How To Write A Business Plan (2023 Guide)
Updated: Aug 20, 2022, 2:21am
Table of Contents
Brainstorm an executive summary, create a company description, brainstorm your business goals, describe your services or products, conduct market research, create financial plans, bottom line, frequently asked questions.
Every business starts with a vision, which is distilled and communicated through a business plan. In addition to your high-level hopes and dreams, a strong business plan outlines short-term and long-term goals, budget and whatever else you might need to get started. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to write a business plan that you can stick to and help guide your operations as you get started.
Drafting the Summary
An executive summary is an extremely important first step in your business. You have to be able to put the basic facts of your business in an elevator pitch-style sentence to grab investors’ attention and keep their interest. This should communicate your business’s name, what the products or services you’re selling are and what marketplace you’re entering.
Ask for Help
When drafting the executive summary, you should have a few different options. Enlist a few thought partners to review your executive summary possibilities to determine which one is best.
After you have the executive summary in place, you can work on the company description, which contains more specific information. In the description, you’ll need to include your business’s registered name , your business address and any key employees involved in the business.
The business description should also include the structure of your business, such as sole proprietorship , limited liability company (LLC) , partnership or corporation. This is the time to specify how much of an ownership stake everyone has in the company. Finally, include a section that outlines the history of the company and how it has evolved over time.
Wherever you are on the business journey, you return to your goals and assess where you are in meeting your in-progress targets and setting new goals to work toward.
Goals can cover a variety of sections of your business. Financial and profit goals are a given for when you’re establishing your business, but there are other goals to take into account as well with regard to brand awareness and growth. For example, you might want to hit a certain number of followers across social channels or raise your engagement rates.
Another goal could be to attract new investors or find grants if you’re a nonprofit business. If you’re looking to grow, you’ll want to set revenue targets to make that happen as well.
Goals unrelated to traceable numbers are important as well. These can include seeing your business’s advertisement reach the general public or receiving a terrific client review. These goals are important for the direction you take your business and the direction you want it to go in the future.
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 in the current market or are providing something necessary or entirely new. If you have any patents or trademarks, this is where you can include those too.
If you have any visual aids, they should be included here as well. This would also be a good place to include pricing strategy and explain your materials.
This is the part of the business plan where you can explain your expertise and different approach in greater depth. Show how what you’re offering is vital to the market and fills an important gap.
You can also situate your business in your industry and compare it to other ones and how you have a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Other than financial goals, you want to have a budget and set your planned weekly, monthly and annual spending. There are several different costs to consider, such as operational costs.
Business Operations Costs
Rent for your business is the first big cost to factor into your budget. If your business is remote, the cost that replaces rent will be the software that maintains your virtual operations.
Marketing and sales costs should be next on your list. Devoting money to making sure people know about your business is as important as making sure it functions.
Although you can’t anticipate disasters, there are likely to be unanticipated costs that come up at some point in your business’s existence. It’s important to factor these possible costs into your financial plans so you’re not caught totally unaware.
Business plans are important for businesses of all sizes so that you can define where your business is and where you want it to go. Growing your business requires a vision, and giving yourself a roadmap in the form of a business plan will set you up for success.
How do I write a simple business plan?
When you’re working on a business plan, make sure you have as much information as possible so that you can simplify it to the most relevant information. A simple business plan still needs all of the parts included in this article, but you can be very clear and direct.
What are some common mistakes in a business plan?
The most common mistakes in a business plan are common writing issues like grammar errors or misspellings. It’s important to be clear in your sentence structure and proofread your business plan before sending it to any investors or partners.
What basic items should be included in a business plan?
When writing out a business plan, you want to make sure that you cover everything related to your concept for the business, an analysis of the industry―including potential customers and an overview of the market for your goods or services―how you plan to execute your vision for the business, how you plan to grow the business if it becomes successful and all financial data around the business, including current cash on hand, potential investors and budget plans for the next few years.
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Business plan templates
From competitive analysis to financial projections, business plans give your new business a roadmap for success. Download one of our free business plan templates and take your company to the next level.
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Startup Business Plan Template
We offer you the steps and the tools to create a fantastic business plan. Attract investors with this sleek and free startup business plan template.
Business Plan Template
This business plan template is a great tool for your startup to customize to reflect your strong qualifications, experienced team, and marketable business idea.
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Looking for investors and permits for your new cafe? Use this free Coffee Shop Business Plan Template to get all your cups in a row.
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You’re finally ready to open your own salon. This salon business plan template and tips will help guide you how to present your salon as a sound investment.
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Always dreamed of starting a restaurant? This free restaurant business plan template is your first step in making your dream a legal, planned reality.
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You’re ready to go out on your own to share your fabulous breads and pastries with the world. This free bakery business plan template is just what you need to get going.
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Think you have the solution for local tourism? Kick off your hotels empire with this free hotel business plan template to assure investors and guests.
Executive Summary Template
Your potential investors are spending the most time reading one part of your business plan. Use this executive summary template to make your business idea shine.
Business Letter Template
You want to make your company shine in all ways and certainly folks judge a book by it’s cover. Use this Business Letter Template to put your best face forward.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a document that helps small business owners determine the viability of their business idea. Combining market research and financial analysis, a professional business plan helps startup CEOs and potential investors determine if the company can compete in the target market.
Typically, a good business plan consists of the following:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Mission statement
- Product and services
- Marketing plan
- Operations plan
- Management organization
- Financial plan
- Conclusion & appendix
Every section involved in a business plan is designed to help startup businesses reach their target market.
A business plan asks founders and entrepreneurs to detail their business strategy in a step-by-step process that makes sense from an operational perspective. This is essential if a startup is seeking a business loan or an investment from a venture capital firm.
However, even small businesses that are already economically viable can benefit from creating a business plan, since it encourages business owners and their management teams to examine their business model and reevaluate the best ways to reach their target customers.
Should I use a business plan template?
Yes. If you’ve never written one, a business plan can be challenging to write.
Creating a successful plan that you can use to grow your small business can require weeks of market analysis and financial preparation. You may spend time using Microsoft Excel or Powerpoint in order to create documentation which better supports our operational decisions.
However, almost every professional business plan is structured in the same way and most ask for the same information. Because of this, using a business plan template is advisable to save time, money, and effort.
Business plan templates for free
Rather than spending time trying to figure out how to write a business plan , use a free template as a guide to completion.
Business plan templates from PandaDoc can help you reach an effective go-to-market strategy even faster by asking you to provide all the relevant information you need when creating an effective business plan.
Grab a free template to get started!
Frequently asked questions
How many pages should my business plan be.
This depends on the kind of business plan you need to write and how you intend to use the plan that you create.
For example, a plan for a small business seeking potential investors or a business loan will need to provide income statements, cash flow statements, and a balance sheet (usually for a three-year or five-year forecast period).
These financial statements can be omitted if a small business owner isn’t seeking funding and is instead planning to use their business plan as a guiding document for themselves and their management team members.
Some business plans may only run a few pages. Fully-developed business plans can be as long as 50 pages. Much of this depends on the type of business, the operational strategy, and the level of detail that goes into developing the business plan.
Who needs a business plan?
Every business should have a business plan. This is an essential guidance document for any founder or CEO.
Good business plans help a company determine the viability of its place in the market and can help the business develop better strategies for differentiating itself from its competitors.
Business planning also forces business owners to evaluate their marketing strategy, the cost of customer acquisition and retention, and how they plan to grow their business over time.
What is the best business plan template?
Business plans come in all shapes and sizes. The best business plan template for your business is one that you understand and that matches the size and legal structure of your operation.
If you’re a sole proprietor, a business plan template designed for a big corporation probably doesn’t make sense. However, a business plan that helps you build an effective roadmap to grow your business while protecting your intellectual property is a good starting point.
PandaDoc offers specialized business plan templates for common industries along with tips to help you get started with business planning.
Should I hire someone to write my business plan for me?
No. You’ll find freelance writers and business strategy companies out there who are happy to write your business plan for a fee. These resources can guide you through the process, but you should write (or be heavily involved in) the creation of your business plan.
The reason for this is simple: You know the most about your business, and your business needs you to succeed.
A writer can work with you to make your business plan sound better to investors, and a consultant can help you fill in knowledge gaps — like how to conduct a SWOT analysis — and point out weaknesses in your plan. But, at the end of the day, you need to use the business plan to pitch investors and run your business.
Those ideas and guiding principles aren’t something you can outsource.
Should I use business planning software?
Software isn’t required when creating an effective business plan. Most business planning software is designed to help you navigate the outlining and writing process more effectively.
You don’t need software to write a professional business plan, but a solid template can help you get started. Download a free template from PandaDoc today and take your business to the next level.
Get started with PandaDoc today
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The Top 7 Business Plan Examples To Inspire Your Own (2023)
- by Alexandra Sheehan
- Starting Up
- Aug 13, 2021
- 8 minute read
Any aspiring entrepreneur researching how to start a business will likely be advised to write a business plan . But few resources provide business plan templates and relatable examples to really help guide you through writing one of your own.
That’s why we took some real-world and hypothetical examples of product-based ecommerce businesses to show how you can write your business plan.
7 Business plan examples: section by section
The business plan examples we’ll look at below follow this example template:
- Executive summary. An introductory overview of your business.
- Company description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists.
- Market analysis. Research-based information about the industry and your target market.
- Products and services. What you plan to offer in exchange for money.
- Marketing plan. The promotional strategy to introduce your business to the world and drive sales.
- Logistics and operations plan. Everything that happens in the background to make your business function properly.
- Financial plan. A breakdown of your numbers to show what you need to get started as well as to prove viability of profitability.
Below, we have some real-world and hypothetical examples of each of these sections to show you how a business plan comes together.
- Executive summary
Your executive summary is a page that gives a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. It’s easiest to save this section for last.
In our business plan template for Paw Print Post , the executive summary is four paragraphs and takes a little over half a page:
- Company description
You might repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your about page, social media profile pages, or other properties that require a boilerplate description of your business.
Soap brand ORRIS has a blurb on its About page that could easily be repurposed for the company description section of its business plan.
You can also go more in-depth with your company overview and include the following sections, like we did for Paw Print Post:
- Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your business —as an LLC , sole proprietorship, corporation, or other business type . “Paw Print Post will operate as a sole proprietorship run by the owner, Jane Matthews.”
- Nature of the business. “Paw Print Post sells unique, one-of-a-kind digitally printed cards that are customized with a pet’s unique paw prints.”
- Industry. “Paw Print Post operates primarily in the pet industry and sells goods that could also be categorized as part of the greeting card industry.”
- Background information. “Jane Matthews, the founder of Paw Print Post, has a long history in the pet industry and working with animals, and was recently trained as a graphic designer. She’s combining those two loves to capture a niche in the market: unique greeting cards customized with a pet’s paw prints, without needing to resort to the traditional (and messy) options of casting your pet’s prints in plaster or using pet-safe ink to have them stamp their ‘signature.’”
- Business objectives. “Jane will have Paw Print Post ready to launch at the Big Important Pet Expo in Toronto to get the word out among industry players and consumers alike. After two years in business, Jane aims to drive $150,000 in annual revenue from the sale of Paw Print Post’s signature greeting cards and have expanded into two new product categories.”
- Team. “Jane Matthews is the sole full-time employee of Paw Print Post but hires contractors as needed to support her workflow and fill gaps in her skill set. Notably, Paw Print Post has a standing contract for five hours a week of virtual assistant support with Virtual Assistants Pro.”
Your mission statement may also make an appearance here. Passionfruit shares its mission statement on its company website, and it would also work well in its business plan example.
- Market analysis
The market analysis consists of research about supply and demand, your target market, industry trends, and the competitive landscape. You might run a SWOT analysis and include that in your business plan. Here’s an example SWOT analysis we did for an online tailored-shirt business:
You’ll also want to do a competitive analysis as part of the market research component of your business plan. This will tell you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to differentiate your brand. Your competitive analysis might look like this:
- Products and services
This section of your business plan describes your offerings—which products and services do you sell to your customers? Here’s what we wrote for Paw Print Post:
- Marketing plan
It’s always a good idea to develop a marketing plan before you launch your business. Your marketing plan shows how you’ll get the word out about your business, and it’s an essential component of your business plan as well.
For Paw Print Post, we focused on four Ps: price, product, promotion, and place. However, you can take a different approach with your marketing plan. Maybe you can pull from your existing marketing strategy , or maybe you break it down by the different marketing channels. Whatever approach you take, your marketing plan should describe how you intend to promote your business and offerings to potential customers. It’s OK to go high level here.
- Logistics and operations plan
- For Paw Print Post, we looked at suppliers, production, facilities, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.
The financial plan provides a breakdown of sales, revenue, profit, expenses, and other relevant financial metrics related to funding and profiting from your business.
Ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy’s financial plan breaks down predicted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.
It then dives deeper into the financials to include:
- Funding needs
- Projected profit-and-loss statement
- Projected balance sheet
- Projected cash-flow statement
You can use this financial plan template to build your own income statement, balance sheet, and cash-flow statement.
Types of business plans + what to include for each
A one-page business plan is meant to be high level and easy to understand at a glance. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re truncated and summarized:
- Executive summary: truncated
- Market analysis: summarized
- Products and services: summarized
- Marketing plan: summarized
- Logistics and operations plan: summarized
- Financials: summarized
A startup business plan is for a new business. Typically, these plans are developed and shared to secure outside funding . As such, there’s a bigger focus on the financials as well as on other sections that determine viability of your business idea—market research, for example.
- Market analysis: in-depth
- Financials: in-depth
Your internal business plan is meant to keep your team on the same page and aligned toward the same goal.
A strategic, or growth, business plan is a bigger picture, more-long-term look at your business. As such, the forecasts tend to look further into the future, and growth and revenue goals may be higher. Essentially, you want to use all the sections you would in a normal business plan and build upon each.
- Market analysis: comprehensive outlook
- Products and services: for launch and expansion
- Marketing plan: comprehensive outlook
- Logistics and operations plan: comprehensive outlook
- Financials: comprehensive outlook
Your feasibility business plan is sort of a pre-business plan—many refer to it as simply a feasibility study. This plan essentially lays the groundwork and validates that it’s worth the effort to make a full business plan for your idea. As such, it’s mostly centered around research.
More resources for validating your ideas:
- Product Research: The 15-Step Checklist for Finding Profitable, In-Demand Product Ideas
- Video: How to Validate Your Product Ideas
Set yourself up for success
Building a business plan serves as a roadmap you can use for your ecommerce business at launch and as you reach each of your growth goals. Business plans create accountability for entrepreneurs and synergy among teams, regardless of your business model .
Kickstart your ecommerce business and set yourself up for success with intentional business planning—and with the business plan examples above to guide your own path.
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Business plan faq, what 5 things should a business plan include.
- Executive Summary: A concise overview of the company's mission, goals, target audience, and financial objectives.
- Business Description: A description of the company's purpose, operations, products and services, target markets, and competitive landscape.
- Market Analysis: An analysis of the industry, market trends, potential customers, and competitors.
- Financial Plan: A detailed description of the company's financial projections and strategies.
- Implementation Plan: An outline of the steps, resources, and timeline required to bring the business plan to fruition.
What are the 3 C's of a business plan?
- Concept – your concept should explain the purpose of your business and provide an overall summary of what you intend to accomplish.
- Contents – your content should include details about the products and services you provide, your target market, and your competition.
- Cashflow – your cashflow section should include information about your expected cash inflows and outflows, such as capital investments, operating costs, and revenue projections.
What are 5 common mistakes of a business plan?
- Poor financial projections: Business plans should provide realistic financial projections based on market research and sound assumptions.
- Lack of competitive analysis: Business plans should contain a competitive analysis that outlines the competitive landscape, identifies key competitors, and assesses the competitive advantages and disadvantages of the proposed business.
- Inconsistent formatting: Business plans should be presented in a professional, consistent format that is easy to read and understand.
- Insufficient research: Business plans should be thoroughly researched and include accurate and up-to-date information.
