How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needing to write a business plan to get there.

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated March 4, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

What’s your biggest business challenge right now?

  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: 10 AI prompts you need to write a business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information you need to cover in a business plan sometimes isn’t quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

If you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template to get you started, download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

Business model canvas: The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

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Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

how to make a perfect business plan

Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

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How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: 10 Essential Steps

Whether you’re starting a new small business or are already years into operating one, a business plan is one of the best ways to clarify your long-term vision. Follow our step-by-step guide to writing a highly effective business plan.

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hether you’re starting a new small business or are already years into operating one, a business plan is one of the best ways to clarify your long-term vision. While every business plan is different, there are several key elements to consider that will benefit you in the long run. 

Follow our step-by-step guide to writing a highly effective business plan. 

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that outlines your business goals and how you plan to achieve them. Ideally, this will become your roadmap for marketing, sales, finance, and growth. 

In other words, a business plan is...

  • An explanation of your overall vision.
  • A valuable tool to plan and track your business fundamentals.
  • An overview of your path to profitability, which can help get funding for your company.

Do You Need A Business Plan?

While it’s not a requirement, having a business plan is strongly recommended. In a recent QuickBooks survey , nearly 70% of current business owners recommended writing a business plan.

Creating a business plan is especially useful in the following scenarios:

  • Applying for business loans
  • Seeking additional rounds of funding or investors 
  • Growing your employee headcount  
  • Attracting top-level management candidates 
  • Looking for opportunities to scale your business

10 Steps To Creating A Comprehensive Business Plan

While not every business plan is the same, there are a few key steps you should take to create an effective and comprehensive document:

1. Create an executive summary

Think of an executive summary as your company's elevator pitch in written form. It should be 1 to 2 pages in length and summarize important information about your company and goals. If you are pitching your business plan to get funding, you should ensure your executive summary appeals to investors.

What should you include in an executive summary?

  • An overview of your business
  • Your company mission statement
  • A concise description of products or services offered
  • A description of your target market and customer demographics
  • A brief analysis of your competition
  • Financial projections and funding requirements
  • Information about your management team
  • Future plans and growth opportunities
  • An overall summary of your business plan

2. Write your company description

Your company description is a more detailed and comprehensive explanation of your business. It should provide a thorough overview of your company, including your company history, your mission, your objectives, and your vision. A company description should help the reader understand the context and background of the business, as well as the key factors that contribute to its success.

What should you include in your company description?

  • Official company name 
  • Type of business structure
  • Physical address(es)
  • Company history and background information
  • Mission statement and core values
  • Management team members and their qualifications
  • Products and services offered
  • Target market and customer segmentation
  • Marketing and sales strategy
  • Goals (both short- and long-term)
  • Vision statement

Novo Note : The company description is your chance to expound on the pain points your company solves. It should also give a reader an accurate impression of who you are. 

3. Conduct and outline market analysis

This is one of the most important steps in building a business plan. Here, you will assess the size and dynamics of the market your business operates in.

How to conduct a market analysis

Market analyses include both quantitative and qualitative data. You may want to conduct surveys or lean on existing industry research to gather this information. You’ll want to answer:

  • What is the size of the market?
  • How much revenue does your industry generate?
  • What trends are impacting this industry?
  • Where are opportunities for innovation?
  • What are the most well-known companies in the industry? What tactics do they use to sell to customers? How do they price their offering?
  • Where are there gaps in the market? 
  • What are your customer demographics? What problems do they have that need solving? What are their values, desires, and purchasing habits?
  • What barriers to entry, if any, exist? These could include startup costs, legal requirements, environmental conditions that impact consumer behavior, and market saturation.

What is your target market?

In this section, you will specify the customer segment(s) you’re targeting . You can divide customers into small segments organized by age, location, income, and lifestyle. The goal is to describe what type of consumer will be most interested in your offering.

Novo Note : Regardless of your company’s size, understanding the trends and opportunities within your target market enables you to build a more effective marketing plan to distinguish yourself from the marketplace and grow your business. This analysis might also help you find potential customers or new products you could offer. 

4. Analyze your competitors

After conducting a market analysis, you need to do a deep dive into your competitors. Look at how the competition is succeeding or failing and how each competitor has positioned itself. For example, you might want to evaluate your competitors’ brand, pricing, and distribution strategies. 

How to conduct a competitive analysis

You’ll want to research your competitors and ask the following questions:

  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What are their customer reviews like?
  • How do they price their offering(s)?
  • What are their value propositions?
  • What marketing and sales channels do they leverage?
  • How are they growing and evolving?

Novo Note : After you develop a strong understanding of the competitive landscape, consider how your business is unique. Solidifying your competitive advantage can help you appeal to your target audience.  

5. Describe your products or services

This is your chance to go into more detail about the products and services you offer! Use this opportunity to note where your offering or service differs from others in the industry. Highlight the standout features of your product, your company’s unique ability to solve customer problems, and your product roadmap.

What to include:

  • Your product catalog
  • Key differentiating features
  • Information about the production process
  • The resources required for production
  • Plans for future product releases

6. Define your marketing and sales strategy

Your marketing plan describes your strategy for connecting with your target market and generating leads. It doesn't need to be full-fledged at this point, but it should answer who you're trying to sell to and how you plan to target them. Investors also want to know how you plan on selling your brand and breaking into the market, so make sure to consider their perspective as you develop your marketing strategy.

  • Your sales and marketing budget
  • Your key sales and marketing objectives
  • Details about your sales process and sales goals
  • Platforms or strategies you’ll employ to reach your target audience
  • PR initiatives, content ideas, and social media strategies

7. Gather your business financials and outline financial projections

Your financials section lays out your company's past and current performance. You can also include a roadmap that dives into financial projections for your business. Aim to include projections for the next five years at a minimum.

  • Income statements
  • Cash flow statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Explanation of any significant changes

Novo Note : Novo offers integrations with accounting software like Quickbooks and Xero , allowing you to seamlessly access all your financial information within your business checking account .

sign up for Novo: powerfully simple business banking with no hidden fees

8. Describe your organization

Your business plan should also include an organizational chart that maps your company’s structure. 

What to include :

  • Company’s management structure
  • Other key personnel, along with their roles and responsibilities
  • Expertise of your team (feature any specialists or experts)

Novo Note : This is also a good place to explain the legal structure of your company — for example, if you are an LLC , a corporation, or a sole proprietorship . 

9. Outline your funding requests

If you’re looking for business funding, include an outline of any funding requests and requirements.

  • Why you are requesting funding
  • What the funding will be used for specifically
  • Desired terms and conditions of funding
  • The length of time over which the funding will be used
  • Type of funding required (for example, debt or equity)

Novo Note : Propose a five-year funding plan, and aim to be as detailed as possible about how you will utilize the funds to grow your business. 

10. Create an appendix

The last section, the appendix, includes supporting documents and additional information not listed elsewhere in your business plan. Not all of these items are necessary to include, so you’ll need to evaluate which are most relevant to your business. You might also want to include a table of contents to help keep the appendix organized.

Items to consider including:

  • Bank statements
  • Business credit history
  • Legal documents
  • Letters of reference

Sample Business Plans

Need an example to help you through the process? Check out the Small Business Administration’s downloadable examples or this even more in-depth one from Harvard Business School.

Tips For Creating A Great Business Plan

Here are some of our favorite tips for creating the most effective and efficient business plan:

  • Keep it short and sweet : You want to be sure people will actually read your business plan, so stay on topic and to the point.
  • Make it digestible : No need to use the fanciest terminology or draft up the most complex graphs. Keep wording and ideas simple and straightforward — it’s the most impactful way to get your information across.
  • Triple-check your work : There’s nothing worse than noticing a grammar, spelling, or mathematical error when you’re presenting your vision. So proofread… and then proofread again!
  • Start early : It’s never too late to write a business plan, but the earlier you do it, the stronger your strategy for growth and expansion will be from the start.
  • Reference credible sources : If you are going to reference third-party research in your business plan, lean on sources that are widely recognized as authorities. Try tapping into trade associations and government resources, like U.S. Census data or data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Set yourself apart : Wherever you can, explain why your product or service stands out and how it can solve a problem.
  • Be objective : Avoid the instinct to only showcase the good. Stakeholders and investors want to know that you are realistic and have a contingency plan if you hit a bump in the road.

Updating Your Business Plan

As with most situations in business (and life), things change! So don’t think that your business plan has to be set in stone after you create it. Instead, you should plan to return to it once a year and make updates.

Be sure to do the following when you review and update your business plan:

  • Analyze your progress: Review your original business plan and compare it to your actual financial data. Are you moving in the right direction, or do you need to reevaluate your strategy?
  • Consider whether your product offerings need to be adjusted: For example, decide if you want to diversify your product offerings or scale back and focus on a singular product. 
  • Reassess your overall goals: Perhaps your sales goals have changed with your new marketing strategy. Or maybe your customer’s needs have changed. In any case, be flexible where needed. 

We know there’s a lot that goes into creating a business plan, but it’s worth it. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for developing a business plan, but our steps outlined above will put you on the right track for developing a comprehensive, investor-friendly document.

Take time to review your business plan annually and make changes as your needs and goals change.

Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

What is a business plan?

1. write an executive summary, 2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. summarize how your company operates, 10. add any additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

A business plan outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them over the next three to five years. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan that will offer a strong, detailed road map for your business.

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness

A business plan is a document that explains what your business does, how it makes money and who its customers are. Internally, writing a business plan should help you clarify your vision and organize your operations. Externally, you can share it with potential lenders and investors to show them you’re on the right track.

Business plans are living documents; it’s OK for them to change over time. Startups may update their business plans often as they figure out who their customers are and what products and services fit them best. Mature companies might only revisit their business plan every few years. Regardless of your business’s age, brush up this document before you apply for a business loan .

» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .

This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your business offers and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.

Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.

» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps

Next up is your company description. This should contain basic information like:

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.

Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.

Lastly, write a little about the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.

» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan

how to make a perfect business plan

The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the coming years.

If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain how the financing will help your business grow and how you plan to achieve those growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity your business presents to the lender.

For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch that new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.

» MORE: How to write a successful business plan for a loan

In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.

Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.

Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.

Include details about your sales and distribution strategies, including the costs involved in selling each product .

» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing

If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.

Accounting software may be able to generate these reports for you. It may also help you calculate metrics such as:

Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.

Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.

Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.

This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.

This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.

Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.

Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

Before the end of your business plan, summarize how your business is structured and outline each team’s responsibilities. This will help your readers understand who performs each of the functions you’ve described above — making and selling your products or services — and how much each of those functions cost.

If any of your employees have exceptional skills, you may want to include their resumes to help explain the competitive advantage they give you.

Finally, attach any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere. That might include:

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

Details of your personal and business credit history, if you’re seeking financing.

If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

Here are some tips to write a detailed, convincing business plan:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business bank loan or professional investment, someone will be reading your business plan closely. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of approval.

Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.

Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.

On a similar note...

Find small-business financing

Compare multiple lenders that fit your business

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How to Write a Perfect Business Plan: Step-By-Step Guide

A business plan is the foundation for a business. You'll use your business plan as a guide for how to start, run, and grow your new business.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been running your business for years, a business plan is one of the best ways to clarify the long-term goals you have for your business. By developing a plan for a business, you can put all of your business goals, objectives, structures, and marketing ideas in one central place.

Not every plan looks the same, but there are vital things to consider when making yours. These will help you and your business in the long run. 

Use this step-by-step guide to write a good business plan for your business.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a strategy map. It shows where you and your business are, including your resources, skills, and goals. It also shows where you will be in the future and how you will get there. It’s just a plan for how your business will work and how you will make it succeed.

It is a written description or blueprint of your business’s future. All you need is a document that says what you want to do and how you want to do it.

LEARN ABOUT: Service Blueprint

Entrepreneurs who want to get money from investors use the business plan to explain their vision to potential investors. Second, they can be used by companies that want to attract key employees, look for new business, deal with suppliers, or figure out how to run their companies better.

A step-by-step guide

Start creating an executive summary.

The first step in making a good business plan is writing an executive summary. Think of an executive summary as your company’s elevator pitch in writing. You’ll want to keep it short but still get across the important parts of your business. 

It should have your mission statement, a short description of your business’s products or services, a breakdown of who owns the business, and an overall business plan summary.

Create a company description

You also need to write a description of your business, which is just what it sounds like. This document will have important information about your business, such as its name, physical address(es), key employees, and important facts about its history.

In the company description, you can talk more about your business, its goals, its ideal customers, the problems it solves, and what makes it different from its competitors.

Conduct a market analysis

Market analysis is one of the most important parts of a business plan. With a market analysis, it will be easier to understand your industry, your target market, and how to stand out from your competition.

Start by doing comprehensive research on the market your business is entering. No matter how big or small your business is, if you know the trends and opportunities in your market, you can make a better marketing plan to grow your business. 

Market research looks at everything from demographics to how people act as customers. When you do a market analysis, you can also learn about your competitors and determine their strengths and weaknesses. This analysis might also help you find potential customers or new products you could sell. 

For a competitive information analysis, look at how they are growing, what changes they are making, and where they are having trouble in the market that you can take advantage of. You can conduct your market analysis with QuestionPro survey software.

Define your business structure

Your business structure needs to be mapped out in your business plan. Making an organizational chart allows you to see how your business is set up. Write down the roles and responsibilities of your company’s leaders and other key employees. Remember to include the company’s structure in your organizational chart.

Describe your products and services

This step gives you more information about the products and services you offer. When you list your products and services, include details about how they are made, what materials are needed, how you pay for them, how much they cost, and any other relevant information.

Write a plan for marketing and selling

It’s not enough to sell products or provide services. Your marketing and sales plan can be a partially-fledged marketing strategy, but it should clarify who you’re targeting and how. Include which platforms or marketing methods you will use to reach your target audience. Also, mention your marketing budget.

You should also include a high-level summary of your company’s sales strategy. A sales plan should include details about your sales process, your sales goals, and the steps you’ll take to reach those goals.

Think about what marketing and selling success looks like for your business. Include details about how you plan to succeed with your marketing and sales efforts.

Get your business’s financials together

Your business plan should also include information about how your company makes money. The following details should be included in this section:

  • Statements of cash flow
  • Statements of profits and losses
  • Balance sheets
  • Business expenses
  • Income statements

Most of these documents can be made with spreadsheets, although accounting software can also help organize financial data. Your small business checking account should be able to work with the accounting software you use.

Describe your financial projections

The financials section of your business plan reflects previous and present company performance. It is especially important if you want investors to give you money. You can also include a roadmap that goes into detail about your business’s financial plans.

Include charts and other visuals in your financial projections to show how your company wants to grow. Try to see at least five years into the future to get a clear picture of where your business is going. Also, be realistic about what you think will happen. Give your financial plan some background and materials to back it up.

Write out your funding request

If you want to get funds for your business, you should include a list of any requests and requirements. Explain why you want to fund it and what it will be used for. Clearly state the terms and conditions of the funding and the type of funding that is needed.

Make an appendix

The last step of your business plan is the appendix. The appendix has documents that back up your business plans and extra information that isn’t found anywhere else in your plan. You can add the following documents to your appendix:

  • Bank statements
  • History of a business’s credit
  • Legal document
  • Reference letters

Consider adding a table of contents to help keep the appendix organized.

Whether you write the plan yourself or hire someone else to do it, it is well worth your time to take the time to write a strong and detailed business plan that can guide your business and convince outside team members to join.

Business plans are key to connecting with investors, lenders, partners, and vendors. They can help you explain why your business will be successful and why it’s a great investment for everyone involved. They’re also helpful in guiding your internal staff during the early years of managing the business.

