment,~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ No pets or smoking ever, Needs nothing it's ready to go, no issues or damage to anything, Includes owners manuals and literature from casita, Call for more information (775)409-9291 john, thank you

2011 Casita 17' Spirit Deluxe

2011 Casita 17' Spirit Deluxe

Los Angeles, California

Model 17' Spirit Deluxe

2011 17’ Casita Spirit DELUXE. Excellent condition! Many upgrades. These travel trailers are very rare in California, especially in such great condition, and less than five years old. They are only sold new ‘factory direct’ from Rice, TX.These campers are well know for their excellent construction and long life. Located in Los Angeles, CA, a bit north of LAX.Just waxed and is super clean. No weird smells. We ordered it new from the factory and picked it up ourselves in October 2011No pets ever inside Casita. Non-smoking. No one ever smoked in it. Odor free.Very light usage. It has been covered mostly, including the tires.Interior, exterior, and tires are in really, really excellent condition.Reason for selling: Our growing family has outgrown it.It easily sleeps three people. It is great for camping either with sewer water and 120v hookups, ....... OR you can camp 100% self contained, with things running on propane and 12v. ¿Factory-Installed options include:HVAC* Furnace, runs on the trailer’s propane¿Fiamma F45S awning - we used it very lightly¿fridge power vent fan¿25 gallon fresh water tank upgrade¿outside shower option vinyl flooring¿anti-sway bar for towing¿high lift axle package¿factory-installed weight distributing hitch (WDH). (Curt model 17000)When not in use, the anode was removed and the water system drained. Included: custom-made Calmark fabric cover, deluxe surge protector, Lifeline GPL 27T deep cycle sealed AGM battery, Progressive Dynamics 4645 converter, tri-level wheel leveler¿The upgrades that I did to the Casita are:replaced all interior light bulbs with LED. installed a Maxx Air fan / rain cover, replaced fuses with EZ ID LED fuse kit¿The casita is currently registered in California with tags that expire October 2016. Clean title. We are the first and only owners. The Casita has electric brakes and I strongly suggest that your tow vehicle would have an (added on) brake controller to your tow vehicle..You’ll need a vehicle that is capable of towing 3,500 lbs, 365 lbs hitch weight. (as per Casita specs) No dealers. Serious buyers only please.Please include your phone # in any message to me if you want a call back.Include your phone # for a call back, if need be.We are selling ours for $16,500 John (in Los Angeles)¿johnr.5170 (at) yahoo (dot) com~ ~ ~

Casita Spirit Deluxe - 17'  LOADED

Casita Spirit Deluxe - 17' LOADED

Kansas City, Missouri

Model Spirit Deluxe

Casita Spirit Deluxe 2011 Immaculate 2011 Casita Spirit Deluxe. $16,900 One owner, Non Smoker. Estimated less than 6,000 miles. Farthest trip was from Kansas City to Gettysburg, TN. How’s this for “Like New”? The furnace has never been used, not even turned on! Loaded with factory upgrades and aftermarket updates. Casita’s Interior Convenience Package, Awning, vinyl floor, sway bar, high lift suspension, cable ready, mounted flat screen TV (an upgraded from the table mounted factory TV), DVD player, AC, Refrigerator, Gas/elect/12volt, Shower and toilet, 2 burner cook top, Microwave. A couple of nice aftermarket updates to mention: Custom fitted and professionally-made mattress Alarm clock mount The tires are in great shape. The exterior looks great and has been covered much of its life. The tongue has even been covered when camping and it looks like new. The original paperwork comes with it including the referral pass along cards Casita provides new owners. You have got to see this Casita to believe it. The trailer has been winterized and is ready for a new home.

2010 Casita 17' Liberty Deluxe

2010 Casita 17' Liberty Deluxe

Big Horn, Wyoming

Model 17' Liberty Deluxe

2010 Casita 17' Liberty Deluxe , This trailer is in mint condition with no fading of the graphics or chalking of the fiberglass. It has always been garaged with no smoking, pets, or kids. It has seen very little use. Virtually all factory options are installed, including a 16K BTU furnace, electronic ignition gas/electric water heater, Fantastic roof fan, high lift upgrade, 25 gallon water tank, awning, and D-rated tires. A 2" trailer hitch has been installed for carrying bikes, kayaks, etc. I have installed the following new equipment which has been tested but never taken on a trip: satellite TV antenna, 19" flat screen TV, Xantrex 1800 watt inverter with two 12 volt Optima AGM batteries, eleven LED lights and a microwave. The twin beds have been converted to one large bed which gives a huge amount of storage in plastic tubs in the aisle beneath the bed. A better equipped, better condition Casita you cannot find. My wife's health forces its sale. $14,900. Sheridan, Wyoming (307-752-0276) Clear, clean title in hand. $14,900.00 3077520276

2013 Casita Freedom Deluxe

2013 Casita Freedom Deluxe

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Model Freedom Deluxe

Beautiful 16 foot travel trailer. Comes with weight distribution and solar panel package. We offer financing options with $0-10% down. Ask for Brandon.

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Crafting a business plan is a delicate balancing act. It demands a deep understanding of your market, a clear value proposition, realistic financial projections, a competent team, and the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. 

All too frequently, an entrepreneur or business owner may lean on a business plan template or outsourced freelancer, bypassing the essential strategic work that needs to go behind it. This often results in a business plan that is generic and lacks the specific details and insights that make the business unique.

Remember, a good business plan is not just a document; it's a reflection of your business idea and strategy. It's an opportunity to delve deep into your business idea, understand your market, define your value proposition, and plan for your business's future.

So, whether you're a first-time entrepreneur with a new business idea or a small business owner looking to expand, here are some common mistakes made during the business planning process.

Insufficient Market Research

Market research is the foundation of business planning. It's the key to unlocking a profound understanding of your target audience, offering invaluable insights that can steer your business decisions. Without comprehensive market research, you risk basing your strategies on assumptions about your customers' needs and preferences, a misstep that can lead to expensive errors and overlooked opportunities.

In the rapidly evolving business landscape, the freshness of your data is paramount. Markets are in a constant state of flux, and data that was accurate a year ago may not hold true today. This is particularly relevant in the wake of the recent pandemic, which has caused seismic shifts across every industry. 

Therefore, it's crucial to not only use the most recent data but also understand the context behind the numbers. This involves analyzing the data in relation to your business goals, industry trends, and market dynamics. It's about asking the right questions: What do these numbers mean for your business? How do they impact your target audience? What opportunities do they present, and what challenges do they pose?

The real value of market research lies in your ability to interpret the data, identify gaps and opportunities, and apply these insights to your business strategy. It's about turning raw data into actionable intelligence that can inform your business decisions.

There's a wide array of tools at your disposal for conducting market research , from free resources to premium platforms. Government resources such as the U.S. Census Bureau can offer a wealth of insights into consumer behavior and market trends. However, for more granular and industry-specific data, you might need to turn to premium sources like IBISWorld or paid industry reports.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a potent tool for market research. However, it's important to exercise caution when using AI for data collection. Even advanced AI tools like ChatGPT-4, with the aid of browser plugins, can sometimes provide inaccurate data. Therefore, always cross-verify the sources and accuracy of the data obtained from AI. Remember, a single oversight in your market research can undermine the credibility of your entire business plan.

Where AI truly shines is in its ability to analyze vast amounts of data swiftly and accurately, revealing patterns and trends that might be challenging to discern manually.

Beyond online research, don't underestimate the power of direct interaction with potential customers. Conducting surveys or simply engaging in conversations can offer firsthand insights into your customers' needs and preferences, often revealing valuable information that isn't readily available in online data.

Ignoring Your Target Customer

Your target audience is the lifeblood of your business. They are the people who will use your product or service, advocate for your brand, and ultimately drive your revenue. Therefore, it's crucial to understand who they are, what they need, and what they value.

Start by creating customer personas . These are detailed profiles of your ideal customers, including demographic information, interests, pain points, and buying behavior. This will help you understand your customers' needs and preferences, allowing you to tailor your business plan to meet these needs .

However, understanding your customer is only half the battle. The other half is communicating how your product or service meets their needs and adds value to their lives. This is where understanding your unique value proposition comes into play.

Your value proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors and persuades customers to choose your product or service. Highlight the unique benefits that you offer, such as superior quality, convenience, or affordability. Use clear, concise language that resonates with your target audience. Your value proposition should be the cornerstone of all your marketing efforts, from your website copy to your social media posts.

Neglecting Competitive Analysis

In the realm of business, being unaware of your competitors is a recipe for disaster. Overlooking your competitors can leave you unprepared and unable to counter their strategies effectively. As such, a comprehensive competitive analysis should be a fundamental part of your business plan.

Begin by pinpointing your primary competitors. Scrutinize their products or services, pricing strategies, marketing approaches, and customer feedback. This analysis will help you comprehend their strengths and weaknesses, and identify opportunities for differentiation.

Digital tools can be a great help in this regard. For instance, you can use AI tools like ChatGPT-4 to analyze a competitor's website and summarize its products, services, and unique value proposition. This can give you a clear idea of how your competitors position themselves in the market.

Next, delve into what customers are saying about your competitors. Online reviews on platforms like Yelp! or Google Reviews can provide invaluable insights into what customers like and dislike about your competitors' offerings. This can help you identify gaps in their products or services that you can fill.

If the competitor has a brick-and-mortar location, pay it a visit. Use your powers of observation and take note of their customer service, the arrangement of their store, their product presentations, and any other aspects that could provide insights into their operations. If your business offers a service, consider reaching out to competitors as a potential customer. This can provide valuable information about their pricing structure and sales approach.

Numerous entrepreneurs succumb to the misconception that they have no competitors because their idea is genuinely innovative. Even if your offering is revolutionary, your potential customers are currently allocating their resources elsewhere. This concept aligns with the "Jobs to Be Done" theory, which posits that customers "hire" products or services to perform specific "jobs" or fulfill certain needs. Therefore, you're competing with whatever your potential customers are currently "hiring" to do the job your product or service aims to do, whether it's a similar product, a different solution to the same problem, or even an entirely different product that accomplishes the same job. These constitute your indirect competitors, and comprehending them is just as vital as understanding your direct competitors.

By meticulously examining your direct and indirect competitors, you can start to identify areas where you can distinguish yourself. Your competitive edge lies in the unique traits or abilities that make your business outshine others in your market. This advantage could be derived from your groundbreaking technology, exclusive processes, exceptional team, or a strong brand reputation.

To convey your competitive advantage, your business plan must express how you plan to capitalize on it. This could involve showcasing your innovative technology, underscoring your team's expertise, or demonstrating your brand's solid reputation. Remember, business is a competition, and your goal is to win by convincing customers to choose you over your competitors.

Forgetting The Goal

Different stakeholders have different expectations and requirements from a business plan. For instance, a bank looking at your business plan for a loan application will have different criteria than a potential investor considering an equity investment.

A bank is primarily concerned with your ability to repay the loan. They will focus on your financial projections, cash flow, and collateral. They want to see that your business is stable and has a reliable source of income to service the debt. Therefore, when writing a business plan for a bank , you should emphasize your financial stability and risk management strategies.

On the other hand, an investor is looking for growth potential and a return on their investment. They are interested in your business model, market opportunity, competitive advantage, and exit strategy. They want to see that your business has the potential to scale and deliver a significant return. Therefore, when writing a business plan for an investor , you should highlight your growth strategy and potential return on investment.

Your internal strategic plan, however, serves a different purpose. It's a tool for setting your business goals, defining your strategies for achieving them, and identifying metrics for measuring your progress. It's more detailed and operational than a business plan for external stakeholders. It includes specific tasks, responsibilities, and timelines. Therefore, when writing an internal strategic plan, you should focus on your operational plans and key performance indicators (KPIs).

The language and tone of your business plan should also be adapted to your audience. A business plan intended for a bank or potential investors should be formally written and highly professional, while an internal strategic plan can be more straightforward, using bullet points and an iterative approach that allows for adjustments as needed.

Finally, consider how you'll present your business plan. Banks may not require a highly visual presentation and might prefer a more traditional, text-heavy document. Investors, on the other hand, value more impact, such as a pitch deck or a well-designed executive summary that can help them quickly understand your business model and growth potential.

Being Unrealistic About Your Financial Projections

When it comes to financial projections, achieving a balance between optimism and realism is key. It's crucial to demonstrate to investors that your business has the potential for success, but it's equally important to show that you have a clear understanding of the market and your financials. Overly optimistic projections can raise red flags for investors, leading them to question your financial management skills and decision-making abilities. Conversely, overly conservative projections may make your business appear less appealing and unlikely to yield substantial returns.

Thorough research, market trend analysis, and expert consultation are crucial to creating realistic and achievable financial projections that align with your business goals. By doing so, you gain confidence from lenders and investors and increase the likelihood of securing funding for your business.

To estimate your revenue, consider factors like your pricing strategy, sales volume, and market size. It's important to be conservative in your estimates and consider a sensitivity analysis with best-case and worst-case scenarios.

When forecasting your revenue, consider whether to a bottom-up or a top-down approach . A bottom-up approach starts with the unit sales (like a single product sale) and scales up, while a top-down approach starts with the total market size and estimates what portion of that market you can capture. Both approaches have their merits and can provide valuable insights when used together.

Fixed expenses, such as rent and salaries, remain constant regardless of your business activity, while variable costs, like raw materials and shipping, fluctuate depending on your business activity. By accurately estimating your revenue and expenses , you can create a realistic budget that helps you avoid financial pitfalls.

Don't stop with just the financial forecast, because that alone is only part of your financial health. Your cash flow projection should include your expected cash inflows from sales and other sources, and your expected cash outflows for expenses and investments. This will help you anticipate periods of negative cash flow and plan for contingencies.

In your financial planning, be sure to assess the company's break-even point, which is when your total revenue equals your total costs, and demonstrates the point at which your business becomes profitable. 

Neglecting the Importance of Your Team

Your team members are more than just employees; they are the catalysts propelling your business's growth and development. When investors, lenders, and other stakeholders scrutinize your business plan, they are looking for a team that is not only skilled and experienced but also cohesive and committed.

Begin by introducing each key team member. Include their name, role, and a brief biography that highlights their relevant skills and experience. The qualifications of your team should extend beyond their educational background and work history. Emphasize their unique "soft skills" and other talents that make them indispensable to your business. Consider their history of success and how their past experiences can contribute to the growth of your business.

Moreover, the cohesion of your team is equally significant. Illustrate how your team members' skills complement each other and how they work collectively to achieve your business goals.

If you haven't assembled your team yet, discuss your plans for recruitment and training. Outline the qualities and skills you're looking for in potential team members, and explain how you plan to attract and retain top talent. Discuss your strategies for fostering a positive and productive work environment, and how you plan to train your team to ensure they have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

Thinking Your Business Plan is Done

Your business plan is a dynamic document that should mirror your evolving business reality and market conditions. It's not a one-off task, but an ongoing process that demands regular review and revision.

To ensure your business plan remains pertinent and effective, it should be reviewed and updated regularly. Establish a review schedule, such as quarterly or annually, and adhere to it. During each review, evaluate your progress towards your goals, identify any shifts in your market or industry, and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Market trends fluctuate, new technologies surface (looking at you AI), and customer preferences change. Keep your finger on the pulse of market trends and disruptions, and be prepared to seize new opportunities as they emerge. This could involve embracing new technologies, penetrating new markets, or pivoting your product or service. By being proactive and adaptable, you can convert market changes and opportunities into a competitive edge.

If your current strategy isn't working, or if new opportunities arise, your business plan should guide you in knowing how and when you need to pivot . This might involve changing your target market, adjusting your product or service, or adopting a new business model. By being flexible and responsive, you can ensure your business remains competitive and resilient in the face of change.

By steering clear of these common mistakes, you can craft a business plan that is comprehensive, compelling, and convincing to your stakeholders. A well-constructed business plan not only aids in attracting funding and customers but also serves as a roadmap for your business's success. Invest the time to do it right, and your business will reap the rewards.

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Business Plan: A Beginner’s Guide with Types and Templates

Deskera Content Team

Setting up your own company, business, or startup could be an overwhelming process. It involves a variety of operations that need to be carried out in areas such as legal, financial, sales, among others. All these operations are a part of the Business Plan. The question here is what is a business plan and how do you go about writing it?

Business Plan

This article takes you on a detailed journey of writing a business plan apart from the following points:

  • Understanding a business plan
  • Elements of a business plan
  • Types of business plans
  • We also see why making a business plan is important
  • How to write a step-by-step business plan?
  • We also look into why some business plans fail.
  • Business plans FAQ

What Is a Business Plan?

The startup of a company requires knowing and addressing many problems — legal issues, finance, sales and commercialization, protection of intellectual property, protection of liability, and more.

A business plan is defined as a written document that comprises business details, the company’s goals, and methods to achieve these goals. A business plan contains a comprehensive framework for the company in terms of marketing, finance, and operations.

Business plans serve a significant purpose. They are documents that can assist in inviting potential investment before a substantiated record of success has been ascertained. It helps create a good platform for businesses to continue to pursue targets.

Drafting a business plan is specifically useful for a startup or new enterprise. Optimally, the plan will be periodically restructured to see if objectives have been achieved or changed throughout the years. The companies may also decide after some time to redraw and upgrade the business plan to give a new direction after establishment.

Understanding Business Plans

Fundamentally, a business plan is a key document that must be put in place before start-up activities. Therefore, before new companies can provide their capital, banks and risk-capital companies often make a viable business plan a necessary precondition.

It is highly advisable to define a business plan before commencing any operations of the business. There have been examples of companies not lasting long without a competent business plan. It helps the businesses take decisions on matters of investments, learn about potential risks and adapt to new trends.

A strong business plan defines a company's identity, what it does, how it does it, and where it's headed. It is easier to grasp a company plan if you keep this history in mind. The core team or the people in a company's internal dynamics shapes its policies and objectives, or participates in the capital budgeting process must be able to comprehend a business plan.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to understanding the complicated and detailed document.

Executive Summary

Being the first section in a business plan, it comprises the summary of the entire strategy of the company. This 2 to 3-page summary presents the vision statement and brings into perspective the rest of the strategy.

  • Table of Contents

This comes after the executive summary. This should be looked into carefully to know if there are any particular aspects you would want to know the details about.

The next few sections can tell you a lot about who the adversaries are and what sort of products and services does the company offer. Any kind of issues that the company faces or even its capabilities are mentioned in this section.

Look for Management Capabilities

Within these sections, there would be information about the people playing key roles in the company. You can know about their qualifications and expertise from the document. These spaces will also consist of the description of the location of the company. It would be good to know about it to assess if it is strategically situated.

Operations Section

This section comprehensively describes the manufacturing, marketing, selling of products carried out by the business. Its customer support and other services can be assessed from this section.

Finances and Forecast Section

This could be helpful in understanding the revenue, expenditure, and other critical financial aspects of the organization. A complete chart of costs, risk analyses, and earnings estimates can be accessed through this section. This space also provides details about how these important digits were arrived at.

Final Section

This helps you understand the company’s targets and projections and the measures they wish to take for accomplishing the same. This will also share a glimpse of the ways in which the resources or funds from the investors will be used.

Elements of a Business Plan

Typically, a 20-25 page document, business plan varies hugely based on the type and size of the business. The details or the depth of the plan could be diverse and entail different kinds of elements. However, there are some crucial elements that come under the main plan and are also a part of the appendices.

Although, business plans are different, here are some common critical elements that are included in all the plans. Let’s look at them one by one:

This is the point that elaborately explains the mission of the company. Besides, it also includes information about the company’s management leaders, employees, functions.

Products and Services

This point includes all the products or services that the company is offering. Apart from the names of these products, services, it also comprises the details pertaining to the product such as the pricing, longevity, and benefits that the customers can avail of from its services.

Other information that could be a part of this point, includes production and manufacturing processes. It may also showcase any patents or proprietary technology that the company has acquired. A research and development report is also a part of this element.

Market Analysis

A company must have a thorough understanding of its sector as well as its intended audience. A market analysis will show you the expected demand for the products that the company sells. It will also help you know what difficulties you could face from the competitors. This will also assist you with an insight into the expertise of the contemporaries along with their strengths and drawbacks.

Marketing Strategy

This section explains how the organization plans to recruit and retain customers, as well as how it plans to reach out to them. This necessitates the creation of a distinct distribution channel. It will also detail branding, brand awareness and email marketing campaign plans , as well as the forms of media via which such efforts will be carried out.

Financial Planning

The organization should incorporate its financial planning and future estimates in order to persuade the other parties to review its business plan. The established companies may include income statements , balance sheets, and so on; On the other hand, new enterprises will include objectives and projections for the initial years of operation, as well as venture capitalists.

Every good business should have a budget in place. This comprises expenses such as employment, innovation, production, advertising, and any other business-related expenditure.

Types of Business Plans

The company management and investors can use business plans to help them start and grow their company. A company prepares a business plan to describe the objectives that will forecast and organize for expansion and to understand each area of the firm. A business plan is written by competent entrepreneurs to direct management and attract investment funds.

Business plans are drawn based on the requirements of the company. With this in mind, there are the following types of business plans:

Business Plans for Startups

A start-up business plan should outline the actions necessary to launch a new firm. It also includes a financial study with spreadsheets that describe financial concepts such as income, profit, and cash flow estimates. This may also be used by potential investors to gain an insight into the financial status of the startup. The startup business plans give clarity on market analysis, the product or service that the startup will provide besides the set goals.

Internal Business Plans

Internal plans detail project marketing, staffing, and technology costs. This document will summarise the company's present situation, including administrative performance and profitability, before determining whether and how the company would repay any project-related cash. These are written for a limited audience within the company, such as the marketing team evaluating a proposed initiative. They usually comprise a market study that shows the intended audience, competitive landscape, and the market's beneficial impact on corporate profits.

Business Plans for Strategic Business Development

A strategic business plan lays out a structural plan by providing a high-level picture of the company's objectives and how it moves to achieve them. While the framework of a strategic business plan varies per firm, typically contain five elements:

  • The vision statement
  • The mission statement
  • Defining the key performance factors
  • tactics for accomplishing objectives
  • Timeframe for implementation

A strategic business plan engages personnel at all levels of the organization in the big picture, motivating them to collaborate to achieve the company's objectives

Business Plans for Scalability

A feasibility or scalability business plan considers two key issues regarding a planned business endeavor:

  • If there will be buyers for the products or services that the company intends to sell.
  • Whether or not the enterprise will be profitable.

This plan highlights the details of the demand of the product or service and the associated target audience for the said product. A feasibility study typically concludes by providing recommendations for the future.

Business Plans for Operations

These include features regarding the operations of the company and hence, the name. The plan specifies the deployment benchmarks and timelines for the future year. It also entails employee responsibilities.