- Unrealistic goals: Business plans should set realistic and achievable goals that are in line with the proposed business’s resources and financial abilities.
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Professional Business Plan Samples
Discover 14 expert-vetted real-world business plan examples PDF from different industries to help you write your own business plan.
Fill the Form to Download Business Plan Examples
View or download real business plan samples.
If you are planning to start a business from scratch , you will likely be advised to write a business plan. If you’ve never written a business plan, how can you determine the elements to include?
Thus, we will show you some real-world business plan examples PDF so you may know how to write your own, especially if you are seeking a bank loan or an outside investment and need to use SBA-approved formatting. Each sample business plan PDF is viewable and downloadable.
14 free expert vetted business plan examples PDF
Our sample business plans are complete and Incorporate all of the sections that bankers and investors hope to see. Each example of a business plan includes the following key sections:
- Executive Summary: A quick and brief introduction to your business plan. It includes a summary of your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.
- Company Overview : Details about your company ownership, where your business is based, how large the company is, what you do, and what you desire to achieve.
- Market Analysis : Describes the industry you plan to sell your product or service in, including statistics to support your claims.
- Products and Services : Reviews what you sell and what you’re offering your clients. How it will rival other businesses selling the same or similar products and services.
- Marketing Plan : Promotional strategy to introduce your business to the world and drive sales.
- Operational Plan : Provides the details of how you turn strategies and plans into actions in order to achieve key objectives and goals.
- Management Team : Describes your management team, staff, resources, and why they’re the right team to make the business a success.
- Financial Plan : Composed of four financial statements: the income statement , the cash flow statement , the balance sheet , and the statement of shareholders’ equity.
Section-by-section examples of business plans
Business plans usually describe how an organization is going to achieve its goals. Below are real-world examples of each section of a business plan to help you see how these sections fit together to form a successful business plan.
- Executive summary
An Executive Summary summarizes the entire business plan. Be brief, don’t go into details. An effective summary should be no longer than two pages.
A good executive summary describes the problem you’re solving, your product or service, your target market, your team, your financials, and your funding needs (if you’re seeking funding).
Here is an example executive summary from our business plan template for Eplace Solution , an innovative e-commerce portal.
You can find more tips on how to write an effective executive summary by checking out our guide.
This section provides an overview of your small business.
It includes the business name, business structure, names of key people in the company, the history of the company, its nature, and details about the products or services it offers or will offer.
In addition, you can reuse your company description on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business.
This section also allows you to describe how you register your business . Here you must choose whether your business is a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC , or another type of business .
- Market analysis
A market analysis analyzes how you are positioned in the market, who your target customers are, what your product or service will offer them, and industry trends.
It might be useful to do a SWOT analysis to discover your strengths and weaknesses to identify market gaps that you may be able to exploit to build your business.
As part of your market research, you’ll also need to perform a competitive analysis. It will give you an idea of who your competition is and how to differentiate your brand. Here’s an example of a competitive analysis we did for a food business.
- Products and services
Adding products and services to a business plan involves more than listing your company’s offerings. If you intend to gain funding or partner with another business, your products, and services section needs to demonstrate your company’s quality, value, and benefits.
Here’s an example of a product and service section in the business plan we wrote for an e-commerce business that offers wedding accessories.
Marketing and sales plan
It is always a good idea to have a marketing plan before launching your business.
A potential investor will want to know how you will advertise your business. Therefore, you should create a marketing plan that explains your planned promotion and customer acquisition strategies.
Discuss how you will make a sale. How will you attract customers and maximize their lifetime value? Ensure your marketing and sales forecasts align with your financial forecasts
Marketing plans are usually based on the four Ps : product, price, place, and promotion. Breaking it down by marketing channels makes it easier. Discuss how you intend to market your business via blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth.
Here is an example of marketing strategies we develop for a restaurant business.
The operation plan should include all the steps needed to run the business in the long run.
The plan should include details about logistics, duties for each department of the company, and responsibilities for the team.
The main aspect of running a business is its costs. Whether it’s machinery or services, each requires capital.
Pro Tips: Learn how to write an operation plan in a business plan
Organization & management
In this section, you can describe your current team and the people you need to hire. You will need to highlight your team’s relevant experience if you intend to seek funding. Basically, this is where you demonstrate that this team can be successful in starting and growing the business.
A financial plan should include sales and revenue forecasts, profit and loss statements , cash flow statements , and balance sheets .
Now, if you plan to pitch investors or submit a loan application, you’ll also need a “use of funds” report. Here you outline how you plan to leverage any funding you might acquire for your business.
With our business templates , you can create your own income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet.
1. Online Marketplace Business Plan Sample/Business Plan Example PDF
EPlace Solutions will be an innovative online marketplace business portal offering a variety of products to consumers throughout the globe. Founded by Mr. John Jones , a seasoned business visionary with an eye toward profit and achievement, the organization is set to enter the market in 2023.
Online shopping is at an all-time high with new consumer mindsets calling for them to shop for the types of deals and bargains that will be so much a part of the online marketplace business model.
Our online marketplace business plan sample includes a detailed analysis of the market and competitive landscape, as well as a clear strategy for attracting and retaining customers.
It also includes a comprehensive financial plan that outlines the revenue model, expenses, and growth projections. We like this sample plan because it demonstrates how to build a scalable, technology-driven business with a strong focus on customer satisfaction.
2. Ecommerce Plan Sample/Business Plan Example PDF
Something borrowed something new is an emerging e-Commerce business providing wedding accessories and personalized gifts. This drop shipping business model has the potential to take the market by storm.
In addition, social networking and blogging may be used to drive awareness and interest, giving something old and something new a comprehensive online marketing model.
Our ecommerce plan sample includes a detailed product or service description, a market analysis, and a marketing strategy that leverages social media and search engine optimization. It also includes a financial plan that outlines the startup costs, revenue projections, and break-even analysis.
We like this sample plan because it demonstrates how to build a profitable ecommerce business by leveraging digital marketing and a low-cost supply chain.
However, don’t just copy the business plan sample. The purpose of writing a business plan is to actually research and find out more about the business venture that you have in mind.
3. Coffee Shop Business Plan Sample/Business Plan Example PDF
A coffee shop business plan is a document that outlines what your business idea is and how it will be implemented. Its purpose is to answer questions such as what it costs to start a coffee shop, how these costs will be financed, and how much money you can expect to earn from your cafe.
Are you looking for the right business plan for your cafe? Let’s review the Coffee shop business plan sample to find out how cloud-based software can make your day-to-day work more efficient.
Our coffee shop business plan sample includes a detailed description of the products and services offered, as well as a market analysis and competitive analysis.
It also includes a financial plan that outlines the startup costs, revenue projections, and break-even analysis. We like this sample plan because it demonstrates how to build a profitable coffee shop business by creating a unique brand and offering high-quality products a nd customer service.
4. Snack Bar Business Plan Sample/Business Plan Example PDF
There is an increasing demand for snack-type fast food to be consumed while window shopping and walking around inside a shopping mall.
Do you plan to start a snack bar business? Then here’s a complete snack bar startup business plan template and feasibility report you can use FREE of charge. It sounds easy to open a snack bar, but in reality, you need well-planned strategies to ensure that your business stands the test of time.
Our snack bar business plan sample includes a detailed description of the products and services offered, as well as a market a nalysis and competitive analysis.
It also includes a financial plan that outlines the startup costs, revenue projections, and break-even analysis. We like this sample plan because it demonstrates how to build a profitable snack bar business by creating a unique menu and offering healthy, high-quality snac ks that meet custome r demand.
Your snack shop business plan can look as polished and professional as the sample plan. It’s fun and easy, with Wise Business Plan. Let’s review the snack shop business plan sample and adjust them according to your audience for the best results.
5. Printing Shop Business Plan Sample/Business Plan Example PDF
When establishing a think tank, you will need to develop a business plan and document it properly. As a mass think tank, you need a special strategy to legalize the think tank as a non-profit organization and to raise funds for your project successfully.
Copy and print businesses offer a variety of services to both businesses and consumers. A copy and print shop can handle everything from single-page printing to large-volume jobs using several types of media.
Our printing shop business plan sample includes a detailed description of the products and services offered, as well as a market analysis and competitive analysis. It also includes a financial plan that outlines the startup costs, revenue projections, and break-even analysis. We like this sample plan because it demonstrates how to build a profitable printing shop business by offering high-quality, customized printing services with a focus on customer s ervice and efficient operations.
Let’s take a look at Printing and Photocopy Business Plan Sample that you can use to inspire your own and easily create one.
6. Food Hall Business Plan Sample/Business Plan Example PDF
In the food industry, there is fierce competition. To ensure success, you need to hit the ground running with the right pitch. Our food house business plan is the ideal solution with an attractive design highlighting key information and conveying the right message.
This food business plan example features food images intended to tantalize the taste buds. It captures the theme perfectly and will convey the ultimate message to investors, clients and customers.
It is important to remember that the business plan template can be customized to meet your company’s specific needs and requirements. It will help showcase your business as a leader in the modern industry.
This food business plan template provides key slides to showcase everything from finances to marketing and key competitors. If you prefer, you can alter the content displayed to meet your specific needs, but this is a good starting point.
Ultimately, this food house business plan will be suitable for any business operating in the food industry and keen to get interested from key individuals. It will ensure that you can build up the rep of your company.
We provide a one-of-a-kind sales pitch deck designed to appeal to your prospective audience, as well as a custom presentation tailored to their information requirements.
7. L-1 Visa Business Plan Sample/ Example PDF
At Wise Business Plans, we understand that obtaining an L1 visa for an executive or manager requires a thorough and compelling business plan.
Our L1 business plan sample includes all the necessary components to satisfy USCIS requirements and demonstrate your qualifications and your company’s viability in the US market.
The L1 business plan sample is a comprehensive plan for a new business seeking L1 visa approval for an executive or manager. This plan focuses on demonstrating the applicant’s qualifications and the company’s viability in the US market.
We like this sample plan because it is specific to the L1 visa process and includes all the necessary components to satisfy USCIS requirements.
8. Acquisition Business Plan Sample/ Example PDF
Acquiring another company or merging with a competitor can be a complex process, but Wise Business Plans can help you navigate it with ease. Our acquisition business plan sample includes an analysis of the target company, a valuation, and a strategy for integrating the acquired business into your existing operations, providing a clear roadmap for success.
The acquisition business plan sample is intended for businesses seeking to acquire another company or merge with a competitor. This plan includes an analysis of the target company, a valuation, and a strategy for integrating the acquired business into the existing operations. We like this sample plan because it provides a clear roadmap for the acquisition process and demonstrates the potential benefits of the deal.
9.EB-5 Business Plan Sample/ Example PDF
If you’re looking to obtain an EB-5 visa by investing in a new commercial enterprise in the United States, Wise Business Plans can help you create a compelling business plan.
Our EB-5 business plan sample includes a description of your business, a market analysis, and financial projections, providing a detailed and persuasive case for the potential success of your venture.
The EB-5 business plan sample is designed for individuals seeking to obtain an EB-5 visa by investing in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. This plan includes a description of the business, a market analysis, and financial projections. We like this sample plan because it provides a detailed and persuasive case for the potential success of the business, which is crucial for obtaining EB-5 visa approval.
10. E-2 Visa Business Plan Sample/ Example PDF
If you’re an entrepreneur seeking E-2 visa approval, Wise Business Plans can help you create a persuasive business plan.
Our E-2 business plan sample outlines your investment, business operations, and financial projections, providing a clear and compelling case for your ability to successfully run a business and make a significant economic impact.
The E-2 business plan sample is designed for entrepreneurs seeking E-2 visa approval, which allows individuals to invest in and manage a business in the United States. This plan outlines the applicant’s investment, business operations, and financial projections. We like this sample plan because it provides a clear and compelling case for the applicant’s ability to successfully run a business and make a significant economic impact.
11. Nonprofit Business Plan Sample/ Example PDF
At Wise Business Plans, we’re committed to helping non-profit organizations achieve their social impact goals.
Our non-profit business plan sample includes a mission statement, programs and services, marketing and outreach strategies, and a financial analysis, providing a clear roadmap for establishing or expanding your organization.
The non-profit business plan sample is designed for organizations seeking to establish or expand a non-profit entity. This plan includes a mission statement, programs and services, marketing and outreach strategies, and a financial analysis. We like this sample plan because it demonstrates a strong commitment to social impact and outlines a clear strategy for achieving the organization’s goals.
12. Investor Business Plan Sample/ Example PDF
If you’re seeking investment from angel investors, venture capitalists, or other private equity firms, Wise Business Plans can help you create a compelling pitch.
Our investor business plan sample includes a pitch deck, financial projections, and a detailed analysis of the market opportunity, emphasizing the potential return on investment and the scalability of your business.
The investor business plan sample is intended for businesses seeking to attract investment from angel investors, venture capitalists, or other private equity firms. This plan includes a pitch deck, financial projections, and a detailed analysis of the market opportunity. We like this sample plan because it emphasizes the potential return on investment and the scalability of the business.
13. Cannabis Business Plan Sample/ Example PDF
The cannabis industry is rapidly growing, and Wise Business Plans can help you enter it with confidence.
Our cannabis business plan sample includes a market analysis, operational strategy, and regulatory compliance plan, providing a comprehensive overview of the unique challenges and opportunities in the industry and offering a clear roadmap for success.
The cannabis business plan sample is tailored for entrepreneurs seeking to enter the rapidly growing cannabis industry. This plan includes a market analysis, operational strategy, and regulatory compliance plan. We like this sample plan because it provides a comprehensive overview of the unique challenges and opportunities in the cannabis industry, and offers a clear roadmap for success.
14. Bank Business Plan Sample/ Example PDF
Whether you’re seeking financing from a bank or other financial institution, Wise Business Plans can help you create a detailed and persuasive business plan.
Our bank business plan sample includes a thorough financial analysis, market research, and a strategy for achieving profitability, highlighting the key factors that banks consider when evaluating loan applications.
The bank business plan sample is tailored for businesses seeking financing from a bank or other financial institution. This plan includes a detailed financial analysis, market research, and a strategy for achieving profitability. We like this sample plan because it highlights the key factors that banks consider when evaluating loan applications, and provides a strong case for the borrower’s ability to repay the loan.
What makes a great cover page for a business plan?
Visit our page on business plan cover page examples to download our free business plan cover page templates and create a beautiful cover page yourself.
Looking For The Right Business Plan Format?
Our sample business plans will provide you with a complete structure and format for your business plan, which will give you a head start on developing your document, so you won’t be stuck seeing an empty page and wondering what to write.
Simply going through the process of writing a business plan is one of its key benefits. If you sit down to write, you’ll naturally think about your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you’ll need to conduct. In addition to defining your position among your competitors, you will establish your goals and milestones.
You can see what should be included in a sample financial plan, but It is wrong to assume that a sample company’s financial projections will fit your own. If you need more resources to get you started, we recommend this guide on how to write a business plan.
In addition, you can download our 40+ free business plan templates covering a range of industries.
Utilize These Business Plan Examples PDF As a Business Management Tool
A business plan can help run your business 30 percent faster than one without it. It is important that you track your actual results against your financial forecast as part of your business planning process .
The plan will enable you to reinvest in your business when things are going well. If you don’t meet your goals, you may need to adjust your sales forecast or budget.
Either way, tracking your progress in comparison to your plan is essential to helping you respond quickly to challenges and opportunities. it is one of the most useful steps you can take to grow your business.
Business Plan Examples For Students PDF
Are you an educator looking for real-life business plan examples for students?
With Wise Business Plans, you eliminate the hassle of making presentations and forecasting spreadsheets and teach what matters most.
Wise Business Plans offers a wide range of sample business plans that will help you demonstrate how planning looks in practice.
Best of all, your students can customize their plans according to the needs of their business and keep track of all short and long-term goals. Download or View business plan examples for students pdf for free.
