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How to Write a Business Plan for a Startup

Last Updated: April 1, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jack Herrick . Jack Herrick is an American entrepreneur and wiki enthusiast. His entrepreneurial projects include wikiHow, eHow, Luminescent Technologies, and BigTray. In January 2005, Herrick started wikiHow with the goal of creating "the how-to guide for everything." He has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Dartmouth College. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 111,820 times.

As a startup, you will need a business plan. For example, you will need to show your plan to a bank if you are seeking a loan. You also need to show the plan to any investor. Business plans are helpful because they force you to step back and analyze your business critically. You should consider your target market, the products or services you will offer, and your projected finances. Writing a business plan isn’t difficult, though it will require considerable research and planning.

Explaining Your Marketing Plan

Step 1 Describe your mission and objectives.

  • Your mission. What is your driving goal every day? Don’t simply write, “Make money.” Identify how you will make money. For example, you can write: “Our mission is to offer residents of the Lakeview neighborhood the best day spa experience in the Near North Side of Chicago. We are committed to providing value and quality in a fun atmosphere that is never predictable.”
  • Your goals. For example, a day spay might have the following goal: “To attract a minimum of 35 customers each day in the first year of operations.” Make your goals as concrete as possible.
  • Description of the industry. Explain whether the industry is growing or poised for growth in the short and long term.
  • The factors that will drive your success. How will you set yourself apart? For example, “You All Day will separate itself from the pack based on the owner’s deep experience running a day spa in Seattle for ten years. This experience includes familiarity with successful marketing techniques and trends analysis.”
  • Your legal form. Are you a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation? Also explain why you selected this form.

Jack Herrick

Jack Herrick

Don’t skimp on how much energy and time you put into your mission. When asked about creating wikiHow’s mission, Jack Herrick, founder of wikiHow, responded: “We had the whole management team — alongside members of the wikiHow community — reviewing it, discussing it, and going back and forth on the wording. Those two sentences were many hours of work.”

Step 2 Discuss your industry.

  • You can search for industry information in other places. For example, talk to people in your industry at trade shows. Also search online. Many industries have trade associations, which have websites with information.
  • For example, when analyzing the day spa industry, you might want to talk about how it is growing because more upper-income men in urban areas are visiting. (If that’s true).
  • By analyzing the industry, you gain insight as to your likely target market and how you can reach them.

Step 3 Identify your target market.

  • Age. What is the average age of your likely customer? If you don’t know, then visit similar businesses and note the ages of the clientele.
  • Gender. Will men or women—or both—primarily use your products or services?
  • Location. Generally, your market will be located near your business. However, if you have a web-based business, your target audience could have no geographic boundaries.
  • Income level.
  • Occupation. For example, a day spa might target stressed-out white collar professionals.
  • Education level. There is often a link between education, income, and occupation—though not always. For example, a discount bookstore might target an educated audience that nevertheless has a lower income.

Step 4 Scope out your competition.

  • To find competitors, look in the phone book and do a general Google search. Make sure to read their website and stop into the business.
  • If you’re opening a restaurant, you’ll want to see a sample menu, as well as the hours of operation.
  • Also identify indirect competitors. For example, a day spa is competing with more than other spas. You also compete with any business that offers relaxation, such as massage parlors or meditation centers.
  • Name of your competitor.
  • What you offer that they don’t. Think about products and services, but also location, ease of ordering, etc. What will make the consumer experience different at your business?
  • What they offer that you don’t. Identify why you don’t offer their products or services. For example, they may be serving multiple niches while you are focused on only one. Alternately, they may have a favorable location.

Step 6 Describe your products and services.

  • Whether you will sell pizza by the slice, as whole pies, or both
  • How big your pizzas will be
  • What toppings your customers can offer
  • If you will have take-out and delivery options
  • What other food items will be sold

Step 7 Devise your marketing...

  • What type of advertising or promotion will you use? How often will you use paid promotion?
  • What other promotion other than paid advertising will you use? For example, you might use social media, professional networks, etc.
  • Will you create a logo and use it on cards, letterhead, websites, etc.?
  • How large will your promotional budget be?

Discussing Your Business Organization

Step 1 Explain your daily operations.

  • State how much you expect to pay each employee in your first three years of business.
  • Also name your professional support, such as your business lawyer, accountant, and insurance agent. Professionals are independent contractors you use but don’t employ. Calculate how much you expect to spend on each professional.

Step 2 Identify management.

  • You might write: “Lisa Jones is the sole proprietor of You All Day and will run day-to-day operations. As a certified massage therapist, she ran the Relax! chain of day spas in the Greater Seattle area for ten years. A former accountant, Lisa has an MS in accounting from the University of New Hampshire and worked as a CPA briefly before going into the spa business.”
  • If you are asking for a loan, then include resumes for each owner. You can put them in the appendix at the end of the document.

Step 3 Provide personal financial statements.

  • You should create professional-looking financial statements using a spreadsheet.
  • You’ll have to gather quite a bit of information to make the financial statement. For example, you will need information on your assets, investments, and personal debts.
  • You might also want to get a free copy of your credit report and review it as you draft your business plan.

Analyzing Business Finances

Step 1 Explain your start-up costs.

  • Common startup costs include insurance, licenses, equipment, advertising, and employee expenses. [11] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Small Business Administration U.S. government agency focused on supporting small businesses Go to source
  • Also identify the source of the startup capital. For example, if your startup has three initial owners, state how much each is contributing to the business and their ownership percentage.
  • If you need financing, state how much. Include the terms of any proposed loan.

Step 2 Forecast profits for the first year.

  • You’ll need to make some assumptions in order to come up with a forecast of sales. You should explain these assumptions in your business plan.
  • For example, you can write, “We assume continued interest in day spas in the Chicago area.”
  • Another assumption is the overall health of the economy. “Although the Chicagoland economy has grown more slowly than other regions of the country, we assume that the Chicago economy will grow on par with other large metropolitan areas in the coming decade.”
  • You can also include a four-year projection, though this is optional.

Step 3 Identify expected cash...

  • Also talk about how you will build up your cash reserves. For example: “In addition to normal cash flow, we will focus on obtaining sufficient cash reserves for emergencies. These reserves include a line of credit with a bank, which we can use when business is slow. We will also invest excess cash in certificates of deposits at our bank.”

Step 4 Provide a break-even analysis.

  • Fixed costs: these don’t vary depending on your sales volume. For example, your rent, employee salaries, and insurance are fixed costs.
  • Variable costs: these fluctuate depending on your sales and include shipping, inventory, and manufacturing costs.

Finishing Your Business Plan

Step 1 Format your document.

  • Add a cover page to your document. You can title it “[Company Name]’s Business Plan” or “Business Plan for [Your Name].” If you have a logo, include that too.

Step 2 Draft your executive summary.

  • For example, you can write, “You All Day is a start-up dedicated to providing men and women in Chicago a high-quality day spa experience at an affordable price. We specialize in pedicures, manicures, massage, and herbal aromatherapy. The Near North Side of Chicago has grown substantially over the past 20 years, with young, educated millennials settling in to start families. This area is currently under served, and we hope You All Day can meet the demand of the local market.”

Step 3 Assemble the pieces.

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Industry Analysis
  • Market and Competition
  • Products and Services
  • Marketing and Sales Plan
  • Operations and Management
  • Financial Forecasts
  • Exhibits/Appendix

Step 4 Add attachments in the appendix.

  • Review for typos and other errors. An accountant should check your numbers to make sure they are accurate.
  • Analyze the overall presentation. Is the information crammed in so that the document is tiring to read? If so, spread out the information so that there is a lot of white space on each page.
  • You can also show the plan to a business adviser. If you live in the U.S., you can show it to someone at your nearest Small Business Development Center, which provides help drafting business plans. You can find your nearest SBDC by visiting this website: https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc .

Step 6 Print and bind the plan.

  • You might want to include tabbed partitions between each section of your business plan. This will make it easier for someone to flip through it and find what they are looking for.

Expert Q&A

  • Don’t be afraid to change your business plans as you research and draft the document. That’s one of the reasons for writing the plan in the first place. For example, you might have intended to target women as consumers only to realize that there are growth opportunities with men. You can adjust your plans accordingly. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

how to create startup business plan

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  • ↑ https://www.extension.iastate.edu/ffed/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Appendix-A-Business-Plan-Values-Vision-Mission-Goals-Leah-Risselman.pdf
  • ↑ https://business.vic.gov.au/business-information/marketing-and-sales/increasing-sales-through-marketing/do-market-research
  • ↑ https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/7-5-reality-check-contests-and-competitions
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/market-research-competitive-analysis
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/business-plan-product-description
  • ↑ https://business.gov.au/planning/business-plans/develop-your-marketing-plan
  • ↑ https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/11-4-the-business-plan
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/calculate-your-startup-costs
  • ↑ https://www.alberta.ca/preparing-financial-projections-and-monitoring-results.aspx
  • ↑ https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/entrepreneurial-private-business/small-business-solutions/blogs/preparing-a-cash-flow-forecast-simple-steps-for-vital-insight.html
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/business-financials/breakeven-analysis
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan
  • ↑ https://smallbusinessbc.ca/article/5-reasons-business-plan-review/

About This Article

Jack Herrick

To write a business plan for a startup, break your plan up into several sections, including an executive summary, a description of your company, an industry analysis, market and competition information, your products and services, your marketing and sales plan, operations and management information, your financial forecasts, and finally, an appendix. To format your business plan, use a professional font, like Times New Roman, and include a cover page with your company's name and logo on it. To learn how to write each section of your business plan, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Startup Business Plan

By Yuvika Iyer , May 28, 2022 - 10 min read

A startup business plan is an outline of your ideas and strategies for what you’ll need to do to start, manage, and even complete your startup’s mission. Creating one might sound simple enough, but because it’s a startup’s roadmap for success, it can be a complex document to create. 

Writing a business plan can make a world of difference for entrepreneurs who desire external funding. It involves determining your target customers, understanding what makes them tick, and figuring out how to reach them through marketing campaigns. 

In this blog post, we’ve explained why you should have a startup business plan, different types of startup business plans, and we’ve included 12 of the most effective tips for writing a startup business plan. If you’re ready to start with now, we have a product launch template to get you started quickly. 

What is a startup business plan?

A startup business plan is a written document that outlines your ideas and strategies for launching, managing, and eventually exiting your new venture. 

A well-constructed business plan can be crucial to the success of any entrepreneurial endeavor . As you prepare your proposal, keep in mind that it will evolve as you learn more about your market.

To start, create an outline of the most important items you'd like feedback on before writing anything down officially.

Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want?
  • Why does my company exist?
  • How will I make money?
  • What are my long-term goals?

A detailed business plan helps you set milestones for measuring success. You can share the plan with investors who may want some reassurance on the viability of their investment in your company.

The best way to create a successful startup business plan is by including everything in an organized and easy-to-read document — marketing strategies, financial projections, team bios, timelines, and more.

What is a lean startup business plan?

A lean startup business plan is a method for developing products that relies on iterative experimentation to reduce uncertainty. 

It has been used by companies such as Google , Amazon, and Facebook in the early stages of their development, and involves testing your idea with real customers early in development.

Lean startups are less likely to fail because they have tested their product or service with live feedback from consumers. Doing this allows them to make changes quickly without wasting resources on something no one wants.

The goal is not to build an extensive business plan but rather a "lean" one that can be changed based on customer feedback and then re-evaluated in regular intervals until it reaches market potential — or fails.

A lean startup business plan is a strategy that focuses on getting a product in front of customers as quickly and cheaply as possible. Use the lean startup business plan to validate your ideas before wasting time and resources.

Why do you need a small startup business plan?

A small startup business plan is one of the most important steps in building a company. Apart from helping you to focus on company goals, it aids in obtaining feedback from potential partners and keeps the team on the same page.

The best thing about starting small? You can change course at any time! If you need help developing or tweaking your small startup business plan, use this guide for entrepreneurs to get started.

You've built a product and you're ready to take the next step, but what's your plan? First, you need a strategy in place. Do you know how much money it will cost, or where exactly that funding should come from? What about marketing strategies for getting customers in the door? 

Mobile image promo promo

You’ll also need to find ways to retain them afterwards so they keep coming back again and again (and spending more).

product launch startup template

Obtain external funding

If you want to get funding from lenders or investors, you need a startup business plan. Lenders want to make sure they're investing in a company that will last and grow.

A well-organized idea shows passion for its purpose and outlines clear goals for helping customers. At the same time, having an exit strategy is also important.

Making a plan for when things don’t pan out as desired lets investors understand how much value there can be while giving customers (and yourself) peace of mind.

Understand your target market

One key piece of your business plan is knowing how to conduct a market analysis. To do this, consider the industry, target market, and competitors. 

Are there any market trends or competitor factors that can affect your business? Review them closely and get ready to make required changes to your business plan.

Prioritize high ROI strategies

In business, ROI is important. Any business that doesn’t generate as much cash as it burns is likely to fail.

With a startup business plan in place, the strategies with the highest ROI become crystal clear. You'll know exactly what to tackle first and how to prioritize the rest of your tasks.

Accelerate financial health

Business plans are not crystal balls, but they can help forecast your financial health. Planning for expenses is vital to keep operations steady and identify problems as soon as possible. 

Cash flow projections can help you see if goals are achievable or highlight upcoming issues that need correction before it's too late.

How to write a small startup business plan

Use this guide for entrepreneurs to develop or tweak a startup business plan. By following this easy six-step process, you'll soon have a clear path to startup success.

1. Clarify the startup vision, mission, and values

The first step to writing a startup business plan is understanding the startup itself.

Once you know what your startup does, ask yourself why. What is the startup's mission? What problem will it help customers solve? The startup's mission statement helps define its reason for existing.

It’s usually expressed in a simple sentence, but can also be written as a short paragraph.

Try to answer these questions: What does your startup do? How will it make money? How quickly do you hope it will grow? Are there any significant milestones or deadlines that need to be met?

2. Outline the executive summary

Now that you have an idea for your startup, its mission, and a vision in mind, it's time to write your startup business plan executive summary.

Keep it simple and precise. Begin by writing a one-sentence startup business plan introduction that showcases the core customer need/pain point and how you propose to solve it.

3. Develop startup goals and milestones

Next, write down the milestones and goals for your startup business plan. This is a crucial step that many entrepreneurs forget when they're starting out.

Do you want to focus on getting new customers? Or attaining a specific revenue number?  Without clear short-term goals, it can be hard to know how to prioritize startup tasks.

4. Write a company description

Answer the two fundamental questions — who are you and what will you do? Then, give an introduction to why you're in business.

Provide a summary of introspective goals, clarifying intangible aspects such as values or cultural philosophies. Make sure to mention:

  • Proposed business structure (limited partnership, sole proprietorship, incorporated company, or a general partnership)
  • Business model
  • Business vision and mission statement
  • Background information of your team members

how to create startup business plan

5. Conduct market analysis

Choosing the right market is crucial to your organization’s success. There are different kinds of products and services that a business can offer and each has particular requirements for a successful market fit.

If you choose one that doesn't have a large enough customer base or is not profitable enough, your company may end up struggling for every sale.

Ensure that there is a clear market niche — an ideal audience of customers with a need or a pain point that your business can help solve.

6. Develop startup partnerships and resources

When you're launching a small startup, one of the most important things that your business needs is capital. There are several ways to get going on this front.

When thinking about sources of funding for startups , consider startup grants, startup loans, startup investors, and startup accelerators.

7. Write a startup marketing plan and startup budget

Your startup business plan is almost complete! All that's left is to create a startup marketing plan and budget. Your startup marketing plan will help you define your company’s target audience and brand image.

The startup budget is an integral part of any startup that helps you take the guesswork out of writing expenses.

Examples of startup business plans

Business plans differ based on the nature of the business, target market, competitive advantage, delivery of product/service, scope, and size.

Though the core business plan template remains the same, the content and flow change. Here is an example of an accounting firm's business plan:

Vision statement

At our company, ABC Accounting Services LLC, we work hard to provide the best service and build a strong team. Our vision is for this brand to be recognized as #1 throughout NYC by both smaller businesses and larger corporations.

Our values are reflected in all that we do: integrity (ethical behavior), service (giving top priority to clients' needs), excellence ("doing it right"), teamwork (working together).

Executive summary

ABC Accounting Services LLC is the premier accounting firm in New York City and will handle various financial services. We specialize in audits, bookkeeping, tax preparation/compliance work, and budgeting assistance with high-quality consulting.

Business structure

ABC Accounting Services LLC will be structured as an LLC — a Limited Liability Company in the state of New York. It will provide accounting, bookkeeping, taxation, auditing, and compliance-related services to small, medium, and large enterprises situated in New York City.

Marketing strategy and competitive advantages

Despite the fact that there are many established accounting services firms in our industry, we have a great chance of becoming successful because of the high demand for financial consulting. 

Often, small businesses don't need full-time employees but would rather hire an accounting service provider like us to handle their bookkeeping and tax returns on time every year.

It is best to find a unique niche or carve out your own market in the financial consulting services industry. If you're able to create an identifiable brand identity for your accounting business, then you will likely see less competition from other firms.

Startup milestones

ABC Accounting Services LLC will focus on delivering an exceptional client experience to grow the business and expand market share.

Startup business plan template

Here's a template you can follow when creating your startup business plan:

how to create startup business plan

Top tips for writing a startup business plan

The following tips will help you create a compelling startup business plan without getting overwhelmed.

Know your audience

To write an effective business plan, tailor your language and level of detail to match the audience reading it. 

Have a simple and clear goal

If you have a goal of securing funding for your business, it will be an uphill task with lots of work and research.

Simplifying and breaking down bigger goals into smaller, actionable tasks will assist you in getting through them faster.

Spend time researching

Avoid assuming anything about your target audience, product/service, or the market need.

Spending adequate time and effort on research from primary and secondary sources will help you develop an accurate business plan.

Build a startup toolkit

The process of creation becomes easier if you have the right startup tools and software by your side. Pick the right ones that will help you in your journey.

Keep it precise

Short and easy-to-read business plans are best kept within 20 pages. If you have additional documents, consider adding them as appendices or provide a link if available online.

Ensure tonal consistency

Keep the tone consistent by having just one author write your startup business plan. Otherwise, be sure to edit it thoroughly before you finalize it.

Add reference points

All information regarding the market, your competitors, and your customers should reference authoritative data points.

Be ready to pivot

A business plan should be fluid and flexible. Think of it as an evolving document that will continue to change over time.

How to create a business plan with Wrike

A good business plan is a powerful tool and can be a key predictor of future progress, but simply filling in a startup business plan won’t help you achieve success. You need to create action steps with accountability that will help you reach your goals. 

Wrike’s project management software can help your organization deliver successful projects and maximize individual and team productivity, and our product launch template can help you turn your startup business plan goals into actionable steps. 

Start a free trial of Wrike today to see how it can help to simplify work, showcase progress to stakeholders, and achieve startup success.

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1. Find the right opportunity

2. write a business plan, 3. choose a business structure, 4. get a federal tax id, 5. apply for licenses and permits, 6. open a business bank account, 7. understand your startup financing options, 8. get a business credit card, 9. choose the right accounting software, 10. prepare to pay your taxes, 11. protect yourself with business insurance, 12. establish your online presence, 13. figure out how you’ll accept credit card payments, 14. learn how to hire employees, 15. get financing to grow your business.

Starting a business takes research, smarts and self-confidence — and a measure of fearlessness. You may already be asking yourself: How can I start my own business with no money? What's the right equipment? Am I getting the best advice? 

Here are the essential steps on how to start a business, from choosing the right business idea, creating a solid business plan and structuring your company to opening a business bank account and choosing the right accounting software.

» Ready to start now? 9 essential business tasks that take an hour or less

What business should you start? It depends on your expertise, plus how much time and money you’re able to invest. Some small-business ideas can be launched from home. 

If you’re not sure what kind of business you want to run, use these lists to get the wheels turning:

50 Best Small-Business Ideas

The 23 Most Profitable Business Ideas

Home Business Ideas: 40 Remote Jobs to Explore

44 Online Business Ideas You Can Start Now

A strong business plan can help you prepare for every aspect of your business. This document should include details of the products or services you plan to offer, how you plan to make money, who you need on your team and more. 

You’ll need a business plan to show to potential investors and lenders. But the process of writing it will help you chart a course for your business, too. 

How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

The Best Business Plan Software

The legal structure of your business can affect everything from your taxes to what you're liable for. Talking with a tax professional can help you choose the right business structure for you. And you can change your structure as your business grows.

How to Choose the Right Business Structure

Pros and Cons of a Limited Liability Company

LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship: How to Choose

Getting an employer identification number (EIN) is necessary for most businesses to file taxes, open bank accounts and perform other essential tasks. The online application only takes a few minutes. 

How to Apply for an Employer Identification Number

Benefits of Getting an EIN (Even If You Don’t Have To)

In general, restaurants need health inspections and liquor licenses. Hair stylists need cosmetology licenses. Your city may require you to apply for a business license regardless of what field you’re in. And if you’re renovating a space to sell products or perform services, you may need to ask local officials for a zoning change.

Set aside time early on to find out what licenses and permits you need before you can open your doors. Industry associations and local business associations, like your Chamber of Commerce, may be able to offer advice. If your city has officials who work on economic development issues, they may be helpful too. 

