Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan
By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021
A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice.
Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.
A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:
- Product goals and deadlines for each month
- Monthly financials for the first two years
- Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
- Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years
Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.
While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.
For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .
Business Plan Steps
The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:
- Executive summary
- Description of business
- Market analysis
- Competitive analysis
- Description of organizational management
- Description of product or services
- Marketing plan
- Sales strategy
- Funding details (or request for funding)
- Financial projections
If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.
Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.
Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?
Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.
How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business
In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.
Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:
Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?
There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.
The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans
A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.
In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.
How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step
Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.
Step 1: Executive Summary
The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:
- What is the vision and mission of the company?
- What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?
See our roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.
Step 2: Description of Business
The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:
- What business are we in?
- What does our business do?
Step 3: Market Analysis
In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:
- Who is our customer?
- What does that customer value?
Step 4: Competitive Analysis
In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:
- Who is the competition?
- What do they do best?
- What is our unique value proposition?
Step 5: Description of Organizational Management
In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.
Step 6: Description of Products or Services
In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.
Questions to answer in this section are as follows:
- What is the product or service?
- How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?
Step 7: Marketing Plan
In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:
- Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
- What channels will you use to reach your target market?
- What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
- If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
- How will you measure success?
Step 8: Sales Plan
Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts.
Start by answering the following questions:
- What is the sales strategy?
- What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
- What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
- What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
- What are the metrics of success?
Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)
This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:
- How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
- How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
- What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?
Step 10: Financial Projections
Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years.
While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:
- How and when will the company first generate a profit?
- How will the company maintain profit thereafter?
Business Plan Template
Download Business Plan Template
Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet
This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.
For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy.
If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.
How to Write a Simple Business Plan
A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.
Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .
- Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company.
- Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision.
- Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
- Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
- Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
- Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
- Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
- Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
- Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting.
- Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.
Simple Business Plan Template
Download Simple Business Plan Template
Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Smartsheet
Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.
Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates .
How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup
A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.
While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:
- Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
- List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
- Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
- Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
- Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.).
- Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
- Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
- Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.
Lean Business Plan Template for Startups
Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups
Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF
Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.
See our wide variety of startup business plan templates for more options.
How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan
A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.
In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.
Download free financial templates to support your business plan.
Tips for Writing a Business Plan
Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.
- Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
- Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
- Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
- Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
- Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”
Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.
Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.
“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”
Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”
Resources for Writing a Business Plan
While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.
Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.
How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business
A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships.
Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.
Streamline Your Business Planning Activities 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.
- Credit cards
- View all credit cards
- Banking guide
- Loans guide
- Insurance guide
- Personal finance
- View all personal finance
- Investing + Retirement
- Small business
- View all small business
You’re our first priority. Every time.
We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.
So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Here is a list of our partners .
How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .
1. Write an executive summary
2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. add additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.
A business plan is a document that outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them. A strong, detailed plan will provide a road map for the business’s next three to five years, and you can share it with potential investors, lenders or other important partners.
ZenBusiness: Start Your Dream Business
Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your business plan.
» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .
This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services offered, and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.
Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.
» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps
Next up is your company description, which should contain information like:
Your business’s registered name.
Address of your business location .
Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.
Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.
Lastly, it should cover the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.
» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan
The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out exactly what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the long term.
If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain why you have a clear need for the funds, how the financing will help your business grow, and how you plan to achieve your growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity presented and how the loan or investment will grow your company.
For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch the new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.
In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.
You should include the following:
An explanation of how your product or service works.
The pricing model for your product or service.
The typical customers you serve.
Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.
Your sales strategy.
Your distribution strategy.
You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.
Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.
Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.
» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing
If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.
You may also include metrics such as:
Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.
Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.
Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.
This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.
» NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:
The best business checking accounts .
The best business credit cards .
The best accounting software .
This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.
Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.
Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.
List any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere, such as resumes of key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts and personal and business credit history. If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.
Here are some tips to help your business plan stand out:
Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business loan at a local bank, the loan officer likely knows your market pretty well. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of loan approval.
Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors, taking their mind off your business and putting it on the mistakes you made. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.
Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. You can search for a mentor or find a local SCORE chapter for more guidance.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.
On a similar note...
On This Page
Follow these steps to write a business plan
Why do you need a business plan, start writing your business plan, business plan templates and tools.
How to Write a Business Plan
Noah Parsons | Oct 27, 2023
Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. The more you know about what goes into your plan, the easier it will be to write.
In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a strong business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors while helping you start, run, and grow a successful business.
Follow these eleven simple steps and download one of our free business plan templates to make writing your business plan quick and easy.
1. Start with a one-page plan
Outline all of your important business details with a simple highly focused document that's easy to complete and update.
A one-page business plan is a succinct, high-level overview of your business concept, key objectives, and strategy for success. It serves as a roadmap that outlines the essential details of your business and its operations in a clear and concise format.
Common components of writing a business plan include a problem and solution statement, an outline of your business model, target market, competitive advantage, a breakdown of your team, and a financial summary.
The one-page plan is where you will outline all of your important business details with a brief and focused document that’s incredibly easy to update and expand. Despite its brevity, a one-page business plan can be a powerful tool that provides a clear vision of what you aim to achieve and how you plan to do it. It’s not only a foundational document for your business operations, but also a persuasive tool when pitching to investors or potential partners.
You may even find that it’s all you need to run your business.
2. Summarize with an executive summary
To make sure that people will actually read your business plan and understand your business—you'll need a brief but thorough introduction to that is both convincing and easy to digest.
The executive summary is the first, and possibly only, thing investors, employees and anyone else will read. It should provide an overview of your business operations, strategy, and goals within one or two pages. While it does come first in your plan it should be the last thing you complete—after you have written the other parts of your business plan.
Despite its brevity, you will still want to include several important pieces of information when writing your business plan executive summary . These include the unique product or service your business offers, the market it targets, and why it holds a competitive advantage. It establishes both high-level facts like the company’s vision and mission statement , as well as previewing technical details like an overview of financial projections or funding request.
3. Describe your products and services
This is where you describe what you are selling and how it solves a problem for your target market. Any other information, like initial traction or patents, should further demonstrate how your product/service stands out.
Is there actually a need for what you plan to offer?
Whether you’re selling products, services or both, this section is where you will detail not only what you provide, but also how your offerings solve problems your customers are dealing with, the value you provide and how your solution sets you apart from competitors. It is also where you can show you have a solid grasp of logistical details like pricing and distribution.
To truly showcase the value of your products and services , you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customer’s life or work? This narrative will draw in your audience, whether they’re potential customers or investors.
Above all, it is the area when writing your business plan to really showcase the value of your products and/or services.
4. Conduct a market analysis
When creating a business plan, spend time researching the market you’re entering to identify emerging trends and hone in on what is attainable– your ultimate goal is to be able to define your ideal target market.
This is likely to be one of the most time-intensive steps in writing your business plan. It requires developing a comprehensive assessment of the environment you plan to operate in. Especially if you’re writing a business plan to secure a loan or investment, you will need to show that you understand the dynamics and trends in the market.
Conducting a marketing analysis involves segmenting your market based on demographic and psychographic information. These are attributes like their age, income level, interests and habits. Your target market is the specific group of people who are most likely to become your customers.
The goal of this section is for you to paint a clear picture of who your ideal customers are , determine if the market is viable for your business, and back up your claims with supporting information. If you were to present this part of your plan to an investor, they would hopefully have no questions about who your business will be serving.
5. Conduct a competitive analysis
Everyone has competition and you should show that you understand who they are and how you compare as part of your business plan.
Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don’t then you’re either in a very young industry or there’s a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.
To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are , how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you’re business will be positioned. Remember, this will likely be something you revisit and update in the future as the competitve landscape shifts and changes.
6. Outline your marketing and sales plan
This section describes how you plan to reach and sell to your potential customers, what your pricing strategy will be, and what marketing activities you will use to make your small business successful.
The marketing and sales plan includes how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. This section should give a clear picture of what your growth trajectory looks like, the milestones you intend to achieve, and how you plan to measure success.
Your marketing strategy should align strategic goals with concrete marketing activities that aim to engage your target market and persuade them to purchase your product or service.
The sales plan should clearly estimate how much you aim to sell, and provide actionable steps to achieve those goals.
Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will not just connect with your target audience but how you will turn them into paying customers.
7. Describe your business operations
How will your business run day-to-day? You'll want to have all the necessary details in this section to show that you have an understanding of how you'll produce and maintain your product or service.
The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. This includes elements such as inventory, supply chains, equipment and technology, distribution, and manufacturing. In short, this section is where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like.
Operations do not cover your business model and organizational structure. Instead, your operations and distribution are tied strictly to execution and help further fill out how you will achieve your goals and objectives.
For businesses without a physical product, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, who you will partner with , and any other factors that keep your services running.
8. Track milestones and metrics
While not required to complete your business plan it can be incredibly useful to map out key business milestones and the metrics you’ll be tracking along the way.
A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You’ll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that’s attached. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.
You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.
It’s perfectly fine to start small and grow the number of metrics you are tracking. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking over time.
9. Describe your organization and management structure
This is the part of your business plan to detail the history of your company, list out roles and specific employee qualifications, as well as logistical information.
This is a fairly short, but important, section. Investors look for great teams in addition to great ideas—and this is your chance to prove that you have both.
Include brief bios that highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member. It’s important here to make the case for why the team is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before?
Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure. The most common business structures include:
- Sole proprietor
Be sure to provide a review of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.
10. Make a financial plan
Creating a financial plan and budget prepares you with the necessary financial statements and forecasts to set goals and pursue business loans or investment.
Many business owners feel intimidated by the financial component of writing their business plan. But it doesn’t require a business degree or advanced math skills to create well-structured, accurate financial statements.
Creating a comprehensive financial plan starts with a sales forecast , where you estimate the sales expected over a given period. Just as important is an expense budget , where you project future costs such as personnel costs , equipment, marketing expenses, and taxes.
A strong business plan will include assumptions about the future and potential risks that could impact the financial plan . Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.
11. Add supporting information to an appendix
This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports or just doesn’t fit into specific sections of your plan.
Including an appendix in your business plan can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea and are backing your ideas up with solid data.
Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.
Even after reviewing these steps you may be wondering, “Why should I spend my time making a business plan?” Here are the top reasons why you should invest in planning:
Businesses that plan grow 30% faster.
A surprising amount of research has been done on business planning and has shown that companies that take the time to write a plan and review it regularly grow 30% faster than those businesses that don’t plan. Not only do these companies grow faster, but they perform better and are less likely to fail in the long run.
Lenders and investors need business plans
If you’re growing your business and plan on getting a business loan or raising money from investors, you’ll need a business plan. Most lenders and investors will ask for a plan , but even if they don’t want to see the actual document, they will ask you questions that only a solid business plan will be able to answer.
Business plans reduce risk
Starting and running a business is always risky. Instead of flying by the seat of your pants, you can use a plan to forecast potential cash flow issues and get ahead of any potential roadblocks so you aren’t caught off guard. A business plan will help you reduce your risk and help you navigate the future.
Business planning helps you make smart spending decisions
Before you make a big spending decision for your business, you need to know the potential impacts on your finances. With a business plan in place, you can easily explore different scenarios and see what impacts a new hire or an expansion to a second location will have on your business.
Need more reasons for why you need a business plan? Read our full list of reasons why having a business plan is important for small businesses.
Whether you’re writing a plan to explore a new business idea, establishing steps to start a business, looking to raise money from investors, seeking a loan, or just trying to run your business better—a solid business plan will help get you there.
Business planning is a continuous process that can help you validate your idea, set goals, manage, and successfully pitch your business. One of the most helpful things you can do to build a successful business is to jump in and start planning.
For detailed guidance on writing specific sections of your business plan, check out the links above for additional resources.
For more on business planning, including tips for writing a great plan , what options are available , and even specific industry guides —check out our full Business Planning Guide .
Kickstart your business plan writing with one of our free business plan templates or recommended tools.
Free business plan template
Download a free SBA-approved business plan template built for small businesses and startups.
One-page plan template
Download a free one-page plan template to write a useful business plan in as little as 30-minutes.
Sample business plan library
Explore over 500 real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries.
View Sample Plans
Write your plan faster with LivePlan
Try the business planning and growth tool trusted by over 1-million business owners.
Start your plan
5 Min. Read
How to Write a Personal Shopper Business Plan + Example Templates
How To Create a Compelling Message With Your Business Plan to Help Sell Your Idea
16 Min. Read
How to Write a Mission Statement + 10 Great Examples
10 Min. Read
14 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan
How to write a business plan FAQ
What is a business plan?
Who needs a business plan?
What is the purpose of a business plan?
How long should a business plan be?
What are the most common business plan mistakes?
What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?
How is business planning for a nonprofit different?
The quickest way to turn a business idea into a business plan
Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.
No thanks, I prefer writing 40-page documents.
Flash Sale. 40% Off the #1 rated business plan builder
The 7 Best Business Plan Examples
So you want to start a business . Kudos! You’re doing big things.
One of the first steps to building a strong foundation for your new venture is to write a rock-solid business plan . When done right, your business plan can pave your path to success, all while helping you to smoothly cruise through any obstacles that may come up.
Plus, a good business plan can help you secure critical partnerships and funding that you might need in your early stages.
If you’re unsure how to write one, a great place to start is to learn from the pros. In this article, we’ll look at companies that built incredible business plans.
Take notes on the structure, format, and details. Hopefully you’ll leave with plenty of inspiration to write your own.
