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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.
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.
How Much Do You Need?
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.
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On a similar note...
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.
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How to Easily Write a Business Plan in 30-Minutes
Posted november 2, 2022 by noah parsons.
Writing a business plan can be intimidating. You know that you need to put a plan together to start a successful business, but you find yourself staring at a blank Word or Google doc wondering what to do next.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re willing to give up your preconceptions that a plan has to be a lengthy document that you spend a lot of time and energy on once and then file away—you’ll discover that there are better (and faster) ways to plan.
Introducing the 30-minute plan
A traditional business plan can take hours, days, or even weeks to put together.
We recommend a simpler process that you can complete in under an hour. Sounds too good to be true? We successfully used this process ourselves to build LivePlan , and it’s a major reason why LivePlan is so successful. With a one-page business plan, we were able to quickly figure out our strategic goals and what it would take to grow the business.
You can do this, even if you’ve never written a business plan before. The key is to focus on creating a business plan that fits on one page. By focusing on a single page, you skip all the formatting, complete sentences, and paragraphs of text that most people skip anyways. Instead, you’ll prioritize outlining your actual business strategy, the business model you’ll use to make money, and the marketing and sales strategies you’ll use to grow.
How to write a business plan in just 11 steps
When putting together your one-page business plan , think in bullet points and short sentences. The goal is to keep each section as short as possible. Here is what you need to include, along with an example of a bike shop business plan I put together in just 27 minutes.
1. Value proposition
This section answers the question, “What does your business do?” Your goal is to communicate the value you are providing to your customers in a way that is as simple and direct as possible. Think of it like this—if you’re at a party and someone asks you what your business does, can you describe it in a single sentence?
Struggling to define your value? Check out this simple formula to create your unique value proposition .
2. Market need
What’s the problem you solve for your customers? Why would they go out shopping for a solution? Why does your business need to exist? Why would they choose you over other alternatives?
If you’re not sure, try talking to your potential customers and ask them what they might like about your products or services.
For your one-page business plan, one or two short sentences will do here. Keep things short and direct.
3. Your solution
Describe your product or service and why it’s better than the alternatives. Essentially, if someone asked you what you sell, what would your answer be? Your solution should be the answer to the market need that you described in the previous section that delivers the value you described in your value proposition.
4. Target market
Describe your ideal customer . Who are they? Be as specific as possible—age, gender, shopping habits, and so on. If you target different types of people, create market segments for each group. If you are targeting different market segments, list each segment and its approximate size.
For example, if you are targeting “young families” in addition to “older parents”, try and figure out how many people are in each group. For your initial plan, you don’t need to get too specific – you can always add more detail later as flesh out your plan.
Every business has competition . Who do your customers buy from if they aren’t going to buy from you? What makes your business and products better than the alternatives that are out there?
6. Funding needs
Nearly every business needs some money to get off the ground. Think about how much money you’ll need and how you plan on using it. Even if you’re starting your business with your own savings or using credit card debt, it’s a good idea to plan on how you will use the funds until you start making sales.
7. Sales channels
These are the places where you will sell your products. If you’re selling online, your online store is a sales channel. If you also have a physical store, that’s another sales channel.
8. Marketing activities
What will you do to market your business ? If you plan on buying advertising, list the types of advertising you plan on doing here. Remember, different target markets might need different types of marketing activities to get your product in front of them.
9. Budget and sales goals
How much is it going to cost to run your business? What sales goals do you need to reach for your business to be a success? Don’t sweat the details to start and just think in broad strokes to get a rough idea of how your business will work financially .
You can start by just listing your primary revenue streams and your major expenses. As you learn more about the details, you can start to add estimates for how much sales you’ll bring in and what your actual expenses will be. Eventually, you’ll expand these broad estimates into a more detailed forecast, but initially just stick to high-level estimates.
What are the major tasks you need to accomplish to get your business up and running? This will help you stay on track and meet your goals. For most businesses, you should focus on the near term and highlight what you want to accomplish in the next few months.
Shorter-term milestones might include signing a lease on an office or designing your first prototype. Other businesses may have very long research and development cycles and should map out key milestones for the next 12-24 months. These businesses might have milestones related to getting regulatory approval or entering clinical trials.
Regardless of the timeframe of your milestones, make sure to assign milestones to people on your team so you have real responsibility and accountability.
Even if you’re starting out with just yourself as the only employee of your business, write a few quick bullets about why you’re the right person to run this business. If you need to hire key people in the future, list those positions as well, even if you don’t know who specifically will fill those positions right now.
This one-page plan looks pretty good—one of its strong points is that it’s built to help you visualize your plan and easily share it with others. While I used LivePlan to put this plan together, you can start by downloading this free Word doc template.
Need additional guidance? Check out this article for more detailed instructions to successfully build your one-page plan .
What to do after completing your simple business plan
Now that you’ve saved all that time writing your business plan, what should you do next?
With an initial plan in place, you’re primed to use a process known as growth planning that helps both startups and existing businesses grow more quickly and nimbly than their competitors.
Here are the initial steps you can take to put your new plan into action and start growth planning:
Test your idea and revise your plan
It’s rare to get a business idea right the first time. Almost every business makes changes to their initial idea to become a successful, growing company. That’s why it’s important to test your idea early and make adjustments before you sink too much money into your business.
There are plenty of ideas in the article linked above, but the core concept of validating your business idea is to go out and talk to potential customers and gather feedback. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a tech company or a cookie business. Get your app design or your cookie samples into potential customers’ hands and hear what they have to say.
Once you have feedback, revise your plan. Your marketing or sales strategy might change, or perhaps you decide to change your overall value proposition. Either way, revise your plan and test again until you have a business model that works.
Expand into a more detailed business plan
The one-page plan is simple and effective, but there may be a time when you need to expand your plan and create a more detailed business plan . Lenders and investors may want to see a more detailed business plan if only to prove that you’ve taken time to think through all the details of getting your business up and running.
Or, maybe you just want to add more details to your plan, and expanding beyond the single page makes sense for you. This may be more robust market research, expanded financial forecasts, or other details that make your plan more useful.
Luckily, by starting with a simple business plan format, you can easily expand on the necessary sections without having to start over. And, the real value in detailed planning is the process that you go through to create the plan.
You’ll be forced to answer questions about your business that you might have been tempted to gloss over or ignore completely if you skip the planning process. If a detailed business plan sounds like it will be a useful tool for you, check out this detailed step-by-step guide , as well as a free template you can download .
Review and revise
Revising your initial business plan isn’t just for new businesses that are just figuring out their path to success. Businesses that are up and running also benefit from regularly going back and revising their plan as things change. Your sales goals might need to be adjusted or you might need to adjust your expense budget. Perhaps you’ll decide to sell to a different kind of customer. Your one-page plan is a great place to document those changes and will help you track your progress toward your goals .
When you update your plan, you’re setting new goals to strive for. You’re also ensuring that your business strategy is documented and ready to share with new business partners, investors, and employees. I’ve found that sharing my company’s plan with employees improves transparency and gives everyone the big picture of what we’re trying to do. It ensures that everyone is moving the company in the same direction.