Types Of Business Plans and Essential Components
A business plan cannot be written in a certain way. The objective is to make sure your plan meets your needs. There are different types of business plans, but these five are the most common.
1. One Page Business Plans: One-page business plans are short, compact, and to the point and are designed to make the plan easy to read at a glance. Make sure to include all of the sections, but truncate and summarize them:
One-Page Business Plans Outline
- One-time Expense Summary
- Market analysis: in-depth
- Product & Service Description
- Competitor Analysis
- SWOT Analysis
- Financial Projections
2. Business plans for start-ups: Start-up business plans are for businesses that are just getting started. They are usually developed to secure outside funding. In this regard, financials are of increased importance, as well as other sections that determine whether your business idea is viable, such as market research.
Startup Business Plans Outline
3. Strategic Business Plans: A strategic business plan lays out a company’s goals and how it will achieve them at a high level. It is a foundational document for the company as a whole.
A strategic business plan allows all levels of the business to see the big picture, inspiring employees to work together to reach the company’s goals. You should include all the sections of a standard business plan and build on each one.
Strategic Business Plans Outline
- Company description
- Products and services: for launch and expansion
- Marketing plan
- Logistics and operations plan:
- Financials Projection
4. Feasibility Business Plans: Developing a feasibility plan answers two primary questions about a business venture: who would purchase the service or product the company wants to sell, and if the venture is profitable.
Feasibility Business Plans Outline
- Logistics and operations plan
5. Internal Business Plans: are geared to a specific audience within a company to keep your team on the same page and focused on the same goals.
Internal Business Plans Outline
Do you need a business plan to start an LLC?
If you determine that an LLC is right for your business, you should create a business plan (although it is not required), so you have a guide for what you plan on doing and how you plan to do it.
Recommended: Learn how to start an LLC in your state in our free guide or choose wise business plans to make LLC registration easy and hassle-free for you.
Additionally, we can also help you to get a business license , register your business , to design your business plan templates and other business related services. Due to our experienced MBA writers, you can hire our business plan writing services . Call us or chat with us now at 1-800-496-1056
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Frequently Asked Questions
A sample business plan is a document that outlines the sections your business plan should contain. Additionally, it includes step-by-step instructions and sample text on what to write in each section of your business plan. That simplifies the process of writing a business plan.
You will need to include the following sections in your business plan. A typical business plan includes an Executive Summary, Company Overview, Problem Analysis, Solutions, Market Analysis, Customer Analysis, Competitive Analysis, SWOT Analysis, Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, and Financial Plan. You can learn how to write these sections in detail in our " how to write a business plan "article.
Your business plan will vary depending on the type you select. One-page business plans are simple and practical. Then there are traditional business plans, which typically range from 20 to 50 pages. Note that your business plan's quality matters more than its length.
Sample business plans can help you quickly and easily prepare a business plan. By studying a sample business plan, you can better understand the format and how to use a template for your business plan. These sample business plans may even assist you with the different sections of a plan, such as market analysis, the company description, financial statements, and so on.
An example or sample business plan will be helpful for any entrepreneur or business owner who has never written a business plan before. Often, new business owners start with a template, which is helpful, but may prove more useful once they have reviewed full business plans. A good sample plan can serve as a step-by-step guide for business planning and business ideas. Solid business plans will also prove beneficial if you need a bank loan, which may require a startup business plan.
The sample business plan will not work for you if your business is not like any other. If this is the case, your best option is to write a business plan from scratch using a business plan template.
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We will show you some real-world business plan examples so you may know how to write your own, especially if you are seeking a bank loan or an outside investment and need to use SBA-approved formatting.
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How to Write a Business Proposal [Examples + Template]
Published: December 12, 2022
It's finally happened. You've started a new business, and your customer base is starting to expand. But even though you're making progress, you still feel like you could be doing better.
There's a whole world of untapped potential around you — prospects you know would benefit from your product or service. And the issues you're running into are less about your solution's soundness and more about how you can reach your potential base.
That's where business proposals come in. They can bridge the gap between you and potential clients. A solid proposal can outline your value proposition and persuade a company or organization to do business with you.
Here, we'll take a look at the various kinds of business proposals and go over how to write one. We’ll also see some ideas and examples to help guide yours.
Know exactly what you need? Jump to one of the following sections:
What is a business proposal?
Types of business proposals, how to write a business proposal, business proposal ideas, business proposal templates, business proposal example.
A business proposal is a formal document that’s created by a company and provided to a prospect to secure a business agreement.
It's a common misconception that business proposals and business plans are the same. The proposal aims to sell your product or service rather than your business itself. Instead of assisting your search for investors to fund your business, a proposal helps you seek new customers.
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There are two types of business proposals: unsolicited and solicited.
- Unsolicited Business Proposals - With unsolicited business proposals, you approach a potential customer with a proposal, even if they don't request one, to gain their business.
- Solicited Business Proposal s - Solicited business proposals are requested by a prospective client so that they can decide whether or not to do business with your company.
In a solicited business proposal, the other organization asks for a request for proposal (RFP). When a company needs a problem solved, they invite other businesses to submit a proposal that details how they'd solve it.
Whether the proposal is solicited or unsolicited, the steps to create your proposal are similar. Ensure it includes three main points: a statement of the organization's problem, proposed solution, and pricing information.
- Begin with a title page.
- Create a table of contents.
- Explain your “why” with an executive summary.
- State the problem or need.
- Propose a solution.
- Share your qualifications.
- Include pricing options.
- Summarize with a conclusion.
- Clarify your terms and conditions.
- Include a space for signatures to document agreement.
Before writing your business proposal, it's crucial you understand the company. If they've sent you an RFP, make sure you read it carefully, so you know exactly what they want. It can also be helpful to have an initial call or meeting with the new client to ensure you fully understand the problem they're trying to solve and their objectives.
Once you've done your research, it's time to begin writing your business proposal. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a business proposal, but let's take a look at some elements proposals often include. (I designed this example business proposal using Canva .)
Free Business Proposal Template
Fill out the form to get your template., 1. begin with a title page..
You have to convey some basic information here. Introduce yourself and your business. Be sure to include your name, your company's name, the date you submitted the proposal, and the name of the client or individual you're submitting the proposal to.
Your title page should reconcile engagement with professionalism. It's a tone-setter, so you need to make sure yours is sleek, aesthetically appealing, and not too "out there."
Here's an example of what a business proposal template looks like when done right:
The executive summary details exactly why you're sending the proposal and why your solution is the best for the prospective client. Specificity is key here. Why are you the best option for them?
Similar to a value proposition, your executive summary outlines the benefits of your company's products or services and how they can solve your potential client's problem. After reading your executive summary, the prospect should have a clear idea of how you can help them, even if they don't read the entire proposal. Here's what one should look like:
4. State the problem or need.
This is where you provide a summary of the issue impacting the potential client. It provides you with the opportunity to show them you clearly understand their needs and the problem they need help solving.
Research, critical thinking, and extra thought are key here. You have to do your homework. Take a holistic look at the specific issues your client faces that you can help solve. Then, compellingly frame them in a way that sets you up for the next step.
7. Include pricing options.
Pricing is where things can get a bit tricky, as you don't want to under or over-price your product. If you'd like to provide the prospect with a few pricing options for their budget, include an optional fee table . Some proposal software offer responsive pricing tables which allow clients to check the products or services they're interested in, and the price will automatically adjust.
8. Summarize with a conclusion.
After providing the above information, it’s necessary to simplify it into one final section. Briefly summarize the proposal. Touch on your qualifications and why you’d serve as the best choice. To prompt further conversation, confirm your availability. At the end of the proposal, the goal is to have the client ready to work with you. Provide your contact information to allow them to follow up easily.
9. Clarify your terms and conditions.
This is where you go into detail about the project timeline, pricing, and payment schedules. It's essentially a summary of what you and the client agree to if they accept your proposal. Make sure you clear the terms and conditions with your own legal team before sending the proposal to the client.
We know how crucial a great business proposal is to your and your clients' success. That's why we've compiled 2 Free Business Proposal Templates for you to use and customize for any of your projects. You'll gain access to a concise, one-page template (pictured above), as well as a longer template for you to embellish on your plan and proposal. Download the templates now to get started on building your proposal.
2. Web Design Proposal
Companies, big and small, dedicate resources to establishing a noticeable social media presence. With advertising on social networks projected to reach $56.85 billion dollars in 2022 , it's in your business's best interest to have a plan for growing your client's social media presence.
To help you in that effort, the information in this social media marketing proposal includes an executive summary to help introduce your high-level ideas, an assessment of the client’s company to demonstrate your diligence, and a breakdown of billing to show how your company charges for posting, content creation, and analytics.
8. Content Marketing Proposal
When pitching your content marketing services to clients, this template can help you organize your ideas. While it walks you through initial objectives and how to communicate your prospected results, one of the most helpful parts of this template is the pricing ideas it gives you when charging for your services.
Business proposal templates are helpful places to get started, but what should your business proposal look like when it's complete? Below, we share an example of a business proposal template that will inspire you.
In the business template example above, Social Portal Consulting (SPC) pitches a marketing proposal to Graphic Bean. At first sight, this proposal appeals to the creative. A nice touch would include designing the layout in your or your client’s brand colors. In addition to the design, the use of social media icons quickly tells the prospect what platforms Social Portal is pitching. Because we see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest icons, the client instantly knows that this proposal does not include LinkedIn, YouTube, or other platforms.
While maintaining its design, this example outlines Social Portal Consulting’s plans efficiently. It begins by providing insight into Graphic Bean and its goals before elaborating on how SPC can leverage its expertise to help them achieve it. This business proposal template includes an easy-to-follow timeframe for goals and objectives while keeping the client abreast of how payment will happen across the project.
Overall, this is an excellent example of how to combine the elements of social media marketing into a creative and concise business proposal. Finally, we'll leave you with some business proposal ideas to get you started on your own.
- Start with an outline.
- Include data and visuals.
- Add social proof.
- Incorporate video into your proposal.
- Use a call-to-action.
- Include up-sell and add-on opportunities.
- Create a sense of urgency.
- Keep it simple.
- Make the decision for them.
- Stay on brand.
- Quality control.
There's a lot to keep in mind when writing a business proposal. Here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Start with an outline.
If you want to produce a thoughtful, effective business proposal, you need to have some idea of what you're hoping to achieve with it. So before you dive into writing, outline the major sections of your business proposal and the pertinent information you want to include. This will ensure you stay focused and your message stays intact as you write.
2. Include data and visuals.
You want your business proposal to capture your prospect's attention and help set you apart from any other ones they might have received. One of the best ways to do that is to include hard, quantitative data that helps stress the value of your business.
If you can find some relevant, compelling figures that highlight what you have to offer, you can establish authority and make yourself that much more convincing. It also helps to include visuals such as charts and graphs to enhance your proposal.
3. Add social proof.
Like the previous point, adding social proof lends your proposal another degree of credibility. You can only be so convincing when you're personally talking up how great your business is.
Prospects are skeptical. In many — if not most — cases, they probably won't take you at your word. They'll likely trust peers and fellow customers more than someone trying to win their business. That's why including elements like customer quotes and testimonials can go a long way.
4. Incorporate video into your proposal.
If you're creating an online proposal using document file formats like PDF, you can include multimedia elements to enhance the proposal experience. They can make your document richer and more engaging.
Whether you add video at the beginning as an intro to your proposal or in the project breakdown to verbally discuss some of the more confusing parts, extras like this can make an impression. This works especially on prospects who are visual or auditory communicators.
5. Use a call-to-action.
Prospects need direction. The best proposal in the world can only take you so far if you don't clearly define the next steps. That's why you have to make sure the reader knows what to do next after reading your proposal.
A clear-cut call-to-action is the best way to get there. Define and highlight exactly what they should do to act on the interest your proposal has generated. Without that guidance, you might leave your reader in limbo.
6. Include up-sell and add-on opportunities.
They say you won't receive unless you ask. Readers won't explore the upper tiers of your solutions if you don't give them the opportunity. If you want to use your business proposal as a chance to get the most out of a reader's interest, you need to include some additional information about your business for them to act on. They need to know what else you have to offer.
7. Create a sense of urgency.
No one wants to feel as if they missed out on a great opportunity. A lack of urgency tends to cause people to drag their feet and take time when making a decision. As you create your business proposal, your goal should be to create a sense of urgency.
Prospective clients should read your business proposal and feel that now is the best time to sign up for your service. A way you can accomplish this is by stating your short and long-term goals for their business. While they will have to wait for the long-term goals, make the short-term goals so enticing that they are instantly ready to begin a collaboration.
8. Keep it simple.
There's no definitive blueprint for how long a business proposal has to be. Yours should be however long it takes to convey the information you want to get across.
That said, you're best off focusing on quality over quantity. Keep your sentences short and simple, and avoid including too much business jargon. You want your proposal to be straightforward enough for anyone who picks it up to make sense of it. So don't get carried away with being too fancy.
9. Make the decision for them.
Craft your copy in a way that seems like saying "no" to the proposal would be stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. Your offer should go above and beyond their expectations, and you should do everything in your power to eliminate friction and objections along the way.
10. Stay on brand.
Don't be afraid to let your company's personality shine through in your proposal. Stay true to your brand and show the client what sets you apart from your competitors.
11. Quality control.
Your proposal needs to be clean and airtight. You don't want to undermine your messaging by coming off as sloppy and unprofessional. Before you send the proposal out, make sure to read and reread it for any typos or grammatical errors.
Let your business proposal do the talking.
Depending on the type of business you're in, your business proposal elements will vary based on the prospect's needs. After reading through your plan, prospective clients should have very few questions about your company and what it can do for them. With the tips and examples in this article, you have all the tools to guide you through the process. With a professional, customized business proposal, you're sure to delight your client and potentially gain their business.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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Business Plan Example and Template
Learn how to create a business plan
What is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a document that contains the operational and financial plan of a business, and details how its objectives will be achieved. It serves as a road map for the business and can be used when pitching investors or financial institutions for debt or equity financing .
A business plan should follow a standard format and contain all the important business plan elements. Typically, it should present whatever information an investor or financial institution expects to see before providing financing to a business.
Contents of a Business Plan
A business plan should be structured in a way that it contains all the important information that investors are looking for. Here are the main sections of a business plan:
1. Title Page
The title page captures the legal information of the business, which includes the registered business name, physical address, phone number, email address, date, and the company logo.
2. Executive Summary
The executive summary is the most important section because it is the first section that investors and bankers see when they open the business plan. It provides a summary of the entire business plan. It should be written last to ensure that you don’t leave any details out. It must be short and to the point, and it should capture the reader’s attention. The executive summary should not exceed two pages.
3. Industry Overview
The industry overview section provides information about the specific industry that the business operates in. Some of the information provided in this section includes major competitors, industry trends, and estimated revenues. It also shows the company’s position in the industry and how it will compete in the market against other major players.
4. Market Analysis and Competition
The market analysis section details the target market for the company’s product offerings. This section confirms that the company understands the market and that it has already analyzed the existing market to determine that there is adequate demand to support its proposed business model.
Market analysis includes information about the target market’s demographics , geographical location, consumer behavior, and market needs. The company can present numbers and sources to give an overview of the target market size.
A business can choose to consolidate the market analysis and competition analysis into one section or present them as two separate sections.
5. Sales and Marketing Plan
The sales and marketing plan details how the company plans to sell its products to the target market. It attempts to present the business’s unique selling proposition and the channels it will use to sell its goods and services. It details the company’s advertising and promotion activities, pricing strategy, sales and distribution methods, and after-sales support.
6. Management Plan
The management plan provides an outline of the company’s legal structure, its management team, and internal and external human resource requirements. It should list the number of employees that will be needed and the remuneration to be paid to each of the employees.
Any external professionals, such as lawyers, valuers, architects, and consultants, that the company will need should also be included. If the company intends to use the business plan to source funding from investors, it should list the members of the executive team, as well as the members of the advisory board.