Start selling online now with Shopify
7-part template for business plan examples
We’ll look at a business plan that is structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick review of those parts:
- Executive summary: A quick overview of your business and the contents of your business plan.
- Company description: More info about your company, its goals and mission, and why you started it in the first place.
- Market analysis: Research about the market and industry your business will operate in, including a competitive analysis about the companies you’ll be up against.
- Products and services: A detailed description of what you’ll be selling to your customers.
- Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market.
- Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background.
- Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even long-term) financial goals and the costs to run the business. If you’re looking for funding, here’s the place to discuss your request and needs.
7 business plan examples (section by section)
In this section, you’ll find hypothetical and real-world examples of each aspect of a business plan to show you how the whole thing comes together.
- Executive summary
Your executive summary offers a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. You’ll want to include a brief description of your company, market research, competitor analysis, and financial information.
In ThoughtCo’s sample business plan for a fictional company called Acme Management Technology, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:
- Company description
You might go more in-depth with your company description and include the following sections:
- Nature of the business. Mention the general category of business you fall under. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of your products?
- Background information. Talk about your past experiences and skills, and how you’ve combined them to fill in the market.
- Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your company —as a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC, or other business type.
- Industry. Which business sector do you operate in? The answer might be technology, merchandising, or another industry.
- Team. Whether you’re the sole full-time employee of your business or you have contractors to support your daily workflow, this is your chance to put them under the spotlight.
You can also repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business. Hair extensions brand Luxy Hair has a blurb on its About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan.
- Market analysis
Market analysis comprises research on product supply and demand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. You might do a SWOT analysis to learn where you stand and identify market gaps that you could exploit to establish your footing. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis we did for a hypothetical ecommerce business:
You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component for your business plan. This will show you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to gain an edge over the competition.
- Products and services
This part of your business plan describes your product or service, how it will be priced, and the ways it will compete against similar offerings in the market. Don’t go into too much detail here —a few lines are enough to introduce your item to the reader.
- Marketing plan
Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. As such, it’s essential to build a marketing plan that highlights the promotion and customer acquisition strategies you’re planning to adopt.
Most marketing plans focus on the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. However, it’s easier when you break it down by the different marketing channels . Mention how you intend to promote your business using blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing.
Here’s an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website:
Logistics and operations
This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, production, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.
The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit, and other financial metrics. You’ll want to include all the numbers and concrete data to project your current and projected financial state. For example, the financial statement for ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy includes forecasted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.
It then goes deeper into the financials, citing:
- Funding needs
- Project cash-flow statement
- Project profit-and-loss statement
- Projected balance sheet
You can use Shopify’s financial plan template to create your own income statement, cash-flow statement, and balance sheet.
Types of business plan (and what to write for each)
A one-page business plan is a pared down version of a standard business plan that’s easy for potential investors and partners to understand. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized.
- Logistics and operations plan
A startup business plan is meant to secure outside funding for a new business. Typically, there’s a big focus on the financials, as well as other sections that help determine the viability of your business idea —market analysis, for example. Shopify has a great business plan template for startups that include all the below points.
- Market research: in depth
- Financials: in depth
Your internal business plan acts as the enforcer of your company’s vision. It reminds your team of the long-term objective and keeps them strategically aligned toward the same goal.
- Market research
A feasibility business plan is essentially a feasibility study that helps you evaluate whether your product or idea is worthy of a full business plan.
Mix and match to make a killer business plan
The good news is: there’s no single right way to write a business plan. If you’re feeling unsure about how to craft yours, pull bits and pieces that you like from other examples, and leave out the parts that don’t apply or make sense for you.
The important thing is to clearly communicate your reason for starting the company, what’s needed to operate it, and how you plan to make it work in the long run.
When you can convince others that you have a killer game plan, you’ve nailed it.
Want to learn more?
- Question: Are You a Business Owner or an Entrepreneur?
- Bootstrapping a Business: 10 Tips to Help You Succeed
- Entrepreneurial Mindset: 20 Ways to Think Like an Entrepreneur
- 101+ Best Small Business Software Programs
How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)
- 2 years ago
Have you ever wondered how to write a business plan step by step? Mike Andes, told us:
This guide will help you write a business plan to impress investors.
Throughout this process, we’ll get information from Mike Andes, who started Augusta Lawn Care Services when he was 12 and turned it into a franchise with over 90 locations. He has gone on to help others learn how to write business plans and start businesses. He knows a thing or two about writing business plans!
We’ll start by discussing the definition of a business plan. Then we’ll discuss how to come up with the idea, how to do the market research, and then the important elements in the business plan format. Keep reading to start your journey!
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is simply a road map of what you are trying to achieve with your business and how you will go about achieving it. It should cover all elements of your business including:
- Finding customers
- Plans for developing a team
- Legal structures
- Key milestones you are pursuing
If you aren’t quite ready to create a business plan, consider starting by reading our business startup guide .
Get a Business Idea
Before you can write a business plan, you have to have a business idea. You may see a problem that needs to be solved and have an idea how to solve it, or you might start by evaluating your interests and skills.
Mike told us, “The three things I suggest asking yourself when thinking about starting a business are:
- What am I good at?
- What would I enjoy doing?
- What can I get paid for?”
If all three of these questions don’t lead to at least one common answer, it will probably be a much harder road to success. Either there is not much market for it, you won’t be good at it, or you won’t enjoy doing it.
As Mike told us, “There’s enough stress starting and running a business that if you don’t like it or aren’t good at it, it’s hard to succeed.”
If you’d like to hear more about Mike’s approach to starting a business, check out our YouTube video
Conduct Market Analysis
Market analysis is focused on establishing if there is a target market for your products and services, how large the target market is, and identifying the demographics of people or businesses that would be interested in the product or service. The goal here is to establish how much money your business concept can make.
Product and Service Demand
A search engine is your best friend when trying to figure out if there is demand for your products and services. Personally, I love using presearch.org because it lets you directly search on a ton of different platforms including Google, Youtube, Twitter, and more. Check out the screenshot for the full list of search options.
With quick web searches, you can find out how many competitors you have, look through their reviews, and see if there are common complaints about the competitors. Bad reviews are a great place to find opportunities to offer better products or services.
If there are no similar products or services, you may have stumbled upon something new, or there may just be no demand for it. To find out, go talk to your most honest friend about the idea and see what they think. If they tell you it’s dumb or stare at you vacantly, there’s probably no market for it.
You can also conduct a survey through social media to get public opinion on your idea. Using Facebook Business Manager , you could get a feel for who would be interested in your product or service.
I ran a quick test of how many people between 18-65 you could reach in the U.S. during a week. It returned an estimated 700-2,000 for the total number of leads, which is enough to do a fairly accurate statistical analysis.
Identify Demographics of Target Market
Depending on what type of business you want to run, your target market will be different. The narrower the demographic, the fewer potential customers you’ll have. If you did a survey, you’ll be able to use that data to help define your target audience. Some considerations you’ll want to consider are:
- Other Interests
- Marital Status
- Do they have kids?
Once you have this information, it can help you narrow down your options for location and help define your marketing further. One resource that Mike recommended using is the Census Bureau’s Quick Facts Map . He told us,
“It helps you quickly evaluate what the best areas are for your business to be located.”
How to Write a Business Plan
Now that you’ve developed your idea a little and established there is a market for it, you can begin writing a business plan. Getting started is easier with the business plan template we created for you to download. I strongly recommend using it as it is updated to make it easier to create an action plan.
Each of the following should be a section of your business plan:
- Business Plan Cover Page
- Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- Description of Products and Services
- Competitor Data
- Competitive Analysis
- Marketing Expenses Strategy
- Distribution Channel Assessment
- Operational Plan
- Management and Organizational Strategy
- Financial Statements and/or Financial Projections
We’ll look into each of these. Don’t forget to download our free business plan template (mentioned just above) so you can follow along as we go.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page
The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions.
A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:
- Professionally designed logo
- Company name
- Mission or Vision Statement
- Contact Info
Basically, think of a cover page for your business plan like a giant business card. It is meant to capture people’s attention but be quickly processed.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 2. Create a Table of Contents
Most people are busy enough that they don’t have a lot of time. Providing a table of contents makes it easy for them to find the pages of your plan that are meaningful to them.
A table of contents will be immediately after the cover page, but you can include it after the executive summary. Including the table of contents immediately after the executive summary will help investors know what section of your business plan they want to review more thoroughly.
Check out Canva’s article about creating a table of contents . It has a ton of great information about creating easy access to each section of your business plan. Just remember that you’ll want to use different strategies for digital and hard copy business plans.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 3. Write an Executive Summary
An executive summary is where your business plan should catch the readers interest. It doesn’t need to be long, but should be quick and easy to read.
Mike told us,
How long should an executive summary bein an informal business plan?
For casual use, an executive summary should be similar to an elevator pitch, no more than 150-160 words, just enough to get them interested and wanting more. Indeed has a great article on elevator pitches . This can also be used for the content of emails to get readers’ attention.
It consists of three basic parts:
- An introduction to you and your business.
- What your business is about.
- A call to action
Example of an informal executive summary
One of the best elevator pitches I’ve used is:
So far that pitch has achieved a 100% success rate in getting partnerships for the business.
What should I include in an executive summary for investors?
Investors are going to need a more detailed executive summary if you want to secure financing or sell equity. The executive summary should be a brief overview of your entire business plan and include:
- Introduction of yourself and company.
- An origin story (Recognition of a problem and how you came to solution)
- An introduction to your products or services.
- Your unique value proposition. Make sure to include intellectual property.
- Where you are in the business life cycle
- Request and why you need it.
Successful business plan examples
The owner of Urbanity told us he spent 2 months writing a 75-page business plan and received a $250,000 loan from the bank when he was 23. Make your business plan as detailed as possible when looking for financing. We’ve provided a template to help you prepare the portions of a business plan that banks expect.
Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:
When to write an executive summary?
Even though the summary is near the beginning of a business plan, you should write it after you complete the rest of a business plan. You can’t talk about revenue, profits, and expected expenditures if you haven’t done the market research and created a financial plan.
What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?
Business owners commonly go into too much detail about the following items in an executive summary:
- Marketing and sales processes
- Financial statements
- Organizational structure
- Market analysis
These are things that people will want to know later, but they don’t hook the reader. They won’t spark interest in your small business, but they’ll close the deal.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description
Every business plan should include a company description. A great business plan will include the following elements while describing the company:
- Mission statement
- Philosophy and vision
- Company goals
- Legal structure
Let’s take a look at what each section includes in a good business plan.
A mission statement is a brief explanation of why you started the company and what the company’s main focus is. It should be no more than one or two sentences. Check out HubSpot’s article 27 Inspiring Mission Statement for a great read on informative and inspiring mission and vision statements.
Company Philosophy and Vision
The company philosophy is what drives your company. You’ll normally hear them called core values. These are the building blocks that make your company different. You want to communicate your values to customers, business owners, and investors as often as possible to build a company culture, but make sure to back them up.
What makes your company different?
Each company is different. Your new business should rise above the standard company lines of honesty, integrity, fun, innovation, and community when communicating your business values. The standard answers are corporate jargon and lack authenticity.
Examples of core values
One of my clients decided to add a core values page to their website. As a tech company they emphasized the values:
- Prioritize communication.
- Never stop learning.
- Be transparent.
- Start small and grow incrementally.
These values communicate how the owner and the rest of the company operate. They also show a value proposition and competitive advantage because they specifically focus on delivering business value from the start. These values also genuinely show what the company is about and customers recognize the sincerity. Indeed has a great blog about how to identify your core values .
What is a vision statement?
A vision statement communicate the long lasting change a business pursues. The vision helps investors and customers understand what your company is trying to accomplish. The vision statement goes beyond a mission statement to provide something meaningful to the community, customer’s lives, or even the world.
Example vision statements
The Alzheimer’s Association is a great example of a vision statement:
A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.
It clearly tells how they want to change the world. A world without Alzheimers might be unachievable, but that means they always have room for improvement.
You have to measure success against goals for a business plan to be meaningful. A business plan helps guide a company similar to how your GPS provides a road map to your favorite travel destination. A goal to make as much money as possible is not inspirational and sounds greedy.
Sure, business owners want to increase their profits and improve customer service, but they need to present an overview of what they consider success. The goals should help everyone prioritize their work.
How far in advance should a business plan?
Business planning should be done at least one year in advance, but many banks and investors prefer three to five year business plans. Longer plans show investors that the management team understands the market and knows the business is operating in a constantly shifting market. In addition, a plan helps businesses to adjust to changes because they have already considered how to handle them.
Example of great business goals
My all time-favorite long-term company goals are included in Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux . These goals were written in 2016 and drive the company’s decisions through 2026. They are the reason that investors are so forgiving when Elon Musk continually fails to meet his quarterly and annual goals.
If the progress aligns with the business plan investors are likely to continue to believe in the company. Just make sure the goals are reasonable or you’ll be discredited (unless you’re Elon Musk).
You did target market research before creating a business plan. Now it’s time to add it to the plan so others understand what your ideal customer looks like. As a new business owner, you may not be considered an expert in your field yet, so document everything. Make sure the references you use are from respectable sources.
Use information from the specific lender when you are applying for lending. Most lenders provide industry research reports and using their data can strengthen the position of your business plan.