Market research is essential for developing a business plan. To create a business plan, you need to know the current and past market details, audience, and customer’s point of view. QuestionPro will assist you in analyzing your market and audience to provide insight into your business.

QuestionPro is a survey software that lets you create and design a survey to meet your goals and analyze the data for your business. QuestionPro can help you with your business plans by analyzing your customers’ experiences. Contact us for further details.

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How to create the perfect business plan in 10 steps

Every business needs a plan. But how do you write one? Here are 10 steps to help you get it right.

A business plan written up in a notebook

Why do you need a business plan?

You may be wondering why you need a plan in the first place. After all, you have a clear idea in your mind about what you want to achieve. You know the market, you have the necessary skills. So why do you need a plan?

There are many good reasons. Here are just a few of them:

  • To clarify your ideas: Writing something down gives it structure and substance. Your ideas will be clearer on paper than in your head.
  • To discover and solve problems: The business idea you have in mind may have some holes – you might not have covered everything. This will become much more apparent when your words are on the page.
  • To get feedback from others: A properly written business plan can be shared with trusted people to get their advice.
  • As a formal document: Banks, investors, accountants and lawyers will want proof that you’re serious about your business. A written plan will provide that proof.
  • To guide you as your business grows: A good business plan will keep you on track and focused, even as day-to-day work becomes a distraction.

If you’ve never written a business plan before, it can be a daunting prospect. But these 10 steps will help you create the perfect business plan.

1. The executive summary

This is where you describe your company and the product or service that it will sell. This must be brief, to catch and hold people’s attention.

Try to describe the goal and mission of your business in just a couple of sentences. Work hard at this and try to make it memorable.

Treat this section as an elevator pitch document – it should be succinct and easy to remember.

2. Who are your customers?

Do you have a clear idea of the type of people (or businesses) who will buy your product or service? If not, think carefully until you do.

This is one of the first questions any investor will ask you about your business plan. Have your answers ready.

  • Know whether your customers will be consumers or businesses. If they are businesses, who will you target within those companies? Maybe it’s the salesperson, or perhaps it’s the CEO?
  • Determine whether you'll have regular clients or one-off buyers.
  • Make sure you’ve actually spoken to some of your potential customers.

3. Evaluate the target audience

There’s no room for guessing here. You need to identify the people or businesses who will buy from you. Think about the following:

  • Demographics – such as age, gender and social status
  • Firmographics – includes size of the company, revenue of the company and services or products of the company
  • Location – perhaps a specific area, town, or even country
  • Profession – maybe you’re targeting accountants, police or lawyers, for example
  • Groups – such as people with shared interests or habits

The better you evaluate your target audience, the more comprehensive your business plan will be.

4. What are your opportunities?

Successful businesses think big. You might be starting small, but you don’t have to stay that way. So write down the possible opportunities for your business as it grows.

For example, perhaps you’re planning to start by selling over the internet. That’s great, but how will you get traffic to your site? How will people find you online? Will you need salespeople? If not, how will you convince people to buy from you?

As the business grows, is there scope for a bricks-and-mortar retail outlet? What other opportunities will you have if your business grows as planned?

5. Understand the competition

Every business has competition. If you don’t mention yours, investors will think you’re unprofessional – or just plain naive. Be thorough, and list all your existing and potential competitors:

  • Who are your direct competitors – those selling the same products as you?
  • Who are your indirect competitors – those whose market overlaps yours?
  • What will prevent other companies competing with you – what are the barriers to entry?
  • What is your USP (unique selling proposition)? In other words, what’s your point of difference that makes you different from your competitors?

That last point is important. You need to explain how your business will differentiate itself from all the others. That might be based on price, service, quality, range or value. Make sure you spell it out.

6. Build a simple financial plan

All business plans should contain some financial information. This should include the overall costs of setting up your business. For example:

  • Cost to make or buy products
  • Costs for labor and manufacture, including raw materials
  • Employee costs, especially for service businesses
  • Distribution and marketing costs
  • Fixed and variable overheads

Good accounting software will help you create a draft financial model. We’ll look into this in more detail in a future guide. For now, talk to your accountant or bookkeeper for help and advice.

7. Include an outline marketing plan

For this section of your business plan, you need to think about the five ‘Ps’:

  • Pricing – how will you price the end product?
  • Positioning – how does your product or service fit into the market?
  • Promotion – what channels will you use to attract and communicate with customers?
  • Profit – how much do you expect to make per item sold?
  • Place – what are your sales outlets?

8. Plan your operations

Put your vision to one side for a moment. What are the daily tasks that need to be done when running the business? Include all business processes such as manufacturing and packaging. Try to cover all departments too, including sales and customer service.

9. Get the right people

This is one of the most important factors. Think about who you want to hire . How will you find people whose skills complement yours? And how will you convince them to work for you?

Also think about who you want as your business advisors. You'll need people you can trust, to guide and mentor you at times when you need it.

10. Simplicity is the key

Keep it simple. Complex and long documents won’t be read – either by you or by potential investors. A business plan should be brief, relevant and focused (you can use our free business plan template ).

If you find yourself getting carried away while writing, stop and take a break. Then go back and edit what you’ve written. Shorter is better. The core of a good business plan should be just a few pages long.

Plan your business around your strengths

As you write your business plan , keep in mind your strengths – and also any areas for improvement. This will help you construct a plan that makes the most of your abilities, while still being realistic. That's more likely to convince investors that you're serious.

Your business plan is a roadmap for your business – but it's not set in stone. Review it at least once a year and make changes if necessary.

Above all, keep getting feedback from your advisors – official and unofficial ones. With their help, you'll create the perfect business plan that takes you where you want to go.

Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.

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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 .

What Is a Business Plan?

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:

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

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

Download 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. 

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How to Write a Professional Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

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Home » Blog » How to Write a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

During financial uncertainty, many of us press pause on our entrepreneurial aspirations.

Wondering if now’s the right time to start our business . Doubting our ideas and worrying about the what-ifs and maybes! 

A business plan removes the uncertainty and what-ifs from the equation. It validates our business ideas, confirms our marketing strategies, and identifies potential problems before they arise.  

Replacing our doubts with positivity, ensuring we see the complete picture, and increasing our chances of success.

Because you could be starting and running your own business . But you’ll only know for sure it’s the right move for you when you write your business plan.

Here’s everything you need to know to create the perfect business plan.

What is a business plan?

What is a business plan

A well-written business plan contains the recipe for your new business’s growth and development. 

It’s your compass. 

It describes your goals and how you’ll achieve them by infusing the ingredients you need to turn your dream into a reality. 

  • Your business description- Tells readers about your idea, why it'll succeed, and how you'll make it happen.
  • A market analysis- That backs up your company description.
  • Your management and organization plan- Includes employees or contractors because even a one-person show may need a team's help on a contract basis, like bookkeeping services, graphic design, research, and if your business grows, with time, also full-time employees.
  • Your products or services descriptions- Explaining how they work, where you'll get them, and how much they`ll cost.
  • A target audience analysis- So, you know exactly who you`re selling to and what makes them buy what you`re offering.
  • Your marketing and sales plan- Proving your chosen niche is profitable and how you'll reach your customers.
  • A financial funding request/projections - What you need and how you'll get it.

Your business plan is like a GPS, guiding your business to its destination for the next 3 to 5 years. 

Why is a business plan important?

Here’s the short answer.

A business plan enables you to convey your vision to those who can help you make it a reality.  

It does it in 2 ways:

  • It empowers you to evaluate your goals and confirm their viability before entering a marketplace.
  • And equips you with the information, using a proven outline, that convinces others to help you achieve them.

A business plan does it by explaining who you are, what you are going to do, and how you’ll do it. It clarifies your strategies, identifies future roadblocks, and determines your immediate and future financial and resource needs.

Let’s look at what that means and why each part is important.

A business plan helps you evaluate your ideas

Do you have over one business idea or a range of products or services you believe you could bring to a single marketplace? 

If so, a business plan helps determine which is worth focusing on and where to apply your energy and resources by evaluating your idea’s possible market share and profitability before investing.

Clarifies your costs

Your chosen market determines your initial investment and future revenue. And it would be best if you knew those before you invest a dollar in your business idea.

With your chosen idea, your business plan can help you understand your set-up and running costs, the resources you’ll need, and the time it’ll take to get started.

It’s also where you’ll calculate your future sales and revenue goals to ensure they fit your budget and required breakeven point.  

And those are essential because every business needs a consistent cash flow to stay afloat!

Steers your business in the right direction

Your business plan guides you through every stage of starting and running your business . 

It acts as your GPS, giving you a course to steer. Ensuring your business stays on track, helping you achieve your goals every step of the way.  

Acts as your financial guide

As your new business grows, you might need to expand. 

But with expansion come big spending decisions, such as purchasing expensive equipment, leasing a new location, or hiring your first employees.

Your business plan’s financial forecast gives you a solid foundation to build on by clarifying when you’re ready to make those investments, ensuring you don’t overreach.

And when you are ready to employ staff, it helps you with that too!

Helps recruit the people you need

Your business is often only as good as its employees. A business plan helps you communicate your vision and pitch your dream to the best candidates. Building their confidence in your venture and encouraging them to join you.

It's essential if seeking a loan or investment

Do you need a loan from a bank or a venture capitalist/angel investor?

If so, you’ll need a business plan that shows your past and future financial trajectory so potential investors can evaluate your business’ feasibility to determine whether you’re worth the risk.

It's an asset if you want to sell your business

Owners of legal entities, such as LLCs, can sell all or part of their business to raise funds for other business ventures or expand their existing ones.

A solid business plan with proven financial recordings and realistic forecasts based on current performance can make your business more attractive to potential investors. 

And it makes sense because when buyers understand your business model and its potential growth, they’ll see the value in it for them.  

All great reasons to write a business plan, don`t you agree?

Okay, here’s how you do it: 

The steps for creating a business plan

The steps for a creating a business plan

Most business plan templates are similar, containing several steps for writing a conclusive plan. If you’re interested in a very short plan, we prepared a lean (one-page) version, including a template . 

The perfect business plan isn’t one or the other; it’s the plan that meets your business needs.

That said, every business plan should contain crucial elements and essential details . And a rhythm to your outline that encourages action, growth, and investors to read it from start to finish. Our step-by-step guide, along with our template, will help you achieve both. 

But first, you must choose the style that works for you:

Pick a business plan format that works for you

You can tackle creating a business plan in different ways; one could be a long-form, more traditional approach or a one-page business plan that acts as a summarized road map.

Traditional business plans use a standard, industry-expected structure, with each section written in great detail. They require a lot of research because businesses often use them to gain investment, and they can be anywhere from 10 to 50 pages long. 

A one-page business plan uses a similar structure but summarizes each step by highlighting the key points. 

You can write a one-page plan in an hour and use it as a personal blueprint for running your business or as a guide to writing a future traditional plan.

Here are the core component that create a great business plan:

1.  An executive summary

2.  Your company’s description

3. Market analysis

4. management and organization outline, 5. products and service description, 6. target audience analysis, 7. marketing and sales plan.

8. Financial funding request 

9. Financial projections

10. an appendix, 1. an executive summary.

The first section of your business plan’s an executive summary that tells anyone reading in simple terms what your business is and why you believe it’ll be successful.

It’s the most crucial part of your plan because anyone reviewing it often decides whether to continue reading based on what’s in your executive summary.

Your executive should contain your mission statement (why you’re starting your business). A product/service description. Your leadership team and financial information.

Even though the first thing people read is your executive summary, it’s the last section you write. 

The next step is about you:

2. Your company's description

Here you sell yourself and your business by telling readers why you’re starting your business and know it’ll succeed.

You must be realistic, business-like, and detailed.  

Begin by explaining who you are, what you plan on doing, and how you’ll do it. Describe your future market, your target audience, and why they need your product/service. 

Elaborate on your unique selling point (USP) and how your competitive advantage will ensure your success. 

Describe your team, highlight their skills and technical expertise, and if you`re a brick-and-mortar business, discuss your location and why it’s right for your target audience or logistics. 

Now your market:

A great business idea is only as good as its future marketplace. Enter a declining market with an insufficient or uninterested audience, and you’ll be toast.

Choose one on an upward trajectory with people you understand and need your product, and you’ll be in business. 

That makes your market analysis a crucial step in your business plan outline. Here’s where you identify your target audience, competitors’ performance, strengths and weaknesses, and whether the market can sustain your business needs.

Your market analysis should include the following:

  • Your market description and outlook- Provide a detailed outline defining your market, including its size, trends, growth rate, and outlook.
  • Target Market- Describe your ideal customers, including their demographics such as age, gender, employment status, income level, and lifestyle preferences. Also, include your market size, what motivates your ideal clients, and how you'll reach them.
  • Competitive Analysis- Identify your main competitors and list their strengths and weaknesses. Also, highlight any potential roadblocks that might prevent you from entering your chosen marketplace.

Step 4 is where you tell readers how you’ll construct your business and who’ll run it.  

Describe your business’s legal structure, whether you’re a sole proprietor intending to form an LLC or a limited/general partnership with dreams of incorporating an S or C corps. 

Include your registered business name and any DBA brand name you have. And any member’s percentage ownership and managerial duties per your operating agreement.

And consider using a chart to show who runs what section of the business. Explain how each employee, manager, or owner’s experience and expertise will contribute to your venture’s success. And if you have them, include your team’s resumes and CVs.

Now you must get technical about what you plan to offer.

List your products or services and explain how they work. If in the development stage, describe the process and when you’ll be market ready.

Include the following product/service information:

  • Describe how your product/service will benefit your target audience.
  • Provide a breakdown of costs per unit made/sold, life cycle, and expected profit margins.
  • Explain your supply chain, order fulfillment, and sales strategy.
  • Include your plans for intellectual property, like trademarks and patents.

Your product and service description brings you to those who matter most. Your target audience:

The target audience section of your business plan is the most important one to get right. After all, your customers are your business. And the better you know them, the easier it’ll be to sell to them. 

To gain a clear picture of your ideal clients, learn about their demographics and create a client persona.

Those include: 

  • Their location
  • Education level
  • Employment status
  • Where they work
  • How much they earn
  • How they communicate
  • Preferred social media platforms
  • Common behavior patterns
  • Free time interests
  • And what their values and beliefs are

You need your target audience’s demographics to create a branding style that resonates with them. To build marketing strategies that engage their interest. And to identify where to spend your advertising dollars.

Target market’s persona in place, your next step is to describe how you’ll reach and sell to them:

Your marketing plan outlines your strategies to connect with and convert your ideal clients. 

Here’s where you explain how you’ll reach your audience, describe your sales funnel, and develop customer loyalty to keep customers.

Your business plan doesn’t require your complete marketing/sales plan but should answer basic questions like:

  • Who's your target market?
  • Which channels will you use to reach them? (Social media, email, website, traditional marketing, etc.)
  • What sales strategies will you use?
  • Which resources do you need to implement those strategies?
  • Do you have the resources, and if not, where will you get them?
  • What are the potential marketing obstacles, and how you'll overcome them?
  • What's your initial marketing campaign timeline and budget?
  • What your success metrics are, and how you'll measure them?

8. Financial funding request

This step applies if you require funding to start or grow your business.

Similar to the marketing plan step, including your entire financial plan is unnecessary. However, you’ll need to answer specific questions to explain how much investment you require and how you’ll use it.

The following financial funding outline will suffice:

  • Your current capital balance and how much future capital you'll need.
  • Specify whether you want equity or debt.
  • The terms and conditions you need and the duration of any loan repayments.
  • Provide a detailed description of why you need investment, IE., to pay salaries, buy equipment or stock, and what percentage will go where.