7. Operating Plan
The operating plan provides an overview of the company’s physical requirements, such as office space, machinery, labor, supplies, and inventory . For a business that requires custom warehouses and specialized equipment, the operating plan will be more detailed, as compared to, say, a home-based consulting business. If the business plan is for a manufacturing company, it will include information on raw material requirements and the supply chain.
8. Financial Plan
The financial plan is an important section that will often determine whether the business will obtain required financing from financial institutions, investors, or venture capitalists. It should demonstrate that the proposed business is viable and will return enough revenues to be able to meet its financial obligations. Some of the information contained in the financial plan includes a projected income statement , balance sheet, and cash flow.
9. Appendices and Exhibits
The appendices and exhibits part is the last section of a business plan. It includes any additional information that banks and investors may be interested in or that adds credibility to the business. Some of the information that may be included in the appendices section includes office/building plans, detailed market research , products/services offering information, marketing brochures, and credit histories of the promoters.
Business Plan Template
Here is a basic template that any business can use when developing its business plan:
Section 1: Executive Summary
- Present the company’s mission.
- Describe the company’s product and/or service offerings.
- Give a summary of the target market and its demographics.
- Summarize the industry competition and how the company will capture a share of the available market.
- Give a summary of the operational plan, such as inventory, office and labor, and equipment requirements.
Section 2: Industry Overview
- Describe the company’s position in the industry.
- Describe the existing competition and the major players in the industry.
- Provide information about the industry that the business will operate in, estimated revenues, industry trends, government influences, as well as the demographics of the target market.
Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition
- Define your target market, their needs, and their geographical location.
- Describe the size of the market, the units of the company’s products that potential customers may buy, and the market changes that may occur due to overall economic changes.
- Give an overview of the estimated sales volume vis-à-vis what competitors sell.
- Give a plan on how the company plans to combat the existing competition to gain and retain market share.
Section 4: Sales and Marketing Plan
- Describe the products that the company will offer for sale and its unique selling proposition.
- List the different advertising platforms that the business will use to get its message to customers.
- Describe how the business plans to price its products in a way that allows it to make a profit.
- Give details on how the company’s products will be distributed to the target market and the shipping method.
Section 5: Management Plan
- Describe the organizational structure of the company.
- List the owners of the company and their ownership percentages.
- List the key executives, their roles, and remuneration.
- List any internal and external professionals that the company plans to hire, and how they will be compensated.
- Include a list of the members of the advisory board, if available.
Section 6: Operating Plan
- Describe the location of the business, including office and warehouse requirements.
- Describe the labor requirement of the company. Outline the number of staff that the company needs, their roles, skills training needed, and employee tenures (full-time or part-time).
- Describe the manufacturing process, and the time it will take to produce one unit of a product.
- Describe the equipment and machinery requirements, and if the company will lease or purchase equipment and machinery, and the related costs that the company estimates it will incur.
- Provide a list of raw material requirements, how they will be sourced, and the main suppliers that will supply the required inputs.
Section 7: Financial Plan
- Describe the financial projections of the company, by including the projected income statement, projected cash flow statement, and the balance sheet projection.
Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits
- Quotes of building and machinery leases
- Proposed office and warehouse plan
- Market research and a summary of the target market
- Credit information of the owners
- List of product and/or services
Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Business Plans. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful:
- Corporate Structure
- Three Financial Statements
- NEW CFI Template Marketplace
- See all management & strategy resources
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How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)
- 2 years ago
Have you ever wondered how to write a business plan step by step? Mike Andes, told us:
This guide will help you write a business plan to impress investors.
Throughout this process, we’ll get information from Mike Andes, who started Augusta Lawn Care Services when he was 12 and turned it into a franchise with over 90 locations. He has gone on to help others learn how to write business plans and start businesses. He knows a thing or two about writing business plans!
We’ll start by discussing the definition of a business plan. Then we’ll discuss how to come up with the idea, how to do the market research, and then the important elements in the business plan format. Keep reading to start your journey!
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is simply a road map of what you are trying to achieve with your business and how you will go about achieving it. It should cover all elements of your business including:
- Finding customers
- Plans for developing a team
- Legal structures
- Key milestones you are pursuing
If you aren’t quite ready to create a business plan, consider starting by reading our business startup guide .
Get a Business Idea
Before you can write a business plan, you have to have a business idea. You may see a problem that needs to be solved and have an idea how to solve it, or you might start by evaluating your interests and skills.
Mike told us, “The three things I suggest asking yourself when thinking about starting a business are:
- What am I good at?
- What would I enjoy doing?
- What can I get paid for?”
If all three of these questions don’t lead to at least one common answer, it will probably be a much harder road to success. Either there is not much market for it, you won’t be good at it, or you won’t enjoy doing it.
As Mike told us, “There’s enough stress starting and running a business that if you don’t like it or aren’t good at it, it’s hard to succeed.”
If you’d like to hear more about Mike’s approach to starting a business, check out our YouTube video
Conduct Market Analysis
Market analysis is focused on establishing if there is a target market for your products and services, how large the target market is, and identifying the demographics of people or businesses that would be interested in the product or service. The goal here is to establish how much money your business concept can make.
Product and Service Demand
A search engine is your best friend when trying to figure out if there is demand for your products and services. Personally, I love using presearch.org because it lets you directly search on a ton of different platforms including Google, Youtube, Twitter, and more. Check out the screenshot for the full list of search options.
With quick web searches, you can find out how many competitors you have, look through their reviews, and see if there are common complaints about the competitors. Bad reviews are a great place to find opportunities to offer better products or services.
If there are no similar products or services, you may have stumbled upon something new, or there may just be no demand for it. To find out, go talk to your most honest friend about the idea and see what they think. If they tell you it’s dumb or stare at you vacantly, there’s probably no market for it.
You can also conduct a survey through social media to get public opinion on your idea. Using Facebook Business Manager , you could get a feel for who would be interested in your product or service.
I ran a quick test of how many people between 18-65 you could reach in the U.S. during a week. It returned an estimated 700-2,000 for the total number of leads, which is enough to do a fairly accurate statistical analysis.
Identify Demographics of Target Market
Depending on what type of business you want to run, your target market will be different. The narrower the demographic, the fewer potential customers you’ll have. If you did a survey, you’ll be able to use that data to help define your target audience. Some considerations you’ll want to consider are:
- Other Interests
- Marital Status
- Do they have kids?
Once you have this information, it can help you narrow down your options for location and help define your marketing further. One resource that Mike recommended using is the Census Bureau’s Quick Facts Map . He told us,
“It helps you quickly evaluate what the best areas are for your business to be located.”
How to Write a Business Plan
Now that you’ve developed your idea a little and established there is a market for it, you can begin writing a business plan. Getting started is easier with the business plan template we created for you to download. I strongly recommend using it as it is updated to make it easier to create an action plan.
Each of the following should be a section of your business plan:
- Business Plan Cover Page
- Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- Description of Products and Services
- Competitor Data
- Competitive Analysis
- Marketing Expenses Strategy
- Distribution Channel Assessment
- Operational Plan
- Management and Organizational Strategy
- Financial Statements and/or Financial Projections
We’ll look into each of these. Don’t forget to download our free business plan template (mentioned just above) so you can follow along as we go.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page
The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions.
A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:
- Professionally designed logo
- Company name
- Mission or Vision Statement
- Contact Info
Basically, think of a cover page for your business plan like a giant business card. It is meant to capture people’s attention but be quickly processed.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 2. Create a Table of Contents
Most people are busy enough that they don’t have a lot of time. Providing a table of contents makes it easy for them to find the pages of your plan that are meaningful to them.
A table of contents will be immediately after the cover page, but you can include it after the executive summary. Including the table of contents immediately after the executive summary will help investors know what section of your business plan they want to review more thoroughly.
Check out Canva’s article about creating a table of contents . It has a ton of great information about creating easy access to each section of your business plan. Just remember that you’ll want to use different strategies for digital and hard copy business plans.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 3. Write an Executive Summary
An executive summary is where your business plan should catch the readers interest. It doesn’t need to be long, but should be quick and easy to read.
Mike told us,
How long should an executive summary bein an informal business plan?
For casual use, an executive summary should be similar to an elevator pitch, no more than 150-160 words, just enough to get them interested and wanting more. Indeed has a great article on elevator pitches . This can also be used for the content of emails to get readers’ attention.
It consists of three basic parts:
- An introduction to you and your business.
- What your business is about.
- A call to action
Example of an informal executive summary
One of the best elevator pitches I’ve used is:
So far that pitch has achieved a 100% success rate in getting partnerships for the business.
What should I include in an executive summary for investors?
Investors are going to need a more detailed executive summary if you want to secure financing or sell equity. The executive summary should be a brief overview of your entire business plan and include:
- Introduction of yourself and company.
- An origin story (Recognition of a problem and how you came to solution)
- An introduction to your products or services.
- Your unique value proposition. Make sure to include intellectual property.
- Where you are in the business life cycle
- Request and why you need it.
Successful business plan examples
The owner of Urbanity told us he spent 2 months writing a 75-page business plan and received a $250,000 loan from the bank when he was 23. Make your business plan as detailed as possible when looking for financing. We’ve provided a template to help you prepare the portions of a business plan that banks expect.
Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:
When to write an executive summary?
Even though the summary is near the beginning of a business plan, you should write it after you complete the rest of a business plan. You can’t talk about revenue, profits, and expected expenditures if you haven’t done the market research and created a financial plan.
What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?
Business owners commonly go into too much detail about the following items in an executive summary:
- Marketing and sales processes
- Financial statements
- Organizational structure
- Market analysis
These are things that people will want to know later, but they don’t hook the reader. They won’t spark interest in your small business, but they’ll close the deal.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description
Every business plan should include a company description. A great business plan will include the following elements while describing the company:
- Mission statement
- Philosophy and vision
- Company goals
- Legal structure
Let’s take a look at what each section includes in a good business plan.
A mission statement is a brief explanation of why you started the company and what the company’s main focus is. It should be no more than one or two sentences. Check out HubSpot’s article 27 Inspiring Mission Statement for a great read on informative and inspiring mission and vision statements.
Company Philosophy and Vision
The company philosophy is what drives your company. You’ll normally hear them called core values. These are the building blocks that make your company different. You want to communicate your values to customers, business owners, and investors as often as possible to build a company culture, but make sure to back them up.
What makes your company different?
Each company is different. Your new business should rise above the standard company lines of honesty, integrity, fun, innovation, and community when communicating your business values. The standard answers are corporate jargon and lack authenticity.
Examples of core values
One of my clients decided to add a core values page to their website. As a tech company they emphasized the values:
- Prioritize communication.
- Never stop learning.
- Be transparent.
- Start small and grow incrementally.
These values communicate how the owner and the rest of the company operate. They also show a value proposition and competitive advantage because they specifically focus on delivering business value from the start. These values also genuinely show what the company is about and customers recognize the sincerity. Indeed has a great blog about how to identify your core values .
What is a vision statement?
A vision statement communicate the long lasting change a business pursues. The vision helps investors and customers understand what your company is trying to accomplish. The vision statement goes beyond a mission statement to provide something meaningful to the community, customer’s lives, or even the world.
Example vision statements
The Alzheimer’s Association is a great example of a vision statement:
A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.
It clearly tells how they want to change the world. A world without Alzheimers might be unachievable, but that means they always have room for improvement.
You have to measure success against goals for a business plan to be meaningful. A business plan helps guide a company similar to how your GPS provides a road map to your favorite travel destination. A goal to make as much money as possible is not inspirational and sounds greedy.
Sure, business owners want to increase their profits and improve customer service, but they need to present an overview of what they consider success. The goals should help everyone prioritize their work.
How far in advance should a business plan?
Business planning should be done at least one year in advance, but many banks and investors prefer three to five year business plans. Longer plans show investors that the management team understands the market and knows the business is operating in a constantly shifting market. In addition, a plan helps businesses to adjust to changes because they have already considered how to handle them.
Example of great business goals
My all time-favorite long-term company goals are included in Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux . These goals were written in 2016 and drive the company’s decisions through 2026. They are the reason that investors are so forgiving when Elon Musk continually fails to meet his quarterly and annual goals.
If the progress aligns with the business plan investors are likely to continue to believe in the company. Just make sure the goals are reasonable or you’ll be discredited (unless you’re Elon Musk).
You did target market research before creating a business plan. Now it’s time to add it to the plan so others understand what your ideal customer looks like. As a new business owner, you may not be considered an expert in your field yet, so document everything. Make sure the references you use are from respectable sources.
Use information from the specific lender when you are applying for lending. Most lenders provide industry research reports and using their data can strengthen the position of your business plan.
A small business plan should include a section on the external environment. Understanding the industry is crucial because we don’t plan a business in a vacuum. Make sure to research the industry trends, competitors, and forecasts. I personally prefer IBIS World for my business research. Make sure to answer questions like:
- What is the industry outlook long-term and short-term?
- How will your business take advantage of projected industry changes and trends?
- What might happen to your competitors and how will your business successfully compete?
Some helpful resources to help you establish more about your industry are:
- Trade Associations
- Federal Reserve
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
There are five basic types of legal structures that most people will utilize:
- Sole proprietorships
- Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
Each business structure has their pros and cons. An LLC is the most common legal structure due to its protection of personal assets and ease of setting up. Make sure to specify how ownership is divided and what roles each owner plays when you have more than one business owner.
You’ll have to decide which structure is best for you, but we’ve gathered information on each to make it easier.
A sole proprietorship is the easiest legal structure to set up but doesn’t protect the owner’s personal assets from legal issues. That means if something goes wrong, you could lose both your company and your home.
To start a sole proprietorship, fill out a special tax form called a Schedule C . Sole proprietors can also join the American Independent Business Alliance .
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
An LLC is the most common business structure used in the United States because an LLC protects the owner’s personal assets. It’s similar to partnerships and corporations, but can be a single-member LLC in most states. An LLC requires a document called an operating agreement.
Each state has different requirements. Here’s a link to find your state’s requirements . Delaware and Nevada are common states to file an LLC because they are really business-friendly. Here’s a blog on the top 10 states to get an LLC.
Partnerships are typically for legal firms. If you choose to use a partnership choose a Limited Liability Partnership. Alternatively, you can just use an LLC.
Corporations are typically for massive organizations. Corporations have taxes on both corporate and income tax so unless you plan on selling stock, you are better off considering an LLC with S-Corp status . Investopedia has good information corporations here .
There are several opportunities to purchase successful franchises. TopFranchise.com has a list of companies in a variety of industries that offer franchise opportunities. This makes it where an entrepreneur can benefit from the reputation of an established business that has already worked out many of the kinks of starting from scratch.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 5. Products and Services
This section of the business plan should focus on what you sell, how you source it, and how you sell it. You should include:
- Unique features that differentiate your business products from competitors
- Intellectual property
- Your supply chain
- Cost and pricing structure
Questions to answer about your products and services
Mike gave us a list of the most important questions to answer about your product and services:
- How will you be selling the product? (in person, ecommerce, wholesale, direct to consumer)?
- How do you let them know they need a product?
- How do you communicate the message?
- How will you do transactions?
- How much will you be selling it for?
- How many do you think you’ll sell and why?
Make sure to use the worksheet on our business plan template .
How to Write a Business Plan Step 6. Sales and Marketing Plan
The marketing and sales plan is focused on the strategy to bring awareness to your company and guides how you will get the product to the consumer. It should contain the following sections:
SWOT Analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Not only do you want to identify them, but you also want to document how the business plans to deal with them.
Business owners need to do a thorough job documenting how their service or product stacks up against the competition.
If proper research isn’t done, investors will be able to tell that the owner hasn’t researched the competition and is less likely to believe that the team can protect its service from threats by the more well-established competition. This is one of the most common parts of a presentation that trips up business owners presenting on Shark Tank .
Examples of strengths and weaknesses could be things like the lack of cash flow, intellectual property ownership, high costs of suppliers, and customers’ expectations on shipping times.
