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A Guide to Preparing an International Business Plan
By: FITT Team
An international business plan acts as a framework that identifies goals and objectives, specific target markets and clients, resources required and strategies to be developed in pursuit of international business opportunities. The plan allows for the monitoring of progress via metrics against which success and failure can be measured. A comprehensive international business plan will be comprised of a number of integrated strategies related to business functions, including communications, sales and marketing, finance and production.
What Is an International Business Plan?
An international business plan is a valuable management tool that describes who a business is, what it plans to achieve and how it plans to overcome risks and provide anticipated returns. It can be used for a wide variety of purposes, such as to:
- Set goals and objectives for the organization’s performance.
- Provide a basis for evaluating and controlling the organization’s performance.
- Communicate an organization’s message to managers and staff, outside directors, suppliers, lenders and potential investors.
- Help the planner identify the cash needs of the business.
- Provide benchmarks against which to compare the progress and performance of the business over time.
A comprehensive and detailed plan forces the planner to look at an organization’s operations and re-evaluate the assumptions on which the business was founded. In doing so, strengths and weaknesses can be identified.
Although highly dependent on the individual business case, on average it takes a three-year commitment to establish a successful presence in a foreign market. This process may require tremendous human, technical and financial resources during the developmental period.
The Planning Process
An international business plan is subject to repeated adjustment and revision to keep it current with the changing circumstances of the organization. The plan is a feedback mechanism through which new information is continually incorporated into the organization’s operations. Planning always precedes action. Therefore, planning must be thought of as a continuous cycle. The analytical tools presented here are not intended to be used just once. If they are to be useful, they should be used repeatedly as part of a process of improvement and incremental adjustment.
Plan Preparation Guidelines
These 7 guidelines will help in preparing a comprehensive international business plan:
- Clearly define the objectives for producing the plan : Who is going to read the plan, and what will they need to do? These objectives can help you decide how much emphasis to put on various sections.
- Allocate sufficient time and resources to thoroughly research the plan : A plan is only as good as the research that went into producing it.
- Show drafts of the plan to others : It can be very useful to obtain feedback from others, both inside and outside the business.
- Create an original plan that is done specifically for each business case : A common mistake entrepreneurs make is to borrow heavily from a sample plan and simply change the names and some of the numbers. There are two big problems with this approach. First , the emphasis placed on various sections of the plan must reflect what is important to the particular business in question. Second , a good plan should flow like a story, with the sections working together to demonstrate why the business will succeed. Plans that borrow too heavily from other plans tend to be disjointed, with some sections contradicting others and various key issues left unaddressed.
- Outline the key points in each section before the writing starts : These points must then be reviewed to ensure the sections are consistent with each other, there is little duplication and all key issues have been addressed.
- Ensure financial projections are believable : For many readers, the financial section is the most important part of the plan because it identifies the financing needs and shows the profit potential of the business. In addition, a good financial plan will give the reader confidence that the author really understands the business.
- Consider writing the executive summary as the last step in the process: It is usually easier to provide a concise overview after the detailed content has been created.
If you’re having trouble getting started with your business plan, try writing like it’s a series of tweets—one for every section of your business plan. To get your point across, 140 characters is all you need.
Forcing yourself to boil each section of your business plan down to one main point is an exercise in decision making and strategy all in itself. When you’re done, you’ll have everything you need to take your next step, whether that’s practicing your pitch to potential investors or a business partner, or sitting down to expand each tweet into a full section of a more traditional business plan.
The international business plan is the culmination of all of the work done to determine the appropriate venture for the organization’s growth. As part of the feasibility process, the organization will have determined its own internal readiness, conducted comprehensive target market research and carefully analyzed any relevant risks.
At this point, the organization can take all of this information and analysis and formally document the plan for moving forward. There are many different models and examples of how to put together a formal business plan, rather than one correct way.
The right format will depend on the organization, the venture being pursued and who will be accessing the business plan and for what purpose. However, there are some basic guidelines to follow.
One of the reasons business plans are developed is to convince investors and/or bankers to invest in the venture.