Start-ups that need investment must rely on something other than past sales and balance sheets. Here, you’ll need to use financial projections to persuade lenders you’ll generate enough profit to repay their loans. And that investors will get a worthwhile return. 

Your goal is to convince potential lenders or investors that your business will make enough profit to repay any loans or fulfill your equity promises.

Depending on your loan requirements and market, these projections can vary from 3 to 5 years. 

Financial projections aren’t an exact science; you’re forecasting the future! However, accuracy is essential (meaning your projected numbers must add up correctly). And while your goals should be positive, they must also be realistic.

What to include in your financial forecast:

  • Forecasted income statements.
  • Capital expenditures, fixed and variable.
  • Quarterly and annual balance sheets.
  • Projected cash flow statements.

Be specific with your projections and ensure they match your funding requests. And if you have collateral to put against a loan, include it at the end of your financial projections to improve your chances of approval. 

Also, consider using charts and graphs to tell your financial story, as visuals are great for conveying your message.

Use your appendix to list and provide supporting information, documents, or additional materials you couldn’t fit in elsewhere.

If the appendix is lengthy, start it with a table of contents.

What to include:

  • Key employee resumes.
  • Letters of reference.
  • Licenses and permits.
  • Intellectual property - patents or trademarks.
  • Legal documents.
  • Any current contracts.
  • Product pictures and information.
  • Bank statements/credit history.

Conclusion

Financial uncertainty shouldn`t stop you from following your dreams. In fact, recessions are often the best time to start a business . 

And your business plan is one of the main things that can help you make your dream of owning a business a reality.

Take it one step at a time, do your research, and use your business plan to remove the uncertainty of the unknown. 

Because then you’ll know if the time is right to start your business.

This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.

Blog / Small business tips / How to create a business plan: A complete guide to writing your company roadmap

how to make a perfect business plan

How to create a business plan: A complete guide to writing your company roadmap

A business plan is a roadmap that outlines what your business does, how it’s going to work and how you’re going to achieve your goals. 

According to Bplans , who worked with the University of Oregon to analyse academic research around planning, entrepreneurs who take the time to create a plan for their business idea are 152% more likely to start that business.

Further, 129% are more likely to push forward with it beyond the start-up phase. And companies that strategically plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t. 

In this guide, we’re going to walk you through how to write a business plan that helps your company start, build and achieve success.   

Table of contents

What is a business plan and why do you need one, the nine key components of a business plan and how to write them.

  • Five top tips for writing a compelling business plan

📹 Masterclass video: How to write the perfect business plan

Wrapping up.

A business plan is a document that guides you through the various stages of building, launching and running your business. Essentially, it helps you put the building blocks in place to make your company a success.

If you’re bringing a new small business to market, a business plan will be crucial in:

  • Securing funding or loans
  • Achieving investment or raising venture capital
  • Attracting talent or business partners
  • Guiding your go-to-market strategy

All banks and most investors and venture capitalists will only invest in a business if they can see that they’ll get their money back. They want to know that you have the business idea, team, scalability and planned sales growth to succeed. A business plan gives financiers the details they need to make informed decisions. 

Similarly, for talent or prospective partners, a business plan is your assurance to them that your business matches their short and long-term career ambitions. 

A business plan also keeps you focused on what you need to do to accomplish your goals. If you’re not meeting your targets, you can turn to your business plan to help guide you on changes that need to be made. It’s the drawing board you can always go back to. 

Because of this, having a business plan is as important for existing businesses as it is for start-ups. 

Top Tip: Business plans also apply to side hustles. Even if you have a full-time job or already run a small business, a side hustle can be a great way to pull in extra income or capitalise on a hobby. But just because it doesn’t take up all of your time doesn’t mean it should lack structure. To learn more about how to effectively run a side business, read our guide to 5 side businesses you can start quickly and affordably 💡

How long should a business plan be?

According to Growthink surveys, 15 to 25 pages is the optimum business plan length. But the number of pages isn’t the ideal way to measure length. 

As Bplans points out: “A 20-page business plan with dense text and no graphics is much longer than a 35-page plan broken up into readable bullet points, useful illustrations of locations or products, and business charts to illustrate important projections.”

Instead, Bplans says that your business plan should: 

  • Take no longer than 15 minutes to skim read . Make sure that key information in each section is easy for readers to find.
  • Mirror the length of its audience . The length is directly tied to the intent. If the purpose is for outsiders who know nothing about your business to gain a deeper understanding, it must include detailed executive summaries and team descriptions. If the intent is to procure investment, it must be built to withstand legal scrutiny and include any information a bank would look for in a business loan application. Know your audience, and work backwards to create the ideal business plan to match that scenario (we’ll dive into exactly how to do this in a later section).

How to present your business plan?

Your business plan is designed to evolve as your business grows. It’s a living document that should be consistently tweaked to match the health and goals of your company. Because of this, it’s best to keep your plan as a digital document that can be easily updated and sent to third parties as a PDF. 

That said, there may be times when your plan needs to be presented to investors or bank managers in person, so it should always be print-ready with a front cover that includes your:

  • Company name
  • Company logo and colour scheme
  • Business name and date
  • Contact information

It should also have a contents page, with numbered pages and sections so that readers can easily find what they’re looking for.

When you are ready – register your business with Tide for FREE ! Registering your business with Tide is incredibly fast, easy and free. You not only get to officially start your company, but you get a free business bank account at the same time, which is the best way to ensure you’re keeping your finances in order from day one. Be your own boss and register your company with Tide !

A business plan features nine main sections related to your business operations, structure and finances: 

  • Executive summary
  • Company description

Market analysis

  • Management and company structure
  • Service or product information
  • Marketing and sales strategy
  • Funding information
  • Financial projections

Let’s take a closer look at each. 

1. Executive summary

The executive summary is a top-level look at your business that summarises the detailed information found in the rest of the sections.

It’s also your elevator pitch—a chance for you to immediately captivate the reader by portraying your mission, vision, goals, product, leadership, finance information and growth plans.

Picture yourself in a lift for 45 seconds with a potential investor. How would you sell your business? Think about that when writing this section. Be concise and compelling with your words.

Because it is a summary, it’s often easier to write this section last after you’ve fleshed out the finer details of your business plan .

Writing your executive summary

Start with the basic information:

  • Your company name
  • Company address
  • Names of all owners and partners

Then, get into the business information. 

  • Value proposition . Describe in one sentence what your company does and why it’s great. This is your value proposition. For example, Uber’s value proposition is “The smartest way to get around”. For email marketing platform MailChimp it’s “Send Better Email”. For Dollar Shave Club it’s “A great shave for a few bucks a month”.
  • Problem and solution . In a paragraph, briefly explain the problem customers are facing and how your product or service solves it.
  • Target customers. Who is your ideal customer? Be extremely specific. For example, if you’re selling men’s suits, your audience won’t simply be every man because every man wears suits. That doesn’t hold true. It’s more likely to be targeted towards ‘fashion-conscious men’ or ‘businessmen’.
  • Competitors . List other companies that are solving the same problems you are and how they’re solving them.
  • Team . A sentence or two on why your team is the best team to bring your product or service to market.
  • Finances . Focus on the key aspects of your financial plan–your planned costs and how you will make money.
  • Funding . Details of your start-up costs and how much you need to raise to get your business off the ground. 
  • Milestones . Briefly mention what you’ve achieved so far and what goals you plan to achieve. This lets potential investors, talent or partners know how serious you are in building a successful business. 

As mentioned above, before you can write this section you have to flesh out all of your company details, including who you are, who you’re selling to, how you’re going to sell your product or service, what your financial goals are, how you will reach those financial goals, and so on. 

The rest of this article will inform you on how to do just that. 

2. Company description

The company description is your story. It digs deeper into your value proposition, looking at how you came to be and what you intend to achieve.

Break your description down into three sections: 

Mission statement

Company profile, business objectives.

An example of a target, mission, and values

Your mission statement is a sentence or short paragraph that describes why your business exists.

To create your mission statement, answer the following questions:

  • What does my business do?
  • How do we do it?
  • Who do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing to customers?

For example, Patagonia’s mission statement is “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

In a single sentence, they get across their aims and ambitions, their value to the market (safe, quality products) and their value to people and the world (helping the environment). 

Use this as inspiration to come up with a statement that captures the heart and soul of your business.

Top Tip: Your company description will also help to inform your business culture. You will carry these core values throughout all of your business behaviours and they will also influence how you make future business decisions. Because of this, it’s crucial to devote the necessary time and energy to get this right. To learn exactly how to do that, read our guide on why business culture matters & how to get it right from the start ☀️

In a paragraph or two, your company profile should detail your: 

  • Founding date
  • Company location
  • Products or services
  • Number of employees
  • Details of company leaders and their roles
  • Company milestones

The information is the most important thing here, so approach it like a business profile and stick to the facts and figures.

In a paragraph or two explain what you want to achieve as a business. This needs to be a realistic aim that investors can get behind and your team members can work towards. 

The SMART goals method can help you to ensure your goals are practical.

SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. 

Infographic describing SMART goals

Use graphs to add weight to your objectives. For example, if you aim to increase revenue from £100,000 in year one to £500,000 by year five, create a chart that plots your growth. The visual aspect helps to grab attention whilst providing readers with key information they may miss if skim reading. 

This chart from an example business plan does just that:

Example of 5 year net revenue projections

You’re immediately drawn to the planned-growth projections and want to learn about how they’ll reach such high goals. We will get into the specifics of how to create accurate sales and revenue forecasts in a later section.

Top Tip: To learn more about how to establish practical SMART goals that will inform your business strategy and help you effectively market your brand, read our beginners guide to digital marketing strategy . 

3. Market analysis

Marketing analysis focuses on three areas:

  • Your target market (the industry your selling in)
  • Your customers (who you’re selling to)
  • Your competitors (who you’re selling against)

By detailing information about the themes and trends within your industry, you’ll be able to show that the appetite for your product or service exists. Outlining information about your ideal customer helps you to identify the marketing and sales tactics you can use to attract them. And highlighting your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses gives you a chance to showcase what you do better than the rest. 

Market analysis should identify the market as a whole, as well as your addressable market and your share of the market. From this information, you can begin to get an idea of your target market, which informs your messaging, positioning and unique selling point (USP).

Venn diagram demonstrating how to find your USP

Start by researching the current state of your industry and where the market is heading in terms of size, trends and projected growth.

Your approach here will depend on your business. For example, if you’re opening a small local shop, you should assess the market around your shop. If you’re starting an ecommerce business and selling UK-wide, you’ll need to analyse the market at a national level. 

When estimating market size, look at:

  • Volume . The number of potential customers
  • Value . The value of the market

You can find this information by searching for publicly available data or by commissioning a market research report. If you’re searching on a national level, you may find figures published online. On a local level, data might not be as easy to come by, which is where you’ll need to carry out your own research. 

Top Tip: Conducting market research takes time, but it’s important that you get a full picture of your audience to ensure your message and USP resonates. To learn more, read our detailed guide on how to conduct market research for your business idea ⚡️

Once you have the information, you can use TAM SAM SOM to work out your business’ relationship to the market size.

  • TAM stands for Total Addressable Market
  • SAM stands for Serviceable Addressable Market
  • SOM stands for Serviceable Obtainable Market

Infographic describing TAM SAM SOM

  • To calculate your TAM, work out how many people have a need for your business. For example, let’s say you’re opening a shop selling custom-designed women’s clothes in a town of 100,000 people. Market research shows that 50% (50,000) of residents are women. Your total addressable market would be 50,000 people. 
  • To calculate your SAM, take your TAM and discount all the people that fall outside of your target market. Let’s say your target market is women between 18 and 35, with disposable income. This discounts 30,000 people, which means your serviceable addressable market is 40% (20,000) of your total addressable market. 
  • To calculate your SOM, work out how many of your SAM you can realistically serve. Your shop offers a measuring service and design consultation but only to people in a five-mile radius, which means you can serve 200 people a month. That would mean serving 2,400 people a year, which makes your SOM around 12% of your SAM.

Ideal customer

Your ideal customer is the person your product or service is aimed at. In the above example of the women’s clothes shop, the ideal customer is between 18 and 35, with disposable income. 

Customer analysis digs deeper than this, looking at your target customers’ education, income, job, relationship, buying concerns, interests and more.

You’ll find methods to help you discover your ideal customer and create customer personas in our guide on how to create a go-to-market strategy . 

Competitors

Competitive analysis is the process of identifying gaps in the market that your product or service can fill. It’s about finding out what the competition does so you gain a competitive advantage. 

In our guide on how to run a competitive analysis , we walk you through the process of analysing the finer details of your rivals in five steps:

Step 1: Identify & segment your competitors

Step 2: Analyse their market positioning

Step 3: Review their content & social media

Step 4: Check out what their customers are saying

Step 5: Walk through their customer journey

Use this information to show potential investors and talent that your business is going places. Our competitive analysis matrix template is a great starting point.

Screenshot showing competitor analysis matrix template with examples

Once complete, take it a step further and create a simple visual that clearly shows where your company outperforms the competition. Here is a basic example of how to build out this visual.

Example competitive analysis matrix

It’s hard to ignore a chart that checks all of the boxes. 

4. Management and company structure

This section goes into detail on how your company is structured and who is running it. 

The structure here means two different things:

Team structure

Company structure.

First, you need to show your management structure: what each leader’s role is within the company. 

The simplest way to show your company hierarchy is with an organisational chart like this example:

Example organisational chart

For each member of your team, give details on their background and credentials with a bio that includes their:

  • Professional background
  • Achievements

Including this information gives readers assurances that the team you have in place is well-positioned to take the company forward. 

If there are any roles yet to be filled, give details on those positions.

Company structure is your legal structure. For example, limited company or sole trader.

Top Tip: If you’re yet to decide on a business structure, you can weigh up the pros and cons for setting up as a sole trader or limited company in our sole trader vs limited company guide.

how to make a perfect business plan

If you plan on changing the structure of your company in the future, include details on this as well. For example, you may start as a private limited company (Ltd), but grow to become a public limited company with shares offered to members of the public. 

5. Service or product information

Here is where you get to wax lyrical about your offer and why it’s better than anything currently on the market. 

This section should include: 

  • A description of your product or service . Details on what it is and what it does.
  • How your product or service will be priced . Do you offer tiered pricing or a subscription model, for example.

Top Tip: Choosing the right pricing strategy is another key part of your go-to-market strategy. Will you price higher, lower, or similar to your competitors? What does the market demand? How does your pricing strategy reflect the value of your products and services? To learn more about how to answer these questions, read our 6-step guide on how to price a product and achieve profitable markups 💷

  • How your products compare to competitors . List several competitor products along with their pros and cons.
  • The production process . Details on how your products are created, how your source materials, quality control management, supply chain, inventory and bookkeeping.
  • Product lifecycle . Details on upsells and cross-sells, research and development plans and time between purchases.
  • Orders . Details on how you process and fulfil orders.
  • Legal aspects . Details on any intellectual property or trademarks you own.
  • Future products or services . If you plan on expanding your offer, give details on the offer and any research and development plans.

While there are formal and practical details to get across, the main point of this section is to get the reader excited about your product. To do this:

  • Focus on the benefits . Describe how features give value to the customer. Here are some examples of features turned into benefits:
  • Highlight your features. Get across what features your product or service has that the competition doesn’t. For example, your product might be the cheapest on the market or your turnaround time might be quicker or your expertise might allow you to offer a better level of service. 
  • Get across why you’re needed . Shine the light on why your product or service is important to the market. This will be especially crucial if your startup is bringing a new invention to the market, or you’re creating an entirely new market. 