Opportunities could be ways to capitalize on your strengths or improve your weaknesses, but may also be gaps in the industry. This includes:
- Adding offerings that fit with your current small business
- Increase sales to current customers
- Reducing costs through bulk ordering
- Finding ways to reduce inventory
- And other areas you can improve
Threats will normally come from outside of the company but could also be things like losing a key member of the team. Threats normally come from competition, regulations, taxes, and unforeseen events.
The management team should use the SWOT analysis to guide other areas of business planning, but it absolutely has to be done before a business owner starts marketing.
Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan
When you plan a business, taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the competition is key to navigating the field. Providing an overview of your competition and where they are headed shows that you are invested in understanding the industry.
For smaller businesses, you’ll want to search both the company and the owners names to see what they are working on. For publicly held corporations, you can find their quarterly and annual reports on the SEC website .
What another business plans to do can impact your business. Make sure to include things that might make it attractive for bigger companies to outsource to a small business.
The marketing and sales part of business plans should be focused on how you are going to make potential customers aware of your business and then sell to them.
If you haven’t already included it, Mike recommends:
“They’ll want to know about Demographics, ages, and wealth of your target market.”
Make sure to include the Total addressable market . The term refers to the value if you captured 100% of the market.
You’ll explain what formats of advertising you’ll be using. Some possibilities are:
- Online: Facebook and Google are the big names to work with here.
- Print : Print can be used to reach broad groups or targeted markets. Check out this for tips .
- Radio : iHeartMedia is one of the best ways to advertise on the radio
- Cable television : High priced, hard to measure ROI, but here’s an explanation of the process
- Billboards: Attracting customers with billboards can be beneficial in high traffic areas.
You’ll want to define how you’ll be using each including frequency, duration, and cost. If you have the materials already created, including pictures or links to the marketing to show creative assets.
Mike told us “Most businesses are marketing digitally now due to Covid, but that’s not always the right answer.”
Make sure the marketing strategy will help team members or external marketing agencies stay within the brand guidelines .
This section of a business plan should be focused on pricing. There are a ton of pricing strategies that may work for different business plans. Which one will work for you depends on what kind of a business you run.
Some common pricing strategies are:
- Value-based pricing – Commonly used with home buying and selling or other products that are status symbols.
- Skimming pricing – Commonly seen in video game consoles, price starts off high to recoup expenses quickly, then reduces over time.
- Competition-based pricing – Pricing based on competitors’ pricing is commonly seen at gas stations.
- Freemium services – Commonly used for software, where there is a free plan, then purchase options for more functionality.
HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.
Beyond explaining what strategy your business plans to use, you should include references for how you came to this pricing strategy and how it will impact your cash flow.
This part of a business plan is focused on how the product or service is going to go through the supply chain. These may include multiple divisions or multiple companies. Make sure to include any parts of the workflow that are automated so investors can see where cost savings are expected and when.
Supply Chain Examples
For instance, lawn care companies would need to cover aspects such as:
- Suppliers for lawn care equipment and tools
- Any chemicals or treatments needed
- Repair parts for sprinkler systems
- Vehicles to transport equipment and employees
- Insurance to protect the company vehicles and people.
Examples of Supply Chains
These are fairly flat supply chains compared to something like a clothing designer where the clothes would go through multiple vendors. A clothing company might have the following supply chain:
- Raw materials
- Shipping of raw materials
- Converting of raw materials to thread
- Shipping thread to produce garments
- Garment producer
- Shipping to company
- Company storage
- Shipping to retail stores
There have been advances such as print on demand that eliminate many of these steps. If you are designing completely custom clothing, all of this would need to be planned to keep from having business disruptions.
The main thing to include in the business plan is the list of suppliers, the path the supply chain follows, the time from order to the customer’s home, and the costs associated with each step of the process.
According to BizPlanReview , a business plan without this information is likely to get rejected because they have failed to research the key elements necessary to make sales to the customer.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 7. Company Organization and Operational Plan
This part of the business plan is focused on how the business model will function while serving customers. The business plan should provide an overview of how the team will manage the following aspects:
- Legal environment
Let’s look at each for some insight.
Production has already been discussed in previous sections so I won’t go into it much. When writing a business plan for investors, try to avoid repetition as it creates a more simple business plan.
If the organizational plan will be used by the team as an overview of how to perform the best services for the customer, then redundancy makes more sense as it communicates what is important to the business.
Quality control policies help to keep the team focused on how to verify that the company adheres to the business plan and meets or exceeds customer expectations.
Quality control can be anything from a standard that says “all labels on shirts can be no more than 1/16″ off center” to a defined checklist of steps that should be performed and filled out for every customer.
There are a variety of organizations that help define quality control including:
- International Organization for Standardization – Quality standards for energy, technology, food, production environments, and cybersecurity
- AICPA – Standard defined for accounting.
- The Joint Commission – Healthcare
- ASHRAE – HVAC best practices
You can find lists of the organizations that contribute most to the government regulation of industries on Open Secrets . Research what the leaders in your field are doing. Follow their example and implement it in your quality control plan.
For location, you should use information from the market research to establish where the location will be. Make sure to include the following in the location documentation.
- The size of your location
- The type of building (retail, industrial, commercial, etc.)
- Zoning restrictions – Urban Wire has a good map on how zoning works in each state
- Accessibility – Does it meet ADA requirements?
- Costs including rent, maintenance, utilities, insurance and any buildout or remodeling costs
- Utilities – b.e.f. has a good energy calculator .
The legal requirement section is focused on defining how to meet the legal requirements for your industry. A good business plan should include all of the following:
- Any licenses and/or permits that are needed and whether you’ve obtained them
- Any trademarks, copyrights, or patents that you have or are in the process of applying for
- The insurance coverage your business requires and how much it costs
- Any environmental, health, or workplace regulations affecting your business
- Any special regulations affecting your industry
- Bonding requirements, if applicable
Your local SBA office can help you establish requirements in your area. I strongly recommend using them. They are a great resource.
Your business plan should include a plan for company organization and hiring. While you may be the only person with the company right now, down the road you’ll need more people. Make sure to consider and document the answers to the following questions:
- What is the current leadership structure and what will it look like in the future?
- What types of employees will you have? Are there any licensing or educational requirements?
- How many employees will you need?
- Will you ever hire freelancers or independent contractors?
- What is each position’s job description?
- What is the pay structure (hourly, salaried, base plus commission, etc.)?
- How do you plan to find qualified employees and contractors?
One of the most crucial parts of a business plan is the organizational chart. This simply shows the positions the company will need, who is in charge of them and the relationship of each of them. It will look similar to this:
Our small business plan template has a much more in-depth organizational chart you can edit to include when you include the organizational chart in your business plan.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements
No business plan is complete without financial statements or financial projections. The business plan format will be different based on whether you are writing a business plan to expand a business or a startup business plan. Let’s dig deeper into each.
Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business
An existing business should use their past financial documents including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement to find trends to estimate the next 3-5 years.
You can create easy trendlines in excel to predict future revenue, profit and loss, cash flow, and other changes in year-over-year performance. This will show your expected performance assuming business continues as normal.
If you are seeking an investment, then the business is probably not going to continue as normal. Depending on the financial plan and the purpose of getting financing, adjustments may be needed to the following:
- Higher Revenue if expanding business
- Lower Cost of Goods Sold if purchasing inventory with bulk discounts
- Adding interest if utilizing financing (not equity deal)
- Changes in expenses
- Addition of financing information to the cash flow statement
- Changes in Earnings per Share on the balance sheet
Financial modeling is a challenging subject, but there are plenty of low-cost courses on the subject. If you need help planning your business financial documentation take some time to watch some of them.
Make it a point to document how you calculated all the changes to the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in your business plan so that key team members or investors can verify your research.
Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan
Unlike an existing business, a startup doesn’t have previous success to model its future performance. In this scenario, you need to focus on how to make a business plan realistic through the use of industry research and averages.
Mike gave the following advice in his interview:
Financial Forecasting Mistakes
One of the things a lot of inexperienced people use is the argument, “If I get one percent of the market, it is worth $100 million.” If you use this, investors are likely to file the document under bad business plan examples.
Let’s use custom t-shirts as an example.
Credence Research estimated in 2018 there were 11,334,800,000 custom t-shirts sold for a total of $206.12 Billion, with a 6% compound annual growth rate.
With that data, you can calculate that the industry will grow to $270 Billion in 2023 and that the average shirt sold creates $18.18 in revenue.
Combine that with an IBIS World estimate of 11,094 custom screen printers and that means even if you become an average seller, you’ll get .009% of the market.
Here’s a table for easier viewing of that information.
The point here is to make sure your business proposal examples make sense.
You’ll need to know industry averages such as cost of customer acquisition, revenue per customer, the average cost of goods sold, and admin costs to be able to create accurate estimates.
Our simple business plan templates walk you through most of these processes. If you follow them you’ll have a good idea of how to write a business proposal.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 9. Business Plan Example of Funding Requests
What is a business plan without a plan on how to obtain funding?
The Small Business Administration has an example for a pizza restaurant that theoretically needed nearly $20k to make it through their first month.
In our video, How to Start a $500K/Year T-Shirt Business (Pt. 1 ), Sanford Booth told us he needed about $200,000 to start his franchise and broke even after 4 months.
Freshbooks estimates it takes on average 2-3 years for a business to be profitable, which means the fictitious pizza company from the SBA could need up to $330k to make it through that time and still pay their bills for their home and pizza shop.
Not every business needs that much to start, but realistically it’s a good idea to assume that you need a fairly large cushion.
Ways to get funding for a small business
There are a variety of ways to cover this. the most common are:
- Bootstrapping – Using your savings without external funding.
- Taking out debt – loans, credit cards
- Equity, Seed Funding – Ownership of a percentage of the company in exchange for current funds
- Crowdsourcing – Promising a good for funding to create the product
Keep reading for more tips on how to write a business plan.
How funding will be used
When asking for business financing make sure to include:
- How much to get started?
- What is the minimum viable product and how soon can you make money?
- How will the money be spent?
Mike emphasized two aspects that should be included in every plan,
How to Write a Business Plan Resources
Here are some links to a business plan sample and business plan outline.
- Sample plan
It’s also helpful to follow some of the leading influencers in the business plan writing community. Here’s a list:
- Wise Plans – Shares a lot of information on starting businesses and is a business plan writing company.
- Optimus Business Plans – Another business plan writing company.
- Venture Capital – A venture capital thread that can help give you ideas.
How to Write a Business Plan: What’s Next?
We hope this guide about how to write a simple business plan step by step has been helpful. We’ve covered:
- The definition of a business plan
- Coming up with a business idea
- Performing market research
- The critical components of a business plan
- An example business plan
In addition, we provided you with a simple business plan template to assist you in the process of writing your startup business plan. The startup business plan template also includes a business model template that will be the key to your success.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our business hub .
Have you written a business plan before? How did it impact your ability to achieve your goals?
Brandon Boushy started his company after years of working in customer service, engineering, and project management. After receiving his MBA, he turned his diverse skills into a business helping other small business owners find resources and strategies that further their business objectives. He focuses on assisting businesses with their marketing, communication, and research needs.
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- April 21, 2022
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Free PDF Business Plan Templates and Samples
Smartsheet Contributor Joe Weller
September 9, 2020
We’ve gathered the most useful collection of business plan PDF templates and samples, including options for organizations of any size and type.
On this page, you’ll find free PDF templates for a simple business plan , small business plan , startup business plan , and more.
Simple Business Plan PDF Templates
These simple business plan PDF templates are ready to use and customizable to fit the needs of any organization.
Simple Business Plan Template PDF
This template contains a traditional business plan layout to help you map out each aspect, from a company overview to sales projections and a marketing strategy. This template includes a table of contents, as well as space for financing details that startups looking for funding may need to provide.
Download Simple Business Plan Template - PDF
Lean Business Plan Template PDF
This scannable business plan template allows you to easily identify the most important elements of your plan. Use this template to outline key details pertaining to your business and industry, product or service offerings, target customer segments (and channels to reach them), and to identify sources of revenue. There is also space to include key performance metrics and a timeline of activities.
Download Lean Business Plan Template - PDF
Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template PDF
This template is designed to help you develop and implement a 90-day business plan by breaking it down into manageable chunks of time. Use the space provided to detail your main goals and deliverables for each timeframe, and then add the steps necessary to achieve your objectives. Assign task ownership and enter deadlines to ensure your plan stays on track every step of the way.
Download Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template
PDF | Smartsheet
One-Page Business Plan PDF Templates
The following single page business plan templates are designed to help you download your key ideas on paper, and can be used to create a pitch document to gain buy-in from partners, investors, and stakeholders.
One-Page Business Plan Template PDF
Use this one-page template to summarize each aspect of your business concept in a clear and concise manner. Define the who, what, why, and how of your idea, and use the space at the bottom to create a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) for your business.
Download One-Page Business Plan Template
If you’re looking for a specific type of analysis, check out our collection of SWOT templates .
One-Page Lean Business Plan PDF
This one-page business plan template employs the Lean management concept, and encourages you to focus on the key assumptions of your business idea. A Lean plan is not stagnant, so update it as goals and objectives change — the visual timeline at the bottom is ideal for detailing milestones.
Download One-Page Lean Business Plan Template - PDF
One-Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template
Use this business plan template to identify main goals and outline the necessary activities to achieve those goals in 30, 60, and 90-day increments. Easily customize this template to fit your needs while you track the status of each task and goal to keep your business plan on target.
Download One-Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template
For additional single page plans, including an example of a one-page business plan , visit " One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."
Small Business Plan PDF Templates
These business plan templates are useful for small businesses that want to map out a way to meet organizational objectives, including how to structure, operate, and expand their business.
Simple Small Business Plan Template PDF
A small business can use this template to outline each critical component of a business plan. There is space to provide details about product or service offerings, target audience, customer reach strategy, competitive advantage, and more. Plus, there is space at the bottom of the document to include a SWOT analysis. Once complete, you can use the template as a basis to build out a more elaborate plan.
Download Simple Small Business Plan Template
Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template PDF
This fill-in-the-blank template walks you through each section of a business plan. Build upon the fill-in-the-blank content provided in each section to add information about your company, business idea, market analysis, implementation plan, timeline of milestones, and much more.
Download Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template - PDF
One-Page Small Business Plan Template PDF
Use this one-page template to create a scannable business plan that highlights the most essential parts of your organization’s strategy. Provide your business overview and management team details at the top, and then outline the target market, market size, competitive offerings, key objectives and success metrics, financial plan, and more.
Download One-Page Business Plan for Small Business - PDF
Startup Business Plan PDF Templates
Startups can use these business plan templates to check the feasibility of their idea, and articulate their vision to potential investors.
Startup Business Plan Template
Use this business plan template to organize and prepare each essential component of your startup plan. Outline key details relevant to your concept and organization, including your mission and vision statement, product or services offered, pricing structure, marketing strategy, financial plan, and more.
Download Startup Business Plan Template
Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup
Startups can use this sample 30-60-90 day plan to establish main goals and deliverables spanning a 90-day period. Customize the sample goals, deliverables, and activities provided on this template according to the needs of your business. Then, assign task owners and set due dates to help ensure your 90-day plan stays on track.
Download Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup Template
For additional resources to create your plan, visit “ Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples .”
Nonprofit Business Plan PDF Templates
Use these business plan PDF templates to outline your organization’s mission, your plan to make a positive impact in your community, and the steps you will take to achieve your nonprofit’s goals.
Nonprofit Business Plan Template PDF
Use this customizable PDF template to develop a plan that details your organization’s purpose, objectives, and strategy. This template features a table of contents, with room to include your nonprofit’s mission and vision, key team and board members, program offerings, a market and industry analysis, promotional plan, financial plan, and more. This template also contains a visual timeline to display historic and future milestones.
Download Nonprofit Business Plan Template - PDF
One-Page Business Plan for Nonprofit Organization PDF
This one-page plan serves as a good starting point for established and startup nonprofit organizations to jot down their fundamental goals and objectives. This template contains all the essential aspects of a business plan in a concise and scannable format, including the organizational overview, purpose, promotional plan, key objectives and success metrics, fundraising goals, and more.