Increasingly, they are looking for a business plan to include two sections: one relating to online strategy (in terms of e-marketing, social media and ROI) and the second relating to corporate social responsibility (including quality, health, safety and environment policies).
The inclusion of these topics gives more credibility to the company by demonstrating its commitment to the community and to employees’ well-being.
Telling a Story
One trend in business planning is to use a narrative structure in the document, rather than traditional technical writing techniques. Storytelling techniques are increasingly being used throughout the business world to create personal and organizational brands, deliver marketing messages and develop persuasive plans.
Stories make presentations better. Stories make ideas stick. Stories help us persuade. Savvy leaders tell stories to inspire us, motivate us. That’s why so many politicians tell stories in their speeches. They realize that “what you say” is often moot compared to “how you say it.
Instead of using bulleted points and cold, technical language, organizations employ a “beginning, middle and end” narrative style. This engages the audience by establishing the context, describing the conflict or obstacles and arriving at a successful resolution.
The Executive Summary
Usually the last step of preparing the international business plan is to develop the executive summary, a short overview of what the plan proposes to accomplish. For some purposes, a one-page business plan can also be useful.
There is not a great deal of difference between an executive summary and a one-page business plan. The most significant distinction is the one-page plan must completely fit on one page in a readable font, while an executive summary may spread over two or three pages.
One-Page Business Plan
There is a trend towards the one-page business plan, especially if the plan is to be presented to potential partners for their consideration. Audiences for the one-page plan will be looking for a “quick hit”: a clear and concise description of what the opportunity is and how it is being pursued.
For example, a one-page business plan might include the following topics, as described in Noah Parson’s article “How to Write a One-Page Business Plan” on the website Bplans :
- Customer problem/opportunity
- Your solution/approach
- Business model (how you make money)
- Target market (who is the customer and how many are there)
- Competitive advantage
- Management team
- Financial summary
- Funding required
The one-page plan (or the executive summary, if used in place of the one-page plan) may provide the first impression the audience has of the business. This is the most important document generated out of the business planning process, and significant effort and care should be taken in its creation.
There are many websites the provide blank samples of one-page business plans, including Bplans , the GoForth Institute and Startup.com.
A Note on Strategic Plans
A strategic plan covers many of the same points as a business plan. However, a strategic plan sets out the detailed action plan to be followed to achieve the objectives of the international business plan.
It must outline specific activities, their due dates and who is responsible for each activity. It is a project plan with a critical path. A strategic plan ensures any venture is carried out in a coordinated, informed and systematic way.
A key consideration in action planning is how quickly to enter the market, which is driven by the chosen market entry strategy. If market entry is done too quickly, the potential for costly mistakes increases. However, if it is completed too slowly, opportunities may be missed and competitors will have more time to react.
The Planning Cycle
Attaching the word “cycle” to planning implies that it happens more than once. International business plans need to be reviewed periodically because new information that has an impact on both planning and operations is continually coming in.
All plans, including international business plans and strategic plans, need to be reviewed every time there is a major event impacting the business, such as civil unrest, a currency fluctuation or the presence of a new competitor.
About the author
Author: FITT Team
The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) is the standards, certification and training body dedicated to providing international business training, resources and professional certification to individuals and businesses. Created by business for business, FITT’s international business training solutions are the standard of excellence for global trade professionals around the world. View all posts by FITT Team
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2 thoughts on “A Guide to Preparing an International Business Plan”
Thank for international businesses
I have a company in Dubai and I am looking for someone who can write an internationally designed business plan with me for investors. Do you have an address I can contact?
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5 International Business Examples to Learn From
- 29 Jun 2021
The term international business refers to any business that operates across international borders. At its most basic, it includes the sale of goods and services between countries.
Yet, other forms of international business do exist. For example, a business that produces components or products overseas but sells them domestically can be considered an international business, as can an organization that outsources services, such as customer service, to locations where labor expenses are cheaper.
For most organizations, decisions around building, producing, and selling products or services are informed by many factors. Cost is an important one because businesses that primarily operate in developed markets, like the United States and Europe, can often source cheaper labor abroad.