6. Marketing and sales strategy

If your business is going to be a success, you need a marketing strategy and sales plan that takes customers on a journey from awareness to purchase.

Diagram of the marketing funnel from awareness stage to advocacy

This section of your business plan should include:

  • Your target market . Reiterating the information from the market analysis section.
  • Which marketing channels you’ll use and which you’ll prioritise . For example, social media, word of mouth, Google Ads, print or radio advertising, exhibition stands or fairs, or referrals.
  • Your plan to attract customers at launch . For example, you might run an opening discount offer to people who share your post on social media. Or give a voucher to every customer who refers a friend.
  • Your plan to retain customers . For example, you may offer reward programs that allow customers to collect points for every purchase that can be redeemed for free or discounted products.
  • Your expected results . What you hope to achieve from your marketing and how it will help you grow your business in terms of sales and visibility. If you’ve already started marketing your business, give details on what you’ve done and how it’s benefited the business.

7. Funding information 

Funding information is all about how much money you need to start your business, why you need it and how you’ll use any capital. 

The most critical part of this is your startup costs, which detail:

  • The cost of producing your product or service
  • Your fixed outgoings
  • The cost of equipment, premises, supplies, insurance and other necessities required to run your business

Top Tip: If you’re yet to work out how much capital you need, check out our guide on how much it costs to start a business in the UK 📌

If you have the figures in place, you can set out presenting them. 

This section should be broken down into three parts: 

Current and future funding requirements

How funds will be used, current and future financial plans.

Include how much money you need to get your business off the ground, along with any funding you’ll need in the foreseeable future (up to five years). Be clear about why you’re requesting a loan or investment and outline what your needs are based on in your financial forecasts (we’ll get onto those soon). 

If you’re offering equity in exchange for investment, provide details on how an investor will be paid, as well as how and when they can cash out. For most small businesses, investors are paid in dividends (a share of company profits).

This part should explain how you plan to use the funds so that investors can determine if your business is a worthwhile investment. If you plan on using capital for several things, list and provide costs for each.

Again, putting these numbers into a visual format will help to more clearly outline your vision.

Example funding allocation

Finally, if applicable, provide information on any current investments and/or outstanding loan repayment plans. 

If you’re seeking investment or a loan for the first time, most lenders will have their own repayment schedules. However, you should detail any factors that may affect lenders, such as any plans to relocate or sell the business. 

Unlike other sections, funding information will need to be tailored to each financier. Investors will be interested in return on investment (ROI), whereas lenders will be interested in loan repayments. Create separate reports so that information is relevant to the reader. 

Top Tip: Investors and banks will also be interested in your business credit report (if you have one). To learn more about why your business credit score is important and how it’s determined, read our guide to everything you need to know about your business credit score (and how to improve it) 🙌

8. Financial projections

Financial projections supplement your funding information by showing potential lenders and investors that your business has a positive financial outlook.

This section should include the following key information: 

  • Sales forecast. The amount of money you expect to raise from sales.
  • Cash flow statement. Your cash flow balance and monthly cash flow patterns–how much is coming in and going out of your business every month.
  • Balance sheet. An overview of the financial health of your business.
  • Profit and loss statement . Your profit level and how much you expect to make based on projected sales, minus the cost of overheads and providing goods or services. 

Top Tip: Unless you’re an accountant, this part of the business plan can be overwhelming. To learn more about the fundamentals of accounting and how to create each of the aforementioned statements, read our complete guide to accounting for startups 📣 

If your business is already established, you’ll need to include financial figures from the last three years (or however long you’ve been trading if it’s less than three years) for all of the above, other than your sales forecast. 

If you’re a new business, your financial figures need to be predicted.

We’ve built several spreadsheet templates to help you generate the below financial reports:

  • Three main financial statements (balance sheet, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement)
  • Cash flow forecast
  • Estimated sales

Forecasting your finances

Sales forecast.

Use your market analysis and knowledge of industry trends to estimate your future sales. For the first year, break these figures down into monthly sales, detailing what you’re selling, price points and how much you expect to sell. Moving into the second and third year of business, reduce forecasting to quarterly sales.

Cash flow statement

As a startup, your cash flow statement becomes a cash flow forecast based on your sales forecast, minus your expenses. Your expenses are the: 

  • Fixed costs . Expenses that are the same or close the same every month (e.g. rent, insurance and utilities).
  • Variable costs . Expenses that vary every month depending on demand (e.g.costs for raw materials, production costs, shipping and advertising).

Provide monthly cash flow patterns for the first 36 months. Keep in mind that, depending on your business, you may need to account for a lag in revenue. For example, if you provide a service to a client, their payment terms might dictate the invoice is paid 60 days after being sent.

Top Tip: To learn more about the various types of expenses and how to manage them, read our guide to small business expense management 🙌

Balance sheet

Create a balance sheet by calculating company assets, minus company liabilities.  

Company assets include:

  • Property you own
  • Equipment you own
  • Unsold inventory
  • Company vehicles you own
  • Outstanding invoices

Company liabilities include:

  • The amount you owe on a business loan
  • The amount you owe unpaid invoices

Your balance is the difference between your assets total and your liabilities total.

Profit and loss statement

Use the figures from your sales forecast, expenses and cash flow statement to forecast how much you expect in profit and losses for your first three years in business. 

Your statement needs profit and loss projections for each year, as well as a total figure for the three years and should include a breakdown of:

  • Sales . Based on figures from your sales forecast.
  • Cost of goods sold (COGS) . The total cost of selling your product or service. If you need help with this, check out our guide on everything you need to know about cost of sales .
  • Gross margin . Your sales minus your COGS. This is usually listed as a percentage, which you can calculate as: 

Gross margin (total revenue – COGS / total revenue x 100

For example, £500,000 total revenue, minus £300,000 leaves a gross margin of £200,000. 

£200,000 / £500,000 x 100 = 40%

  • Operating expenses . A list of all your expenses, minus COGS (which you’ve already included), tax, amortisation and depreciation. List each expense individually and include a total sum. 
  • Operating income statement . Your total operating expenses minus your COGS, before interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation.
  • Total expenses . Your expenses including interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation.
  • Net profit . Your monthly and yearly bottom line.

List financial figures using bullet points and include graphs to show how you predict your business will grow over your first three years of trading.

9. Appendix 

The appendix is the place to include any supporting documents. If a lender or investor hasn’t requested additional documentation, you can choose to leave this section out. But it’s a good place to strengthen your business plan, by including: 

  • Reference letters
  • Credit reports
  • Permits and licences
  • Client contracts or customer purchase orders
  • Legal documents
  • Associations and memberships  

Format the appendix with a clear table of contents and sections that correspond to the business plan section.

5 top tips for writing a compelling business plan 

  • Keep it concise . Say what you need to say using simple language (no jargon) in as few words as possible. Your business plan only needs to get the key information across. The intricacies can come later. 
  • Make it easy on the eye . Most lenders and investors will skim read your business plan, picking out relevant information as they go. Use headings to define sections and make key data stand out on each page by using bullet points for lists, bolding important sentences and using graphs and charts to add weight to financial figures. 
  • Think about your audience . Consider who your business plan is aimed at and write with them in mind. If it’s an internal plan, think about what your team would want to gain from reading the document. If it’s for a lender or investor, think about the questions they might ask and which information is of particular interest to them. 
  • Get the figures right. If you’re forecasting costs, sales and expenses, numbers will never be 100% accurate and it’s better to overestimate than underestimate. However, figures must be realistic and they must add up. Expect lenders and investors to scrutinise your calculations. Always double and triple check the numbers. 
  • Proofread and proofread again . Don’t let your hard work be undone by something as simple as a typo or grammar mistake. Proofread your document from start to finish and then finish to start. Have someone you trust look over it too.

You now know what goes into a strong business plan, but you might be wondering what tools and frameworks you can use to bring it to life.

In this Tide Masterclass, our Events Manager Cuan Hawker is joined by Tom Horbye , Head of Campaigns Development at Seedrs .

Seedrs connects investors and businesses. They help startups raise capital and grow a supportive community. As they put it, it’s “equity crowdfunding done properly”. It’s unlikely anyone has seen and improved more business plans than Tom!

Tom will explain:

  • Why you need a business plan 📘
  • How to structure your plan 📃 Two tried-and-tested structures that work.
  • What to include in your plan 📋 And what to leave out.
  • Tools, help and next steps 🛠

This Masterclass is useful for anyone thinking about starting their own business in the UK.

A business plan is the cornerstone of your company. By clearly detailing your business objectives, strategies, marketing and sales plans, and financial forecasts you’ll be able to set out your business goals and keep track of your progress. 

Use this guide to complete the key components and put together a plan that a) brings clarity to your team, and b) provides assurances to lenders and investors that your business is a safe bet.

Set up your business with Tide for free

Photo by William Ivan, published on Unsplash

Valentine Hutchings

Valentine Hutchings

Head of Community and small business enthusiast

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Business Plan 101: How to Prepare the Perfect Business Plan

Reports on paper and tablet scattered on a table with two cups of coffee hands and pens

We’re told that every successful business starts with a great idea. That’s a half-truth. Our nine-year track record of transforming exceptional entrepreneurs into successful CEOs shows us that great companies start with great ideas — and a great business plan.

Our business plan consultants have developed more than 4,000 perfect and simple business plan templates for a diverse array of companies who have gone on to raise more than $2.5 billion. Our clients, early stage and middle market companies, just like yours, are engaged in every type of business, from building boutique hotels to wifi-hotspots.

The following five concepts, based on a recent Business Week Online interview with Growthink partner Dave Lavinsky, are critical to building a successful business plan — and most importantly — a successful business:

1. Why You Need a Business Plan

A business plan is the marketing document telling the story of your company: its purpose, achievements and objectives. A business plan helps you obtain investment capital. Ideally, your business plan should be 15-25 pages long and it should include an executive summary of between 2-4 pages, depending on the complexity of the business and the purpose of the plan, which answers the two questions asked by every experienced investor::

  • What are the key value propositions of your business to your targeted marketplace(s)?
  • Why and how will an investor receive a return on their invested dollars?

Your business plan should also include an operating plan . In addition to other components, the operating plan contains milestones — the list of business objectives your company will achieve by a certain date.

2. Research, Research, Research

Entrepreneurs of the world: do your homework . Investors reading your business plan want to see that you’ve thought long and hard about the potential promise — and pitfalls — of starting or expanding your company. Your dutiful due diligence must supply answers to these questions potential investors are asking themselves — and willask you:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What companies have succeeded or failed in your sector?
  • Why fund your company now, rather than a year from now? Or a year ago?

Here’s the blunt bottom line: If your business plan doesn’t include research that helps you present a clear, compelling case to potential investors, why should anyone trust you with their money?

3. Investor Insight: Experience Over Speed

Ah, the days of 1999, when we believed that First Mover Advantage, like Venture Incubators, was the key to success. Well, we’ve been burned and we’ve learned that, for a range of ventures, from e-tailing ( Boo.com anyone?) to streaming networks (Quokka.com, RIP), that being first doesn’t mean finishing first among your competitors.

Many investors now want to see a track record — for example,a history of revenue and customers. Have you been running your business for awhile or is it still just a great idea, looking for capital? This change in investor strategy makes for longer funding cycles: that period between presenting your business plan to potential investors and receiving an initial round of funding. Longer funding cycles are frustrating for emerging stage business owners who need investment capital sooner, rather than later.

4. Seek Specialist Funding

Does your company generate annual revenues over $1 million dollars? Are you an early stage company or a pre-revenue concern that owns its intellectual property? Well, there are investors seeking to fund companies justlike yours. Growthink’s capital partners represent a wide range of investment mandates. Thousands of companies have come to Growthink for the capital and counsel critical to their success.

5. Get Great Advisors — And Listen To Them

Your business plan should include the creation of an advisory board . The advisory board is a group of external experts who are not involved with the day to day business operations. A good advisory board helps keep your team on track towards achieving the milestones contained in your operating plan and alerts you to the changes and opportunities occurring in your target market.

6. Have Questions? We Have The Answers

Founded in 1999, Growthink is a leading business plan consulting firm and middle market investment bank .  Our professional business plan writers and investment bankers have assisted more than 1,500 clients in launching and growing their businesses, and raising more than $1 billion in growth financing.

Need assistance with your business plan? 

Consult our professional business plan consultants .

Raising a private placement round?

Speak with our private placement memorandum experts.

  • Or, if you’re creating your own PPM, save time and money with Growthink’s sample private placement memorandum .

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

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24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

Clifford Chi

Published: February 06, 2024

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how to make a perfect business plan

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I believe that reading sample business plans is essential when writing your own.

sample business plans and examples

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As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, it’s easier for you to learn how to write a good one.

But what does a good business plan look like? And how do you write one that’s both viable and convincing. I’ll walk you through the ideal business plan format along with some examples to help you get started.

Table of Contents

Business Plan Format

Business plan types, sample business plan templates, top business plan examples.

Ask any successful sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you they have a unique plan for every single game. To me, the same logic applies to business.

If you want to build a thriving company that can pull ahead of the competition, you need to prepare for battle before breaking into a market.

Business plans guide you along the rocky journey of growing a company. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, I’m sure you’re wondering where to begin.

how to make a perfect business plan

  • Outline your idea.
  • Pitch to investors.
  • Secure funding.
  • Get to work!

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

First, you’ll want to nail down your formatting. Most business plans include the following sections.

1. Executive Summary

I’d say the executive summary is the most important section of the entire business plan. 

Why? Essentially, it's the overview or introduction, written in a way to grab readers' attention and guide them through the rest of the business plan. This is important, because a business plan can be dozens or hundreds of pages long.

There are two main elements I’d recommend including in your executive summary:

Company Description

This is the perfect space to highlight your company’s mission statement and goals, a brief overview of your history and leadership, and your top accomplishments as a business.

Tell potential investors who you are and why what you do matters. Naturally, they’re going to want to know who they’re getting into business with up front, and this is a great opportunity to showcase your impact.

Need some extra help firming up those business goals? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free course to help you set goals that matter — I’d highly recommend it

Products and Services

To piggyback off of the company description, be sure to incorporate an overview of your offerings. This doesn’t have to be extensive — just another chance to introduce your industry and overall purpose as a business.

In addition to the items above, I recommend including some information about your financial projections and competitive advantage here too.:

Keep in mind you'll cover many of these topics in more detail later on in the business plan. So, keep the executive summary clear and brief, and only include the most important takeaways.

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

This example was created with HubSpot’s business plan template:

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example

This executive summary is so good to me because it tells potential investors a short story while still covering all of the most important details.

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

Image Source

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • Start with a strong introduction of your company, showcase your mission and impact, and outline the products and services you provide.
  • Clearly define a problem, and explain how your product solves that problem, and show why the market needs your business.
  • Be sure to highlight your value proposition, market opportunity, and growth potential.
  • Keep it concise and support ideas with data.
  • Customize your summary to your audience. For example, emphasize finances and return on investment for venture capitalists.

Check out our tips for writing an effective executive summary for more guidance.

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market.

The main question I’d ask myself here is this: Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will my product fill that gap?

More specifically, here’s what I’d include in this section:

  • The size of the market
  • Current or potential market share
  • Trends in the industry and consumer behavior
  • Where the gap is
  • What caused the gap
  • How you intend to fill it

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, and SOM analysis and perform market research on your industry.

You may also benefit from creating a SWOT analysis to get some of the insights for this section.