Download One-Page Business Plan for Nonprofit Organization Template - PDF
Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan PDF Templates
Use these fill-in-the-blank templates as a foundation for creating a comprehensive roadmap that aligns your business strategy with your marketing, sales, and financial goals.
Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan PDF
The fill-in-the-blank template contains all the vital parts of a business plan, with sample content that you can customize to fit your needs. There is room to include an executive summary, business description, market analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, financial statements, and more.
Download Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Template - PDF
Lean Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan PDF
This business plan is designed with a Lean approach that encourages you to clarify and communicate your business idea in a clear and concise manner. This single page fill-in-the-blank template includes space to provide details about your management team, the problem you're solving, the solution, target customers, cost structure, and revenue streams. Use the timeline at the bottom to produce a visual illustration of key milestones.
Download Fill-In-the-Blank Lean Business Plan Template - PDF
For additional resources, take a look at " Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates ."
Sample Business Plan PDF Templates
These sample business plan PDF templates can help you to develop an organized, thorough, and professional business plan.
Business Plan Sample
This business plan example demonstrates a plan for a fictional food truck company. The sample includes all of the elements in a traditional business plan, which makes it a useful starting point for developing a plan specific to your business needs.
Download Basic Business Plan Sample - PDF
Sample Business Plan Outline Template
Use this sample outline as a starting point for your business plan. Shorten or expand the outline depending on your organization’s needs, and use it to develop a table of contents for your finalized plan.
Download Sample Business Plan Outline Template - PDF
Sample Business Financial Plan Template
Use this sample template to develop the financial portion of your business plan. The template provides space to include a financial overview, key assumptions, financial indicators, and business ratios. Complete the break-even analysis and add your financial statements to help prove the viability of your organization’s business plan.
Download Business Financial Plan Template
PDF | Smartsheet
For more free, downloadable templates for all aspects of your business, check out “ Free Business Templates for Organizations of All Sizes .”
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How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates]
By Letícia Fonseca , Jul 18, 2022
When it comes to writing a business plan, getting started is the biggest challenge.
So how can you avoid staring at a blank page for hours on end? Start with a business plan outline.
With anything in life, an outline can give you the clarity you need to tackle an overwhelming task. This is especially true when drafting crucial documents for your success, like a business plan .
In fact, businesses with clear plans are 16% more likely to succeed , showing more focus and commitment than businesses without plans.
But I know, a business plan is a huge document and it can be confusing to create an outline, too. That’s why I’ve gathered all the information you’ll need to write a business plan outline. No sweat.
Read on for answers to all your business plan outline questions or jump ahead for some handy templates.
Click to jump ahead:
What is a business plan outline (and why do you need one), what format should you choose for your business plan outline, what are the key components of a business plan outline.
- Business plan template examples
- Writing tips to ace your outline
A business plan outline is the backbone of your business plan. It contains all the most important information you’ll want to expand on in your full-length plan.
Think of it this way: your outline is a frame for your plan. It provides a high-level idea of what the final plan should look like, what it will include and how all the information will be organized.
Why would you do this extra step? Beyond saving you from blank page syndrome, an outline ensures you don’t leave any essential information out of your plan — you can see all the most important points at a glance and quickly identify any content gaps.
It also serves as a writing guide. Once you know all the sections you want in your plan, you just need to expand on them. Suddenly, you’re “filling in the blanks” as opposed to writing a plan from scratch!
Incidentally, using a business plan template like this one gives you a running head start, too:
Perhaps most importantly, a business plan outline keeps you focused on the essential parts of your document. (Not to mention what matters most to stakeholders and investors.) With an outline, you’ll spend less time worrying about structure or organization and more time perfecting the actual content of your document.
If you’re looking for more general advice, you can read about how to create a business plan here . But if you’re working on outlining your plan, stick with me.
Return to Table of Contents
Most business plans fit into one of two formats.
The format you choose largely depends on three factors: (1) the stage of your business, (2) if you’re presenting the plan to investors and (3) what you want to achieve with your business plan.
Let’s have a closer look at these two formats and why you might choose one over the other.
Traditional business plans are typically long, detailed documents. In many cases, they take up to 50-60 pages, but it’s not uncommon to see plans spanning 100+ pages.
Traditional plans are long because they cover every aspect of your business. They leave nothing out. You’ll find a traditional business plan template with sections like executive summary, company description, target market, market analysis, marketing plan, financial plan, and more. Basically: the more information the merrier.
This business plan template isn’t of a traditional format, but you could expand it into one by duplicating pages:
Due to their high level of detail, traditional formats are the best way to sell your business. They show you’re reliable and have a clear vision for your business’s future.
If you’re planning on presenting your plan to investors and stakeholders, you’ll want to go with a traditional plan format. The more information you include, the fewer doubts and questions you’ll get when you present your plan, so don’t hold back.
Traditional business plans require more detailed outlines before drafting since there’s a lot of information to cover. You’ll want to list all the sections and include bullet points describing what each section should cover.
It’s also a good idea to include all external resources and visuals in your outline, so you don’t have to gather them later.
Lean business plan formats are high level and quick to write. They’re often only one or two pages. Similar to a business plan infographic , they’re scannable and quick to digest, like this template:
This format is often referred to as a “startup” format due to (you guessed it!) many startups using it.
Lean business plans require less detailed outlines. You can include high-level sections and a few lines in each section covering the basics. Since the final plan will only be a page or two, you don’t need to over prepare. Nor will you need a ton of external resources.
Lean plans don’t answer all the questions investors and stakeholders may ask, so if you go this route, make sure it’s the right choice for your business . Companies not yet ready to present to investors will typically use a lean/startup format to get their rough plan on paper and share it internally with their management team.
Here’s another example of a lean business plan format in the form of a financial plan:
Your business plan outline should include all the following sections. The level of detail you choose to go into will depend on your intentions for your plan (sharing with stakeholders vs. internal use), but you’ll want every section to be clear and to the point.
1. Executive summary
The executive summary gives a high-level description of your company, product or service. This section should include a mission statement, your company description, your business’s primary goal, and the problem it aims to solve. You’ll want to state how your business can solve the problem and briefly explain what makes you stand out (your competitive advantage).
Having an executive summary is essential to selling your business to stakeholders , so it should be as clear and concise as possible. Summarize your business in a few sentences in a way that will hook the reader (or audience) and get them invested in what you have to say next. In other words, this is your elevator pitch.
2. Product and services description
This is where you should go into more detail about your product or service. Your product is the heart of your business, so it’s essential this section is easy to grasp. After all, if people don’t know what you’re selling, you’ll have a hard time keeping them engaged!
Expand on your description in the executive summary, going into detail about the problem your customers face and how your product/service will solve it. If you have various products or services, go through all of them in equal detail.
3. Target market and/or Market analysis
A market analysis is crucial for placing your business in a larger context and showing investors you know your industry. This section should include market research on your prospective customer demographic including location, age range, goals and motivations.
You can even include detailed customer personas as a visual aid — these are especially useful if you have several target demographics. You want to showcase your knowledge of your customer, who exactly you’re selling to and how you can fulfill their needs.
Be sure to include information on the overall target market for your product, including direct and indirect competitors and how your industry is performing. If your competitors have strengths you want to mimic or weaknesses you want to exploit, this is the place to record that information.
4. Organization and management
You can think of this as a “meet the team” section — this is where you should go into depth on your business’s structure from management to legal and HR. If there are people bringing unique skills or experience to the table (I’m sure there are!), you should highlight them in this section.
The goal here is to showcase why your team is the best to run your business. Investors want to know you’re unified, organized and reliable. This is also a potential opportunity to bring more humanity to your business plan and showcase the faces behind the ideas and product.
5. Marketing and sales
Now that you’ve introduced your product and team, you need to explain how you’re going to sell it. Give a detailed explanation of your sales and marketing strategy, including pricing, timelines for launching your product and advertising.
This is a major section of your plan and can even live as a separate document for your marketing and sales teams. Here are some marketing plan templates to help you get started .
Make sure you have research or analysis to back up your decisions — if you want to do paid ads on LinkedIn to advertise your product, include a brief explanation as to why that is the best channel for your business.
6. Financial projections and funding request
The end of your plan is where you’ll look to the future and how you think your business will perform financially. Your financial plan should include results from your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow projections.
State your funding requirements and what you need to realize the business. Be extremely clear about how you plan to use the funding and when you expect investors will see returns.
If you aren’t presenting to potential investors, you can skip this part, but it’s something to keep in mind should you seek funding in the future. Covering financial projections and the previous five components is essential at the stage of business formation to ensure everything goes smoothly moving forward.
Any extra visual aids, receipts, paperwork or charts will live here. Anything that may be relevant to your plan should be included as reference e.g. your cash flow statement (or other financial statements). You can format your appendix in whatever way you think is best — as long as it’s easy for readers to find what they’re looking for, you’ve done your job!
Typically, the best way to start your outline is to list all these high-level sections. Then, you can add bullet points outlining what will go in each section and the resources you’ll need to write them. This should give you a solid starting point for your full-length plan.
Business plan outline templates
Looking for a shortcut? Our business plan templates are basically outlines in a box!
While your outline likely won’t go into as much detail, these templates are great examples of how to organize your sections.
Traditional format templates
A strong template can turn your long, dense business plan into an engaging, easy-to-read document. There are lots to choose from, but here are just a few ideas to inspire you…
You can duplicate pages and use these styles for a traditional outline, or start with a lean outline as you build your business plan out over time:
Lean format templates
For lean format outlines, a simpler ‘ mind map ’ style is a good bet. With this style, you can get ideas down fast and quickly turn them into one or two-page plans. Plus, because they’re shorter, they’re easy to share with your team.
Writing tips to ace your business plan outline
Business plans are complex documents, so if you’re still not sure how to write your outline, don’t worry! Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when drafting your business plan outline:
- Ask yourself why you’re writing an outline. Having a clear goal for your outline can help keep you on track as you write. Everything you include in your plan should contribute to your goal. If it doesn’t, it probably doesn’t need to be in there.
- Keep it clear and concise. Whether you’re writing a traditional or lean format business plan, your outline should be easy to understand. Choose your words wisely and avoid unnecessary preambles or padding language. The faster you get to the point, the easier your plan will be to read.
- Add visual aids. No one likes reading huge walls of text! Make room in your outline for visuals, data and charts. This keeps your audience engaged and helps those who are more visual learners. Psst, infographics are great for this.
- Make it collaborative. Have someone (or several someones) look it over before finalizing your outline. If you have an established marketing / sales / finance team, have them look it over too. Getting feedback at the outline stage can help you avoid rewrites and wasted time down the line.
If this is your first time writing a business plan outline, don’t be too hard on yourself. You might not get it 100% right on the first try, but with these tips and the key components listed above, you’ll have a strong foundation. Remember, done is better than perfect.
Create a winning business plan by starting with a detailed, actionable outline
The best way to learn is by doing. So go ahead, get started on your business plan outline. As you develop your plan, you’ll no doubt learn more about your business and what’s important for success along the way.
A clean, compelling template is a great way to get a head start on your outline. After all, the sections are already separated and defined for you!
Explore Venngage’s business plan templates for one that suits your needs. Many are free to use and there are premium templates available for a small monthly fee. Happy outlining!
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How to write a business plan in seven simple steps
When written effectively, a business plan can help raise capital, inform decisions, and draw new talent.
Companies of all sizes have one thing in common: They all began as small businesses. Starting small is the corner for those just getting off the ground. Learn about how to make that first hire, deal with all things administrative, and set yourself up for success.
Writing a business plan is often the first step in transforming your business from an idea into something tangible . As you write, your thoughts begin to solidify into strategy, and a path forward starts to emerge. But a business plan is not only the realm of startups; established companies can also benefit from revisiting and rewriting theirs. In any case, the formal documentation can provide the clarity needed to motivate staff , woo investors, or inform future decisions.
No matter your industry or the size of your team, the task of writing a business plan—a document filled with so much detail and documentation—can feel daunting. Don’t let that stop you, however; there are easy steps to getting started.
What is a business plan and why does it matter?
A business plan is a formal document outlining the goals, direction, finances, team, and future planning of your business. It can be geared toward investors, in a bid to raise capital, or used as an internal document to align teams and provide direction. It typically includes extensive market research, competitor analysis, financial documentation, and an overview of your business and marketing strategy. When written effectively, a business plan can help prescribe action and keep business owners on track to meeting business goals.
Who needs a business plan?
A business plan can be particularly helpful during a company’s initial growth and serve as a guiding force amid the uncertainty, distractions, and at-times rapid developments involved in starting a business . For enterprise companies, a business plan should be a living, breathing document that guides decision-making and facilitates intentional growth.
“You should have a game plan for every major commitment you’ll have, from early-stage founder agreements to onboarding legal professionals,” says Colin Keogh, CEO of the Rapid Foundation—a company that brings technology and training to communities in need—and a WeWork Labs mentor in the UK . “You can’t go out on funding rounds or take part in accelerators without any planning.”
How to make a business plan and seven components every plan needs
While there is no set format for writing a business plan, there are several elements that are typically included. Here’s what’s important to consider when writing your business plan.
1. Executive summary
No longer than half a page, the executive summary should briefly introduce your business and describe the purpose of the business plan. Are you writing the plan to attract capital? If so, specify how much money you hope to raise, and how you’re going to repay the loan. If you’re writing the plan to align your team and provide direction, explain at a high level what you hope to achieve with this alignment, as well as the size and state of your existing team.
The executive summary should explain what your business does, and provide an introductory overview of your financial health and major achievements to date.
2. Company description
To properly introduce your company, it’s important to also describe the wider industry. What is the financial worth of your market? Are there market trends that will affect the success of your company? What is the state of the industry and its future potential? Use data to support your claims and be sure to include the full gamut of information—both positive and negative—to provide investors and your employees a complete and accurate portrayal of your company’s milieu.
Go on to describe your company and what it provides your customers. Are you a sole proprietor , LLC, partnership, or corporation? Are you an established company or a budding startup? What does your leadership team look like and how many employees do you have? This section should provide both historical and future context around your business, including its founding story, mission statement , and vision for the future.
It’s essential to showcase your point of difference in your company description, as well as any advantages you may have in terms of expert talent or leading technology. This is typically one of the first pieces of the plan to be written.
3. Market analysis and opportunity
Research is key in completing a business plan and, ideally, more time should be spent on research and analysis than writing the plan itself. Understanding the size, growth, history, future potential, and current risks inherent to the wider market is essential for the success of your business, and these considerations should be described here.
In addition to this, it’s important to include research into the target demographic of your product or service. This might be in the form of fictional customer personas, or a broader overview of the income, location, age, gender, and buying habits of your existing and potential customers.
Though the research should be objective, the analysis in this section is a good place to reiterate your point of difference and the ways you plan to capture the market and surpass your competition.
4. Competitive analysis
Beyond explaining the elements that differentiate you from your competition, it’s important to provide an in-depth analysis of your competitors themselves.
This research should delve into the operations, financials, history, leadership, and distribution channels of your direct and indirect competitors. It should explore the value propositions of these competitors, and explain the ways you can compete with, or exploit, their strengths and weaknesses.
5. Execution plan: operations, development, management
This segment provides details around how you’re going to do the work necessary to fulfill this plan. It should include information about your organizational structure and the everyday operations of your team, contractors, and physical and digital assets.
Consider including your company’s organizational chart, as well as more in-depth information on the leadership team: Who are they? What are their backgrounds? What do they bring to the table? Potentially include the résumés of key people on your team.
For startups, your execution plan should include how long it will take to begin operations, and then how much longer to reach profitability. For established companies, it’s a good idea to outline how long it will take to execute your plan, and the ways in which you will change existing operations.
If applicable, it’s also beneficial to include your strategy for hiring new team members and scaling into different markets.