How to Find a Startup Lawyer  

» MORE: 5 steps to turn your side gig into a full-fledged business

Keeping your business and personal finances separate is key to managing your business finances. A business bank account can help, and they’re easy to set up. 

Where to Open a Business Checking Account Online

Best Free Business Checking Accounts

Best Business Bank Accounts for LLCs

Best Business Bank Accounts for Freelancers

Most businesses need a little capital to get started. In general, business loans are not available to businesses that have been operating for less than six months, and most online lenders prefer at least a year in business. Startups should look to other financing options.

Many business owners rely on their own savings to get started. You can also look into crowdfunding, personal loans, business grants and more. 

How Do Business Loans Work?

Startup Business Loans

Crowdfunding for Business

Startup Business Grants

Funding Your Business With a Personal Loan

A business credit card can help keep your business and personal finances separate, and it can come in handy for purchasing needed supplies and paying your bills while your cash flow is still uneven. 

Usually, you can qualify for a business credit card based on your personal credit score, so these can be good tools for startup financing.

What is a business credit card?

How to Get a Business Credit Card

Best Small-Business Credit Cards

Best Business Credit Cards for New Businesses

It’s essential that you keep records that show how much revenue you’re bringing in and how much you’re spending. Accounting software can make this process much easier — and there are even some free options. 

As your business grows, you may want to start working with a bookkeeper . This person can help ensure your records are complete and accurate, which makes it easier to file your taxes, apply for financing and more. 

Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Best Free Accounting Software

Know These 4 Business Financial Metrics to Track Performance

You'll have some new tax responsibilities as a business owner — including, potentially, the need to pay taxes throughout the year, not just during tax season. But you'll probably discover some new tax breaks, too. 

Filing taxes can be complex, especially as a small-business owner. Developing a relationship with a tax professional early on can help set you up for success, and they can be a trusted adviser to your business later on. 

Best Tax Software for Small Businesses

How Estimated Quarterly Taxes Work

How to Find the Right Tax Advisor for Your Business

It's important to protect your business and your personal assets, and business insurance exists to do just that. NerdWallet recommends that every business carry general liability insurance in case of legal claims. 

You may also need insurance to comply with a contract, like to set up a booth at an event or work as a subcontractor on a larger project.

Best Small-Business Insurance Providers

How Much Does Business Insurance Cost?

What is General Liability Insurance?

What is a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP)?

An online presence is critical for almost every business — especially if you want to sell products online. Setting up a website and social media profiles early on, even if they’re simple, can help you start developing relationships with potential customers right away. 

Here’s what you need to know to start your business website:

How to Build an E-Commerce Website

8 Best E-Commerce Website Builders for Small Businesses

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Facebook to Drive Business Sales

If your business takes credit and debit cards, you'll likely need a payment processor and a merchant account. If you take payments in person, you’ll probably need a point-of-sale system too.

Best Point-of-Sale Systems

Best Credit Card Processing Companies

Best Credit Card Readers for Small Business

You may not need to hire employees right away — and some small-business owners prefer to remain solopreneurs throughout the life of their business. But if you do choose to hire, you’ll probably need workers’ compensation insurance, payroll software and more. Here’s what goes into hiring your first employees.

Ready to Hire Your First Employee? Prep With These Steps

How to Choose the Right Payroll Software for Your Business

What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Once you’ve been in business for six to 12 months, you may start qualifying for business loans. Financing can help your business grow and expand — by buying equipment, renovating an office or expanding your inventory, for instance — or float you through a slow season while you prepare for increased future revenue.

Here’s what you need to know about business loans, lines of credit and other financing options. 

How to Get a Business Loan

Small-Business Loans: Compare Financing and Apply

SBA Loans: What They Are and How to Qualify

On a similar note...

Business Plan Templates


A well-written business plan can help you identify your goals, map out strategies to achieve them, and measure progress along the way. And while some proponents of the ' no plan ' business plan argue that businesses can survive without a business plan — research shows that having a solid plan can help fuel growth and improve business performance, especially if you're a startup.

What's a Startup Business Plan?

Before diving into the specifics, let’s revisit the basics of a startup business plan. Briefly, a business plan is a written document outlining your strategies and ideas for launching, growing, managing, and (later on) exiting your business venture. 

Business plans are by no means set in stone. In fact, your plan will likely evolve as the market changes and as you learn more about your customers. A typical business plan will include your financial projections, marketing strategies, timelines, products and services, management plans, competitive analysis, and more.

Why Does it Matter?

Studies show that both new and existing businesses can benefit from a business plan , as planning drastically improves business performance and efficiency. Also, companies with business plans tend to grow at least 30% faster than those that don't have any sort of planning in place. 

Additionally, 71% of fast-growing companies attribute their growth to having defined their budgets, sales goals, and business strategies early on. And to really drive the point home, yet another study revealed that companies that had a growth rate in sales of over 92% year-over-year all had business plans to inform their next steps. 

Briefly put, business plans help you focus on your business goals and keep your team and investors informed regarding the future of your company. Putting things on paper enables you to set realistic goals and actionable steps for reaching them. For example, if you're developing a new product, you'll need to know exactly how much it will cost and whether you need additional funding. 

Who Will Want to Read It?

No, sorry, the "About Us" section on your website or social media page is not enough. You'll need a well-written, comprehensive business plan to get your startup off the ground — and that means you should be prepared to share it with potential investors, partners, and lenders.

Your potential investors or partners will want to know exactly what they're investing in and how their money will help your company reach its goals. By having a comprehensive business plan in place, you can show potential investors and partners that you have done your homework and are serious about taking your business venture to the next level. Plus, it gives them a glimpse into what kind of returns they can expect from financing your business or partnering with you.

The Starting Point

Creating a business plan can be a daunting task. That’s why we created the Startup Business Plan Template – an easy-to-use editable template that provides guidance on writing a high-quality business plan (or checking what you already have so far). Here's what the kit contains:

  • Guidelines for Writing a rockstar business plan
  • The nine components your business plan needs
  • Editable fields for easy creation
  • A business plan gut checklist
  • How to make the template work for you.

Get access to the templates now

Built to scale with hubspot for startups.

It takes some time to put together a startup pitch deck that works, but once you’ve nailed your presentation, you can reuse it for multiple pitches with just a few tweaks to update any data or statistics. HubSpot for Startups helps you track marketing and sales data to make this process easier. New investors can rest easy knowing you’ve got the support of HubSpot’s powerful CRM at your fingertips.

Amazon Web Services

From Airbnb to Zocdoc, the world’s top startups build on Amazon Web Services. But they didn’t do it alone. So whether you need help solving a technical challenge, hiring the right engineers, or finalizing a fundraising round, we have all the resources you need to get started. There’s a reason more startups build on AWS than any other provider: we’re here to help you succeed, from inception to IPO.

To learn more about AWS, visit aws.amazon.com .

Get the biz plan template!

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  • Becoming an Owner
  • Business Plans

Create a Startup Business Plan in Easy Steps

Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images

In addition to creating a business plan to use for getting startup financing, there are other good reasons to create a plan. Use a business plan template to look at all the areas of your most standard businesses. The template will help you make sure all areas are covered, so your startup goes more smoothly.

Small business expert Amanda McCormick suggests looking at five key assumptions to make sure you are ready to start and they will help you be more confident of success.

Probably the most important thing you can do with your business plan is to use it to build your startup business. Small business expert Susan Ward suggests creating goals for each section of your business plan and making an action plan to achieve each one of those goals.

Begin with a General Description of Your Business

The first step is to write a general description of your business. This exercise helps you distill your vision and will focus many other portions of your startup plan.

Type of Business

Describe what type of business you are starting, retail, manufacturing, industrial, construction, or some other type of services. Describe what the business will produce or sell.

Legal Organization

Discuss how the business will be organized. Corporations are legal entities that keep the business and personal liability separated. A limited liability company (LLC) is another way to separate business interests from personal. Other forms include the sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporations, and C corporations. The structure you choose will have legal and tax implications so, be sure you research and choose carefully. You may wish to talk to an accountant as you learn about which form your company will take.

Business Location

Describe the facility you will use for your business, including an address and information about the area. Include the square footage and a layout of the business, if this is available. If your business is in your home, describe the space you will use. Discuss whether this location will be purchased or rented and the terms for purchase or rental.

Licenses and Permits

Include information on local ordinances that pertain to your business, as well as licenses and permits you have obtained or need to obtain.

Management and Employees

Describe the owners and management of the business, along with the expected number and types of employees who will be working in the business. This will be a very brief description; you'll be doing a more detailed management plan in a later section. 

Specific Plan for Your Products or Services

  • A general description of each product
  • The pricing structure of this product and whether you will have different prices for various markets
  • Whether you will produce this product or purchase from a wholesaler to resell to your customers

If you are providing services, describe these services in detail, including:

  • A general description of each type of service and how it will be performed
  • Pricing for the various services you will be providing

Create Your Marketing Plan 

Create a description of your target market. This description should include:

  • A description of your "ideal" customer in terms of this person or company's characteristics, attitudes, and buying behaviors. This description should be as complete as possible.
  • A discussion of the information about the "population" to whom you will be selling, in terms of numbers and demographics (characteristics), like age, sex, education level, income level, and other important information
  • A description of the buying behaviors of your target market

Describe the Competition for Your Products or Services

Create a description of the competition for your products or services within your target market, including:

  • Numbers of competitors
  • Characteristics of your top three competitors
  • Unique points of difference between you and your competitors
  • The ways in which you will emphasize the difference between your products/services and those of your competitors, in terms of delivery, customer service, product differentiation, or other characteristics

Design a Business Marketing Strategy

The next step is creating a strategy for marketing and promoting your company's products or services to this market. Here are some items this marketing and promotion plan should include:

  • The top three ways in which you will initially inform your target market about the existence of your products and services.
  • The types of paid advertising you will use to promote your products and services.
  • The ways in which you will use publicity to promote your products and services.
  • The personal selling methods you will use to promote your products and services.
  • The types of materials (brochures, flyers, web site)you will use to promote your new products and services.

Along with your marketing and promotion strategies, you will need to create a budget for all of these activities, for the first three years of your business.

Necessary Financial Statements for Business Startup

The most important step in the process of creating your business plan is the creation of your financial documents. This section will also take the most time and effort. Here is the information you need to include in your financial plan:

Startup Costs Worksheet

This financial statement should include all of the equipment, supplies, and other items you will need to purchase for the startup, as well as fees and licenses, deposits, initial expenditures for advisers, and costs for creating your business structure.

Beginning Balance Sheet

You will need to prepare a startup balance sheet , showing assets, liabilities, and owner's equity as of the date of the startup.

Month-by-Month Budget for 1st Year

Include a detailed statement (sometimes called a "cash flow statement")showing month-by-month sales and collections, along with all monthly business expenses.

Pro Forma Income Projections

You will need to prepare a pro forma (projected) income statement (P&L) for the first three years of operations, showing income and expenses, along with pre-tax income, tax liability, and after-tax income for each of these years.

Break-Even Analysis

If you are selling products, you should create a break-even analysis , showing the point at which you expect to break even on product sales.

Sources and Uses of Funds

Many lenders request that you include this statement , itemizing all of your financial needs for the business, along with your personal investment in the business, and the financing expected from your lender or investor.

Personal Financial Information

If you take your business plan to a lender or investor, you will also be asked to provide personal financial information. Preparing this information for inclusion in your business plan will help you gain the trust of these individuals. Here is what you should bring with you to all owners for the last three years.

  • Tax returns for the past three years
  • A recent credit report, showing credit score
  • A personal financial statement -- you can use the  SBA personal financial statement (PDF) template as a guide
  • A resume or curriculum vitae

Finally, you will need to create a management plan (who's running this company), an operating plan (how is it being run), and an executive summary.

Create a Management Plan

Create a description of the management of your business, including:

Owners and Directors

Describe the backgrounds and qualifications of the individuals who will own the company and make top-level decisions. This may include your Board of Directors if you are incorporating.

Managers and Employees

Describe the key management positions you will require; if you have any of these key positions filled, discuss the qualifications of the people who will fill them. Include an organization chart, showing the top positions and the types of employees who will be working in your organization.

Business Advisors

Include information about the key advisers for your business, including consultants, your CPA or financial advisor, attorney, insurance agent, and banker. If you have not selected some of these individuals, discuss the qualifications you will be looking for to fill these positions.

Create an Operating Plan

 Create a plan for operations for your business, including:

Day-to-day Operations

Describe how your business will operate on a daily basis. What production process will be used? What will you do to market and sell products and services? What hours will you be open?

Accounting and Financial Operations

Describe how your accounting, billing and collections, and other financial operations will be conducted.

Computer and Technology

Include a discussion of the computer and technological systems in your business. Will you operate a website? If so, who will maintain it? What computer hardware and the software will be used? What will your phone system look like? What office equipment will you need?

Create an Executive Summary 

The last step in preparing your business plan is to create an Executive Summary. This document summarizes the business plan information and is placed at the beginning of the document.

Your Executive Summary is important! It may be the only part of your business plan that a lender sees, so make it excellent.

The Executive Summary should be interesting to your reader and provide basic information about the business. In particular, the Executive Summary is intended to summarize your financial needs for startup or purchase. Here are the points you should emphasize in your Executive Summary:

  • Company information , including the company name, when it was founded or purchased when it will open for business, and the location and legal form of organization.
  • A one-sentence description of the products and services of the business.
  • Several sentences that discuss the purpose of the business , its mission/vision, and other information to interest your reader in the business.
  • A general description of your target market, your competitive position, and your unique differences from your competition.
  • A discussion of your specific financing needs , including your own investment in the business, startup/purchase funding, and needs for operating capital during startup.
  • A discussion of your own investment in the business and your expectations of when the business will break even or make a profit.

Now that you have completed writing your startup business plan, one more important task is ahead. 

Read, review, and revise. Make sure your business plan is 100% perfect. 

how to create startup business plan

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Start » startup, 5 types of business plans for startups.

If you’re a startup, here are five different types of business plans to help achieve your professional goals.

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Writing a business plan is an important process for every startup. In its simplest form, a business plan is a formal document that contains your goals for the company and the timeline in which you'd like to achieve them. While many stick to writing the "standard" business plan, there are various types of business plans you can choose from, depending on your goals. Choosing the right plan for your business can ease the writing process and help you better achieve your objectives. Here are five types of business plans to help you decide which is right for you.

[Read: 5 Common Sense Reasons to Write a Business Plan and 7 Mistakes to Avoid ]

Standard plan

A standard business plan (often referred to as a “working plan”) sets an overview of your company, states your goals and outlines how and when you will achieve them. For any business, they’re an important tool in helping you secure financing, such as a loan or an investment. Lenders and investors will want to know how you plan to use their money and make a profit. A business plan will accurately state how you intend to do this, list the achievable goals and put them in a realistic time frame.

Other aspects to include in your plan depend on your audience. You may include more information about cash flow and expenses for investors, or more of the day-to-day operations and goals for your employees.

What-if plan

In business, not everything will go according to plan. A what-if business plan outlines different roadblocks your company might battle so you can be prepared for anything. Because businesses are often at the whims of external factors such as the stock market or supply chain, this plan outlines the various predictable scenarios your company could face. In writing this plan, you might consider including the worst-case scenario to reassure investors that even if something goes wrong, you will have a way to financially recover. This plan can be part of the standard business plan or exist entirely on its own.

In business, not everything will go according to plan. A what-if business plan outlines different roadblocks your company might battle so you can be prepared for anything.

One-page plan

Your business plan should be filled with detailed information about various aspects of your business. However, sometimes you'll come across someone outside of a formal pitch and want to give them a condensed version of your plan for quick reference. A one-page business plan outlines your plan in five simple, easy-to-read sections: the demand, your solution, your business model, your management team and your plan of action. The content on your one-page plan should be a summarized version of your more robust business plan.

[Read: Starting Over? How to Write a Business Plan for a Post-Pandemic World ]

Startup plan

If you're an entrepreneur who's in the early stages of planning their business, your plan may look a little different. A startup business plan is for potential investors to get an idea of your new company and what you hope to achieve as your company grows. This plan should include an executive summary, your background, what your service or product will provide, your market evaluations, startup costs and your financial projections.

Because this is a plan for a business that does not yet exist or is in its infantry, it is essential to outline who you are and your background, as well as your proven track record. Investors want to know if they can trust you with their money to start a brand-new business. They'll be more open to financing your idea if they know you have similar experience or have worked in or created a startup previously.

Expansion plan

An expansion plan is written when a business is looking to scale themselves and requires additional resources for that development. These resources can include additional employees, new materials or a financial investment. Within this plan, include details of your company's background and how you've grown to where you are today. Then, outline how these additional resources will contribute to the expansion of your company and what that expansion will mean for your overall growth.

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How to create a business plan: a beginner's guide

Creating a well-written business plan is an essential first step to starting your own business

Business Plan

What is a business plan?

Key concepts for writing a business plan, main components of a business plan, tips for writing a business plan.

A well-written business plan holds a lot of value. It’s where your ideas start to take shape and the direction of your new enterprise becomes clear – but it can seem intimidating.

Business plans require focus: you’re stating why you’re doing what you’re doing, and how you expect to do it. There can be a lot to note down.

Ultimately, though, your business plan is going to become an essential guide for you, your team, and anyone involved in your company. 

So let’s uncover what it takes to write a business plan, and find out how it can benefit you.

  • Also check out our roundup of the best small business software

In short, a business plan is a description of your business and everything that goes into it. 

As well as helping to clarify the business idea that you have, it brings into focus elements like financing, staffing, revenue targets, and marketing strategies.

Business plans aren’t exclusive to startups, either. If you’re regenerating an existing company, a detailed and structured plan is enormously useful. 

Not all success stories have required business plans, but a comprehensive plan will help you to identify any immediate routes to failure. 

Although you’re putting a business concept on paper and announcing your mission statement, a plan has to be structured, not fanciful. 

The first person it’s trying to convince is you. Are you ready to spend time and money on this?

After that, you should be considering any potential investors and your team members. Will they be motivated and excited? You’ll need to achieve the following with your business plan:

  • A clear vision and purpose for the business – why is it important?
  • A guide that can be used as a reference throughout the company’s growth. 
  • An objective outlook on the market potential of what it is your business is doing.

There is no one-size-fits-all business plan template, but the most successful plans have the same key components.

For small business owners writing a business plan, whether it's during the startup process or further down the road during a period of change, these are the essentials to include:

1. Executive summary

Think of your executive summary as an elevator pitch: it should be a concise, engaging, and persuasive overview of your business. 

Keep this section to less than one page in length – after all, it is a summary. 

While it’s the opening to your business plan, we recommend writing it last. That way, you can collate all of the key points raised in the rest of the document.

Here’s what you should summarize in this part of your business plan:

  • A quick description - Outline what your business is about – if it’s a new business, what’s the mission? If you’re changing direction, what’s the concept?
  • The products or services you’ll provide - Offer a brief value proposition – what makes your business idea unique?
  • A picture of your target market - Give evidence that you’ve carried out market research and know who the end user should be. 
  • Your marketing strategy - Write a few lines about your intended marketing efforts to provide an idea of business reach. 
  • A snapshot of the company’s financial health - What’s the current business revenue and what are you forecasting to earn?
  • A clear view of your financial needs - If you’re raising money, how much does the business require?
  • The company’s key personnel - Whether you’re a startup business or an existing operation, who are the employees to mention?
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2. Company description and overview

Next up, give a more detailed description of your business. Even if you’ve decided to write a business plan only for your own benefit, imagine what other people would want to know.

Make clear what you think is going to bring your business success in the long run. 

This should help to demonstrate that the ideas you have are worth pursuing. For example, what problem can you solve? What experience can you bring to the table?

Here’s how to structure the company description part of your business plan:

Pinpoint the industry that your business is in, plus any insights or industry trends that you intend to adopt or disrupt.

Describe your business model and its structure – is it incorporated, a limited partnership, or perhaps a sole proprietorship? 

Mention your target audience and highlight which problems or opportunities you have identified for the business. 

Clarify your mission statement and value proposition to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to business focus. 

Provide some background on the company, like when it was founded, who by, and where it’s based.

Highlight the key employees in your team. If it’s a small business, that could be everyone, or maybe just a select few people.

It can be tricky to take a step back and consider your overall business goals and objectives, but remember that this is the whole point of writing a business plan.

Business plans can be great tools to use if you’re not even sure whether the venture is worth doing – writing an ambitious company description will help you to find that out.

3. Market analysis and opportunities

Whether you run a small business or a big business, you’ll have competitors. Knowing about the other companies in your industry will be invaluable.

That knowledge can inform your marketing plans, pricing decisions, and product selections.

You’ll also need to know about your target market. An understanding of your customer profile will help your business reach the right people and maintain a competitive advantage.

So, how does all of your market research come together in a business plan? Here’s how:

Illustrate your market analysis - Use charts and graphs to show where the business is going to sit within its industry. In terms of your price points, product offer, and service proposition, how will it compare to other businesses?

Explain who your potential customers are - Use survey tools to help you specify key demographics like age, profession, and location – if you’re only just starting out, it’s fine to make informed guesses about your ideal customer profile.

Include a SWOT analysis - Identifying the key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a business is at the heart of every competitive analysis. Present this part in a grid layout to draw attention to it within your business plan. 

Be clear about the competition - It’s tough to find a market that isn’t already saturated, so show how your product or service will be different. Although it’s useful to have friendly rivals, you’ll need some competitive advantages.