Business Plans for Growth

These are also known as the plans for expansion and are created for both, internal as well as external use. This plan features the details around the following points:

  • Detailed and specific highlights about the company
  • Details of officials as the company

It is important to chalk out this plan and give the relevant corporate details to convince the potential investors.

The Importance of Making a Business Plan

Entrepreneurs frequently utilize business plans. It is doable to travel without a business strategy, but doing so will simply raise the chances of wandering aimlessly along the trip. This helps them to steer clear of any potential problems and putting themselves in a situation where they may have to keep asking for directions.

Therefore, business plans are necessary to help business owners in observing the broader picture, planning for the future, making critical decisions, and increasing their overall chances of success.

Defining organizational goals

A small business, a startup, an established business; all need a business plan. When it comes to small businesses, the business plans can be helpful in structuring the goals of the organization. It can allow you to monitor and govern everything you've strived to produce if you use it correctly and use it on a frequent basis. Finally, it can serve as a reliable tool for management to stay on track with administrative milestones.

To assist you in making important decision

The fundamental objective of a good business plan is to assist business owners in making better decisions. Companies don't always have the opportunity to take time and analyzing all of the implications of a decision. A company plan can help with this. Management frequently deals with a never-ending exercise in making decisions and dealing with crises. Developing a business plan involves estimating the outcome with some of the most important company actions.

Minimize Risks

Handling the operations of a business can involve risky steps, but it tends to become much more sustainable with a well-thought business strategy. Developing accounting period predictions, logistics planning, and a thorough knowledge of the future outlook can assist with mitigating the risk of a job that is intrinsically insecure.

A business plan makes it easier to find better solutions, leads to better decisions, and see a clearer picture of the organizational future.

Obtain Funding

While there are multiple activities for which a business plan is required, a major reason why you may need it is to secure funding from venture capitalists. The most effective means of demonstrating your competence is through a business plan, which is usually a prerequisite for anyone seeking outside funding. And anyway, anyone considering investing in your company will want to know it's in fantastic form and will be profitable in the long run.

To serve as a resource for service providers

Contractors, freelancers, and other experts are commonly a part of an organization. They are important people as they help with some of the crucial duties such as bookkeeping, legal aid, consulting, and so on. Having a business plan in place will help them get a fair idea of the key portions of areas where they are required.

To prevent unnecessary blunders

A business plan can help understand the reasons and avoid potential mistakes and blunders. Some of the most commonly observed mistakes could be:

  • Capital troubles: Cash flow troubles or just running out of money are both examples of a lack of capital.
  • No Appreciation: Nobody buys what you're selling since there isn't a market for it.
  • Insufficient team: This emphasizes the significance of employing the correct personnel to assist you in running your company.
  • Excessive competition: It's difficult to make a consistent profit when there's huge competition.

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Create an Excellent Business Plan

Let's speak about certain guidelines that will make the entire company planning process more efficient before you start writing your business plan. We have put together the following points to direct you towards writing a goal-oriented business plan.

Easy Business Plan

Keep it concise

A long business plan which has over 50 pages will not only consume a lot of time in drafting but may not essentially be efficient in the long run. The foundation of writing a business plan is to quickly write it and move on with the tasks defined in it.

Moreover, it is a tool to help the company grow; it will require to be fine-tuned continuously, and therefore, it is best to keep it short and precise.

Audience-centric

Make your business plan by keeping in mind the audience who would be referring to it for accomplishing their goals. An example is if the business plan is aimed at readers that consist of investors as the primary audience, it would be wise to draft it in a language that would be comprehended by them.

Test viability of your business

The more tests you conduct for the elements mentioned in your plan, the better the business plan. Elements of a business plan, as we know now, could include anything from mission and vision statement to products and services. It is recommended you get approval or feedback on the elements included in your business plan.

Determine your aims and objectives

You should have a clear idea of what you want to obtain out of your company from the start. Determine if you are looking for a complete overhaul of your business?  Or if you are aiming to expand your employee base?  Knowing what you want to achieve can help you design a company plan that is tailored to these objectives.

Don’t Get Discouraged

You might be a new entrepreneur who has just started to look for setting up a business plan. No matter, how daunting this may seem in the beginning, it is good you do not get intimidated by the process.

Although initially writing a business plan may seem difficult, all you need is to be confident and expert in your field. If you're an expert in your field and know everything there is to know about it, then this is all that takes to establish a business strategy.

With this information, we move on to the main section of this article which explains a step-by-step process to write a business plan.

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How to write a business plan, step by step.

While writing a business plan, there could be two scenarios that could be considered:

  • Traditional Business Plan
  • Lean Startup Plan

Let’s look at each of these in detail:

Traditional Business Plan Format

If you're particularly looking for specifics, want a complete plan, or plan to seek funding from conventional sources, you could choose a typical business plan structure. Instead of following the conventional model, focus on the portions that are most relevant to your business and needs. You could use a combination of the sections in the conventional plan to describe how your company can benefit the reader.

Executive Summary: Points that can go here are:

  • Mission statement
  • Talk about your products and services
  • Information regarding the key personnel, employees
  • Location of the company
  • Also, some high-level plans for growth, in case you wish to seek funds.

Company Details: This includes all the minute details of your company. Talk about what kind of solutions your company provides. Points to be included here are:

  • Problems that you can solve
  • Enlist your consumers or businesses you wish to serve
  • Mention the distinguishing feature or the USP of your company
  • Mention the expertise held by the key people involved
  • Include a complete overview of the strengths of your company

Market Analysis: You must closely understand your business perspective and the target market. Through thorough competitive analysis, you could assess the market trends and seek answers to the following questions:

  • What are the current trends in the market?
  • What are the success mantras of other companies?
  • Will you be able to achieve what they are doing?
  • Do you need more expertise to do it better?

Company and Management: This section is about informing your audience about how and who is in charge of the business. This would be an apt space to describe the points mentioned:

  • Company’s legal structure.
  • Declare of your company is a general or limited partnership.
  • Determine if you want your business to be a C or S corporation
  • Also, state if you are the only proprietor or a Limited Liability company.

Products and Services: This section explain the products and services that you wish to sell. Include these under this section:

  • Let your audience know of your planning to get a patent, intellectual property, or copyright fr your products.
  • Explain the R&D process undertaken with regards to a particular product or service.
  • Also, describe the product lifecycle and the benefits of your product.

Marketing and Sales: With the varying requirements per company, the marketing strategies can be unique to all. Based on your domain and industry, you must explain the following points in this section:

  • Describe the appeal and retention of customers
  • How a sale really is going to take place
  • Make revenue projections and forecasts

Funding Application/Request: This area will explain your funding requirements in case you apply for funding. You should also make these points clear:

  • How often and how much funding you shall require
  • Explain how you plan to use it over the years (providing the number of years would be appropriate)
  • Mention the terms and conditions agreeable by you
  • If you would want to take a debt or an equity
  • Explain your expenses like your bills, employee salaries, purchase of new equipment, etc.
  • Always mention your debt repayment strategies.

Financial/Revenue Projections: This goes hand-in-hand with your funding request. It brings forth your company’s stability, sustainability, and growth prospects. Here’s what should go in this section:

  • All the revenue reports, balance, and income statements for the past 5 years in case yours is an established company.
  • Enlist any guarantees you can levy against a loan
  • Explain your financial growth plan for the next 5 years.
  • Income forecasts, expenditures, and budgets
  • Present a graphical analysis through charts to depict your monthly/quarterly growth plan.

Appendix: This section could be used to attach other essential documents such as:

  • Legal documents
  • Product pictures, if demanded.
  • Credit history
  • Licenses, etc.

Let’s look at the startup business plan and its design.

Startup Business Plan

Although all the business plans comprise of the nice segments, the startup business plan can touch upon each one of those without going much into the details. Moreover, as compared to the traditional plan, this one provides you a lot more agility in terms of making amendments. This would be beneficial as a startup frequently undergoes a lot of changes in its initial years.

Let’s look at the components you’ll be adding to your startup business plan:

Customer Segment: This section explains who your target customers or audience will be. While there could be numerous segments enlisted in this section, it would be wise to identify the ones that your business will most appeal to. Identifying them and naming them here is crucial.

Value Proposition: This is intended for the different audiences your business wishes to serve, The value your business holds or offers to them can be different. In this section, you describe how and what value proposition you will be making for each of those businesses/customers. It is important to figure this out and write it down here as that indicates the value-add your company holds.

Channels: This displays the communication channels you will be using to covey your propositions to your customers.

Customer Relationships: This will highlight your ways of maintaining communication with your customers. You can list down the ways through which you shall be communicating: whether they will be informed through automated emails or will you be connecting with them personally, all goes in here.

Revenue Streams: This point elaborates on where your revenue or income is coming from. An already established business may have multiple sources of income but if yours is a startup, then it may have only one. Nevertheless, you must identify and mention it here.

Key Resources: The resources in your company need to be mentioned here; this includes but is not limited to your employees, key personnel, infrastructure, among others.

Activities: Details of all the crucial activities that strengthen your business or lead it to a meritorious milestone need to go in here.

Important Partnerships: Most of the new businesses invite partnerships and have shared resources. There are certainly some other entities or businesses involved and they must find a mention in this section. These include all your vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, or other people you are working with.

Cost Structure: Once you have identified and defined your business’s requirements and infrastructure, it is time to get the details of the costs of your business. You can also give away the plans or strategies you have to optimize those associated costs.

Why do Business Plans Fail?

While there are numerous business plans drafted each year, only a few of these companies make it to the success ladder. While such business plans can include good suggestions, they fall short. The company’s projects also tend to meet the same fate; despite the brilliant ideas, the project collapses. The reasons for this failure could be many. Wouldn’t it be great if we could foresee them and avoid them before they cause failure?

Here are some reasons that could lead to a failed business plan:

Unreal objectives and ambitions

It may not always be a great idea to reach out for the highest goals in the realm of the business plan. Although high goals are important, the path to reach these goals must be realistic and achievable. You might aspire to make a grand sale of say, thousands of your products in a month but that may not always be attainable. It s, therefore, important to work out a business plan to make it realistic to avoid failures in the future.

Lack of Motivation

Businesses are driven on tonnes of motivation, which in turn is effective on the productivity of the company. The entrepreneurs with a solid determination and motivated team have been great examples of turning their ventures into grand success stories in a relatively short time. Not only does the leader need to be motivated, but the motivation also needs to flow on to his team and all employees to make a difference to the overall output. A company where the leaders lack motivation could be walking slowly towards failure.

Lack of Proper Budgeting

Budgeting is a vital aspect of a business, and a lack of real-world budgeting is a factor to avoid. It is not advisable to always go for a loan to launch the company every time. Unless you can get your theory to move in the right direction, your financial support may evaporate. Therefore, the cost of building a company must be determined and maintained through the first year. All the cost factors should be worked out much in advance to keep away disappointments in the later stages of development.

Inadequate Market Research

Market research is all about acquiring enough information and understanding the current trends in the market. Your plan should be aligned with the kind of market research you have done. Being a vital part of a new company’s business plan, market research needs to provide you a competent data to battle out the odds that you may face. Sufficient information in this regard will help you establish a plan that’s effective. Not doing so may lead you to scrap it and restart the work with greater amounts of time and effort.

Business Plans FAQ

Now that you have a fair idea of how to go about writing a business plan, let’s look around at some of the frequently asked questions:

Do I have to include all the sections?

A clear answer is No. You need not include all the sections, but work out only those that are relevant to your company and business. With the nine sections, you are trying to give away maximum relevant information in the plan; however, not all of the sections would need to be addressed.

How long should the plan be?

Your plan only needs to have all the information composed well into one document. There is no specific length or the number of pages that it should have. When you are sure that it mentions all the required information, you are good to go.

Would be a good idea to start a business in an economically challenged scenario?

Although economic ups and downs could be dissuading, especially while starting a new business. Our take is that any business that can compete well with the existing prices and offers great value to customers can make it big.

How can Deskera Help You with Your Business Plan?

Deskera offers you to learn the concepts of business and get acquainted with the top software applications for startups and can also help with accounting for startups . You may refer to Deskera’s blogs to get a better grip over business topics such as How to understand a balance sheet , Main financial statements , Why are income statements important .

Besides, you may also learn a lot from the Best Marketing Blogs 2020 and the user-friendly CRM , Business Expense , Accounting Cycles .

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Key Takeaways

Let’s look at the key points from the document:

  • A business plan is a written document that describes the functional areas, goals, and the way in which a company aims to address its objectives.
  • In order to attract external investors startups utilize business plans.
  • Companies can develop a longer traditional business plan or a shorter startup or small business plan.
  • Executive summaries, distribution channels, promotional strategies, and analytical information, wealth management, and budget should include good business plans.
  • Business plans could be drafted for Startups, internal business, strategic business development, scalability, and operations.
  • There are 2 major types of business plans: Traditional business plans and startup business plans.
  • Unreal objectives, lack of motivation, and market research could be the reasons for the failure of a business plan

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Our guide for founders: how to write a business plan successfully

Post Cover  Mustard Accounting Business Plan

Adventurers don’t embark on a journey without charting a path first, nor should you as an entrepreneur found a startup without a business plan. Your business plan is your map, and a  solid business foundation is your destination.  Creating a business plan has many components. You’ll need to decide what kind suits your goals, before laying out the steps required to reach completion. To guide you through these high seas, we’ve put together a guide on how to write a business plan successfully, for you to consult so you can chart your path confidently.  Read on to fully understand what a business plan is and why you should create one, which type is right for you, and how to put it together step by step.  

What is a business plan?

Your business plan is a document that creates a picture of your business. In it you will clarify the kinds of products or services you offer, who is on your leadership board and staff, how you will finance your business, what your daily operations will be, and anything else key to your success.  Visually, you will have the freedom to design your own business plan. Like CVs, there is no one template for a business plan. That being said, There are components you will need to include in the document, and displaying them clearly on the page will inevitably force some recognisable structure into your document. 

Inside s  Mint Trend News Business plan

Why write a business plan?

There are two groups of people for whom you will create your business plan: 1. You and your staff, and 2. Your investors. 

For you and your staff

Whether or not you’ll have a staff will not influence your need for a business plan. It just changes how many eyes there will be on it. For yourself, a business plan will lay out in plain terms, soberly and backed up with financial data, all the big plans you have about your venture’s success.  As you begin to put down on paper what you hope to achieve, interrogating it with influencing factors, you will begin to understand both the likelihood of completing your goals and the things required for you to do so. 

For your investors 

Think of your business plan like an argument you will need to present to win the case of financing your venture. All entrepreneurs, even the ones with a huge cache of money saved before they begin, will need to approach investors to finance their companies.  In the early stages before you’ve accrued many customers or made many sales, your business plan is the strongest piece of evidence in your case. It not only shows you have planned ahead and thought of all the potential roadblocks, but it demonstrates how the investors themselves would benefit from getting involved with you, ultimately securing funding for your business .  

What are the business plan formats?

Before putting together your business plan, you’ll need to determine what kind will serve you best. Business plan formats differ in length and content, depending on the size and type of company you plan to run. Typical business plan formats are:

  • Traditional business plans
  • Lean business plans
  • Nonprofit business plans

Traditional business plan

The traditional business plan format is the most common and most comprehensive type. They often reach around 40 pages and are suited to entrepreneurs with long-term, large growth plans for their ventures, reaching investors they hope to convince to invest heavily in their businesses.  Approach the traditional format like you would a comprehensive blueprint of your business’s future. You want to cover as much as possible, to have already answered the majority of questions that might come up when someone takes a look at your business plan.  Below, we’ll lay out the steps to creating a traditional business plan, including how to draft these necessary components: 

  • Executive summary
  • Business description and strategy
  • Industry analysis
  • Market analysis
  • Organisation and management
  • Financial projections
  • Financing request

Lean business plan 

This is the kind of business plan that works for a startup. If you’re keen to get started quickly and don’t need a huge amount of resources right at the beginning, a lean startup might be the way to go. While it’s a concern that you might opt for a lean startup plan when a more comprehensive one would serve you better, it’s conversely true that spending too much time on a business plan when a lean one will suffice is detrimental too. Not only do you waste time and resources putting one together, but without a staff or management board involved, or many investors needed, you’re simply expending effort that need not be expended.  Putting together a lean startup plan, you won’t need to include as strict a list of components as the traditional model requires. Lean business plans are more about general subheadings denoting what to include.

  • Identifying a problem
  • Proposing your solution
  • Presenting your key metrics
  • Describing your unique value proposition
  • Explaining your marketing strategy
  • Estimating your target market
  • Laying out your cost structure
  • Listing your revenue streams

Nonprofit business plan

Crafting a nonprofit business plan will mean focusing on appealing to donors rather than investors. Therefore, your chief concern will be appealing to a problem and providing a solution to it.  Beyond this, the basic structure of a nonprofit business plan will be the same as a traditional one, or lean business plan depending on the size of your venture. Our steps below can be used for this kind of business plan. 

How to write a business plan in 8 steps

Inside s  Photo Trend News Business Plan

Creating a business plan can seem like huge task. But if you break it down to just a few simple steps, it quickly become a quite manageable affair:

  • Business description

Step 1: Executive summary

Here is where you lay out the contents of your ensuing business plan. Use it to highlight the most important parts of your plan, which will depend on the kind of business you will be running. If you are running a nonprofit business, emphasise the urgency of the problem you plan to solve, through data and figures which help to clarify the need for donors.  It’s with the executive summary that you want to capture the reader’s attention and then explain in brief terms what your business stands for and what you are going to do. You can think of the executive summary like a microcosm of the overall business plan.  Be sure to include: 

  • Objective of your business
  • Target market you intend to reach
  • Products and services you aim to provide
  • Marketing and sales strategies you will employ
  • Analysis of competitors in your chosen market
  • Funding and budget allocation for strategies and operations
  • Number of employees you will hire
  • How you will implement your business plan

Lean business plans should also include the above components in an executive summary. Ideally, you will present them in a shorter form, through bullet points rather than explanatory paragraphs. 

Step 2: Business description

With the business description, you can make clear what makes your business unique among the others in your market.  Answer these questions when putting together your business description:  What do I do that my competitors don’t? Analyse your main competitors’ websites and mission statements. What services do they provide that match yours? How will you offer yours differently? How do they manufacture their products in ways you could improve upon? What is my company philosophy? Also called your mission statement or brand identity, your philosophy is the driving purpose for which you created your company. Brand identity is more common today with companies aligning themselves with causes, making this part of your business description equally important whether you are profit- or donation-based.  Who are my target customers? Demonstrate a clear understanding of who you wish to reach with your product or services. Consider demographic, region, wealth status, occupations, and age when outlining your potential customer base.  What are my goals? Finally, what do you hope to achieve with your business venture? Investors and donors want to see ambition, but they also want to see realism. Counter your ambitious goals with expectations that situate them in the realm of possibility without eliminating the possibility to do something great. 

Step 3: Industry analysis

Ideally, you should know what industry you’re getting into before you start putting together your business plan. Industry analysis in a business plan is about presenting to interested parties a thorough understanding of more than just your competitors—it’s also about the historical developments and influencing factors within your industry: what has formed it and what might continue to shape it in the future.  Include in your industry analysis things like: 

  • The influencing factors in your industry: what causes the competition to intensify/decrease, how customers’ needs have changed/are changing, what technological innovations have/will change your industry, how globalisation affects your industry, which government bodies will regulate your industry.
  • The current attractiveness of the industry: whether or not now is the right time to be in your chosen industry, what are the challenges/advantages of entering this industry now, how does the trajectory of this industry look when forecasting its future.

It’s also important to clarify where in that industry you stand, and to be realistic about your competition. For example, if you’re opening a film studio, it may be accurate to say that your industry includes Disney and Netflix, but it would be unrealistic to assume you can compete with them. Instead, further break down your industry competitors by finding ones more similar to you: what kind of films might your studio produce? What will the general budget of those films be? Who are the other studios with similar budget margins and output type?

Step 4: Market analysis

Market analysis and industry analysis may seem like the same thing, however they have a crucially different focus: where industry analysis focuses on your competitors, market analysis is focused on your customer base.  To return to the film studio example, the market will have to be more narrow than ‘people who watch movies’. Instead, it would be better to appeal to demographic by genre, censorship rating, style, etc. Gathering data on such a demographic will be too broad and impossible to determine any useful metrics or trends.  Sharpen your market analysis by introducing factors that will drain the pool a bit: 

  • Customer age/location/family status etc.
  • Customer shopping habits
  • Potential number of buyers/subscribers
  • Amount customers are willing to spend

Keep your analysis broad enough to ensure growth if your venture is successful, but remember that at the business planning stage, accuracy and realistic expectations are key. 

Step 5: Organisation and management

Less relevant for startups putting lean business plans together, this section will lay out the structure of your staff and board of directors. In other words, who is involved and what are they doing?  Divide this section into two sections:

  • Business structure and people involved
  • Management team or board of directors

Business structure

Usually displayed visually, your business structure will lay out the hierarchy of your company. In the form of the chart, position the founders, management teams, and staff in whatever structure best suits you. 

  • Management team

Here, bring a personal element to your organisational structure. Describe what each member (incl. yourself) of your management team brings to the company, with all of or a selection of these details: 

  • Ownership percentage
  • Involvement level
  • Ownership type (stocks, general partner, etc.)
  • Company position
  • Educational background
  • Relevant skills and experience
  • Relevant employment history
  • Awards received
  • Compensation

Step 6: Financial projections

Two year financial projections will help readers of your business plan understand your cash flow, loan repayment schedules—ultimately what you plan to do with your money and how. Similar to your business budget .  Here are the key elements of the financial projections section of your business plan:

  • Spending and sales: daily operations like rent, utilities, production materials; one time purchases such as vehicles, software; countered with projected sales revenue for the month
  • Financial projections: monthly expenses and revenue cash flow demonstrating cash flow for the first twelve months of business operations; determine projected annual income with statements and balance sheet predictions
  • Contingency plan: demonstrate plan for unexpected expenses via financial projections and cash flows; how you plan to handle sudden events; present in the form of a cash reserve

Plan for your business and your finances accordingly–with Qonto's digital business account.

Step 7: Financing request

Towards the end of your financial projections section is where you ask for funding from readers. Having presented a detailed and thorough understanding of your business operations and cash flows you can now make your case for corporate financing .  You will need to include in your financing request:

  • Amount required
  • Future financial plans
  • Financial history
  • Loan repayment terms

When filling in these requirements keep these things in mind:

  • Who is my audience for this report? Your readers are your financiers. How will you reach them? Appealing for a profit-based vs nonprofit business will require a different kind of approach in this section, as you are speaking to donors vs people who are hoping to profit through their investments to you.
  • Have I been accurate in my presentation? Make sure the information you have provided previously matches the funding request you are about to make. The ending of your business plan should be like the ending of a good movie: it makes sense considering the events that preceded it.
  • Is my request reasonable? What you are asking for should be a balance between what you need and what you hope to receive. Asking too low will cause you to seek more financing later on, and asking too high might be met with scepticism or outright rejections.