Download our one-page business plan template
Your simple one-page business plan is your guide to building the business you want and your key to finding success. And, thankfully, it’s so much easier and faster than traditional business planning.
If you want to get started on your plan right away, you can download our free one-page plan template . With that, you will be well on your way to a better business strategy, without all the time and hassle of drafting a lengthy business plan.
If you want to elevate your ability to build a healthy, growing business, you may want to explore the growth planning process and learn how it can help you build a sustainable, profitable business. You should also consider LivePlan.
It’s a product that makes growth planning easy and features step-by-step guidance that ensures you cover everything necessary while reducing the time spent on formatting and presenting. You’ll also gain access to financial forecasting tools that propel you through the process. Finally, it will transform your plan into a management tool that will help you easily compare your forecasts to your actual results.
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Posted in business plan writing, join over 1 million entrepreneurs who found success with liveplan.
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How to Create a Business Plan to Win Over Investors (7+ Business Plan Templates)
By Midori Nediger , Jul 11, 2023
A compelling business plan is essential to every new and growing business.
It’s the primary document that prospective investors use to evaluate the potential of a business, going hand in hand with a business pitch deck .
For a business plan, you need to organize a lot of information into a single, easy-to-read document. More than that, your business plan’s design should be engaging, inspire confidence in your stakeholders and motivate them to back your company and its vision.
Gone are the days when designing a business plan from scratch was a time-consuming and challenging task. Today, business plan templates offer a convenient solution by providing pre-designed layouts that simplify the process.
In this blog, I’m going to break it down for you. I’ll share the six things you need to know to put together a compelling, engaging business plan. Ready to get started now? Venngage’s online Business Plan Maker lets anyone create a winning business plan quickly and easily.
Just so you know, some of our business plan templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign-up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.
Click to jump ahead:
- How to format your business plan
Startup business plan templates
Simple business plan templates.
- How to write your business plan
- How to design an engaging executive summary
- How to use charts and graphs to present data
- How to communicate growth strategies in your business plan
- How to present financial data in your business plan
1. How to format your business plan
To format your business plan:
- Start with a clear title page.
- Include an executive summary.
- Provide a company description.
- Conduct a market analysis.
- Describe your product or service offering.
- Outline your marketing and sales strategy.
- Include organizational structure and management information.
A typical business plan is an in-depth document and covers every facet of your business (present and future). Creating a traditional business plan makes sense when you have a clear growth plan for the next three to five years, are in need of major funding, or want to attract long-term partners.
A professional business plan typically has the following sections:
- Table of Contents
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Funding request
- Financial projections
- An appendix
A business plan can span a dozen or more pages because it presents the big picture, as complete as possible, to reassure others to invest in you. Investment can mean a few different things – usually financial, but also as partners or employees.
The sections that can take a lot of research and add to the bulk of your business plan are your market analysis, marketing and sales plans, and financial projections.
These are the sections that demonstrate your business acumen, your long-term vision, and your accountability. Whereas, sections like the executive summary are meant to grab attention, inspire and get people excited about your business.
Start with a business plan template
To get started on your business plan, save yourself some time and use a template.
Most business plan templates will include things like a cover page, table of contents and the main sections you need. It will also have pre-formatted pages with placeholder text and charts that you can swap out.
It takes time to do market research, present growth plans, put together financial projections, analyze your customer base, create competitor breakdowns…the list goes on.
The last thing you want to do is spend precious time formatting the resulting document.
Save time by building your business plan from an existing business plan template, and customize it with your own content.
With a clean, consistent structure and clear headings, this template is the perfect starting point:
Then you’re free to customize the template with helpful visual elements like charts, tables, and diagrams, that will make your pitch deck impossible to resist.
A Venngage business plan template is designed to help you communicate visually and explain complex ideas easily. The right business plan template for you depends on the length and detail of your business plan, your brand and style, and the different sections you want to cover.
If your small business doesn’t have a dedicated design team, but you still need to learn how to write a business plan to present to investors–build off of a pre-designed business plan template:
There are just a handful of our business plan templates that can be customized in the Venngage editor. Browse more business plan templates, choose one that’s best for you and start editing right away.
Structuring your startup business plan involves organizing it into sections such as executive summary, company description, market analysis, product/service offering, marketing and sales strategy, financial projections, and operational plan.
Here are some business plan template examples:
Short Business Plan Template
Number your pages and include a table of contents
A table of contents is crucial to help readers navigate your document and quickly find specific sections that are of interest to them.
It’s a good idea to include page numbers, main section headings, and section subheadings here for easy reference.
Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that your business plan design feels clean and professional and doesn’t distract from your content. You want your information, not your formatting, to be the focus!
2. How to write your business plan
Crafting a solid business plan is vital for the success of your venture. It serves as a roadmap that outlines your objectives, strategies, and financial projections. Here are three tips for writing your business plan to ensure it’s easy to read, appears professional and is memorable.
Use bulleted lists, bold text, and a clear type hierarchy for ‘skimmability’
Business plans need to be understandable at a glance to attract funding . Investors are looking for information that will help them understand your business quickly and without much effort.
Take a look at this snippet of the business plan template from above:
What stands out to you?
To me, the large green headers pop out first, making it easy to scan through the sections to find what I want to focus on.
This is because there’s a defined type hierarchy, giving more visual weight to the headers over the body text.
Next, the unique selling points of this business–superior quality products, unique glass carving and brass inlays, and excellent service–jump out. Because they’re presented in an indented list , they’re easier to see at a glance, which will likely make them more memorable.
Finally, I’m drawn to the bolded stats–“top 30% of the industry” and “4 out of 5 households spent money on renovation”.
Key statistics like these can go a long way towards convincing your investors that you’re worth their time and money. If you’re going to include them within larger paragraphs, make sure they stand out by increasing their font weight.
To sum up: make your report skimmable. Draw attention to important takeaways with indented lists, bolded text, and a clear type hierarchy.
Consider using a one-column or two-column grid
If your business plan contains only text, stick with a single-column layout that reinforces the linear flow of the document. If your business plan includes some supporting data in the form of charts and tables, use a two-column layout to juxtapose text with its corresponding data.
Maintain page margins that set text at a readable line length
When we read long passages of text, the ease at which we read depends on how the text flows on the page. Something called line length (the number of characters in a horizontal line of text) plays a huge role in readability, and is something you should consider when formatting your business plan.
To dictate line length, designers and typesetters play with the width of page margins (the edges of a document that don’t contain any text or images) with the aim of maximizing readability.
It’s generally accepted that the ideal line length sits somewhere between 40 and 90 characters per line. Any longer or shorter and you’ll find that something feels “off” about your document.
How do you achieve this in your business plan?
If you use a single-column layout, use nice wide margins (1 ½ to 2 inches) to limit your text to less than 90 characters per line.
With a two-column layout, you might need to use narrower margins (possibly as little as ½ an inch on either side) to make sure there’s enough space for at least 40 characters per line of text.
The last thing to remember about margins and line length–don’t play around with them from page to page. Use consistent margins across your whole document.