4. Products and services

Earlier in your business plan, you hinted at what you’ll be selling, and now’s the time to describe it. It’s worth remembering at this point that industry jargon should be avoided.

Explaining the products or services your business offers should be clear, but exciting.

This section should describe why and how your product exists, how much money it will cost to develop, and how much business planning has gone into your decisions.

Whether you keep it brief, or go into detail about manufacturing, here’s how to shape this part:

  • Outline the development process - If you’re selling products, will you be manufacturing them too, or sourcing from elsewhere? What’s the timeline?
  • Overview the business model - This is particularly important for retailers, as you’ll need to clarify how your products will reach your customers.
  • Cover off the costs - Financial projections and cost management will come up a lot in your business plan. In this part, discuss your profit margin expectations.
  • Explain what sets your business apart - Chances are there will be versions of your product or service on the market – what’s your unique selling point (USP)?
  • Talk about intellectual property - Mention any patents or copyrights you have applied for and emphasise how your work will be protected. 

5. Business management and organization

By this part of your business plan, you will have described in detail the ideas behind your company or its expansion. The next step is to explain how you plan to execute them. 

Start by talking about the people in your business and how they’ll contribute to its success.

You will have highlighted key employees at the start of the business plan document, so use this opportunity to go into more detail about the team.

After all, they’ll be driving the business with you – here’s what you can show:

An organizational chart - This will be a great way to sense check the structure you have created – are there too many people in senior roles? How does the team work together? Is there enough room for growth?

The backgrounds of your key players - A strong management team requires people with a range of skills and expertise. Although your employees don’t need to have years of experience, they should be bringing something interesting to the table.

Your hiring strategies - A big part of business planning is finding the right people – after all, salaries form part of the fixed costs you have to pay for. How do you expect to reach the right talent pool as you grow the company?

The company’s legal structure - If you are creating a startup, go into more detail about how your business will be run. For example, will it be a limited liability company (LLC), sole proprietorship, or partnership?

6. Marketing strategy

You have a customer profile, so now you need to think about how you’re going to manage customer relationships. Nailing this in your business plan is a really smart move.

First of all, understanding your marketing objectives will help you find the right channels.

It will also uncover the financial data around your company’s promotional efforts. What will your campaigns cost? What can you afford to spend on marketing?

Here are the key marketing components that you will need to consider:

Your website - While social media is effective, websites are essential. They’re easy to get – a website builder like Zyro or Squarespace will help you to create a bespoke platform and get online quickly and at a low cost. 

Its marketing tools - The other major advantage to website builders is that they provide users with integrations, software, and insights to help drive marketing strategies. You’ll be getting an online presence and the tools to promote your business.

Third-party assistance - You can also use online marketing services to help you structure each marketing plan and drive a difference between you and your competitors. Who would you work with, and what will that cost?

Other marketing channels - Where will your audience be? You’ll most likely benefit from using social media platforms, but which ones? Find out if it’s worth investing time into Instagram, or if LinkedIn will be more profitable. 

How your business will stand out - When you write a business plan, you’re making predictions about the future – what will you do if your marketing strategy fails? Understand some key digital marketing trends to help inform your ideas. 

  • Check out our complete list of the best small business website builders

7. Business operations and logistics

Now we’re getting really granular. Breaking down the proposed logistics in your business plan will be incredibly useful for you as you work out financial projections.

Getting a clear picture of business operations will also help you formulate a contingency plan.

It may be that your business model is very niche and needs testing – how will you account for any failures? While it isn't fun to think about worst case scenarios, it’s better to do this now.

Plus, if you need to secure funding, this section is important. Here’s what to cover:

  • Business facilities - If the company plans to open retail spaces or venues, where are they and how big are they? Will there be an office for employees?
  • Supply chain - Will you be sourcing products or materials from manufacturers? Explain where they are based and what policies you will implement
  • Inventory management - Retailers should describe how and where they plan to manage stock and customer orders
  • Fulfillment model - Another vital component for retail businesses, this covers how you expect to receive products and ship them out to customers
  • Business equipment - Even small business administration costs money. How will you source office supplies? Will you need a bank loan? 
  • Financial operations - Before you delve into this part of the business plan, mention how you plan to track and manage cash flow 

8. Financial plan

Whether you need to secure funding, take out a business loan, or simply take note of your income statements, every business plan needs to cover financial planning.

It helps to take a look at your finance software options to construct this part of the document.

Being upfront about your company’s financial outlook is critical, both for you and anyone else who is planning to invest in the organization.

There are three key components that you’ll need to include in your business plan:

An income statement , which shows the most accurate picture (or estimation) of your company’s profit and loss over a period of time. 

A cash flow statement . To understand how much money you need to scale the business, and if it’s viable, you’ll need to provide cash flow statements. 

Balance sheets . A balance sheet discloses your business assets and liabilities – in other words, what you owe to others. 

On top of your financial statements, you should also include a breakeven analysis of your company in your business plan.

Critical for startups, this shows at what point you expect to start making a profit and for what duration you anticipate to be running at a loss. 

Once you know what goes into a good business plan, you’ll need to know how to make it a document that people actually want to read. 

In addition to the main segments, you can include supporting documents to help people further contextualize what it is you’re doing.

That will also help you to keep track of your plans, especially if you’re only writing the document to help yourself and your team, not investors.

Either way, you want to avoid writing a total snooze-fest. While a lot of detail goes into a business plan, it also needs to be engaging and exciting throughout. 

So, to write a really solid business plan, remember to:

  • Keep it brief - Nobody wants to have to flick through a 100-page manifesto, not even future you. An effective business plan is concise and memorable
  • Make it shareable - Business plans written on paper won’t really go anywhere – make sure yours is published in an easily transferable format
  • Be clear - Only use industry jargon when it’s totally unavoidable, otherwise you risk alienating (and boring) the readers of your business plan
  • Show your research - Implement charts, provide supporting documents, and make sure that it’s abundantly clear how much thought you put into your business
  • Remember your passion - Don’t be put off by traditional business plans with bland statements – make it clear in your own business plan how exciting this venture is
  • We've also featured the best business plan software

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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.

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Do you want to increase the odds that your business startup will be a success? Download this step-by-step business plan template to lay the groundwork for your new business.

Writing a business plan allows you to carefully think through every step of starting your company so you can better prepare and handle any challenges. While a thorough business plan is essential in the financing process, it's helpful even if you don’t need outside financing.

Creating a business plan can:

  • Help you discover any weaknesses in your business idea so you can address them before you open for business
  • Identify business opportunities you may not have considered and plan how to take advantage of them
  • Analyze the market and competition to strengthen your idea
  • Give you a chance to plan strategies for dealing with potential challenges so they don’t derail your startup
  • Convince potential partners, customers, and key employees that you’re serious about your idea and persuade them to work with you
  • Force you to calculate when your business will make a profit and how much money you need to reach that point so that you can be prepared with adequate startup capital
  • Determine your target market and how to reach them

A detailed, step-by-step plan gives you a blueprint you can refer to during the startup process and helps you maintain momentum.

What this business plan template includes

Writing a business plan for a startup can sometimes seem overwhelming. To make the process easier and more manageable, this template will guide you step-by-step. The template includes easy-to-follow instructions for completing each business plan section, questions to help you think through each aspect, and corresponding fillable worksheet/s for critical sections.

After you complete the 11 worksheets, you will have a working business plan for your startup to show your SCORE mentor .

Business plan sections covered in this template:

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Products and Services
  • Marketing Plan
  • Operational Plan
  • Management and Organization
  • Startup Expenses and Capitalization
  • Financial Plan

The Appendices include documents that supplement information in the body of the plan.  These might be contracts, leases, purchase orders, intellectual property, key managers’ resumes, market research data or anything that supports assumptions or statements made in the plan.

The last section of the template, “Refining Your Plan,” explains ways to modify your plan for specific purposes, such as getting a bank loan, or for specific industries, such as retail or manufacturing.

Complete the Business Plan Template for a Startup Business to create a working business plan for your startup.

Then, contact a  SCORE mentor  to review and refine your plan online or in person.

Quick Start Business Plan The aim of this module is to give you the tools, direction and ideas you need to build a business plan. If you're starting a business then a business plan is essential, because it forces you to think through your ideas and options.

10 Business Planning Tips for Starting a Business In this webinar, you'll learn 10 business planning tips to help you start your entrepreneurial journey on the right path.

Business Plan 101: Sales & Marketing The sales and marketing section of your business plan describes how you intend to sell your product. Learn what you should include in this section.

Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.


Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples

By Joe Weller | May 6, 2020

Link copied

In this article, we’ve rounded up a variety of the top, professionally designed startup business plan templates, all of which are free to download in PDF, Word, and Excel formats.

Included on this page, you’ll find a one-page startup business plan template , a business plan outline template for startups , a startup business planning template with a timeline , and a sample startup business plan .

Startup Business Plan Template

how to create startup business plan

Download Startup Business Plan Template - Word

Word | Smartsheet

This startup business plan template contains the essential components you need to convey your business idea and strategy to investors and stakeholders, but you can customize this template to fit your needs. The template provides room to include an executive summary, a financial overview, a marketing strategy, details on product or service offerings, and more.

One-Page Startup Business Plan Template

One Page Business Plan For Start Up Template

Download One-Page Startup Business Plan Template

Excel | Word | PDF

This one-page business plan is ideal for startup companies that want to document and organize key business concepts. The template offers an easy-to-scan layout that’s ideal for investors and stakeholders. Use this plan to create a high-level view of your business idea and as a reference as you flesh out a more detailed roadmap for your business.

For additional resources, visit " Free One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."

Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Template for Startups

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

Download Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan Template for Startups

This comprehensive fill-in-the-blank business plan template is designed to guide entrepreneurs through the process of building a startup business plan. This template comes with a customizable cover page and table of contents, and each section includes sample content that you can modify to fit the needs of your business. For more fill-in business templates, read our  "Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates"  article.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

This Lean business plan template takes a traditional business plan outline and extracts the most essential elements. Use this template to outline your company and industry overview, convey the problem you are solving, identify customer segments, highlight key performance metrics, and list a timeline of key activities.

Business Plan Outline Template for Startups

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Download Business Plan Outline Template for Startups

You can use this business plan outline as a basis to create your own business plan. This template contains all the elements of a traditional business plan, including a title page, a table of contents, and information on what to include in each section. Simplify or expand this outline based on the size and needs of your startup business.

Startup Business Planning Template with Timeline

Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Download Startup Business Planning Template with Timeline

Excel | Smartsheet

As you create your business plan, this business planning template doubles as a schedule and timeline to track the progress of key activities. This template enables you to break down your plan into phases and provides space to include key tasks and dates for each task. For a visual timeline, shade in the cells according to each task’s start and end dates. The timeline ensures that your plan stays on track.

Business Plan Rubric Template for Startups

how to create startup business plan

Download Business Plan Rubric Template for Startups

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

If you’re starting a business and want to keep all your ducks in a row, use this rubric to evaluate and score each aspect of your startup business plan. You can tailor this template to the needs of your specific business, and can also highlight areas of your plan that require improvement or expansion. Use this template as a tool to make sure your plan is clear, articulate, and organized. A sharp, insightful, well thought-out plan will definitely get the attention of potential investors and partners.

For additional resources to help support your business planning efforts, check out “Free Startup Plan, Budget, and Cost Templates.”

What’s the Best Business Plan Template for Startups?

The template you choose for your startup business depends on a number of factors, including the size and specific needs of your company. Moreover, as your business grows and your objectives change, you will need to adjust your plan (and possibly your choice of template) accordingly. 

Some entrepreneurs find it useful to use a Lean business plan template design in order to jot down a business concept and see if it’s feasible before pursuing it further. Typically one to three pages, a Lean business plan template encourages you to highlight core ideas and strategic activities and remain focused on key points.

Other entrepreneurs prefer a template with a more traditional business plan design, which allows you to go into greater detail and ensure you include every detail. A traditional plan can range from 10 to 100 pages and cover both the high-level and granular particulars of your overall concept, objectives, and strategy.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the following section outlines the minimum that your business plan template should include in order to gain buy-in from potential investors.

What to Include in a Startup Business Plan

Whether you choose to use a template to develop your startup business plan or decide to write one from scratch, you need to include the following elements:

  • An overview of your company and the industry in which it operates
  • The problem you are solving and the proposed solution
  • A description of your product or service offerings, including key features
  • The existing alternatives that customers use and your competitive advantage
  • The target customer segments and the channels you will use to reach them
  • The cost structure and revenue streams associated with your business
  • A financial plan, including sales and revenue projections (ideally 3-5 years)
  • If applicable, the financial requirements to get your business running, including how you will source and allocate funds

Each of the following sections provides an example of a business plan that you can use for reference as you develop your own.

One-Page Lean Business Plan Example

This Lean business plan example displays a visually appealing and scannable one-page illustration of a business plan. It conveys the key strategies you need to meet your main objectives. Each element of this concise plan provides stakeholders and potential investors with links to resources that support and expand upon the plan’s details, and it can also serve as an investor pitch deck.

One Page Business Plan Example

Startup Business Plan Sample

This business plan sample contains all the aspects of a standard business plan. Using a fictional food truck business as the basis for a startup business plan, this sample will give you all the ideas you need to make your plan outstanding.

Basic Business Plan Sample

Download Startup Business Plan Sample - PDF

When the time comes that you need more space to lay out your goals and strategies, choose from our variety of  free simple business plan templates . You can learn how to write a successful simple business plan  here . 

Visit this  free non-profit business plan template roundup  or of you are looking for a business plan template by file type, visit our pages dedicated specifically to  Microsoft Excel ,  Microsoft Word , and  Adobe PDF  business plan templates. Read our articles offering  free 30-60-90-day business plan templates  to find more tailored options.

Top 10 Tips to Create a Startup Business Plan

Putting together a business plan can be overwhelming and time consuming, especially if you aren’t sure where to begin. Below, we share tips you can use to help simplify the process of developing a startup business plan of your own. 

  • Use a business plan template, or begin with a business plan outline that provides all the elements of a standard plan to get your ideas down on paper in a structured manner. (You can choose from the selection of templates above.)  
  • Remove sections from your outline that aren’t relevant or that aren’t necessary to launch and operate your business.
  • Compile the data you have gathered on your business and industry, including research on your target market and product or service offerings, details on the competitive landscape, and a financial plan that anticipates the next three to five years. Use that information to fill in the sections of your plan outline. 
  • Get input and feedback from team members (e.g., finance, marketing, sales) and subject matter experts to ensure that the information you’ve included in the plan is accurate.
  • Make certain that the objectives of your plan align with marketing, sales, and financial goals to ensure that all team members are moving in the same direction.
  • Although this section of the plan comes first, write the executive summary last to provide an overview of the key points in your business plan.
  • Prepare a pitch deck for potential clients, partners, or investors with whom you plan to meet in order to share vital information about your business, including what sets you apart and the direction you are headed. 
  • Who are the founders and management executives, and what relevant experience do they bring to the table?
  • What is the problem you are solving, and how is your solution better than what currently exists? 
  • What’s the size of the market, and how much market share do you plan to capture?
  • What are the trends in your market, and how are you applying them to your business?
  • Who are your direct competitors, and what is your competitive advantage?
  • What are the key features of your product or service that set it apart from alternative offerings, and what features do you plan to add in the future?
  • What are the potential risks associated with your business, and how do you plan to address them?
  • How much money do you need to get your business running, and how do you plan to source it?
  • With the money you source, how do you plan to use it to scale your business?
  • What are the key performance metrics associated with your business, and how will you know when you’re successful?
  • Revisit and modify your plan on a regular basis as your goals and strategies evolve.
  • Use a work collaboration tool that keeps key information across teams in one place, allows you to track plan progress, and captures updates in real time.

Successfully Implement Your Startup Business Plan with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

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

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

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

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How to Write a Business Plan for Your Startup

Want to just get started? Click here to sign up for LivePlan and write a business plan today.

Anyone can have a great idea. But turning an idea into a viable business is a different ballgame.

You may think you’re ready to launch a startup company . That’s great news, and you should be excited about it.

Before you start seeking legal advice, renting office space, or forming an LLC, you need to put your thoughts on paper. This will help you stay organized and focused.

You’ll also be able to share this plan with others to help you get valuable feedback. We don’t recommend starting a company without consulting people first.

A typical business plan consists of the following elements:

  • An executive summary
  • A company description
  • Market research
  • Descriptions of products and/or services
  • The management and operational structure
  • Marketing and sales strategy

We recommend using the LivePlan business plan so ftware to help guide you through structuring your business plan in the proper way.

Thoroughly writing out your plan accomplishes several things.

Save your business plan progress in one place across all the document apps you use.

First, it gives you a much better understanding of your business. You may think  you know what you’re talking about, but putting it on paper will truly make you an expert.

Writing a formal plan increases your chances of success  by 16%.

Having a business plan also gives you a better chance of raising capital for your startup  company. No banks or investors will give you a dollar if you don’t have a solid business plan.

Plus, companies with business plans also see higher growth rates  than those without a plan.

image1 5

If you have an idea for a startup company but not sure how to get started with a business plan, we can help you out. We will show you how to write different elements of your business plan and provide some helpful tips along the way.

Top Business Plan Software to Write a Business Plan

If you want to write a business plan, you’ll need a business plan software. Here’s the best options.

  • Enloop  – Best Free Business Plan Software
  • LivePlan  – Best Business Plan Software For Startups
  • GoSmallBiz  – Best Business Plan Software For Business Consulting
  • BizPlan  – Best Business Plan Software For Raising Capital
  • Business Sorter  – Best Business Plan Software For Simple Business Plan
  • PlanGuru  – Best Business Plan Software For Financial Reporting & Forecasting

8 Steps to Write a Business Plan

Here’s what you need to know to get started.

  • Make sure your company has a clear objective
  • Identify your target market
  • Analyze your competition 
  • Budget accordingly
  • Identify your goals and financial projections
  • Clearly define the power structure
  • Discuss your marketing plan
  • Keep it short and professional

Step 1 – Make sure your company has a clear objective

When writing a company description, make sure it’s not ambiguous.

“We’re going to sell stuff”

isn’t going to cut it.

Instead, identify who you are and when you plan on going into business. State what kinds of products or services you’ll be offering and in what industry.

Where will this business operate? Be clear whether you’ll have a physical store, operate online, or both. Is your company local, regional, national, or international?

Your company description can also incorporate your mission statement.

This is an opportunity for you to gain a better understanding of your startup. The company summary forces you to set clear objectives. The type of company you have and how you will operate should be obvious to anyone who reads it.

Include the reasons for going into business. For example, let’s say you’re opening a restaurant. A reason for opening could be that you identified that no other restaurants in the area serve the cuisine you specialize in.

You can briefly discuss the vision and future of your startup company, but you don’t need to go into too much detail. You’ll cover that in greater depth as you write the rest of your business plan.

Keep in mind, this description is a summary, so there’s no reason for you to write a ton. This section should be pretty concise and no more than three or four paragraphs.

Step 2 – Identify your target market

Your business isn’t for everyone. Although you may think everyone will love your idea, that’s not a viable business strategy.

One of the first steps to launching a successful business is clearly identifying the target market of your startup .

But to find out whom you’ll target, you need to conduct market research .

Target market infographic

This is arguably the most important part of launching a startup company. If there’s no market for your business, the company will fail. It’s as simple as that.

All too often we see entrepreneurs rush into a decision because they fall in love with an idea. Due to this tunnel vision, they don’t take the necessary steps to conduct the proper research.

Sadly, those businesses don’t last.

But if you take the time to write a business plan, you may discover there’s not a viable market for your startup before it’s too late. It’s much better to learn this information in these preliminary stages than after you’ve dumped a ton of money into your venture.

To figure out your target market, start with broad assumptions and slowly narrow it down. Typically, the best way to segment your audience is using these four categories:

  • demographic
  • psychographic

Start with things like:

  • income level

As we said earlier, start broadly. For example, you may start by saying your target market lives in North America, and then narrow it down to the United States.

But as you continue going through your market research, you can get even more specific. You can target customers living in New England, for example.

By the time you’re finished, the target market could look something like this:

  • ages 26 to 40
  • living in the Boston area
  • with an annual income of $55,000-$70,000
  • who are into recycling

This profile encompasses all four demographic segments we mentioned earlier. Plus, it’s very specific.

Your business plan should talk about the research you conducted to identify this market. Talk about the data you collected from surveys and interviews .

You’ll use this target market in other sections of the business plan as well when you discuss future projections and your marketing strategy. We’ll cover both of those topics shortly.

Step 3 – Analyze your competition

In addition to researching your target market, you need to conduct a competitive analysis as well. You’ll use this information to create your brand differentiation strategy .

Brand Essence infographic

When you’re writing a business plan, your startup doesn’t exist yet. Nobody knows about you. Don’t expect to be successful if you’re planning to launch a competitor’s carbon copy.

Customers won’t have a reason to switch to your brand if it’s the same as the company they already know and trust.

How will you separate yourself from the crowd?

Your differentiation strategy could involve your price and quality. If your prices are significantly lower, that can be your niche in the industry. If you have superior quality, there is a market for that as well.

Competitive analysis should be conducted simultaneously with identifying your target audience. Both of these fall under the market research category of your business plan.

Once you figure out who your competitors are, it will be easier to determine how your company will be different from them. But this information will be based on your target market.