Step 8: Appendix

The final section of your report will provide any supporting documents that have been requested by your readers.  This could be:

  • Credit history report
  • Product pictures
  • Reference letters

Writing the best business plan: tips and common mistakes

Understanding how to write your business plan most successfully means keeping several things in mind while putting together all the components. A good business plan is the product of a forward-thinking and logical business owner who knows what they want and how to deliver it clearly.  Keep these concepts in mind when putting your business plan together: 

How long does your business plan need to be? Long-winded business plans that provide too much information when it isn’t needed. We tend to glaze over when looking at a document providing more than the necessary information. You don’t want potential investors glazing over your report. 

A business plan might not seem like the right medium in which to convey passion, but this is misleading and potentially dangerous. Too many business reports are dry documents. Investors and donors want to see a business owner who believes in what they do, who sees a bright future ahead for themselves and the people who work with them. Use your opening section and business description to communicate what makes your business more than just a business—it’s your passion.

Know exactly who you’re speaking to. Keep your audience in mind at all times when crafting your document so that you only put in information relevant to those readers. A business plan that appeals too broadly will only harm your potential to convince. 

There are a lot of components to a good business plan. Whether lean or traditional, you will have to consider your venture from many different angles and back up a lot of your proposals with research. But the more effort you put into this stage of business formation, the stronger foundation on which you’ll start your business, increasing the likelihood of a long term career.  Hopefully, our extensive guide on how to write a business plan has provided some useful pointers on getting started with your business plan. 

  • A business plan is a document which a founder presents to potential investors and interested parties, to demonstrate the financing and operations of their business venture
  • Business plans are useful to both staff and founders, as well as potential investors
  • Business plans come in three types: traditional, lean, and nonprofit
  • Write your business plan by first putting together and executive summary and business description to establish what you do
  • Market and industry analyses will demonstrate your understanding of the competition and potential customer base
  • Organisation and management lays out the structure of your business and staff
  • Financial projections and funding request sections clarify your financial standing and what kind of financing you require from readers
  • The appendix includes any extra documents requested by the reader
  • Keep in mind length, audience, and passion when writing your business plan

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The Essential Guide to Writing a Business Plan Here's the no-nonsense guide on how to write a business plan that will help you map success for your startup.

By Carolyn Sun

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." If you're starting a business, you should have a business plan regardless of whether you're bootstrapping it or looking for outside funding.

The best sorts of business plans tell a clear story of what the company plans to do and how it will do it. Given the high failure rate of startups in their first year, a business plan is also an ideal opportunity to safely test out the feasibility of a business and spot flaws, set aside unrealistic projections and identify and analyze the competition.

A business plan doesn't need to be complicated, but for it to serve its purpose and set you up for success, it must be clear to whomever is reading your plan that you have a realistic handle on the why and how your business will be a success.

To get you moving in the right direction, here's a guide on how to write a business plan.

Overall tips

There's a lot of advice in the infosphere about how to write a business plan, but there's no single correct way. Your approach depends on your industry, who is reading your plan and what the plan is intended for. Are you trying to get funding? Sara Sutton Fell, founder of FlexJobs , a job site for flexible telecommuting jobs, says her business plan was an initiator for more in-depth conversation with potential investors. "A plan does help to see if investors and entrepreneurs are on the same page with general expectations for the business," she says.

A business plan serves many purposes, but there is universal consensus on the following when it comes to your business plan:

Have several versions tailored for specific audiences: "One of the mistakes that inexperienced business owners make is not understanding who they're writing the plan for," says David Ciccarelli, a small business owner who got consultation from his local Small Business Association (SBA) when he was starting his company Voices.com , which connects employers with voiceover talent.

Your plan is a living document: Tim Berry, the founder of a business planning software company Palo Alto Software , took his company from zero to $5 million in sales in its first three years. To do so requires frequent review and close tracking, says Berry, who met with his management team every month to review the plan versus what actually happened -- and then to revise. "There is no virtue to sticking to a plan if it's not useful and responsive to what actually happens," he cautions.

Be realistic about financial estimates and projections: "When you present a plan to bankers and financiers, or even to your employees, people will get way more excited about what's real rather than some huge thing that's never going to happen," says Ciccarelli. So present an achievable sales forecasts based on bottom-upwards information (i.e. how many units per month get sold in how many stores) and stop over projecting profits.

Writing your business plan is about the process and having a blueprint: Your business plan "reflects your ideas, intuitions, instincts and insights about your business and its future," according to Write Your Business Plan (Entrepreneur, 2015). The plan serves as a safe way to test these out before you commit to a course of action. And once you get your business going, the plan also serves as a reference point. "I still print the document," says Ciccarelli. "You're capturing it in time. If you're changing it all the time, you kind of don't remember where you were last year."

Back up any claims: Follow up your projections and assertions with statistics, facts or quotes from a knowledgeable source to lend your plan credibility.

Presentation counts: Reading any long, text-heavy document is hard on the eyes, so format with this in mind. Consider formatting your text pages into two-columns and break up long passages with charts or graphs. Arial, Verdana or Times New Roman are standard industry fonts.

Writing your business plan isn't busy work or a luxury; it's a vital part of the process of starting a business and arms you with information you need to know. So, let's get into what information goes into your business plan.

Related: Bu siness Plans: A Step-by-Step Guide

What goes into a business plan?

A typical business plan is 15 to 25 pages. Its length depends on a variety of factors, such as whether your business is introducing a new product or belongs to a new industry (which requires explanation to the reader), or if you're pitching to bankers, who generally expect to see a traditional written business plan and financials.

"Most equity investors prefer either an executive summary or pitch deck for first contact, but will often request a more detailed plan later in the due diligence process. Potential customers don't need all the details of your internal operation. Your management team needs access to everything," says Akira Hirai, managing director of business plan consulting service Cayenne Consulting .

Most business plans include these seven sections:

1. Executive summary : The executive summary follows the title page and explains the fundamentals of your business. It should provide a short and clear synopsis of your business plan that describes your business concept, financial features and requirements (i.e. cash flow and sales projections plus capital needed), your company's current business position (i.e. its legal form of operation, when the company was formed, principals and key personnel) and any major achievements in the company that are relevant to its success, including patents, prototypes or results from test marketing.

2. Business description : This section typically begins with a brief description of your industry and its outlook. Get into the various markets within the industry, including any new products that will benefit or hurt your business. For those seeking funding, reinforce your data with reliable sources and footnote when possible. Also provide a description of your business operation's structure (i.e. wholesale, retail or service-oriented), who you will sell to, how you will distribute your products/services, the products/services itself (what gives you the competitive edge), your business's legal structure, your principals and what they bring to the organization.

Here are some worksheets from Write Your Business Plan that will help determine your unique selling proposition and analyze your industry.

Click to Enlarge+

worksheets

3. Market strategies: Here is where you define your target market and how you plan to reach them. Market analysis requires research and familiarity with the market so that the target market can be defined and the company can be positioned (i.e. are you a premium product or a price-competitive product?) in order to garner its market share. Analyze your market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends and sales/growth potential. This section also talks about distribution plans and promotion strategy and tactics that will allow you to fulfill your plans.

Here is a worksheet from Write Your Business Plan that will guide you toward identifying your target market.

Worksheet

4. Competitive analysis: The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle. Show why your business will be a success over others.

5. Design and development plan: You will only need this section if you have a product in development, such as an app. The purpose of this section is to provide investors with a description of the product's design, chart its development within the context of production and marketing and show a development budget that will enable the company to reach its goals.

6. Operations and management plan: This section describes how the business functions on a daily basis, its location, equipment, people, processes and surrounding environment. If you have a product that needs to be manufactured, explain the how and where; also, describe your work facility, the personnel, the legal environment (such as licensing, permits, special regulations, etc.), key suppliers and inventory. This section will also highlight the logistics of the organization such as the various responsibilities of the management team and the tasks assigned to each division within the company.

7. Financial factors: Financial data is always at the back of a business plan -- yet it's extremely important. The financial data can include your personal financial statement, startup expenses and capital, your projected cash flow statement and 12-month profit-and-loss statement. PaloAlto's Berry stresses that if you're going after investors, you'll need to show a cash flow statement and a break-even analysis -- or the breakdown to see where your business breaks even.

The best way to prepare for running a business is to have all the components of the plan ready. So if you are are showing a prospective lender your business plan on 10 PowerPoint slides and get asked about something that isn't in the presentation, you can speak knowledgeably and follow up with a more fleshed out plan -- and quickly.

Some business owners hire business plan writing services. Cayenne Consulting's Hirai says that his clients generally fall into one of two categories: those intimidated by the process and those who could write the plan themselves but would prefer to spend their time on other priorities.

If you find yourself intimidated or stuck, you can always write the parts of plan yourself that you understand and hire a consultant or researcher to help with parts that you find confusing.

Or if you're a startup watching every dollar, then tap the free services of the federal Small Business Association (SBA). Every state has a district office . Through the SBA, you can get business plan assistance through its various resource partners, which includes Women's Business Centers , Small Business Development Centers and Service Corps of Retired Executives .

Allow this business plan template for Business Plan for a Startup Business to guide you:

Different types of business plans

Generally, business plans can be divided into four categories :

Working plan: This plan is what you will use to operate your business and is not meant to be admired. This version of your plan is an internal document and will be long on detail, short on presentation. Here, you can omit descriptions that you need not explain to yourself or your team.

Mini plan: The reader may request a mini plan, or a condensed version of your business plan (1-10 pages), which includes most of the same components as in a longer traditional plan -- minus the details and explanation. This includes the business concept, financing needs, marketing plan, financial statements (especially cash flow), income project and balance sheet. This shorter plan is not meant to be a substitute for a full-length plan, but serves as an option to present to potential partners or investors.

Presentation plan: Whether you're using a pitch deck or a written business plan, the information in your presentation plan will be, more or less, the same as in your working plan but worded differently and styled for the eyes of an outsider. The reader of your presentation plan will be someone who is unfamiliar with your business, such as investor or venture capitalist, so lose any jargon or shorthand from your working plan, which only makes sense to you. Also, keep in mind that investors will want to see due diligence on your competition threats and risks as well as financial projections. In addition, looks count, so use the color printer, a nice cover and bindings and the fancy paper stock. Or else, if you're presenting your business plan as a PowerPoint presentation, you can use this business plan presentation template .

What-if plan: This is a contingency plan -- in case your worst case scenario happens, such as market share loss, heavy price competition or defection of a key member of your team. You want to think about what to do in the face of an of these, and if you're trying to get outside funds, having a contingency plan shows that you've considered what to do if things don't go according to plan. You don't necessarily need this, but if you are getting outside funding, then it can strengthen your credibility showing that you have thought about these what-if possibilities. Even if you're not going to get outside funding, shouldn't you be thinking of the what ifs?

If four plans seem like a mountain of work, don't panic. Select two to start off -- a working plan and a mini plan, which will be an abbreviated version of your working plan.

Take several months to write your business plan. Consider it a journey, not a sprint.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Business Plan

Carolyn Sun is a freelance writer for Entrepreneur.com. Find out more on Twitter  and  Facebook . 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)

Brandon Boushy

  • 3 years ago

Woman working on a business plan

Have you ever wondered how to write a business plan step by step? Mike Andes, told us: 

This guide will help you write a business plan to impress investors.

Throughout this process, we’ll get information from Mike Andes, who started Augusta Lawn Care Services when he was 12 and turned it into a franchise with over 90 locations. He has gone on to help others learn how to write business plans and start businesses.  He knows a thing or two about writing  business plans!

We’ll start by discussing the definition of a business plan. Then we’ll discuss how to come up with the idea, how to do the market research, and then the important elements in the business plan format. Keep reading to start your journey!

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

A business plan is simply a road map of what you are trying to achieve with your business and how you will go about achieving it. It should cover all elements of your business including: 

  • Finding customers
  • Plans for developing a team
  •  Competition
  • Legal structures
  • Key milestones you are pursuing

If you aren’t quite ready to create a business plan, consider starting by reading our business startup guide .

Get a Business Idea

Before you can write a business plan, you have to have a business idea. You may see a problem that needs to be solved and have an idea how to solve it, or you might start by evaluating your interests and skills. 

Mike told us, “The three things I suggest asking yourself when thinking about starting a business are:

  • What am I good at?
  • What would I enjoy doing?
  • What can I get paid for?”

Three adjoining circles about business opportunity

If all three of these questions don’t lead to at least one common answer, it will probably be a much harder road to success. Either there is not much market for it, you won’t be good at it, or you won’t enjoy doing it. 

As Mike told us, “There’s enough stress starting and running a business that if you don’t like it or aren’t good at it, it’s hard to succeed.”

If you’d like to hear more about Mike’s approach to starting a business, check out our YouTube video

Conduct Market Analysis

Market analysis is focused on establishing if there is a target market for your products and services, how large the target market is, and identifying the demographics of people or businesses that would be interested in the product or service. The goal here is to establish how much money your business concept can make.

Product and Service Demand

An image showing product service and demand

A search engine is your best friend when trying to figure out if there is demand for your products and services. Personally, I love using presearch.org because it lets you directly search on a ton of different platforms including Google, Youtube, Twitter, and more. Check out the screenshot for the full list of search options.

With quick web searches, you can find out how many competitors you have, look through their reviews, and see if there are common complaints about the competitors. Bad reviews are a great place to find opportunities to offer better products or services. 

If there are no similar products or services, you may have stumbled upon something new, or there may just be no demand for it. To find out, go talk to your most honest friend about the idea and see what they think. If they tell you it’s dumb or stare at you vacantly, there’s probably no market for it.

You can also conduct a survey through social media to get public opinion on your idea. Using Facebook Business Manager , you could get a feel for who would be interested in your product or service.

 I ran a quick test of how many people between 18-65  you could reach in the U.S. during a week. It returned an estimated 700-2,000 for the total number of leads, which is enough to do a fairly accurate statistical analysis.

Identify Demographics of Target Market

Depending on what type of business you want to run, your target market will be different. The narrower the demographic, the fewer potential customers you’ll have. If you did a survey, you’ll be able to use that data to help define your target audience. Some considerations you’ll want to consider are:

  • Other Interests
  • Marital Status
  • Do they have kids?

Once you have this information, it can help you narrow down your options for location and help define your marketing further. One resource that Mike recommended using is the Census Bureau’s Quick Facts Map . He told us,  

“It helps you quickly evaluate what the best areas are for your business to be located.”

How to Write a Business Plan

Business plan development

Now that you’ve developed your idea a little and established there is a market for it, you can begin writing a business plan. Getting started is easier with the business plan template we created for you to download. I strongly recommend using it as it is updated to make it easier to create an action plan. 

Each of the following should be a section of your business plan:

  • Business Plan Cover Page
  • Company Description
  • Description of Products and Services

SWOT Analysis

  • Competitor Data

Competitive Analysis

  • Marketing Expenses Strategy 

Pricing Strategy

  • Distribution Channel Assessment

Operational Plan

  • Management and Organizational Strategy
  • Financial Statements and/or Financial Projections

We’ll look into each of these. Don’t forget to download our free business plan template (mentioned just above) so you can follow along as we go. 

How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page

The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions.

A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:

  • Professionally designed logo
  • Company name
  • Mission or Vision Statement
  • Contact Info

Basically, think of a cover page for your business plan like a giant business card. It is meant to capture people’s attention but be quickly processed.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 2. Create a Table of Contents

Most people are busy enough that they don’t have a lot of time. Providing a table of contents makes it easy for them to find the pages of your plan that are meaningful to them.

A table of contents will be immediately after the cover page, but you can include it after the executive summary. Including the table of contents immediately after the executive summary will help investors know what section of your business plan they want to review more thoroughly.

Check out Canva’s article about creating a  table of contents . It has a ton of great information about creating easy access to each section of your business plan. Just remember that you’ll want to use different strategies for digital and hard copy business plans.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 3. Write an Executive Summary

A notepad with a written executive summary for business plan writing

An executive summary is where your business plan should catch the readers interest.  It doesn’t need to be long, but should be quick and easy to read.

Mike told us,

How long should an executive summary bein an informal business plan?

For casual use, an executive summary should be similar to an elevator pitch, no more than 150-160 words, just enough to get them interested and wanting more. Indeed has a great article on elevator pitches .  This can also be used for the content of emails to get readers’ attention.

It consists of three basic parts:

  • An introduction to you and your business.
  • What your business is about.
  • A call to action

Example of an informal executive summary 

One of the best elevator pitches I’ve used is:

So far that pitch has achieved a 100% success rate in getting partnerships for the business.

What should I include in an executive summary for investors?

Investors are going to need a more detailed executive summary if you want to secure financing or sell equity. The executive summary should be a brief overview of your entire business plan and include:

  • Introduction of yourself and company.
  • An origin story (Recognition of a problem and how you came to solution)
  • An introduction to your products or services.
  • Your unique value proposition. Make sure to include intellectual property.
  • Where you are in the business life cycle
  • Request and why you need it.

Successful business plan examples

The owner of Urbanity told us he spent 2 months writing a 75-page business plan and received a $250,000 loan from the bank when he was 23. Make your business plan as detailed as possible when looking for financing. We’ve provided a template to help you prepare the portions of a business plan that banks expect.

Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

When to write an executive summary?

Even though the summary is near the beginning of a business plan, you should write it after you complete the rest of a business plan. You can’t talk about revenue, profits, and expected expenditures if you haven’t done the market research and created a financial plan.

What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?

Business owners commonly go into too much detail about the following items in an executive summary:

  • Marketing and sales processes
  • Financial statements
  • Organizational structure

These are things that people will want to know later, but they don’t hook the reader. They won’t spark interest in your small business, but they’ll close the deal.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description

Every business plan should include a company description. A great business plan will include the following elements while describing the company:

  • Philosophy and vision
  • Company goals

Target market

  • Legal structure

Let’s take a look at what each section includes in a good business plan.

  • Mission Statement

A mission statement is a brief explanation of why you started the company and what the company’s main focus is. It should be no more than one or two sentences. Check out HubSpot’s article 27 Inspiring Mission Statement for a great read on informative and inspiring mission and vision statements. 

Company Philosophy and Vision

Writing the company philosophy and vision

The company philosophy is what drives your company. You’ll normally hear them called core values.  These are the building blocks that make your company different. You want to communicate your values to customers, business owners, and investors as often as possible to build a company culture, but make sure to back them up.

What makes your company different?

Each company is different. Your new business should rise above the standard company lines of honesty, integrity, fun, innovation, and community when communicating your business values. The standard answers are corporate jargon and lack authenticity. 

Examples of core values

One of my clients decided to add a core values page to their website. As a tech company they emphasized the values:

  •  Prioritize communication.
  •  Never stop learning.
  •  Be transparent.
  •  Start small and grow incrementally.

These values communicate how the owner and the rest of the company operate. They also show a value proposition and competitive advantage because they specifically focus on delivering business value from the start. These values also genuinely show what the company is about and customers recognize the sincerity. Indeed has a great blog about how to identify your core values .

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement communicate the long lasting change a business pursues. The vision helps investors and customers understand what your company is trying to accomplish. The vision statement goes beyond a mission statement to provide something meaningful to the community, customer’s lives, or even the world.

Example vision statements

The Alzheimer’s Association is a great example of a vision statement:

A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.

It clearly tells how they want to change the world. A world without Alzheimers might be unachievable, but that means they always have room for improvement.

Business Goals

You have to measure success against goals for a business plan to be meaningful. A business plan helps guide a company similar to how your GPS provides a road map to your favorite travel destination. A goal to make as much money as possible is not inspirational and sounds greedy.

Sure, business owners want to increase their profits and improve customer service, but they need to present an overview of what they consider success. The goals should help everyone prioritize their work.

How far in advance should a business plan?

Business planning should be done at least one year in advance, but many banks and investors prefer three to five year business plans. Longer plans show investors that the management team  understands the market and knows the business is operating in a constantly shifting market. In addition, a plan helps businesses to adjust to changes because they have already considered how to handle them.

Example of great business goals

My all time-favorite long-term company goals are included in Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux . These goals were written in 2016 and drive the company’s decisions through 2026. They are the reason that investors are so forgiving when Elon Musk continually fails to meet his quarterly and annual goals.

If the progress aligns with the business plan investors are likely to continue to believe in the company. Just make sure the goals are reasonable or you’ll be discredited (unless you’re Elon Musk).

A man holding an iPad with a cup of coffee on his desk

You did target market research before creating a business plan. Now it’s time to add it to the plan so others understand what your ideal customer looks like. As a new business owner, you may not be considered an expert in your field yet, so document everything. Make sure the references you use are from respectable sources. 

Use information from the specific lender when you are applying for lending. Most lenders provide industry research reports and using their data can strengthen the position of your business plan.

A small business plan should include a section on the external environment. Understanding the industry is crucial because we don’t plan a business in a vacuum. Make sure to research the industry trends, competitors, and forecasts. I personally prefer IBIS World for my business research. Make sure to answer questions like:

  • What is the industry outlook long-term and short-term?
  • How will your business take advantage of projected industry changes and trends?
  • What might happen to your competitors and how will your business successfully compete?

Industry resources

Some helpful resources to help you establish more about your industry are:

  • Trade Associations
  • Federal Reserve
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Legal Structure

There are five basic types of legal structures that most people will utilize:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

Partnerships

Corporations.

  • Franchises.

Each business structure has their pros and cons. An LLC is the most common legal structure due to its protection of personal assets and ease of setting up. Make sure to specify how ownership is divided and what roles each owner plays when you have more than one business owner.

You’ll have to decide which structure is best for you, but we’ve gathered information on each to make it easier.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the easiest legal structure to set up but doesn’t protect the owner’s personal assets from legal issues. That means if something goes wrong, you could lose both your company and your home.

To start a sole proprietorship, fill out a special tax form called a  Schedule C . Sole proprietors can also join the American Independent Business Alliance .

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is the most common business structure used in the United States because an LLC protects the owner’s personal assets. It’s similar to partnerships and corporations, but can be a single-member LLC in most states. An LLC requires a document called an operating agreement.

Each state has different requirements. Here’s a link to find your state’s requirements . Delaware and Nevada are common states to file an LLC because they are really business-friendly. Here’s a blog on the top 10 states to get an LLC.