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

I like this example because it uses critical data to underline the size of the potential market and what part of that market this service hopes to capture.

Business plans examples: Market Opportunity

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

  • Focus on demand and potential for growth.
  • Use market research, surveys, and industry trend data to support your market forecast and projections.
  • Add a review of regulation shifts, tech advances, and consumer behavior changes.
  • Refer to reliable sources.
  • Showcase how your business can make the most of this opportunity.

3. Competitive Landscape

Since we’re already speaking of market share, you'll also need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are.

After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you'll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another.

My favorite part of performing a competitive analysis is that it can help you uncover:

  • Industry trends that other brands may not be utilizing
  • Strengths in your competition that may be obstacles to handle
  • Weaknesses in your competition that may help you develop selling points
  • The unique proposition you bring to the market that may resonate with customers

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

I like how the competitive landscape section of this business plan below shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are.

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location, which shows useful experience in this specific industry. 

This can help build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

  • Complete in-depth research, then emphasize your most important findings.
  • Compare your unique selling proposition (USP) to your direct and indirect competitors.
  • Show a clear and realistic plan for product and brand differentiation.
  • Look for specific advantages and barriers in the competitive landscape. Then, highlight how that information could impact your business.
  • Outline growth opportunities from a competitive perspective.
  • Add customer feedback and insights to support your competitive analysis.

4. Target Audience

Use this section to describe who your customer segments are in detail. What is the demographic and psychographic information of your audience?

If your immediate answer is "everyone," you'll need to dig deeper. Here are some questions I’d ask myself here:

  • What demographics will most likely need/buy your product or service?
  • What are the psychographics of this audience? (Desires, triggering events, etc.)
  • Why are your offerings valuable to them?

I’d also recommend building a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear on why you're targeting them.

Target Audience Business Plan Example

I like the example below because it uses in-depth research to draw conclusions about audience priorities. It also analyzes how to create the right content for this audience.

Business plans examples: Target Audience

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

  • Include details on the size and growth potential of your target audience.
  • Figure out and refine the pain points for your target audience , then show why your product is a useful solution.
  • Describe your targeted customer acquisition strategy in detail.
  • Share anticipated challenges your business may face in acquiring customers and how you plan to address them.
  • Add case studies, testimonials, and other data to support your target audience ideas.
  • Remember to consider niche audiences and segments of your target audience in your business plan.

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you'll discuss how you'll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. I’d suggest including information:

  • Your brand positioning vision and how you'll cultivate it
  • The goal targets you aim to achieve
  • The metrics you'll use to measure success
  • The channels and distribution tactics you'll use

I think it’s helpful to have a marketing plan built out in advance to make this part of your business plan easier.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler.

In my opinion, it really works because it offers a comprehensive picture of how they plan to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Business plans examples: Marketing Strategy

Tips for Writing Your Marketing Strategy

  • Include a section about how you believe your brand vision will appeal to customers.
  • Add the budget and resources you'll need to put your plan in place.
  • Outline strategies for specific marketing segments.
  • Connect strategies to earlier sections like target audience and competitive analysis.
  • Review how your marketing strategy will scale with the growth of your business.
  • Cover a range of channels and tactics to highlight your ability to adapt your plan in the face of change.

6. Key Features and Benefits

At some point in your business plan, you'll need to review the key features and benefits of your products and/or services.

Laying these out can give readers an idea of how you're positioning yourself in the market and the messaging you're likely to use. It can even help them gain better insight into your business model.

Key Features and Benefits Business Plan Example

In my opinion, the example below does a great job outlining products and services for this business, along with why these qualities will attract the audience.

Business plans examples: Key Features and Benefits

Tips for Writing Your Key Features and Benefits

  • Emphasize why and how your product or service offers value to customers.
  • Use metrics and testimonials to support the ideas in this section.
  • Talk about how your products and services have the potential to scale.
  • Think about including a product roadmap.
  • Focus on customer needs, and how the features and benefits you are sharing meet those needs.
  • Offer proof of concept for your ideas, like case studies or pilot program feedback.
  • Proofread this section carefully, and remove any jargon or complex language.

7. Pricing and Revenue

This is where you'll discuss your cost structure and various revenue streams. Your pricing strategy must be solid enough to turn a profit while staying competitive in the industry. 

For this reason, here’s what I’d might outline in this section:

  • The specific pricing breakdowns per product or service
  • Why your pricing is higher or lower than your competition's
  • (If higher) Why customers would be willing to pay more
  • (If lower) How you're able to offer your products or services at a lower cost
  • When you expect to break even, what margins do you expect, etc?

Pricing and Revenue Business Plan Example

I like how this business plan example begins with an overview of the business revenue model, then shows proposed pricing for key products.

Business plans examples: Pricing and Revenue

Tips for Writing Your Pricing and Revenue Section

  • Get specific about your pricing strategy. Specifically, how you connect that strategy to customer needs and product value.
  • If you are asking a premium price, share unique features or innovations that justify that price point.
  • Show how you plan to communicate pricing to customers.
  • Create an overview of every revenue stream for your business and how each stream adds to your business model as a whole.
  • Share plans to develop new revenue streams in the future.
  • Show how and whether pricing will vary by customer segment and how pricing aligns with marketing strategies.
  • Restate your value proposition and explain how it aligns with your revenue model.

8. Financials

To me, this section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to figure out funding strategies, investment opportunities, and more.

 According to Forbes , you'll want to include three main things:

  • Profit/Loss Statement - This answers the question of whether your business is currently profitable.
  • Cash Flow Statement - This details exactly how much cash is incoming and outgoing to give insight into how much cash a business has on hand.
  • Balance Sheet - This outlines assets, liabilities, and equity, which gives insight into how much a business is worth.

While some business plans might include more or less information, these are the key details I’d include in this section.

Financials Business Plan Example

This balance sheet is a great example of level of detail you’ll need to include in the financials section of your business plan.

Business plans examples: Financials

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

  • Growth potential is important in this section too. Using your data, create a forecast of financial performance in the next three to five years.
  • Include any data that supports your projections to assure investors of the credibility of your proposal.
  • Add a break-even analysis to show that your business plan is financially practical. This information can also help you pivot quickly as your business grows.
  • Consider adding a section that reviews potential risks and how sensitive your plan is to changes in the market.
  • Triple-check all financial information in your plan for accuracy.
  • Show how any proposed funding needs align with your plans for growth.

As you create your business plan, keep in mind that each of these sections will be formatted differently. Some may be in paragraph format, while others could be charts or graphs.

The formats above apply to most types of business plans. That said, the format and structure of your plan will vary by your goals for that plan. 

So, I’ve added a quick review of different business plan types. For a more detailed overview, check out this post .

1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas.

If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business.

You can check out this guide for more detailed business plan inspiration .

2. Feasibility Studies

Feasibility business plans focus on that business's product or service. Feasibility plans are sometimes added to startup business plans. They can also be a new business plan for an already thriving organization.

3. Internal Use

You can use internal business plans to share goals, strategies, or performance updates with stakeholders. In my opinion, internal business plans are useful for alignment and building support for ambitious goals.

4. Strategic Initiatives

Another business plan that's often for sharing internally is a strategic business plan. This plan covers long-term business objectives that might not have been included in the startup business plan.

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

When a business is moving forward with an acquisition or repositioning, it may need extra structure and support. These types of business plans expand on a company's acquisition or repositioning strategy.

Growth sometimes just happens as a business continues operations. But more often, a business needs to create a structure with specific targets to meet set goals for expansion. This business plan type can help a business focus on short-term growth goals and align resources with those goals.

Now that you know what's included and how to format a business plan, let's review some of my favorite templates.

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

Download a free, editable one-page business plan template..

The business plan linked above was created here at HubSpot and is perfect for businesses of any size — no matter how many strategies we still have to develop.

Fields such as Company Description, Required Funding, and Implementation Timeline give this one-page business plan a framework for how to build your brand and what tasks to keep track of as you grow.

Then, as the business matures, you can expand on your original business plan with a new iteration of the above document.

Why I Like It

This one-page business plan is a fantastic choice for the new business owner who doesn’t have the time or resources to draft a full-blown business plan. It includes all the essential sections in an accessible, bullet-point-friendly format. That way, you can get the broad strokes down before honing in on the details.

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

We also created a business plan template for entrepreneurs.

The template is designed as a guide and checklist for starting your own business. You’ll learn what to include in each section of your business plan and how to do it.

There’s also a list for you to check off when you finish each section of your business plan.

Strong game plans help coaches win games and help businesses rocket to the top of their industries. So if you dedicate the time and effort required to write a workable and convincing business plan, you’ll boost your chances of success and even dominance in your market.

This business plan kit is essential for the budding entrepreneur who needs a more extensive document to share with investors and other stakeholders.

It not only includes sections for your executive summary, product line, market analysis, marketing plan, and sales plan, but it also offers hands-on guidance for filling out those sections.

3. LiveFlow’s Financial Planning Template with built-in automation

Sample Business Plan: LiveFLow

This free template from LiveFlow aims to make it easy for businesses to create a financial plan and track their progress on a monthly basis.

The P&L Budget versus Actual format allows users to track their revenue, cost of sales, operating expenses, operating profit margin, net profit, and more.

The summary dashboard aggregates all of the data put into the financial plan sheet and will automatically update when changes are made.

Instead of wasting hours manually importing your data to your spreadsheet, LiveFlow can also help you to automatically connect your accounting and banking data directly to your spreadsheet, so your numbers are always up-to-date.

With the dashboard, you can view your runway, cash balance, burn rate, gross margins, and other metrics. Having a simple way to track everything in one place will make it easier to complete the financials section of your business plan.

This is a fantastic template to track performance and alignment internally and to create a dependable process for documenting financial information across the business. It’s highly versatile and beginner-friendly.

It’s especially useful if you don’t have an accountant on the team. (I always recommend you do, but for new businesses, having one might not be possible.)

4. ThoughtCo’s Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: ThoughtCo.

One of the more financially oriented sample business plans in this list, BPlan’s free business plan template dedicates many of its pages to your business’s financial plan and financial statements.

After filling this business plan out, your company will truly understand its financial health and the steps you need to take to maintain or improve it.

I absolutely love this business plan template because of its ease-of-use and hands-on instructions (in addition to its finance-centric components). If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing an entire business plan, consider using this template to help you with the process.

6. Harvard Business Review’s "How to Write a Winning Business Plan"

Most sample business plans teach you what to include in your business plan, but this Harvard Business Review article will take your business plan to the next level — it teaches you the why and how behind writing a business plan.

With the guidance of Stanley Rich and Richard Gumpert, co-authors of " Business Plans That Win: Lessons From the MIT Enterprise Forum ", you'll learn how to write a convincing business plan that emphasizes the market demand for your product or service.

You’ll also learn the financial benefits investors can reap from putting money into your venture rather than trying to sell them on how great your product or service is.

This business plan guide focuses less on the individual parts of a business plan, and more on the overarching goal of writing one. For that reason, it’s one of my favorites to supplement any template you choose to use. Harvard Business Review’s guide is instrumental for both new and seasoned business owners.

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know writing a business plan is one of the most challenging first steps to starting a business.

Fortunately, with HubSpot's comprehensive guide to starting a business, you'll learn how to map out all the details by understanding what to include in your business plan and why it’s important to include them. The guide also fleshes out an entire sample business plan for you.

If you need further guidance on starting a business, HubSpot's guide can teach you how to make your business legal, choose and register your business name, and fund your business. It will also give small business tax information and includes marketing, sales, and service tips.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of starting a business, in addition to writing your business plan, with a high level of exactitude and detail. So if you’re in the midst of starting your business, this is an excellent guide for you.

It also offers other resources you might need, such as market analysis templates.

8. Panda Doc’s Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Panda Doc

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

Once you fill it out, you’ll fully understand your business’ nitty-gritty details and how all of its moving parts should work together to contribute to its success.

This template has two things I love: comprehensiveness and in-depth instructions. Plus, it’s synced with PandaDoc’s e-signature software so that you and other stakeholders can sign it with ease. For that reason, I especially love it for those starting a business with a partner or with a board of directors.

9. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several free business plan templates that can be used to inspire your own plan.

Before you get started, you can decide what type of business plan you need — a traditional or lean start-up plan.

Then, you can review the format for both of those plans and view examples of what they might look like.

We love both of the SBA’s templates because of their versatility. You can choose between two options and use the existing content in the templates to flesh out your own plan. Plus, if needed, you can get a free business counselor to help you along the way.

I’ve compiled some completed business plan samples to help you get an idea of how to customize a plan for your business.

I chose different types of business plan ideas to expand your imagination. Some are extensive, while others are fairly simple.

Let’s take a look.

1. LiveFlow

business plan example: liveflow

One of the major business expenses is marketing. How you handle your marketing reflects your company’s revenue.

I included this business plan to show you how you can ensure your marketing team is aligned with your overall business plan to get results. The plan also shows you how to track even the smallest metrics of your campaigns, like ROI and payback periods instead of just focusing on big metrics like gross and revenue.

Fintech startup, LiveFlow, allows users to sync real-time data from its accounting services, payment platforms, and banks into custom reports. This eliminates the task of pulling reports together manually, saving teams time and helping automate workflows.

"Using this framework over a traditional marketing plan will help you set a profitable marketing strategy taking things like CAC, LTV, Payback period, and P&L into consideration," explains LiveFlow co-founder, Lasse Kalkar .

When it came to including marketing strategy in its business plan, LiveFlow created a separate marketing profit and loss statement (P&L) to track how well the company was doing with its marketing initiatives.

This is a great approach, allowing businesses to focus on where their marketing dollars are making the most impact. Having this information handy will enable you to build out your business plan’s marketing section with confidence. LiveFlow has shared the template here . You can test it for yourself.

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

Sometimes all you need is a solid mission statement and core values to guide you on how to go about everything. You do this by creating a business plan revolving around how to fulfill your statement best.

For example, Patagonia is an eco-friendly company, so their plan discusses how to make the best environmentally friendly products without causing harm.

A good mission statement  should not only resonate with consumers but should also serve as a core value compass for employees as well.

Patagonia has one of the most compelling mission statements I’ve seen:

"Together, let’s prioritise purpose over profit and protect this wondrous planet, our only home."

It reels you in from the start, and the environmentally friendly theme continues throughout the rest of the statement.

This mission goes on to explain that they are out to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to protect nature."

Their mission statement is compelling and detailed, with each section outlining how they will accomplish their goal.

4. Vesta Home Automation

business plan example: Vesta executive summary

This executive summary for a smart home device startup is part of a business plan created by students at Mount Royal University .

While it lacks some of the sleek visuals of the templates above, its executive summary does a great job of demonstrating how invested they are in the business.

Right away, they mention they’ve invested $200,000 into the company already, which shows investors they have skin in the game and aren’t just looking for someone else to foot the bill.

This is the kind of business plan you need when applying for business funds. It clearly illustrates the expected future of the company and how the business has been coming along over the years.

5. NALB Creative Center

business plan examples: nalb creative center

This fictional business plan for an art supply store includes everything one might need in a business plan: an executive summary, a company summary, a list of services, a market analysis summary, and more.

One of its most notable sections is its market analysis summary, which includes an overview of the population growth in the business’ target geographical area, as well as a breakdown of the types of potential customers they expect to welcome at the store. 

This sort of granular insight is essential for understanding and communicating your business’s growth potential. Plus, it lays a strong foundation for creating relevant and useful buyer personas .

It’s essential to keep this information up-to-date as your market and target buyer changes. For that reason, you should carry out market research as often as possible to ensure that you’re targeting the correct audience and sharing accurate information with your investors.