For example, let’s say you’re in the clothing industry. Your competitors will depend on your target market. If you’re planning to sell jeans for $50, you won’t be competing with designer brands selling jeans for $750.

Or you can base your price differentiation on what you learned about your target market. From there, you’ll be able to identify your competitors.

As you can see, the two go hand in hand.

Step 4 – Budget accordingly

You need to have all your numbers in order when you’re writing a business plan, especially if you’re planning on securing investment funding.

Figure out exactly how much money  you need to start the business and stay operational; otherwise, you’ll run out of money.

The top 20 reasons startups fail infographic

Running out of cash is one of the most common reasons why startup companies fail. Taking the time to sort your budget out before you launch will minimize that risk.

Consider everything. Start with the basics like:

  • equipment costs
  • property (buying or leasing)

Here’s an example  of what this will look like in your business plan:

Startup budget example

These numbers need to be accurate. When in doubt, estimate higher. Things don’t always go according to plan.

In the example above, although the total startup expenses are less than $28k, it may not be a bad idea to raise $40k or even $50k. That way, you’d have some extra cash in the bank in case something comes up.

You don’t want poor budgeting to be the reason for your startup’s failure.

Step 5 – Identify your goals and financial projections

Let’s continue talking about your financials. Obviously, you won’t have any income statements, balance sheets, cash flow reports, or other accounting documents if you’re not fully operational.

However, you can still make projections. You can base these projections on the total population of the target market in your area and what percentage of that market you think you can penetrate.

If you have an expansion strategy in mind, this would also be outlined in your financial projections.

These projections should cover the first three to five years of your startup. Make sure they are reasonable. Don’t just say you’ll make $10 million in your first year. In fact, your company may not be even profitable for the first couple of years.

As long as you’re being honest with yourself and potential investors, your financial plan will cover your break-even analysis.

Break-even analysis infographic

While it’s reasonable to expect your sales revenue to increase each year, you still need to take all factors into consideration.

For example, if you’re planning to expand to a new location in year four, your financial projections need to be adjusted accordingly.

You may not be profitable until your third year of operation, but if you’re opening a new facility in year four, that year may have a net loss as well. Again, this is completely fine as long as you’re planning and budgeting accordingly.

Another example of a goal could be launching an ecommerce store in addition to your brick-and-mortar locations. Just don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Keep everything within reason.

Step 6 – Clearly define the power structure

Your business plan should also cover the organizational structure of your startup. If it’s a small company with just you and maybe one or two business partners, this should be easy.

But depending on how you’re planning to scale the company, it’s best to get this sorted out sooner rather than later. Here’s an example of what your organizational chart  may look like:

Organizational chart example

It’s really important to have this hierarchy in place before you get started. That way, there’s no debate over who reports to which position. It’s clear who is in charge of specific people and departments.

Don’t get too complex with this.

If you put too many layers of managers, directors, and supervisors between the top of the chart and the bottom of the chart, things can get confusing.

You don’t want any instructions or assignments to get lost in translation between levels. You also don’t want anyone to be confused about who is in charge.

This is an opportunity for you to outline how your company will operate in terms of board members and investors. Who has the final say in decisions?

While we understand you may need to give up some equity in your startup to get off the ground, we recommend keeping the power in your hands.

Step 7 – Discuss your marketing plan

Your marketing plan relies on everything else we’ve talked about so far.

How will you acquire customers based on the market research of your target audience and competitive analysis?

This strategy needs to be aligned with your budget and financial projections as well.

We could sit here and talk about different marketing strategies all day. But there’s no right or wrong way to approach this for your startup company.

Our recommendation would be to stay as cost-effective as possible. Be versatile and well-balanced too.

Acquiring customers is expensive. You don’t want to dump your entire marketing budget into one strategy. If it doesn’t work, you’ve got nothing to fall back on.

Take these categories into consideration when you’re coming up with a marketing plan:

Marketing plan infographic

Before you try anything too crazy, get the basics sorted out first:

  • launch a website
  • stay active on social media platforms
  • start building an email subscriber list
  • focus on customer retention
  • come up with customer loyalty programs.

Don’t ease into this one step at a time. Come out fast. Even before your company officially launches, you can start building your website and social media profiles.

The last thing you want is for consumers to find out about your brand but then be unable to find your website or contact information. Or worse, get directed to a website that’s broken or unfinished.

Step 8 – Keep it short and professional

We’ve talked about many different components of your business plan. It may sound overwhelming, but don’t be alarmed.

This shouldn’t be a 100-page dissertation.

You definitely want it to be detailed and thorough, but don’t go overboard. There’s no exact number of pages it should be, but have at least one page per section.

It should also be written cleanly and professionally. Don’t use slang terminology.

Proofread it for grammatical and spelling errors.

Remember, you may need to use this to raise capital. People may be hesitant to give you money if you overlook the small stuff like proper grammar.

Launching a startup company is exciting. It’s easy to get so caught up in the moment that you rush into things.

If you want to set yourself up for success, you need to take a step back and plan things out.

Going through the process of writing a formal business plan will increase your chances of securing an investment and also improve your potential growth rate.

The market research you’ll need to conduct in order to write this plan will also help you determine whether this is a viable business venture to proceed with.

If you’ve never written a business plan, use this post as a guide for what you should include. Follow our tips for best practices.

Writing a business plan may seem like a tedious task right now, but we promise it will keep you organized and save you lots of headaches down the road.

Get started by using LivePlan business plan software to create your perfect business plan today. Good luck!

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How to Start a Business: A Startup Guide for Entrepreneurs [Template]

Meg Prater (she/her)

Updated: September 12, 2023

Published: September 07, 2023

Learning how to start a business is no small task, but it’s necessary if you want to successfully get your venture off the ground. To help, I've put together a complete guide that walks you through the steps of starting a business.

how to start a business; entrepreneur learning how to start a business and talking to suppliers

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The guide covers every requirement to start a business: from the paperwork and finances to creating your business plan and growing your business online. At the bottom, you’ll find a library of the best free tools and resources to start selling and marketing your products and services.

Use the links below to navigate to each section of the guide.

What Do You Need to Start a Business?

How to start a business, how to start a business plan, how to decide on a company name.

  • How to Choose a Business Structure

How to Register Your Business

How to comply with legal requirements, how to find funding for your new business, how to create a brand identity for your new business, tips for starting a business, resources to start a business, how to start a business online.

Let's get started.

how to create startup business plan

Free Business Plan Template

The essential document for starting a business -- custom built for your needs.

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

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to access the template.

  • Business Plan: Your plan is a document that provides in-depth detail about your business and its short- and long-term strategies.
  • Business Name: Your name is what you’ll call your company on all official documentation and licenses.
  • Business Structure: Your structure refers to the type of leadership and ownership your business will operate under.
  • Business Registration: Your registration is a credential with state authorities that allows your business to operate legally.
  • Legal Requirements: Your other legal requirements include business licenses and permits beyond the initial registration.
  • Funding: Your sources of funding refer to business grants, loans, and personal savings.
  • Branding: Your branding refers to the unique identity and image you create for your business.

Every budding entrepreneur wants more visitors, more qualified leads, and more revenue. But starting a business isn't one of those “if you build it, they will come” situations. So much of getting a startup off the ground has to do with timing, planning, and the market, so consider if the economic conditions are right to start a company and whether you can successfully penetrate the market with your solution.

In order to build and run a successful company , you'll also need to create and fine-tune a business plan, assess your finances, complete all the legal paperwork, pick your partners, research apps for startups growth, choose the best tools and systems to help you get your marketing and sales off the ground … and a whole lot more.

This process may feel overwhelming, so we’ll walk you through it step-by-step. But first, let’s summarize what we’ve just learned.

Requirements for Starting a Business

To summarize, the requirements for starting a business are:

  • A business plan
  • A business name
  • An ownership or business structure
  • A business registration certificate
  • A legal license or seller’s permit (as well as other legal documents)
  • A source of funding
  • A brand identity

Without these elements in place, you unnecessarily risk your new business’s future.

Now that you know what you need, let’s go over the basic steps for starting a business.

  • Write a business plan.
  • Choose a business name.
  • Choose an ownership structure.
  • Register your business.
  • Review and comply with legal requirements.
  • Apply for funding.
  • Create a brand identity.

Having a great business idea is only part of the journey. In order to be successful, you’ll need to take a few steps to get it off the ground. In order to refine your business idea and set yourself up for success, consider doing the following:

1. Write a business plan.

Your business plan maps out the details of your business, including how it’s structured, what product or service you’ll sell, and how you’ll be selling it. Creating a business plan will help you find any obstacles on the horizon before you jump into running a business.

Recommended Reading:

  • What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates
  • How to Build a Detailed Business Plan That Stands Out
  • How to Write an Ecommerce Business Plan
  • How to Become an Entrepreneur With No Money or Experience

70 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business

Jump to: How to Start a Business Plan →

Featured Resource: Free Business Plan Template

One-Page Business Plan Template

Grab your free business plan template here .

2. Choose a business name.

Your business name is an essential part of your new business. It determines what you’ll call it on official documentation and on the business plan you’ll share with investors. Because your name will stem off your business plan and offerings, it’s best to create it after you’ve written a plan.

  • How to Come Up With a Brand Name
  • 100+ Business Name Ideas to Inspire You [+7 Brand Name Generators]
  • How to Trademark a Business Name: A 5-Step Guide

Jump to: How to Decide on a Company Name →

3. Choose an ownership structure.

Your business’ legal structure can impact what you’re liable for and the taxes you pay. The most common types of business structures are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, and corporation. In the process of starting a business, you’ll need to choose the most appropriate one for you.

  • The Types of Business Structures and How to Choose
  • Sole Proprietorship 101: The Easy Guide to Setting One Up
  • Sole Proprietorships vs. LLCs
  • What Is a Privately Held Company?
  • What’s an LLP? Limited Liability Partnerships Explained in Under 5 Minutes

Jump to: How to Choose an Ownership Structure →

4. Register your business.

Registering your business is the next step after choosing an ownership structure. That way, you can ensure you’re operating within the most essential legal constraints.

  • How to Register a Business — Everything You Need to Get Started
  • How to Register a Business Name
  • Best and Worst States to Start a Business In
  • How to Register Your Website’s Domain (For Free)

Jump to: How to Register Your Business →

how to create startup business plan

Free Business Startup kit

9 templates to help you brainstorm a business name, develop your business plan, and pitch your idea to investors.

  • Business Name Brainstorming Workbook
  • Business Plan Template
  • Business Startup Cost Calculator

5. Review and comply with legal requirements.

In addition to choosing a legal structure and registering your business, there are other requirements to follow to ensure your business is operating legally, including acquiring any business licenses and permits. Licensure requirements depend on industry — for instance, if you’re planning to found a construction firm, you’ll need the appropriate construction permits.

  • Startup Costs for Entrepreneurs
  • The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Expenses Lists
  • 5 Things Every Marketer Should Know About Compliance
  • Understanding Business Risk

Jump to: How to Comply with Legal Requirements →

6. Apply for funding.

When you’re starting a small business, getting loans from family and friends may suffice. However, larger ventures will require more capital.

Startup funding is essential regardless of the type of business you’re creating. Whether you leverage loans, grants, or family and friends, having solid funds will allow you to more effectively and economically launch your business.

  • Startup Funding: What It Is, How It Works, & 5 Tips for Landing It
  • 37 Funding Resources for Black-Owned Businesses
  • How to Find Investors: A Guide for Entrepreneurs
  • How Do Business Loans Work

Jump to: How to Find Funding for Your New Business →

7. Create a brand identity.

Once you have the first six steps squared away, you can focus on developing a unique brand identity for your business. Key components include your brand personality and experience, as well as visual elements like your logo, color palette, typography, imagery and graphic elements, and more.

  • What is Branding?
  • Brand Identity: How to Develop a Unique & Memorable Brand
  • Brand Strategy 101: 7 Important Elements of a Company Branding Plan
  • 21 Brand Style Guide Examples of Visual Inspiration
  • Everything You Need to Know About Brand Experience

Jump to: How to Create an Identity for Your New Business →

As evidenced by this list, starting a business involves a whole lot of moving pieces, some more exciting than others. Brainstorming business names? Fun! Filing taxes? ... Not so fun. The trick to successfully getting your business off the ground is to meticulously plan and organize your materials, prioritize properly, and stay on top of the status and performance of each one of these moving parts.

From registering with the government to getting the word out about your business to making key financial decisions, you'll need to take a wide range of steps to start a successful business.

Now that we’ve gone over an overview of the steps, let’s go over each one in detail.

Back to Top ↑

  • Use a business plan template.
  • Narrow down what makes you different.
  • Keep it short.
  • Write an executive summary.
  • Describe your company and business model.
  • Analyze your market's conditions.
  • Explain your product and/or service.
  • Outline all operations and management roles.
  • Design a marketing and sales strategy.
  • Detail a financial plan with business costs, funding, and revenue projections.
  • Summarize the above with an appendix.
  • Review section examples for inspiration.

Having a solid business plan can help your business stay on track, especially when obstacles arise. But before we go over the steps of writing one, let’s answer an essential question first: What exactly is a business plan?

A business plan is a living document that maps out the details of your business. It covers what your business will sell, how it will be structured, what the market looks like, how you plan to sell your product or service, what funding you'll need, what your financial projections are, and which permits, leases, and other documentation will be required.

examples business plan for wooden grain toy company that includes all categories on one page

At its core, a business plan helps you prove to yourself and others whether your business idea is worth pursuing. It's the best way to take a step back, look at your idea holistically, and solve for issues years down the road before you start getting into the weeds.

Below are the key elements in a business plan template , details about what goes into each of them, and example sections at the bottom. You’ll also learn tips for writing a business plan .

1. Use a business plan template .

business plan template free

Before you begin your business plan, download this business plan template . It provides an outline for you to follow and simplifies the process.

The first steps are to create a cover page, and write a description of your business that outlines your product or service and how it solves a need for your customers. The next step is to work on the company description, which provides detail on how your company will be organized and includes the mission statement.

In the next section of the business plan template, you'll identify your target audience or buyer personas. Through research, surveys, and interviews, you‘ll understand who wants your product, why they’re interested, and what problem your offering solves for them.

The next step is to describe your line of products and services in detail, including the pricing model, and the advantage you have over competitors.

From there, you‘ll write down your plan to market and sell your product or service. You’ll also identify your growth plan and set targets and measures for your marketing and sales activities.

Then, you'll determine which legal structure your business will have (LLP, sole proprietorship, etc.), and if there are any other legal factors you need to consider (e.g., permits, licenses, health codes).

Finally, financial projections will be made, and short-term and long-term goals will be set for the business.

2. Narrow down what makes you different.

Before you start whipping up a business plan, think carefully about what makes your business unique first. If you‘re planning to start a new athletic clothing business, for example, then you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the numerous other athletic clothing brands out there.

What makes yours stand out from the others? Are you planning to make clothing for specific sports or athletic activities, like yoga or hiking or tennis? Do you use environmentally friendly material? Does a certain percentage of your proceeds go to charity? Does your brand promote positive body image?

Understanding your brand's positioning in the market will help you generate awareness and sales.

Remember: You‘re not just selling your product or service — you’re selling a combination of product, value, and brand experience. Think through these big questions and outline them before you dive into the nitty-gritty of your business plan research.

3. Keep it short.

Business plans are more short and concise nowadays than they used to be. While it might be tempting to include all the results of your market research , flesh out every single product you plan to sell, and outline exactly what your website will look like, that's actually not helpful in the format of a business plan.

Know these details and keep them elsewhere, but exclude everything but the meat and potatoes from the business plan itself. Your business plan shouldn't just be a quick(ish) read — it should be easy to skim, too, like the example below.

business plan example for glazed donut shop that includes business description, company description, target market, and products and services line

Now that we’ve gone over the first essential steps of building your business plan, it’s time to jump into the creation process.

4. Write an executive summary.

The purpose of the executive summary is to give readers a high-level view of the company and the market before delving in to the details.

Pro Tip : Sometimes it‘s helpful to write the executive summary after you’ve put together the rest of the plan so you can draw out the key takeaways more easily.

The executive summary should be about a page long. It should cover:

  • Overview : Briefly explain what the company is, where you‘ll be located, what you’ll sell, and who you'll sell to.
  • Company Profile : Briefly explain the business structure, who owns it and what prior experience/skills they'll bring to the table, and who the first hires might be.
  • Products or Services : Briefly explain what you'll sell.
  • The Market : Briefly explain your main findings from your market analysis and product market fit .
  • Financial Considerations : Briefly explain how you plan to fund the business and what your financial projections are.

Featured Resource: Executive Summary Template

executive summary template

5. Describe your company and business model.

Next, you‘ll have your company description. Here’s where you have the chance to provide the following information:

  • A summary of what your company does
  • A mission statement
  • A description of your business structure and business owner
  • A description of your location
  • A list of the marketplace needs that your business is trying to meet
  • A detailed account of how your products or services actually meet those needs

6. Analyze your market's conditions.

One of the first questions to ask yourself when you‘re testing your business idea is whether it has a place in the market. The market will ultimately dictate how successful your business will be. What’s your target market , and why would they be interested in buying from you?

Get specific here. For example, if you‘re selling bedding, you can’t just include everyone who sleeps in a bed in your target market. You need to target a smaller group of customers first, like teenagers from middle-income families.

From there, you might answer questions like:

  • How many teenagers from middle-income families are currently in your country?
  • What bedding do they typically need?
  • Is the market growing or stagnant?

Include both an analysis of research that others have done, as well as primary research that you've collected yourself — whether by customer surveys, interviews, or other methods.

This is also where you‘ll include a competitive analysis. In our example, we’d be answering the question: how many other bedding companies already have a share of the market, and who are they?

Outline the strengths and weaknesses of your potential competitors, as well as strategies that will give you a competitive advantage.

Featured Resource: Market Analysis Templates


Download 10 Free Competitive Analysis Templates

7. Explain your product and/or service.

Here‘s where you can go into detail about what you’re selling and how it benefits your customers. If you aren‘t able to articulate how you’ll help your customers, then your business idea may not be a good one.

sales business plan example for sos sales training that includes business description, company description, target market, and service line

Start by describing the problem you're solving. Then, go into how you plan to solve it and where your product or service fits into the mix. Finally, talk about the competitive landscape: What other companies are providing solutions to this particular problem, and what sets your solution apart from theirs?

8. Outline all operations and management roles.

Use this section to outline your business' unique organization and management structure, while keeping in mind that you may change it later. Who will be responsible for what? How will tasks and responsibilities be assigned to each person or each team?

Includes brief bios of each team member and highlight any relevant experience and education to help make the case for why they‘re the right person for the job. If you haven’t hired people for the planned roles yet, that's OK — just make sure you identify those gaps and explain what the people in those roles will be responsible for.

9. Design a marketing and sales strategy.

This is where you can plan out your comprehensive marketing and sales strategies that‘ll cover how you actually plan to sell your product. Before you work on your marketing and sales plan, you’ll need to have your market analysis completely fleshed out, and choose your target buyer personas, i.e., your ideal customers. (Learn how to create buyer personas here .)

On the marketing side, you'll want to cover answers to questions like:

  • How do you plan to penetrate the market?
  • How will you grow your business?
  • Which channels will you focus on for distribution?
  • How will you communicate with your customers?

On the sales side, you'll need to cover answers to questions like:

  • What's your sales strategy ?
  • What will your sales team look like, and how do you plan to grow it over time?
  • How do you plan to scale for growth ?
  • How many sales calls will you need to make to make a sale?
  • What's the average price per sale?

Speaking of average price per sale, you'll want to go into your pricing strategy as well.

Featured Resource: Marketing & Sales Alignment Template

sla template free

Download the Free Marketing & Sales SLA Template

10. Detail a financial plan with business costs, funding, and revenue projections.

Outline your financial model in detail, including your start-up cost, financial projections, and a funding request if you're pitching to investors.

Your start-up cost refers to the resources you‘ll need to get your business started — and an estimate of how much each of those resources will cost. Are you leasing an office space? Do you need a computer? A phone? List out these needs and how much they’ll cost, and be honest and conservative in your estimates. The last thing you want to do is run out of money.

Once you‘ve outlined your costs, you’ll need to justify them by detailing your financial projections. This is especially important if you're looking for funding for your business. Make sure your financial model is 100% accurate for the best chance of convincing investors and loan sources to support your business.

11. Summarize the above with an appendix.

Finally, consider closing out your business plan with an appendix. The appendix is optional, but it's a helpful place to include your resume and the resume(s) of your co-founder(s), as well as any permits, leases, and other legal information you want to include.

12. Review section examples for inspiration.

Let’s go over examples of the sections in a business plan, so that you have an idea of how to approach your own. We’ll use a business plan for a fictional art supply store named NALB Creative Center .

Executive Summary Example

“NALB Creative Center (NCC) is the place where artists meet. NALB is an acronym for “No Artist Left Behind,” with our company by-line stating: “Live Your Art.” NCC is a specialty retail store offering a large array of artists’ materials and supplies, crafters’ needs, a gallery, and an education center. NCC will provide a pleasant facility that will inspire and support amateurs, professionals and crafters in the Big Island art community. NALB will sponsor art shows and competitions, art and craft fairs, scholarships for artists to continue their formal education, and other community events. NALB will facilitate, organize and offer creative workshops and classes in a variety of techniques and media.”