3. How to design an executive summary
An executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan. It should be concise and hook your readers. It should reassure stakeholders that your business plan will be a worthwhile read.
How you choose to structure your executive summary is key. You can deliver a lot of excellent information that simply gets lost in a sea of text and paragraphs. Even if someone reads through it entirely, they may have missed something.
To make key information stand out, use vibrant headings, incorporate visuals throughout, and break up the layout of your text.
Not every investor looks for the same thing. Some will care more about who you or your executive team are, while another is interested solely in the financials of the business. Identifying each section makes it easy for readers to find exactly what they’re looking for.
You can also list out the key takeaways, briefly explaining them in the executive summary. If your reader finds everything they needed to know in the executive summary, they’ll happily move onto the rest of the business plan.
4. Use one feature color to tie your business plan together
Color should be used with restraint in professional documents like business plans. Instead of adding color solely for aesthetic purposes, think of color selection as another tool to highlight information you want your reader to focus on and to tie the document together.
You shouldn’t need more than a single color (ideally one of your brand colors ) to achieve this in a business plan.
In business plan charts, color should be used only to clarify trends and relationships. Use color to emphasize single important data points, differentiate between real and projected values, or group related data:
In the rest of your business plan, keep color to a minimum. At most, use it to make headers stand out or to highlight key points in long-form text, diagrams, or tables.
The nice thing about keeping document colors this simple? It’s hard to mess up, and without any complex design work, it creates a sense of cohesion and unity within a document.
4. How to use charts and graphs to present your data
Since your business plan should be backed by solid data, you might want to include some of that data as evidence, in the form of charts, tables or diagrams . Even simple visuals can communicate better than long paragraphs of text.
I’ll touch on some specific types of charts commonly used in business plans next, but first let’s review a few general chart design tactics.
Use descriptive titles and annotations to spell out chart takeaways
Avoid generic headers whenever possible. Maximize your chart’s value and impact by providing takeaway messages right in the title.
In the same vein, add direct annotations to data points or trends that support your case.
Repeating key messages within a chart, in the title, annotations, and captions, may improve viewers understanding and recall of those messages .
Aid understanding of market size and market share with area charts and pie charts
A market potential analysis is a fundamental pillar of your business plan. Market size and market share are two major components of a market potential analysis.
These numbers are typically in the millions and billions (the bigger the better, really), but most people have trouble grasping the meaning of such big numbers . At a surface level we can understand that one billion is one thousand times larger than one million, but we often struggle to comprehend what that really means.
This is the perfect opportunity to add some visual aids to your business plan.
Use bubble charts to represent market size
Bubble charts are useful for showing general proportions among numbers. Check out this one from our redesigned version of AirBnb’s first pitch deck :
Without having to think about the absolute values of these very large numbers, we can quickly see how they relate to one another.
While bubble charts are good for making quick, general comparisons, they’re less useful when it comes to precise measurements. To help readers make slightly more accurate judgements of proportion:
Use pie or donut charts to represent market share and market composition
Pie and donut charts are the industry standard for showing market share and market composition, since they’re the most widely understood method for representing part-to-whole relationships.
The way Uber breaks down their market with a simple donut chart makes their biggest segment (a key takeaway) really stand out, while the subtler differences between the smaller segments are still evident.
When you present a market analysis, use pie charts, donut charts, or bubble charts to aid the reader understanding proportions and part-to-whole relationships.
Use histograms and bar charts to represent demographic distributions in market segmentation summaries
Another part of analyzing market potential is about identifying and understanding target customers. This means segmenting customers by geography, interests, demographics…really anything that might affect purchasing behaviour.
Two standard metrics that most businesses include in a market segmentation summary are customer age and gender. These data are easily summarized in a histogram, with bars that represent age group distribution.
Bar charts can then be used to contrast the key behaviors and lifestyle choices of the top consumer segments.
Histograms and bar charts are standard features of a market segmentation summary. Use them together to identify and present information about top customer segments.
Outline major milestones with a Gantt chart
Stakeholders will want to see that you have a concrete plan in place to help you reach your revenue goals. When formulating your goals, use the SMART principle to provide your stakeholders with a very clear vision of how you intend to achieve them.
Use a Gantt chart (a sort of modified bar chart) to outline the major milestones and phases of your business strategy. Try to include a multi-year plan, broken down by quarter and by project or department.
You can create your own Gantt chart with Venngage.
5. How to communicate growth strategies in your business plan
No matter how impressive your product line or services, your business won’t just magically grow. You concrete marketing and sales plans in place, and effectively communicate strategies to your stakeholders.
Start by acknowledging your target market – who are you going after? This is what your marketing and sales efforts will revolve around after all.
Demonstrate an understanding of the competitor landscape. You will always have direct or indirect competition, and showing how your planning accounts for it is key. Then you can talk about actual plans and strategies you wish to implement.
Present your target audience with persona guides
A product may great on its own. But its value is determined when there is a clear and obvious market for it. You can point out shortcomings of your competition, but you also need to show that your target audience exists and how you’re serving them.
A persona guide provides a great deal of context to readers of your business plan. It’s the best way for them to understand who cares about your product or service, how it aligns with their lifestyle and needs, and why your marketing and sales tactics will work.
A persona guide needs to be detailed, and share an intimate understanding of your target audience. The more you can divulge, the more reassuring your research and overall business plan will be.
Even if you don’t have a substantial customer base, you can still create an ideal persona guide to show who you’re pursuing.
Highlight competitors and differentiate yourself with a SWOT analysis
Every business plan should include an analysis of the competitive landscape–an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of competitive businesses.
In terms of visuals, this competitive analysis is typically summarized in a SWOT analysis matrix .
You can also present the SWOT analysis as a table or a list. The layout is up to you, but you want to focus on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to your competition.
While the SWOT analysis framework provides valuable insights, it’s not the entire reflection of your competitive landscape. For example, it doesn’t make it easy to see at a glance the qualities that differentiate your business from your competitors.
To highlight those offerings that set you apart from your competitors, a comparison matrix is more effective. Take a look at these two templates:
With a direct competitor comparison, it’s easy to present the key differentiators between the existing options for a product or service, and your business.
Alternatively, a “ Magic Quadrant ” can be useful when you’re focused on comparing across two main metrics ( key differentiators ):
Finally, in a competitive market, there are going to be a lot of players who compete directly or indirectly with you. A breakdown of them all may not be necessary. Instead, you can point visually to the space that you will address, that has been so far ignored up to now.
To do that, a prioritization chart can be used. By plotting competing businesses on a prioritization chart, you highlight experiences existing competitors focus on, and where your business falls.
Use roadmaps to present your marketing and sales plans
To explain any long-term marketing or sales plan, you want visuals. It’s easier to break down strategies you’ll be deploying every month or each quarter, when you can actually show what you’re talking about.
Keep in mind, those reading your business plan may not be marketers or sales executives. Being able to lay out your approach in a way that’s organized, shows how much thought you’ve given to your growth strategies.
You can design a simple roadmap that points to what you’ll be doing throughout the year. The more detailed you can get, the better.