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Other factors play a role in decision-making, too. For example, an organization that makes a conscious effort to become more sustainable may produce its product as close as possible to the end user to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation, even if it might result in higher labor costs. Likewise, a business may take pride in sourcing local labor to create jobs and support the economy.
Although international business can benefit the global economy, it also carries inherent risks. The fact that each country has its own government, regulations, inflation rates, and currency can complicate business models and must be weighed against the perceived benefits of operating internationally. Some of the most common challenges of international businesses include language and cultural barriers, currency exchange rates, and foreign politics and policies.
What Is a Successful International Business?
International businesses must have resilient, adaptable, communicative, and resourceful employees who know when to seize expansion opportunities. They need to have a deep understanding of international economics to anticipate how global markets will affect their bottom line and international marketing to effectively communicate their organization’s value to diverse audiences.
Are you interested in working with an international organization? Do you have plans and aspirations to take your business international? Here’s a look at five well-known international businesses that have successfully—and not so successfully—navigated the global market.
Examples of International Businesses
Apple Inc., founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in the 1970s, is now considered one of the most influential international companies. Headquartered in the United States, Apple designs, develops, and sells electronics, software, streaming, and online services worldwide.
Apple opened its first international location in Tokyo, Japan, in 2003 after saturating the American market. Under Jobs, Apple touted ease-of-use, innovative design, and customer loyalty with the marketing slogan, “ Think Different ,” and it continues to use visionary strategic marketing and a tight ecosystem to overcome competition and attract creative audiences around the globe.
Apple not only sells products internationally but has supply chains from 43 countries that ship supplies to China for final production and assembly. By keeping a tight-knit and strong relationship with suppliers, strategic inventory, and a focus on sustainability, Apple stands as one of the world’s most successful companies.
2. Financial Times
The Financial Times is a formerly British daily newspaper that’s now owned by the Japanese holding company Nikkei. The Financial Times’ mission is to deliver unbiased, informed investment and economic information to empower individuals and companies to make secure investment decisions.
The Financial Times had a rocky start trying to break into the international market. Andrew Gilchrist, former managing director of the Financial Times , describes his experience at the publication in the online course Global Business .
During his tenure, the Financial Times prioritized entering the international market in India. Despite a large English-speaking population and strong government support, domestic journalism was considered culturally and legally suspect. In fact, the Financial Times was eventually tied up in legal knots because the local newspaper barons were able to challenge every move through the courts.
Eventually, the Financial Times’ attempt to go international in India led to an economic slowdown and sluggish company growth.
Two brothers, Maurice and Richard McDonald, converted their drive-through barbecue restaurant in San Bernardino, California, into a burger and milkshake restaurant—now known as McDonald’s—in 1948.
The McDonald brothers focused on creating a better business system geared toward self-service and efficient and repeatable processes that relied on heating lamps instead of waiters. This model, known as “ Speedee ,” led to lower costs, cheaper products, and faster growth. It became the epitome of “fast food.”
Soon after, Ray Croc took McDonald’s a step further by bringing in franchisees and suppliers, leading to the creation of restaurants across the United States. McDonald’s model continued to expand, and, in 1967, the company opened locations in Canada and Puerto Rico .
McDonald’s has been internationally successful, thanks in large part to the consistency its business model allows. The fact that a Big Mac tastes the same regardless of which country you order it in is a testament to the company’s long history. Today, there are 38,000 restaurants in more than 120 countries.
Coca-Cola was created by pharmacist John Pemberton in 1886 at a soda fountain in Atlanta, Georgia. It was used as a tonic for common ailments due, in part, to the addition of cocaine and caffeine derived from the kola nut, which was a major ingredient at the time. (This was later removed from the recipe in 1903.)
Although popular at its inception, Coca-Cola became the company it is today because of the marketing and business leadership of Asa Griggs Candler and future investors, who dramatically increased sales and expanded syrup factory production into Canada.
Eventually, an independent bottle company licensed the rights to Coca-Cola’s syrup production and distribution, streamlining production and generating massive profits. Coca-Cola later remarketed for Germany, China, and India, and it’s now sold everywhere except Cuba and North Korea .
Coca-Cola currently has over 900 bottling and manufacturing facilities worldwide , many of which are in North America, Asia, and Africa.