Partnerships are typically for legal firms. If you choose to use a partnership choose a Limited Liability Partnership. Alternatively, you can just use an LLC.

Corporations are typically for massive organizations. Corporations have taxes on both corporate and income tax so unless you plan on selling stock, you are better off considering an LLC with S-Corp status . Investopedia has good information corporations here .

An iPad with colored pens on a desk

There are several opportunities to purchase successful franchises. TopFranchise.com has a list of companies in a variety of industries that offer franchise opportunities. This makes it where an entrepreneur can benefit from the reputation of an established business that has already worked out many of the kinks of starting from scratch.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 5. Products and Services

This section of the business plan should focus on what you sell, how you source it, and how you sell it. You should include:

  • Unique features that differentiate your business products from competitors
  • Intellectual property
  • Your supply chain
  • Cost and pricing structure 

Questions to answer about your products and services

Mike gave us a list  of the most important questions to answer about your product and services:

  • How will you be selling the product? (in person, ecommerce, wholesale, direct to consumer)?
  • How do you let them know they need a product?
  • How do you communicate the message?
  • How will you do transactions?
  • How much will you be selling it for?
  • How many do you think you’ll sell and why?

Make sure to use the worksheet on our business plan template .

How to Write a Business Plan Step 6. Sales and Marketing Plan

The marketing and sales plan is focused on the strategy to bring awareness to your company and guides how you will get the product to the consumer.  It should contain the following sections:

SWOT Analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Not only do you want to identify them, but you also want to document how the business plans to deal with them.

Business owners need to do a thorough job documenting how their service or product stacks up against the competition.

If proper research isn’t done, investors will be able to tell that the owner hasn’t researched the competition and is less likely to believe that the team can protect its service from threats by the more well-established competition. This is one of the most common parts of a presentation that trips up business owners presenting on Shark Tank .

SWOT Examples

Business plan SWOT analysis

Examples of strengths and weaknesses could be things like the lack of cash flow, intellectual property ownership, high costs of suppliers, and customers’ expectations on shipping times.

Opportunities could be ways to capitalize on your strengths or improve your weaknesses, but may also be gaps in the industry. This includes:

  • Adding offerings that fit with your current small business
  • Increase sales to current customers
  • Reducing costs through bulk ordering
  • Finding ways to reduce inventory
  •  And other areas you can improve

Threats will normally come from outside of the company but could also be things like losing a key member of the team. Threats normally come from competition, regulations, taxes, and unforeseen events.

The management team should use the SWOT analysis to guide other areas of business planning, but it absolutely has to be done before a business owner starts marketing. 

Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan

When you plan a business, taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the competition is key to navigating the field. Providing an overview of your competition and where they are headed shows that you are invested in understanding the industry.

For smaller businesses, you’ll want to search both the company and the owners names to see what they are working on. For publicly held corporations, you can find their quarterly and annual reports on the SEC website .

What another business plans to do can impact your business. Make sure to include things that might make it attractive for bigger companies to outsource to a small business.

The marketing and sales part of business plans should be focused on how you are going to make potential customers aware of your business and then sell to them.

If you haven’t already included it, Mike recommends:

“They’ll want to know about Demographics, ages, and wealth of your target market.”

Make sure to include the Total addressable market .  The term refers to the value if you captured 100% of the market.

Advertising Strategy

You’ll explain what formats of advertising you’ll be using. Some possibilities are:

  • Online: Facebook and Google are the big names to work with here.
  • Print : Print can be used to reach broad groups or targeted markets. Check out this for tips .
  • Radio : iHeartMedia is one of the best ways to advertise on the radio
  • Cable television : High priced, hard to measure ROI, but here’s an explanation of the process
  • Billboards: Attracting customers with billboards can be beneficial in high traffic areas.

You’ll want to define how you’ll be using each including frequency, duration, and cost. If you have the materials already created, including pictures or links to the marketing to show creative assets.

Mike told us “Most businesses are marketing digitally now due to Covid, but that’s not always the right answer.”

Make sure the marketing strategy will help team members or external marketing agencies stay within the brand guidelines .

An iPad with graph about pricing strategy

This section of a business plan should be focused on pricing. There are a ton of pricing strategies that may work for different business plans. Which one will work for you depends on what kind of a business you run.

Some common pricing strategies are:

  • Value-based pricing – Commonly used with home buying and selling or other products that are status symbols.
  • Skimming pricing – Commonly seen in video game consoles, price starts off high to recoup expenses quickly, then reduces over time.
  • Competition-based pricing – Pricing based on competitors’ pricing is commonly seen at gas stations.
  • Freemium services –  Commonly used for software, where there is a free plan, then purchase options for more functionality.

HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.

Beyond explaining what strategy your business plans to use, you should include references for how you came to this pricing strategy and how it will impact your cash flow.

Distribution Plan

This part of a business plan is focused on how the product or service is going to go through the supply chain. These may include multiple divisions or multiple companies. Make sure to include any parts of the workflow that are automated so investors can see where cost savings are expected and when.

Supply Chain Examples

For instance, lawn care companies  would need to cover aspects such as:

  • Suppliers for lawn care equipment and tools
  • Any chemicals or treatments needed
  • Repair parts for sprinkler systems
  • Vehicles to transport equipment and employees
  • Insurance to protect the company vehicles and people.

Examples of Supply Chains

These are fairly flat supply chains compared to something like a clothing designer where the clothes would go through multiple vendors. A clothing company might have the following supply chain:

  • Raw materials
  • Shipping of raw materials
  • Converting of raw materials to thread
  • Shipping thread to produce garments
  • Garment producer
  • Shipping to company
  • Company storage
  • Shipping to retail stores

There have been advances such as print on demand that eliminate many of these steps. If you are designing completely custom clothing, all of this would need to be planned to keep from having business disruptions.

The main thing to include in the business plan is the list of suppliers, the path the supply chain follows, the time from order to the customer’s home, and the costs associated with each step of the process.

According to BizPlanReview , a business plan without this information is likely to get rejected because they have failed to research the key elements necessary to make sales to the customer.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 7. Company Organization and Operational Plan

This part of the business plan is focused on how the business model will function while serving customers.  The business plan should provide an overview of  how the team will manage the following aspects:

Quality Control

  • Legal environment

Let’s look at each for some insight.

Production has already been discussed in previous sections so I won’t go into it much. When writing a business plan for investors, try to avoid repetition as it creates a more simple business plan.

If the organizational plan will be used by the team as an overview of how to perform the best services for the customer, then redundancy makes more sense as it communicates what is important to the business.

A wooden stamp with the words "quality control"

Quality control policies help to keep the team focused on how to verify that the company adheres to the business plan and meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Quality control can be anything from a standard that says “all labels on shirts can be no more than 1/16″ off center” to a defined checklist of steps that should be performed and filled out for every customer.

There are a variety of organizations that help define quality control including:

  • International Organization for Standardization – Quality standards for energy, technology, food, production environments, and cybersecurity
  • AICPA – Standard defined for accounting.
  • The Joint Commission – Healthcare
  • ASHRAE – HVAC best practices

You can find lists of the organizations that contribute most to the government regulation of industries on Open Secrets . Research what the leaders in your field are doing. Follow their example and implement it in your quality control plan.

For location, you should use information from the market research to establish where the location will be. Make sure to include the following in the location documentation.

  • The size of your location
  • The type of building (retail, industrial, commercial, etc.)
  • Zoning restrictions – Urban Wire has a good map on how zoning works in each state
  • Accessibility – Does it meet ADA requirements?
  • Costs including rent, maintenance, utilities, insurance and any buildout or remodeling costs
  • Utilities – b.e.f. has a good energy calculator .

Legal Environment

The legal requirement section is focused on defining how to meet the legal requirements for your industry. A good business plan should include all of the following:

  • Any licenses and/or permits that are needed and whether you’ve obtained them
  • Any trademarks, copyrights, or patents that you have or are in the process of applying for
  • The insurance coverage your business requires and how much it costs
  • Any environmental, health, or workplace regulations affecting your business
  • Any special regulations affecting your industry
  • Bonding requirements, if applicable

Your local SBA office can help you establish requirements in your area. I strongly recommend using them. They are a great resource.

Your business plan should include a plan for company organization and hiring. While you may be the only person with the company right now, down the road you’ll need more people. Make sure to consider and document the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the current leadership structure and what will it look like in the future?
  • What types of employees will you have? Are there any licensing or educational requirements?
  • How many employees will you need?
  • Will you ever hire freelancers or independent contractors?
  • What is each position’s job description?
  • What is the pay structure (hourly, salaried, base plus commission, etc.)?
  • How do you plan to find qualified employees and contractors?

One of the most crucial parts of a business plan is the organizational chart. This simply shows the positions the company will need, who is in charge of them and the relationship of each of them. It will look similar to this:

Organization chart

Our small business plan template has a much more in-depth organizational chart you can edit to include when you include the organizational chart in your business plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements 

No business plan is complete without financial statements or financial projections. The business plan format will be different based on whether you are writing a business plan to expand a business or a startup business plan. Let’s dig deeper into each.

Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business

An existing business should use their past financial documents including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement to find trends to estimate the next 3-5 years.

You can create easy trendlines in excel to predict future revenue, profit and loss, cash flow, and other changes in year-over-year performance. This will show your expected performance assuming business continues as normal.

If you are seeking an investment, then the business is probably not going to continue as normal. Depending on the financial plan and the purpose of getting financing, adjustments may be needed to the following:

  • Higher Revenue if expanding business
  • Lower Cost of Goods Sold if purchasing inventory with bulk discounts
  • Adding interest if utilizing financing (not equity deal)
  • Changes in expenses
  • Addition of financing information to the cash flow statement
  • Changes in Earnings per Share on the balance sheet

Financial modeling is a challenging subject, but there are plenty of low-cost courses on the subject. If you need help planning your business financial documentation take some time to watch some of them.

Make it a point to document how you calculated all the changes to the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in your business plan so that key team members or investors can verify your research.

Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan

Unlike an existing business, a startup doesn’t have previous success to model its future performance. In this scenario, you need to focus on how to make a business plan realistic through the use of industry research and averages.

Mike gave the following advice in his interview:

Financial Forecasting Mistakes

One of the things a lot of inexperienced people use is the argument, “If I get one percent of the market, it is worth $100 million.” If you use this, investors are likely to file the document under bad business plan examples.

Let’s use custom t-shirts as an example.

Credence Research estimated in 2018 there were 11,334,800,000 custom t-shirts sold for a total of $206.12 Billion, with a 6% compound annual growth rate.

With that data,  you can calculate that the industry will grow to $270 Billion in 2023 and that the average shirt sold creates $18.18 in revenue.

Combine that with an IBIS World estimate of 11,094 custom screen printers and that means even if you become an average seller, you’ll get .009% of the market.

Here’s a table for easier viewing of that information.

A table showing yearly revenue of a business

The point here is to make sure your business proposal examples make sense.

You’ll need to know industry averages such as cost of customer acquisition, revenue per customer, the average cost of goods sold, and admin costs to be able to create accurate estimates.

Our simple business plan templates walk you through most of these processes. If you follow them you’ll have a good idea of how to write a business proposal.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 9. Business Plan Example of Funding Requests

What is a business plan without a plan on how to obtain funding?

The Small Business Administration has an example for a pizza restaurant that theoretically needed nearly $20k to make it through their first month.

In our video, How to Start a $500K/Year T-Shirt Business (Pt. 1 ), Sanford Booth told us he needed about $200,000 to start his franchise and broke even after 4 months.

Freshbooks estimates it takes on average 2-3 years for a business to be profitable, which means the fictitious pizza company from the SBA could need up to $330k to make it through that time and still pay their bills for their home and pizza shop.

Not every business needs that much to start, but realistically it’s a good idea to assume that you need a fairly large cushion.

Ways to get funding for a small business

There are a variety of ways to cover this. the most common are:

  • Bootstrapping – Using your savings without external funding.
  • Taking out debt – loans, credit cards
  • Equity, Seed Funding – Ownership of a percentage of the company in exchange for current funds
  • Crowdsourcing – Promising a good for funding to create the product

Keep reading for more tips on how to write a business plan.

How funding will be used

When asking for business financing make sure to include:

  • How much to get started?
  • What is the minimum viable product and how soon can you make money?
  • How will the money be spent?

Mike emphasized two aspects that should be included in every plan, 

How to Write a Business Plan Resources

Here are some links to a business plan sample and business plan outline. 

  • Sample plan

It’s also helpful to follow some of the leading influencers in the business plan writing community. Here’s a list:

  • Wise Plans –  Shares a lot of information on starting businesses and is a business plan writing company.
  • Optimus Business Plans –  Another business plan writing company.
  • Venture Capital – A venture capital thread that can help give you ideas.

How to Write a Business Plan: What’s Next?

We hope this guide about how to write a simple business plan step by step has been helpful. We’ve covered:

  • The definition of a business plan
  • Coming up with a business idea
  • Performing market research
  • The critical components of a business plan
  • An example business plan

In addition, we provided you with a simple business plan template to assist you in the process of writing your startup business plan. The startup business plan template also includes a business model template that will be the key to your success.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our business hub .

Have you written a business plan before? How did it impact your ability to achieve your goals?

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Brandon Boushy

Brandon Boushy lives to improve people’s lives by helping them become successful entrepreneurs. His journey started nearly 30 years ago. He consistently excelled at everything he did, but preferred to make the rules rather than follow him. His exploration of self and knowledge has helped him to get an engineering degree, MBA, and countless certifications. When freelancing and rideshare came onto the scene, he recognized the opportunity to play by his own rules. Since 2017, he has helped businesses across all industries achieve more with his research, writing, and marketing strategies. Since 2021, he has been the Lead Writer for UpFlip where he has published over 170 articles on small business success.

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A Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Business Plan in 2024

A Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Business Plan in 2024

Table of contents

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

Do you remember the first business plan you made? It could be with your school pal to open a restaurant or with your college buddy to start a design firm. No matter what stage of life you’re at, every new business needs a plan. It’ll help you lay the foundation.

A business plan comprises your company’s goals and intentions. 

Here are the top strategic tips on writing a winning business plan to give life to your entrepreneurial dream.

Do I really need a business plan?

When evaluating how to structure a business, you might wonder:

  • How do I convey my ideas clearly?
  • How can I assess each approach?
  • How can I effectively talk about the company’s goals?
  • What will help me partner with potential companies?
  • How do I make my business lucrative in a  competitive market?

Investors rely on a comprehensive business plan to understand how you expect to make profits. 

1. Research for strategic decisions

You can’t develop a business plan without investing time in research. To better understand market trends, consumer behavior, and competitor’s strategies, perform extensive research that a business plan mandates.

2. Vision through words

It helps you compellingly present the ideas to gain investors', partners’, and consumers’ interests. 

3. Earns potential partners

It helps get investors or collaborators interested in your business by showcasing how it is worth investing in. 

5 things to keep in mind while writing your business plan

Writing a stellar business plan demands attention to detail. Here are the crucial elements to bear in mind while composing a plan. 

1. Audience

Are you writing it for an investor or a partner? Based on the audience, you need to understand their perspective, concerns, and expectations. 

Is your business plan clearly defining the goals? Ensure it gives a clear picture of the company's short-term and long-term objectives. 

3. Comprehensive research

Did you analyze market trends? Dig deep into the research to get a comprehensive industry analysis. It will help you exhibit your company’s innovative approach.

Who could be your most effective research partner? Wordtune!

Let’s say you’re planning to begin a packaging venture. While preparing the business plan, you need to know the facts and figures about the industry's growth. So, how do you go about it? 

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

With Wordtune’s AI feature, you can write a detailed prompt mentioning the data that you need to procure. For example, ask ‘How is the packaging industry performing?’ and Wordtune will develop relevant, up-to-date information.

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

4. Crisp points

Do you prefer reading through lengthy texts or crisp points? The latter, right? Make sure to present the data with crisp and precise facts. 

5. Tone and style

While a business plan is the key to exhibiting your business approach, don’t miss out on reflecting your personality. While you keep the content in a professional tonality, make it more enjoyable with a little hint of quirkiness. 

Wordtune helps in effortlessly jazzing the tone and style of your business plan. Let’s understand with an example of a venture’s brief. 

‘FurniturePro is a leading venture in the furniture design industry specializing in sustainable design. We’re transforming modern spaces through our eco-friendly and innovative approach. Our designs speak all about sleek and functional designs.’

Do you wish to add a casual touch to the tonality? Here’s how Wordtune works.

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

This tool helps you refine your tone by giving suggestions according to your intended style.

9 Steps to Writing a Comprehensive Business Plan

To outline your business’ goals and approach holistically, here is our step-by-step guide on writing a compelling business plan. 

1. Executive summary

An executive summary is the first page of a business plan, offering a trailer for more to come. Thus, it needs to be well-written and captivating. Consider it an elevator pitch and summarize your company’s plan by highlighting the critical points like the objective, mission, growth trajectory, unique value proposition, etc.

Pro-tip: As an executive summary offers insights into the overall plan, write it at the end. It will make the task more manageable as you can pick information from the relevant sections and precisely mention it here. 

With Wordtune, you can curate the executive summary by offering a brief prompt. For example, you’re an architect seeking investors for your firm. What do you need to grab their attention? A holistic business plan that helps them understand the perks of funding your business.

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

Let’s see how Wordtune helps in this case. All you need to do is feed the details that must be present in the summary and witness the magic. 

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

To convey the ideas better, it breaks up the details under sub-headings to enhance readability and mention every detail.

2. About your company

What is your company’s name? Where is it located? Who are the leaders of the company?

Whenever we’re going through a business plan, aren’t these the first questions popping up in our heads? After the executive summary, introduce your company.

Define the overall business structure, whether a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship. While mentioning these details, include each leader's ownership and involvement percentage. Give a gist of the past and present through a brief timeline, and prepare the readers to delve into the future that follows in the next section.

3. Your business goals

Nobody prefers sailing a boat without a compass, right? Similarly, every investor or potential stakeholder needs a clear picture of the business and its growth strategies before investing. This is why this section is crucial. Define your short-term and long-term objectives of the company.

Make sure to cover the following points in the business goal:

  • Why do you need funds for the business?
  • What are the benefits financing brings to the growth of your company?
  • What is your approach to achieving growth targets?

It must exhibit a win-win case for your company and investor’s ROI.

4. All about your products and services

With the company’s past, present, and future in line, it’s time to delve into the details of the product.

  • What is the product or service your company offers?
  • What is the typical pricing?
  • What is your target audience?
  • What is your strategy to fulfill the supply chain and demands?
  • What is your sales path?
  • What is the distribution strategy for a product or service? 

Make sure to mention every minute detail about the offerings and throw light on their unique features, advantages, and how they add value to consumers. 

5. What does market research say?

As you step into a niche, research is vital. 

Once you’ve researched the market, present your unique approach in the business plan. Mention how your product or service is better than the rest. Explain about your competitors, discuss their approach, and define how your course stays a step ahead.

Pro-tip: Sequence it by showcasing your market understanding first. After that, mention the critical pain points, identify the challenges, and how you transform them into opportunities.

6. Outline the marketing plan

What is your marketing strategy? Address your roadmap to reach and engage with the target audience. How are you planning to promote your products, and what is your process for building a lasting impression?

Mention details about the sales tactics, channels, and promotional campaigns. 

7. Business financial analysis

Numbers can speak volumes. If you’re writing a business plan for an existing business, flaunt the profit-and-loss statements to showcase the financials. List the assets, debts, cash flow, etc., through a balance sheet. Consider adding the following details:

  • Current Ratio– the company’s current liquidity and potential to repay the debts.
  • Net Profit Margin– what is the percentage of revenue reserved as net income?
  • Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio– details about the frequency of collecting receivables annually.

Present the data through graphs or charts to gain the reader's attention. It offers better clarity on financial health and sustainability in the future.

8. Generate financial projections

You must clearly show your investors or partners the company’s future finances. It outlines your potential to repay the loans or how the company will provide promising ROIs. Add monthly or quarterly sales, expenditures, and estimated profits for at least three years.

Develop realistic projections, as these are the financial roadmap guiding significant decisions and strategies. 

9. Added information

Do you have additional information, like licenses, certifications, permits, contracts, credit history, etc., that didn’t fit elsewhere? Add it to this section.

Use it as a miscellaneous section to add relevant information driving your business growth.

Download our free business plan template here

Examples of the top-selling business plans, 1. patagonia.

Start your business plan with a strong mission statement that sets a tone at the beginning. For example, this being an environmentally friendly company, the entire plan for this brand revolves around how their clothing is eco-friendly for silent sports that don’t have engines. 

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

2. NALB Creative Center

This business plan covers every aspect of the venture, including summary, services, market analysis, etc. The market analysis offers insights into the breakdown of target customers, clearly communicating the potential for business growth. 

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

In this business plan, visuals help narrate the brand’s story. The rich usage of images aligns with the brand’s ethos of adopting an innovative approach. An addition of financial charts further helps in portraying the finances clearly. 

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

4. LiveShopBuy

This business plan effectively focuses on investment opportunities through strategically positioning facts. It talks about investments first to seek funding and then leads to the further details and services the company offers.

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

5. Lula Body

This business plan doesn’t shy away from reflecting the finances. From service charges to expected revenues, it covers every aspect precisely and presents it crisply for readers to grasp the takeaways. 

a typical business plan is written and revised many times

Say hello to your business buddy!

Coming up with an impactful business plan sounds challenging. But not when you have Wordtune as your assistant.

From generating fresh ideas to enhancing existing ones, there is an array of tools Wordtune offers. It helps you refine the tonality and introduce a unique style to the content. Whether the plan is to build a network through a business plan or gain collaborators, with Wordtune, you can rest assured to strike the right tone.

Building a roadmap with a business plan

The business plan is much more than just a document. A business plan can help investors and owners better understand what the future holds for the business.

A holistic business plan exhibits the vision and aspirations you aim to achieve. Thus, give thought and weightage to every word in that document. It should be detailed, realistic, and achievable. Regularly check the business plan to ensure that it stays relevant and updated with the transforming industrial trends.

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Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .

A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:

  • Product goals and deadlines for each month
  • Monthly financials for the first two years
  • Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
  • Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years

Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.

While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.

For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .

Business Plan Steps

The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:

  • Description of business
  • Competitive analysis
  • Description of organizational management
  • Description of product or services
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Funding details (or request for funding)

If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.

Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.

Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.

In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the vision and mission of the company?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?

See our  roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.

Step 2: Description of Business

The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:

  • What business are we in?
  • What does our business do?

Step 3: Market Analysis

In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:

  • Who is our customer? 
  • What does that customer value?

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:

  • Who is the competition? 
  • What do they do best? 
  • What is our unique value proposition?