You can also present your product roadmap , with your marketing roadmap how the business will be growing overall.
You don’t need to use a traditional roadmap layout, either. Experiment with different formats as you may find one easier to work with than another. As long as the time period for different strategies is clear, your roadmap will be easy to understand.
6. How to present financial data in your business plan
Presenting financial data isn’t easy. You have to crunch a lot of numbers before you can share projections with confidence. You’ll also need to explain how you arrived at the numbers and prepare for your answers.
Understanding how to organize your information is key to walking potential investors and other stakeholders through your projections.
Use organizational flow charts and summary tables for budget breakdowns and financial summaries
The financials section of your business plan will get a lot of attention from stakeholders. Simple bar charts and pie charts won’t suffice, as they can’t present financial data in very much detail.
If your business has already been operating for some time, stakeholders will expect a detailed report of revenues and expenses. Tables are usually the best choice for this kind of financial summary, as they provide an unbiased view of the numbers and allow stakeholders to look up specific values.
If you’re interested in highlighting a particular trend, however, you may want to include a line chart featuring a smaller snapshot of your financial data:
If you’re just starting your business and you don’t have any detailed revenue data, you can still provide useful information about your budget. Outline higher-level budget allocation with an organizational flow chart .
Use line or bar graphs to visualize financial trends
You can use different types of graphs to also show how your business has performed thus far.
You can share results over the course of a year with a line graph. This is effective to show an overall set of trends and growth rates.
You can also compare previous years to highlight how your business has grown.
Your audience should be able to draw conclusions from your data within seconds. If there is simply too much information, or it’s hard to find important information, they will lose interest.
Looking for a business plan software to help save time and reduce errors? Pick from one of these 7 best business plan software to get started.
A quick summary
A business plan is the one key document that every young business needs to present their vision to potential investors and other stakeholders.
The quality of a business plan can make or break a young business Here’s a quick recap of what we covered for you to keep in mind:
- Get started with a template
- Use a table of contents and numbered pages
- Use lists, bold headings and aim for skimmability
- Consider using a one-column or two-column
- Maintain page margins
- Use headings to identify the most important information
- Use one thematic color palette for your design
- Use descriptive titles and annotations
- Use area and pie charts to explain market size and market share
- Use pie/donut charts to visualize marketing share and market composition
- Use bar charts and histograms to capture demographics data
- Highlight major milestones with a gantt chart
- Identify your target audience using persona guides
- Differentiate yourself with a SWOT analysis/competitor chart
- Use roadmaps to visualize your marketing and sales plans
- Use flow charts and summary tables for financial breakdowns
- Use line or bar graphs for financial trends and projection
You can always reference this post as you work on your business plan. I’ve also included additional blog posts you can reference for specific areas of your business plan.
More Resources for business planning and growth:
Growth Strategy Checklist: Plan Your Business Goals With These 5 Templates
What is a Marketing Plan and How to Make One?
How to Communicate Strategy Effectively Using Visuals [Templates]
30+ Business Report Templates That Every Business Needs [+ Design Tips]
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- Business Plans
How to Write a Business Plan Outline
A step-by-step guide to your best first impression
Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.
Business Plan Outline
- Organize Your Business Plan
- Title Page and Table of Contents
- Appearance Matters
Adrian Mangel / The Balance
Are you an entrepreneur looking to turn your idea into a business? Do you have a business plan? There is some debate about whether new businesses need a business plan when just starting out, especially if they're not asking for money. According to Carl Schramm, author of "Burn the Business Plan," many large corporations didn't have business plans when they first started:
"If you look at all our older major corporations—U.S. Steel, General Electric, IBM, American Airlines—and then you look at our newer companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, none of these companies ever had a business plan before they got started."
The U.S. Small Business Administration takes a middle-of-the-road approach, recognizing that not all businesses need a comprehensive plan. Instead, it suggests that smaller businesses and startups use a "leaner" and more streamlined version to outline the essentials and highlight strengths. Lean or long, your business plan should cover the basics.
The outline below offers a brief overview of what each section of your business plan should cover. It is not a definitive guide, as you may wish to expand or combine sections, or add extra detail in a way that is customized to your particular venture. Keep in mind the idea is to present your venture in the most attractive and professional way possible.
Though it appears first in the business plan, the executive summary is a section that is usually written last, as it encapsulates the entire plan. It provides an introduction and high-level overview of your business, including your mission statement and details about what product(s) and/or service(s) you offer.
Since the executive summary is your business's first impression, it's critical that it be outstanding, especially if you're seeking funding.
Provide information about the business you're starting, including what sort of problem your products/services solve and your most likely buyers. You can also expand this description by offering an overview of the industry that your business will be a part of, including trends, major players, and estimated sales. This section should give a positive perspective on your place within the industry. Set your business apart from the competition by describing your or your team's expertise, as well as your competitive advantage.
The market analysis is a crucial section of the business plan, as it identifies your best customers or clients. To create a compelling market analysis, thoroughly research the primary target market for your products/services, including geographic location, demographics, your target market's needs, and how these needs are currently being met. Your purpose here is to demonstrate that you have a solid and thorough understanding of the people you are planning to sell your products/services to so that you can make informed predictions about how much they might buy, and convince other interested parties.
In preparing to write the competitive analysis section, you'll learn how successful your direct and indirect competitors are in the marketplace. This section of your business plan includes an assessment of your competition's strengths and weaknesses, any advantages they may have, and the unique qualities that make your business stand out from the competition. It also includes an analysis of how you will overcome any barriers to entry in your chosen market.
The primary goal here is to distinguish your business from the competition, but a strong competitive analysis will be able to persuade potential funding sources that your business can compete in the marketplace successfully . A useful tool to help articulate this section of the plan is sometimes referred to as a SWOT analysis, or a "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats" assessment.
Sales and Marketing Plan
The sales and marketing section offers a detailed explanation of your sales strategy, pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, and all the benefits of your products/services. This is where to outline your business's unique selling proposition, describe how you plan to get your products/services to market, and how you'll persuade people to buy them.
When developing your unique selling proposition, your goal is to answer the question: Why should people buy from me over my competition?
Ownership and Management Plan
This section outlines your business's legal structure and management resources, including the internal management team, external management resources, and human resources needs. Include any experience or special skills that each person in your management team brings to the business. If the goal of your business plan is to get funding, it's wise to include an advisory board as a management resource.
The operating plan offers detailed information about how your business will be run. It provides your business's physical location, descriptions of facilities and equipment, types of employees needed, inventory requirements, suppliers, and any other applicable operating details that pertain to your precise type of business, such as a description of the manufacturing process, or specialty items needed in day-to-day operations.
Starting a business is usually about making a profit, so it's important to demonstrate that you have a solid sense of your current finances, funding needs, as well as projected income. In the financial section , provide a description of your funding requirements, your detailed financial statements, and a financial statement analysis. This part of the business plan is where you present the three main financial documents of any business: the balance sheet, the income statement, and the cash flow statement, or in the case of a new business, a cash flow projection.