H-E-B is a popular American grocery company with more than 340 stores in Texas and northeast Mexico. It was founded by Florence Butt in 1905 and expanded into Mexico in 1997.
The primary driver of international expansion wasn’t a desire to capture greater market share, but rather, a desire to gain access to foreign produce markets in warmer climates, from which the company could source produce during its domestic suppliers’ off-season in the northeastern United States.
Craig Boyan, president of H-E-B, explains in Global Business that, upon becoming an international business, H-E-B bought blueberries from Chile and Peru to sell year-round. Despite it being expensive to ship blueberry crates to Texas, this enabled the company to continue meeting its customers’ needs. Since then, production has increased with demand, especially in Mexico, which has an ideal climate to produce blueberries year-round. H-E-B now sources blueberries mostly from Mexico, making them more available and affordable for customers.
What Do You Study in International Business?
Many businesses succeed by expanding their markets, production operations, and supply chains internationally. But doing so requires savvy business leadership bolstered by economic knowledge, an understanding of markets, and the ability to learn political and cultural trends.
Business professionals who have a successful career in international business need various skills and expertise . Acquiring these combined skills employers are looking for, along with international business experience, can lead to long-term career success. Some of these important skills include:
- Strong communication skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Cultural awareness
- Knowledge of finance and accounting
- Entrepreneurship skills
- Understanding of global economics
Why Study International Business?
Regardless of the role, professionals must stay current on all business practices. A global business education provides a wide range of opportunities to create and capture value for organizations. To bring this value to the workplace, individuals need to understand the economic, political, and social factors that drive change and how decisions affect global markets .
Strategists and entrepreneurs should learn about the broader macroeconomic and political landscape of their organizations to grow their business internationally and manage global teams. Professionals in heavily regulated industries can also use this knowledge to develop approaches and frameworks to navigate their complex industries.
If you’re considering joining a global business or thinking about ways to expand your organization internationally, completing an online Global Business course is an excellent way to quickly gain those skills.
Are you interested in breaking into a global market? Sharpen your knowledge of the international business world with our four-week online course Global Business , and explore our other business in society courses. Not sure which is right for you? Download our free course flowchart .
This article was updated on July 19, 2022. It was originally published on June 29, 2021.
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International Business Plan (A Practical Guide for Companies and Professionals) - Ebook Format
Table of contents, description, plan de internacionalización, international business plan pdf.
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7 steps to create your international business plan
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to go global . Now how do you get started?
First, determine your company’s export readiness by taking this nine question quiz created by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The website calculates your readiness score and provides additional resource links to help overcome any corporate weaknesses.
Next, develop a plan. Stanley Pfrang, Market Development Director – India, the Middle East and Africa, WEDC , and Jen Pino-Gallagher, Bureau Director, International Market Development, DATCP , shared a seven step plan at a program I recently attended.
- Proactively develop a plan. Some companies reactively dive into the international market after receiving a product or service inquiry from overseas. A better strategy is to first think through planning steps two-seven to help avoid costly missteps.
- Conduct market research. Is there a need or demand for your product or service? Is market expansion feasible? Who are your competitors? What financial and legal paperwork is required? Do your current customers also operate in global markets? If so, what can you learn from them about opportunities and potential pitfalls?
- Entering new markets. Who can help you distribute your product? Do you need storage space? Will you need a manufacturing partner located in your target destination?
- Logistics. How important is your delivery speed? The decision will help you select transportation carriers and/or delivery routes.
- Payments. Determine what currency you will accept. Will you sell in U.S. dollars and/or foreign currency? Will you offer a discount if payment is received in U.S. dollars? Will you accept letters of credit? Will you require a down payment before production begins on goods or services?
- Visit the market before entering it. How do your competitors operate? How will your customers use your products or services as compared to those of your competitor? Trade shows are a good, inexpensive resource to help you see market potentials and downsides.
- Resources. Explore state and federal government online resources. Join an industry association knowledgeable about international trade. Talk to customers and maybe even competitors to learn from their mistakes and wise decisions.