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

  • What is the product or service?
  • How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?

Step 7: Marketing Plan

In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:

  • Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
  • What channels will you use to reach your target market?
  • What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
  • If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Step 8: Sales Plan

Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts. 

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the sales strategy?
  • What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
  • What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
  • What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
  • What are the metrics of success?

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
  • How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
  • What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?

Step 10: Financial Projections

Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years. 

While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:

  • How and when will the company first generate a profit?
  • How will the company maintain profit thereafter?
  • Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.

For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy. 

If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.

Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .

  • Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. 
  • Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision. 
  • Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
  • Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
  • Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
  • Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
  • Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
  • Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
  • Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting. 
  • Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.

Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates . 

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.

While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:

  • Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
  • List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
  • Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
  • Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
  • Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.). 
  • Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
  • Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
  • Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.

See our wide variety of  startup business plan templates for more options.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.

In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.

  • Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
  • Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
  • Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
  • Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
  • Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”

Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.

Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.

“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”

Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.

Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships. 

Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.

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The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Discover why over 90% of Fortune 100 companies trust Smartsheet to get work done.

Last Updated: February 16, 2024, 12:05 pm by TRUiC Team

Writing a business plan can be an intimidating endeavor. Whether you’ve decided to start a business , or you already have a business and need to write a business plan to apply for a loan or to pitch to investors , we cover the process in-depth.

Recommended: Our business plan generator walks you through topics like marketing and financial projections so that your business is prepared to succeed.

Man writing a business plan.

The traditional business plan is typically a 20 to 40-page formal document that describes what your business does, what your objectives are, and how you plan to achieve them.

It lays out your plans for operating, marketing, and managing your business, along with your goals and financial projections.

There are many different types of business plans, depending on the stage of your venture and the purpose of your business plan. In the earliest stages of your business idea, you may want to start small with a three-sentence business plan , or perhaps by sketching out a lean canvas or business model canvas .

Once your business idea has been developed, you’ll be ready to begin writing your business plan .

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

Writing a business plan requires you to think through all of the key elements of your business. This gives you insights into the challenges you’ll face and the strengths you bring.

A business plan is also often requested by lenders or investors when you are ready to seek financing.

While many companies do not need a formal business plan unless they are planning on seeking investors or applying for a business loan , writing a business plan has extensive benefits.

The process of writing your business plan allows you to take an in-depth look at your industry , market , and competitive position . It helps you set goals , determine your keys to success , and plan your strategies . It also allows you to explore your financial projections and manage cash. So, even if you do not need a formal business plan, the process of planning may still reap huge rewards.

Your Audience

You need to think carefully about who is going to read your business plan.

Although you might begin writing a business plan only to convince yourself, there are a number of stakeholders who may end up reading your business plan.

Your plan might be read by your:

  • Partners or potential partners
  • Board of directors
  • Senior management team
  • Current employees
  • Employment candidates

Outside the organization , the following stakeholders may want to read your business plan before they decide to do business with you:

  • Distributors
  • And independent contractors

Think about your primary audience when you are writing your business plan. What are the aspects that are most important to them? This is where you will want to put the majority of your focus.

For example, lenders will be most interested in your financial projections — your cash flow statement and balance sheet.

Investors might be most interested in your business model, the uniqueness of your product or service, and your competitive advantage.

Partners, your senior management team, and current employees might be most interested in your strategic plans- your vision, your operational plan, and your organizational plan.

Find Sample Business Plans in Your Industry

One great resource you should check out before sitting down to write your business plan are sample business plans in your industry.

Not only will you have the opportunity to gain insights on your industry and your competitors, you also might be able to find troves of industry and market research that will make conducting your own analysis of the industry and market much easier.

To find example business plans in your industry, try searching the web for “ your industry business plan example.”

Writing Your Business Plan

Once you have spent some time looking at sample business plans in your industry, it is now time to start writing your business plan . An easy place to begin is by outlining the major sections you will need in your plan.

What you need to include in your business plan will depend on the type of business you are creating, your business model, and who your intended audience is.

Common business plan sections include:

  • Executive Summary — a high-level overview of your business or business idea
  • Venture Overview — a description of your company, vision, mission, and goals
  • Product or Service Description — a detailed description of your product or service
  • Industry and Market Analysis — an analysis of the industry and market you compete in
  • Marketing Plan — your overall strategy and specific plans to capture market share
  • Organizational Plan — the legal form of the business and the key players
  • Operational Plan — how you will operate the business and your key resources
  • Goals, Milestones, and Risks — short and long-term goals, milestones, and risks
  • Financial Statements — Financial statements or the projected financials of your business

Not every type of venture will require every one of these sections to be included in their business plans. However, most business plans will at least include an executive summary, venture overview, a description of the products and services, and some form of financial projections.

As suggested in its name, an executive summary is a summary of the key points in your business plan . This is your first chance to convey to readers the what, why, who, and how of your business or business idea.

Although there is no set structure for an executive summary, a good executive summary should summarize :

  • The problem you are solving
  • Your solution
  • Your target market
  • Any competitive advantages
  • The team you’ll build
  • Goals and objectives
  • An overview of your financials or financial forecast

If you are writing your business plan for the purpose of acquiring funding , you will also need to discuss the amount of funding required, the purpose of the funds, as well as how your investors will get paid back.

The executive summary should be clear and concise . Ideally, this section should be one to two pages and typically follows either a synopsis or story approach, depending on the intended audience.

In the synopsis approach, you would provide a brief summary of each of the key sections of your business plan. In the story approach, your executive summary reads like a narrative, allowing you to tell the “story” of your business or idea.

With either approach to writing the executive summary, the information you want to convey remains the same. The executive summary needs to provide an overall picture of your current business or business idea.

The executive summary should include:

  • A brief description of you and your venture,
  • The problem your product or service is solving,
  • Some information on your target market, including size, potential, & competition, and
  • The solution you are offering.

The executive summary should also include:

  • A statement of where you are now,
  • A statement of your objectives and future plans,
  • A list of what you see as keys to your success, and (if you are seeking investors)
  • Any relevant financial information such as start-up costs, funding required, and how you will use investor funding.

Although the executive summary is the first section in the business plan, because it is a summary of the rest of your business plan, it is often written last.

Venture Overview

The venture overview is a top-level depiction of your company.

It contains the:

Description of the Venture

  • Vision Statement
  • Goals & Objectives
  • Keys to Your Success

The first part of your venture overview is a description of your venture.

The description of your venture should include what you do (a brief description of your products or services), the value you provide to customers, your current operating status or a brief history of the venture, and a short description of the industry or niche in which you compete.

How to Write a Vision Statement

After describing your venture, a vision statement is a very simple, 5 to 10 word sentence or tagline that expresses the fundamental goals of your firm. Good vision statements reflect your company’s long term passion and purpose, often in a way that evokes emotion.

Take a look at the vision statements below for some inspiration:

Disney —  To make people happy. Oxfam —  A world without poverty. Stanford —  To become the Harvard of the West. Marriott —  To be the #1 hospitality company in the world. Microsoft —  A computer on every desk and in every home; all running Microsoft software.

How to Write a Mission Statement

After having crafted your vision statement, you should also create a mission statement. A mission statement explains your company's goals in terms of what you do for your customers. A good mission statement should tell your reader what your company does, who you do it for, and why you do what you do.

Check out these excellent examples of compelling mission statements:

Patagonia —  “Our Reason For Being: Build the best products, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Trader Joes —  “Our mission is to give our customers the best food and beverage values that they can find anywhere and to provide them with the information required to make informed buying decisions. We provide these with a dedication to the highest quality of customer satisfaction delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, fun, individual pride, and company spirit.” Facebook —  "Founded in 2004, Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them."

Goals and Objectives

In this section of the business plan, break down your most important short-term and long-term goals and objectives.

Aim for five to seven of your most important short and long term goals.

This subsection of your venture description should be kept short. You will come back to your goals at the end of your business plan.

However, your key short-term and long-term goals should be highlighted early on in your business plan as well. The rest of your business plan will act as evidence of how you plan on achieving your goals.

Keys to Success

Your keys to success are your insights into what it takes to be successful in your industry, market, or niche.

Your keys to success can include several of the most important milestones that you will need to accomplish in order to achieve your goals.

These may include providing high quality products and services, your ability to attract customers or users and gain market share, or even your ability to develop the technology to deliver your products or services.

Your keys to success may also include the major milestones that you will need to reach along the way in order to achieve your vision. You will come back to your milestones and objectives at the end of your business plan.

Product or Service Description

The product or service description section is where you will go into detail in describing your products or services.

Not only will you describe your product in more detail, you should also discuss the uniqueness of your product, and what gives you an advantage over your competitors.

These are the three main parts of the Product (or Service) Description:

Description of Products or Services

Uniqueness of product, competitive advantage.

In this subsection of your business plan, describe the products or services you will provide, why they are a fit in the market, and how you will compete with similar products and services.

Begin by clearly describing the products or services you will provide. Make sure to explain the features and characteristics of your products and services. Your product or service description does not have to be highly technical. Rather, in addition to describing the features, focus on highlighting the advantages and benefits associated with your products or services.

Also, let your reader know why your product or service is needed. How does your product or service differ from those offered by your competitors? How does it better fill your customers wants and needs?

This is where you tell your reader why your solution is unique. Is it different from everything else out there? How is it different? Why would potential users choose your product or service over your competitors? In order to stand out, you need to distinguish yourself in some way.

To describe your product or service’s uniqueness, you may want to come up with a unique value proposition (or unique selling point). A value proposition is a short description of what you do, who you do it for, and how this benefits them.

A value proposition is similar to a mission statement. However, it differs in that a mission statement is written from the perspective of the company, while a value proposition is written from the perspective of the customer.

Your value proposition should be the center of your customer messaging. It should be front and center on your website, in your marketing materials, and in your advertising.

Here a few examples of great value propositions:

Dollar Shave Club —  A Great Shave for a Few Bucks a Month. No Commitment. No Fees. No B.S. Unbounce —  Build, Publish, & A/B Test Landing Pages Without IT Freshbooks —  Small Business Accounting Software Built for You, the Non-Accountant Skype —  Skype Keeps the World Talking, for Free. Share, Message, and Call - Now with Group Video on Mobile and Tablet Too.

What makes you better than competitors?

Does your competitive advantage come from superior products and services, customer service, technical support, logistics, price? What are the factors that give you an advantage over your competitors?

Clearly defining your competitive advantage is important.

Your competitive advantage is not just some abstract concept. It is at the core of how you deliver value to your customers. Your competitive advantage lays the foundation for your business model and should be a key component of your strategic plans.

Common areas where businesses find competitive advantages include:

  • Intellectual Property
  • Resources/Capital
  • Economies of Scale
  • Knowledge/Experience
  • Connections and Network
  • Customer Service
  • Technical Support
  • Customization
  • Brand Recognition/Loyalty

Industry and Market Analyses

The industry and market analysis is the “big picture” view of your industry and market.

Conducting an industry and market analysis is going to take a good deal of research. You will likely need to research your industry, your competitors, and your customers. But do not rush through this section of your business plan.

A good understanding of your industry and market is critical to your success. By understanding the forces at play within your industry, you will be better able to find additional ways to create value that will allow you to succeed in the current and anticipated competitive environment.

Conducting an industry and market analysis can be intimidating, especially if you do not know what to look for or how to find the information you need. In the next section, we will discuss what should be included in your industry analysis. Then, we will tell you where to begin looking.

Industry Analysis

The industry analysis is a big picture analysis of the industry you will compete in. What does your overall industry look like today? There are a number of insights that will help you assess the attractiveness of your idea and form a big picture view of the industry and segment you are considering competing in.

Key insights to be alert for include:

  • The dominant economic features of the industry
  • The industry’s driving forces
  • The industry’s competitive environment
  • The competitive position of major players and key competitors
  • Key industry success factors

To arrive at meaningful insights from your industry analysis, try to find answers to the following questions:

  • What primary products or services are provided by your industry?
  • What is the size and trajectory of the industry?
  • What was the annual growth rate of the industry over the past year? Three years? Five years? Ten years?
  • What is the forecasted annual growth rate over the next three years? Five years? Ten years?
  • What is the average profitability of firms in your industry?
  • What trends are affecting your industry?
  • Who are the major customer segments served by your industry?
  • Who are the major players in your industry?
  • Who will be your key competitors in your industry?
  • What key factors determine success or failure?

Industry Research

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, you will need to know where to begin your search. There are a number of great free resources to begin looking for industry research. However, the first step is to determine the industry you are in.

While by this point, you should have some idea of the industry you are in, it is not always so clear. You could try an internet search to see what information you can find on your industry, but you will also want to find the NAICS code. You can do a NAICS Code Lookup and find the NAICS Code for LLC that matches your industry.

Here, you use the NAICS identification tool to drill-down through a list of industries to find the appropriate NAICS code for your business.

Once you know your industry, you can begin collecting more information about the industry trends and trajectory.

www.Bizstats.com provides free industry statistics including industry averages for income statement revenues and expenses, balance sheets, and key financial ratios. This is very helpful in making financial forecasts and setting benchmarks.

The US Census Bureau also provides several tools to help you conduct industry research:

  • The Economic Census provides information on employer businesses, including data sorted by industry, state, region, and more.
  • Statistics of US Businesses (SUSB) provides additional data on US businesses by enterprise size and industry. Both of these tools may help in conducting your industry analysis.

Target Market Analysis

Once you have a better understanding of the industry, you can begin to narrow down to your target market. In this section of the business plan you describe who your target market is and what you know about them.

What is a target market? Your target market is the specific group of customers to whom your product is intended. And no, it is not everyone. Although many new venture founders would like to sell their product or service to everyone, you should focus your efforts on your most likely customers.

Narrowing your target market requires understanding the three types of markets for your products or services. Your venture’s market can be narrowed down into three categories, the TAM, the SAM, and the SOM.

The total available market (TAM) is the total market for your products and services. Everyone in the universe who might be your customer.

The serviceable available market (SAM) is the subset of the total market that you can actually reach. Although anyone in your universe might be your customer, you are limited in your ability to reach them all.

The share of market (SOM) is the subset of the serviceable available market that you will actually reach. These are your most likely customers. Your target market.

Target markets can be segmented in many different ways. The idea is to narrow down to your most likely customers. This is where your focus should be.

Ways you can segment the market include:

  • Demographic (e.g., age, gender, family size, education, income)
  • Geographic (e.g., country, state, region, city, neighborhood)
  • Psychographic (e.g., benefits sought, personality, social class, lifestyle)
  • Behavioral (e.g., benefits sought, usage, attitude, loyalty)

Once you understand who your target market segments are, you will be able to start determining how you can reach them. To do this, consider:

  • Where does your target market get information to make purchasing decisions?
  • What is it they are looking for when considering buying this product/service?
  • What will your target market pay attention to?
  • Market Research

To determine your target market and conduct a market analysis, you will most likely have to do market research.

Market research is the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data related to your target market and target customer to support strategic decision making.

There are two types of market research : secondary market research, and primary market research.

Secondary market research is the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data that has already been collected for other purposes. Secondary market research may include the collection of data from a number of sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, consumer agencies, and for-profit organizations.

Primary market research is the collection of new information to gain a further understanding of the problem at hand. Primary market research involves you collecting the data or hiring a market research firm to collect data for you. This is you going out and actually collecting the opinions of your potential customers.

Common methods of primary market research include customer observation, focus groups, customer surveys, and customer interviews .

Because primary market research typically takes more time to complete and may incur significant costs , secondary market research is often conducted before conducting primary market research. This allows you to gather enough insights that you can narrow your primary market research to those more likely to be your customers.

To begin conducting secondary market research, consider these sources:

Think with Google provides a number of free tools and resources to help you find and understand your target market. From tools like Find My Audience and an Insights Library to a wealth of information on customer trends and the consumer journey, Think with Google is a valuable tool in conducting your market analysis.

City Town Info provides free statistics on people and places, colleges and universities, and jobs and careers. You can search for data on more than 20,000 U.S. communities at the city and state levels.

Google Trends is another useful tool for conducting market research. Google Trends allows you to explore what people are searching on the internet. You can examine trending topics, see trends by year, or search your own topic to discover interest over time, by region, or by related queries.

Social Mention allows you to conduct a real-time social media search for topics across more than 100 social media platforms. Social Mention provides you with information on the sentiment behind topic mentions, top keywords, top hashtags, and the social media platforms where these topics are being discussed.

Needless to say, there are several other great sources for both industry and market research. The key is to get creative to find the data and information to both guide your strategy as well as justify your business opportunity.

Once you understand your industry and market, you should also include an analysis of your major competitors.

Your competitors may include anyone offering alternatives to your solution that people are using now to solve the same problem.

You will want to understand and explain who your competitors are along with their market share , price, major competitive advantages and disadvantages, and what makes your product unique from theirs.

Start by identifying the major competitors within your industry. You should focus on your closest competitors. Those that compete with you directly.

Next, for each competitor, describe their strategies, their strengths, and their weaknesses. In doing so, try to answer the following questions:

  • What are their primary products and or services?
  • Who are their target customers?
  • What differentiates your product or service from theirs?
  • What is their pricing strategy?
  • What is their marketing strategy?
  • What is their main message or value proposition?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are their competitive advantages?

You should complete a competitive analysis for your top three to five competitors. Doing so will allow you to gain a much better perspective on the competitive landscape and may provide insight into how you can distinguish yourself from your competitors and even how you can take advantage of areas where your competitors fall short.

Marketing Plan

The marketing plan depicts the overall strategy your venture pursues to capture market share.

The marketing plan describes all aspects of marketing for your venture, including the product, price, place, and promotion . This includes a big picture view of your marketing strategy, your planned marketing mix, as well as your pricing strategy, sales strategy, and advertising strategy.

The marketing plan should be well informed by your industry and market analysis. By now, you have a plethora of knowledge about who your target customer is, the problem and pain points that you are alleviating for them, and how your competitors are positioned. All of this knowledge allows you to hone your marketing plan to reach your target market with the right message in the channels they turn to for information.

The first section of your marketing plan is your marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy refers to your overall strategy of how you will market your product. How will you get your message out to your potential customers?

Your marketing strategy should consider the four essential elements of marketing:

The 4 Ps of Marketing:

The product is everything the customer gets, whether it be a physical product, a service, or an experience.

It is what you deliver. This includes the product or service itself, along with its branding, packaging, labeling, and even benefits.

The price is what you charge. What the customer gives you. Your business plan should discuss your pricing strategy and where this fits in your marketing mix.

Are you competing on price and thus offer low pricing? Or are you focusing on value at a medium price point? Or maybe you are positioned as a luxury label or item, and compete at a high price point? Why did you choose this strategy? Does it fit with your target market and within your marketing mix?

Location refers to where your customers find you, or where you find them.

While much of today’s marketing is done online, location is still as important as ever. Once you understand the place, you will have a much better idea on how to deploy your marketing mix. Where do your ideal customers get their information? Where do they shop? What forms of social media do they use?

Promotion is how you tell customers about your products and services.

Simply put, promotion is how you raise awareness of your products, services, or brand. Promotion strategies may include public relations, content creation and curation, marketing, and advertising.

But, keep in mind, your promotional strategies should be focused on one thing: your target customer and the strategies and messaging that works for them.

Your Marketing Mix

Your marketing mix is how you allocate resources to the marketing channels that you plan to pursue. In this section of your marketing plan, you will describe the marketing messaging and channels that you plan to use, and why these are appropriate for your target market.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing, or content marketing, is a form of marketing designed to draw traffic to your website by providing valuable content to your target market. This is often achieved by posting useful web content, content, videos, and blogs.

The idea behind inbound marketing is pretty simple- by providing knowledge and information on your products, services, and other information that is valuable to your customers, you generate more leads and, hopefully, more sales.

Social Media Marketing

With over 3.5 billion people around the world using social media, social media marketing is another powerful tool to reach potential customers.

Social media marketing has many advantages, including allowing you to get your message in front of your specified target audience at little to no cost.

Although there is an overabundance of social media channels to choose from. Focus on the ones that your target market uses to get their information.

For instance, if your target market is middle age or older people, you may want to focus on platforms that are more popular with these demographics such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. However, if your target market is teen agers and young adults, you are more likely to find them on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

The Power of Video Marketing

Do not forget to discuss the use of video marketing in your marketing mix.

In both inbound and social media marketing, video has begun to play an increasingly important role. Video marketing can be employed in inbound marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing to serve a variety of purposes. The most common uses of video marketing include explainer videos, presentation videos, testimonial videos, sales videos, and video ads.

Not only can video marketing be used in a variety of methods and contexts, it is a highly consumed type of advertising. In fact, in 2020, 96% of consumers watched an explainer video to find out more about a product or service. Video works. And marketers believe this too. 92% of marketers who utilize video marketing say that it is a key part of their marketing strategy.

Email Marketing

Depending on the type of venture your company is, email marketing may also be an important element in your marketing mix. A good email marketing strategy balances gaining new customers with keeping your existing customers engaged with your company.

Although you do not want to overdo it, and a lot of email marketing seems “spammy”, email marketing can be very effective in the right form. Welcome notes, confirmation emails, informational emails, newsletters, digital magazines, promotional emails, and seasonal and birthday campaigns are just a few of the many types of email marketing.

Referral Marketing

Another common type of marketing in a company's marketing mix is referral or recommendation marketing. Referral or recommendation marketing can take many forms. Referral marketing might include good old organic word-of-mouth marketing wherein you ask customers for referrals, or even a formal system for rewarding customers who refer new clients.

The Marketing Plan section of the business plan should also describe your pricing strategy. How are you going to price your products and services?

There are a number of ways you can approach pricing:

Markup Pricing —  Markup pricing is pricing based on your costs, plus a predetermined markup. The amount you mark up your product or service is usually expressed as a percentage, known as the gross margin. Markup pricing is most often found in high volume manufacturing industries where manufacturers must cover the cost of the products they are making.

Competitive Pricing —  Competitive pricing is pricing based on your competitors prices for similar products or services. Competitive pricing is most often seen in products or services where there are numerous competitors or substitutes.

Value Pricing —  Value pricing is pricing based on the value or perceived value that you deliver to your customers. In value-based pricing, you set the prices of your products and services in line with what the customer believes your product or service is worth. Value-based pricing is most often seen in higher value products and services, those that cater to self-image, or those that are niche or unique.

Penetration Pricing —  Penetration pricing is setting a low initial price, and then raising it as demand increases. Penetration pricing is designed to capture market share. It is a strategy often used by a new business or in launching new products and services. The idea is to set the price low enough to draw customers from your competition.

Price skimming —  Price skimming pricing is setting a high initial price and then reducing this price as the market evolves. Price skimming is most often used on new or trendy products and services. As initial demand slows and alternatives or competitors emerge, the high initial pricing must then be lowered to stay competitive in the market.