Appendices and Exhibits
In addition to the sections outlined above, at the end of your business plan, include any additional information that will help establish the credibility of your business idea, or bolster your potential success. You may choose to include marketing studies, photographs of your product, permits, patents and other intellectual property rights, credit histories, résumés, marketing materials, and any contracts or other legal agreements pertinent to your business.
How to Organize Your Business Plan
There is no set order to your business plan, the only exception being that the executive summary should always come first. Beyond that, the order depends on your goals.
If your purpose for writing a business plan is to help you organize, gather information, and create a roadmap, organize it in the way that is most intuitive to your process. You might group similar content together, such as all the material relating to markets (industry overview, marketing analysis, competitive analysis, and marketing plan).
If your goal is to seek funding, organize the plan based on what your audience values, and lead with the best, most convincing material first. If you have a stellar group of people serving on your new business's advisory board, put that section directly after the executive summary. Highlighting your new business's strengths will encourage your reader to continue reading your plan.
Add a Title Page and Table of Contents
After completing all the sections, don't forget to insert a title page at the beginning of the plan followed by a table of contents listing each section with page numbers.
The Appearance of Your Business Plan Matters
If you're writing a business plan as an organizational exercise—for your eyes only—feel free to get loose with the style and organization; the simple act of putting all your ideas into a practical template may be a valuable brainstorming tool. However, if you're looking for funding or investors, the business plan is a formal document, so it should look like one. Every aspect of your business plan should impress your potential funding source.
Pay attention to margins and formatting; make sure it's spell-checked and grammatically sound. If you're not good at this, pay a professional to do it.
Hiring a professional to design, edit, or review your business plan may be a good idea, regardless of how skilled you are; a fresh pair of eyes can often spot issues that the original writer missed.
If you need printed copies, get them professionally printed and bound. Keep in mind that you may only have a short amount of time to sell your idea, and first impressions pack a powerful punch.
How Long Should a Business Plan Be?
A good business plan can't be pinned to a minimum or maximum page count. This is because the right length depends on your business. Your business plan should be brief enough to convey the essentials without redundancy or fluff content, yet long enough to demonstrate to your audience that your business is well-researched and fully considered. A simple plan for a modest startup might be around 40 pages, while a more complex business plan may need 100 pages to convey an ambitious financing strategy, product diagrams, industry data, or the full scope of the venture. The goal is to allow for a full explanation of the pertinent information about your business, presented in a concise and well-organized fashion.
Knowledge@Wharton. " Why Creating a Business Plan Is a ‘Waste of Time’ ."
U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."
Corporate Finance Institute. " Barriers to Entry ."
U.S. Small Business Administration. " SBA Recommended Business Plans and Length ."
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How to Write a Business Plan in One Day [2023 Guide]
8 min. read
Updated October 27, 2023
Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be a daunting process that takes weeks or months. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have that kind of time. Writing a plan just takes a little bit of preparation and a methodology that will guide you through the process, step-by-step.
That’s what we’ve set out to do here, in this article. It’s not just about learning what is in a business plan, but how to put the plan together so you can get your plan finished quickly.
- Can you really write a business plan in a day?
Yes, it is really possible to write a business plan in one day. In fact, I’ve seen many people not only pull plans together but get businesses completely off the ground in a weekend during the always fun and energizing Startup Weekend events. If you have a good sense of the business you want to start or have a solid understanding of the business you’re already running, then writing a business plan in a day can certainly be done.
Before we get on to the methodology you’ll use to write a plan in a day, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Know why you’re writing a plan and who it’s for
Business plans can come in many shapes and sizes. Who your audience is and what the purpose of the plan is will determine what sections you need to include and what you can skip.
For example, if you’re writing an internal business plan to figure out how you’re going to expand, you can skip all the sections about company history and team members. However, if you’re writing a plan for investors, they are going to want to know about the team behind the business.
There are no extra points for length
A general rule of thumb about business plans is the shorter the better . You want to write the absolute minimum. This isn’t a paper that you’re writing for school that has a minimum word count. A business plan is about communicating your ideas as simply and directly as possible.
Don’t be intimidated
It’s important to remember that the vast majority of business owners and entrepreneurs don’t have a business or accounting degree. They, just like you, have a good idea and the tenacity to turn that idea into a business. Writing a business plan doesn’t require any special knowledge or advanced degree. It just requires that you know your business.
- 6 steps to create a business plan in one day
With these tips in mind, here are the six steps you’ll need to take in order to successfully write your business plan in one day.
1. Conduct market research before you start writing
Possibly the most important part of your business plan is your market analysis section . This is where you describe who your customers are and why they need and want your product.
What’s your biggest business challenge right now?
The reason this section is so important is that a business is nothing without customers. Understanding your customers is the key to a successful business and this step should not be overlooked.
If you already have a solid understanding of your customers, then writing this section of your business plan will be simple. You’ll want to describe who your ideal customers are, what their interests and needs are, and their key demographics (age, gender, economic position, job position, etc.). You may also want to look at the psychographics of your customers—a description of your customers’ attitudes and aspirations.
If you haven’t thought much about your customers yet, doing this work before writing your business plan will make the writing process significantly faster. Not only that but understanding your customers and their needs is the key to a successful business. When your product or service meets the needs of your customers, you have what the famous investor Marc Andreesen has called “product-market fit.”
This ensures that your customers become long-term customers, as repeat purchases are often the primary driver of business success.
2. Outline the sections of your business plan
Just like building a house, building a business plan requires that you lay down a solid foundation. You’ll want to start your day by creating an outline for your business plan so that you have a strong starting point for your plan and understand all the building blocks that you’re going to need to complete your plan.
A standard business plan includes the following sections:
- Executive Summary
- Products & Services Description
- Market Analysis
- Marketing & Sales Plan
- Organization & Management Team
- Financial Projections
Within each section, you can customize sub-sections to meet the needs of your business.
For example, if your business sells widgets that it buys from suppliers, it will be important to describe your supply chain in your Product Description chapter. If you sell your widgets in retail stores, it will be important to describe your distribution plans in your Sales Plan chapter. However, if you are planning a restaurant business, sections like supply chain and distribution won’t be important and you’ll have other key sections dedicated to location and marketing.
See a complete, detailed business plan outline and download a business plan template .
3. Look at some business plan examples
With your business plan outline set, the next step is to review some example business plans. This will give you an idea of the type of language that people use in business plans and inspire you.
Don’t plan on copying an example business plan. This is never a good idea because every business is unique. However, knowing what a finished business plan looks like is a very helpful part of the planning process.
Review our library of over 500 business plan examples .
4. Start with what you know
Now that you’ve done all of your prep, it’s time to start writing your business plan. The key is not to start at the beginning and work systematically from start to finish.
Instead, start with the sections that you know the best. For most people, describing their product or service is a great place to start. That’s likely the section you’ll know the most about. From there, move on to the next section you feel most comfortable with.
This method will help you get the ball rolling with the writing process and gets the simple work out of the way. That way you don’t get hung up early and discouraged by a more difficult section.