Company Summary Example

“NALB Creative Center is a startup, to go into business in the summer of this year. We will offer a large variety of art and craft supplies, focusing on those items that are currently unavailable on this island. The Internet will continue to be a competitor, as artists use websites to buy familiar products. We will stock products that artists don't necessarily have experience with. We will maintain our price comparisons to include those available online.”

Market Analysis Example

“In West Hawaii, the mauka community of Holualoa in Kona, Kealakekua and South Kona, as well as Waimea and Hawi in Kohala are three communities with large artist populations and galleries. In West Hawaii, the Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture, the Society for Kona’s Education and Art, the Kailua Village Artists, the Kona Arts Center, the Waimea Arts Center and other well-established non-profit groups offer arts classes and instruction in various media year-round to children and adults.

“NALB Creative Center will market to four primary customers:

  • Professional artists.
  • Amateur artists and crafters, including hobbyists.
  • Businesses, such as architects, graphic designers, interior designers, or direct mail advertisers.
  • Teachers and students.”

Products and Services Example

“NALB Creative Center will provide a wide variety of products of interest to artists and crafters. Our wholesale suppliers will include: Grumbacher, Liquitex, Windsor and Newton, Mabef Easels, Duncan, PrismaColor, Speedball, Masterpiece, Fredrix, Holbein, Rembrandt, and Strathmore. Vendors will include MacPherson and Herr’s. There are thousands of products available, we will offer many that are unusual, or new, as well as the basics that every artist needs on a regular basis. We will offer lines to include bargain, mid-range and professional quality products.”

Personnel Plan Example

“NCC will be operated in the first few years by the owners. Additional part-time help will be provided by family members. As NALB grows over the next years, we will need two additional full-time sales clerks, and two part-time clerks. This will free the owners to concentrate on building the business, and expanding into the other areas of NALB’s vision (tours, competitions, music, gallery, special events, etc.).”

Marketing Plan Example

“Our marketing strategy will focus heavily on customer service with loyalty and retention in sales; on sales promotion, and on niche positioning in the market.

“In addition to price and item promotional announcements, NALB Creative Center will focus its marketing efforts via several key direct-to-consumer advertising vehicles:

“Local and Regional Magazine Publications: (West Hawaii Today, Hilo Tribune-Herald, Hawai’i Island Journal). Each of these papers provide a demographic base that lines up nicely with that of NALB’s.

“Direct Mail Postcards: NALB will look to increase consumer awareness, retain the existing customer base and promote increased sales via postcard mailings. These mailings will be targeted around special events, and are intended to liquidate slow moving products or showcase vendor negotiated specials.”

how to create startup business plan

Free Marketing Plan Template

Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

  • Pre-Sectioned Template
  • Completely Customizable
  • Example Prompts
  • Professionally Designed

Financial Plan Example

“The growth of NALB will be moderate and the cash balance will always be positive.

  • Being a retail environment, we will not be selling on credit. We will accept cash, checks, Visa and MasterCard.
  • Marketing and advertising will remain at or below 5% of sales.
  • We will finance growth mainly through cash flow. We recognize that this means we will have to grow slowly.
  • It should be noted that the owners of NALB Creative Center do not intend to take any profits out of the business until the long-term debt has been satisfied. Whatever profits remain after the debt payments will be used to finance growth, mainly through the acquisition of additional inventory.”

Check out more business plan examples here .

After you create your business plan, you will likely have a good idea of your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats . You can therefore strategically create a name for your business that differentiates you from your competition, while still making it clear what you offer to customers and prospects.

That’s why creating a business name often comes after you create your plan.

Naming your business is a little more complicated than making a list and picking your favorite. If you‘re using a name other than your personal name, then you need to register it with your state government so they know you’re doing business with a name other than your given name.

To that end, here’s how to decide on a business name and register it with the appropriate authorities.

1. Brainstorm business name ideas .

Strategically choosing the right business name starts with a traditional brainstorming session. For some businesses, this may be a simple, straightforward process, such as simply choosing “[city name] + [service]”, i.e. Atlanta Dentist. This is a good idea for local businesses because it will ensure you’re more visible in local search results.

However, you might want to come up with a unique brand name if you’re running an innovative startup or otherwise launching a business that would benefit from a unique name. No matter what, we recommend coming up with a short, memorable name that’s easy to say and simple to write.

2. Conduct a trademark search.

Next, do a trademark search of your desired name to avoid expensive issues down the road. The search will tell you if another business has registered or applied for the name you'd like to use. Remember: A trademark owner can sue you on reasonable grounds if you use their trademark unlawfully.

3. Make sure the name you want is available in your state.

Before you register, you need to make sure the name you want is available in your state. Business names are registered on a state-by-state basis, so it‘s possible that a company in another state could have the same name as yours. This is only concerning if there’s a trademark on the name.

4. Make sure the domain name is available online.

During the name choosing process, you’ll want to envision how the name will look like as a website domain . That’s an easy way to test whether the name is short and memorable enough for someone to recite the website address off the top of their head. For instance, “Carlo’s Homemade Chocolate & Sweets” might sound like a good idea, but that translates to carloshomemadechocolate.com, and that’s not even the full name.

After you’ve envisioned the name as a domain, it’s time to check domain name registrars for availability. There’s nothing worse than coming up with a great business name, and then having to get an adjusted domain, such as “businessname-1.com”, “business-name.com”, or “therealbusinessname.com”. While these aren’t poor choices, it’s best to stick to “businessname.com” for readability and memorability.

Once you’ve found a name that suits you and is available in an unaltered state, register your domain name to ensure no one gets it before you do.

6. File for a trademark if you've chosen an original name.

If you’d like, you can trademark your business name for extra protection. A trademark protects words, names, symbols, and logos that distinguish goods and services. Filing for a trademark costs less than $300, and you can learn how to do it here .

7. Register your business name (optional).

You likely won’t need to take an additional step to register your business name . Most times, it will happen automatically.

If you are a new corporation or LLC, your business name will automatically be registered with your state when you register your business, so you don't have to go through a separate process. There are rules for naming a corporation and LLC, which you can read about here .

If you are a sole proprietorship, partnership, or existing corporation or LLC, register a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name if you want to do business with a name other than your registered name . You can do so either by going to your county clerk office or with your state government, depending on which state you're in. Learn how to do that here .

If you’re confused about the LLC, corporation, and partnership stuff, not to worry. These are called business structures, and they determine how your business operates from the top-down. Below, we cover how to choose between them.

How to Choose an Ownership Structure

Choosing an ownership structure, also known as your business legal structure or business entity, is one of the key legal requirements you’ll need to fulfill when starting your business.

The four most common business structures are:

1. Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is a business that‘s owned and run by one person, where the government makes no legal distinction between the person who owns the business and the business itself. It’s the simplest way to operate the business. You don‘t have to name your business anything other than your own, personal name, but if you want to, you can give it its own distinctive name by registering what’s called a Doing Business As (DBA) name.

A freelance graphic designer running their own business without additional help or with legally outsourced work.

  • It‘s easy and inexpensive to create a sole proprietorship because there’s only one owner.
  • The owner has complete control over all business decisions.
  • Tax preparation is also simple, since a sole proprietorship is not taxed separately from its owner.
  • It can be dramatically more difficult to raise money and get investors or loans because there's no legal structure that promises repayment if the business fails.
  • Since the owner and the business are legally the same, the owner is personally liable for all the debts and obligations of the business.

How Taxes Work

The individual proprietor owns and manages the business and is responsible for all transactions, including debts and liabilities. Income and losses are taxed on the individual's personal income tax return at ordinary rates. In addition, you are also subject to payroll taxes, or self-employment taxes, on the money you earn. Find IRS tax forms here .

Questions to Determine If It’s Right For You

Will you be the only employee, at least for the foreseeable future?

✅ If yes, this is an excellent option for you.

Are you all right with assuming full liability for the business?

✅ If so, this is a good choice. If not, consider an LLC or corporation instead, which will afford you more protection if the business fails.

2. Partnership

A partnership is a single business where two or more people share ownership, and each owner contributes to all aspects of the business, including shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Multiple doctors maintaining separate practices in the same building.

  • It‘s generally pretty easy to form a business partnership, and it doesn’t tend to be super expensive, either.
  • Having two or more people equally invested in the business' success allows you to pool resources.
  • You’ll have access to more than one person's skillset and expertise.
  • Just like a sole proprietor, partners have full, shared liability if the business goes south. Note : There is a variant on partnerships called a limited liability partnership, or LLP, that protects against that.
  • Partners aren't just liable for their own actions, but also the actions of their partner(s).
  • When more than one person is involved in decisions, there‘s room for disagreement — which means it’s important to have an explicit agreement over how the obligations and earnings will be split.

To form a partnership, you have to register your business with your state, a process generally done through your Secretary of State's office. You will also need to file self-employment taxes for each partner. Find IRS tax forms here .

Will you be founding the business with any other person, including a family member?

✅ If yes, this is an excellent option for you. A partnership structure is especially beneficial if the other stakeholder is a family member, so that no one goes back on their word.

Are you all right with assuming half liability for the business?

✅ If so, this is a good choice. If not, consider an LLP (limited liability partnership), LLC, or corporation instead, which will afford you more protection if the business fails.

Do you consider yourself to have strong conflict resolution and collaborative skills?

✅ Working in a team and resolving conflicts is an essential aspect of starting a business with a partner. If you’re more of a lone wolf, consider a sole proprietorship instead.

3. Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Limited liability companies (LLCs) are a type of business structure that‘s more complex than sole proprietorships and partnerships, but less complex than corporations. They are called "pass-through entities" because they’re not subject to a separate level of tax.

Most states don't restrict ownership on LLCs, and so members can include individuals, corporations, and even other LLCs and foreign entities. Most states also permit “single-member” LLCs — those having only one owner.

A small design firm owned by one president and staffed by multiple designers and other employees.

  • Owners of an LLC have limited liability, meaning that they personally are not responsible for any financial or legal faults of the business. This reduction in risk is what makes an LLC a very popular business structure.
  • They‘re simpler to operate than a corporation because they aren’t subject to as many formalities and regulations.
  • LLCs are often more complex than sole proprietorships or partnerships, which means higher initial costs.
  • Certain venture capital funds are hesitant to invest in LLCs because of tax considerations and the aforementioned complexity.

LLCs have the benefit of a “flow-through” tax treatment, meaning that the owners — not the LLC — are the ones who are taxed. Having only one level of tax imposed makes taxes easier. Find IRS tax forms here .

Would you prefer to be held minimally liable for the business and its financial outcomes?

✅ If so, an LLC is an excellent choice to protect your personal assets and finances. This is a good choice even if you’re starting a freelance business on your own.

Do you have the budget to pay LLC fees?

✅ LLC registration fees aren’t high, but they’re still an additional expense your business will need to budget for.

4. Corporation

A corporation is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners, and has most of the rights and responsibilities that an individual possesses (to enter into contracts, loan and borrow money, sue and be sued, hire employees, own assets, and pay taxes). It‘s more complex than the other business structures, and it’s generally suggested for larger, established companies with multiple employees.

Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Toyota Motor, and almost all well-known businesses.

  • They make seeking venture financing easy.
  • They provide the best protection for personal assets.
  • Founders, directors, and stockholders are (usually) not liable for the company‘s debts and obligations — only the money and resources they’ve personally invested.
  • Because they're much more complex than other business structures, they can have costly administrative fees.
  • They have more complicated tax and legal requirements.

Corporations are required to pay federal, state, and in some cases, local taxes. There are two different types of corporations: “C corporations” and “S corporations.” C corporations are subject to double taxation. Any profit a C corporation makes is taxed to the corporation when earned, and then is taxed to the shareholders when distributed as dividends.

The corporation does not get a tax deduction when it distributes dividends to shareholders. Shareholders cannot deduct any loss of the corporation, but they are also not responsible directly for taxes on their earnings — just on the dividends they give to shareholders.

S corporations, on the other hand, have only one level of taxation. Learn more about the difference between “C corporations” and “S corporations” here , and find IRS tax forms here .

Have you secured enough venture capital to scale your small business into a full corporation?

✅ Corporations can start small, but they need to have enough funds to grow. If you have a list of investors who’ve invested $1M+ in your small business, then it may be time to think about becoming a corporation.

Do you have an internal accounting team that can handle tax matters?

✅ The tax requirements for corporations can be complicated, which requires the expertise of dedicated accountants. If you have a team or are planning to start one, a corporation may be right for you.

how to start a business: business registration steps

Once the business plan, business name, and business structure is in place, you get to move on to the even less romantic part — the paperwork and legal activities. This includes things like registering with the government, and — depending on your business structure and industry — getting a tax code, a business license , and/or a seller's permit.

We go into more detail about how to register your business here . In summary, you’ll want to take the following steps to register your business:

Step 1: Pick your state of domicile.

Where are you operating? Georgia? New York? Choose the state where your business location will operate from.

Step 2: Register your business name.

Business name registration is automatic when you register as an LLC or sole proprietorship. Remember that you can always choose a DBA (Doing Business As) name.

The registration authority will vary by state. For instance, in Georgia, you register your business at the Department of Revenue, while in New York state, you register at the Department of State. Be sure to find the appropriate registration authority of your state.

Step 3: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), if needed.

You’ll need to apply for an Employer Identification Number if you’re not running a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC. Otherwise, the IRS will use your personal SSN for tax purposes.

Step 4: Fulfill other legal requirements.

These may include obtaining a business license or a seller’s permit.

Below, you'll find an explanation of what goes into that last step, along with links to helpful resources where you can dig into the details. (Note: These steps are for fulfilling legal requirements for a business in the U.S. only.)

Businesses are regulated on the federal, the state, and sometimes even local level. It‘s important to check what’s required on all three of those levels. Your business won't be a legal entity without checking these boxes, so it’s essential to fulfill them all.

1. Get a seller’s permit, if needed.

legal requirements to start a business: seller's permit

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If your business sells tangible property to the public either as a wholesaler or retailer, then in most states, you need to apply for a seller‘s permit. ’Tangible property‘ simply means physical items, like clothing, vehicles, toys, construction materials, and so on. In some states, a seller’s permit is required for service-oriented business, too, such as accountants, lawyers, and therapists.

The seller‘s permit allows you to collect sales tax from buyers. You’ll then pay that sales tax to the state each quarter by putting the sales tax permit number on the state's tax payment form.

You can register for a seller‘s permit through your state’s Board of Equalization, Sales Tax Commission, or Franchise Tax Board. To help you find the appropriate offices, find your state on this IRS website .

Alternatively, search for “seller’s permit [state name]” to find out how to apply at your local office.

2. Apply for a federal business license, if needed.

legal requirements to start a business: federal business license

Almost every business needs some form of license or permit to operate legally — but the requirements vary, which can get confusing. Which specific licenses or permits does your business need? This is determined mainly by what industry you’re in. For example, construction firms need a contractor’s license.

To figure out if your business needs a specific license, go to this SBA.gov website and select the state from which you‘re operating your business. It’ll tell you the specific license and permit requirements in that state.

3. Apply for state licenses.

legal requirements to start a business: certificate of occupancy

Most states have specific licensure requirements for occupying a retail space, operating out of a warehouse, and even operating out of your home. According to Chase Bank , these can include:

  • Operating licenses
  • Building permits
  • Zoning and land use permits
  • Signage licenses

Keep in mind that these requirements will vary by state. For instance, in Georgia, you’ll need an Occupational Tax Certificate if you have a brick-and-mortar store, while in New York state, you’ll need a General Vendor license, even if you don’t have a physical store.

4. Apply for professional licenses and renew them.

legal requirements to start a business: professional license

Some fields require a professional license, which are separate from the federal business licenses you use to operate legally. Rather, this type of license ensures that you’re qualified to provide the services you’re advertising.

Professionals that may need a license include:

  • Hair stylists
  • Insurance agents
  • Real estate agents

Be sure to double-check the requirements with your state, and remember to renew your license every year.

5. Understand small business tax requirements.

legal requirements to start a business: small business tax requirements

Business owners are obligated to pay specific federal taxes, and the amount of those taxes is determined by the business entity that you establish. All businesses except for partnerships need to file an annual income tax return. Partnerships file what's called an information return .

As mentioned, a business that‘s owned and operated as an LLC or corporation needs an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for on the IRS’ website here . Even if you operate as a sole proprietor under your SSN, you’ll still need to play self-employment tax.

Once you‘re registered, it’s time to figure out which taxes you'll be responsible for. Here are the three types:

Self-Employment Tax (SE Tax)

Self-employment tax refers to a Social Security and Medicare tax for people who work for themselves, i.e. business owners. SE taxes require filing Schedule SE (Form 1040) if your net earnings from self-employment were $400 or more. (Note: There are special rules and exceptions for fishing crew members, notary publics, and more.)

You can learn more here .

Employment Tax

When you have employees, you (as the employer) have certain employment tax responsibilities that you need to pay, as well as forms you need to file. Employment taxes include Social Security and Medicare taxes, federal income tax withholding, and federal unemployment (FUTA) tax.

Excise taxes are also something you need to consider, depending on what you sell, where you operate, and so on. For example, in the U.S., there's a federal excise tax on certain trucks, truck tractors, and buses used on public highways.

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned about the legal requirements to start a business.

Legal Requirements to Start a Business

  • Pick your state of domicile.
  • Register your business name.
  • Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  • Get a seller’s permit.
  • Apply for a federal business license.
  • Apply for state licenses.
  • Apply for professional licenses and renew them.
  • Understand small business tax requirements.

From the day you start building your business until the point where you can make a consistent profit, you need to finance your operation and growth with start-up capital. Some founders can finance their business entirely on their own dime or through friends and family, which is called “bootstrapping.”

This obviously gives the business owners a ton of flexibility for running the business, although it means taking on a larger financial risk — and when family's involved, it can lead to awkward holiday dinner conversations if things go wrong.

Many founders need external start-up capital to get their business off the ground . If that sounds like you, keep on reading to learn about the most common kinds of external capital you can raise.

1. Seed Financing

If you're looking for a relatively small amount of money, say, the investigation of a market opportunity or the development of the initial version of a product or service, then Seed financing might be for you.

There are many different kinds of seed financing, but the one you've probably heard of most is called Seed-round financing. In this case, someone will invest in your company in exchange for preferred stock. If your company gets sold or liquidated, then investors who hold preferred stock often have the right to get their investment back — and, in most cases, an additional return, called “preferred dividends” or “liquidation preferences” — before holders of common stock are paid.

2. Accelerator

Accelerators are highly competitive programs that typically involve applying and then competing against other startups in a public pitch event or demo day. In addition to winning funding and seed capital, winners of these programs are also rewarded with mentorship and educational programs.

Although accelerators were originally mostly tech companies and centered around Silicon Valley, you can now find them all over the country and in all different industries. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, here's a list of the top accelerators in the United States to get you started.

3. Small Business Loan

If you have a really rock-solid plan for how you'll spend the money in place, then you might be able to convince a bank, a lender, a community development organization, or a micro-lending institution to grant you a loan.

There are many different types of loans , including loans with the bank, real estate loans, equipment loans, and more. To successfully get one, you‘re going to need to articulate exactly how you’ll spend every single penny — so make sure you have a solid business plan in place before you apply. You can learn more about SBA.gov's loan programs here .

4. Crowdfunding

You might ask yourself, what about companies that get funding through platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo? That's called crowdfunding, which is a newer way of funding a business.

More importantly, it typically doesn‘t entail giving partial ownership of the business away. Instead, it’s a way of getting funding not from potential co-owners, but from potential fans and customers who want to support the business idea, but not necessarily own it.

What you give donors in exchange is entirely up to you — and typically, people will come away with early access to a product, or a special version of a product, or a meet-and-greet with the founders. Learn more about crowdfunding here .

5. Venture Capital Financing

Only a very small percentage of businesses are either fit for venture capital or have access to it. All the other methods described earlier are available to the vast majority of new businesses.

If you're looking for a significant amount of money to start your company and can prove you can quickly grow its value, then venture capital financing is probably the right move for you.

Venture capital financing usually means one or more venture capital firms make large investments in your company in exchange for preferred stock of the company — but, in addition to getting that preferred return as they would in series seed financing, venture capital investors also usually get governance rights, like a seat on the Board of Directors or approval rights on certain transactions.

VC financing typically occurs when a company can demonstrate a significant business opportunity to quickly grow the value of the company but requires significant capital to do so.

When you‘re first starting a business, you’ll need to build the foundation for a strong brand identity. Your brand identity is about your values, how you communicate concepts, and which emotions you want your customers to feel when they interact with your business. Having a consistent brand identity to promote your business will make you look more professional and help you attract new customers.

Here’s what you need to do to develop your brand identity:

1. Design a logo.

Creating the right logo for your business requires careful thought and consideration. It should be representative of your brand's purpose and target audience, while also being memorable and distinct from competitors.

To start, you need a deep understanding of your business's mission, values, and target audience. Think beyond what your company does and truly examine why you do what you do, and who you do it for. This knowledge will serve as the foundation for your logo.

Consider conducting market research and identifying current logo trends can help you understand what works well for others and strategize on how to stand out. Then, start brainstorming design ideas that showcase what makes your business unique. For instance, you could try writing out a list of words that best describe your business and what makes it special, and then use those words as inspiration to start sketching ideas and concepts.