Sales Strategy

A sales strategy is how you plan on selling your products or services to your target market. This includes your sales channels (where will your product or service be available for sale) as well as how you will sell your product or service.

Your sales strategy depends on your business model and the nature of your business. If your business involves retailing, food services, or personal services where your customers come to you to make a purchase, your sales strategy may be quite simple (or even unnecessary to income). However, if your business involves personal selling, you may need a more thought-out sales strategy.

Some questions to ask to determine and document your sales strategy in your business plan:

  • Will your products or services be available on your website?
  • On a third-party website?
  • In retail locations?
  • In your own stores?
  • In other retail stores?
  • Directly to consumers? (Business to Consumer or B2C)
  • To businesses? (Business to Business or B2B)
  • Cold calling?
  • Networking?
  • Inside salespeople?
  • Outside sales representatives?
  • Sales through strategic partners?

An advertising strategy is how you plan to use sponsored, non-personal messaging to reach and inform potential customers of your product, service, or brand.

Your advertising plan should describe the mediums you are going to advertise in , who you are targeting advertising in these mediums, your advertising message(s), and your advertising budget. A good advertising plan is also measurable, so be sure to consider how you are going to measure the effect of your advertising strategy to see if it is working.

Advertising Mediums

The most common advertising mediums typically fall into the categories of traditional advertising and digital advertising.

Traditional advertising includes print advertising such as newspapers, magazines, flyers, direct mail, and even billboards, as well as radio and tv advertising.

Digital advertising includes email advertising, search engine advertising, website advertising, social media advertising, influencer advertising, among many, many more.

The secret to finding the right advertising strategy and advertising mediums for your business is knowing where to find your most likely customers. Where is your target market, and where do they go to get their information?

Organizational Plan

The organizational (or management) plan describes:

  • The legal form of the business
  • Its organizational structure
  • The background and roles of the leadership team
  • Key personnel that are already in place or you will need to fill.

Organizational Type and Structure

The first part of your organizational plan describes your organizational type and structure . Who owns your company? And what is its legal business structure?

There are four primary types of organizational structures:

Sole Proprietorships

Partnerships.

  • Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

Corporations

Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships are informal business structures , while LLCs and Corporations are more formal business structures .

The best type of structure for your business will depend on your business’s particular characteristics and needs. A partnership structure may be the best choice for some businesses, while an LLC or a corporation might work better for others.

Sole proprietorships are an informal type of business structure. While many businesses start out as sole proprietorships because they are an informal business structure the owner is liable for 100% of the business's liabilities and risks. Thus sole proprietorships are typically not the preferred ownership structure for small businesses.

Similar to a sole proprietorship, a partnership is also an informal type of business structure. While a sole proprietorship involves only one owner, a partnership is a business structure with two or more partners where there is still no legal distinction between the owners of a partnership and their business.

An LLC is a formal business structure that distinguishes the owners from the business itself.

LLCs offer the personal liability protection of a corporation with the pass-through taxation of a sole proprietorship or partnership.

It is the simplest way of structuring your business to protect your personal assets in the event your business is sued.

LLCs can be owned by one or more people, who are known as LLC “members.” An LLC with one owner is known as a single-member LLC, and an LLC with more than one owner is a multi-member LLC.

LLCs require operating agreements . Operating agreements are legal documents that outline the ownership and member duties of your LLC. This agreement allows you to set out the financial and working relations among business owners ("members") and between members and managers.

Recommended: Learn how to form an LLC in your state using our free guides.

A corporation is a legal business entity that is owned by shareholders, run by a board of directors, and created through registration with the state.

Corporations offer limited liability and tax benefits but are required to follow more complex operating procedures than their counterpart, the limited liability company (LLC).

Ownership and Executive Team

Now it’s time to sell the single most important element in your business plan. You!

This subsection of your business plan tells readers who is in your ownership and executive team and outlines the accomplishments of your team.

You should include a short profile on each member of your ownership and executive team that will play a role in company decision making.

Who is on your ownership and executive team? What roles will each perform? What knowledge, experience, and accomplishments do you and your team bring to the table? What roles do you still need to fill, and how and when do you plan on filling them?

It is well known that many investors consider the experience and ability of the ownership and management team to be just as important as the idea itself. Do not pass over this opportunity to highlight how your knowledge, experience, and accomplishments set you up to succeed.

Also, remember that when you are writing your descriptions of your ownership team, talk about your accomplishments- as opposed to experience. Accomplishments signify that you have a track record and can get things done.

Key Personnel

This section of the business plan highlights the key personnel associated with the business . This may include members of the management team outside of the owners and executive management, the board of directors, and any outside advisors.

Here, include profiles on each key figure associated with your company, focusing on their accomplishments and the knowledge and skill they bring to the business.

The operational plan describes how you will operate. The processes, strategies, and resources that you will use to operate your business on a daily basis.

This includes descriptions of production (if you produce a product) or the process you will use to carry out your service. The operational plan may also include, as necessary, descriptions of your logistics and supply chain, physical resources and needs, human resources and needs, technological resources and needs, and timetables for carrying out your plan.

Production Plan or Service Description

The production plan or service description explains how you are going to make and deliver your product(s) or provide your service(s). Although the production plans for products and services may look slightly different, both describe how your company will operate in the day-to-day.

If you are making a product , the production plan is where you will describe the process for making the product. What are your methods of production? What are the steps in your processes? How will you ensure quality? Maintain inventory? Handle Logistics?

If you are providing a service , the production plan is where you can describe the process you go through providing that service. What are your service methods? What will your sales and customer service look like? What is the customer experience like?

Most importantly, which of these might give you an advantage over your competitors? If you have any superior methods, processes, or other advantages, make sure to highlight them in your production plan or service description.

Logistics and Supply Chain

This section of the business plan describes your logistics and where you fall within the supply chain in your industry.

If you produce a product , you should discuss how you source materials, where your materials come from, and who your suppliers are. You will also need to discuss how you handle inventory, how you warehouse, and how you distribute your product(s).

If you are a service business , you may still have to discuss how you source materials used in your service, who your suppliers are, and how you handle inventory.

Physical Resources

In this section of the operational plan, you describe the physical resources that you have and the physical resources that you need to acquire. Think through everything you might need. This will become important when it is time to make financial projections.

  • What facilities, machinery, equipment, and supplies do you require?
  • Do you require raw materials?
  • Who will be your primary suppliers?
  • Secondary suppliers?
  • Do you have back up suppliers and contingency plans if you cannot acquire raw materials?

Technological Resources

You should discuss the technological resources that you are developing, have, or need to create or acquire. Technological resources may include any software, applications, or websites that you have or will need to create, outsource, or purchase.

  • What hardware or machinery will you require?
  • What software or applications will you require?
  • Can you purchase the software and applications you need?
  • Are the software and applications you will need off-the-shelf or specialty?
  • Will you have to create the software and applications you need?
  • Do you need a website?
  • Will you create and maintain your website inside the company or have it created and maintained by someone else?
  • Human Resources

Here, you describe the people that are a part of your team, and the human resources that you need to add to your team, hire, or outsource. Since you have already described the ownership and management team as well as key personnel, this section is more focused on production level workers and lower management.

  • How much staffing will you need?
  • What skills will your staff require?
  • What will your staffing typically look like?
  • How will you recruit, train, and retain employees?

Goals, Milestone, and Risk

The goals, milestones, and risks section of your business plan is the place to outline your goals, set key milestones, and explore and explain your preparation for the risks you will face.

Goals lay the foundation of where you intend to take your company and how you are going to get there. It is important to ascertain the short and long-term goals for your company.

Your goals should be connected to your mission and vision, your business model, and your strategic plans. They should also reflect your ambition to move the company forward and are often reflected in key performance indicators (KPIs) , such as numbers of users and customers, revenues, expenses, retention, satisfaction, and other indicators of performance.

Here are some questions to help you develop the goals for your company:

  • When do you expect to break even?
  • What do you expect your revenue to be in one year? Three years? Five years?
  • What market share do you expect to capture in the next year? Three years? Five years?
  • Where do you plan to expand from here?
  • What KPIs do you need to achieve or improve?
  • When do you expect to implement major objectives?
  • What level of customer satisfaction do you hope to achieve?

When developing your goals, in addition to defining what your goals are, you also need to consider the how , the when , and the who . First, consider how your goals will get accomplished? What actions need to be taken to achieve your goals? What milestones do you need to accomplish along the way?

Your goals should also include your plan on when you plan on attaining each goal . Not only will your readers be curious about when you plan to achieve your goals, due dates and deadlines make for really powerful motivators.

Finally, you should also determine who is going to be responsible for working toward each goal. In a sole-proprietorship or startup it may be you, the business owner, or your founding team. However, as your organization grows, it will become more and more important to define who is responsible for pushing toward and achieving each goal.

SMART Goals

Your goals should be SMART: S pecific, M easurable, A ttainable, R ealistic, and T imely.

  • Specific —  Your goals should be clear and specific. They should be narrow enough that you can determine the appropriate steps to attain them. In addition to what , in planning your goals, do not forget to be specific about how , when , and who . How will your goals be attained? When do you anticipate achieving them? Who is going to be responsible?
  • Measurable —  Your goals should be measurable. There should be some objective metric or performance indicator by which you can tell if you have met your goals? How are you going to measure your goals? What metrics or performance indicators will you use? How will you know if you achieve your goals?
  • Attainable —  Your goals must also be realistic and attainable. For a goal to be attainable you must be able to achieve it. Do not be afraid to push yourself, but setting unrealistic goals will cast doubt on your entire business plan. Ask yourself, can your goals be accomplished? By you? What will it take to attain them?
  • Relevant —  Your goals also need to be relevant. To be relevant, they should contribute to the mission, vision, and success of your venture. Do your goals align with your company’s values? Are they within the scope of and aligned with your operational plan? Your marketing plan? Are they within the budget?
  • Timely —  Your goals should also be timely and time-bound. Their process and progress should be clearly defined and they should have a starting and ending date. Without a timeframe, there is no sense of urgency, or motivation to get started. Make your goals time-bound. How long do you expect it to take? When do you plan on getting started? When do you anticipate achieving each goal?

Milestones are important events in your venture’s growth that mark significant change or stage of development.

Creating a list of milestones can act as a checklist of what you need to accomplish for your venture to reach its goals. They tell the story of how you are going to get from where you are to where you are going.

Milestones might include major events and accomplishments, such as:

  • Forming an LLC
  • Writing a Business Plan
  • Securing Seed Capital
  • Develop a Prototype
  • Begin Production
  • First Major Sale
  • Reach 10,000 Downloads
  • Achieve 1,000 Paying Customers

It is alright to list a few milestones that you have already completed. Or to leave them in your business plan once you complete them. Accomplished milestones show that you are making traction.

Milestones act as a signal to potential investors and other stakeholders what to expect from your venture and when to expect it. They also signal whether the venture is progressing and growing as expected.

Implementation Timeline

The implementation timeline is where you describe where your company is in its lifespan . You should set a timeline to reach your goals and milestones. This should include a short-term timeframe as well as where you anticipate being in the long term.

This section of the business plan should not be long. A simple chart will do. You can find several free timeline templates online to plug in your milestones and the time frame you expect to achieve them.

You will also want to include a section in your business plan showing that you understand the critical risks that your business may be subject to . The risks you will face in your business include both internal and external risks. These are any areas that expose your venture to any kind of loss- assets, customers, sales, profits, and reputation, among others.

By exploring your assumptions and identifying possible risks in those assumptions, you can show that you have assessed and are prepared to handle risks and threats that may arise. There are several tools available to analyze business risks, including SWOT Analysis and contingency planning .

You may want to conduct a SWOT analysis or even include it in your business plan. A SWOT analysis is an analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

A SWOT analysis can help you understand your industry and market, your venture, and the strategies that you should pursue.

To conduct a SWOT analysis, you will need to assess factors both inside and outside your venture.

Here is how to conduct your own:

  • What does your company do well?
  • What are your company’s advantages?
  • What do you do better than your competitors?
  • What unique or low-cost assets do you have access to?
  • What does your company not do well?
  • What are your company’s disadvantages?
  • What do your competitors do better than you?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • Where can you improve?
  • Where can you grow?
  • How can you turn your strengths into opportunities?
  • How can you turn your weaknesses into opportunities?
  • Do the trends of the industry or market represent a threat?
  • Is the number of competitors growing?
  • Do changes in technology or regulation threaten your success?
  • Do your weaknesses represent a threat?

Contingency Plans

After assessing your risks and your SWOT analysis, you should address any major threats or risks that your venture faces with contingency plans.

Contingency plans are plans to help mitigate these risks by establishing a plan of action should an adverse event happen.

Contingency plans show that you understand the threats and risks to your venture, and you have a plan in place to lessen the damage should these risks emerge. There are various ways to prepare for adverse events. One is through planning- identifying alternatives and determining the best course of action. Another is business insurance.

Business Insurance

Business insurance protects against risk from several sources. The type of business insurance you will need varies greatly depending on the nature of your business.

While there are standard types of coverage like general liability insurance , professional liability insurance , workers’ compensation , insurance for commercial property and commercial auto insurance , there are also insurance policies that cover specific business activities and specialized equipment.

You can bundle most of these into what is called a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) by a trusted insurance provider to get you started doing business.

Financial Statements

Your financial statements should include detailed projections of your income statement , cash flow statement, and balance sheet for the first year. You should also provide quarterly projections for the first three (or preferably five) years as well.

You also will likely need to include some sort of financial statement in your business plan. If you are a new venture, you will supply pro forma financial statements. Pro forma financial statements are simply financial projections.

Financial statements can help you to evaluate the cash needs of your venture, determine whether your venture is feasible and desirable, compare your expected returns with the alternatives, identify milestones and benchmarks, and demonstrate the value of your venture to investors.

Financial Assumptions

Before you begin completing your financial statements, you should first sit down and list the assumptions you will rely on to project your financial statements .

These should include projections concerning your:

  • Initial revenue level per month
  • Your growth and factors affecting growth
  • Your inventory and inventory turnover
  • And your operating expenses.

One of the biggest mistakes new ventures make is in making unrealistic assumptions .

Remember, revenue assumptions are key assumptions in determining whether your business will be viable. However, many entrepreneurs are overly optimistic about their revenue assumptions and tend to underestimate their expenses.

In order to make more accurate financial assumptions, back up your assumptions with data whenever possible. To find data to back up your assumptions, look for things like industry averages, market trends, and comparisons with similar ventures. You should already have a substantial amount of this data from your industry and market research.

Pro Forma Income Statements

The income statement , also known as the profit and loss statement , is a statement that shows the projections of your venture’s income and expenses over a fiscal year. On the income statement, you will detail your revenue and sources of revenue based on the assumptions you have made. You will also detail your anticipated expenses and use these to estimate your net income.

The typical income statement includes:

  • Revenue —  the total amount of sales, or revenue, projected to be brought in by your business.
  • Cost of Goods Sold —  the total direct cost of producing your product or delivering your service.
  • Gross Margin —  the difference between revenue and cost of goods sold.
  • Operating Expenses —  this section of your income statement details all of the expenses associated with operating your business. Common operating expenses might include rent, utilities, office
  • expenses, salary expenses, and marketing and advertising expenses, among others.
  • Total Operating Expenses —  the total of your operating expenses, excluding interest, depreciation, and taxes.
  • Operating Income —  the difference between your gross margin and operating expenses.
  • Interest, Depreciation, and Taxes —  this section of your income statement lists your non-operating expenses- expenses such as interest, depreciation, amortization, and taxes.
  • Net Profit —  the total of how much you actually made. This is calculated by subtracting interest, depreciation, and taxes from your operating income.

Pro Forma Cash Flow Statements

The cash flow statement is a financial statement that shows when and where cash (and cash equivalents) flow in and out of your venture. This tells you how much cash you will have on hand at any single point in time.

  • Cash from Operating —  Cash flowing into and out of your venture from operating, beginning with “cash on hand.” Cash flowing into your venture from operating includes cash from sales, payments from credit sales, investment income, and any other types of cash income related to operations. Cash flowing out of your venture from operations, your expenses, includes costs of raw goods, materials, inventory, salary expenses, office expenses, marketing and advertising expenses, rent, interest, taxes, insurance, or any other expenses that are paid by the venture.
  • Capital Cash Flow —  Cash flow, in or out of the venture, for capital assets such as the purchase or sale of fixed assets.
  • Cash from Financing —  Cash flow from financing includes cash flowing in or out of your venture relating to venture financing activities. Inflows of cash from financing include the investments by founders or owners, any loans taken out during the period, or the issuance of any equity. The outflow of cash from financing may include the payment of the principal of any loans, along with the repurchase of any outstanding equity.

Pro Forma Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a financial statement that balances a venture's finances at a specific point in time. It describes how much the company is worth. The balance sheet uses the accounting equation: assets = liabilities + equity . In fact, these are the main components of the balance sheet:

  • Assets —  Resources that hold economic value. A business's assets include current assets and fixed assets. Current assets are resources that can be accessed in the short term. These include cash, accounts receivable, inventory, and other currently available resources. Fixed assets are resources that are intended for long-term use but hold economic value. These include land and buildings, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, vehicles, and other fixed resources.
  • Liabilities —  What the business owes. Like assets, a business’s liabilities are also current liabilities and long-term liabilities. Current liabilities are liabilities that are due within 12 months. Current liabilities include accounts payable, loans, and taxes. Long-term liabilities are liabilities that are due after one year. These include long-term loans, notes, and other long-term debts.
  • Equity —  What the owners or shareholders own. Equity is also composed of two parts: Capital and Retained Earnings. Retained earnings is the amount of profit that has been retained by the company over the life of the venture. Capital earnings , then, is what’s left. It is what has been invested. For new ventures, this may be the founder’s or early investors’ initial investments. For larger corporations, this would be the value of their shares of stock.

Break-Even Analysis

The break-even analysis shows you how much you have to sell before you break even. The break-even analysis uses fixed and variable costs in order to determine the sales volume you have to attain to reach a break-even point. This is the point where your sales volume covers both your fixed costs and your variable costs.

The break-even point is most often expressed as a number of units. You can calculate the break-even point by dividing fixed cost by the average profit per unit (average price per unit minus the variable cost).

Break-Even Point = Fixed Costs/ Profit Per Unit (Avg. Price - Avg. Variable Costs)

You can also calculate the break-even point in terms of $ of sales. To calculate the break-even point in $ of sales, you can divide total fixed costs for the period by the contribution margin ratio (net sales minus total variable cost / net sales).

Break-Even Point ($ of Sales) = Fixed Costs / Contribution Margin Ratio Contribution Margin Ratio = (Net Sales - Total Variable Cost) / Net Sales

Startup/Funds Required

If you are writing your business plan for the purpose of seeking funding, you should conclude your business plan by describing the investment opportunity.

With your financial projections in place, you will now be able to determine the amount of startup capital or investment you require.

This is because the funding you need is highly dependent on your profit and loss, cash flow, and break-even point. With well-researched assumptions and the evidence to back them up, you are ready to make the case that your business is worth the investment and will be able to pay it back or reward investors in the future.

In this section of the business plan, you will need to explain the amount of funding you are requesting as well as describe what those funds will be used for. The startup funding request will need to cover all expenses (maybe even your own personal expenses) at least until you reach your break-even point.

Business Plan Appendices (Optional)

If you have additional evidence to support your business idea, your business model, or your ability to achieve your goals and meet your financial objectives, you may want to consider including it as an appendix to your business plan.

Additional / Optional Evidence

Owners’ Resumes —  One thing you may want to consider including in your business plan is the resume for each owner. Investors often invest as much in the startup team as they do in the idea itself. Illustrations of Product —  Another helpful appendix is pictures or illustrations of your product. These are especially helpful for new products or those which are difficult to depict with words. Storyboard of Customer Experience — If your business is a service business, you could also consider including a storyboard depicting your customer’s experience. Customer Survey Results — You can also include any market research that you have conducted in an appendix. Showing that you have solicited feedback from real customers or potential customers provides further credence to your venture and venture idea.

Develop Your Business Idea

Before writing your business plan, it is important to take some time to develop your business idea .

If you are starting a new company, there are likely many details of the venture that have not been fully worked through. If you already have an existing venture, the following tools can also be useful in evaluating your business model:

  • A three-sentence business plan

The Lean Canvas

The business model canvas, three-sentence business plan.

An easy place to start is with a three-sentence business plan . The three-sentence business plan is easy to construct, and consists of three parts:

  • your product or service
  • your market and marketing
  • your revenue model.

Your Product or Service

The first sentence of your business plan clearly yet simply states your business's primary product or service. This includes the what and the where.

Example: “CoffeeMe is an upscale bakery and coffee shop specializing in imported coffees and international delicacies that will be located in downtown Atlanta.”

Your Market(ing)

The second sentence of your three-sentence business plan describes who your target market is and how you will promote to them.

Example: “CoffeeMe’s target market is urban professionals living and working in downtown Atlanta, marketed and promoted through traditional advertising, company partnerships, and social media.”

Your Revenue Model

The third sentence of your three-sentence business plan explains your revenue model. How will you make money?

Example: “CoffeeMe’s revenue model includes one-time retail sales as well as a unique subscription model featuring all-you-can-drink coffee for subscribers.”

Put it all together, and you have your three-sentence business plan:

Example: “CoffeeMe is an upscale bakery and coffee shop specializing in imported coffees and international delicacies that will be located in downtown Atlanta. CoffeeMe’s target market is urban professionals living and working in downtown Atlanta, marketed and promoted through traditional advertising, company partnerships, and social media. Our revenue model includes one-time retail sales as well as a unique subscription model featuring all-you-can-drink coffee for subscribers.”

Another useful tool for developing your business idea is the Lean Canvas . The Lean Canvas takes a problem-solution approach to helping you plan your business, focusing on the problems you are solving for your customers.

The Lean Canvas helps you describe and visualize your problem, solution, customers, value proposition, key performance indicators, and competitive advantage.

The steps to complete the Lean Canvas are:

  • Define your target customers or users
  • List the problems you are solving for them and how they are currently solving those problems today
  • Describe your solution
  • Explain your unique value proposition
  • Describe your revenue streams
  • Depict how you will reach customers
  • Define the key metrics that will tell if you are doing well
  • Detail your cost structure
  • Explain your unfair advantage

The Lean Canvas, created by Ash Maurya, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License: https://leanstack.com/lean-canvas

The Business Model Canvas helps you describe and visualize the key aspects of your venture including your customers, value proposition, infrastructure, and revenue and cost models.

If you have already completed a Lean Canvas, you will already have several of the central parts of the Business Model Canvas complete.