One tip, absolutely leave the executive summary for last. Because the executive summary is a summary of your entire plan, you’ll want to finish everything else before you summarize it.
5. Draft very simple financials
Financial forecasting can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Start simple and add more detail as you go.
Start with a sales forecast
The best place to start is with your sales forecast. Make your best guesses about your future sales based on what you know and what you hope for. The trick to sales forecasting is to think about a “bottom-up” sales forecast. Make an estimate of how many prospective customers you think you can reach in a month and what percentage of those prospects will purchase from you. For more details on sales forecasting, check out this guide .
Outline your expenses
Next, move on to your expenses. Again, if you don’t know the exact numbers, that’s fine. Make your best guesses for expenses such as rent, insurance, payroll, marketing, etc. You can continue to refine your forecast as you learn more about your business and get more detailed figures. Read our guide on income statements for more details.
Understand your cash flow
From there, you’ll want to put together a cash flow forecast to ensure that you’ll always have enough cash on hand to run your business. This can be a bit more complicated, but you can save time by using business planning software . If your goal is to finish your plan in one day, software can cut hours of time out of the forecasting process. It will also ensure that you don’t have to worry about spreadsheets and custom formulas.
6. Have someone ready to review your plan
Working with a business partner can speed up the planning process significantly. Taking a “divide and conquer” approach will help you work through the planning process and make writing a plan in a day achievable.
But, if you don’t have a partner, find a friend or family member who’s willing to read your work as you go. Roping in someone to help you review your plan not only provides you with valuable feedback but also makes your commitment to writing real. Once you have someone else ready to work with you, it will be much harder to procrastinate or put off plan writing for another day. Just like it’s always easier to go to the gym with a friend, planning is always easier with a partner or helper.
Having someone review your plan will also help you catch inconsistencies and errors. Assuming you are writing your plan out of order, as advised, it can be easy to make mistakes as you skip back and forth. A helper who is reading your plan as you produce it will help you ensure that the plan is cohesive when it’s complete.
- Start with a business plan that takes only an hour to write
If committing to a full day of plan writing seems like too much, start with a Lean Plan instead. A Lean Plan can be finished in as little as 30 minutes and is a great tool to explore business ideas and refine your business strategy.
In fact, most businesses are better off starting with a Lean Plan and then expanding to a full business plan as they refine their business concept and strategy.
You can learn more about creating a 30-minute, lean business plan and get started by downloading the template here .
See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan
Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan.
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How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)
- 2 years ago
Have you ever wondered how to write a business plan step by step? Mike Andes, told us:
This guide will help you write a business plan to impress investors.
Throughout this process, we’ll get information from Mike Andes, who started Augusta Lawn Care Services when he was 12 and turned it into a franchise with over 90 locations. He has gone on to help others learn how to write business plans and start businesses. He knows a thing or two about writing business plans!
We’ll start by discussing the definition of a business plan. Then we’ll discuss how to come up with the idea, how to do the market research, and then the important elements in the business plan format. Keep reading to start your journey!
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is simply a road map of what you are trying to achieve with your business and how you will go about achieving it. It should cover all elements of your business including:
- Finding customers
- Plans for developing a team
- Legal structures
- Key milestones you are pursuing
If you aren’t quite ready to create a business plan, consider starting by reading our business startup guide .
Get a Business Idea
Before you can write a business plan, you have to have a business idea. You may see a problem that needs to be solved and have an idea how to solve it, or you might start by evaluating your interests and skills.
Mike told us, “The three things I suggest asking yourself when thinking about starting a business are:
- What am I good at?
- What would I enjoy doing?
- What can I get paid for?”
If all three of these questions don’t lead to at least one common answer, it will probably be a much harder road to success. Either there is not much market for it, you won’t be good at it, or you won’t enjoy doing it.
As Mike told us, “There’s enough stress starting and running a business that if you don’t like it or aren’t good at it, it’s hard to succeed.”
If you’d like to hear more about Mike’s approach to starting a business, check out our YouTube video
Conduct Market Analysis
Market analysis is focused on establishing if there is a target market for your products and services, how large the target market is, and identifying the demographics of people or businesses that would be interested in the product or service. The goal here is to establish how much money your business concept can make.
Product and Service Demand
A search engine is your best friend when trying to figure out if there is demand for your products and services. Personally, I love using presearch.org because it lets you directly search on a ton of different platforms including Google, Youtube, Twitter, and more. Check out the screenshot for the full list of search options.
With quick web searches, you can find out how many competitors you have, look through their reviews, and see if there are common complaints about the competitors. Bad reviews are a great place to find opportunities to offer better products or services.
If there are no similar products or services, you may have stumbled upon something new, or there may just be no demand for it. To find out, go talk to your most honest friend about the idea and see what they think. If they tell you it’s dumb or stare at you vacantly, there’s probably no market for it.
You can also conduct a survey through social media to get public opinion on your idea. Using Facebook Business Manager , you could get a feel for who would be interested in your product or service.
I ran a quick test of how many people between 18-65 you could reach in the U.S. during a week. It returned an estimated 700-2,000 for the total number of leads, which is enough to do a fairly accurate statistical analysis.
Identify Demographics of Target Market
Depending on what type of business you want to run, your target market will be different. The narrower the demographic, the fewer potential customers you’ll have. If you did a survey, you’ll be able to use that data to help define your target audience. Some considerations you’ll want to consider are:
- Other Interests
- Marital Status
- Do they have kids?
Once you have this information, it can help you narrow down your options for location and help define your marketing further. One resource that Mike recommended using is the Census Bureau’s Quick Facts Map . He told us,
“It helps you quickly evaluate what the best areas are for your business to be located.”
How to Write a Business Plan
Now that you’ve developed your idea a little and established there is a market for it, you can begin writing a business plan. Getting started is easier with the business plan template we created for you to download. I strongly recommend using it as it is updated to make it easier to create an action plan.
Each of the following should be a section of your business plan:
- Business Plan Cover Page
- Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- Description of Products and Services
- Competitor Data
- Competitive Analysis
- Marketing Expenses Strategy
- Distribution Channel Assessment
- Operational Plan
- Management and Organizational Strategy
- Financial Statements and/or Financial Projections
We’ll look into each of these. Don’t forget to download our free business plan template (mentioned just above) so you can follow along as we go.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page
The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions.
A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:
- Professionally designed logo
- Company name
- Mission or Vision Statement
- Contact Info
Basically, think of a cover page for your business plan like a giant business card. It is meant to capture people’s attention but be quickly processed.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 2. Create a Table of Contents
Most people are busy enough that they don’t have a lot of time. Providing a table of contents makes it easy for them to find the pages of your plan that are meaningful to them.
A table of contents will be immediately after the cover page, but you can include it after the executive summary. Including the table of contents immediately after the executive summary will help investors know what section of your business plan they want to review more thoroughly.
Check out Canva’s article about creating a table of contents . It has a ton of great information about creating easy access to each section of your business plan. Just remember that you’ll want to use different strategies for digital and hard copy business plans.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 3. Write an Executive Summary
An executive summary is where your business plan should catch the readers interest. It doesn’t need to be long, but should be quick and easy to read.