Once you have some sketches created, pick which ones you think are the best and share them with stakeholders, colleagues, and buyer personas to gather feedback and refine your design. After narrowing down a design, you’ll want to test its versatility and scalability to ensure it works well in different sizes and formats.

2. Develop a visual identity.

Your brand’s visual identity doesn’t stop at creating a logo — you’ll also need to establish guidelines for typography, color palette, imagery, and other graphic elements. The more consistent your brand is with its visuals, the more consumers will be able to recognize and trust it.

To get started, consider creating a brand mood board. Ask yourself: What kind of emotions do you want your brand to evoke? Is there a specific visual aesthetic that you want to emulate? This can help you gather visual inspiration that resonates with your brand.

Choose your color palette and typography wisely. Spend some time researching color theory , as color can have a major impact on how people perceive your brand. Make sure your typography is readable and looks good across different sizes and formats. Additionally, you should create other visual assets such as patterns, shapes, illustrations, and icons that pair well with your color palette and typography.

3. Craft a tagline.

In just a few words, your tagline should encapsulate your brand’s essence and communicate its value. Think of it as a written or verbal version of your logo. Both elements are created to immediately capture the attention of your audience. Even if consumers don’t remember anything about your product or service, they will remember a catchy tagline.

When crafting your tagline, keep it simple. You want your tagline to be memorable, so aim for a short phrase and focus on key benefits or unique aspects of your brand. Also consider utilizing techniques like alliteration, rhyme, or play on words to make your tagline stand out — just make sure it aligns with the rest of your brand’s voice and tone.

4. Develop your voice and tone.

Your brand voice refers to the personality that your brand adopts in its communication with its audience. It provides direction on what to say and how to say it, allowing you to differentiate yourself and cut through the noise. A well-defined brand voice helps create a distinct and memorable identity for your brand, allowing you to connect with your target audience on a deeper and more meaningful level.

When determining the appropriate voice and tone for your brand, remember that consistency is key. Ensure that your brand voice and tone align with your brand‘s values, mission, and positioning. Alignment between your brand’s personality and its communication style is crucial for building trust and authenticity.

It’s also important to be mindful of how you use language. Adapt your voice and tone to suit the preferences and understanding of your audience. Additionally, use emotion and storytelling techniques to engage your audience and resonate with them.

5. Create brand guidelines.

Once you determine all of the previously mentioned brand elements, establish a set of brand guidelines that communicate how to appropriately use them. Having these rules and standards set in place ensure consistent and cohesive messaging and representation for your brand.

Get started by defining the rules for using your brand elements across different channels and applications, such as digital and print media, social media profiles, web design, packaging, and any other relevant materials.

Show practical examples of correct and incorrect usage scenarios to demonstrate the do‘s and don’ts of brand representation. This helps stakeholders and users understand the guidelines and their application. You can also offer your team templates or mock-ups to ensure correct implementation.

Once the brand guidelines are set, distribute them to internal stakeholders and relevant external partners. To make sure everyone’s on the same page, take the time to review the guidelines with everyone and consider conducting training sessions if necessary.

As your brand evolves, so should your brand guidelines. Continuously review and update them to reflect any changes or refinements. Keep the guidelines easily accessible and communicate any updates effectively.

tips for starting a business

Ready to dive into a life of entrepreneurship? Here are the best tips for becoming successful in your small business niche.

1. Create a customer acquisition strategy.

Once you've registered your new business with the government and gotten the legal paperwork squared away, how do you go about, you know ... acquiring customers ?

Here’s the truth: A new company needs to start drumming up interest for its product or service even before it's ready to ship. But there are a million different platforms and avenues you can use to drive awareness … so where on earth do you start?

It all comes down to your target customer. You won‘t be able to acquire customers without knowing who they are. One of the very first questions you need to ask yourself is: Who wants what I’m selling? Who would find it useful? Who would love it?

To create a strong customer acquisition strategy, you’ll need to narrow down your target audience as much as possible.

2. Narrow down your target customer.

To find your target customer , you need to dig in to whom that person is and what kind of messaging would resonate with them. Using research, surveys, and interviews, try to find out:

  • Their backgrounds, interests, goals, and challenges
  • How old they are
  • What they do every day
  • Which social platforms they use

And much more.

Creating very specific buyer personas can dramatically improve your customer acquisition efforts. Read this step-by-step guide on how to create buyer personas , which includes buyer persona templates you can customize yourself. Once you've picked a buyer persona or two, print them out, tack them onto your wall, and think about their interests and needs before making every business decision.

3. Build your online presence.

With your target customer and your brand identity under your belt, you can begin building the core marketing elements of your small business, which includes your website, your blog, your email tool, your conversion tool, and your social media accounts. To dive deeper into these topics, read our beginner's guide to small business marketing here .

4. Generate and nurture leads.

Once you‘ve started building an online presence and creating awareness for your business, you need to generate the leads that will close into customers. Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into leads, and if you build a successful lead generation engine, you’ll be able to keep your funnel full of sales prospects while you sleep.

What does a successful lead generation process look like? Learn more about lead generation here , and don’t forget to try HubSpot's free marketing tools , our free lead generation tool that lets you track your website visitors and leads in a single contact database.

5. Set up your sales infrastructure.

By taking the time to set up your sales process from the get-go, you‘ll avoid painful headaches that come with lost data down the line. Start with a CRM, which is a central database where you can keep track of all your clients and prospective clients in one place. There are loads of options out there, and you’ll want to evaluate the CRMs that cater to small businesses . (Excel doesn't count!)

6. Identify your sales goals.

Don't get intimidated by sales lingo such as KPIs and ROI. All this means is that you need to figure out what you need to make ends meet and grow: how much revenue do you need, and how many products do you need to sell to hit that target?

7. Hire a sales rep.

When you‘re starting your business, it’s tempting to do everything yourself, including taking on sales. However, making that first sales hire is crucial to scaling — you need someone dedicated to understanding your buyer and selling to them full-time. When looking for that first sales hire, seniority should be less of a priority than how much sales experience they have on the front lines and whether they understand your business‘ target buyer. From there, you’ll want a plan for building your sales development team .

8. Get more out of your sales activities.

Efficiency is key. Put together a sales process, such as this helpful 7-step sales process framework , which works regardless of your business size. You'll also want to automate sales tasks (such as data entry), or set up notifications when a prospective customer takes an action. That way, you spend less time poring through records and calling the wrong prospects and more on strategy and actual selling.

9. Keep your customers happy.

Getting new customers in the door is important, but retaining them is just as important. You can‘t ignore customers once you’ve closed them — you have to take care of them, give them stellar customer service, and nurture them to become fans of (and even evangelists for) your business.

While inbound marketing and sales are both critical to your funnel, the funnel doesn‘t end there: The reality is that the amount of time and effort that you spend perfecting your strategy in those areas will amount to very little if you’re unable to retain happy customers.

This means that building a model for customer success should be central to your organization.

Think for a second about all the different ways reviews, social media, and online aggregators spread information about your products.

They're all quick and effective, for better or for worse. While your marketing and sales playbooks are within your control and yours to perfect, a large chunk of your prospects are evaluating your company based on the content and materials that other people are circulating about your brand.

10. React quickly to customer issues.

People expect fast resolution times (some faster than others depending on the channel), so it‘s essential to be nimble and efficiently keep up with requests so that you’re consistently providing excellent service to avoid losing trust with your customers.

Pay attention to the volume of your company mentions on different channels. Identify where your customers spend the most time and are asking the most questions, and then meet them there, whether it's on a social network, on Yelp, or somewhere else.

11. Keep track of touchpoints with individual customers.

Interactions with your customers are best informed by context. Keep track of all the touchpoints you've had with individual customers, because having a view into their experience with your company will pay dividends in the long run.

How long have they been a customer? What was their experience in the sales process? How many purchases have they made? Have they given positive/critical feedback about your support experience or products? Knowing the answers to these questions will give you a more complete picture when you respond to inquiries and will help you have more productive conversations with customers.

12. Create feedback loops.

From the moment you have your first customer, you should be actively seeking out insights from them. As your business grows, this will become harder — but remember that your customer-facing employees are a valuable source of information because they are most in tune with your buyers and potential buyers.

13. Create a FAQ page on your website.

Give customers the tools to help themselves, and scale this program as you grow. When you're starting out, this might take the form of a simple FAQ page. Over time, as your customer base grows, turn your website into a resource for your customers and enable them to self-service — such as evolving that FAQ page into a knowledge base or library that answers common questions and/or gives customers instructions.

Here are some helpful resources to help you spread awareness, build your online presence, and get the leads you need for free. In addition, we’ve listed additional templates and sales tools to help you build an efficient sales engine, reach prospects, and close customers for free.

  • The Ultimate Inbound Guide for Start-Ups : A guide that covers how to build an inbound sales and marketing machine, which demand generation activities offer the biggest return on investment, and more.
  • HubSpot's Free Marketing Tools : Free marketing tool that gives you insight into what every lead does before and after they fill out a form. It includes built-in analytics that make it easy to learn which pages, offers, and traffic sources are driving the most conversions for you.
  • Website Grader : Enter your website URL and email address, and you‘ll get a detailed grade on your website’s performance, mobile, SEO, and security, along with detailed tips and resources for making impactful improvements on your website.
  • Press Release Templates : Downloadable press release templates you can customize, along with a corresponding guide to building a press release and promotion plan.
  • Case Study Templates : Downloadable case study templates you can customize, tips on how to find and reach out to candidates, and sample interview questions.
  • Content Creation Templates : 100 social media image templates, 8 PowerPoint presentation templates, 50 call-to-action templates, 15 infographic templates, 5 ebook templates, 5 blog post templates, and more.
  • Email Signature Generator : A free tool that creates a professional email signature you can easily add to your Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, Yahoo Mail, or any other email provider.
  • Sales Email Templates : A list of email templates that have been used with tremendous success by real companies (including HubSpot).
  • Sales Call Scripts : Easy-to-follow sales call scripts that can help you build rapport and develop trust, understand the prospect's pain points, identify key decision-makers, and secure a follow-up meeting.
  • Daniel Pink's “Sell Like a Human” Video Series : Monthly video series where Sales Expert Daniel Pink and special guests solve your biggest sales challenges in under 30 minutes.
  • Sales Close Rate Industry Benchmarks Tool : Compare your sales close rate against your industry competitors using data from over 8,900 companies segmented by 28 industries.

Additional Resource: Enroll in HubSpot Academy to learn everything you need to know about digital marketing and sales for small business. Train your whole team for free!

Starting a business online is a little different from starting a traditional business. Here are some important steps for starting and scaling your business online.

1. Determine your niche and business idea.

Your business niche is your target focus area for your product or service. It’s important to choose a niche because customers like brands and businesses that specifically cater to their needs. Most customers are more likely to purchase products or services from a brand that provides personalized experiences.

When determining your niche and business idea, first identify your target audience and specify everything from their age to their interests. Then, use that information to figure out their principal need. If your product doesn’t resolve a specific need, your business will fail to get off the ground.

2. Conduct market research.

Conduct market research to understand what product or service you should offer, whom you should serve, and where you face the stiffest competition. From physical goods to digital downloads, understanding your target market and competitors will help you determine how to best position your product.

Your research should help you create a strong selling proposition . In other words, what makes your business unique? Why should someone buy from you?

3. Learn online business laws.

While online businesses may require fewer licenses and permits than traditional businesses, there are still legal requirements that you will need to adhere to. Be sure to check:

  • What kind of business license (if any) do you need to start operations?
  • What legal structure makes the most sense for your company?
  • Are there any permits that you need to obtain?
  • Are there any inspections that you need to pass?
  • Do you need a sales tax license?
  • Are there any specific regulations applicable to online businesses only?
  • What are the laws regarding hiring contractors and hiring employees?

4. Create a website.

After handling the research, taking care of legalities, and honing in your products or services, it is time to create your website . When creating your website, you will need to choose a strong ecommerce platform that will allow you to sell products online.

5. Set up shop.

Once your website is complete, it’s time to add products or services to your store. When adding your products, pay attention to product images and descriptions. Having a crisp image and a detailed but concise description will help your audience maneuver your website smoothly.

After you have finished setting up your store, it’s critical to ensure you offer a seamless shipping or delivery experience to your buyers. For example, you can use HubSpot to manage quality control before you ship products out.

Finally, you want to make sure everything is working before you hit the live button on your website. Make sure that everything is clickable and that all pages look good across all devices and browsers. Once you’ve checked that, you are ready to go live.

6. Grow your business.

You’ve created an awesome product and now it’s time to get the word out. In other words, it’s time to grow your audience. There are numerous ways to reach your target customer, including:

  • Social media : Use hashtags and paid ads to expand your reach.
  • Influencer marketing : Send free samples to “celebrities” in your niche.
  • Facebook groups : Connect with your target market on this platform.
  • Google advertising : Put your products in front of people all over the web.
  • Content marketing : Publish blog posts to bring organic traffic to your site.
  • Word-of-mouth : Encourage customers to spread the word.
  • YouTube videos : Start a channel to showcase your products.

Next Steps: Getting Ready to Launch Your Business

Being a small business owner isn’t easy, but with the right plan, you can set up your business for success. Be sure to check and know your requirements, have a solid business plan, and submit your legal paperwork before you take your business live. Once you have a solid business plan and the financing to execute your goals, you'll be well on the path to launching a successful enterprise.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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how to create startup business plan

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Eight Steps To Creating A Successful Startup Business Plan

By Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Creating a business plan is one of the first steps toward success as an entrepreneur. A well-crafted business plan can help you secure funding, attract customers and establish your brand. While there’s no single blueprint for creating a perfect business plan, there are some essential steps that all entrepreneurs should follow. This article will walk you through the eight essential steps to creating a successful startup business plan.

Create A Company Overview

When creating a startup business plan, the first step is to develop a company overview. This includes identifying the unique value proposition of your startup, defining the potential market and outlining your competitive advantage. It should also include details about your startup’s organizational structure, any partnerships or investors and financial goals.

Define Your Business, Products And Services

Defining your business, products and services is a crucial step in creating a successful startup business plan. Keep it simple and to the point: What is your company’s purpose? What products or services do you offer? How are you different from your competitors? Once you have clearly defined these elements for yourself, it can be much easier to create specific goals and strategies for success. 

Establish Your Goals And Objectives

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Next, determine specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound ( SMART ) objectives that align with your mission statement and long-term goals. It is also helpful to identify any potential obstacles or challenges in achieving these goals, as well as create action steps to overcome them. 

Detail Your Financial Projections

When it comes to creating a successful startup business plan, financial projections are essential. This includes analyzing your startup’s expenses, projecting revenue and forecasting cash flow. It is important to be realistic and conservative in your estimates, as well as provide justification for any major assumptions.

Investors will also want to see how your startup plans to bring in revenue and reach profitability. A thorough financial plan can give investors confidence in your startup’s ability to succeed financially. It is also important to regularly review and update your financial projections throughout the life of your startup, adjusting based on any changes in the market or within the company itself. 

Describe The Competitive Landscape

It is crucial to understand your competitive landscape. This means identifying both direct and indirect competitors, as well as analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. This information can help guide your own strategy and position in the market.

5 Traps to Avoid as a Startup Founder

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When creating a startup business plan, it is essential to accurately describe how funding will be used. This includes not only giving an overall breakdown of allocated expenses but also providing justification for each expense and explaining how it directly contributes to the success and growth of the startup. Furthermore, it is important to be able to demonstrate flexibility in the allocation of funds, showing that the startup team can respond nimbly to unexpected changes or opportunities.

Finally, potential investors want assurance that their funds will be used judiciously and responsibly, with a clear eye toward profitability and long-term sustainability. In sum, implementing a thorough and well-thought-out funding strategy in a startup business plan can not only secure funding from investors but also set the groundwork for future success.

Explain Your Marketing And Sales Strategy

When creating a startup business plan, it’s important to develop a clear and effective marketing and sales strategy . This means defining your target market, identifying their needs and pain points and positioning your product or service as the solution. It also involves determining how you will reach your target audience through channels such as advertising, public relations and events.

Additionally, having a solid understanding of your competition can help inform your pricing strategy and differentiators. Developing a proactive approach to sales is also crucial—this could include setting sales goals and establishing processes for lead generation and conversion. 

Designate A Management Team And Advisory Board

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When selecting individuals for the management team, look for those who complement each other’s skill sets and have a passion for your product or service. As for the advisory board, aim to bring on industry leaders or successful entrepreneurs who can offer valuable insights and advice. 

Creating a successful startup business plan is no easy feat. However, by following the steps outlined above, you can give your startup the best chance for success. From conducting competitive research to developing a marketing and sales strategy, each step is crucial in creating a solid foundation for your business. By taking the time to create a well-thought-out business plan, you’ll be setting your startup up for long-term success.

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how to create startup business plan

Small Business Trends

How to start an ecommerce business.

Given today’s digital age, starting an e-commerce business can be a profitable venture. The types of ECommerce businesses are many, and the opportunities to grow in the field are even more numerous.

The Basics of E-commerce

ECommerce, short for electronic commerce, refers to the buying and selling of goods or services over the internet. It involves online transactions between businesses and consumers (B2C), between businesses (B2B), or between consumers (C2C), facilitated through websites, mobile apps, or online marketplaces.

how to start an ecommerce business

Benefits of Your Own Ecommerce Business

For the Owner:

  • Global Reach: eCommerce allows businesses to reach a global audience, expanding their customer base beyond local boundaries.
  • Lower Overhead Costs: Compared to brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce businesses often have lower operating costs, such as rent and utilities.
  • Convenience: Owners can manage their business from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Data Insights: eCommerce platforms provide valuable data on customer behavior and preferences, aiding in marketing and product development, a concept further elaborated in the context of AI e-commerce benefits .

For Customers:

  • Convenience: Shoppers can browse and purchase products 24/7 from the comfort of their homes.
  • Variety: Access to a wide range of products and services from different sellers and regions.
  • Price Comparisons: Easy comparison of prices, reviews, and product specifications.
  • Delivery Options: Various delivery choices, including home delivery and click-and-collect.

how to start an ecommerce business

Laying the Groundwork for Your Online Business

Before you choose a product or products to sell, perform your due diligence in research.

Small Business Deals

Identifying your niche and target audience.

  • Conduct market research to identify a niche with demand and less competition.
  • Define your target demographic audience’s demographics, preferences, and pain points.
  • Use tools like Google Keyword Planner and social media insights to gather data.

Crafting Your E-commerce Business Plan

Include a clear mission statement, business goals, and financial projections in your business plan . A well-crafted business plan will help you obtain funding.

  • Outline your product offerings, pricing strategy, and marketing plan.
  • Define your unique selling proposition (USP) and competitive analysis.

how to start an ecommerce business

Deciding on a Business Name

  • Ensure the name is unique and not trademarked by another company.
  • Check domain name availability for your WordPress eCommerce  website.
  • Brainstorm with friends and family. Consider a name that’s easy to remember and reflects your brand’s identity.

Choosing the Right E-commerce Business Model

There are several ways you can set up your E-commerce business:

how to start an ecommerce business

Dropshipping ECommerce Store

In the dropshipping business model, you don’t hold inventory. You partner with dropshipping suppliers who ship products directly to customers when orders are placed. For guidance on how to begin, you might consider looking at resources on how to start dropshipping .

Wholesale ECommerce Store

You purchase products in bulk from suppliers at a wholesale price and sell them at a markup.

how to start an ecommerce business

Private Labeling E-commerce Site

You customize products with your brand and sell them. These products are often sourced from manufacturers.

Subscription E-commerce Company

Customers pay a recurring fee for access to products or services regularly. This model is common in industries like streaming, software, and subscription boxes.

how to start an ecommerce business

Setting Up Your Online Store

Your e-commerce store must be optimized, user-friendly and secure.

Picking an E-commerce Platform

Research and choose an ECommerce platform that suits your needs. Popular options include Shopify, WooCommerce (for WordPress), BigCommerce, and Magento. Consider factors like ease of use, scalability, and available features.

how to start an ecommerce business

Designing a User-Friendly Website

Prioritize a clean and intuitive design. Ensure easy navigation, quick loading times, effective call-to-action buttons and mobile responsiveness. A successful online store must use high-quality, attractive images and clear product descriptions.

Implementing Secure Payment Methods

Prioritize security for both you and your customers. Use reputable payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, or Square. Ensure your website has SSL encryption to protect customer data.

Legal Requirements

Register your business according to the common business structures available in your region. Obtain any necessary licenses or permits.

Navigating Shipping Costs and Strategies

Research shipping options and costs. Consider offering free or discounted shipping to attract customers. You can also set parameters for free shipping, such as reaching a certain price point. Implement a clear shipping policy and provide tracking information to customers. Consider third-party logistics (3PL) for efficient e-commerce fulfillment services .

how to start an ecommerce business

Marketing and Scaling Your Online Business

Your e-commerce business won’t be successful if customers can’t find you. Use our tips to develop an effective marketing strategy:

Driving Traffic to Your Website

Utilize various marketing channels such as SEO, social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and email marketing. For a successful e-commerce business, you need to create compelling content (product descriptions) and engage with your audience through blogs, videos, and social media posts.

how to start an ecommerce business

Building a Strong Brand Presence Online

Establish your brand’s presence on social media platforms with an eye-catching logo. Engage with your audience and encourage customer reviews and testimonials. Create a content calendar to maintain a consistent posting schedule.