After sharing the seven step plan, Pfrang, Pino-Gallagher and other program panelists offered additional tips.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about companies interested in your product. How long have they been in business? Obtain customer and vendor references. A face-to-face meeting to establish a relationship before doing business is best and can be done using Skype or a similar internet connection if necessary.
When seeking a trade consultant, hire a native of the foreign market you wish to enter because she will better understand the market needs and difficulties. At a minimum, hire someone with English as his second language.
Never automatically dismiss a lead that comes your way. Always explore the possibilities. It may lead to big things.
Be ruthlessly conservative in planning when internally strategizing your approach to new markets and opportunities that arise. Remember to include the impact on staff resources, time zone differences and product distribution methods.
Read Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands , a book that provides insights into business culture and customs in many different international markets. Lastly, always remember the primary goal of marketing.
So now it’s your turn to share advice. What resources do you use? What wisdom have you developed through experience? I’d love to hear from you. You can leave your comments below or you can reach out to us on Twitter and Facebook .
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One Response to 7 steps to create your international business plan
I run a small time web business in the evening, and have been operating globally for over a decade. If you have any type of web presence for your product, you quickly find yourself doing global sales on a small scale in terms of units – i.e. single items – though not necessarily on a small scale in terms of income- about 30% of my sales are out of country -that is where my strongest customers are (and oddly in the countries with universal health care and some of the highest tax rates). Many local banks are not set up to handle those type of transactions economically so I use various on line payment systems. You lose 3-4% but it is a lot simpler than any other option. I learned this the hard way when my community bank took 4 months to finalize a simple overseas bank transfer from the Philippines. For screening customers I am basically linked to other people working in the same type of business. We share mainly which customers to avoid, scammers and the like. Likewise I have come to learn a lot about what countries to ship to an which to avoid as well as the various headaches of different import customs and other processes. It can be a tricky process but a lot of local small businesses are doing it . In terms of language barriers – if you are not dealing with English speaking customers there are various free translation services on line – In todays world though you need these markets – Wisconsin is the weakest state I have for sales and overseas is by far the most profitable.
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550+ Free business plan examples
Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 free real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries to guide you through writing your own plan. If you're looking for an intuitive tool that walks you through the plan writing process, we recommend LivePlan . It includes many of these same SBA-approved business plan examples and is especially useful when applying for a bank loan or outside investment.
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Example business plan format
Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:
The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.
Your executive summary should include a summary of the problem you are solving, a description of your product or service, an overview of your target market, a brief description of your team, a summary of your financials, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).
Products & services
The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.
This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.
Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.
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. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.
Marketing & sales
The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.
The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.
Milestones & metrics
The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.
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.
Company & team
Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.
Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.
Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.
The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.
Types of business plans explained
While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. To get the most out of your plan, it's best to find a format that suits your needs. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.
Traditional business plan
The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used for external purposes. Typically this is the type of plan you'll need when applying for funding or pitching to investors. It can also be used when training or hiring employees, working with vendors, or in any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual.
Business model canvas
The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.
The structure ditches a linear format in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It's faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations.
One-page business plan
The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan . This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business.
By starting with a one-page plan , you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You'll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan.
Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.
It holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27 minutes . However, it's even easier to convert into a more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.
It's faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.
Download a free sample business plan template
Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2023.
This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.
How to use an example business plan to help you write your own
How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.
Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company
You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.
For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.
Use a business plan example as a guide
Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.
One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.
You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.
If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template , or get started right away with LivePlan .
Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document
Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.
Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool
Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.
If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.
Prepare to pitch your business
If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.
Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.
With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples. Or for a modern pitch solution that helps you create a business plan and pitch deck side-by-side, you may want to check out LivePlan . It will help you build everything needed for outside investment and to better manage your business.
Get LivePlan in your classroom
Are you an educator looking for real-world business plan examples for your students? With LivePlan, you give your students access to industry-best business plans and help them set goals and track metrics with spreadsheet-free financial forecasts. All of this within a single tool that includes additional instructional resources that work seamlessly alongside your current classroom setup.
With LivePlan, it's not just a classroom project. It's your students planning for their futures. Click here to learn more about business planning for students .
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Now that you know how to use an example business plan to help you write a plan for your business, it's time to find the right one.
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