Mike told us,
How long should an executive summary bein an informal business plan?
For casual use, an executive summary should be similar to an elevator pitch, no more than 150-160 words, just enough to get them interested and wanting more. Indeed has a great article on elevator pitches . This can also be used for the content of emails to get readers’ attention.
It consists of three basic parts:
- An introduction to you and your business.
- What your business is about.
- A call to action
Example of an informal executive summary
One of the best elevator pitches I’ve used is:
So far that pitch has achieved a 100% success rate in getting partnerships for the business.
What should I include in an executive summary for investors?
Investors are going to need a more detailed executive summary if you want to secure financing or sell equity. The executive summary should be a brief overview of your entire business plan and include:
- Introduction of yourself and company.
- An origin story (Recognition of a problem and how you came to solution)
- An introduction to your products or services.
- Your unique value proposition. Make sure to include intellectual property.
- Where you are in the business life cycle
- Request and why you need it.
Successful business plan examples
The owner of Urbanity told us he spent 2 months writing a 75-page business plan and received a $250,000 loan from the bank when he was 23. Make your business plan as detailed as possible when looking for financing. We’ve provided a template to help you prepare the portions of a business plan that banks expect.
Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:
When to write an executive summary?
Even though the summary is near the beginning of a business plan, you should write it after you complete the rest of a business plan. You can’t talk about revenue, profits, and expected expenditures if you haven’t done the market research and created a financial plan.
What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?
Business owners commonly go into too much detail about the following items in an executive summary:
- Marketing and sales processes
- Financial statements
- Organizational structure
- Market analysis
These are things that people will want to know later, but they don’t hook the reader. They won’t spark interest in your small business, but they’ll close the deal.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description
Every business plan should include a company description. A great business plan will include the following elements while describing the company:
- Mission statement
- Philosophy and vision
- Company goals
- Legal structure
Let’s take a look at what each section includes in a good business plan.
A mission statement is a brief explanation of why you started the company and what the company’s main focus is. It should be no more than one or two sentences. Check out HubSpot’s article 27 Inspiring Mission Statement for a great read on informative and inspiring mission and vision statements.
Company Philosophy and Vision
The company philosophy is what drives your company. You’ll normally hear them called core values. These are the building blocks that make your company different. You want to communicate your values to customers, business owners, and investors as often as possible to build a company culture, but make sure to back them up.
What makes your company different?
Each company is different. Your new business should rise above the standard company lines of honesty, integrity, fun, innovation, and community when communicating your business values. The standard answers are corporate jargon and lack authenticity.
Examples of core values
One of my clients decided to add a core values page to their website. As a tech company they emphasized the values:
- Prioritize communication.
- Never stop learning.
- Be transparent.
- Start small and grow incrementally.
These values communicate how the owner and the rest of the company operate. They also show a value proposition and competitive advantage because they specifically focus on delivering business value from the start. These values also genuinely show what the company is about and customers recognize the sincerity. Indeed has a great blog about how to identify your core values .
What is a vision statement?
A vision statement communicate the long lasting change a business pursues. The vision helps investors and customers understand what your company is trying to accomplish. The vision statement goes beyond a mission statement to provide something meaningful to the community, customer’s lives, or even the world.
Example vision statements
The Alzheimer’s Association is a great example of a vision statement:
A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.
It clearly tells how they want to change the world. A world without Alzheimers might be unachievable, but that means they always have room for improvement.
You have to measure success against goals for a business plan to be meaningful. A business plan helps guide a company similar to how your GPS provides a road map to your favorite travel destination. A goal to make as much money as possible is not inspirational and sounds greedy.
Sure, business owners want to increase their profits and improve customer service, but they need to present an overview of what they consider success. The goals should help everyone prioritize their work.
How far in advance should a business plan?
Business planning should be done at least one year in advance, but many banks and investors prefer three to five year business plans. Longer plans show investors that the management team understands the market and knows the business is operating in a constantly shifting market. In addition, a plan helps businesses to adjust to changes because they have already considered how to handle them.
Example of great business goals
My all time-favorite long-term company goals are included in Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux . These goals were written in 2016 and drive the company’s decisions through 2026. They are the reason that investors are so forgiving when Elon Musk continually fails to meet his quarterly and annual goals.
If the progress aligns with the business plan investors are likely to continue to believe in the company. Just make sure the goals are reasonable or you’ll be discredited (unless you’re Elon Musk).
You did target market research before creating a business plan. Now it’s time to add it to the plan so others understand what your ideal customer looks like. As a new business owner, you may not be considered an expert in your field yet, so document everything. Make sure the references you use are from respectable sources.
Use information from the specific lender when you are applying for lending. Most lenders provide industry research reports and using their data can strengthen the position of your business plan.
A small business plan should include a section on the external environment. Understanding the industry is crucial because we don’t plan a business in a vacuum. Make sure to research the industry trends, competitors, and forecasts. I personally prefer IBIS World for my business research. Make sure to answer questions like:
- What is the industry outlook long-term and short-term?
- How will your business take advantage of projected industry changes and trends?
- What might happen to your competitors and how will your business successfully compete?
Some helpful resources to help you establish more about your industry are:
- Trade Associations
- Federal Reserve
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
There are five basic types of legal structures that most people will utilize:
- Sole proprietorships
- Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
Each business structure has their pros and cons. An LLC is the most common legal structure due to its protection of personal assets and ease of setting up. Make sure to specify how ownership is divided and what roles each owner plays when you have more than one business owner.
You’ll have to decide which structure is best for you, but we’ve gathered information on each to make it easier.
A sole proprietorship is the easiest legal structure to set up but doesn’t protect the owner’s personal assets from legal issues. That means if something goes wrong, you could lose both your company and your home.
To start a sole proprietorship, fill out a special tax form called a Schedule C . Sole proprietors can also join the American Independent Business Alliance .
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
An LLC is the most common business structure used in the United States because an LLC protects the owner’s personal assets. It’s similar to partnerships and corporations, but can be a single-member LLC in most states. An LLC requires a document called an operating agreement.
Each state has different requirements. Here’s a link to find your state’s requirements . Delaware and Nevada are common states to file an LLC because they are really business-friendly. Here’s a blog on the top 10 states to get an LLC.
Partnerships are typically for legal firms. If you choose to use a partnership choose a Limited Liability Partnership. Alternatively, you can just use an LLC.
Corporations are typically for massive organizations. Corporations have taxes on both corporate and income tax so unless you plan on selling stock, you are better off considering an LLC with S-Corp status . Investopedia has good information corporations here .
There are several opportunities to purchase successful franchises. TopFranchise.com has a list of companies in a variety of industries that offer franchise opportunities. This makes it where an entrepreneur can benefit from the reputation of an established business that has already worked out many of the kinks of starting from scratch.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 5. Products and Services
This section of the business plan should focus on what you sell, how you source it, and how you sell it. You should include:
- Unique features that differentiate your business products from competitors
- Intellectual property
- Your supply chain
- Cost and pricing structure
Questions to answer about your products and services
Mike gave us a list of the most important questions to answer about your product and services:
- How will you be selling the product? (in person, ecommerce, wholesale, direct to consumer)?