6. Marketing plan
It’s essential to have a comprehensive marketing plan in place as you scale operations or kick off a new strategy—and this should be shared with your stakeholders and employees. This segment of your business plan should show how you’re going to promote your business, attract customers, and retain existing clients.
Include brand messaging, marketing assets, and the timeline and budget for engaging consumers across different channels. Potentially include a marketing SWOT analysis into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Evaluate the way your competitors market themselves, and how your target audience responds—or doesn’t respond—to these messages.
7. Financial history and projections
It’s essential to disclose all finances involved in running your company within your business plan. This is so your shareholders properly understand how you’re projected to perform going forward, and the progress you’ve made so far.
You should include your income statement, which outlines annual net profits or losses; a cash flow statement, which shows how much money you need to launch or scale operations; and a balance sheet that shows financial liabilities and assets.
“An income statement is the measure of your financial results for a certain period and the most accurate report of business activities during that time, [whereas a balance sheet] presents your assets, liabilities, and equity,” Amit Perry, a corporate finance expert, explained at a WeWork Labs educational session in Israel.
It’s crucial to understand the terms correctly so you know how to present your finances when you’re speaking to investors. Amit Perry, CEO and founder of Perryllion Ltd.
In addition, if you’re asking for funding, you will need to outline exactly how much money you need as well as where this money will go and how you plan to pay it back.
12 quick tips for writing a business plan
Now that you know what components are traditionally included in a business plan, it’s time to consider how you’ll actually construct the document.
Here are 12 key factors to keep in mind when writing a business plan. These overarching principles will help you write a business plan that serves its purpose (whatever that may be) and becomes an easy reference in the years ahead.
1. Don’t be long-winded
Use clear, concise language and avoid jargon. When business plans are too long-winded, they’re less likely to be used as intended and more likely to be forgotten or glazed over by stakeholders.
2. Show why you care
Let your passion for your business shine through; show employees and investors why you care (and why they should too).
3. Provide supporting documents
Don’t be afraid to have an extensive list of appendices, including the CVs of team members, built-out customer personas, product demonstrations, and examples of internal or external messaging.
4. Reference data
All information regarding the market, your competitors, and your customers should reference authoritative and relevant data points.
5. Research, research, research
The research that goes into your business plan should take you longer than the writing itself. Consider tracking your research as supporting documentation.
6. Clearly demonstrate your points of difference
At every opportunity, it’s important to drive home the way your product or service differentiates you from your competition and helps solve a problem for your target audience. Don’t shy away from reiterating these differentiating factors throughout the plan.
7. Be objective in your research
As important as it is to showcase your company and the benefits you provide your customers, it’s also important to be objective in the data and research you reference. Showcase the good and the bad when it comes to market research and your financials; you want your shareholders to know you’ve thought through every possible contingency.
8. Know the purpose of your plan
It’s important you understand the purpose of your plan before you begin researching and writing. Be clear about whether you’re writing this plan to attract investment, align teams, or provide direction.
9. Identify your audience
The same way your business plan must have a clearly defined purpose, you must have a clearly defined audience. To whom are you writing? New investors? Current employees? Potential collaborators? Existing shareholders?
10. Avoid jargon
Avoid using industry-specific jargon, unless completely unavoidable, and try making your business plan as easy to understand as possible—for all potential stakeholders.
11. Don’t be afraid to change it
Your business plan should evolve with your company’s growth, which means your business plan document should evolve as well. Revisit and rework your business plan as needed, and remember the most important factor: having a plan in place, even if it changes.
A business plan shouldn’t just be a line on your to-do list; it should be referenced and used as intended going forward. Keep your business plan close, and use it to inform decisions and guide your team in the years ahead.
Creating a business plan is an important step in growing your company
Whether you’re just starting out or running an existing operation, writing an effective business plan can be a key predictor of future success. It can be a foundational document from which you grow and thrive . It can serve as a constant reminder to employees and clients about what you stand for, and the direction in which you’re moving. Or, it can prove to investors that your business, team, and vision are worth their investment.
No matter the size or stage of your business, WeWork can help you fulfill the objectives outlined in your business plan—and WeWork’s coworking spaces can be a hotbed for finding talent and investors, too. The benefits of coworking spaces include intentionally designed lounges, conference rooms, and private offices that foster connection and bolster creativity, while a global network of professionals allows you to expand your reach and meet new collaborators.
Using these steps to write a business plan will put you in good stead to not only create a document that fulfills a purpose but one that also helps to more clearly understand your market, competition, point of difference, and plan for the future.
For more tips on growing teams and building a business, check out all our articles on Ideas by WeWork.
Caitlin Bishop is a writer for WeWork’s Ideas by WeWork , based in New York City. Previously, she was a journalist and editor at Mamamia in Sydney, Australia, and a contributing reporter at Gotham Gazette .
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How to Write a Business Plan in 2023: The Ultimate Guide for Every Entrepreneur
Are you starting a new business or trying to get a loan for your existing venture? If so, you’re going to need to know how to write a business plan. Business plans give entrepreneurs the opportunity to formally analyze and define every aspect of their business idea .
In this post, you’ll learn how to put together a business plan and find the best resources to help you along the way.
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What is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a formal document that outlines your business’s goals and how you will achieve those goals. Entrepreneurs who start out with business plans are 16 percent more likely to build successful companies , according to the Harvard Business Review. Developing a business plan ensures sustainable success, guiding you as you grow your business, legitimizing your venture, and helping you secure funding (among countless other benefits).
What Are the Main Purposes of a Business Plan?
Most financial institutions and service providers require you to submit a detailed business plan to obtain funding for your business. Online businesses will likely have a low overhead to start, so they may not need funding and therefore may not feel the need to write a business plan. That said, writing a business plan is still a good idea as it can help you secure a drastic increase limit on your credit card as your business grows or open a business account. This varies per bank.
If you’re growing your business, use it to help you raise expansion capital, create a growth strategy, find opportunities, and mitigate risks.Palo Alto software found that companies who make business plans are twice as likely to secure funding . .
If you’re just starting your business, making a business plan can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, communicate your vision to others, and develop accurate forecasts.
How to Make a Business Plan: The Prerequisites
Here are the prerequisites to creating a solid business plan:
- Establish goals
- Understand your audience
- Determine your business plan format
- Get to writing!
There are two key questions to ask here:
- What are you hoping to accomplish with your business?
- What are you hoping to accomplish with your business plan?
Approaching your business plan through that lens will help you focus on the end goal throughout the writing process. These also provide metrics to measure success against.
Before writing your business plan, gather the content and data needed to inform what goes in it. This includes researching your market and industry – spanning everything from customer research to legalities you’ll need to consider. It’s a lot easier to start with the information already in front of you instead of researching each section individually as you go.
Turn to guides, samples, and small business plan templates to help. Many countries have an official administration or service dedicated to providing information, resources, and tools to help entrepreneurs and store owners plan, launch, manage, and grow their businesses.
The following will take you to online business plan guides and templates for specific countries.
- United States Small Business Administration (SBA) – The “write your business plan page” includes traditional and lean startup business plan formats, three downloadable sample business plans, a template, and a step-by-step build a business plan tool.
- Australian Government – The “business plan template” page includes a downloadable template, guide, and business plan creation app.
- UK Government Business and Self-Employed – The “write a business plan” page includes links to a downloadable business plan template and resources from trusted UK businesses. .
- Canada Business Network – The “writing your business plan” page includes a detailed guide to writing your business plan and links to business plan templates from Canadian business development organizations and banks.
These business resource sites also offer a wealth of valuable information for entrepreneurs including local and regional regulations, structuring, tax obligations, funding programs, market research data, and much more. Visit the sites above or do the following Google searches to find official local business resources in your area:
- your country government business services
- your state/province government business services
- your city government business services
Some Chamber of Commerce websites offer resources for business owners, including business plan guides and templates. Check your local chapter to see if they have any.
Banks that offer business funding also often have a resource section for entrepreneurs. Do a Google search to find banks that offer business funding as well as business plan advice to see the business plans that get funding. If your bank doesn’t offer any advice, search for the largest banks in your area:
- business plan guide bank name
- business plan samples bank name
- business plan template bank name
If you’re looking for more sample business plans, Bplans has over 500 free business plan samples organized by business type as well as a business plan template. Their collection includes 116 business plans for retail and online stores. Shopify also offers a sample business plan intended to help small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs identify functional areas of a business they may not have considered.
Understand Your Audience
Because business plans serve different purposes, you’re not always presenting it to the same audience. It’s important to understand who’s going to be reading your business plan, what you’re trying to convince them to do, and what hesitations they might have.
That way, you can adapt your business plan accordingly. As such, your audience also determines which type of business plan format you use. Which brings us to our next point…
Which Business Plan Format Should You Use?
The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) presents two business plan formats:
- The traditional business plan format is for entrepreneurs who want to create a detailed plan for themselves or for business funding.
- The lean startup business plan format, on the other hand, is for business owners that want to create a condensed, single-page business plan.
If the business plan is just for you and internal folks, draft a lean startup business plan or a customized version of the traditional business plan with only the sections you need. If you need it for business funding or other official purposes, choose the formal business plan and thoroughly complete the required sections while paying extra attention to financial projections.
If your business operates outside the U.S., clarify the preferred format with your bank.
How to Create a Business Plan: Questions to Ask Yourself
As you write a business plan, take time to not only analyze your business idea, but yourself as well. Ask the following questions to help you analyze your business idea along the way:
- Why do I want to start or expand my business?
- Do my goals (personal and professional) and values align with my business idea?
- What income do I need to generate for myself?
- What education, experience, and skills do I bring to my business?
How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step
According to the business plan template created by SCORE, Deluxe, and the SBA , a traditional business plan encompasses the following sections.
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Products & services
- Market analysis
- Marketing & sales
- Management & organization
- Funding request
- Financial projections
- SWOT analysis
Since not everyone is aware of the key details to include in each section, we’ve listed information you can copy to fill in your business plan outline. Here’s how to build a business plan step by step.
The Executive Summary is the first part of your business plan, so this is where you need to hook readers in. Every business plan starts this way — even a simple business plan template should kick off with the Executive Summary. Summarize your entire business plan in a single page, highlighting details about your business that will excite potential investors and lenders.
Explain what your business has to offer, your target market , what separates you from the competition, a little bit about yourself and the core people behind your business, and realistic projections about your business’ success.
While this is the first section of your business plan, write it after you’ve completed the rest of your business plan. It’s a lot easier because you can pull from the sections you’ve already written, and it’s easier to identify the best parts of your business plan to include on the first page.
In the Company Description, share 411 about your business. Include basic details like:
- Legal structure (sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, etc.)
- Business and tax ID numbers
- When the business started
- Ownership information
- Number of employees
Your mission statement , philosophy and values, vision, short- and long-term goals, and milestones along with a brief overview of your industry, market, outlook, and competitors should also be in the Company Description.
Pro tip: These are the details you’ll use each time you create a business profile, whether that's on social media, business directories, or other networks. Keep your information consistent to reduce confusion and instill more confidence in potential customers.
Products & Services
The Products & Services section details what you plan to sell to customers. For a dropshipping business , this section should explain which trending products you’re going to sell, the pain points your products solve for customers, how you’ll price your products compared to your competitors, expected profit margin, and production and delivery details.
Remember to include any unique selling points for specific products or product groupings, such as low overhead, exclusive agreements with vendors, the ability to obtain products that are in short supply / high demand based on your connections, personalized customer service, or other advantages.
For dropshipping businesses selling hundreds or even thousands of products, detail the main categories of products and the number of products you plan to offer within each category. By doing this, it’s easier to visualize your business offerings as a whole to determine if you need more products in one category to fully flesh out your online store.
The Market Analysis section of your business plan allows you to share the research you have done to learn about your target audience — the potential buyers of your products. People requesting a business plan will want to know that you have a solid understanding of your industry, the competitive landscape, who’s most likely to become your customers. It’s important to demonstrate that there’s a large enough market for your product to make it profitable and/or to make a strong return on investment .
To complete the Market Analysis component of your business plan, check out the following resources for industry, market, and local economic research:
- U.S. Embassy websites in most countries have a business section with information for people who want to sell abroad. Business sections include a basic “getting started” guide, links to economic and data reports, trade events, and additional useful business links for a particular region.
- IBISWorld is a provider of free and paid industry research and procurement research reports for the United States , United Kingdom , Australia , and New Zealand .
- Statista offers free and paid statistics and studies from over 18,000 sources including industry reports, country reports, market studies, outlook reports, and consumer market reports.
Use these websites and others to learn about the projected growth of your industry and your potential profitability. You can also use social media tools like Facebook Audience Insights to estimate the size of your target market on the largest social network
Another way to research your market and products is through Google Trends . This free tool will allow you to see how often people search for the products your business offers over time. Be sure to explain how your business plans to capitalize on increasing and decreasing search trends accordingly.
Marketing & Sales
Knowing your target market is half the battle. In the Marketing & Sales section, share how you plan to reach and sell products to your target market. Outline the marketing and advertising strategies you intend to use to market your product to potential customers – search marketing , social media marketing , email marketing , and influencer marketing methods .
If you’re unsure how to market your business’ products, analyze your competitors for some inspiration. Discovering your competition’s marketing tactics will help you customize your own strategy for building a customer base and ultimately taking your business to the next level.
Do a Google search for your competitor’s business name to find the websites, social accounts, and content they’ve created to market their products. Look at the ways your competitor uses each online entity to drive new customers to their website and product pages.
Then come up with a plan to convert a similar audience with your marketing and advertising messages. For dropshipping businesses, conversions will typically take place on your website as people purchase your products and/or by phone if you take orders over the phone.
Management & Organization
In the Management & Organization piece of your business plan, describe the structure of your business. In terms of legal structure and incorporation, most businesses are classified as sole proprietorships (one owner), partnerships (two or more owners), corporations, or S corporations.
Draft a condensed resume for each of the key members of your business. If you’re a solopreneur , include how your past education and work experience will help you run each aspect of your business. If you have one or more partner(s) and employee(s), include their relevant education and experience as well.
Think of this as a great way to evaluate the strengths of each individual running your business. When self-evaluating, you’ll be able to identify the aspects of your business that’ll be easier to manage and which ones to delegate to freelancers, contractors, employees, and third-party services. This also makes it easier to find the best way to utilize their strengths for business growth.
Chances are, you don’t have a funding request for a startup dropshipping business since the appeal to dropshipping is the low upfront investment . If you’re looking for a loan, however, this would be the section where you outline the dollar amount you need, what you plan to invest in, and how you see the return on your investment.
Another way to use this section is to analyze the investment you have or plan to make when starting or growing your business. This should include everything from the computer you use to run your website to the monthly fee for business services.
In Financial Projections, share your projected revenue and expenses for the first or next five years of your business. The idea here is to demonstrate that the revenue you’re anticipating will easily lead to a return on any investment, whether from your personal finances or a capital lending service.
If you’re looking for funding, you’ll need to go into detail with projected income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and capital expenditure budgets. If you aren’t looking for funding, it won’t hurt to create these types of financial projections so you can realistically plan for the future of your business.
The Appendix of your business plan includes any supplemental documents needed throughout the sections of your business plan. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Credit histories
- Product brochures
- Legal forms
- Supplier contracts
If you’re submitting your business plan for funding, contact the lender to see what documentation they want included with your funding request.
In addition to the above sections, some business plans also include a SWOT Analysis. This is a one-page summary of your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The strengths and weaknesses you include will be internal, whereas opportunities and threats you include will be external.
Depending on the revelations of this section, you may or may not want to make a SWOT analysis when submitting your business plan formally unless it is requested.
Summary: How to Create a Business Plan
As you can see, creating a business plan for your dropshipping business is a great way to validate your business idea , discover your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and make a blueprint for your business's future.
In summary, here are the sections you will need to write for your business plan, step by step:
- SWOT analysis (Optional)
If you haven’t already, take the time to create a business plan to launch or grow your business in 2023!
Want to Learn More?