A small business plan should include a section on the external environment. Understanding the industry is crucial because we don’t plan a business in a vacuum. Make sure to research the industry trends, competitors, and forecasts. I personally prefer IBIS World for my business research. Make sure to answer questions like:
- What is the industry outlook long-term and short-term?
- How will your business take advantage of projected industry changes and trends?
- What might happen to your competitors and how will your business successfully compete?
Some helpful resources to help you establish more about your industry are:
- Trade Associations
- Federal Reserve
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
There are five basic types of legal structures that most people will utilize:
- Sole proprietorships
- Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
Each business structure has their pros and cons. An LLC is the most common legal structure due to its protection of personal assets and ease of setting up. Make sure to specify how ownership is divided and what roles each owner plays when you have more than one business owner.
You’ll have to decide which structure is best for you, but we’ve gathered information on each to make it easier.
A sole proprietorship is the easiest legal structure to set up but doesn’t protect the owner’s personal assets from legal issues. That means if something goes wrong, you could lose both your company and your home.
To start a sole proprietorship, fill out a special tax form called a Schedule C . Sole proprietors can also join the American Independent Business Alliance .
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
An LLC is the most common business structure used in the United States because an LLC protects the owner’s personal assets. It’s similar to partnerships and corporations, but can be a single-member LLC in most states. An LLC requires a document called an operating agreement.
Each state has different requirements. Here’s a link to find your state’s requirements . Delaware and Nevada are common states to file an LLC because they are really business-friendly. Here’s a blog on the top 10 states to get an LLC.
Partnerships are typically for legal firms. If you choose to use a partnership choose a Limited Liability Partnership. Alternatively, you can just use an LLC.
Corporations are typically for massive organizations. Corporations have taxes on both corporate and income tax so unless you plan on selling stock, you are better off considering an LLC with S-Corp status . Investopedia has good information corporations here .
There are several opportunities to purchase successful franchises. TopFranchise.com has a list of companies in a variety of industries that offer franchise opportunities. This makes it where an entrepreneur can benefit from the reputation of an established business that has already worked out many of the kinks of starting from scratch.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 5. Products and Services
This section of the business plan should focus on what you sell, how you source it, and how you sell it. You should include:
- Unique features that differentiate your business products from competitors
- Intellectual property
- Your supply chain
- Cost and pricing structure
Questions to answer about your products and services
Mike gave us a list of the most important questions to answer about your product and services:
- How will you be selling the product? (in person, ecommerce, wholesale, direct to consumer)?
- How do you let them know they need a product?
- How do you communicate the message?
- How will you do transactions?
- How much will you be selling it for?
- How many do you think you’ll sell and why?
Make sure to use the worksheet on our business plan template .
How to Write a Business Plan Step 6. Sales and Marketing Plan
The marketing and sales plan is focused on the strategy to bring awareness to your company and guides how you will get the product to the consumer. It should contain the following sections:
SWOT Analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Not only do you want to identify them, but you also want to document how the business plans to deal with them.
Business owners need to do a thorough job documenting how their service or product stacks up against the competition.
If proper research isn’t done, investors will be able to tell that the owner hasn’t researched the competition and is less likely to believe that the team can protect its service from threats by the more well-established competition. This is one of the most common parts of a presentation that trips up business owners presenting on Shark Tank .
Examples of strengths and weaknesses could be things like the lack of cash flow, intellectual property ownership, high costs of suppliers, and customers’ expectations on shipping times.
Opportunities could be ways to capitalize on your strengths or improve your weaknesses, but may also be gaps in the industry. This includes:
- Adding offerings that fit with your current small business
- Increase sales to current customers
- Reducing costs through bulk ordering
- Finding ways to reduce inventory
- And other areas you can improve
Threats will normally come from outside of the company but could also be things like losing a key member of the team. Threats normally come from competition, regulations, taxes, and unforeseen events.
The management team should use the SWOT analysis to guide other areas of business planning, but it absolutely has to be done before a business owner starts marketing.
Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan
When you plan a business, taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the competition is key to navigating the field. Providing an overview of your competition and where they are headed shows that you are invested in understanding the industry.
For smaller businesses, you’ll want to search both the company and the owners names to see what they are working on. For publicly held corporations, you can find their quarterly and annual reports on the SEC website .
What another business plans to do can impact your business. Make sure to include things that might make it attractive for bigger companies to outsource to a small business.
The marketing and sales part of business plans should be focused on how you are going to make potential customers aware of your business and then sell to them.
If you haven’t already included it, Mike recommends:
“They’ll want to know about Demographics, ages, and wealth of your target market.”
Make sure to include the Total addressable market . The term refers to the value if you captured 100% of the market.
You’ll explain what formats of advertising you’ll be using. Some possibilities are:
- Online: Facebook and Google are the big names to work with here.
- Print : Print can be used to reach broad groups or targeted markets. Check out this for tips .
- Radio : iHeartMedia is one of the best ways to advertise on the radio
- Cable television : High priced, hard to measure ROI, but here’s an explanation of the process
- Billboards: Attracting customers with billboards can be beneficial in high traffic areas.
You’ll want to define how you’ll be using each including frequency, duration, and cost. If you have the materials already created, including pictures or links to the marketing to show creative assets.
Mike told us “Most businesses are marketing digitally now due to Covid, but that’s not always the right answer.”
Make sure the marketing strategy will help team members or external marketing agencies stay within the brand guidelines .
This section of a business plan should be focused on pricing. There are a ton of pricing strategies that may work for different business plans. Which one will work for you depends on what kind of a business you run.
Some common pricing strategies are:
- Value-based pricing – Commonly used with home buying and selling or other products that are status symbols.
- Skimming pricing – Commonly seen in video game consoles, price starts off high to recoup expenses quickly, then reduces over time.
- Competition-based pricing – Pricing based on competitors’ pricing is commonly seen at gas stations.
- Freemium services – Commonly used for software, where there is a free plan, then purchase options for more functionality.
HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.
Beyond explaining what strategy your business plans to use, you should include references for how you came to this pricing strategy and how it will impact your cash flow.
This part of a business plan is focused on how the product or service is going to go through the supply chain. These may include multiple divisions or multiple companies. Make sure to include any parts of the workflow that are automated so investors can see where cost savings are expected and when.
Supply Chain Examples
For instance, lawn care companies would need to cover aspects such as:
- Suppliers for lawn care equipment and tools
- Any chemicals or treatments needed
- Repair parts for sprinkler systems
- Vehicles to transport equipment and employees
- Insurance to protect the company vehicles and people.
Examples of Supply Chains
These are fairly flat supply chains compared to something like a clothing designer where the clothes would go through multiple vendors. A clothing company might have the following supply chain:
- Raw materials
- Shipping of raw materials
- Converting of raw materials to thread
- Shipping thread to produce garments
- Garment producer
- Shipping to company
- Company storage
- Shipping to retail stores
There have been advances such as print on demand that eliminate many of these steps. If you are designing completely custom clothing, all of this would need to be planned to keep from having business disruptions.
The main thing to include in the business plan is the list of suppliers, the path the supply chain follows, the time from order to the customer’s home, and the costs associated with each step of the process.
According to BizPlanReview , a business plan without this information is likely to get rejected because they have failed to research the key elements necessary to make sales to the customer.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 7. Company Organization and Operational Plan
This part of the business plan is focused on how the business model will function while serving customers. The business plan should provide an overview of how the team will manage the following aspects:
- Legal environment
Let’s look at each for some insight.
Production has already been discussed in previous sections so I won’t go into it much. When writing a business plan for investors, try to avoid repetition as it creates a more simple business plan.
If the organizational plan will be used by the team as an overview of how to perform the best services for the customer, then redundancy makes more sense as it communicates what is important to the business.
Quality control policies help to keep the team focused on how to verify that the company adheres to the business plan and meets or exceeds customer expectations.
Quality control can be anything from a standard that says “all labels on shirts can be no more than 1/16″ off center” to a defined checklist of steps that should be performed and filled out for every customer.
There are a variety of organizations that help define quality control including:
- International Organization for Standardization – Quality standards for energy, technology, food, production environments, and cybersecurity
- AICPA – Standard defined for accounting.
- The Joint Commission – Healthcare
- ASHRAE – HVAC best practices
You can find lists of the organizations that contribute most to the government regulation of industries on Open Secrets . Research what the leaders in your field are doing. Follow their example and implement it in your quality control plan.
For location, you should use information from the market research to establish where the location will be. Make sure to include the following in the location documentation.
- The size of your location
- The type of building (retail, industrial, commercial, etc.)
- Zoning restrictions – Urban Wire has a good map on how zoning works in each state
- Accessibility – Does it meet ADA requirements?
- Costs including rent, maintenance, utilities, insurance and any buildout or remodeling costs
- Utilities – b.e.f. has a good energy calculator .
The legal requirement section is focused on defining how to meet the legal requirements for your industry. A good business plan should include all of the following:
- Any licenses and/or permits that are needed and whether you’ve obtained them
- Any trademarks, copyrights, or patents that you have or are in the process of applying for
- The insurance coverage your business requires and how much it costs
- Any environmental, health, or workplace regulations affecting your business
- Any special regulations affecting your industry
- Bonding requirements, if applicable
Your local SBA office can help you establish requirements in your area. I strongly recommend using them. They are a great resource.
Your business plan should include a plan for company organization and hiring. While you may be the only person with the company right now, down the road you’ll need more people. Make sure to consider and document the answers to the following questions:
- What is the current leadership structure and what will it look like in the future?
- What types of employees will you have? Are there any licensing or educational requirements?
- How many employees will you need?
- Will you ever hire freelancers or independent contractors?
- What is each position’s job description?
- What is the pay structure (hourly, salaried, base plus commission, etc.)?
- How do you plan to find qualified employees and contractors?
One of the most crucial parts of a business plan is the organizational chart. This simply shows the positions the company will need, who is in charge of them and the relationship of each of them. It will look similar to this:
Our small business plan template has a much more in-depth organizational chart you can edit to include when you include the organizational chart in your business plan.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements
No business plan is complete without financial statements or financial projections. The business plan format will be different based on whether you are writing a business plan to expand a business or a startup business plan. Let’s dig deeper into each.
Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business
An existing business should use their past financial documents including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement to find trends to estimate the next 3-5 years.
You can create easy trendlines in excel to predict future revenue, profit and loss, cash flow, and other changes in year-over-year performance. This will show your expected performance assuming business continues as normal.
If you are seeking an investment, then the business is probably not going to continue as normal. Depending on the financial plan and the purpose of getting financing, adjustments may be needed to the following:
- Higher Revenue if expanding business
- Lower Cost of Goods Sold if purchasing inventory with bulk discounts
- Adding interest if utilizing financing (not equity deal)
- Changes in expenses
- Addition of financing information to the cash flow statement
- Changes in Earnings per Share on the balance sheet
Financial modeling is a challenging subject, but there are plenty of low-cost courses on the subject. If you need help planning your business financial documentation take some time to watch some of them.
Make it a point to document how you calculated all the changes to the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in your business plan so that key team members or investors can verify your research.
Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan
Unlike an existing business, a startup doesn’t have previous success to model its future performance. In this scenario, you need to focus on how to make a business plan realistic through the use of industry research and averages.
Mike gave the following advice in his interview:
Financial Forecasting Mistakes
One of the things a lot of inexperienced people use is the argument, “If I get one percent of the market, it is worth $100 million.” If you use this, investors are likely to file the document under bad business plan examples.
Let’s use custom t-shirts as an example.
Credence Research estimated in 2018 there were 11,334,800,000 custom t-shirts sold for a total of $206.12 Billion, with a 6% compound annual growth rate.
With that data, you can calculate that the industry will grow to $270 Billion in 2023 and that the average shirt sold creates $18.18 in revenue.
Combine that with an IBIS World estimate of 11,094 custom screen printers and that means even if you become an average seller, you’ll get .009% of the market.
Here’s a table for easier viewing of that information.
The point here is to make sure your business proposal examples make sense.
You’ll need to know industry averages such as cost of customer acquisition, revenue per customer, the average cost of goods sold, and admin costs to be able to create accurate estimates.
Our simple business plan templates walk you through most of these processes. If you follow them you’ll have a good idea of how to write a business proposal.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 9. Business Plan Example of Funding Requests
What is a business plan without a plan on how to obtain funding?
The Small Business Administration has an example for a pizza restaurant that theoretically needed nearly $20k to make it through their first month.
In our video, How to Start a $500K/Year T-Shirt Business (Pt. 1 ), Sanford Booth told us he needed about $200,000 to start his franchise and broke even after 4 months.
Freshbooks estimates it takes on average 2-3 years for a business to be profitable, which means the fictitious pizza company from the SBA could need up to $330k to make it through that time and still pay their bills for their home and pizza shop.
Not every business needs that much to start, but realistically it’s a good idea to assume that you need a fairly large cushion.
Ways to get funding for a small business
There are a variety of ways to cover this. the most common are:
- Bootstrapping – Using your savings without external funding.
- Taking out debt – loans, credit cards
- Equity, Seed Funding – Ownership of a percentage of the company in exchange for current funds
- Crowdsourcing – Promising a good for funding to create the product
Keep reading for more tips on how to write a business plan.
How funding will be used
When asking for business financing make sure to include:
- How much to get started?
- What is the minimum viable product and how soon can you make money?
- How will the money be spent?