Due to its comprehensiveness, it’s an excellent example to follow if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store and need to get external funding to start your business .

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

If you’re looking for a SaaS business plan example, look no further than this business plan for a fictional educational software company called Curriculum Companion Suites. 

Like the business plan for the NALB Creative Center, it includes plenty of information for prospective investors and other key stakeholders in the business.

One of the most notable features of this business plan is the executive summary, which includes an overview of the product, market, and mission.

The first two are essential for software companies because the product offering is so often at the forefront of the company’s strategy. Without that information being immediately available to investors and executives, then you risk writing an unfocused business plan.

It’s essential to front-load your company’s mission if it explains your "Why?" and this example does just that. In other words, why do you do what you do, and why should stakeholders care? This is an important section to include if you feel that your mission will drive interest in the business and its offerings.

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

Culina's sample business plan is an excellent example of how to lay out your business plan so that it flows naturally, engages readers, and provides the critical information investors and stakeholders need. 

You can use this template as a guide while you're gathering important information for your own business plan. You'll have a better understanding of the data and research you need to do since Culina’s plan outlines these details so flawlessly for inspiration.

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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10 steps to the perfect business plan for your creative venture

The perfect business plan is your first step to success in the creative sector.

A notebook lies open on a desk with Business Plan written on one page

Writing the perfect business plan is one of the most important first steps to launch your own creative venture, but it can also be one of the most daunting. It's the first real stage in properly planning your venture, which can help make your dream design business feel a lot more real, but it can also be hard to know where to start. You might even be tempted to skip this step altogether, but would be a mistake.

The perfect business plan provides clarity and direction for your whole enterprise. It can help you raise cash from banks and or other investors, but even if you're not looking for that, it can help you home in on a gap in the market and work out how your design business will fill it (and turn a profit in the process).

So before you start looking at website wireframes, choosing a logo or shopping around for studio space, it's time to put pen to paper. Your plan should be focused, readable, and most importantly explain why your business will be a success. In the guide below, we'll look at the 10 traditional ingredients that any business plan should cover, with pointers on what to include in each. For more tips on setting up your creative venture, see our guide to how to start a design business and how to improve your graphic design skills .

The perfect business plan: what should it include?

There's no one layout or formula for the perfect business plan, but there are general conventions on what a business plan should include. Exactly how you write it will depend a little on who you're writing for – for example, if you aim to present it to a bank or other potential investors or just to serve as a guide for yourself and colleagues. 

The best business plans are usually fairly brief and keep things simple. They succinctly explain what you want to do, how you will get there and what you need to do to reach that goal. While there are no set rules, we'll look at the more traditional elements to include in your business plan below.

01. Write an executive summary

An executive summary essentially summarises your design business in a quick, succinct pitch. This is the part that investors or banks will read first so it needs to be concise and to the point; certainly no more than a couple of pages. Above all it needs to explain your business idea. 

The executive summary should include your company name and the reason you chose it, your mission statement, details of your product or service, and basic information about your company’s leadership team, employees, and location. You should also make sure you cover what makes your creative business different, who will you sell your services to and a list of short- and long-term goals. For example, where exactly do you see your business in five or so years?

You'll also want to include details on financial goals and growth plans, especially if you plan to seek investors. Set out the turnover you expect to make and the cash you think you'll have at the end of the first year; plus where you'll get money from (grants etc); and how much money you plan to invest yourself.

02. Compose an elevator pitch

An 'elevator pitch' is a much briefer summary of your business that serves to sell it to potential investors, or to clients, in few words. It should be possible to read an elevator pitch in under two minutes. The idea is that you could deliver it to any potential investor you might happen to cross in an elevator, but don't worry if that kind of meeting doesn't tend to happen to you; the pitch will still prove useful for understanding the real selling point of your future business. 

Your elevator pitch should include the name of your business, your mission, what your design business will do, who it will do that for and what makes it different. It should be direct, to the point and free from any kind of jargon or waffle.

03. Describe yourself (and any partners)

The next section in the perfect business plan should describe the people behind the business – that means you (and your partners if you have any). You should outline your experience and training, why you want to start your creative business and why you will make it a success. 

Do the same for every partner in the business and attach well-crafted résumés (see our guide to the perfect résumé for creatives ). The aim of this section is to show investors why you have the know-how to make your business successful, and also to allow you and your partners to take stock of your strengths and how you plan to use them.

04. Define your design business's offering

The next thing to include in the business plan for your design venture is to define the service that you're going to deliver. This should be more specific than you might first think because unless you're planning to launch a fully fledged agency, you're probably not going to be able to cover everything. Are you going to offer graphic design, motion design, web design, mobile, 3D? Are you going to cater to anyone and everyone or will you aim to serve a specific industry or niche?

Remember that any bank or other potential investor will probably know very little about the subject area, so try to describe exactly what the services will entail and what your business's output will be. Don't worry if it sounds patronising or overly simplified. You may know what motion graphics means, but will your bank manager? You should also mention here whether you plan to expand into other services in the future. So if you're starting in graphic design, are you planning to expand to offer full branding services?

05. Describe your clients

The perfect business plan doesn't only describe who you are and what your business will offer; it also offers a very clear description of your target customer. Where are they based? What needs do they have and how will you fulfil them? Asking these questions can be a good test of just how well you understand the client you're aiming at and may reveal a need to do more research. Be sure you really understand your target customer and there's more chance an investor will understand.

You need to describe your typical client and what makes them buy design services, whether you have worked with them before and whether you have any future jobs lined up already. Try to be as detailed as possible. If you've already worked for a specific client in some capacity (maybe in a freelance job) explain this here too since this demonstrates an ability to generate business.

06. Do a SWOT analysis

Remember that your customers aren't the only influence on your business. There are also competitors and the state of the economy as a whole. How big is the market you'll serve? How much is the market expected to grow in the future? Who will be your main competitors now and can you expect more competition in the future? These are some of the questions you'll need to answer in your market analysis. 

You should make a simple SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to define the opportunities and threats in your market and compare them to your business’s strengths and weaknesses. Draw up a list of competing businesses, both big and small. Analyses what they do well and what they do badly, and consider what will make your offering different. Opportunities are external factors that could make your business thrive (is the market changing? are clients demanding a certain kind of work that you do well?). Threats are the same but opposite (if you're an illustration studio and budgets dry up, what will you do?).

This research will help to define where there are gaps and where you need to focus (once you've done this, go back through your sections and make sure your business still seems relevant. Any market research you can do in the field (perhaps talking to past clients and getting their take on the market) can be included here as well).

07. Outline your marketing strategy

How are you going to reach potential customers? Word of mouth? Advertising? Promotional material? Social media? Your own website? This is a question that should ideally be answered after carrying out market research to find out how potential clients find and contract the services you'll be providing. 

Make sure the marketing strategy you define in your business plan outlines the expected costs for all of these things because, with the possible exception of word of mouth, they're far from free (see finance below).

08. Define your USP

Once you've carried out a SWOT analysis, including analysis of your competitors, you're ready to define your USP, or unique selling point. This is incredibly important to include this in your business plan. It sums up in a nutshell why a client choose your business over another creative business? So what will you do better? 

A USP is usually summed up in a single sentence; two at the most. This can be a challenge but the shorter the better since that will make it easier to focus on delivering it. 

09. Forecast your budgets

Now it's time to explain how you'll actually make money. Consider details such as how long you spend on projects and how you'll charge for this. If you'll have an hourly rate that state what that will be. You also need to say how you'll get paid (almost certainly on invoice).

You'll also need to define your costs here. This will be of great interest to any potential investors, so pay great attention to it. You'll need to outline both one-off costs such as the equipment you'll need to set up to regular outgoings such as staff, rent (explain where you'll be working from), software subscriptions, bills and insurance.

Calculate your total costs per month and other costs of running the business and define How much income you will need each month to realistically survive as a business, and how much you aim to make. A cash-flow forecast shows how much money will enter and leave your design business and will help identify whether you're going to be able to make things work financially. This can be a sobering moment. 

Be pessimistic and realistic. Don't assume you will be working flat out at your maximum rate from the start because it's unlikely that you'll achieve that. It’s better to underestimate how you'll perform and overachieve than the other way around. In this section, you also need to outline any financial needs you have for potential investors. In this case, outline the length of time your request will cover and give a detailed description of how you'll use the funds.

10. Make a backup plan

Finally, what if things don't work out. We've stressed the importance of taking the time to make the perfect business plan, but a plan is a plan and something things turn out differently. This is why it's important that you also have a back-up plan.

If things aren't working out, what will you change in the short or long term in order to turn things around. If you aren't making money, do you plans ready for what you could do to make the business more profitable? Could you sacrifice international clients/pitches for local ones? Could you employ freelancers as and when they are needed instead of hiring a junior designer full-time? Could you downsize your planned studio space or switch to a coworking space (See our guide to the world's coolest coworking spaces for inspiration).

There's a lot to think about when writing a business plan for a creative business, but with careful consideration, it can help you prepare for the undertaking ahead and keep you focused no matter what challenges you face. If you're passionate about making your business a success, writing your plan will be the first step on that path.

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How To Create The Perfect Business Plan In 12 Steps

A business plan is a step-by-step guide that helps a business owner outline an idea and how to take it from concept to reality. It also includes financial projections, which help business owners plan for the future.

To create the perfect business plan template, you must first understand what components are essential to a successful business. Next, you must map how your company will function in the next five years and its financial goal. 

The next step is to take all of this information and present it in a clear, concise  timeline template  that can be used as a guide for your business. So, let's get started! Here are 12 steps on how to create the perfect business plan.

Table of Contents

What Is A Business Plan?

What Is A Business Plan.png

The traditional business plan is a written document that outlines an organisation's strategy and goals. It is a plan the company presents to investors and potential stakeholders who want to join them in the business venture. It provides a roadmap for how the organisation intends to achieve those goals and serves as the company's foundation.

A well-crafted business plan encompasses an executive summary, product or service overview, market analysis, competitive analysis, and financial projections. To ensure success, businesses create objectives around key performance indicators that are measurable, actionable, and aligned with the company's core values. 

Additionally, developing and adhering to concise action plans for meeting milestones can help companies keep on track from the project discovery phase  to reach their objectives promptly. In short, the purpose of a traditional business plan is to lay the foundation for the creation of any business enterprise.

Primary Purposes Of A Business Plan

A business plan helps keep businesses on track toward achieving their strategic goals in an agile manner while aligning them with changing customer preferences and emerging technologies. The primary purposes of business planning are:

  • First and foremost, it is a tool for decision-making for potential investors, lenders, and stakeholders. Essentially, the plan acts as a set of guidelines that provide insight into the key elements that define a newly established or existing business, such as policies, staffing needs, marketing efforts, objectives, financial allocations, etc.
  • It analyses entrepreneurs' overly optimistic assumptions regarding long-term strategies and future economic scenarios.
  • The plan is an incentive to constantly review these decisions and ensure they are up-to-date with current market trends .

12 Steps To Create The Perfect Business Plan

Every great business starts with a well-crafted plan. But what goes into a good business idea? Here are some key components:

1 – Chose A Business Plan Format 

Before creating a traditional business plan template, it's essential to consider the format most beneficial. There are two commonly used approaches: the simple business plan, aka lean startup business plan and the traditional one.

The lean startup business plan may be suitable for those businesses that need to make decisions quickly and take action without needing in-depth detail. On the other hand, traditional plans contain more comprehensive information on every aspect of your business, such as a specific description of products or services offered and detailed financial statements, which makes them ideal for presenting to potential investors. 

So, deciding which format is best for you can guide each step of your overall approach toward constructing an effective business plan template .

2 – Create An Executive Summary

Business Plan Template Executive Summary

Once you've researched and discovered vital components to creating a successful business plan, it is essential to summarise these elements to present an executive summary. This section provides an overview of your entire business plan and should include your company's mission statement, vision, values, goals, and objectives. It should also provide an overview of your team, products or services, target market, competitive landscape, and growth strategy.

Moreover, an executive summary highlights your business's specific goals and objectives and what will be necessary for their realisation. In addition, this short section is designed to emphasise any innovative approaches or solutions that make your plan stand out from the competition.

Furthermore, the executive summary should also include a brief overview of your financial projections. This allows potential investors or stakeholders to understand the benefits of supporting your venture. Once this part of your business plan template is complete, you can move on to other steps necessary for launching a successful enterprise.

3 – Include the Company Description

Creating a comprehensive business description is the third step to crafting the perfect business plan. This section should include key details about the company and what it does, such as:

  • Organisational structure
  • The legal form of ownership
  • Information about founders and key figures
  • Information about the founders
  • Mission and vision statement
  • Current status of your company in terms of revenues and employees
  • Financial investments that have been made to date
  • Listing of corporate goals and objectives
  • How your products or services differ from other businesses in its industry while also expressing what sets your product or service apart from competitors

Moreover, As staffing needs inevitably change over time, providing a headcount overview in the company description is an effective way of recording critical information for future business growth . Once you have included all relevant data in your company description, potential investors can make well-informed decisions based on their understanding of your business operations.

4 – Conduct A Market Analysis

What Is A Market Analysis

The next step in creating the perfect business plan template is to conduct a market analysis. This requires thoroughly examining the external factors that influence and shape a company. Such factors include the industry environment, competitors, customer preferences, and demographic and economic trends.

A target market analysis helps to determine a company's competitive edge to craft strategies that will allow it to stay ahead of its competitors. In addition, this step enables businesses to identify potential buyers whom they can target more effectively through their marketing campaigns . 

Ultimately, conducting an in-depth target market analysis ensures that companies can make well-informed decisions regarding developing their products and services.

5 – Evaluate Your Competition

In this critical section, you must evaluate your competition with B2B data lists and supporting research. And describe who your main competitors are in the space. This includes researching the direct and indirect competitors in the industry, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and analysing how they are positioned against each other.

This allows you to strategically differentiate your product or service from competitors to create an attractive value proposition for customers. Furthermore, by conducting competitor analysis regularly, businesses can stay informed of any changes in the marketplace and adjust their strategies accordingly. 

This will result in more innovative ways of positioning oneself competitively to attract potential customers and gain a competitive edge over rivals.

6 – Explain Your Service Or Product Line

Restaurant Marketing Usp Guide

This step is critical when preparing a plan as it gives potential investors, lenders, and customers all the necessary information about your company's offerings. In this section, you will describe your products or services, including features, benefits, value, and proposition. 

It should also include pricing information, if applicable. Clearly outline the product's features, pricing, relevant details, and any advantages your services offer over the competition.

A thorough explanation of each product line should also include all the necessary specifications, such as material costs, production methods, and expected timeline for completion. Furthermore, be sure to explain how each offering fits into the overall mission of your business, as well as why it will be beneficial in helping you achieve success.

7 – Describe Marketing And Sales Strategies

The next step in writing a business plan is thoroughly describing your product or service's marketing and sales strategies. You must explain who the target market is, what messages have been created for them, and how they will be delivered. 

Additionally, you need to show how sales will be managed, including forecasting sales, pricing strategies, and how you will service customers. Investing the time in detailing your marketing and sales strategies can make a huge difference in whether or not your business proposal receives the funding it needs. 

You must provide the following:

  • Thorough research.
  • Refined messaging and thoughtful price structures.
  • Plans for delivering exceptional customer service.

8 – Outline Funding Requirements

Constructing a perfect plan involves outlining the necessary funding requirements. Understanding the total amount of capital needed and the sources it could come from is vital. 

These may include investments from owners, directors, shareholders, and lenders, government-funded grants, or other forms of financial assistance. Knowing exactly which types of capital you need and where it should come from will make all the difference in evaluating your business plan's success. 