Analyzing and Adapting to Market Trends

Keep a close eye on industry trends and consumer behavior. Use analytics tools to track website performance, customer behavior, and sales data. Adapt your strategy based on the insights you gather.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Optimize your website to rank higher in search engine results for keywords related to your products or niche. Consider writing articles on topics like the secrets for building a top ecommerce business to attract traffic.

how to start an ecommerce business

Additional Resources

Starting an e-commerce business involves careful planning and execution. By following this checklist to starting an e-commerce business , entrepreneurs can set themselves up for success. Remember, patience and persistence are key. With the right approach and mindset, anyone can start and grow a thriving e-commerce business.

For further guidance on establishing your e-commerce business, consider the following resources:

  • How to Start a Business
  • Business Startup Checklist
  • Website Startup Guide

Whether you’re curious about the best products to feature, like best dropshipping products , or seeking advice on fundamental aspects such as your business startup checklist , these resources can provide you with the knowledge to build a successful e-commerce business from the ground up.

FAQs: How to Start an E-commerce Business

Does starting an e-commerce business require specific skills.

While specialized skills can be beneficial (e.g., web design, digital marketing, inventory management), you can start an ECommerce business without them. Learning and adapting are essential, and you can also hire experts when needed.

If you don’t have the computer knowledge for web design and SEO standards, it makes sense to hire an expert. In the long run, that will help you earn more money since an expert can ensure your business pops up when customers do computer searches.

How much does it cost to start your own e-commerce store?

The costs vary depending on your niche, business model, and scale.

Costs may include domain registration, hosting, ECommerce platform fees, initial inventory, marketing, and web development. It can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars or more.

Many entrepreneurs start an e-commerce business with just one or two products and grow as the market dictates. In other words, keep the intial inventory building costs low as you determine which products will be the best sellers for you.

How long does it take to make money from an e-commerce store?

The time it takes to become profitable varies. Some businesses start making a profit within a few weeks or months, while others may take longer. It depends on factors like your niche, marketing efforts, and the competitive landscape.

What are some challenges faced by e-commerce businesses?

Challenges can include intense competition, managing inventory and logistics efficiently, dealing with customer service issues, maintaining website security, and staying updated with changing technology and trends.

Image: Envato Elements

how to create startup business plan

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How to start a business in Pennsylvania

Rebecca Neubauer

Alana Rudder

Alana Rudder

“Verified by an expert” means that this article has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated for accuracy.

Published 1:51 a.m. UTC Nov. 2, 2023

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Featured Image

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Starting a business in Pennsylvania can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. By taking a systematic approach to starting your business, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the challenges and opportunities that come your way.

There are seven steps to starting a business in Pennsylvania:

  • Start with a business plan.
  • Select a business entity.
  • Choose a business name.
  • Register your business entity.
  • Apply for an employer identification number (EIN).
  • Apply for required licenses and permits.
  • Open a business bank account.

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7 steps to register your business in Pennsylvania

1. start with a business plan.

A business plan is a crucial foundation for your business that outlines your goals and the strategies to achieve them. Pennsylvania provides a business plan template to assist new business owners in this step of starting a business. 

Funding your business is an essential aspect of the planning process. Estimate your startup costs and identify potential sources of financing, such as personal savings, loans or grants. Look at Pennsylvania’s state funding options to see if they are a viable source of capital for your new business.

Market research is critical for understanding your target audience, competitors and market conditions. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions when developing your products or services, setting prices and choosing marketing strategies. The Small Business Administration offers a list of resources you can use to do market research.

Additionally, explore business software and tools tailored to your needs, such as:

  • Point-of-sale (POS) systems . 
  • Payroll software . 
  • Website builders . 
  • Credit card readers .

2. Select a business entity 

Before starting your business in Pennsylvania, one crucial step is selecting the correct business entity for your needs. This state has four main types of business structures: sole proprietorships, partnerships (general or limited), limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations . 

A sole proprietorship is the most straightforward business structure to start. This might be the right option if you’re going for a small-scale business and prefer simplicity. However, it brings full personal liability since there is no legal separation between you and the business.

A partnership allows two or more individuals to share ownership of a business. There are two types: general and limited partnerships. While a general partnership involves equal liability for all partners, a limited partnership has general partners who manage the business and limited partners with limited liability protection.

LLCs blend the benefits of sole proprietorship or partnership in terms of management with the liability protection of a corporation. LLCs offer flexibility in their operation and taxation and provide personal asset protection.

Finally, corporations are separate legal entities from their owners and are owned by shareholders that enjoy maximum liability protection. Corporations require more management formalities and operate under strict guidelines, but they are suitable for larger businesses that need ample funding options.

3. Choose a business name

When starting a business in Pennsylvania, you must decide on a suitable business name. It should not be registered to another business in the state and clearly communicate your company’s services. You can search for existing names on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s (DOS) free business search to ensure you are not selecting a name that another business has already registered.

If you are not ready to register your business entity, you can reserve your name for 120 on the Pennsylvania business filing services website for a filing fee of $70. 

For information on how to ensure your name is marketable, unique and not protected from national infringement, read our business naming guide. 

4. Register your business entity 

Once you’ve chosen a name, it’s time to register your business entity. Different legal business structures exist, like sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation. Keep in mind that this step does not apply to sole proprietorships but may apply to partnerships. 

To fill out these forms, for all business types except sole proprietorship, it is important to choose a registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or company located in Pennsylvania that will receive legal documents on behalf of your business. Explore the top registered agent services to find the perfect fit for your needs.

You can submit your registration filings on the Pennsylvania DOS website . For example, for an LLC, you should file a certificate of organization form (often known as an articles of organization form) and for a corporation, you should file an articles of incorporation form. The business registration fee is around $125 for domestic businesses and can be paid on the website when you file. 

5. Apply for an EIN

An employer identification number (EIN) is a unique federal identifier for your business. The IRS uses it for tax purposes. It is also used to apply for business licenses, open a bank account, engage investors, hire employees and seek business funding through grants or loans. 

You can obtain an EIN for free by applying online on the IRS website between Monday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST. Your EIN will be automatically generated once you submit the form and made available to you on the submission confirmation page.

6. Apply for required licenses and permits

Your business might need federal, state or local licenses or permits to operate legally, depending on the type of business you are opening. These may include occupational, zoning or environmental permits. Visit Pennsylvania’s special registrations page to learn which professional or occupational licenses or permits may apply to your business. 

For local permits, you can search your business address on Pennsylvania’s local registrations, permits and zoning page to find local municipal contact information. Use the contact information to inquire about your requirements.

Examples of common state permits and licenses include:

  • An agricultural license.
  • A childcare facility license.
  • An environmental project permit.
  • A home improvement contractor license.
  • A manufactured home license.
  • A sales tax license.

To get a sales tax license, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to determine your business’s taxability and sales tax license requirements.

7. Open a business bank account

After completing the registration process, it’s essential to keep your business finances separate from personal finances. To do so, open a business bank account and consider a business credit card to handle financial transactions specifically for your business. This will help you track expenses and prepare your tax forms. It can also be a key tool in defending your business’s limited liability protection, depending on your entity type.

Find the best company formation services for Pennsylvania: Best LLC services of 2023

Our top recommended company formation service for Pennsylvania

Best llc service, rocket lawyer.

Rocket Lawyer

What you should know

Rocket Lawyer is a well-known, reputable company that offers online legal services to individuals and businesses. With a membership, you can access hundreds of customizable legal documents, attorney services, a proprietary document signing tool and discounts on professional services like tax filing and business incorporation.

If you purchase a new membership with Rocket Lawyer, you can snag a great deal on your LLC formation as it’s included for free. Without membership, the LLC formation service costs $99 plus state filing fees.

Read our full Rocket Lawyer review .

Pros and cons

  • Free LLC formation for new members.
  • Great customer reviews.
  • Membership provides ongoing legal support.
  • Customer support is lacking.
  • Only one LLC service plan.
  • Limited LLC plan add-ons.

More details

If you’re looking for a deal on an LLC organization, Rocket Lawyer is best for those who don’t yet have a membership and want an affordable way to get legal help on an ongoing basis. The large library of customizable legal documents makes it easy to DIY agreements and contracts, a directory of lawyers will be on-call if you need advice and the LLC formation will be free (plus state filing fees).

The cost of starting a business in Pennsylvania depends on your business type. Domestic corporations, domestic limited partnerships and domestic LLCs have a $125 registration fee. 

Foreign businesses cost $250 to register. Fictitious name registration costs $70, trademark registration costs $50 and most ancillary transactions cost $70 each. Annual reporting costs are $0 for non-profits and $7 for for-profit businesses. 

Other associated costs may include hiring a registered agent, consulting with a business lawyer, reserving a business name , applying for business licenses and permits and opening a business bank account . These costs vary based on provider and type.

The time it takes to start a business in Pennsylvania can differ depending on your business type and complexity. Simple businesses like sole proprietorships that don’t have significant registration requirements can be formed in one day. Corporations, on the other hand, may take several weeks for business plan development and paperwork processing.

Some businesses, like online stores or consulting firms, can be operated virtually without a physical presence in Pennsylvania. However, if your business requires a physical location, such as a retail store or a manufacturing plant, you will need to secure a space. 

Most businesses must list a physical address when appointing their registered agent office. However, if you don’t have a physical office in Pennsylvania, you can hire a registered agent service provider and list their address for this designation. 

Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy . The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.

Rebecca Neubauer

Rebecca Neubauer is a business, finance, and science freelance writer who learned about personal finance on her journey to pay off $100,000 in student loans. She gained her background in small business and entrepreneurship by transforming her own business from a side hustle to her full-time job, through her role as a business operations manager for six- to seven-figure online businesses, and by working with local small business owners in her community. Rebecca is an avid traveler focused on helping others live location-independent lifestyles, make money on the road, and travel the world through her website https://lifepothesis.com.

Alana is the deputy editor for USA Today Blueprint's small business team. She has served as a technology and marketing SME for countless businesses, from startups to leading tech firms — including Adobe and Workfusion. She has zealously shared her expertise with small businesses — including via Forbes Advisor and Fit Small Business — to help them compete for market share. She covers technologies pertaining to payroll and payment processing, online security, customer relationship management, accounting, human resources, marketing, project management, resource planning, customer data management and how small businesses can use process automation, AI and ML to more easily meet their goals. Alana has an MBA from Excelsior University.

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How To Start A Food Delivery Business (2023 guide)

A woman sits at a kitchen table with trays of fruit tarts. She is holding a mobile phone in one hand and taking notes with the other.

The world of food delivery has exploded since the pandemic , with more and more people wanting to enjoy restaurant-quality meals in the comfort of their own homes. Worldwide, the online food delivery market was estimated to be worth $77 billion in 2022 . That’s expected to grow to around $1.4 trillion by 2027, with grocery delivery accounting for around two thirds of the total and meal delivery for one third. 

Starting your own online food delivery service can be a great way to tap into this growing market. If you work from home or a central kitchen, you also won't have to deal with many of the expenses and hassles that restaurant owners face, like rents in prime locations.. But where do you start?

💡If it’s the “delivery” part of a food service business you’re interested in, check out Routific’s delivery management software . It’s free to try for 7 days!  

With the right approach, you can make a good living from your passion for food. In this article, we'll show you how to create your own successful food delivery business, from first business plan to the nitty-gritty of managing online food ordering and delivery logistics. Let’s dive right in!

1. Develop a food delivery business plan

The first step in starting a food delivery business is to develop a solid business plan. A well-crafted business plan is a roadmap for your business. It will help you raise funding, attract customers, and stay on track as you grow.

Here are some key steps to follow to develop a good business plan for your online food delivery business:

Do your market research

A cardboard box packed with croissants with various savory fillings.

Start by researching your local market to understand the demand for food delivery services, your ideal target demographics and customer base, and your competition. 

For example, think about whether to serve consumers or corporate customers. The consumer market for online food delivery is big, but you’ll be dealing with lots of small orders and a large delivery area. A corporate food delivery service means you can complete dozens of orders with a single delivery to a business parks or office building.

The more densely focused the area you serve, the more orders you can deliver per hour. That will decrease your cost per delivery and increase your profitability. 

Once you’ve decided which market to serve, you can refine your business idea to develop a unique selling proposition that differentiates you from other food delivery services.

Define your business model

There are many different types of food delivery business model. Do you want to deliver meal prep kits or ready-made meals? Are you looking at more traditional restaurant delivery, catering delivery or grocery delivery ? The answer will help determine your business structure and strategy. 

You’ll also need to decide whether to operate as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, partnership or corporation. Your local chamber of commerce is a great place to find advice about what kind of legal entity will be best for your business. 

Then, consider details like your pricing strategy, delivery area, and order fulfillment process.

Develop a marketing strategy

How will you promote your business? Think about how to use channels like social media, paid ads, and referral marketing to reach your target audience. You will need to publish content that will resonate with your audience.

Create financial projections

Use financial projections to estimate your revenue and expenses for a certain period of time, which could be a year, three, or more. With this information, you can adjust your pricing and marketing strategies to achieve your revenue goals and stay profitable.

If you need some help getting started, here's a great food delivery business plan template from Upmetrics.

Remember, as an entrepreneur your  business plan is a living document you need to revisit and adjust as needed. Set a date with yourself every few weeks to evaluate your progress and update your business strategy. 

2. Get necessary licenses and permits

Depending on what kind of food delivery business you want to run, it's important to check what licenses and permits you need to operate legally and safely. Getting this wrong can lead to fines, legal issues, and even the closure of your business. 

The requirements will vary depending on your location, so be sure to check with your local government agencies. However, some common licenses you might need include a business license, a food handler's permit , and a home kitchen permit. 

You may also need a seller’s permit, which is required in most states to collect sales tax on your food delivery sales.  

Finally, though not technically a license or permit, don’t forget insurance! Consider getting auto insurance, property insurance, and general liability insurance to protect yourself in case of accidents or injuries related to your business.

3. Create your menu and pricing strategy

With all your licenses and permits lined up, you can finalize your menu and pricing strategy.  

Your food delivery menu should be based on the type of business model you choose and your target market. For example, you could offer a meal delivery service for health-conscious consumers, quick and easy meals for busy professionals, catering for functions, or family-size meal kits for overworked parents. Remember to include specific food options and preferences in your menu, like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and low-calorie options.

For your pricing strategy, consider your startup costs, food prices, delivery fees, overhead expenses, and profit margins. Also account for your ongoing expenses, such as rent, utilities, and delivery vehicle maintenance. By carefully calculating these costs, you'll set a competitive, financially sustainable price point.

4. Set up your kitchen

A bearded man wearing an apron checks a clipboard in an industrial-looking kitchen. The stainless steel table in front of him is covered with filled takeout containers. 

Setting up the right kitchen space is crucial to any food delivery service. A well-equipped and organized kitchen will allow you to prepare and cook meals efficiently and safely , ensuring your customers receive fresh, delicious meals on time. 

Your commercial kitchen space may require some investment in equipment and supplies, such as a stove, oven, refrigerator, food processor, and blender. 

You also need to have enough storage space for your ingredients and equipment, and design your kitchen to allow you to move around easily while cooking. Consider investing in shelving units, storage containers, and other organizational tools to help you keep your kitchen neat.

When setting up your kitchen space, it's also important to consider how you will manage your inventory efficiently. You need to keep track of the ingredients and supplies you have on hand, and ensure you always have enough. The best way to do this is by investing in inventory management software .

Finally, consult local government agencies before you set up or build your kitchen to avoid incurring remodeling costs to match health and safety regulations.

5. Build your website or social media presence

Nowadays every business needs a website or social media presence. Your website and social media accounts will be your storefront, allowing customers to browse your menu, learn about your business and order food online.

This can seem overwhelming — you want to make food, not run a marketing agency, after all! Break the task down into steps to make it easier:

  • Create a consistent brand identity. This includes an official business name, logo, color scheme and tagline that reflect the style and values of your business. Consistent branding across all online platforms will help customers recognize and remember your business.
  • Decide whether you want a website, social media accounts, or both . A website will give you more control over your online presence, and social media accounts can help you effectively connect with your target audience and build a following.
  • Make it easy for customers to place delivery orders. Your website or social media accounts should have clear and easy-to-use ordering systems. For instance, you can add food items or meal kits to an Instagram shop .
  • Create engaging content to attract customers. Make an online menu that showcases your unique dishes, post high-quality photos and videos of your food, and share stories about your journey as a business owner. For instance, if you want to make money with Instagram , you can share entertaining reels and behind-the-scenes videos of your meal prep and cooking process.
  • Make it easy for customers to contact you. Include your email address and phone number on your website and social media pages. You can even add a digital business card with all your contact details on the website.

6. Launch and promote your business

With your business plan, licenses and permits, menu and pricing strategy, kitchen, and website in place, it is time to launch and promote your online food delivery business. Here are some ways to start strong and keep running successfully:

  • Advertise your business. Use marketing channels like social media, paid ads, flyers, email marketing, and word of mouth to promote your business to potential customers.
  • Offer promotions. Consider offering discounts or free delivery to attract new customers, and set up a loyalty program to encourage repeat orders.
  • Partner with other businesses. Partner with other local small businesses, such as grocery stores or local restaurants, to offer bundled deals or cross-promotions to attract more customers. This is a strategy that food delivery apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash have used very successfully.

7. Set up an online ordering system

An efficient online order management system is critical infrastructure for food delivery companies. You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to choose and pay for their order, and for you to plan and manage your kitchen operation. Here are a some tips for setting up an online ordering system:

Choose an e-commerce platform

When you’re just starting out, it’s especially important to find an e-commerce platform that’s user-friendly. Shopify, Square, and WooCommerce are all popular options. They allow you to create a custom online storefront to showcase your products, while also providing secure payment processing. 

A lot of your customers are going to browse your site on their phones or tablets. Make sure your online ordering system is mobile-friendly and responsive so that it works seamlessly across all devices.

Create a simple ordering process

Make online ordering easy for your customers by using clear product descriptions, images, and pricing. Keep the ordering process as streamlined as possible, avoiding unnecessary steps or complex navigation.

This includes offering a variety of payment options, like credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay. The easier it is to pay, the more likely you are to make the sale!

8. Set up your delivery logistics

The quality of your delivery operations is at least as important as the quality of your food! Food that arrives late, cold or spoiled means lower customer satisfaction, and ultimately a business that may fail to take off.  

Worldwide, food that takes too long to arrive is the biggest frustration consumers have with online food delivery , with 34% of people saying this is a problem for them. So, how do you deliver on time? Here are the main things to consider:

Choose your delivery method

Will you make your own deliveries, or use an online food delivery platform like DoorDash, Grubhub or Uber Eats? The answer depends very much on your business model. 

If you’re offering a restaurant-style menu that customers will treat essentially as a takeout service, they will probably want their food delivered hot and fresh, in 30 minutes or less. In that case, it makes sense to contract your deliveries out to a gig-economy style delivery service like DoorDash. Depending on where your kitchen is located, you may also want to offer customers the option to pick up their own orders.

On the other hand, if you’re offering catering services, grocery delivery or meal kits, those are all things that can be ordered ahead of time. That gives you the opportunity to schedule and plan efficient delivery routes. 

Should you invest in your own delivery fleet, or outsource?

A smiling man in a blue delivery uniform sits behind the wheel of a parked car. The photograph is taken through the open passenger door, showing a red insulated food delivery bag on the seat.

If you choose to make scheduled deliveries, your next question is whether to contract your deliveries out, or use your own vehicles and drivers. It’s a big investment, but there are some benefits . The biggest advantage is that having your own delivery drivers means you can ensure products get to your customers just the way you want them to — at the right time, and in the right way.

In the long run, as your food delivery service grows and your delivery volumes increase, having your own fleet could actually be cheaper than hiring a third party logistics provider. Many couriers charge based on the number of deliveries they make.

If you’re a food delivery service with your own in-house delivery fleet, you have the freedom to decide exactly how to differentiate yourself in this crowded market. For example, you can set your own delivery time windows , so customers know when to expect their delivery – not just which day, but which hour. 

Decide your cut-off times and delivery time windows

Scheduling deliveries means you can increase the number of deliveries you make per driver. Compared to on-demand delivery, it is more efficient and more profitable. 

To make scheduled deliveries work, your customers will need to order their food well in advance. This gives you time to plan, prep, and deliver your product as fresh as possible. Think about what cut-off time will work best for you: when is the latest that the customer can place their order? Will you plan all your delivery routes a few days before, or on the morning of the delivery run? 

Then, decide your delivery time windows. Will you offer one-hour windows, or can the customer select an exact time with a 10-minute buffer on either side? From a customer’s perspective, the tighter the time window the better — but that makes things much harder for you. So give yourself enough flexibility to balance customer satisfaction against delivery efficiency.

One useful tactic is to incentivize customers to select wider time windows, for example by charging a higher delivery fee for very tight windows.

Plan and optimize your delivery routes

Screenshot of Routific route planning software showing the dispatcher view of four delivery routes in Vancouver.

This is where it all comes together!  You have a list of orders, delivery addresses and time window preferences, and your product is ready to go. Now it’s time to crank up your delivery management software for the last part of the process. You’ll need to:

  • Upload your list of stops, or import it directly from your order management system. 
  • Create optimized routes. Route optimization should automatically plan routes that will complete all your orders most efficiently.  
  • Dispatch routes to your drivers. Nowadays, this is mostly done by sending the routes straight to a driver’s mobile app. 
  • Inform your customers that their deliveries are on the way. Your delivery management software should automatically send notifications about ETAs and completed deliveries.
  • Track your delivery success through the day. Route planning software like Routific shows the real-time location of your drivers, updates as each stop is completed and allows you to add or change stops if needed.