Mike emphasized two aspects that should be included in every plan,
How to Write a Business Plan Resources
Here are some links to a business plan sample and business plan outline.
- Sample plan
It’s also helpful to follow some of the leading influencers in the business plan writing community. Here’s a list:
- Wise Plans – Shares a lot of information on starting businesses and is a business plan writing company.
- Optimus Business Plans – Another business plan writing company.
- Venture Capital – A venture capital thread that can help give you ideas.
How to Write a Business Plan: What’s Next?
We hope this guide about how to write a simple business plan step by step has been helpful. We’ve covered:
- The definition of a business plan
- Coming up with a business idea
- Performing market research
- The critical components of a business plan
- An example business plan
In addition, we provided you with a simple business plan template to assist you in the process of writing your startup business plan. The startup business plan template also includes a business model template that will be the key to your success.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our business hub .
Have you written a business plan before? How did it impact your ability to achieve your goals?
Brandon Boushy started his company after years of working in customer service, engineering, and project management. After receiving his MBA, he turned his diverse skills into a business helping other small business owners find resources and strategies that further their business objectives. He focuses on assisting businesses with their marketing, communication, and research needs.
- September 27, 2023
How to Start a Business: The Ultimate Guide (2023)
- August 3, 2022
Free Business Plan Template (With Examples)
- May 3, 2022
How to Get a Business License (In 3 Steps)
Join the discussion cancel reply.
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .
2 thoughts on “How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)”
My Name is PRETTY NGOMANE. A south African female. Aspiring to do farming. And finding a home away from home for the differently abled persons in their daily needs.
nice work https://binarychemist.com/
Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.
How to Build a Detailed Business Plan That Stands Out [Free Template]
Updated: March 29, 2022
Published: March 11, 2022
While starting a company may seem easier now than ever before, entrepreneurs have an uphill battle from the moment they start a business. And without a clear, actionable business plan for selling, marketing, finances, and operations, you're almost destined to face significant challenges.
This is why crafting a business plan is an essential step in the entrepreneurial process.
In this post, we'll walk you through the process of filling out your business plan template, like this free, editable version :
Download a free, editable one-page business plan template.
We know that when looking at a blank page on a laptop screen, the idea of writing your business plan can seem impossible. However, it's a mandatory step to take if you want to turn your business dreams into a reality.
That's why we've crafted a business plan template for you to download and use to build your new company. You can download it here for free . It contains prompts for all of the essential parts of a business plan, all of which are elaborated on, below.
This way, you'll be able to show them how organized and well-thought-out your business idea is, and provide them with answers to whatever questions they may have.
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.
Building a Successful Business Plan
In the next section, we'll cover the components of a business plan , such as an executive summary and company description. But before we get to that, let's talk about key elements that should serve as building blocks for your plan.
For some entrepreneurs, the thought of writing a business plan sounds like a chore — a necessary means to an end. But that's a bad take.
A solid business plan is a blueprint for success . It's key to securing financing, presenting your business, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.
At the core, your business plan should answer two questions: why your business and why now?
Investors want to know why your business is entering the market, i.e. what problem it's solving and how it's different from what's currently out there. They also want to know why now is the right time for your type of product or service.
At a minimum, your plan should:
- Be more realistic than idealistic: Too often, business plans focus too much on how things could be instead of how they are. While having a vision is important, your plan needs to be rooted in research and data.
- Legitimize your business idea : If an idea fails on paper, it's a signal to go back to the drawing board. In doing so, you avoid losing precious time or money chasing an unrealistic idea.
- Position your business for funding: To get your business off the ground, chances are you'll need financial backing. Even with a solid business idea, investors, lenders, and banks still need convincing. An effective business plan will outline how much money you need, where it's going, what targets you will hit, and how you plan to repay any debts.
- Lay the foundation: Investors focus on risk – if anything looks shaky, it could be a dealbreaker. Ideally, your business plan will lay down the foundation for how you'll operate your business — from operational needs to financial projections and goals.
- Communicate your needs: It's nearly impossible to communicate your needs if you don't know what they are first. Of course, a business’ needs are always changing — but your plan should give you a well-rounded view of how your business will work in the short and long term.
So back to the question of why and why now – consider three things:
- Your industry – How does your product or service fit within your industry? Are you targeting a specific niche? Where do you see the industry going in the next five to 10 years?
- Your target audience – Who are you targeting? What challenges are they facing? How will your product or service help them in their daily lives?
- Your unique selling proposition (USP) – What sets you apart from your competitors? Is it your product/service features? Your company values? Price?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you'll be equipped to answer the question: why your business and why now.
How to Build a Business Plan
- Executive Summary
- Company and Business Description
- Product and Services Line
- Market Analysis
- Marketing Plan
- Legal Notes
- Financial Considerations
Featured Resource: Free Business Plan Template
1. cover page.
Your business plan should be prefaced with an eye-catching cover page. This means including a high-resolution image of your company logo, followed by your company's name, address, and phone number.
Since this business plan will likely change hands and be seen by multiple investors, you should also provide your own name, role in the business, and email address on the cover page.
At the bottom of this page, you can also add a confidentiality statement to protect against the disclosure of your business details.
The statement can read as follows: " This document contains confidential and proprietary information created by [your company name]. When receiving this document, you agree to keep its content confidential and may only reproduce and/or share it with express written permission of [your company name] ."
Remember to keep your cover page simple and concise — and save the important details for other sections.
Why it matters: First impressions are everything, and a clean cover page is the first step in the right direction.
Example of a Cover Page
2. Executive Summary
The executive summary of your business plan provides a one- to two-page overview of your business and highlights the most crucial pieces of your plan, such as your short-term and long-term goals.
The executive summary is essentially a boiled-down version of your entire business plan, so remember to keep this section to the point and filled only with essential information.
Typically, this brief section includes:
- A mission statement.
- The company's history and leadership model.
- An overview of competitive advantage(s).
- Financial projections.
- Company goals.
- An ask from potential investors.
Why it matters: The executive summary is known as the make-or-break section of a business plan. It influences whether investors turn the page or not — so effectively summarizing your business and the problem it hopes to solve is a must.
Think of the Summary as a written elevator pitch (with more detail). While your business plan provides the nitty-gritty details, your Summary describes — in a compelling but matter-of-fact language — the highlights of your plan. If it's too vague, complicated, or fuzzy, you may need to scrap it and start again.
Example of an Executive Summary Introduction
"The future looks bright for North Side Chicago, particularly the Rock Hill Neighborhood. A number of high-end commercial and residential developments are well on their way, along with two new condo developments in nearby neighborhoods.
While the completion of these developments will increase the population within the neighborhood and stimulate the economy, the area lacks an upscale restaurant where residents and visitors can enjoy fine food and drink. Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant will provide such a place."
3. Company & Business Description
In this section, provide a more thorough description of what your company is and why it exists.
The bulk of the writing in this section should be about your company's purpose – covering what the business will be selling, identifying the target market, and laying out a path to success.
In this portion of your business plan, you can also elaborate on your company's:
- Mission statement
- Core values
- Team and organizational structure
Why it matters: Investors look for great structures and teams in addition to great ideas. This section gives an overview of your businesses' ethos. It's the perfect opportunity to set your business apart from the competition — such as your team's expertise, your unique work culture, and your competitive advantage.
Example of a Values/Mission Statement
"Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant will be the go-to place for people to get a drink or bite in an elegant, upscale atmosphere. The mission is to be North Side's leading restaurant, with the best tasting food and the highest quality service."
3. Product & Services Line
Here's where you'll cover the makeup of your business's product and/or services line. You should provide each product or service's name, its purpose, and a description of how it works (if appropriate). If you own any patents, copyrights, or trademarks, it's essential to include this info too.
Next, add some color to your sales strategy by outlining your pricing model and mark-up amounts.
If you're selling tangible products, you should also explain production and costs, and how you expect these factors to change as you scale.
Why it matters: This section contains the real meat of your business plan. It sets the stage for the problem you hope to solve, your solution, and how your said solution fits in the market.
There's no one-size-fits-all formula for this section. For instance, one plan may delve into its ability to market in a more cost-effective way than the competition, whereas another plan focuses on its key products and their unique features and benefits.
Regardless of your angle, it's critical to convey how your offerings will differ from the competition.
Example of a Product/Service Offering
"The menu at Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant will focus on Moroccan cuisine. The stars of the menu (our specialties) are the Moroccan dishes, such as eggplant zaalouk, seafood bastilla, tagine, and chickpea stew. For those who enjoy American dishes, there will also be a variety of options, from burger sliders and flatbread pizza to grilled steak and salads.
The food at Jay Street will have premium pricing to match its upscale atmosphere. During the summer months, the restaurant will have extra seating on the patio where clients can enjoy a special summer menu. We will be open on all days of the week."
4. Market Analysis
It helps to reference your market research documentation in this section, like a Porter's Five Forces Analysis or a SWOT Analysis ( templates for those are available here ). You can also include them in your appendix.
If your company already has buyer personas, you should include them here as well. If not, you can create them right now using the Make My Persona Tool .
Why it matters: Having an awesome product is, well, awesome — but it isn't enough. Just as important, there must be a market for it.
This section allows you to dig deeper into your market, which segments you want to target, and why. The "why" here is important, since targeting the right segment is critical for the success and growth of your business.
It's easy to get lost (or overwhelmed) in a sea of endless data. For your business plan, narrow your focus by answering the following questions:
- What is my market? In other words, who are my customers?
- What segments of the market do I want to target?
- What's the size of my target market?
- Is my market likely to grow?
- How can I increase my market share over time?
Example of a Market Analysis
"Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant will target locals who live and work within the Rock Hill Neighborhood and the greater North Side Chicago area. We will also target the tourists who flock to the many tourist attractions and colleges on the North Side.
We will specifically focus on young to middle-aged adults with an income of $40,000 to $80,000 who are looking for an upscale experience. The general demographics of our target market are women between 20 to 50 years old.
A unique and varied Moroccan-American menu, along with our unique upscale atmosphere, differentiates us from competitors in the area. Jay Street will also set itself apart through its commitment to high-quality food, service, design, and atmosphere."
5. Marketing Plan
Unlike the market analysis section, your marketing plan section should be an explanation of the tactical approach to reaching your aforementioned target audience. List your advertising channels, organic marketing methods, messaging, budget, and any relevant promotional tactics.
If your company has a fully fleshed-out marketing plan, you can attach it in the appendix of your business plan. If not, download this free marketing plan template to outline your strategy.
Free Marketing Plan Template
Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
- Pre-Sectioned Template
- Completely Customizable
- Example Prompts
- Professionally Designed
Why it matters: Marketing is what puts your product in front of your customers. It's not just advertising — it's an investment in your business.
Throwing money into random marketing channels is a haphazard approach, which is why it's essential to do the legwork to create a solid marketing plan.
Here's some good news — by this point, you should have a solid understanding of your target market. Now, it's time to determine how you'll reach them.
Example of a Marketing Plan Overview
"Our marketing strategy will focus on three main initiatives:
- Social media marketing. We will grow and expand our Facebook and Instagram following through targeted social media ads.
- Website initiatives. Our website will attract potential visitors by offering updated menus and a calendar of events.
- Promotional events. Jay Street will have one special theme night per week to attract new clients."
6. Sales Plan
It doesn't matter if your sales department is an office full of business development representatives (BDR) or a dozen stores with your products on their shelves.
The point is: All sales plans are different, so you should clearly outline yours here. Common talking points include your:
- Sales team structure, and why this structure was chosen.
- Sales channels.
- Sales tools, software, and resources.
- Prospecting strategy.
- Sales goals and budget.
Like with your marketing plan, it might make sense to attach your completed sales plan to the appendix of your business plan. You can download a template for building your sales plan here .
Why it matters: Among other things, investors are interested in the scalability of your business — which is why growth strategies are a critical part of your business plan.
Your sales plan should describe your plan to attract customers, retain them (if applicable), and, ultimately, grow your business. Be sure to outline what you plan to do given your existing resources and what results you expect from your work.
Example of a Sales Plan Overview
"The most important goal is to ensure financial success for Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant. We believe we can achieve this by offering excellent food, entertainment, and service to our clients.
We are not a low-cost dining option in the area. Instead, the food will have premium pricing to match its upscale feel. The strategy is to give Jay Street a perception of elegance through its food, entertainment, and excellent service."
7. Legal Notes
Your investors may want to know the legal structure of your business, as that could directly impact the risk of their investments. For example, if you're looking for business partners to engage in a non-corporation or LLC partnership, this means they could be on the line for more than their actual investment.
Because this clarification is often needed, explain if you are and/or plan to become a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, LLC, or other.
You should also outline the steps you have taken (or will need to take) to operate legally. This includes licenses, permits, registrations, and insurance.
The last thing your investor wants to hear after they've sent you a big chunk of change is that you're operating without proper approval from the local, state, or federal government.
Why it matters: The last thing your investor wants to hear after they've sent you a big chunk of change is that you're operating without proper approval from the local, state, or federal government.
Example of Legal Notes
"Jay Street Lounge and Restaurant is up-to-date on all restaurant licenses and health permits. Our business name and logo are registered trademarks, presenting the possibility of expanding locally."
8. Financial Considerations
Ultimately, investors want to know two things:
- When they will earn their money back.
- When they will start seeing returns on their initial investment.
That said, be clear, calculated, and convincing in this section. It should cover:
- Startup costs.