With detailed funding information specified in advance, you can be sure your perfect plan has considered every aspect of capital needs for the future.

9 – Create Financial Projections

Business Plans Financial Projection

Creating financial projections is easily the most challenging when you write a business plan. This step touches on a few different areas, including a balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and cash flow statement. 

Each of these can be daunting to compile, but measuring a business's success over time is imperative. To complete this step accurately, you must evaluate your organisation's current position financially and understand all potential future costs of goods sold and the variance between anticipated expenditures and actual expenses. 

Completing this step properly can give any plan holder excellent insight into how well your business operates throughout its lifespan.

10 – List Customer Segments

Identifying customer segments is an essential step in writing a perfect business plan. Differentiating customers into various segments allows for more focused and targeted marketing for each specific group. Additionally, it helps outline a product pricing structure that considers the different needs of each segment.

When segregating customer segments to create tailored solutions, it is also essential to consider geographic differentiation, distribution channels, and age demographics. All these efforts will prove vital for developing a successful business plan.

11 – Detail Operation Strategies

How To Create A Marketing Plan Outline

Creating detailed operation strategies before beginning is essential to ensure all components are complete. This step allows for identifying any possible discrepancies in the plan's layout. Additionally, this section includes delving into all financial aspects and knowing how the actions of specific departments impact others.

Companies should also remember that running a successful business relies on devising practical performance standards, procedures, and processes. To compile a comprehensive plan, you must closely examine all areas of your company's operations while creating an organised yet insightful structure. 

Proving all relevant data collected can support the outlined goals. Crafting these strategies carefully will achieve unparalleled success in various business endeavours or projects.

12 – Create An Appendix

Constructing an appendix for a business plan is a great way to supplement the data in the plan's body. In essence, an appendix serves as a helpful reference tool that will provide additional information that can be beneficial to understanding the complete picture. 

It's also essential for clarifying and corroborating any insights turned up throughout the research stages of developing a business plan. Commonly filed items in the appendix include organisational charts, licenses, resumes and biographies for crucial personnel, supporting documents such as letters of intent or reference, patents, and product specifications. 

Allowing more room for comprehensive study, including an appendix when writing a business plan, will make it stand out from competitors and potentially increase investors' interest level.

Avoid These Common Mistakes When Writing A Business Plan 

Writing a business plan is no small task. It requires time, research, and strategic planning to cover all the bases necessary for success. It would help if you got it right the first time with so much on the line.

To help you with writing, we've compiled a list of five common mistakes you should avoid when writing your business plan. 

Beware Of Boring Business Ideas

One of the most important aspects of any business plan is its concept. If your business idea is innovative and marketable, it will survive today's competitive landscape. 

Before investing too much time and energy into writing a plan, ensure your concept is unique and feasible and has the potential for long-term success. 

No Exit Strategy

You should include a well-thought-out exit strategy in every business plan. An exit strategy outlines how and when you intend to leave your business if things don't work out as planned. 

This could involve selling to another entrepreneur, liquidating your assets, and closing the shop. Whatever the case, having an exit strategy will save you from costly mistakes.

Inaccurate Financial Projections

Financial projections are a significant component of any successful business plan and must be taken seriously. If not done correctly, inaccurate financial projections can lead to unforeseen problems. 

Such as insufficient capitalisation or cash flow issues that could kill your project before it gets off the ground. To ensure accuracy in your projections, it's essential to consult with experienced professionals who specialise in this area before finalising anything in your plan.

Spelling And Grammar Errors

No matter how great an idea may be or how soundly constructed its financials are, spelling and grammar errors can immediately destroy its credibility. 

To avoid this pitfall, ensure all sections are thoroughly edited by yourself or an experienced editor before submitting them to potential investors or lenders.

Unbalanced Teams

The team behind any successful business is just as important as the idea itself. When forming your team to write a business plan, ensure everyone involved has skills and experience related to the project. 

This means filling roles such as marketing expert, financial analyst, operations manager, etc., depending on what kind of company you're starting up and its needs. 

Tips To Make A Standout Business Plan 

Business Plan Creator

As we know, a business plan is essential for any entrepreneur who wants to be successful in their venture. It outlines your goals, strategies, and resources to help you reach them.

The goal of a business plan should be to get potential investors interested in your project on board. And provide them with all the necessary information to make an informed decision. 

Writing a good business plan can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Here are practical tips to help you create a business plan that stands out from the rest: 

Know Your Audience

Before you start writing your business plan, you must understand your audience and what they expect from your business. 

Knowing this will help you tailor the content according to your plan so that it's geared toward the people reading it, making it more appealing and convincing.  

Have A Clear Goal

Having a clear goal will give your business plan a candid structure and ensure all aspects are focused on achieving that goal. 

It should clearly define what success looks like for you, whether it's getting funding or launching a new product line.

Invest Time In Research

Researching the industry, market trends, competitors, and potential partners is essential in creating an effective business plan. 

This research will help you make informed decisions and strategies throughout the process and ensure your plans are realistic and achievable based on current market conditions. 

Keep It Short & To The Point

Investors don't have time to read lengthy documents; they want concise information about why they should invest in your project quickly and easily. 

Keep things brief but still provide enough details for them to understand what makes your project unique and profitable. Make sure they remember you when considering potential investments.

Make It Easy To Read

Your business plan should be easily read with clear headings, section titles, and bulleted lists. 

It will ensure that they can quickly scan the document without reading through paragraphs of text, which can become tedious.

Keep Tone & Style Consistent

Consistency across both tone and style will help to keep them engaged. You don't want to confuse investors with conflicting styles throughout sections or pages.

So, use a consistent style and keep the tone formal. It will provide you with all the information they need quickly and effectively without getting distracted from critical points when reading your planning proposal.

Invest In Quality Design & Printing

A well-designed document with quality printing reflects professionalism, which can help build trust with investors. It will give the investors confidence that their money will be put to good use if they invest in projects like yours.

Use A Business Plan Software

Many software programs available online provide templates for creating professional-looking documents. As well as guidance on writing each section and including relevant financial information. They make it easier and faster than starting from scratch when creating an effective business plan. 

These programs also allow you access to editing capabilities at any point throughout the creation process, thus giving complete control over the final output before presenting the finished product. Venngage is wildly popular for providing useful templates to create your business plans with easy-to-use editors in no time. 

An effective business plan takes time, effort, research, planning, and design skills . Your business plan is a document that should grow and change as your business grows and changes. The most important parts of your business plan are your business goals and objectives. These are the foundation upon which you will build your research, company structure, marketing, and sales strategies. Keep these items in your mind as you develop your business plan.

Business Plans FAQs

What's the most important thing to consider when creating a business plan.

It would help if you always started with your purpose. You must figure out your purpose and why you are creating your business. Your business plan should answer these questions.

How do I write a business plan?

The first step to writing a business plan is to write down your purpose and goals. It would help if you decided who will be involved in your business and how you will operate.

How do I make sure my business plan is perfect?

You will want to write your business plan in the third person so it has a different voice than you. You also want to ensure that your business plan is easy to read.

What is the difference between a business plan and a mission statement?

A business plan is a document that describes your company, while a mission statement is a summary of what you stand for.

What should I include in my business plan?

You should include all of the information you have about your business. You should also include information about your company's history, employees, competitors, and plans.

What is the best way to get feedback on my business plan?

Getting feedback on your business plan from your lawyer, accountant, and other advisers would be best.

Is it possible to have too many goals in a business plan?

You may have too many goals, depending on how you plan to achieve them.

What should I consider when making decisions about a new business?

When starting a new business, you must consider your risk tolerance. It would be best to consider how much capital you have available.

How can I make my business plan more concise?

When writing your business plan, you can make it more concise by eliminating unnecessary information. You also can make your business plan more concise by using bullet points to summarise your information.

Author Bio:  Muhammad Aqeel is an experienced professional specialising in content creation. He has been working with Venngage Infographics, a leading graphic design platform. He is an expert in producing creative and engaging content on online tools and software.

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More From Forbes

How To Write A Basic Business Plan

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Creating a successful business starts with a strong plan. Regardless of your experience level, learning how to write a basic business plan is essential to mapping out your company's path to success. With a clearly defined plan, you can identify potential challenges, set goals, and create a roadmap for growth.

Business plans can be incredibly beneficial for entrepreneurs in any stage of their business venture. Whether you're just starting out or seeking funding to expand, a well-crafted business plan can serve as a roadmap for success. Not only does it provide direction for your business, but it can also help you identify potential roadblocks, set realistic goals, and track your progress over time.

A well-written business plan can help potential investors or lenders understand your business model , mission, and strategies, making it easier for them to provide the resources you need to grow your business. So, if you're looking for a tool to help ensure your business's success, consider crafting a comprehensive and engaging business plan.

Your business plan doesn't become obsolete once your business is up and running. In fact, your business plan can continue to guide your decision-making even after your doors are open. Your plan serves as a blueprint for success and can remind you of your original goals and objectives.

By referring back to your business plan, you can ensure that your decisions align with your overall mission and vision for your company. With a solid business plan in place, you can keep your business on track and ensure that you continue to achieve your goals as your business grows and evolves.

Deepfaked Celebrities Hawked A Massive Trump Scam On Facebook And YouTube

Jpmorgan ceo issues shock bitcoin reversal as 1 million price prediction is suddenly pulled forward, look out: upcoming android 14 update bricking google pixel phones, business plan basics.

At its core, a business plan is a written description of your company's future. It outlines what you plan to do and how you plan to do it.

Here is what you typically find in a basic business plan:

1. Executive Summary

A snapshot of your business plan as a whole, touching on your company’s profile, mission, and the main points of your plan. Think of it as an elevator pitch that presents your company's profile and core mission in a concise yet engaging manner.

2. Company Description

A more detailed look at your business goals, and what sets it apart in the marketplace. It is imperative to stand out from the competition to succeed, so list your differentiators and how you add value.

3. Market Analysis

It involves delving into your industry, identifying potential customers, and analyzing your competition to develop a strong understanding of the market. By garnering this knowledge, you can tailor your marketing and sales strategies to better meet the needs of your target audience.

4. Organization and Management

Your business's legal structure, organizational structure, and product or service life cycle. By keeping a close eye on your organization and management, you can ensure that your business is positioned for success in the long term.

5. Marketing and Sales Strategy

How you plan to attract and retain customers. It's not enough to simply offer a great product or service, you need to be able to effectively communicate your value proposition to your target audience.

6. Funding Request

If you are seeking funding, how much you need and what it will be used for. Securing funding can be a crucial component to kickstarting your business ventures.

7. Financial Projections

Projecting your profits, losses, and cash flow helps you plan in advance and make informed decisions. By crunching the numbers and analyzing past data, you can estimate future earnings and get a better understanding of your company's financial health.

8. Appendix

This is where you can include any additional information, such as resumes, permits, leases, and other legal documentation.

The bottom line is that a well-crafted business plan not only provides direction and structure but also helps you articulate your vision and goals. With a clear understanding of your target audience, competition, and financial projections, you're better equipped to make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of running a business. Ultimately, a business plan is an investment in your success, and it's essential for building a viable business.

Melissa Houston, CPA is the author of Cash Confident: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating a Profitable Business . She is the founder of She Means Profit, which is a podcast and blog . As a Finance Strategist for small business owners, Melissa helps successful business owners increase their profit margins so that they keep more money in their pocket and increase their net worth.

The opinions expressed in this article are not intended to replace any professional or expert accounting and/or tax advice whatsoever.

Melissa Houston

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how to make a perfect business plan

How to create a business plan

WF Marketing

WF Marketing

  • December 7, 2022

Introduction

Most young entrepreneurs will have great ideas. But when it comes to the question of How to create a business plan, most of them go blank. An idea will work out only when it is converted into an actionable plan. In entrepreneurship, having a clear business plan will help the entrepreneur pitch their business to potential investors . Venture capitalists, and investors, will have the confidence to invest their money depending upon the idea, how the plan is etched out, and the clarity in risk handling and mitigation. A clear business plan will help the entrepreneur have a stable start. Further, while the company/start-up moves into the next consecutive years, the growth can be analysed meticulously. In the subsequent years, the company will grow in a sustainable manner without any confusion.

Why do you need a business plan:

a.      Business plans are structured maps to drive your business ahead.

b.      They help you provide a direction to your idea and how to grow it.

c.      A written business plan will help you get the attention of potential investors and gain their confidence to invest more in your idea.

d.      Banks and loaning institutions will have a solid base considering which they can release the funding.

e.      Sketching out a clear business plan will help entrepreneurs to understand where there are gaps in resources.

f.       The entrepreneur will plan to fall back and re-iterate where the hiccup or issue happened.

As an entrepreneur, you may have various ideas for starting a business . The first step in creating a perfect business plan is to stick to one idea. As Jane Hamill once said,

“Multiple creative ideas can be the kiss of death for an entrepreneur. It’s time to choose.”

Choose one idea and create a business plan. Let us delve into how to create a business plan effectively.

Steps for creating a business plan

1.     Write an executive summary.

Write an executive summary | Create a business plan

An executive summary is an overview of what your business is about. It provides all the critical details, making it easy for the investors to get an insight into what you’ve achieved to date. Mostly the executive summary will be one page only. In simple words, the executive summary is like an abstract of a 2000-word essay.

2.      Describe Your Company — Its Business, Goals and Objectives

Describe Your Company — Its Business, Goals and Objectives | Developing  business plan

The next step is to open the 2000-word essay. Concisely write down what your business is about, its inspiration, the objective of why this product or service is in the industry as a business, which problem it solves, and the short-term and long-term goals. Remember, if you are meeting a VC or investor, add something that brings value to them if they invest.

3.     Describe your products and services

Describe your products and services | Developing a business plan

A business should have a product or a service in exchange for money. So, explain your products/services, their features, their advantages, and your target audience. Explain the scope of development of the products/services that show your potential investors/bank to get an insight into your long-term planning.

4.     Analyse Your Market and Determine Your Marketing Strategy

Analyse Your Market and Determine Your Marketing Strategy | How to create a business plan

As an entrepreneur, you have explained your business and the products. The next step is one of the crucial steps, place your business in the market. An in-depth analysis of the market, your competitors, and your peers are very important. It will help you devise a clear marketing strategy . Always have a plan A, B or how much ever backups as a marketing strategy. Never depend upon one channel for your marketing needs.

5.     Describe Your Management Organisation

Describe Your Management Organisation | How to create a business plan

Preparing an executive summary, defining your business goals, detailing your products, positioning your company in the market, and determining the marketing strategies that come under external business plans. The internal business plan describes your management organisation, business financials, and team structure.

Describe how your organisation tree will grow as a first step in creating an internal business plan. Elucidate the major points of growth and work distribution. The employees’ duties and responsibilities must be sketched.

6.     Compile your business financials

Compile your business financials | Developing a business plan

Financials- Another vital aspect of your business plan. Business financials denotes the inflow and outflow of money. The start-up’s current resources and how the new incoming fund will be utilised. In short, budgeting for your business and the usage of the monetary resources are the business financials.

7.     Consult a business consultant

Consult a business consultant | How to create business plan

Although, as an entrepreneur, one person can effectively do all the above-mentioned works, it is vital for them to consult a business consultant. Business consultants are a group of experienced business leaders who can mentor young entrepreneurs for the effective growth of the business.

Wadhwani group , one of the best growth incubators for new businesses, holds regular workshops and programs for the entrepreneur’s benefit. The Foundation helps new-generation entrepreneurs to help have a hold in the business field with automated diagnostic tools, providing training to pitch their ideas to VC and investors and help them gain sustainable growth.  To learn more about our growth incubator programs, click here .