- How to Start a Dropshipping Business
- How to Register a Business in the USA
- How to Launch Your Ecommerce Store in Less Than 30 Minutes Flat
- 30+ Amazing Startup Business Ideas That’ll Make You Money
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Download Free Business Plan Examples
Download a free business plan in pdf or word doc format to make writing a plan fast and easy, find your sample plan.
Discover the sample plan that best fits your business. Search our gallery of over 500 sample business plans and find the one that's right for you.
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What You'll Get:
A complete business plan Unlike other blank templates, our business plan examples are complete business plans with all of the text and financial forecasts already filled out. Edit the text to make the plan your own and save hundreds of hours.
A professional business plan template All 500 of our business plans are in the SBA-approved format that’s proven to raise money from lenders and investors.
Instructions and help at every step Get help with clear, simple instructions for each section of the business plan. No business experience necessary.
A Word doc you can edit We don’t just have PDF documents that make editing a challenge. Each plan is available in Word format so you can start editing your business plan example right away.
Key Sections Included in our Example Business Plans:
Executive Summary : A quick overview of your plan and entices investors to read more of your plan.
Company : Describes the ownership and history of your business.
Products and Services : Reviews what you sell and what you’re offering your customers.
Market Analysis : Describes your customers and the size of your target market.
Strategy and Implementation : Provides the details of how you plan on building the business.
Management Team : An overview of the people behind the business and why they’re the right team to make the business a success.
Financial Plan : A complete set of forecasts including a Profit and Loss Statement, Cash Flow Statement, and Balance Sheet.
Looking for a sample business plan PDF? You can download a few PDF examples below:
- Accounting and Bookkeeping Sample Business Plan PDF
- Agriculture Farm Sample Business Plan PDF
- Cleaning Service Sample Business Plan PDF
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How to Write a Business Plan Outline [2022 Guide & Format]
When starting a business, having a well-thought-out business plan prepared is necessary for success. It serves as the foundation of your business, helps guide your strategy, and prepares you to overcome the obstacles and risks associated with entrepreneurship. In short, a business plan makes you more like to succeed.
However, like everything in business, starting is often the hardest part. What information do you need? How in-depth should each section be? How should the plan be structured?
All good questions that you can answer by following this business plan outline.
What is a business plan outline?
Starting with a business plan outline helps ensure that you’re covering all of the necessary information to complete your plan. A traditional business plan typically includes—an executive summary, an overview of your products and services, thorough market and industry research, a marketing and sales strategy, operational details, financial projections, and an appendix.
Depending on what you intend to do with your plan, you may not need all of this information right away. If you’re going to speak with investors or pursue funding, then yes, you’ll need to include everything from this outline. But, if you’re using your plan to test an idea or help you run your business, you may want to opt for a lean plan. This is a simpler and faster method that is designed to be updated and used day-to-day.
If you’re unsure of which plan is right for you, check out our guide explaining the differences and use cases for each .
What are the 7 essential parts of a business plan?
No matter the type of business plan you create, these are the seven basic sections you should include. Be sure to download your free business plan template so that you can start drafting your own plan as you work through this outline.
1. Executive summary
While it may appear first, it’s best to write your executive summary last. It’s a brief section that highlights the high-level points you’ve made elsewhere in your business plan.
Summarize the problem you are solving for customers, your solution, the target market, the founding team, and financial forecast highlights. Keep things as brief as possible and entice your audience to learn more about your company.
Keep in mind, this is the first impression your plan and business will make. After looking over your executive summary, your target reader is either going to throw your business plan away or keep reading. So make sure you spend the time to get it just right.
2. Product and services
This is really the opportunity section of your business plan, with the products and services being how you plan to take advantage of the opportunity. You’ll need to describe the problem that you solve for your customers and the solution that you are selling.
Lastly, if there are any major competitive products or services already in the market, it may be valuable to mention them here. Detail how you differ, what your strengths and weaknesses are in comparison, and how you’ll differentiate from what is already available. If you have any intellectual property or patents that help strengthen your position list them here as well.
3. Market analysis
You need to know your target market —the types of customers you are looking for—and how it’s changing, and your market analysis summary will help you get clear on it.
Use this business plan component to discuss your customers’ needs, where your customers are, how to reach them and how to deliver your product to them.
You’ll also need to know who your competitors are and how you stack up against them—why are you sure there’s room for you in this market?
4. Marketing and sales
Use this business plan section to outline your marketing plan, your sales plan, and the other logistics involved in actually running your business.
You’ll want to cover your sales channels, broad marketing activities, your pricing strategy, as well as your intended market position. This will likely evolve over time, but it’s best to include anything that clearly details how you will sell and promote your products and services.
5. Organization and management
The company and management section is an overview of who you are.
It should describe the organization of your business, and the key members of the management team . It should also provide any historical background about your business. When your company was founded, who is/are the owner(s), what state your company is registered in and where you do business, and when/if your company was incorporated for example.
Be sure to include summaries of your managers’ backgrounds and experience—these should act like brief resumes—and describe their functions with the company. You should also include any professional gaps you intend to fill, as well as projected milestones for your business.
6. Financial projections and metrics
At the very least this section should include your projected sales forecast , profit and loss , cash flow projections, and balance sheet , along with a brief description of the assumptions you’re making with your projections.
Finally, if you are raising money or taking out loans, you should highlight the money you need to launch the business. This part should also include a use of funds report—basically an overview of how the funding will be used in business operations.
And while it’s not required, it may be wise to briefly mention your exit strategy. This doesn’t need to be overly detailed, just a general idea of how you may eventually want to exit your business.
The end of your business plan should include any additional information to back up specific elements of your plan. More detailed financial statements, resumes for your management team, patent documentation, credit histories, marketing examples, etc. Basically, include anything that can promote your credibility as a business owner.
Business plan outline template
If you’re looking for greater insight into what goes into specific planning sections, check out the following outline. It can help you develop a detailed business plan or provide guidance as to what may be missing in your current plan.
Keep in mind that each business plan will look different depending on numerous factors , including the type of business and what you will be using the plan for. Consider the following outline to be a master version to reference and consider. Just be sure to focus on the plan type and sections that are most beneficial to your business, pitch, or overall strategic planning .
1.0 Executive Summary
A summary of the problem you are solving and an identifiable need in the market you are filling.
A description of the product or service you will provide to solve the problem.
1.3 Target Market
A defined customer base who will most likely purchase the product or service. For info on how to define your target market, check out our guide on the subject.
The current alternatives or substitutes in the market that you and your business will be competing against.
1.5 Financial Summary
Key highlights of your financial plan that covers costs, sales, and profitability.
1.6 Funding Requirements
A brief outline of the amount of money you will need to start your business. Include this if you plan on pitching to investors.
1.7 Milestones and Traction
A roadmap of where you currently are and specific milestones you plan to hit.
2.0 Product and services
2.1 problem worth solving.
A thorough description of the problem or pain point you intend to solve for your customer base.
2.2 Our Solution
A thorough description of your proposed product or service that alleviates the problem of your customer base.
2.3 Validation of Problem and Solution
Any data or relative information that supports your solution. If you’ve already run tests that verify your idea , this is the place to include your results.
2.4 Product Overview
A description of your product and/or service that explains what it does, who its for, and how it benefits your customers.
Any information explaining current competitive offerings and how your product differs from them.
2.6 Roadmap/Future Plans
A list of steps taken so far, along with an outline of steps you plan to take in establishing or growing your business.
3.0 Market Analysis
3.1 market segmentation.
Potential groups of customers separated by specific characteristics.
3.2 Target market segment strategy
Your ideal customer who would most likely benefit from your business.
3.2.1 Market needs
A description of how your target market is not effectively served and how your business fulfills a need.
3.2.2 Market trends
How consumers in your target market tend to act including purchasing habits, financial trends, and any other relevant factors.
3.2.3 Market growth
The perceived potential increase or decrease in the size of your target market.
3.3 Key customers
Your ideal customer archetype who will be the main advocate for your business.
3.4 Future markets
A snapshot of the potential market based on the last few sections and how your business strategy works within it.
A list of potential competitors. Identifying the competition isn’t always obvious and it may take some digging on your part .
3.5.1 Competitors and alternatives
A list of potential indirect competitors that provide products or services that are alternatives to your business.
3.5.2 Competitive advantage
The strategic advantage(s) that makes your target market more likely to choose you over the competition.
4.0 Marketing and Sales
4.1 marketing plan.
An outline of your marketing and advertising strategy including costs, advertising channels, and goals.
4.2 Sales plan
An estimate of the number of sales you anticipate based on market conditions, capacity, pricing strategy, and other factors.
4.3 Location and facilities
Details of your physical business location (if necessary) including location and costs of operation.
An explanation of any new technology that defines your business.
4.5 Equipment and tools
Any required production equipment or tools and the cost associated with purchasing or renting them.
5.0 Organization and management
5.1 organizational structure.
An overview of the structure of your business including roles and responsibilities of specific employees and the flow of information between levels of the organization.
5.2 Management team
A list of potential candidates you anticipate taking on high-level management roles within your company.
5.3 Management team gaps
Any positions or areas of expertise that you currently do not have candidates ready to fill those roles.
5.4 Personnel plan
A list of potential positions that you expect to require in order to run your business effectively.
5.5 Company history and ownership
A summary of your company’s history and how it relates to planning your business.
A detailed roadmap of specific goals and objectives you plan to achieve that will help you manage and steer your business.
5.7 Key metrics
Performance measurements that help you gauge the overall performance and health of your business.
6.0 Financial projections and metrics
Standard financial documentation that showcases the current and projected health of your business.
6.1 Revenue and sales forecast
Expected revenue and sales for the next 1-3 years, broken down into month-by-month increments for at least the first year.
Expected or incurred costs necessary to start and operate your business.
6.3 Projected profit and loss
How much money you will bring in by selling products and/or services and how much profit you will make or lose after accounting for production costs.
6.4 Projected cash flow
Money that is expected to cycle in and out of your business. This can also include your overall cash position and cash runway.
6.5 Projected balance sheet
Expected balances for business assets, liabilities, and equity.
6.6 Personnel plan
Outline of how and who you intend to hire, what compensation will be, and how employees will fit into business operations.
6.7 Use of funds
Explanation of how funds were or will be used. This is typically meant to be shared with investors or lenders.
6.8 Exit strategy
A brief description of how you intend to eventually exit from your business. Acquisition, selling, passing along to a family member/employee, etc.
A repository for any additional information , including charts and graphs, to support your business plan.
How to organize your business plan
There’s no real established order to business plans, aside from keeping the Executive Summary at the top. As long as you have all of the main business plan components, then the order should reflect your goals .
If this is meant solely for your personal use, lay it out as a roadmap with similar sections grouped together for easy reference. If you’re pitching this to potential investors, lead with the stronger sections to emphasize the pitch. Then if you’re unsure of what order makes sense, then just stick to the outline in this article.
Should you include tables and charts in your business plan?
Every business plan should include bar charts and pie charts to illustrate the numbers. It’s a simple way for you, your team, and investors to visualize and digest complex financial information.
Cash flow is the single most important numerical analysis in a business plan, and a standard cash flow statement or table should never be missing. Most standard business plans also include a sales forecast and income statement (also called profit and loss), and a balance sheet .
How long should your business plan be?
There’s no perfect length for a business plan . A traditional business plan can be anywhere from 10 to 50 pages long depending on how much detail you include in each section. However, as we said before unless you intend to pursue funding, you likely don’t need a lengthy business plan at first.
Instead, you can start with a lean plan that can be completed in as little as 30-minutes. This one-page business plan is designed to help you get the core information down about your business. It encourages you to focus on your financials and functions moreso as a long-term management tool that’s easy to review and update regularly.
So, if you’re pursuing funding check out our full guide on how to write a traditional business plan . If you’re looking for a faster, easier, and more effective long-term planning method, check out this guide from LivePlan on how to write a lean plan in under an hour .
Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry .
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Traditional business plans use some combination of these nine sections. Executive summary Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful. Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company's leadership team, employees, and location.
Brainstorm Your Business Goals Wherever you are on the business journey, you return to your goals and assess where you are in meeting your in-progress targets and setting new goals to work...
Explore over 500 free real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries to guide you through writing your own plan. If you're looking for an intuitive tool that walks you through the plan writing process, we recommend LivePlan.
Reading sample business plans is essential when you're writing your own. As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, you'll learn how to write one that gets your business off on the right foot, convinces investors to provide funding, and ensures your venture is sustainable for the long term.
Business Plan Templates: 9 FREE Samples - 2022 Updated Home Templates Business plan templates From competitive analysis to financial projections, business plans give your new business a roadmap for success. Download one of our free business plan templates and take your company to the next level. What is a business plan?
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Here are the 7 steps to write a business plan: Executive summary Products & services Market analysis Marketing & sales Company organization and management team Financial projections Appendix Be sure to download our free business plan template to start writing your own business plan as you work through this guide.
Generally, there are three types of business proposals: 1. Formally solicited A formally solicited business proposal is made when you respond to an official request to write a business proposal. In this scenario, you know all the requirements and have more (if not all) information about a prospective buyer.
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.
7 Business plan examples: section by section The business plan examples we'll look at below follow this example template: Click here to start selling online now with Shopify Executive summary. An introductory overview of your business. Company description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists. Market analysis.
Our non-profit business plan sample includes a mission statement, programs and services, marketing and outreach strategies, and a financial analysis, providing a clear roadmap for establishing or expanding your organization. Download Nonprofit Business Plan Sample PDF Why We Like Non Profit Business Plan Sample? 12.
1. Get Your Free Templates. 1. Begin with a title page. You have to convey some basic information here. Introduce yourself and your business. Be sure to include your name, your company's name, the date you submitted the proposal, and the name of the client or individual you're submitting the proposal to.
Let these informative and polished templates guide you through creating your business plan. Business plan presentation. PowerPoint. Business plan (Design) Word. Business Plan. Word. Small business startup checklist. Word.
Business Plan Template Here is a basic template that any business can use when developing its business plan: Section 1: Executive Summary Present the company's mission. Describe the company's product and/or service offerings. Give a summary of the target market and its demographics.
A business plan is simply a road map of what you are trying to achieve with your business and how you will go about achieving it. It should cover all elements of your business including: Finding customers Plans for developing a team Competition Legal structures Funding Key milestones you are pursuing
Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup Startups can use this sample 30-60-90 day plan to establish main goals and deliverables spanning a 90-day period. Customize the sample goals, deliverables, and activities provided on this template according to the needs of your business.
Free business plan template PDF download Click here to download the pdf version of the Bplans Business Plan Template. The PDF will allow you to review the sections described above and includes additional guidance to help you complete each section. Free business plan template for Microsoft Word
A business plan is a 30- to 50-page document that outlines a company's goals and strategies for achieving those goals. It also outlines the internal and external processes a business needs to meet its financial projections and customer expectations. What is the difference between a business plan and a business model?
The format you choose largely depends on three factors: (1) the stage of your business, (2) if you're presenting the plan to investors and (3) what you want to achieve with your business plan. Let's have a closer look at these two formats and why you might choose one over the other. Traditional format
This is typically one of the first pieces of the plan to be written. 3. Market analysis and opportunity. Research is key in completing a business plan and, ideally, more time should be spent on research and analysis than writing the plan itself. Understanding the size, growth, history, future potential, and current risks inherent to the wider ...
The following will take you to online business plan guides and templates for specific countries. United States Small Business Administration (SBA) - The "write your business plan page" includes traditional and lean startup business plan formats, three downloadable sample business plans, a template, and a step-by-step build a business plan ...
Every plan includes the following sections: Executive Summary: A quick overview of your plan and entices investors to read more of your plan. Company: Describes the ownership and history of your business. Products and Services: Reviews what you sell and what you're offering your customers.
No matter the type of business plan you create, these are the seven basic sections you should include. Be sure to download your free business plan template so that you can start drafting your own plan as you work through this outline. 1. Executive summary. While it may appear first, it's best to write your executive summary last.