- Sales forecasts for the next several months/quarters.
- Break-even analysis for time and dollars.
- Projected profit and loss (P&L) statement.
Facts and figures are key here, so be as specific as possible with each line item and projection. In addition, explain the "why" behind each of these sections.
However, keep in mind that information overload is a risk, especially when it comes to data. So, if you have pages upon pages of charts and spreadsheets for this section, distill them into a page or two and include the rest of the sheets in the appendix. This section should only focus on key data points.
Why it matters: One of the most important aspects of becoming "investor ready" is knowing your numbers. More importantly, you need to understand how those numbers will enhance your business.
While it's easy to write a number down on paper, it's more important to understand (and communicate) why you need capital, where it's going, and that your evaluation makes sense.
Example of Financial Projections
"Based on our knowledge and experience in the restaurant industry, we have come up with projections for the business.
Starting with an expenditure of $400,000 in year 1, we forecast sales of $1,500,000 and $2,800,000 for years two and three. We expect to achieve a net profit of 15% by year three."
A detailed and well-developed business plan can range anywhere from 20 to 50 pages, with some even reaching upward of 80.
In many cases, the appendix is the longest section. Why? Because it includes the supportive materials mentioned in previous sections. To avoid disrupting the flow of the business plan with visuals, charts, and spreadsheets, business owners usually add them in the last section, i.e. the appendix.
Aside from what we've already mentioned – marketing plan, sales plan, department budgets, financial documents – you may also want to attach the following in the appendix:
- Marketing materials
- Market research data
- Licensing documentation
- Branding assets
- Floor plans for your location
- Mockups of your product
- Renderings of your office space or location design
Adding these pieces to the appendix enriches the reader's understanding of your business and proves you've put the work into your business plan without distracting from the main points throughout the plan.
Why it matters: An appendix helps the reader do their due diligence. It contains everything they need to support your business plan.
Keep in mind, however, that an appendix is typically necessary only if you're seeking financing or looking to attract business partners.
Use a Business Plan Template to Get Started
Writing a business plan shouldn't be an insurmountable roadblock to starting a business. Unfortunately, for all too many, it is.
That's why we recommend using our free business plan template. Pre-filled with detailed section prompts for all of the topics in this blog post, we're confident this template will get your business plan started in the right direction.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Don't forget to share this post!
How to Calculate Your Lead Generation Goals [Free Calculator]
What Are Direct Costs & How Do They Differ From Indirect Costs?
How to Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide [Examples + Template]
9 Handy Business Calculators That’ll Make Your Life Easier
The Definition of CAC [In Under 100 Words]
How to Calculate Next Month's Lead Gen Goal [Quick Tip]
How to Calculate the Value of Your Social Media Followers [CALCULATOR]
A Simple Calculator to Determine Your Monthly Traffic & Leads Goals [Template]
How to Calculate & Track a Leads Goal That Sales Supports
2 Essential Templates For Starting Your Business
100% Free CRM
Nurture and grow your business with customer relationship management software.
- PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
- EDIT Edit this Article
- EXPLORE Tech Help Pro About Us Random Article Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
- Browse Articles
- Learn Something New
- Quizzes Hot
- This Or That Game New
- Train Your Brain
- Explore More
- Support wikiHow
- About wikiHow
- Log in / Sign up
- Finance and Business
- Business Skills
- Business Writing
How to Write a Business Plan
Last Updated: October 30, 2022 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Keila Hill-Trawick, CPA . Keila Hill-Trawick is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and owner at Little Fish Accounting, a CPA firm for small businesses in Washington, District of Columbia. With over 15 years of experience in accounting, Keila specializes in advising freelancers, solopreneurs, and small businesses in reaching their financial goals through tax preparation, financial accounting, bookkeeping, small business tax, financial advisory, and personal tax planning services. Keila spent over a decade in the government and private sector before founding Little Fish Accounting. She holds a BS in Accounting from Georgia State University - J. Mack Robinson College of Business and an MBA from Mercer University - Stetson School of Business and Economics. There are 10 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 2,302,417 times.
If you’re interested in starting your own business, by now you probably know that writing a business plan is one of the first steps. But what should a business plan include? How detailed should it be? Do you need to do research first? Don’t worry—below we’ll answer all of your questions and walk you through putting together your first business plan from start to finish!
Doing Your Homework
- Is there a viable market for the product or service you want to sell?
- How old are your potential customers?
- What do they do for a living?
- Is your product or service attractive to a particular ethnic or economic population?
- Will only wealthy people be able to afford it?
- Does your ideal customer live in a certain type of neighborhood or area?
- How many car mechanics are in need of soap in any given community?
- How many children in the United States are currently under the age of eight?
- How much soap will they use in a month or a year?
- How many other soap manufacturers already have a share of the market?
- How big are your potential competitors?
- Don't aim for the best of everything at the beginning. You can forgo the expensive trimmings of an office of a more well-established company and stick to the basics at the beginning. Get what is affordable, works and is actually needed and don't buy frills.
- Don't lose heart if you discover some, or even all, of your ideas have been adequately covered by the market. Don't ignore this reality; instead, work with it. Can you still do a better job or provide a better widget than your competitors? In many cases, it's likely that you can provided you know the market well and how to add value in ways your competitors are not doing. In other cases, it may be a case of focusing more narrowly or more broadly than your competitors are doing.
Structuring Your Business
- What will your product or service enable people to do better, more cheaply, more safely, or more efficiently? Will your restaurant make people’s palates delirious with new taste sensations? Will your new mousetrap help people capture mice without feeling sick to their stomachs? Will your new bubblegum scented bubble bath revolutionize the way children agree to take nightly baths?
- Your competitive advantage may include designing special features not found in rival products. It may entail superior service characteristics such as speedier delivery, a lower price, or more attentive sales people––these are never to be sniffed at as possible winning ways, as many companies grow complacent and can be overtaken by giving customers experiences that are better than the average expectations. Even where your product or service is already well established, perhaps you’re establishing an image or brand of exceptional quality or reputation.
- Keep in mind that your initial plans will undoubtedly change as your business grows. You may need to hire more managers to supervise your expanding staff or to set up new departments to meet new customer demands. Projected growth and expansion for your company should be mentioned in your business plan, but it’s not the primary focus. For now, you want to secure help in getting started and convince your funding sources that you will become profitable.
- Investors will want to know if you’re capable of running the business. Do you need to bring in experienced managers right away? Will you keep some of the existing employees or hire all new people? And where do you find these potential employees?
- Funding sources will also want to know if any of your partners expect to work alongside you or if their obligations are only financial. Your plan will need to specify the key management jobs and roles. Positions such as president, vice presidents, chief financial officer, and managers of departments will need to be defined along with stating who reports to whom.
- Consider how will you reach your customers.  X Research source What will you say to persuade and convince customers that your product or service is better value, more timely, more useful, etc. to the consumer than the rival product or service? If it currently has no rival, how will you properly explain the purpose of and the consumer's need for the product?
- What advertising and promotional efforts will you employ? For example, two for the price of one specials or free coupons inside those same kid-oriented cereal boxes? Where can you locate lists of the greatest concentrations of children under the age of eight or whatever group constitutes your market?
- What will your basic sales philosophy be? Building long-term relationships with a few major clients or developing a clientele of many short-term customers?
Writing the Business Plan
- Title Page and Table of Contents
- Executive Summary , in which you summarize your vision for the company
- General Company Description , in which you provide an overview of your company and the service it provides to its market
- Products and Services , in which you describe, in detail, your unique product or service
- Marketing Plan , in which you describe how you'll bring your product to its consumers
- Operational Plan , in which you describe how the business will be operated on a day-to-day basis
- Management and Organization , in which you describe the structure of your organization and the philosophy that governs it
- Financial Plan , in which you illustrate your working model for finances and your need from investors
- Sustainability Plan , in which you consider how your business's operations in the ecological, social, and economic context will create long-term value for society.  X Research source
- At first, do not worry about capitalization, punctuation, and grammar. All you need to worry about is putting your ideas down on paper. Once you have a general form, you can spend time proofreading your plan and correcting mistakes. Have someone else read over it for you and take heed of their comments.
- The accuracy of your financial figures and projections is absolutely critical in convincing investors, loan sources, and partners that your business concept is worthy of support. The data must also be scrupulously honest and extremely clear.
- Since banks and many other funding sources will compare your projections to industry averages in the R.M.A data, in the United States you can use the R.M.A figures to test your projections before the bank does.
Sample Business Plans
- Many sources exist for finding information for your business plan. Your local library and the internet are always helpful sources. If you live near a university, you may be able to schedule an appointment with one of the college's professors. The professor may be able to give helpful insight. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
- There are a few valuable online archives of business plans that feature companies which have successfully penetrated the market based on a well defined and executed business (and marketing) plan. Take the time to study the market through a successful company's eyes and consider what your company will offer that distinguishes your product or service from the rest. Be certain about what gives your business the competitive edge. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
- Make sure you cite your information. This way you will have support for any statistics you put into your business plan. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
- Do not submit your draft business plan to potential investors! However, it is advisable to give the executive summary instead of the whole plan after it is completed. Sometimes, busy investors may not have the time to look at an entire plan, which can sometimes be up to 50 pages. Thanks Helpful 66 Not Helpful 13
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://extension.psu.edu/developing-a-business-plan
- ↑ https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ec/ec-735.pdf
- ↑ https://sbdc.siu.edu/resources/writing-a-business-plan.php
- ↑ https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan
- ↑ Keila Hill-Trawick, CPA. Certified Public Accountant. Expert Interview. 30 July 2020.
- ↑ https://www.rmahq.org/who-we-are/
- ↑ https://www.scu.edu/mobi/business-plans/
- ↑ https://www.ofm.wa.gov/state-human-resources/workforce-data-planning/workforce-planning/introduction-workforce-planning
- ↑ https://www.ictsd.org/how-should-sustainability-be-considered-in-a-business-plan/
- ↑ https://www.investopedia.com/university/business-plan/business-plan7.asp
About This Article
To write a business plan, start with an executive summary that lays out your grand vision for your business. Follow that with a section that describes what products and services your company will offer. Then, write a marketing section where you detail how you're going to inform people about your business. You'll also want to include a section on your business model and how it will operate. Finally, conclude your business plan by letting investors know what you need from them. For help with doing research for your business plan, read the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No
- Send fan mail to authors
Reader Success Stories
Shahnawaz Ali Khan
Nov 12, 2017
Did this article help you?
May 1, 2017
Jul 31, 2016
Feb 3, 2018
May 20, 2018
- Do Not Sell or Share My Info
- Not Selling Info
Don’t miss out! Sign up for
Upmetrics AI Assistant: Simplifying Business Planning through AI-Powered Insights. Learn How
Financial forecasting, ai assistance, see how upmetrics works →, strategic planning, entrepreneurs & small business, accelerators & incubators, business consultants & advisors, educators & business schools, students & scholars.
- Sample Plans
Business Plan Course
Strategic canvas templates, e-books, guides & more.
- WHY UPMETRICS?
Customers Success Stories
400+ business plan examples.
Need assistance creating a business plan? Discover Upmetrics’ 400+ free industry-specific real-life business plan examples to help you write your business plan. Upmetrics is a modern and intuitive business plan software that streamlines business planning with its free templates and AI-powered features. So, what are you waiting for? Explore these SBA-approved business plan examples and perfect your plan in no time.
Find your sample business plan
IT, Staffing & Customer Service (15)
Construction, Architecture & Engineering (17)
Food, Beverage & Restaurant (55)
Real Estate & Rentals (16)
Mobile Apps & Software (6)
Education & Training (13)
Beauty Salon & Fitness (18)
Medical & Health Care (36)
Retail, Consumers & E-commerce (76)
Entertainment & Media (38)
Transportation, Logistics & Travel (25)
Agriculture, Farm & Food Production (18)
Nonprofit & Community (8)
Manufacturing & Wholesale (33)
Clothing & Fashion (11)
Children & Pets (15)
Fine Art & Crafts (4)
Cleaning, Maintenance & Repair (21)
Hotel & Lodging (9)
Finance & Investing (13)
Consulting, Advertising & Marketing (20)
Accounting, Insurance & Compliance (5)
Didn't find what you are looking for.
Writing a business plan from scratch seems like an uphill climb? We get that, but hold tight-you’re not alone. Even business plan writers often feel the same way while writing from scratch. That’s where a little content reference or inspiration can help-just like these business plan examples .
Reading such real-life sample business plans can be incredibly helpful while drafting your very first business plan with zero clue about business plan writing.
As you read and explore these industry-specific examples, you learn more about what you should and should not include in your business plan, ensuring sustainable and long-term growth.
So, let’s explore these 400+ business plan examples to help you quickly write a business plan-hassle-free.
8 Business Plan Examples: Explained section by section
- Executive Summary : A high-level overview of your business plan.
- Company Overview : An in-depth and detailed description of your small business, its fundamental elements, and future goals.
- Market Analysis : A detailed description of your industry with the target market, competitors, and growth potential.
- Products and Services : Description of the products or services you intend to exchange for money.
- Sales and Marketing Strategies : Promotional strategies you will use to attract and retain customers.
- Operations Plan : Business processes and procedures that ensure seamless business operations.
- Management Team : Introduction to your founders, key management, and their compensation plan.
- Financial Plan : A breakdown of your financial projections and financing needs.