Apply today:

https://entrepreneur.wfglobal.org/wen-ignite/ (For those in later years of the graduate program/ PG students/ working professionals/ pre-incubatees having a validated idea to launch a venture)

From Efficiency to Innovation: How Artificial Intelligence is Revolutionizing Entrepreneurship 

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I'm a dietitian who used to work at Trader Joe's. Here are 10 easy meal ideas using products from the chain.

  • As a dietitian who used to work at Trader Joe's , I have a few favorite ingredients from the store.
  • The Mandarin-orange chicken, voted a Trader Joe's fan-favorite , makes for a great weeknight meal.
  • A burrito with chips was my go-to lunch when I worked at the store and is still one of my staples.

Insider Today

I'm a dietitian and former Trader Joe's employee who loves creating meals out of simple ingredients.

Here are 10 easy meal ideas using products from Trader Joe's .

This sweet-potato gnocchi with spinach and sausage is both sweet and savory.

how to make a perfect business plan

This meal takes 10 minutes to come together and it's truly satisfying.

To make, just follow the instructions on the back of the gnocchi bag, then add in some precooked cut-up chicken sausage and a handful of spinach. Let the spinach wilt and top with grated Parmesan for some added fat and flavor.

I love how the sweetness from the sweet-potato gnocchi contrasts with the savory garlic chicken sausage.

I view meals from a gentle-nutrition standpoint, which is about choosing foods that satisfy your cravings while still honoring your health. 

From that perspective, this meal is completely optimized as it includes all the macronutrients : carbohydrates (gnocchi), protein (chicken sausage), fat (chicken sausage and cheese), and fiber (sautéed spinach).

Create an optimized meal with burgers and sweet-potato fries.

how to make a perfect business plan

Diet culture often deems burgers and fries as "junk food," but as an intuitive-eating dietitian, I help my clients remove the moral value of food. A burger is not morally inferior to a salad.

They are both just foods that offer different amounts of micro and macronutrients. In fact, a burger can actually be an optimized and satisfying meal. This meal includes all the macronutrients — carbohydrates (bun), protein (burger), fat (cheese), and fiber (arugula and onions).

Most of the time, I enjoy my burger with Trader Joe's frozen sweet-potato fries on the side, but sometimes, I find my body is craving more roughage and I prefer a salad on the side instead. 

There's a reason burritos with chips and salsa were my go-to lunch.

how to make a perfect business plan

When I was working at Trader Joe's, I'd often eat this exact meal on my lunch break. It has lots of staying power, so I'm full and energized for a long time .

The bean-and-cheese burrito is an optimized meal on its own as it has carbohydrates (tortilla), protein and fiber (beans), and fat (cheese). From a gentle-nutrition perspective, the burrito would be filling by itself, but I find that it doesn't actually satisfy me unless I add something.

It's important to remember that being full means your body got enough energy and nourishment from the meal, though being satisfied means the dish was fulfilling on an emotional and sensory level. If you don't consider your satisfaction, you'll find yourself still searching for more at the end of the meal, even if you're full.

To increase the satisfaction of this eating experience, I add some crunchy tortilla chips and salsa, and sometimes avocado slices.

Spaghetti, meatballs, and green beans can be a deeply comforting meal.

how to make a perfect business plan

As an intuitive eater, I ask myself what I can add to a meal to increase the satisfaction of the eating experience. In this case, I like incorporating a vegetable to contribute some freshness and contrast the rich flavors of the pasta and sauce.

Adding a vegetable also gives this meal a little more fiber, which helps to slow the absorption of the food into your bloodstream, allowing you to extract more nutrients and feel full for longer. I also like adding grated Parmesan for extra fat.

Although diet culture has taught many of us to fear fat, our bodies need it for several reasons, such as providing the body with energy and supporting cell function.

Plus, fat contributes to the satisfaction of an eating experience. This meal has carbohydrates (pasta), protein (meatballs), fat (meatballs and cheese), and fiber (green beans).

Soyaki tofu with rice and broccoli is perfect for busy weeknights.

how to make a perfect business plan

For this dish, I typically let the tofu drain for at least 30 minutes to help get some of the water out so that it easily crisps in the pan.

In a pan, heat up a bit of oil and brown your tofu on both sides. Then add your sauce — the Soyaki from Trader Joe's pairs well. Once the sauce thickens and your tofu pieces are coated in it, it's ready to serve.

This microwave rice only takes three minutes to cook, making it perfect for busy weeknights . You can also roast fresh or frozen broccoli in the pan or sauté it on the stovetop.

This meal covers carbohydrates (rice), protein (tofu), and fiber (broccoli) and has a little fat from the oil that the tofu is fried in. You could also add a drizzle of sesame oil or some avocado slices to increase the fat content and satisfaction of this meal.

Frozen pizza with salad is an incredibly simple dish to prepare.

how to make a perfect business plan

When I lived in the diet mindset, I'd force myself to eat a salad with pizza because it made me feel less guilty. Since becoming an intuitive eater, I've realized I actually enjoy the experience of eating pizza and salad together.

I love how the fresh greens contrast the richness of the cheese and dough and how the crunchy, hydrating mouthfeel of the lettuce goes along with the salty pizza.

The fiber from the salad gives this meal more staying power, keeping you fuller for longer. The pizza contributes carbohydrates (dough) and fat and protein (cheese).

The best part about this meal is that it couldn't be simpler to prepare — all you have to do is pop the pizza in the oven and mix the salad-kit components in a bowl.

Goat-cheese-and-sun-dried-tomato ravioli make for a satisfying meal.

how to make a perfect business plan

After working at Trader Joe's for three years, I can confidently say I've tried most items in the store, but I only recently felt called to try its many ravioli options . Turns out these ravioli are delicious and so easy to cook — they quickly became a part of my weeknight meal rotation.

These ravioli offer carbohydrates (pasta) and some protein and fat (cheese filling). Texturally, it would be a little boring to eat a plain bowl of ravioli. I add sun-dried tomatoes, goat-cheese crumbles, and fresh arugula to make the meal more satisfying.

The sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese compliment the flavors in the ravioli nicely while also adding unique textures. The arugula adds an element of freshness to contrast the more decadent pasta components.

Mac and cheese with broccoli and chicken sausage is a delicious and filling option.

how to make a perfect business plan

People are often surprised when they find out that I am a registered dietitian who eats boxed mac and cheese , but there is nothing wrong with consuming a packaged meal like this. The guilt that diet culture inflicts on you for consuming packaged or "processed foods" can be worse for your health than any food will ever be.

When you experience guilt, your body goes into a stress response that increases your cortisol levels. If you are chronically feeling guilt or stress about your food choices, then your cortisol levels will be high, which can lead to various negative health outcomes, like blood pressure and fatigue .

I love pairing this mac and cheese with some steamed or roasted broccoli because their heads soak up the cheese sauce like little sponges, which I find texturally appealing.

Adding broccoli and chicken sausage gives the meal more fiber and protein, which optimizes the staying power of the meal.

Trader Joe's Mandarin-orange chicken is high quality and easy to prepare.

how to make a perfect business plan

Trader Joe's frozen Mandarin chicken has been voted the favorite product from the store for years , and I can see why.

It tastes like it could be from a restaurant  and it's so easy to whip up on your own. I love how the tangy orange sauce coats the rice and broccoli when I mix it all up.

This meal hits all the macronutrients, making it an optimized eating experience — carbohydrates (rice), protein (chicken) fat (chicken and oil it's fried in), and fiber (broccoli).

Explore seemingly endless topping options with these chicken-shawarma pitas.

how to make a perfect business plan

Even though I've eaten meat for years, it sometimes feels intimidating to cook it at home. Luckily, preparing this chicken shawarma is so straightforward because the package says exactly how long to bake it in the oven. 

I love this chicken shawarma because it's already seasoned to perfection. I like to serve it shredded in a pita pocket with tons of toppings and sauces. I could see this going well with fresh onion, bell peppers, cucumbers, shredded romaine, tomatoes, feta, a drizzle of tahini, a scoop of hummus , olives, pickled cabbage, or tzatziki.

This meal is also optimized — carbohydrates (pita), protein (chicken), fat (feta, tahini, and olives), and fiber (fresh vegetables). 

Click to keep reading Trader Joe's diaries like this one .

how to make a perfect business plan

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The Billionaires’ Secret Plan to Solve California’s Housing Crisis

A company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars buying land in the bay area in the hopes of building a new city..

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For years, a mysterious company has been buying farmland on the outskirts of Silicon Valley, eventually putting together a plot twice the size of San Francisco.

At every step, those behind the company kept their plans for the land shrouded in secrecy. Conor Dougherty, an economics reporter at The Times, figured out what they were up to.

On today’s episode

how to make a perfect business plan

Conor Dougherty , an economics reporter for The New York Times.

On a cloudy day, a man and a women are walking through a field with red barns in the background.

Background reading

Tech industry investors spent roughly $900 million buying land to build a dream city in a rural part of the Bay Area.

In Solano County, Calif., a who’s who of tech money is trying to build a city from the ground up. But some of the locals whose families have been there for generations don’t want to sell the land .

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IMAGES

  1. How to Write the Perfect Business Plan (10 Steps)

    how to make a perfect business plan

  2. How to Create the Perfect Business Plan Infographic

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  3. 5 Tips For A Strong Business Plan

    how to make a perfect business plan

  4. Tips to Know About How To Compile The Perfect Business Plan?

    how to make a perfect business plan

  5. Simple Business Plan Template For Startup Founders

    how to make a perfect business plan

  6. 10 steps to build the perfect business plan

    how to make a perfect business plan

COMMENTS

  1. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    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 ...

  2. How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

    Determine how you can best reach potential customers. Evaluate your competition. Your marketing plan must set you apart from your competition, and you can't stand out unless you know your ...

  3. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Download a free one-page plan template to write a useful business plan in as little as 30-minutes. Explore over 500 real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries. Try the business planning and growth tool trusted by over 1-million business owners.

  4. How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: 10 Essential Steps

    10 Steps To Creating A Comprehensive Business Plan. While not every business plan is the same, there are a few key steps you should take to create an effective and comprehensive document: ‍. 1. Create an executive summary. Think of an executive summary as your company's elevator pitch in written form.

  5. How To Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (2024)

    Keep the tone, style, and voice consistent. This is best managed by having a single person write the plan or by allowing time for the plan to be properly edited before distributing it. 6. Use a business plan template. You can also use a free business plan template to provide a skeleton for writing a plan.

  6. Business Plan: What it Is, How to Write One

    Learn about the best business plan software. 1. Write an executive summary. This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your ...

  7. How to Write a Perfect Business Plan: Step-By-Step Guide

    Start creating an executive summary. The first step in making a good business plan is writing an executive summary. Think of an executive summary as your company's elevator pitch in writing. You'll want to keep it short but still get across the important parts of your business.

  8. How To Write A Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

    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.

  9. How to Write a Business Plan: Beginner's Guide (& Templates)

    Step #3: Conduct Your Market Analysis. Step #4: Research Your Competition. Step #5: Outline Your Products or Services. Step #6: Summarize Your Financial Plan. Step #7: Determine Your Marketing Strategy. Step #8: Showcase Your Organizational Chart. 14 Business Plan Templates to Help You Get Started.

  10. The Perfect Business Plan

    A business plan is a roadmap for your business that clarifies your ideas, discovers and solves problems, guides you as you grow and gets feedback from others. Learn how to write a perfect business plan with 10 steps, from executive summary to financial plan, using Xero's free business plan template.

  11. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    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.

  12. How to Write a Business Plan (Step-By-Step Guide)

    Your balance sheet offers a look at how much equity you have in your business. On one side, you list all your business assets (what you own) and, on the other side, all your liabilities (what you owe). This provides a snapshot of your business's shareholder equity, which is calculated as. Assets - Liabilities = Equity.

  13. How to Write a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

    Provide a breakdown of costs per unit made/sold, life cycle, and expected profit margins. Explain your supply chain, order fulfillment, and sales strategy. Include your plans for intellectual property, like trademarks and patents. Your product and service description brings you to those who matter most.

  14. How to create a business plan: A complete guide to writing your company

    In a paragraph or two explain what you want to achieve as a business. This needs to be a realistic aim that investors can get behind and your team members can work towards. The SMART goals method can help you to ensure your goals are practical. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

  15. Business Plan 101: Preparing the Perfect Business Plan

    Our business plan consultants have developed more than 4,000 perfect and simple business plan templates for a diverse array of companies who have gone on to raise more than $2.5 billion. Our clients, early stage and middle market companies, just like yours, are engaged in every type of business, from building boutique hotels to wifi-hotspots. ...

  16. How to write an effective business plan

    Not updating your business plan: After you write a business plan, the world will continue to change. Your industry, market and customer base will evolve — and so should your business plan.

  17. 10-part business plan template and how write a business plan

    Once you've got your audience in mind, you can start your business plan, which should include: 1. Executive summary. Even though it appears first in the official plan, write this section last so you can condense essential ideas from the other nine sections. For now, leave it as a placeholder.

  18. How to Write a Great Business Plan: Key Concepts

    Lending naturally involves risk, and a great business plan can help lenders understand and quantity that risk, increasing your chances for approval. 2. Potential partners and investors. Where ...

  19. 24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

    This is a fantastic template for an existing business that's strategically shifting directions. If your company has been around for a while, and you're looking to improve your bottom line or revitalize your strategy, this is an excellent template to use and follow. 5. BPlan's Free Business Plan Template.

  20. 12 steps to the perfect business plan

    01. Write an executive summary. An executive summary essentially summarises your design business in a quick, succinct pitch. This is the part that investors or banks will read first so it needs to be concise and to the point; certainly no more than a couple of pages. Above all it needs to explain your business idea.

  21. How To Create The Perfect Business Plan In 12 Steps

    4 - Conduct A Market Analysis. The next step in creating the perfect business plan template is to conduct a market analysis. This requires thoroughly examining the external factors that influence and shape a company. Such factors include the industry environment, competitors, customer preferences, and demographic and economic trends.

  22. How To Write A Basic Business Plan

    Here is what you typically find in a basic business plan: 1. Executive Summary. A snapshot of your business plan as a whole, touching on your company's profile, mission, and the main points of ...

  23. How to Write a Business Plan

    The financial projections you include in your business plan should be based on realistic assumptions. Investors will be more likely to trust a business plan that's based on realistic projections. Get Feedback. Before finalizing your business plan, it can be helpful to get feedback from others. Be it from friends, family, or business mentors ...

  24. How to Create a Business Plan Presentation [Plus Templates]

    Pick and choose any and all of the slides you need to use in your business plan presentation. You can also bring in slides that you've previously saved to your slide library to help customize your presentation even further. 3. Customize the Template. Lastly, customize your template's font and color.

  25. How to create a business plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Let us delve into how to create a business plan effectively. Steps for creating a business plan. 1. Write an executive summary. An executive summary is an overview of what your business is about. It provides all the critical details, making it easy for the investors to get an insight into what you've achieved to date.

  26. Dietitian/former Trader Joe's Employee Shares Grocery List, Meal Plan

    To make, just follow the instructions on the back of the gnocchi bag, then add in some precooked cut-up chicken sausage and a handful of spinach. Let the spinach wilt and top with grated Parmesan ...

  27. The Billionaires' Secret Plan to Solve California's Housing Crisis

    Background reading. Tech industry investors spent roughly $900 million buying land to build a dream city in a rural part of the Bay Area.. In Solano County, Calif., a who's who of tech money is ...