Starting and running your own food delivery business from home can be a rewarding and profitable venture, but it requires careful planning and execution.

To get it right, as we’ve discussed in our comprehensive guide on how to start a food delivery business from home, begin by developing a solid business plan. Then, obtain the necessary licenses and permits, create a menu and pricing strategy, set up a kitchen, develop an online presence, and finally launch and promote your business on various channels. 

By following these steps, your food delivery startup can become a favorite option in your community for providing delicious meals and convenience. Good luck!

Small head and shoulders photo of Harry Flynn.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How to start an Etsy business: Your complete guide

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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict editorial integrity , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for how we make money .

Founded in 1976, Bankrate has a long track record of helping people make smart financial choices. We’ve maintained this reputation for over four decades by demystifying the financial decision-making process and giving people confidence in which actions to take next.

Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy , so you can trust that we’re putting your interests first. All of our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts , who ensure everything we publish is objective, accurate and trustworthy.

Our banking reporters and editors focus on the points consumers care about most — the best banks, latest rates, different types of accounts, money-saving tips and more — so you can feel confident as you’re managing your money.

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Bankrate’s editorial team writes on behalf of YOU – the reader. Our goal is to give you the best advice to help you make smart personal finance decisions. We follow strict guidelines to ensure that our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Our editorial team receives no direct compensation from advertisers, and our content is thoroughly fact-checked to ensure accuracy. So, whether you’re reading an article or a review, you can trust that you’re getting credible and dependable information.

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Key takeaways

  • Setting up an Etsy shop is relatively easy: Create an account, set up your storefront, add items to your shop, set up payment and billing details and then open your shop
  • You don’t need a business license to sell on Etsy but you do need to be aware of local rules and regulations
  • To attract buyers to your shop, make sure you have accurate and engaging product descriptions and well-lit, clear product photography
  • Etsy will usually report your gross income to the IRS in the form of a 1099-K and the IRS expects you to report this income on your taxes regardless of the amount

Not so long ago, if you wanted to sell your handmade or vintage item, you needed to find a way to do so in person. But thanks to the rise of e-commerce, your options have exploded. While you can list products on sites like Amazon and eBay, you might have the most luck getting in front of more than 95 million buyers actively looking for vintage and handmade goods.

Enter: Etsy.

Over 7.5 million people have leveraged Etsy to sell handmade and vintage goods to people all across the globe. And if you’re considering joining them, you’ll need to figure out how to start an Etsy business. Fortunately, we’ve gathered all the steps you need to take here.

Create an Etsy account

You’ll first need to set up an Etsy account. The platform makes this relatively easy: Just head to Etsy and click “Sign In” in the top-left corner (This is the easiest way to get started).

In the sign-in popup that opens, choose “Register” from the top-left corner. You can fill out the form to establish your account or use Google, Facebook or Apple logins.

You’ll get an email from Etsy to confirm your contact info. Follow the steps to get your account set up.

If you need help financing your etsy business , you have options. From small business loans  to crowdfunding, there are many ways to start or grow your Etsy business.

Set up your storefront

Creating your account is the first step as you learn how to start a small business on Etsy, but you can’t stop there. You also need to establish yourself as an Etsy seller. That means heading to the Seller page while you’re logged into your account and clicking “Get Started.”

You’ll need to answer a few questions to set up your Etsy shop, like where your business is located and which language and currency you want to use. As part of that process, you can also get resources from the company, like selling internationally and branding your shop.

Note that you don’t technically need a business license to sell on Etsy, but local rules still govern you. Check whatever legislation applies in your jurisdiction to find out if you need to get licensed before you can start selling.

While you don’t always need a license, you do need to be ready to choose your shop name. It has to be between 4 and 20 characters with no spaces, special characters or accented letters. (Don’t stress too much here — you can change your shop name later.)

Add items to your shop

You’ll need to stock your shop as you continue through the Etsy seller setup process. This can be one of the biggest hurdles as you figure out how to start an Etsy business because you can’t establish your shop without this piece. In other words, if you’re not ready to upload pictures of your products, write descriptions, and decide on pricing, you won’t be able to set up your Etsy shop.

In addition to listing the products themselves, you also need to make some shipping decisions. Fortunately, this is one of the areas where it can be easier to start a business on Etsy than on other sites. Etsy can calculate shipping costs for you and allows you to save as much as 30 percent by buying your shipping labels directly through the platform.

For help listing an item, Etsy has a guide .

Set up payment and billing details

After you click “Save and Continue” on the “Stock your shop” page, you’ll get taken to a page focused on getting you paid — and paying Etsy.

Here, you’ll need to connect a business bank account so Etsy can pay you, and you’ll need to add a credit or debit card to pay the company.

If you have a U.S.-based bank account, connect it to your Etsy shop through Plaid , which has several tools to keep your data safe. Etsy requires sellers to set up two-factor authentication to further safeguard your info. Once you do that, you’ll be able to get your shop established.

Open your Etsy shop

Congrats! Once you reach this step, you’ve officially figured out how to start a small business on Etsy.

At this point, you’ll have the link to your shop to share with friends, family, your social media network and anyone else you want. You can officially start advertising too, whether buying an ad on Facebook or a spot in a local paper.

How to personalize your Etsy shop

While your shop is technically open, meaning you’ve mastered how to start an Etsy business, there’s a lot more to explore when it comes to actually running an Etsy business.

You’ll want to personalize your shop to stand apart from your competition. You can do that through your:

  • Shop icon (essentially, your logo on Etsy)
  • Welcome message

You can customize those through your Shop Manager . Ideally, you want your icon and banner to accurately reflect your shop and flow well with the imagery you’ve chosen for your product listings.

Apply that personal touch as you interact with customers too. Stay responsive as people buy your products or message you through your shop. If you consistently provide good customer service, you could be eligible to become an Etsy star seller .

How much does it cost to sell on Etsy?

Before you start a business on Etsy, you want to make sure it’s going to be profitable. As you’re crunching the numbers — from totaling up the cost of materials to budgeting for shipping costs — don’t forget to factor in Etsy’s fees.

The platform charges sellers in three different ways:

  • Listing fees. Etsy charges a flat rate of $0.20 per listing. That fee applies whether or not the item sells. This cost can go up if you decide to add options like auto-renewal, which means the item gets automatically relisted on your page after it sells.
  • Transaction fees. When one of your products sells, Etsy collects 6.5 percent of the order total (including shipping, gift wrap costs, etc.).
  • Payment processing fees. These vary by location , but in the U.S., sellers pay 3 percent plus a $0.25 flat rate per payment that is processed through Etsy.

Bottom line

Now you know the steps you need to follow to figure out how to start an Etsy business. Fortunately, the platform makes it relatively easy. Really, the hardest part is getting your product pricing and photos set up so you can load them in as you establish your shop. As you figure out that pricing, make sure you account for the fees Etsy charges its sellers.

Frequently asked questions

How do i attract buyers on etsy, do you need an llc to sell on etsy, does etsy report my shop income to the irs, article sources.

We use primary sources to support our work. Bankrate’s authors, reporters and editors are subject-matter experts who thoroughly fact-check editorial content to ensure the information you’re reading is accurate, timely and relevant.

Key figures . Etsy. Accessed on October 25, 2023.

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How to start a consulting business in 2024 (in 7 steps)

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What is a consulting business?

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Can anybody start a consulting business?

Copilot: how consultants manage their consulting business.

Two years ago, I realized that what I was doing at my 9-5 job could easily be turned into a consulting business where I made my own hours and decided who I wanted to work with.

Time flexibility, autonomy, and income potential were at the top of my list of things I wanted to accomplish.

But, I also noticed that there were many consultants and agencies in my niche giving lackluster advice. I wanted to bring a new approach and be a guiding light to business — which is what essentially allowed me to consistently bring in new clients and help me achieve what I wanted in terms of time freedom and finances.

However, starting my consulting business isn’t something that happened overnight. In fact, when I quit my job, it took me almost a full year to figure out what I was doing and to make any sort of living income.

But, don’t let this discourage you. I clearly made A LOT of mistakes. When I first started, it felt like trying to scale Mount Everest barefoot. Though it seemed like an impossible task, the journey need not be so daunting.

This guide is your sherpa up that mountain, offering practical steps on identifying your niche expertise, creating an effective business plan based on client pain points, and managing finances like a pro. We'll even dive into legal aspects and relationship-building strategies for long-term success.

Intrigued? Let’s make this journey together!

A consulting business, at its core, is about problem-solving. It's where an expert in a specific field offers advice and strategies to individuals or companies who need it.

This kind of business opportunity can be highly rewarding since businesses are always looking for ways to enhance productivity, generate more revenue, and find solutions to intricate issues.

The essence of being a consultant lies not just in having specific knowledge, but also knowing how to apply that knowledge effectively. That's why experience plays such a crucial role here — the more problems you've solved before, the better equipped you'll be to tackle new ones.

In addition to solving problems, consultants often help with implementing solutions too. This might involve coaching team members on new processes or helping set up systems that facilitate improvement.

Consulting spans many industries — from IT and management, all the way to finance and HR. What ties them together? The fact they're built around offering specialist insight others don't have access to.

Now, let’s get into the steps you can take to start your own consulting business. These steps are based on my own experience of starting my marketing consulting business two years ago.

7 steps to start a consulting business in 2024

Here are nine steps on how to start a consulting business:

  • Master a craft in a specific niche
  • Create a business plan based on pain points
  • Setting up your online workspace
  • Marketing your business to acquire clients
  • Managing cash flow and your finances
  • Building relationships and referrals
  • Taking care of the legal stuff

Okay, let’s dive deeper into each step.

1. Master a craft in a specific niche

Before you launch your consulting business, hone your skills to become a master in the specific niche. It's insufficient to just be familiar with an industry or field — you need to excel .

Your clients will rely on your expertise and advice for their business decisions. If you aren't fully equipped with deep knowledge of the field, it might lead to ill-advised guidance which can harm both parties involved .

This doesn't mean spending decades working in that particular field before taking the plunge into consulting though. But yes, having years of experience would certainly add credibility.

Finding your niche

Choosing a niche isn’t as complicated as it sounds — it’s all about identifying where your passion meets proficiency. Start by analyzing what interests you most and then look at how proficient or skilled are in that area. Here’s some help if needed.

Becoming an expert

To achieve mastery in any given domain, consistent learning is crucial along with hands-on experience. HubSpot has detailed insights on how anyone can grow from being good at something to becoming great.

Avoid client disservice

If I’m honest here, entering consultancy without sufficient expertise may do more harm than good to your client’s businesses due to its high-stakes nature (depending on the industry). This reinforces why mastering a craft within a chosen niche is non-negotiable when thinking about starting your own consultancy business.

2. Create a business plan based on pain points

Building your consulting venture starts with a solid game plan. A solid business plan addresses the real issues potential clients face in their businesses.

To start, you need to know what keeps your target market up at night. Your expertise should align with these concerns and provide solutions that alleviate them.

The next step is setting goals for your consulting business that directly address these pains. This will not only guide the direction of your services but also show prospective clients how valuable you can be to their success.

You'll then want to map out strategies for attracting new customers who experience these specific problems. The aim here is to position yourself as an expert problem-solver within this space.

Try looking in online communities for what problems and conversations are happening in your niche. Reddit is a great place to start if you’re not sure where your community hangs out. Try Googling something related to your niche and type in “reddit” after to see what conversations show up.

And last but not least, sketch out financial projections considering all these factors into account. Here’s where you’ll outline anticipated income streams and expenses tied specifically to solving client problems — this helps ensure sustainable growth for both parties involved.

Note: Don't forget tools like Copilot make managing finances easier by offering features such as invoice templates and third-party integrations like QuickBooks.

Once you have a general idea of what your goals and objectives are, it’s time to take some tangible action.

3. Setting up your online workspace

If you're about to start a consulting business, getting organized is crucial. But it doesn't mean having papers and sticky notes scattered all over your desk.

Your workspace needs to be as digital and streamlined as possible. This is where Copilot , a modern client portal for service businesses, comes in handy.

The power of Copilot: Everything at your fingertips

Running your consulting business on Copilot

Copilot offers an intuitive platform that lets consultants manage everything from contracts, invoices, files, messaging, intake forms, and more in one place. Imagine having a clutter-free desktop but with access to every essential tool needed for your work.

A community you can count on

You might be wondering if this setup works for other consultants too. Absolutely. In fact, one of the largest customer bases of Copilot consists of successful consultants who decided to streamline their operations digitally.

Copilot for consulting firms

Copilot isn’t just about managing paperwork, it's also about fostering relationships with clients through seamless communication features built into the system. It keeps conversations flowing smoothly while making sure important messages don't get lost in translation or buried under heaps of emails.

Say goodbye to disorganization chaos

To say starting a consulting business can be chaotic would be an understatement. But thanks to tools like Copilot, keeping track becomes less daunting and more efficient — letting you focus on what truly matters: providing exceptional services for your clients.

4. Marketing your business to acquire clients

Realizing who requires your services is the key to advertising them successfully. To stand out in the crowded market, you need a unique selling proposition (USP) . This is what sets you apart from others and makes clients choose you over competitors.

Once you figure out who you want to speak to, and what you want to speak about, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to reach your ideal clients. Many consultants initially take an outbound approach — usually reaching out to prospective clients via LinkedIn.

Social media platforms are excellent places for promoting your consultancy. You can use these channels to share valuable content related to your niche, positioning yourself as an expert.

However, note that taking the “content creation” route on social media can take a while to see some tangible results. This is definitely the route to go down for the long term. But, if you’re just starting out, you need to sign your first client as quickly as possible. And, to do this, many consultants (myself included) do a cold reachout approach.

Email remains one of the most effective ways to reach potential clients directly. An email newsletter filled with insightful advice can be just the thing that converts prospects into paying customers.

If you have the time, you can also go to events related to your industry and network with people. The rate of how efficient this will be depends on your industry. For me, as a marketer, this wasn’t the best option as it is very time-consuming (and I’m sort of an introvert). But, for non-tech-related industries, this is often a great place to start.

Some things you can do to network include:

  • Nurture relationships within professional networks such as LinkedIn or industry-specific forums.
  • Join local business groups and attend events where prospective clients might hang out.
  • Talk at conferences or webinars — sharing knowledge helps build credibility and attract potential leads.

As your business grows, you can shift your focus to acquire clients “passively.” By passively, I mean inbound marketing. Here are some strategies:

  • A well-optimized website attracts organic traffic; consider SEO blogging regularly on topics relevant to your expertise.
  • Publish whitepapers or case studies demonstrating how you've helped previous clients achieve their goals. It’s proof that gives confidence.
  • Copilot's client portal software , a powerful tool used by many consultants like myself, integrates smoothly with other marketing tools, letting you automate processes and focus more on delivering value.

5. Manage Cashflow and Your Finances

Running a successful consulting business isn't just about your expertise. It's also about smart money management. In the early days of your business, you’ll most likely act as the CEO, CMO, COO, and CFO — yeah, it’s a lot. But you’ll gain a lifetime of experience in a short amount of time.

One of the most crucial “roles” early on will be the CFO (chief financial officer). Most businesses die because they run out of capital. So, don’t take this aspect lightly.

When starting out, consider packaging your services . Determine the appropriate pricing for your consulting services that is competitive yet does not undervalue yourself. Don't undersell yourself but make sure you're still competitive.

Invoicing made easy with Copilot

Copilot for invoicing

Sending invoices shouldn’t be a chore. With Copilot’s invoicing feature , it doesn’t have to be. Create branded invoices and even set up recurring subscriptions — no sweat.

Also, to manage cash flow effectively, keep track of all expenses – both big and small. From office supplies to travel costs, every penny counts. This is where integrations with your back office platform, like Copilot, comes in handy.

Copilot integrations make life easier

Copilot apps

Fumbling between different apps? Let Copilot do the heavy lifting by integrating with third-party applications like QuickBooks for seamless financial management.

6. Building relationships and referrals

You might be wondering how to get more clients for your consulting business. The secret? It's all about building solid relationships.

People trust people, not businesses . So it's crucial that you focus on developing genuine connections with your clients. They're much more likely to recommend someone they like and trust — that could be you.

In my marketing consulting business, after just two years of dedicated relationship-building, I started seeing a consistent stream of client referrals from past customers I'd done great work for. This is the power of word-of-mouth.

The power of networking

Beyond individual clients, don't forget the potential power within professional networks too. Connect with other consultants or professionals in related fields — these contacts can also provide valuable client referrals if they know and respect your work.

Maintaining client relationships

Maintaining those strong bonds even after projects end is equally important because happy clients are the best advertisers for your services. Regular check-ins let them know you value their partnership long-term.

Acing customer service

Finally, ace customer service at every step along the way. Delivering high-quality results is a given but being responsive, respectful, and easy to work with gives added reasons for referral recommendations.

Remember: Happy clients = more referrals.

7. Take care of the legal stuff

To start a consulting business, you'll need to tackle some paperwork first.

Make sure to check your local laws and register your company name with the authorities in your area so they know you're ready to conduct business and pay taxes. Registering your small business with the local government informs them that you're in operation and prepared to pay taxes. It might sound daunting, but it's not as scary as it seems.

Choose your business structure

The type of structure can affect how much you pay in taxes and your personal liability. Do some research or get help from an attorney or CPA. In the US, many consultants operate with an LLC (Limited Liability Company). But, this will all depend on your preference and practice.

You’ll also want to open a separate business bank account to separate your personal finances from that of your business. This will help you avoid headaches when it comes to tax season.

Nail down licenses and permits

You may also need specific licenses or permits depending on what kind of consulting work you do. For example, if environmental consultancy is your thing, certain certifications are required.

Tax obligations

Avoid any unpleasant surprises by understanding tax obligations upfront. Are you aware that consultants often have self-employment tax?

Breathe easy with liability insurance

Last but certainly not least, consider getting liability insurance for peace of mind because accidents happen even when we wish they didn't. This isn't everything there is to starting a consulting biz legally, but these steps will set solid foundations.

Well, the short answer is yes. But it's more about who should. The truth of the matter is that anyone can technically become a business owner and start a consulting firm. You don't need any special license or degree to hang up your shingle and call yourself a consultant.

This may seem like great news for those itching to escape their nine-to-five grind and set off on an entrepreneurial adventure.

However, there's more than meets the eye

Becoming successful in this field requires something money can't buy — expertise. It’s not just about having knowledge; it’s also about being able to apply that knowledge effectively for clients' benefit.

Your success hinges on demonstrating your skills in tangible ways. This could be through past work experience, professional certifications, academic achievements, or even client testimonials praising your abilities.

To really hit home with potential clients and succeed as a consultant you'll need a solid business plan. This helps demonstrate how you're going to solve problems for clients — essentially why they should choose you over someone else.

Above all else though, remember confidence counts. To thrive as a consultant you must believe in yourself before expecting others (clients) will too.

Copilot consulting client portal software

The journey of starting a consulting business is an adventure filled with twists and turns. But one tool that can help smooth out the bumps in this road is Copilot.

Crafting your workspace with Copilot

Client portal messaging

A well-organized workspace is essential for success, and that's where Copilot shines. This client portal platform lets you keep track of contracts, invoices, files, messaging, and forms all in one place.

Financial management made easy

No need to dread financial management anymore. Copilot makes it simple by letting you create branded invoices and recurring subscriptions right from your dashboard.

Bonus? It even integrates seamlessly with third-party apps like QuickBooks so you have everything under control without breaking a sweat.

Fostering client relationships

I've been running my marketing consultancy for two years now — believe me when I say relationships are key.

If done right using platforms like Copilot can get consistent referrals from past clients who loved working with us because we did an amazing job managing their projects smoothly through the portal.

Growing Your Consulting Business With Confidence

In conclusion, there’s no doubt about it: Starting a consulting firm isn’t easy. But, having tools such as Copilot on your side gives both newbies & experienced consultants the confidence they need to grow their businesses effectively and efficiently.

Launching a consulting startup is a complex adventure that goes far beyond just announcing your readiness to serve. Finding your niche where your expertise aligns with industry trends and new business needs is key.

If you’ve made it this far into the article, you've mastered the art of crafting an effective business plan that's not just a document, but a strategic roadmap addressing the real pain points of new clients. We've dove into client portals, equipping you with robust online workspace setups and innovative marketing strategies to captivate and retain clients.

We navigated the financial landscape, providing practical advice on project management tools like Copilot, designed to streamline your invoicing and financial tracking — crucial for any entrepreneur eager to maintain a healthy cash flow. We also shed light on the significance of relationships in the consulting industry — these connections are not merely advantageous but are the lifeblood for referrals and sustained growth.

Legal stuff? Consider it covered. Everyone is now equipped with the knowledge that diligent attention to legalities and choosing the right business name from the outset can prevent future legal entanglements.

Whether you're eyeing a niche in management, IT consulting, or any of the other types of consulting, this guide has laid the foundation. You're not just starting a new consulting practice — you're sculpting a beacon in the consulting industry.

Launching your consulting business is no longer akin to scaling Everest barefoot — it's an exhilarating climb we've prepared for together. With the toolkit you've assembled, the path to success is clear, and the summit is within reach.

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