This was about the outline. Now let’s break down and understand how to write each section, step by step, with real-life examples.
1. Executive Summary
- Business concept
- Company’s mission
- Company History
- Financial Projections
East Asian Bistro will be a quick casual dining concept intended to appeal first and foremost to the millennial generation (15-35) and the generations following it. East Asian Bistro will interest Millennials since the food is clean, healthy, economical, and portable.
They’ll be able to get in touch with the restaurant with the identical technology platforms they have learned to use in virtually any part of their lives. East Asian Bistro will appeal to older generations, too but make no mistake; this idea is all about competing and the top in a market that’s changing extremely fast.
Though a Smaller portion of the general market than the fast food and casual dining sections, fast-casual concepts are Exploding on the scene and gaining popularity every year. According to Techno Inc. the market research company, the quick-casual segment increased sales by 12 Percent in 2014 and unit count by almost 9 percent.
John Doe, the founder and visionary behind the East Asian Bistro notion, has spent his whole career serving excellent meals to hungry customers. He possessed 6 restaurants in San Jose before going into the Phoenix region and producing the East Asian Bistro notion.
Financial Projections & Funding
East Asian Bistro plans to start 4 company-owned restaurants. The first restaurant is Of this sum, $400,000 will be supplied in the shape of equity, with the remainder, $400,000, coming out of a term loan given by a commercial lender.
East Asian Bistro plans to raise $2,000,000 in equity funding. The restaurant Will divide this funding evenly between both business shops. It’s considered that the second, third, and fourth-largest shops will use duration centers from a commercial lender to complete the financing of those shops too. Please be aware that the financial details of the document pertain only to the very first shop.
Once proof of concept has been attained with These shops, East Asian Bistro will proceed to a master business plan with growth programs for other Nevada locations and Then move to cities in other Sunbelt states.
Read more: A guide to writing an executive summary for your business plan
2. Company Overview
As the name suggests, the Company Overview section of your plan provides an overview of your small business, including your business concept, objectives, future goals, and what customers your business serves.
Since you will provide a brief company description in the executive summary, this section will expand on it—providing an in-depth understanding of your business.
Remember, this section is a platform for introducing and positioning your business as an ideal solution for your target market to your reader. So, make sure it’s short and succinct but impactful enough to help them understand what it does, who your potential customers are, and how you can make a difference.
Here are a few key components your business overview must include:
- Mission Statement
- Business Objectives
- Business History
Here’s an example of a business overview section written for a fictional restaurant brand, East Asian Bistro:
- Maintain tight control of Operations, Costs, and cash flow through Meticulous Management and Automatic computer control.
- Construct the brand by creating remarkable and memorable guest experiences.
- Build a client base of “regulars” that Won’t let a week go by without a Minimum of One trip to East Asian Bistro.
- Employ a client loyalty program that Will allow East Asian Bistro to advertise directly to its target customers.
Read more: Creating a compelling Company Overview for your business plan
3. Market Analysis
Market Analysis is a study of your external business environment, providing a complete overview of your industry and its dynamics. This section provides valuable insights into the market, like what’s working.
When smartly researched, utilized, and written, this section can help you discover and identify untapped areas in the market and strategize to stand out from your competitors.
Remember, this section helps your readers and potential investors understand your target market, market size, and growth potential, so make sure you play your cards right.
Here are a few key components your market analysis section must include:
- Market Size and Growth Potential
- Competitive Analysis
- Market or Industry Trends
- Regulatory Environment
Unlike other sections of your business plan , Market Analysis requires deep research and analytical work. However, using an industry-specific example business plan can save hours of research work.
Consider conducting market research, TAM, SAM, and SOM analysis , and SWOT analysis to get insights for this section.
Here’s an example of a market analysis section written using one of Upmetrics’ sample business plans:
- Restaurant-industry job growth has outpaced the national economy for 12 consecutive years, from 2001 through 2012
- 75 % of adults said they are now trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago.
- 71% of adults said they are likelier to visit a restaurant that offers locally produced food items.
- 68% of adults said purchasing meals from restaurants, take-out, and home delivery makes it easier for families with children to manage their day-to-day lives.
- Really likes the delivery option
- Prefers “honest” food
- Want affordable food
- Environmentally aware
- Like order & pay with a phone
- Embrace speed & convenience
- Appreciates the ability to customize
- Loves ethnic foods
Source : census.gov
Read more: How to do a market analysis for your business plan
4. Products And Services
The products and services section is where you will mention and elaborate on your product or service range, description, pricing strategies, and more.
Since your business success solely depends on your products or services, your entire plan revolves around this particular section.
This section can be a crucial component of your plan while searching for an investor or partner, as a well-articulated products and services section can help you persuade them.
Here are a few key elements your products and services section must include:
- Product Description
- Product Comparison
- Pricing Strategy
- Order Management
- Quality Measures
Here’s an example of a “products and services” section written using Upmetrics’ professional business plan example:
Product and Services
Sample menu, menu items:.
The East Asian Bistro marketing manager will purchase food products for meal preparation at local grocery wholesalers, either Costco or United Grocers, using a business account. We will have high-quality Asian staff to prepare the food for our guests. These students will receive a stipend for their work and school credit. The F&B manager will supervise food preparation.
Read more: Writing a compelling product and service description in a Business Plan
5. Sales And Marketing Strategies
A business’s sales and marketing strategies determine how your product is displayed and reaches your target audience.
A well-designed sales and marketing plan can help you streamline your marketing efforts and create impactful and effective marketing campaigns while keeping track of the marketing budget and maximizing return on investment.
In short, this section will discuss how you’ll acquire new customers using your sales and marketing strategy. You might consider including the following information in your sales and marketing plan:
- Your target audience and brand positioning
- Your business’ UVP
- Marketing channels and distribution tactics you plan to use
- Sales goals and performance measurement
- Your customer retention strategies
- Your sales and marketing goals
Here’s an example of a sales and marketing section written using our traditional business plan template:
Sales and Marketing Strategies
Market positioning & brand.
- East Asian Bistro is a brand that stands for the convergence of healthy, affordable and
- Serve delicious food while utilizing technology to connect with its customers;
- The bistro provides great-tasting food that can be delivered;
- Our food is fast and affordable;
- East Asian Bistro focuses on customer satisfaction.
- An innovative, easily navigable website that will attract customers;
- Latest Social Media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, will begin before opening;
- Ongoing gorilla marketing to the entire neighborhood the week after opening;
- Implementing an online marketing strategy that exemplifies truth, relevance, humanity, passion, originality, and elements of surprise;
- Community outreach through local service organizations, schools, local government, civic organizations, etc.;
- Create customer evangelists who will promote East Asian Bistro through word of mouth.
- Hosting events and collaborating with local businesses and tour companies.
- Rewarding repeat customers through loyalty programs.
- Creating and promoting seasonal menus and offers to attract millennials.
- Offering catering services and private dining options to guests.
- Implementing advanced technologies to gain insights into popular menu items and reduce.
6. Operations Plan
The operations plan section outlines the daily business processes and activities centered on achieving business goals and objectives described in the previous sections of your plan.
A detail-oriented logistics and operations plan helps you and your team define your responsibilities, daily tasks, and short-term goals you need to achieve, keeping track of your long-term objective.
Remember, your logistics and operations plan won’t be static but a living document. You may adjust and update it as time goes on.
Here are a few key elements your operations plan section must include:
- Staffing and training
- Tools and equipment
- Inventory management
- Supply chain management
- Operational process
Here’s an example of a logistics and operations plan section written using Upmetrics’ business plan format:
Staffing and training, inventory controls, purchasing cost controls, customer service, technology & software.
Read more: How to create a business operations plan
7. Management Team
Your management team plays a crucial role in the ultimate success of your business. And this section introduces your owners and management team, along with their qualifications, industry experience, roles and responsibilities, and compensation plan.
A strong management team section can be critical to weigh authority and help investors be confident about your business idea and vision.
Make sure to include the educational background, accomplishments, work experience, and area of expertise for each individual, part of your management.
You might consider including the following information in the management team section:
- Business owner/founders
- Key management
- Organization structure
- Compensation plan
Here’s an example of a management team section written using one of Upmetrics’ business plan templates.
East Asian Bistro is the vision of a successful businessman who brings several essential skills and experiences to the Company, including:
- A passion for food and delighting customers;
- Well-balanced complementary skills;
- Flexibility and ability to adapt to new and different circumstances;
- Understanding of the importance of consistent and high-quality customer service.
John Doe Founder & CEO – [email protected]
Mr John was born and raised in Arizona. After graduating from Arizona State University, he joined his family restaurant business and learned all aspects of the company, from taking care of customers to managing a busy kitchen. After selling the five Inchon restaurants, Mr John joined his wife’s family, who had immigrated to metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. After studying several restaurant concepts, John created East Asian Bistro. He is driven by how the fast-casual idea seems to fit how Americans eat.
Jane Doe Store Manager – [email protected]
Reporting to Mr John, the Store Manager will be responsible for the entire operation. In addition to enforcing all policies of the Restaurant as outlined, the Store Manager will oversee daily operations concentrating primarily on ensuring standards are adhered to during all times of the day. She will be responsible for hiring, training, disciplining and terminating service and bar staff, with assistance as needed from the founder.
The Company aims to create a successful and rewarding work environment. Mr Doe’ firmly believes that employee satisfaction is pivotal to customer satisfaction. The management team will consist of one General Store Manager and an Assistant Manager. They will be paid $50,000 and $35,000 respectively.
The remaining employees will be hourly. For the first year of operation, no employee benefits will be offered. Down the road, this will be reviewed for ownership desires to provide a benefits program allowing East Asian Bistro to be competitive in the workplace and take care of employees. East Asian Bistro will be staffed as follows:
Read more: A guide to writing a management team section of a business plan
8. Financial Plan
It’s no secret that the financial plan is the most crucial yet nerve-wracking aspect of business planning. In fact, it’s one of the deciding factors when it comes to convincing potential investors and banks to invest or lend money.
This section of your plan details your business’s financial information and how it will reach its financial goals. The information may include balance sheet, income, and cash flow statements.
Here are a few key components and financial statements you must include or provide while creating a financial plan:
- Profit and loss statements
- Operating costs
- Income statement
- Cash flow statement
- Balance sheet
- Break-even point
- Financing needs
Here’s an example of a financial plan section created using Upmetrics’ financial forecasting tool .
The following table highlights how the startup capital will be utilized:ﾠ
The financial forecast assumes that East Asian Bistro will process an average of 250 customer transactions daily, seven days a week. It further believes that the average food purchase will be $7.00, and the average beverage purchase will be $4.50. Lastly, prices are forecast to grow by 3% per year, whereas the number of transactions is indicated to increase by 5% per year.
Cost of Goods Sold
The forecast assumes that food costs will run at 27% of the food sales price and beverage costs will be 20% of the beverage cost. A 1% factor has been forecast for comps and promotions. COGS is forecast to increase by 3% per year.
Operating Expense Assumptions
The operating expenses that appear in the following income statement forecast are assumed to grow by 3% per year, except for credit card fees, which are based on gross revenue.
Balance Sheet Assumptions
It is assumed that no accounts are receivable as products are paid for at the time of purchase. Charges payable are assumed to be paid for in the month in which they are incurred or in the month following the month they are incurred, depending upon timing and supplier terms. Furniture, fixtures, and equipment are assumed to be depreciated over 72 months. Capitalized startup expenses are amortized over 60 months.
Bank Loan Assumptions
A $300,000 commercial bank loan is assumed to fully amortize over 72 months at an interest rate of 4.00%
Projected Balance Sheet
Following is the projected balance sheet for East Asian Bistro:
Projected Profit and Loss Sheet
Projected Cash flow statement
Break Even Point
Read more: Creating a compelling financial plan for your startup
While an Appendix isn’t a required element of your business plan, it can be pretty helpful in adding legal notes, charts, tables, or any other critical information to support your business document.
It generally includes financial statements, information, and documents that didn’t naturally fit into your plan but can be considered critical enough to add.
In addition, it helps readers navigate through the entire business plan and easily find specific information or documents.
Start Planning Now
Read more: How to write an Appendix for your business plan
Since we are finished discussing the sections of a business, let’s learn more about how you can put an example business plan to use while writing your own.
How to use an Example of a Business Plan to write your own?
Having real-life and industry-specific business plan examples by your side can be incredibly resourceful to help you write a business plan from scratch.
A well-planned structure helps you outline your plan, while content inspiration helps you set the tone for your business document.
Let’s dive deep and understand how to use these examples effectively to write your business plan.
1. Understanding the Structure
Traditional business plans generally follow a similar structure.
It starts with an executive summary followed by a company description, market analysis, product and services, sales and marketing strategies, operational plan, management team, financial plan, and appendix.
Using an example business plan is the best way to understand the structure and outline your plan.
2. Gaining Inspiration
Reading industry-specific business plan examples can help you gain inspiration for your plan. You can gain insights on presenting your business idea, vision, mission, and values and persuade investors to invest in your idea.
3. Learning Industry-Specific Language
There’s no universal template for business planning that fits all. An industry-specific template can help you learn and understand the business language for your industry and the best way to communicate your message to your investors.
4. Identifying Key Elements
Reading business plan examples of similar businesses can help you identify the key elements and information to include in your plan. You can keep note of these and ensure everything necessary for investors to consider is present in your final draft.