The steps to complete the Business Model Canvas are:

  • Explain your value proposition
  • Describe how you interact with customers
  • List the key activities that you will need to do to deliver on your value proposition
  • List the key assets that you will need to deliver on your value proposition
  • Describe the key partnerships that you will need to put in place to deliver on your value proposition

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How to Write a Business Plan

3-minute read

  • 12th November 2023

A business plan is a document that outlines the objectives of a particular business and includes the plan and timeline for meeting those objectives. A business plan is often presented to key stakeholders, such as investors and funding organizations, so it needs to strike the right professional tone and contain all the essential details. In this post, we’ll take you through the main components of an effective business plan and the information to include in each section.

The Executive Summary

The first page of a business plan is the executive summary – or the “ elevator pitch .” This section is a brief overview of the entire plan, including a snapshot of financial projections and your business’s mission and key objectives. Although this part is the first in a business plan, writing it last may be best. Once all the main content is written, reading through and pinpointing essential highlights to include in the executive summary portion will be easier.

A Description of the Business

The next section is where you provide an in-depth description of the business and its mission, starting with the organization’s name, location, and history or background. Outline the specific product or service, including pricing plans, unique features, and selling points. This section is where you also describe the key members of the team, the overall management system, and the organizational structure. If there are multiple owners, outline the percent ownership of everyone involved and their role in the company. Be sure to explicitly discuss the legal structure of the business also (e.g., partnership, limited liability company, corporation).

The Objectives and KPIs

Next, state what you hope to accomplish with the business, both now and in the future, and what the timeline is for meeting those objectives. This section is also a good place to discuss key performance indicators (KPIs), the measurable metrics used to evaluate whether the business has met its goals.

An Outline of the Marketing Plan

Provide a detailed outline of your sales and marketing strategies, including pricing, distribution, promotion, and your plan to attract and retain customers. Describe your market research and discuss several of your main competitors and the ways your brand is superior or fills a gap in the market.

Relevant Financial Information

In this section, include relevant financial statements, such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow projections for a specified period (usually three to five years). You may not have many concrete details if the business is relatively new, but you should provide any information you can that indicates the financial health of your business. Be as accurate and realistic as possible with predictions so you don’t mislead potential investors – be sure to carefully analyze your previous financial statements and annual reports before making projections.

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Funding Requests

If you’re requesting funding , include the specific amount needed and a breakdown of how the funds will be used, along with a description of the company’s current financial status.

An Appendix

Finally, include any relevant supplementary documents that support the business plan, such as contracts, market research data, licenses, patents, and product or service specifications.

Proofreading and Editing Services

It’s essential to thoroughly proofread and edit your business plan before presenting it to stakeholders. Even subtle errors or inaccuracies can make it look unprofessional and poorly organized.

Ensure that potential investors are focused on your methods and objectives by having our expert team edit your business plan. Get in touch today to see how our editors can make your business plan stand out from the competition’s and make an impact.

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How to write a business plan in 12 steps (2024 edition).

Updated 08 January 2024 • 12 min read

This guide breaks down how to write a business plan, step-by-step, detailing what your document needs to include and what you need to think about to make your business plan as persuasive as possible.

A business plan is an essential document that can provide immense value for new and existing companies of all sizes. It is an overview that includes an outline of your business, its key objectives and plan for achieving important goals.

This information can be used to communicate strategic actions to internal teams and also attract interest from potential partners and investors . However, writing a business plan can be a lengthy and involved process. For many, using a business plan template can be a good way to get started.

For best results, you’ll need to do a lot of thinking and planning before you start writing your business plan. This way you have all the information and resources you need at your fingertips and won’t be under time pressure to come up with something at the last minute. After all, a well-thought-out business plan can help you avoid generic information and set your company up for success.

Download your free business plan template .

Writing your business plan helps to get your strategy nailed down and onto the page. A plan that stays in your head is probably going to be full of unrealistic assumptions and biases, whereas a strategically thought-out and organised approach forces you to notice your blind spots and find a way forward.

If you’re looking for financing, a bank or investor needs to be persuaded by your business proposal and the opportunity to work with you. Therefore, a well-written business plan can help provide potential financial partners with the confidence that your business can become profitable. Your business plan gives them a comprehensive view of all aspects of your business and details your strategy for achieving your goals.

What are the main sections of a business plan?

Whatever your line of work, your business plan will generally need to provide the following:

An executive summary

A business overview

The market opportunity

Your products/services

How to write a business plan

Make sure you cover each of the following steps when preparing your document:

1. Write an executive summary

This section of your business plan should be 1–2 pages in length and enables potential financiers or partners to get an overview of what your business does and – most importantly — what the opportunity is for them. If they’re interested in the opportunity, they’ll conduct their own due diligence - and this will start with going through your business plan and financials.

It’s a good idea to write your executive summary last, when you’ve clarified your thinking around every section of the document. As an overview section, you don’t want to add any new content that isn’t in your business plan. Aim to keep this summary succinct and engaging by using simple, plain language, as this is much more persuasive than complicated or academic wording.

Use sub-headings and bullet points to help your most important information stand out, especially as busy executives may simply scan your executive summary and use this to decide whether they want to find out more.

What to include in an executive summary?

Make sure you include details on:

What your business does

What the opportunity is

What your unique selling points / differentiators are

How much funding you’re looking for

What the funding will be used for

How you'll succeed

Remember, you’re providing the big picture overview of your business - the detail is in the rest of the document and in the appendices.

2. Write your business overview

This section of your business plan needs to be more than just a list of what your business does. Its purpose is to excite those you’re hoping will work with you or help to fund your business.

Information to address includes:

What's the purpose of your business?

What problem does your business’ product or service solve?

What niche could it fill?

What’s different about your offering?

How are you better than anyone else at what you do?

Consider what your customer value proposition is by deciding what you want to achieve and what your number 1 benefit is for your customer.

3. Identify your USP

Think about what your unique selling points (USP) or differentiators are, and what proof-points you can provide to back them up.

For example, you can use terms like “market-leading” but if you don’t provide any evidence to back up your claims, your reader will take them with a big pinch of salt!

You should certainly reference any awards or endorsements that position you as the best person to provide your product or service, as well as any client testimonials. Make sure you include any education or experience that makes you an expert in your field as well.

4. Describe the market opportunity

Show you understand your industry, market and where you fit in it. While no-one can predict the future, offer up where you think the opportunity is for your business and make sales projections based on that. 

For example, imagine your business is selling personalised cookies - there's little competition in your area and you see your market opportunity to create designs for all calendar and holiday events. You expect to increase sales by 30% in one year and 50% in three years, driven primarily by word-of-mouth referrals.

Make sure you also consider macro trends that may create opportunities for you, such as social, environmental, or technological changes that may affect buying behaviour.

5. Include a SWOT analysis

Whatever your business strengths or opportunities, they’ll always be known and unknown weaknesses and threats; there’s no such thing as certainty in business or in life!

However, you can demonstrate that you’ve examined your business through different lenses and have a thorough understanding of it by doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

Don’t worry about drawing attention to your business’ shortcomings - every opportunity has them and it’ll give investors and partners confidence in you that you won't bury your head in the sand. Naturally, it's important that you specify what you’re going to do to address these weaknesses and counter these threats.

Here are some areas you can think about to get started: reputation, technology, location, experience, staff, overheads, competition, suppliers and price.

6. Present a competitor analysis

Let’s face it, no matter what industry you’re in, or what you’re selling, there’s going to be other businesses offering the same thing. But instead of worrying about the competition, use this as a positive opportunity to up your game and work out the unique advantages you have that will keep you competitive.

Identify your top 3 competitors and analyse what they're doing well and where they’re coming up short. Try to be as objective as possible and identify how to differentiate yourself from them.

You should also look into who the industry leaders are and what the benchmarks are for your industry so that you can set yourself targets for continuous improvement.

7. Create a customer persona

A customer persona is a fictional person who represents your company's ideal customer. Naturally, the persona can be based on a real person - the more you get to know your ideal customer, the more targeted and successful your marketing efforts will be.

To create a customer persona, you need to conduct research into your ideal customer’s age, sex, income, employment, daily activities, interests and hobbies. If you’re feeling unsure about your customer persona, you may need to give your ideal customer further thought and download the customer persona template to get started.

8. Write your marketing strategy

When you’ve created your customer persona, you need to work out how you’re going to reach them. Do they hang out on social media apps, like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or LinkedIn? Or are they more used to local, traditional marketing like free local papers or high foot traffic areas?

Once you’ve figured where your audience is likely to hang out, you can outline your strategies for promoting and advertising your products or services in the next 12 months.

Make a list of the marketing channels you’ll use to achieve your advertising strategy and be sure to include your budget. How much can you set aside for advertising? And where are you most likely to see a return on your efforts? Paid ads on Facebook? Half or full paid spreads in an industry magazine? Or even a direct mail out? 

For more structured help around this, check out free course: Business 101 | Get social with your business on Facebook . 

9. Design your customer retention strategy

Business success relies heavily on the relationship you’re able to build with your customers. What techniques will you use to keep them coming back? Consider the following:

What can your business do to increase the number of repeat customers? 

Does your business have a referral or loyalty program? 

Do you have a post-purchase follow up in place?

Will you use surveys to track customer satisfaction?

What ways can you continue delivering outstanding service?

Is there a way to continue educating and adding value to your customers?

10. Present your financials

Most people who are looking at investing their time and/or money in your business will want to see your financial statements - your performance to date and your projections over the short and medium term. They'll also want to know how much you’ve received in funding to date and what these other sources of funding are - including your own investment.

Current finances

You need to show how your business has performed financially over the last year, highlighting metrics such as positive cashflow , net profit and assets.

Financial forecasts

You should also provide a balance forecast projecting total assets, total liabilities and net assets over 1, 2 and 3 years, and a profit and loss forecast for the same periods detailing gross profit/net sales, total expenses and net profit/loss. Finally, you should also provide a cashflow forecast month by month over the next year.

It’s also a good idea to speak to an expert like an accountant or bookkeeper about your finances and get advice on how best to present them in this all-important section of your business plan.

11. Detail how much funding is needed

Naturally, you also need to be very clear about how much money you’re looking for and what you plan to do with it. If you’re looking for a loan , you need to detail what it’s for, over what period it’ll be repaid, and what collateral you have to secure it.

12. Propose an exit strategy

Any financial stakeholder in your business will want a return on investment. If you’re pursuing this type of funding, you should include some detail on your proposed exit strategy . For example, do you want to sell the company at some point or go public?

Similarly, you should outline your succession plan so the business can continue to operate if you decide to step away from it. Likewise, you need a plan for what happens if the business loses money and can’t sustain itself. Documenting this means that everyone is on the same page and potential investors have this information upfront.

Frequently asked questions about writing a business plan:

When to write a business plan.

Typically, entrepreneurs write their business plans within the first year of operations. A business plan is a tool that helps business owners refine their strategy, attract partners and financiers, and grow their business.

If a business plan is written too soon, it may lack the substance that comes with time in the market. However, it’s important to note that a business plan isn't a static document - it can and should change as the business evolves.

How long should your business plan be?

There are no hard and fast rules around how long your business plan should be - it just needs to include all the relevant information. Aim for clear, concise sections and build a business plan that is as easy to read and navigate as possible.

Using a business plan template can help you make sure you have everything covered off, while also having a document that looks as professional as possible. Make sure you run a spelling and grammar check too - any sloppy errors can undermine your credibility.

What’s a business plan on a page?

It’s important to write your business plan as it helps to embed your strategy - as well as communicate what you’re about to potential partners or investors. When you have a comprehensive business plan you can easily adapt it to suit different audiences. For example, a full business plan is essential for raising capital but a business plan on a page may be enough for potential partners or employees.

What do venture capitalists look for in a business plan?

Venture capitalists invest money into businesses with the goal of achieving a return on their investment within the short to medium term. As a result, they’re looking for an attractive market opportunity, a clear point of differentiation, a strong management team, a proven track record, solid financials and, importantly, an exit opportunity.

Where to go for help or more information?

There are many great resources out there to help you fine-tune your business strategy and write your business plan. The Australian Government has a comprehensive website dedicated to supporting businesses at all stages of their journey.

You can also get help from Business Enterprise Centres , business advisors, accountants and fellow business owners. MYOB also has a list of business advisors who can give you feedback on your business plan, so your venture has the very best chance of success. 

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How to get a business loan arrow right, how to find investors: a guide for startups arrow right, business models: definitions, types and key components arrow right.

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Use This Business Plan Format to Expertly Write Your Plan

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Growthink.com Business Plan Format

In this guide, you’ll learn how to format your business plan professionally. Business plan structure and format helps readers look beyond distracting style to the real meat of your idea.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

How to Format Your Business Plan: The Cover Sheet

Every business plan should begin with a simple business plan cover page including the business name, your name and contact information. An easy to read table of contents should follow.

Example Business Plan Table of Contents

I: Executive Summary      a. Business Overview      b. Success Factors      c. Financial Highlights

II: Company Overview      a. Who is [Company Name]?      b. [Company Name]’s History      c. [Company Name]’s Products & Services

III: Industry Analysis      a. Industry Trends

IV: Customer Analysis      a. Customer Segmentation

V: Competitive Analysis      a. Direct & Indirect Competitors      b. Competitive Advantage

VI: Marketing Plan      a. The [Company Name] Brand      b. Promotions Strategy      c. Pricing Strategy

VII: Operations Plan      a. Functional Roles      b. Goals and Milestones

VIII: Management Team      a. Management Team Members      b. Hiring Plan

IX: Financial Plan      a. Revenue Model      b. Revenue and Cost Drivers      c. Key Assumptions & Forecasts

X: Appendix

The cover sheet should leave no question for readers to be able to identify the business plan when it is in a stack with dozens of others on their desk. The table of contents allows them to easily refer to sections within the plan. For example, after reading the executive summary, some investors with an eye for numbers may turn directly to the financial plan and statements. Proper business plan format allows readers to quickly get the information they want.

Example Business Plan Format

There are 10 business plan components or sections that every entrepreneur and business owner must include in their plan. These include:

  • Company overview
  • Customer analysis
  • Operations plan
  • Financial plan

You should recognize these if you’ve ever worked with the best business plan template .

Formatting your business plan with charts and graphs is welcomed to break up long blocks of text. However, charts and graphs shouldn’t be used for their own sake. They must make the information easier to pass on than text would.

The business plan format that investors and lenders expect includes the following 10 sections. You can download our business plan format pdf here, to help you get started. We’ve included important notes in each section specific to business plan formatting to help you as you write your plan.

1. Start with Your Executive Summary

An executive summary gives readers a crisp overview of your business at the start of your plan. This section should not be more than two pages long and should include the following:

  • What is the business about?
  • Where and why did the idea of the business originate?
  • Who are the owners?
  • Which industry is it operating in?
  • What is its core function?
  • Where is it located?
  • How is it going to make money?
  • How much money (if any) is it already making?
  • What are its financial projections?

The best format for your executive summary is paragraphs. Utilizing bullets and headings is also useful formatting within an executive summary, as it aids the reader in scanning the content on the page.

2. Company Overview Section

The company overview is the perfect place to highlight the strengths of your business. This section gives the reader additional information about your products and/or services and describes your company’s past accomplishments.

Including the below in this section will provide further clarity about your business:

  • What type of business you are (e.g., C-Corporation, sole proprietor)
  • When your business started
  • Business’ accomplishments to date

The best formatting to use in this section is paragraphs to describe your company’s strengths and products/services. You should also include a chart that outlines your company’s achievements to date.

3. Industry or Market Analysis

The industry or market analysis gives the reader a clear understanding of your industry and the audience it serves. It includes a detailed explanation of your market size and trends.

Typically, the format of this section should be paragraphs. Feel free to include charts and graphs to best convey the information to the reader.

4. The Customer Analysis States Who Your Customers Are and What They Need

In this section of your plan, explain who your target customers are and identify their specific needs. Doing this will help you better target and attract customers.

5. Competitive Analysis

The Competitive Analysis section identifies your direct and indirect competitors. It discusses who they are and their strengths and weaknesses. It then details your areas of competitive advantages.

Whether your competitors are small or large businesses, describe them. Telling investors there are no competitors (big or small) often gives the impression that a market does not exist for your company.

With regards to formatting, use paragraphs to describe each competitor. As appropriate, adding a competitor matrix to show similarities and differences between your company and the competition can be very powerful.

6. Your Marketing Plan is a Key Section

The marketing & sales section of your business plan should outline how you plan to attract new customers and retain old ones. This section should outline the ways customers can be introduced to and engage with your offerings and describe how you will convert these prospects into paying customers.

Set marketing objectives that include the following (if applicable):

  • Introducing new products
  • Extending the market reach
  • Exploring new markets
  • Boosting sales
  • Cross-selling
  • Creating a long-term partnership with clients
  • Increasing prices without affecting sales
  • Creating a content marketing strategy

Organize your Marketing Plan into the 4 P’s – Price, Product, Promotions and Place. If you have multiple products or services, include a menu with each key item and its price.

7. The Operations Plan Format

Your Operations Plan identifies your key operational processes and milestones you expect to accomplish. Using a Gantt chart is a great way to show your expected future milestones. You can also format this section with tables that document the dates of future milestones.

8. You Need to Prove Your Management Team Can Execute

“A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” – Mary Kay Ash, American Entrepreneur and Businesswoman

The Management Team section of your business plan focuses on the people who run the business.

Who are the decision-makers, who is the product expert, who is the operations head, and who is running the entire show? A glimpse into the expertise and capabilities of your team members and how their experiences will help grow your business will boost stakeholder confidence.

To improve the formatting and best convey your management team to readers, consider adding an organizational chart that shows your team members and reporting structure.

9. Format Your Financial Plan

The goal of this section is to convince the reader that your business is stable and will be financially successful. Arm this section with past and/or forecasted cash flow statements, balance sheets, profit & loss statements, expense budgeting and sales forecasts.

If you run an operational business, include 3 years of historical data to help investors gain an understanding of how feasible your funding request is and if your business is capable of generating good returns.

Also include your funding request, if applicable, in this section. You should mention how much investment is required to take your business to the next significant milestone and how the money will be spent. You should also define if you are seeking debt or equity funding. If you are seeking debt financing like an SBA loan, ensure your financial projections include the debt and show steady repayments of both the principal and return under reasonable loan terms.

If you are seeking equity financing, you don’t need to include your valuation expectations in the business plan, but you should be aligned within your ownership team on the amount of equity you are willing to exchange before you pitch investors.

Example Financial Plan

Projected sales, gross profit & net income.

Business Plan Format financial projections

5 Year Annual Income Statement

5 year annual balance sheet, 5 year annual cash flow statement, 10. appendix.

This section includes supporting documentation of your business case. This could include renderings of a planned store location, market research reports referenced in the plan, key supplier or buyer contracts that substantiate your financial projections or historical marketing and sales data.

Formatting Your Business Plan

Overall, business plans should use simple and standard formatting. Twelve point font size in a standard font like Arial or Times New Roman is best, as well as the standard margin size of one inch on each side. Pages should be numbered, and the name of the company should appear on each page in the header or footer.

Use charts whenever possible as it makes it much easier for readers to consume the information in your plan.

How to Finish Your Business Plan in 1 Day!

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With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Click here to finish your business plan today.

OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.

Click here to see how Growthink’s business plan consulting services can create your business plan for you.

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Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Writing > Writing and Formatting a Successful Business Plan

Writing and Formatting a Successful Business Plan

Whether you’re an experienced business person or a first-time entrepreneur, a business plan presents an important opportunity to showcase your unique business ideas and make a plan for how it will it function and operate.

Because of its importance, it can sometimes appear to be an overwhelming task. However, with some guidance on business plan formatting and a breakdown of the plan’s most essential components, you can make the task more manageable and more easily get started on your own plan—bringing the possibility of your grand opening ever closer.

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A business plan usually serves either or both of two purposes: Sometimes it’s used to court potential investors in a business. Other times, it sets out guidelines and a strategy for initial members of a business’s team to follow as they get things up and running. In either case, this formal document maps out the purpose, goals, finances, and future plans of a new or existing business.

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Before you get started on writing your business plan, it’s useful to understand the formatting of a typical business plan. Not only will this help you make sure you ultimately deliver the information that potential investors or teammates are expecting, but it will also help you see where you might need to do more research or spend more time.

Typically, all business plans contain each of the following parts:

Company description, business goals, market and opportunity analysis, competitive analysis, execution plan, marketing plan, financial analysis and projections.

Below, we sum up what these sections entail to help you craft each of them according to your own business’s needs.

Business plans usually open with what’s called an executive summary. Typically taking up no more than about half of a page, this summary should include the most essential information about your business and highlights from the plan that follows, including:

  • Your organization’s mission statement
  • A description of the products and services your business offers
  • The purpose of your business plan
  • Any major achievements your business has made so far
  • An overview of your business’s financial health

A company description should include both basic information about your organization—its registered name, physical location, and a short history of the company—as well as more detailed info about how your business intends to succeed. In other words, once you’ve touched on the very basics, this is your chance to hook readers of your business plan. To do so, it can be helpful to set the stage for your readers: consider the answers to questions like, “Why did you start this business?”, “What unique problems does your business solve?”, and “What makes your company different from others like it?”

Sometimes referred to as an “objective statement,” this section of your business plan should clearly outline your company’s goals—over both the short and long term. If you’re making an appeal to investors, this is also your chance to include some persuasive writing and describe to them how their investments are critical to helping you meet these goals.

This section requires keen research skills: Bring in all of your knowledge of the market your business is working in to show investors and potential partners where the opportunity lies. Show that you have an understanding of the market’s past, present, and future—and understand the unique risks that businesses in this space face. Additionally, you will want to show what typical types of customers in this market are like with information on key demographics and customer behaviors that your business will market itself to.

Moving past the broad view of the overall market, your business plan should include an analysis of the business models or examples of your closest competitors in the space. Showing how these other organizations operate, how they’ve fared over their histories, and how they market themselves to customers can help you make the case for how your business will do these things both differently and successfully.

The execution plan section should provide a window into how your business will operate behind the scenes: How will you and your employees be organized? Who will handle what tasks? Why are they the right people to do so? Answer these questions by providing thorough details on who will be doing the work and how they will be structured while getting it done.

Every business needs to have a plan on how they position and promote their offerings, as well as attract and retain customers. With this section of your business plan, explain to potential stakeholders and financiers what your initial marketing strategy is and how it will change and scale over time.

Especially for business owners seeking additional financing and investment, the financial portion of your business plan is critical in showing how your business has generated and managed income, plus deliver insight into how it will continue doing so.