5. Crafting Financial Projections
A financial plan is a critical component of your business plan, and a good business plan example can help you better understand how they project their financials which can be incredibly helpful while forecasting yours.
6. Refining Your Executive Summary
As mentioned earlier, your executive summary is a key factor influencing potential investors and lenders to invest or lend you money. Analyzing free business plan templates can help you optimize your executive summary to make it more brief, persuasive, and attention-grabbing.
7. Realizing What Works and What Doesn’t
Analyzing industry-specific and real-life examples can help you determine what works best and what doesn’t within your industry. Understanding these factors can help you avoid many significant pitfalls.
While business plan examples can be incredibly helpful in writing a plan from scratch, ensure your plan is customized for your business and sends out a unique message. Your business plan must reflect its unique idea, vision, and target market.
Download business plan examples for:
- Business Plan Template for Startups
- Business Plan Template for Small Business
- Business Plan Examples for Non-Profit
- Business Plan Templates for Google Docs
- Business Plan Examples for Students
Download a free sample business plan template
Ready to kick-start your business plan writing process? Not sure where to start? Here you go, download our free sample business plan , import data directly into the editor, and start planning.
This intuitive, modern, and investment-ready template is designed specifically for startups and small businesses. In fact, this format has helped 110K+ entrepreneurs create business plans to secure funding, business grants, and loans. It includes a business planning course and step-by-step instructions to write each section.
→ Download Now: A Free Sample Business Plan Template
Business Plan Types: Choose the suitable template
Well, there are a few types of business plans. Though they cover similar categories, they all have different formats intended for different purposes or industries.
Here are a few common business plan types to help you choose the most suitable one for your business:
1. One-page business plan
One page business plan can be considered a one-page version of a standard business plan. It’s mainly used to present a quick overview of small businesses to your vendors, employees, investors, or stakeholders.
Considering its shorter length, creating a one page business plan can be a lot easier and less time-consuming compared to a standard business plan using a business plan software like Upmetrics.
2. Lean business plan
A lean business plan is a summarized version of a standard business plan that is longer than a one-page one. It’s mainly used to track finances and emphasize achieving short-term milestones.
This business plan type is best suitable if you are unsure about the business planning process. Morever, drafting a lean business plan is also a lot easier and faster than a standard one.
3. Traditional business plan
A traditional business plan is the standard plan entrepreneurs have been using for years to outline marketing strategies, project financials, and draw investors. A traditional business plan can be a few dozen to a hundred-page long, depending on its purpose and your business specifications.
A traditional plan is a must-have business document for business owners aiming to achieve long-term business success.
4. Internal business plan
As the name suggests, an internal business plan is a document designed for internal management and team members to ensure everyone’s on the same page. The primary focus of these plans is to set primary goals and outline processes aiming to achieve them—ultimately streamlining business operations.
Start Writing Your Business Plan
There’s no denying—creating a business plan that draws investors in needs some serious work; it’s no stroll in the park. But you must take the first step to stay ahead in the cut-throat competition; there is no way around it.
So, what are you waiting for? Understand your business and the value it offers to its customers, find a suitable template from our library, and start planning.
Simplifying Business Planning through AI-Powered Insights.
Founder, CEO & Lead Scientist at Nanolyse Technologies
After trying Upmetrics, I wish to highly recommend this app to anyone who needs to write a business plan flexibly and to a high standard.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can i write my own business plan.
Follow this step-by-step process to write your business plan on your own.
- Choose a format that best suits your business requirements
- Create a business plan outline
- Create a company description section
- Conduct market research
- Conduct a competitive analysis
- Describe your product and services
- Outline sales and marketing strategies
- Create a logistics and operations plan
- Introduce management team
- Project financials
- Summarize your plan with an executive summary
- Complete your plan with an appendix
Where can I find business plan examples?
Upmetrics is an incredible business planning solution providing 400+ business plan samples and examples. You can easily create a good business plan using these industry-specific templates.
What is a business plan template?
A business plan template is a pre-formatted business plan, usually written for a fictional company. These industry-specific templates can help entrepreneurs understand a business plan’s structure and other key components. These templates are used mainly by entrepreneurs planning to launch a new startup or expand an existing business.
What are the 3Cs of a business plan?
Concept, contents, and cashflow are the 3Cs of a business plan that can be defined as follows:
- Concept: Your concept should explain the purpose of your business, summarizing what you plan to accomplish with this very business.
- Contents: Your content should reflect your concept, product and services, target market, and competition.
- Cashflow: Your cashflow section must detail your cash in-and-out flows, including capital investment, operations costs, and revenue projections.
Why Is It Beneficial to Use a Sample Business Plan as a Guide?
Let’s face it—writing a 40-50 page business plan from scratch can be too intimidating; you may soon give up and won’t even finish it.
Instead, using a sample business plan as a guide can help you understand its structure, gain inspiration and ideas for content, plan marketing strategies, and project financials. In short, using business template examples is the best way to write a business plan.
When should you not follow a business plan example?
We’ve always been saying this, using an example of a business plan is the best way to write one. However, it’s also critical to understand when not to follow a template. Here’s when:
- The format does not align with your business model or industry.
- Include outdated templates and information.
- Offer poorly written content.
- Include misleading and poorly done financials.
- There’s a lack of expertise.
These are a few red flags in a template you must consider looking at while choosing one.
Are these examples suited for business plan beginners?
Absolutely. In fact, these examples are specially designed, keeping common issues faced by beginners while drafting a plan in mind to serve them best. So, if you are a new or an established business with no planning experience, you got to check out these templates.
Looking for a faster way to finish your business plan?
No Risk – Cancel at Any Time – 15 Day Money Back Guarantee
We use essential cookies to make Venngage work. By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Cookies and similar technologies collect certain information about how you’re using our website. Some of them are essential, and without them you wouldn’t be able to use Venngage. But others are optional, and you get to choose whether we use them or not.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are always on, as they’re essential for making Venngage work, and making it safe. Without these cookies, services you’ve asked for can’t be provided.
Show cookie providers
- Google Login
These cookies help us provide enhanced functionality and personalisation, and remember your settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers.
These cookies help us analyze how many people are using Venngage, where they come from and how they're using it. If you opt out of these cookies, we can’t get feedback to make Venngage better for you and all our users.
- Google Analytics
These cookies are set by our advertising partners to track your activity and show you relevant Venngage ads on other sites as you browse the internet.
- Google Tag Manager
- Graphic Design
- Graphs and Charts
- Data Visualization
- Human Resources
- Training and Development
- Beginner Guides
How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates]
By Letícia Fonseca , Aug 11, 2023
When venturing into crafting a business plan, the initial hurdle often lies in taking that first step.
So, how can you evade those prolonged hours of staring at a blank page? Initiate your journey with the aid of a business plan outline.
As with any endeavor, an outline serves as the beacon of clarity, illuminating the path to confront even the most formidable tasks. This holds particularly true when composing pivotal documents vital to your triumph, much like a business plan.
Nonetheless, I understand the enormity of a business plan’s scope, which might make the task of outlining it seem daunting. This is precisely why I’ve compiled all the requisite information to facilitate the creation of a business plan outline. No need to break a sweat!
And if you’re seeking further assistance, a business plan maker and readily available business plan templates can offer valuable support in shaping your comprehensive plan.
Read on for answers to all your business plan outline questions or jump ahead for some handy templates.
Click to jump ahead:
What is a business plan outline (and why do you need one), what format should you choose for your business plan outline, what are the key components of a business plan outline.
- Business plan template examples
- Writing tips to ace your outline
A business plan outline is the backbone of your business plan. It contains all the most important information you’ll want to expand on in your full-length plan.
Think of it this way: your outline is a frame for your plan. It provides a high-level idea of what the final plan should look like, what it will include and how all the information will be organized.
Why would you do this extra step? Beyond saving you from blank page syndrome, an outline ensures you don’t leave any essential information out of your plan — you can see all the most important points at a glance and quickly identify any content gaps.
It also serves as a writing guide. Once you know all the sections you want in your plan, you just need to expand on them. Suddenly, you’re “filling in the blanks” as opposed to writing a plan from scratch!
Incidentally, using a business plan template like this one gives you a running head start, too:
Perhaps most importantly, a business plan outline keeps you focused on the essential parts of your document. (Not to mention what matters most to stakeholders and investors.) With an outline, you’ll spend less time worrying about structure or organization and more time perfecting the actual content of your document.
If you’re looking for more general advice, you can read about how to create a business plan here . But if you’re working on outlining your plan, stick with me.
Return to Table of Contents
Most business plans fit into one of two formats.
The format you choose largely depends on three factors: (1) the stage of your business, (2) if you’re presenting the plan to investors and (3) what you want to achieve with your business plan.
Let’s have a closer look at these two formats and why you might choose one over the other.
Traditional business plans are typically long, detailed documents. In many cases, they take up to 50-60 pages, but it’s not uncommon to see plans spanning 100+ pages.
Traditional plans are long because they cover every aspect of your business. They leave nothing out. You’ll find a traditional business plan template with sections like executive summary, company description, target market, market analysis, marketing plan, financial plan, and more. Basically: the more information the merrier.
This business plan template isn’t of a traditional format, but you could expand it into one by duplicating pages:
Due to their high level of detail, traditional formats are the best way to sell your business. They show you’re reliable and have a clear vision for your business’s future.
If you’re planning on presenting your plan to investors and stakeholders, you’ll want to go with a traditional plan format. The more information you include, the fewer doubts and questions you’ll get when you present your plan, so don’t hold back.
Traditional business plans require more detailed outlines before drafting since there’s a lot of information to cover. You’ll want to list all the sections and include bullet points describing what each section should cover.
It’s also a good idea to include all external resources and visuals in your outline, so you don’t have to gather them later.
Lean business plan formats are high level and quick to write. They’re often only one or two pages. Similar to a business plan infographic , they’re scannable and quick to digest, like this template:
This format is often referred to as a “startup” format due to (you guessed it!) many startups using it.
Lean business plans require less detailed outlines. You can include high-level sections and a few lines in each section covering the basics. Since the final plan will only be a page or two, you don’t need to over prepare. Nor will you need a ton of external resources.
Lean plans don’t answer all the questions investors and stakeholders may ask, so if you go this route, make sure it’s the right choice for your business . Companies not yet ready to present to investors will typically use a lean/startup business plan format to get their rough plan on paper and share it internally with their management team.
Here’s another example of a lean business plan format in the form of a financial plan:
Your business plan outline should include all the following sections. The level of detail you choose to go into will depend on your intentions for your plan (sharing with stakeholders vs. internal use), but you’ll want every section to be clear and to the point.
1. Executive summary
The executive summary gives a high-level description of your company, product or service. This section should include a mission statement, your company description, your business’s primary goal, and the problem it aims to solve. You’ll want to state how your business can solve the problem and briefly explain what makes you stand out (your competitive advantage).
Having an executive summary is essential to selling your business to stakeholders , so it should be as clear and concise as possible. Summarize your business in a few sentences in a way that will hook the reader (or audience) and get them invested in what you have to say next. In other words, this is your elevator pitch.
2. Product and services description
This is where you should go into more detail about your product or service. Your product is the heart of your business, so it’s essential this section is easy to grasp. After all, if people don’t know what you’re selling, you’ll have a hard time keeping them engaged!
Expand on your description in the executive summary, going into detail about the problem your customers face and how your product/service will solve it. If you have various products or services, go through all of them in equal detail.
3. Target market and/or Market analysis
A market analysis is crucial for placing your business in a larger context and showing investors you know your industry. This section should include market research on your prospective customer demographic including location, age range, goals and motivations.
You can even include detailed customer personas as a visual aid — these are especially useful if you have several target demographics. You want to showcase your knowledge of your customer, who exactly you’re selling to and how you can fulfill their needs.
Be sure to include information on the overall target market for your product, including direct and indirect competitors and how your industry is performing. If your competitors have strengths you want to mimic or weaknesses you want to exploit, this is the place to record that information.
4. Organization and management
You can think of this as a “meet the team” section — this is where you should go into depth on your business’s structure from management to legal and HR. If there are people bringing unique skills or experience to the table (I’m sure there are!), you should highlight them in this section.
The goal here is to showcase why your team is the best to run your business. Investors want to know you’re unified, organized and reliable. This is also a potential opportunity to bring more humanity to your business plan and showcase the faces behind the ideas and product.
5. Marketing and sales
Now that you’ve introduced your product and team, you need to explain how you’re going to sell it. Give a detailed explanation of your sales and marketing strategy, including pricing, timelines for launching your product and advertising.
This is a major section of your plan and can even live as a separate document for your marketing and sales teams. Here are some marketing plan templates to help you get started .
Make sure you have research or analysis to back up your decisions — if you want to do paid ads on LinkedIn to advertise your product, include a brief explanation as to why that is the best channel for your business.
6. Financial projections and funding request
The end of your plan is where you’ll look to the future and how you think your business will perform financially. Your financial plan should include results from your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow projections.
State your funding requirements and what you need to realize the business. Be extremely clear about how you plan to use the funding and when you expect investors will see returns.
If you aren’t presenting to potential investors, you can skip this part, but it’s something to keep in mind should you seek funding in the future. Covering financial projections and the previous five components is essential at the stage of business formation to ensure everything goes smoothly moving forward.
Any extra visual aids, receipts, paperwork or charts will live here. Anything that may be relevant to your plan should be included as reference e.g. your cash flow statement (or other financial statements). You can format your appendix in whatever way you think is best — as long as it’s easy for readers to find what they’re looking for, you’ve done your job!
Typically, the best way to start your outline is to list all these high-level sections. Then, you can add bullet points outlining what will go in each section and the resources you’ll need to write them. This should give you a solid starting point for your full-length plan.
Business plan outline templates
Looking for a shortcut? Our business plan templates are basically outlines in a box!
While your outline likely won’t go into as much detail, these templates are great examples of how to organize your sections.
Traditional format templates
A strong template can turn your long, dense business plan into an engaging, easy-to-read document. There are lots to choose from, but here are just a few ideas to inspire you…
You can duplicate pages and use these styles for a traditional outline, or start with a lean outline as you build your business plan out over time:
Lean format templates
For lean format outlines, a simpler ‘ mind map ’ style is a good bet. With this style, you can get ideas down fast and quickly turn them into one or two-page plans. Plus, because they’re shorter, they’re easy to share with your team.
Writing tips to ace your business plan outline
Business plans are complex documents, so if you’re still not sure how to write your outline, don’t worry! Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when drafting your business plan outline:
- Ask yourself why you’re writing an outline. Having a clear goal for your outline can help keep you on track as you write. Everything you include in your plan should contribute to your goal. If it doesn’t, it probably doesn’t need to be in there.
- Keep it clear and concise. Whether you’re writing a traditional or lean format business plan, your outline should be easy to understand. Choose your words wisely and avoid unnecessary preambles or padding language. The faster you get to the point, the easier your plan will be to read.
- Add visual aids. No one likes reading huge walls of text! Make room in your outline for visuals, data and charts. This keeps your audience engaged and helps those who are more visual learners. Psst, infographics are great for this.
- Make it collaborative. Have someone (or several someones) look it over before finalizing your outline. If you have an established marketing / sales / finance team, have them look it over too. Getting feedback at the outline stage can help you avoid rewrites and wasted time down the line.
If this is your first time writing a business plan outline, don’t be too hard on yourself. You might not get it 100% right on the first try, but with these tips and the key components listed above, you’ll have a strong foundation. Remember, done is better than perfect.
Create a winning business plan by starting with a detailed, actionable outline
The best way to learn is by doing. So go ahead, get started on your business plan outline. As you develop your plan, you’ll no doubt learn more about your business and what’s important for success along the way.
A clean, compelling template is a great way to get a head start on your outline. After all, the sections are already separated and defined for you!
Explore Venngage’s business plan templates for one that suits your needs. Many are free to use and there are premium templates available for a small monthly fee. Happy outlining!
- SUGGESTED TOPICS
- The Magazine
- Managing Yourself
- Managing Teams
- Work-life Balance
- The Big Idea
- Data & Visuals
- Reading Lists
- Case Selections
- HBR Learning
- Topic Feeds
- Account Settings
- Email Preferences
- Entrepreneurial business strategy
- Entrepreneurial exit strategy
- Entrepreneurial finance
- Entrepreneurial financing
How to Write a Winning Business Plan
- Stanley R. Rich
- David E. Gumpert
- From the May 1985 Issue
Don't Waste Your Time on Networking Events
- Derek Coburn
- September 26, 2016
Experiment to Learn About Your Market
- Robyn Bolton
- June 25, 2015
Adapt to the Market, Chinese Version
- Scott D. Anthony
- March 07, 2011
Fix Their Problem, Win the Deal
- Bill Taylor
- June 22, 2015
Create Your Rules of the Road
- April 13, 2020
How to Write a Great Business Plan
- William A. Sahlman
- From the July–August 1997 Issue
Planning for Success, Chinese Version
- Prashant Pundrik
How to Write a Winning Business Plan (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition)
- January 01, 2001
Deviating from the Business Plan, Chinese Version
- Steven S. Rogers
- Gardiner Morse
- From the November 2005 Issue
Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed, Chinese Version
- Francis J Greene
- Christian Hopp
- July 14, 2017
Keeping Your Business Plan Flexible
- September 02, 2010
Build a Flexible Business Plan, Portuguese Version
- Anthony K. Tjan
- February 28, 2012
Making Your Ideas Credible, Chinese Version
Starting up in high gear: an interview with venture capitalist vinod khosla.
- Vinod Khosla
- David Champion
- Nicholas G. Carr
- From the July–August 2000 Issue
When Should Entrepreneurs Write Their Business Plans?
- Francis J. Greene
- May 18, 2018
When It's Time to Pivot, What's Your Story?
- Rory McDonald
- Robert Bremner
- From the September–October 2020 Issue
Value Captor's Process: Getting the Most Out of Your New Business Ventures
- Rita Gunther McGrath
- Thomas Keil
- From the May 2007 Issue
Introduction to Business Plan Development, Portuguese Version
- Harvard Business Publishing
- March 12, 2014
Monique Leroux: Leading Change at Desjardins
- Rosabeth Moss Kanter
- Ai-Ling Jamila Malone
- February 19, 2013
A Roadmap for Entrepreneurs
- June 03, 2013
Hong Kong Broadband Network: An Integrated Approach to Talent Management, Chinese Version
- Shlomo Ben-Hur
- November 29, 2016
Villeroy & Boch: Tradition, Innovation and 270 Years of a Franco-German Alliance
- Denise H. Kenyon-Rouvinez
- Philip Whiteley
- January 21, 2020
- Regina E. Herzlinger
- Beatriz Munoz-Seca
- August 24, 2010
Flying the Coop: TeleSign's Incubator Exit
- Thomas Knapp
- Jacqueline Orr
- May 20, 2018
Entrepreneurship Reading: Leading High-Growth Ventures
- Lynda M. Applegate
- June 12, 2015
Business Plan Development: Harvard ManageMentor
- October 01, 2017
Business Plan Development: Business Concept Submission Form (HANDOUT)
- Gregory B Fairchild
- Jacqueline Temkin
- Buzz Becker
- September 11, 2022
Entrepreneurship Reading: Attracting Talent and Building Ecosystems
- Carole Carlson
- September 01, 2014
Universal Circuits, Inc., Spanish Version
- Thomas R. Piper
- August 15, 1985
Blue Haven Initiative: The PEGAfrica Investment
- Vikram Gandhi
- Caitlin Lindsay Reimers Brumme
- Amram Migdal
- February 01, 2018
Paddle8: Painting a New Picture of the Art Market
- Mukti Khaire
- October 06, 2011
Excel(lence) with Interest
- Russell Walker
- April 13, 2018
Kapila Krishi Udyog Limited
- Kunwar Milind Singh
- Sukhpal Singh
- May 30, 2021
Quincy Apparel (B), Japanese Version
- Thomas R. Eisenmann
- Lisa Mazzanti
- February 11, 2015
- Jeff Moretz
- Catherine Giapponi
- Christopher Huntley
- March 31, 2022
Harvard ManageMentor v11: Business Plan Development Module, Polish Version
Business plan development: frameworks and formulas (handout).
- David E. Bell
- Natalie Kindred
- December 05, 2017
Air, Food, and Water: Your Revenue Model--Developing a Revenue Model that Paying Customers Will Support
- John Mullins
- Randy Komisar
- September 08, 2009
Harvard ManageMentor: Business Plan Development, PowerPoint
- July 15, 2021
Villeroy & Boch: Tradition, Innovation and 270 Years of a Franco-German Alliance, Teaching Note
- January 23, 2020
Cookies on GOV.UK
We use some essential cookies to make this website work.
We’d like to set additional cookies to understand how you use GOV.UK, remember your settings and improve government services.
You have accepted additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.
You have rejected additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.
- Business and self-employed
- Business finance and support
Write a business plan
Download free business plan templates and find help and advice on how to write your business plan.
Business plan templates
Download a free business plan template on The Prince’s Trust website.
You can also download a free cash flow forecast template or a business plan template on the Start Up Loans website to help you manage your finances.
Business plan examples
Read example business plans on the Bplans website.
How to write a business plan
Get detailed information about how to write a business plan on the Start Up Donut website.
Why you need a business plan
A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.
A business plan helps you to:
- clarify your business idea
- spot potential problems
- set out your goals
- measure your progress
You’ll need a business plan if you want to secure investment or a loan from a bank. Read about the finance options available for businesses on the Business Finance Guide website.
It can also help to convince customers, suppliers and potential employees to support you.
Is this page useful.
- Yes this page is useful
- No this page is not useful
Help us improve GOV.UK
Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. We’ll send you a link to a feedback form. It will take only 2 minutes to fill in. Don’t worry we won’t send you spam or share your email address with anyone.
An official website of the United States government
Here’s how you know
Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.
- Explore sell to government
- Ways you can sell to government
- How to access contract opportunities
- Conduct market research
- Register your business
- Certify as a small business
- Become a schedule holder
- Market your business
- Research active solicitations
- Respond to a solicitation
- What to expect during the award process
- Comply with contractual requirements
- Handle contract modifications
- Monitor past performance evaluations
- Explore real estate
- 3D-4D building information modeling
- Art in architecture | Fine arts
- Computer-aided design standards
- Design excellence
- Project management information system
- Spatial data management
- Facilities operations
- Smart buildings
- Tenant services
- Utility services
- Explore historic buildings
- Heritage tourism
- Historic preservation policy, tools and resources
- Historic building stewardship
- Videos, pictures, posters and more
- NEPA implementation
- Courthouse program
- Land ports of entry
- Prospectus library
- Regional buildings
- Renting property
- Visiting public buildings
- Real property disposal
- Reimbursable services (RWA)
- Rental policy and procedures
- Site selection and relocation
- For businesses seeking opportunities
- For federal customers
- For workers in federal buildings
- Workplace innovation
- Explore policy and regulations
- Acquisition management policy
- Aviation management policy
- Information technology policy
- Real property management policy
- Relocation management policy
- Travel management policy
- Vehicle management policy
- Federal acquisition regulations
- Federal management regulations
- Federal travel regulations
- GSA acquisition manual
- Managing the federal rulemaking process
- Explore small business
- Explore business models
- Research the federal market
- Forecast of contracting opportunities
- Events and contacts
- Explore travel
- Per diem rates
- Transportation (airfare rates, POV rates, etc.)
- State tax exemption
- Travel charge card
- Conferences and meetings
- E-gov travel service (ETS)
- Travel category schedule
- Federal travel regulation
- Travel policy
- Explore technology
- Cloud computing services
- Cybersecurity products and services
- Data center services
- Hardware products and services
- Professional IT services
- Software products and services
- Telecommunications and network services
- Work with small businesses
- Governmentwide acquisition contracts
- MAS information technology
- Software purchase agreements
- Digital strategy
- Emerging citizen technology
- Federal identity, credentials, and access management
- Mobile government
- Technology modernization fund
- Explore about us
- Annual reports
- Mission and strategic goals
- Role in presidential transitions
- Why work at GSA
- Who we are seeking
- Where our jobs are
- How to apply
- Hiring process
- Events and training
- Agency blog
- Congressional testimony
- GSA does that podcast
- News releases
- Leadership directory
- Staff directory
- Office of the administrator
- Federal Acquisition Service
- Public Buildings Service
- Staff offices
- Board of Contract Appeals
- Office of Inspector General
- Region 1 | New England
- Region 2 | Northeast and Caribbean
- Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic
- Region 4 | Southeast Sunbelt
- Region 5 | Great Lakes
- Region 6 | Heartland
- Region 7 | Greater Southwest
- Region 8 | Rocky Mountain
- Region 9 | Pacific Rim
- Region 10 | Northwest/Arctic
- Region 11 | National Capital Region
- Per Diem Lookup
Privately owned vehicle (POV) mileage reimbursement rates
GSA has adjusted all POV mileage reimbursement rates effective January 1, 2023.
Airplane nautical miles (NMs) should be converted into statute miles (SMs) or regular miles when submitting a voucher using the formula (1 NM equals 1.15077945 SMs).
For calculating the mileage difference between airports, please visit the U.S. Department of Transportation's Inter-Airport Distance website.
QUESTIONS: For all travel policy questions, email [email protected]
The shortcut to this page is gsa.gov/mileage.
Have travel policy questions? Use our ' Have a Question? ' site
PER DIEM LOOK-UP
1 choose a location.
Error, The Per Diem API is not responding. Please try again later.
No results could be found for the location you've entered.
Rates for Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. Territories and Possessions are set by the Department of Defense .
Rates for foreign countries are set by the State Department .
2 Choose a date
Rates are available between 10/1/2021 and 09/30/2024.
The End Date of your trip can not occur before the Start Date.
Traveler reimbursement is based on the location of the work activities and not the accommodations, unless lodging is not available at the work activity, then the agency may authorize the rate where lodging is obtained.
Unless otherwise specified, the per diem locality is defined as "all locations within, or entirely surrounded by, the corporate limits of the key city, including independent entities located within those boundaries."
Per diem localities with county definitions shall include "all locations within, or entirely surrounded by, the corporate limits of the key city as well as the boundaries of the listed counties, including independent entities located within the boundaries of the key city and the listed counties (unless otherwise listed separately)."
When a military installation or Government - related facility(whether or not specifically named) is located partially within more than one city or county boundary, the applicable per diem rate for the entire installation or facility is the higher of the rates which apply to the cities and / or counties, even though part(s) of such activities may be located outside the defined per diem locality.