This section should include a breakdown of your organization’s sales, expenses, and profits. If you’re applying for a loan or seeking investment, include an overview of what your company’s financials would look like over the next period of years if you were to receive that financial backing. In addition, you should outline a clear plan for how and when you will pay back these creditors.

Crafting a Business Plan That Succeeds

While the particulars of every business plan will be different, there are some aspects that should be common to all business plans:

  • Be Concise: The writing in a business plan needs to be persuasive for its intended audience, but it needs to do so efficiently. Use clear and concise writing that communicates your ideas and plans effectively.
  • Use Data for Support: Even if your writing is persuasive, it won’t be as effective as it can be without relevant data and hard numbers that back up your insights.
  • Get Rid of Errors: In most cases, your audience is only going to read your business plan once. Make sure you present a tidy image of your business through your business plan writing by catching and fixing all of your typos and grammatical errors. Use a digital writing assistant like Microsoft Editor to help spot these mistakes, along with any slips in the formal tone that a business plan requires.
  • Keep It Real: Avoid exaggeration, whether it’s in your sales projections, market opportunity, or elsewhere.

Creating a successful business plan requires pulling together a lot of disparate information, which takes a diverse set of skills to pull off. Whether you’re new to new businesses or this is just your latest and greatest project, this can always be a tall order.

Make it easier on yourself by using all of the tools you have at your disposal to help. In addition to the guidelines above, explore a wide range of business plan templates available from Microsoft 365, including everything from complete business plans to individual components like revenue forecasts .

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How Often Should You Update Your Business Plan?

Southern California business attorneys can provide you with assistance in determining how frequently a business plan needs to be updated. Companies should have a comprehensive business plan both when they first start operating and once they are established. This business plan can be used to help set goals, resolve disputes, and ensure that the company is on track to remain successful.

Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can assist with the creation of your initial business plan so you are prepared and ready to start your company and build a successful business. We can also provide you with assistance making periodic updates to your business plan as needed. Not only can we guide you through the actual updating process, but we can also give you insight and advice as to how frequently you should update your plan.

Entrepreneur.com recommends that you do a thorough update to your business plan at least once annually. This big update to your plan should include a review of your value proposition; a look at new market segmentations; and a look at the larger potential market for whom your products or services could provide a solution.

You can also do a monthly update, which involves reviewing the difference between the actual results you achieved over the course of the month and the planned results you had hoped to achieve. This update of your plans does not need to be as comprehensive or as detailed as your annual update. The goal is simply to see how you are doing with achieving your objectives and to make any necessary adjustments going forward during the rest of the year.

When major changes occur at your company or in your industry, this is also a good time to update your business plan. Your plan needs to reflect the current situation and it needs to be relevant within the current business landscape that you are operating in. If something major has changed, it is essential that you make an update to your business plan to accommodate that shift.

Why is it Important to Keep Your Business Plan Updated?

Keeping your business plan updated is vital because no company can succeed unless it stays current with the times and unless it evolves. The goals that you have for your organization will be different when you first get started than the goals you have once your organization is already underway. You want your plan to reflect the latest goals that you hope your company will accomplish so you have clear and measurable objectives to work towards.

Updating your business plan regularly can help you to ensure that you and your partners or co-owners are on the same page if there are multiple owners of your company. Sitting down together to update your plans and make any necessary changes ensures that you still have a shared vision and are making company decisions with that vision in mind.

Keeping your plans updated also allows you to adjust to any changes in the law or market conditions that could affect profitability; helps you to identify new competitors and new potential sources of business; and allows you to see how your company is progressing with enhancing profitability over time.

These are just a few of the many reasons why updates to a business plan are so essential for any organization. It is up to you to keep your business plan current and comprehensive, but our legal team can help you with this process to make it easy.

Getting Help from Expert Business Law Attorneys

Working with California business attorneys to keep your plan updated is a smart choice. You want to ensure you update your plans periodically to address legal and regulatory changes, as well as to make certain your company is continuing to make the choices necessary for success.

Your attorney can advise you on when laws or regulations may affect your organization and can help you to ensure you always have a comprehensive business plan aimed at achieving your latest goals.

Brown & Charbonneau, LLP has extensive experience helping companies with the business planning process. Whether your company is just getting off the ground or you have an established business that you want to ensure keeps growing and thriving, our legal team can bring our expertise, business knowledge, and legal knowledge to the table to help you make the plans you need.

Give us a call at 866-237-8129 or contact us online today to find out more about the ways in which our legal team can help you.

How to Write a Traditional Business Plan

Create the cornerstone for your small business..

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By: Deborah Sweeney

How to Write a Traditional Business Plan

What goes in a traditional business plan? A traditional business plan covers the following sections.

Business description, concept, and strategy, industry analysis, market analysis, organization and management, financial projections, financing request.

Completing each section for a traditional business plan draft is often a time-consuming, thoughtful process. However, it’s important not to skimp on any of these details. Writing a business plan gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to look at their business, and its feasibility, as far out as three to five years into the future.

By the time you finish, you will have a 30-to-40-page document. This is your business plan. It will guide you through each stage of starting and managing your business .

Let’s start! Begin writing a traditional business plan by examining these essential components.

Think of the executive summary of your traditional business plan as its elevator pitch.

An executive summary describes what your business does, how is solves problems, and what poises the company for success. You may also share some details about the industry your business is in, its location, and how it earns revenue. Essentially, an executive summary works to sell your startup to key individuals like investors and potential business partners .

It’s also a short section in terms of length. Generally, an executive summary is no more than two pages long.

You created an elevator pitch. Now it’s time to dig into the details of your business.

Use the business description, concept, and strategy section to share more details about your business. Consider asking, and answering, these questions to better understand your products, services, and offerings.

  • What types of products or services do you sell?
  • What do your products or services do?
  • Where did the idea for your business come from?
  • What makes your offerings unique from those on the market?
  • If your business is not quite ready to launch, where are you in its development stages?

Answering these questions will dovetail nicely into better understanding the goals for the business . From here, you may begin establishing a timeline to reach your goals and outline strategies you will use to reach each one.

Every business has competitors, whether they are direct or indirect competition. An industry analysis allows entrepreneurs to do their homework on their given industry.

Identify who your competitors are. What do they do? How do they reach their markets? Conduct due diligence on their company background, pricing, and why customers buy from them.

After you conduct background research into your industry, it’s time to learn everything you can about your target audience. The market analysis in a traditional business plan allows you to examine your customer base and their needs. This includes your existing customers and your ideal customers.

Use this section to identify your audience demographics. (One helpful way to do this is by creating consumer personas.) You’ll need to outline a strategy for how you plan to attract, capture, and retain this audience.

Additionally, don’t forget about your ideal customer. If you find your target market isn’t growing, it may be wise to study markets that are growing — and where you may find your ideal customer.

Up until this moment, you have written extensively about your business. But what about its owners and leadership?

Introduce yourself through the organization and management section. Share more about where you were educated and related experience and expertise you may have in the industry. If you have employees or co-founders, share biographies about their background and information about what they do in the business.

The financial projections of a traditional business plan outline the state of the startup’s current financial situation.

  • Sales forecast. These are the startup’s current sales numbers. Anticipated sales figures may also be included in this section, which breaks down how monthly sales performed over the course of your first year in business. The timeline after your first year in business may break down sales and revenue on a monthly or quarterly basis thereafter.
  • Cash flow statement. A cash flow statement reflects physical dollars moving into the business and money that is exiting the business. Essentially, this allows entrepreneurs to better understand how the business is earning and spending its revenue.
  • Expenses budget. Every small business has its expenses. It’s important to identify items that have fixed costs versus variable costs. An expenses budget allows you to determine these figures and find out which expenses the business has that are low and high risk.
  • Breakeven analysis. Everything changes for a small business once they have a breakeven analysis. The company breaks even and earns a profit. This means your overall revenue can cover and exceed its expenses. Fixed and variable costs are used to calculate this analysis, allowing the business to show reliable data that matches with its sales through a specific timeline.
  • Balance sheet. A balance sheet acts as a helpful space to house assets and liabilities not already reflected in your P&L statement. For example, if an entrepreneur owns an item of assigned value, like property or inventory, they may share this information on a balance sheet as the item can provide future benefits to the startup.

A business plan’s financial projections do not need to be entirely written out. This section may use charts and tables to display and detail its revenue and cash flow.

Many entrepreneurs will use a business plan to place a funding request from investors, lenders, and financial institutions. If your business needs financing — and most do require a capital boost — directly seek it out with a financing request.

Specify how much money you need for right now as well as financing that may be necessary over the next five years. Then, detail how you plan to spend this money after receiving it. You may also detail your strategic financial situational plans for the future — covering everything from the possibility of an acquisition of your business to repaying debt.

Finally, the appendix acts as a helpful storage space for key documents that may not fit into other parts of a traditional business plan. Think trademark registrations , letters of incorporation, and industry studies.

Why Do I Need a Business Plan?

Writing a business plan, it should be noted, does not guarantee that your small business will become immediately successful. Rather, it creates foundation.

A small business built on sturdy foundation will be ready to tackle challenges and reach goals alike in knowing it is made stronger for it all thanks to a lasting business plan.

After you finish writing a business plan, let MyCorporation assist with incorporating your business! Visit us at mycorporation.com or call us at 877-692-6772.

If you experience any difficulty in accessing our content, please contact us at 877.692.6772 or email us at [email protected] .

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Start » startup, how to refine your business plan for every stage of your business.

Your business plan is a living document that should always reflect your current position. Here is how to refresh and refine your plan during each stage of your business.

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Writing a solid business plan is important in the early stages of your business, but it’s equally important to regularly refine and update your plan to meet the current needs of your business and set new goals.

To ensure your business plan is up to date, follow this guide to refresh and refine your plan with each stage of your business:

Startup stage

One of the most important tasks of launching a new company is writing a business plan . While your first business plan should be well-researched and accurately depict how you anticipate your business will operate, it is never too early to change directions. Rather, it is best practice to update and refine your plan in the early stages of your organization to ensure a successful business venture.

Here are a few common reasons why startups and early-stage companies refresh their business plans:

  • Your target audience has shifted. If your original target customer has shifted, you must reconsider how your business will meet their wants and needs. Formalize the new audience direction in your business plan and go through each section, adjusting as necessary.
  • You’re seeking a new investor. If you are seeking an investor — or any outside funding — you will likely spend a significant amount of time in the early stages of your company meeting with potential business investors. If you are having trouble finding an investor, work with a colleague, mentor or industry professional to refine your business plan.
  • A new competitor entered the market. According to Yahoo Small Business , approximately 543,000 new businesses are started each month, which means your company will likely find new competitors. If you believe a competitor will likely carve into your market, take a look at your business plan and find ways to differentiate yourself from everyone else.
  • Your current goals need to be rethought. It’s common for new entrepreneurs to set aggressive and unachievable goals. As your business becomes more established, reevaluate your goals and create a roadmap to help you and your team reach them.

[Read: 5 Business Plan Templates to Help You Plan for Success ]

If your products or services have significantly evolved from your early startup stage, make sure your business plan accounts for this evolution.

Growth mode

During your company’s growth mode, you should constantly evaluate and adjust your business plan. Depending on how quickly your business expands, you may need to update your plan on a monthly basis to account for new employees, markets or new products or services.

The following list provides some of the most common reasons why you may need to adjust your business plan during a period of rapid growth:

  • You want to refinance your business. It’s not uncommon for businesses to seek refinancing after they enter growth mode and refresh their plan. When refinancing your business, pay particular attention to your financial sections to make sure all your data is accurate.
  • Your products or services have changed. If your products or services have significantly evolved from your early startup stage, make sure your business plan accounts for this evolution.
  • Your brand image has changed. Your branding should reflect your mission and values , and any adjustment to one element should be reflected in the other. If you decide to rebrand your business during your growth stage, make sure your business plan reflects any new changes to your mission and values.

Shake-out and maturity stages

As your business enters the shake-out phase — or when sales continue to increase but at a slower rate — and ultimately matures, reassess your business plan. During these stages, your business is likely to have reached market saturation, and you will need to seek new opportunities to expand or grow.

Refine your business plan when you encounter the following situations:

  • You plan on entering a new market. When you decide to enter into a new market, you’ll need to add new information, or amendments, to every section of your business plan. Everything from your company description to your financial documents must include information pertaining to the new market.
  • You adjust your supply chain. When you work with a new supplier, logistics company, etc., your supply chain is affected in some way. Your business plan should always include detailed information on your supply chain, which will, in turn, provide you with more accurate forecasts, timelines and other projections.
  • You reset your pricing strategy. Any adjustment you make to your pricing strategy should include copious details in your business plan. For large businesses, a small price adjustment can equate to millions of dollars of revenue, so it’s important to have every detail from projections and estimations to market analyses and consumer data documented.

[Read: Smart Strategies for Presenting Your Business Plan ]

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A Business Plan is a Roadmap for a Business to Achieve its Goals

What is a business plan? Definition, Purpose, and Types

In the world of business, a well-thought-out plan is often the key to success. This plan, known as a business plan, is a comprehensive document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies , and financial projections. Whether you’re starting a new business or looking to expand an existing one, a business plan is an essential tool.

As a business plan writer and consultant , I’ve crafted over 15,000 plans for a diverse range of businesses. In this article, I’ll be sharing my wealth of experience about what a business plan is, its purpose, and the step-by-step process of creating one. By the end, you’ll have a thorough understanding of how to develop a robust business plan that can drive your business to success.

Purposes of a business plan, what are the essential components of a business plan, executive summary, business description or overview, product and price, competitive analysis, target market, marketing plan, financial plan, funding requirements, types of business plan, lean startup business plans, traditional business plans, how often should a business plan be reviewed and revised, what are the key elements of a lean startup business plan.

  • What are some of the reasons why business plans don't succeed?

A business plan is a roadmap for your business. It outlines your goals, strategies, and how you plan to achieve them. It’s a living document that you can update as your business grows and changes.

Looking for someone to write a business plan?

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These are the following purpose of business plan:

  • Attract investors and lenders: If you’re seeking funding for your business , a business plan is a must-have. Investors and lenders want to see that you have a clear plan for how you’ll use their money to grow your business and generate revenue.
  • Get organized and stay on track: Writing a business plan forces you to think through all aspects of your business, from your target market to your marketing strategy. This can help you identify any potential challenges and opportunities early on, so you can develop a plan to address them.
  • Make better decisions: A business plan can help you make better decisions about your business by providing you with a framework to evaluate different options. For example, if you’re considering launching a new product, your business plan can help you assess the potential market demand, costs, and profitability.

The Essential Components of a Business Plan

The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan, even though it’s the last one you’ll write. It’s the first section that potential investors or lenders will read, and it may be the only one they read. The executive summary sets the stage for the rest of the document by introducing your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.

The business description section of your business plan should introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way. It should include your business name, years in operation, key offerings, positioning statement, and core values (if applicable). You may also want to include a short history of your company.

In this section, the company should describe its products or services , including pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other relevant information could include production and manufacturing processes, patents, and proprietary technology.

Every industry has competitors, even if your business is the first of its kind or has the majority of the market share. In the competitive analysis section of your business plan, you’ll objectively assess the industry landscape to understand your business’s competitive position. A SWOT analysis is a structured way to organize this section.

Your target market section explains the core customers of your business and why they are your ideal customers. It should include demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic information about your target market.

Marketing plan describes how the company will attract and retain customers, including any planned advertising and marketing campaigns . It also describes how the company will distribute its products or services to consumers.

After outlining your goals, validating your business opportunity, and assessing the industry landscape, the team section of your business plan identifies who will be responsible for achieving your goals. Even if you don’t have your full team in place yet, investors will be impressed by your clear understanding of the roles that need to be filled.

In the financial plan section,established businesses should provide financial statements , balance sheets , and other financial data. New businesses should provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years, and may also request funding.

Since one goal of a business plan is to secure funding from investors , you should include the amount of funding you need, why you need it, and how long you need it for.

  • Tip: Use bullet points and numbered lists to make your plan easy to read and scannable.

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Business plans can come in many different formats, but they are often divided into two main types: traditional and lean startup. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) says that the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

Lean startup business plans are short (as short as one page) and focus on the most important elements. They are easy to create, but companies may need to provide more information if requested by investors or lenders.

Traditional business plans are longer and more detailed than lean startup business plans, which makes them more time-consuming to create but more persuasive to potential investors. Lean startup business plans are shorter and less detailed, but companies should be prepared to provide more information if requested.

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A business plan should be reviewed and revised at least annually, or more often if the business is experiencing significant changes. This is because the business landscape is constantly changing, and your business plan needs to reflect those changes in order to remain relevant and effective.

Here are some specific situations in which you should review and revise your business plan:

  • You have launched a new product or service line.
  • You have entered a new market.
  • You have experienced significant changes in your customer base or competitive landscape.
  • You have made changes to your management team or organizational structure.
  • You have raised new funding.

A lean startup business plan is a short and simple way for a company to explain its business, especially if it is new and does not have a lot of information yet. It can include sections on the company’s value proposition, major activities and advantages, resources, partnerships, customer segments, and revenue sources.

What are some of the reasons why business plans don't succeed?

Reasons why Business Plans Dont Success

  • Unrealistic assumptions: Business plans are often based on assumptions about the market, the competition, and the company’s own capabilities. If these assumptions are unrealistic, the plan is doomed to fail.
  • Lack of focus: A good business plan should be focused on a specific goal and how the company will achieve it. If the plan is too broad or tries to do too much, it is unlikely to be successful.
  • Poor execution: Even the best business plan is useless if it is not executed properly. This means having the right team in place, the necessary resources, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Unforeseen challenges:  Every business faces challenges that could not be predicted or planned for. These challenges can be anything from a natural disaster to a new competitor to a change in government regulations.

What are the benefits of having a business plan?

  • It helps you to clarify your business goals and strategies.
  • It can help you to attract investors and lenders.
  • It can serve as a roadmap for your business as it grows and changes.
  • It can help you to make better business decisions.

How to write a business plan?

There are many different ways to write a business plan, but most follow the same basic structure. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  • Executive summary.
  • Company description.
  • Management and organization description.
  • Financial projections.

How to write a business plan step by step?

Start with an executive summary, then describe your business, analyze the market, outline your products or services, detail your marketing and sales strategies, introduce your team, and provide financial projections.

Why do I need a business plan for my startup?

A business plan helps define your startup’s direction, attract investors, secure funding, and make informed decisions crucial for success.

What are the key components of a business plan?

Key components include an executive summary, business description, market analysis, products or services, marketing and sales strategy, management and team, financial projections, and funding requirements.

Can a business plan help secure funding for my business?

Yes, a well-crafted business plan demonstrates your business’s viability, the use of investment, and potential returns, making it a valuable tool for attracting investors and lenders.

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1. Investors Are Short On Time. If your chief goal is using your business plan to secure funding, then it means you intend on getting it in front of an investor. And if there's one thing investors are, it's busy. So keep this in mind throughout writing a business plan.

Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

Crafting a business plan is a delicate balancing act. It demands a deep understanding of your market, a clear value proposition, realistic financial projections, a competent team, and the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. All too frequently, an entrepreneur or business owner may lean on a business plan template or outsourced ...

A business plan is defined as a written document that comprises business details, the company's goals, and methods to achieve these goals. A business plan contains a comprehensive framework for the company in terms of marketing, finance, and operations. Business plans serve a significant purpose.

Business plans come in three types: traditional, lean, and nonprofit. Write your business plan by first putting together and executive summary and business description to establish what you do. Market and industry analyses will demonstrate your understanding of the competition and potential customer base.

Key Lessons. External and internal events can trigger the need to update your business plan. Business plans should be reviewed and possibly updated at least once a year, especially for younger companies. Updating your business plan is more focused and fun than the writing the original one.

A typical business plan is 15 to 25 pages. Its length depends on a variety of factors, such as whether your business is introducing a new product or belongs to a new industry (which requires ...

And How to Create One. 1. Executive summary. This is a short section that introduces the business plan as a whole to the people who will be reading it, including investors, lenders, or other members of your team. Start with a sentence or two about your business, your goals for developing it, and why it will be successful.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page. The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions. A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:

1. Research for strategic decisions. You can't develop a business plan without investing time in research. To better understand market trends, consumer behavior, and competitor's strategies, perform extensive research that a business plan mandates. ‍. 2. Vision through words.

That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks: Product goals and deadlines for each month. Monthly financials for the first two years. Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years. Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years.

The traditional business plan is typically a 20 to 40-page formal document that describes what your business does, what your objectives are, and how you plan to achieve them. It lays out your plans for operating, marketing, and managing your business, along with your goals and financial projections. There are many different types of business ...

How to write an effective business plan. When writing your business plan, follow these steps to ensure you create a comprehensive document: 1. Write a thorough executive summary. The first aspect of your business plan is the executive summary, also known as a company description.

What are the 4 types of business plans? When writing a business plan, four basic types are helpful for different situations. The mini plan is a short version of the regular business plan. The presentation plan is designed to present the company and its product or service to outsiders with a minimal time commitment.

The Executive Summary. The first page of a business plan is the executive summary - or the " elevator pitch .". This section is a brief overview of the entire plan, including a snapshot of financial projections and your business's mission and key objectives. Although this part is the first in a business plan, writing it last may be best.

How to write a business plan. Make sure you cover each of the following steps when preparing your document: 1. Write an executive summary. This section of your business plan should be 1-2 pages in length and enables potential financiers or partners to get an overview of what your business does and - most importantly — what the opportunity ...

Organize your Marketing Plan into the 4 P's - Price, Product, Promotions and Place. If you have multiple products or services, include a menu with each key item and its price. 7. The Operations Plan Format. Your Operations Plan identifies your key operational processes and milestones you expect to accomplish.

While the particulars of every business plan will be different, there are some aspects that should be common to all business plans: Be Concise: The writing in a business plan needs to be persuasive for its intended audience, but it needs to do so efficiently. Use clear and concise writing that communicates your ideas and plans effectively.

A small business built on sturdy foundation will be ready to tackle challenges and reach goals alike in knowing it is made stronger for it all thanks to a lasting business plan. After you finish writing a business plan, let MyCorporation assist with incorporating your business! Visit us at mycorporation.com or call us at 877-692-6772.

Growth mode. During your company's growth mode, you should constantly evaluate and adjust your business plan. Depending on how quickly your business expands, you may need to update your plan on a monthly basis to account for new employees, markets or new products or services. The following list provides some of the most common reasons why you ...

In the world of business, a well-thought-out plan is often the key to success. This plan, known as a business plan, is a comprehensive document that outlines a company's goals, strategies, and financial projections.Whether you're starting a new business or looking to expand an existing one, a business plan is an essential tool.. As a business plan writer and consultant, I've crafted over ...

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