- How do you let them know they need a product?
- How do you communicate the message?
- How will you do transactions?
- How much will you be selling it for?
- How many do you think you’ll sell and why?
Make sure to use the worksheet on our business plan template .
How to Write a Business Plan Step 6. Sales and Marketing Plan
The marketing and sales plan is focused on the strategy to bring awareness to your company and guides how you will get the product to the consumer. It should contain the following sections:
SWOT Analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Not only do you want to identify them, but you also want to document how the business plans to deal with them.
Business owners need to do a thorough job documenting how their service or product stacks up against the competition.
If proper research isn’t done, investors will be able to tell that the owner hasn’t researched the competition and is less likely to believe that the team can protect its service from threats by the more well-established competition. This is one of the most common parts of a presentation that trips up business owners presenting on Shark Tank .
Examples of strengths and weaknesses could be things like the lack of cash flow, intellectual property ownership, high costs of suppliers, and customers’ expectations on shipping times.
Opportunities could be ways to capitalize on your strengths or improve your weaknesses, but may also be gaps in the industry. This includes:
- Adding offerings that fit with your current small business
- Increase sales to current customers
- Reducing costs through bulk ordering
- Finding ways to reduce inventory
- And other areas you can improve
Threats will normally come from outside of the company but could also be things like losing a key member of the team. Threats normally come from competition, regulations, taxes, and unforeseen events.
The management team should use the SWOT analysis to guide other areas of business planning, but it absolutely has to be done before a business owner starts marketing.
Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan
When you plan a business, taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the competition is key to navigating the field. Providing an overview of your competition and where they are headed shows that you are invested in understanding the industry.
For smaller businesses, you’ll want to search both the company and the owners names to see what they are working on. For publicly held corporations, you can find their quarterly and annual reports on the SEC website .
What another business plans to do can impact your business. Make sure to include things that might make it attractive for bigger companies to outsource to a small business.
The marketing and sales part of business plans should be focused on how you are going to make potential customers aware of your business and then sell to them.
If you haven’t already included it, Mike recommends:
“They’ll want to know about Demographics, ages, and wealth of your target market.”
Make sure to include the Total addressable market . The term refers to the value if you captured 100% of the market.
You’ll explain what formats of advertising you’ll be using. Some possibilities are:
- Online: Facebook and Google are the big names to work with here.
- Print : Print can be used to reach broad groups or targeted markets. Check out this for tips .
- Radio : iHeartMedia is one of the best ways to advertise on the radio
- Cable television : High priced, hard to measure ROI, but here’s an explanation of the process
- Billboards: Attracting customers with billboards can be beneficial in high traffic areas.
You’ll want to define how you’ll be using each including frequency, duration, and cost. If you have the materials already created, including pictures or links to the marketing to show creative assets.
Mike told us “Most businesses are marketing digitally now due to Covid, but that’s not always the right answer.”
Make sure the marketing strategy will help team members or external marketing agencies stay within the brand guidelines .
This section of a business plan should be focused on pricing. There are a ton of pricing strategies that may work for different business plans. Which one will work for you depends on what kind of a business you run.
Some common pricing strategies are:
- Value-based pricing – Commonly used with home buying and selling or other products that are status symbols.
- Skimming pricing – Commonly seen in video game consoles, price starts off high to recoup expenses quickly, then reduces over time.
- Competition-based pricing – Pricing based on competitors’ pricing is commonly seen at gas stations.
- Freemium services – Commonly used for software, where there is a free plan, then purchase options for more functionality.
HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.
Beyond explaining what strategy your business plans to use, you should include references for how you came to this pricing strategy and how it will impact your cash flow.
This part of a business plan is focused on how the product or service is going to go through the supply chain. These may include multiple divisions or multiple companies. Make sure to include any parts of the workflow that are automated so investors can see where cost savings are expected and when.
Supply Chain Examples
For instance, lawn care companies would need to cover aspects such as:
- Suppliers for lawn care equipment and tools
- Any chemicals or treatments needed
- Repair parts for sprinkler systems
- Vehicles to transport equipment and employees
- Insurance to protect the company vehicles and people.
Examples of Supply Chains
These are fairly flat supply chains compared to something like a clothing designer where the clothes would go through multiple vendors. A clothing company might have the following supply chain:
- Raw materials
- Shipping of raw materials
- Converting of raw materials to thread
- Shipping thread to produce garments
- Garment producer
- Shipping to company
- Company storage
- Shipping to retail stores
There have been advances such as print on demand that eliminate many of these steps. If you are designing completely custom clothing, all of this would need to be planned to keep from having business disruptions.
The main thing to include in the business plan is the list of suppliers, the path the supply chain follows, the time from order to the customer’s home, and the costs associated with each step of the process.
According to BizPlanReview , a business plan without this information is likely to get rejected because they have failed to research the key elements necessary to make sales to the customer.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 7. Company Organization and Operational Plan
This part of the business plan is focused on how the business model will function while serving customers. The business plan should provide an overview of how the team will manage the following aspects:
- Legal environment
Let’s look at each for some insight.
Production has already been discussed in previous sections so I won’t go into it much. When writing a business plan for investors, try to avoid repetition as it creates a more simple business plan.
If the organizational plan will be used by the team as an overview of how to perform the best services for the customer, then redundancy makes more sense as it communicates what is important to the business.
Quality control policies help to keep the team focused on how to verify that the company adheres to the business plan and meets or exceeds customer expectations.
Quality control can be anything from a standard that says “all labels on shirts can be no more than 1/16″ off center” to a defined checklist of steps that should be performed and filled out for every customer.
There are a variety of organizations that help define quality control including:
- International Organization for Standardization – Quality standards for energy, technology, food, production environments, and cybersecurity
- AICPA – Standard defined for accounting.
- The Joint Commission – Healthcare
- ASHRAE – HVAC best practices
You can find lists of the organizations that contribute most to the government regulation of industries on Open Secrets . Research what the leaders in your field are doing. Follow their example and implement it in your quality control plan.
For location, you should use information from the market research to establish where the location will be. Make sure to include the following in the location documentation.
- The size of your location
- The type of building (retail, industrial, commercial, etc.)
- Zoning restrictions – Urban Wire has a good map on how zoning works in each state
- Accessibility – Does it meet ADA requirements?
- Costs including rent, maintenance, utilities, insurance and any buildout or remodeling costs
- Utilities – b.e.f. has a good energy calculator .
The legal requirement section is focused on defining how to meet the legal requirements for your industry. A good business plan should include all of the following:
- Any licenses and/or permits that are needed and whether you’ve obtained them
- Any trademarks, copyrights, or patents that you have or are in the process of applying for
- The insurance coverage your business requires and how much it costs
- Any environmental, health, or workplace regulations affecting your business
- Any special regulations affecting your industry
- Bonding requirements, if applicable
Your local SBA office can help you establish requirements in your area. I strongly recommend using them. They are a great resource.
Your business plan should include a plan for company organization and hiring. While you may be the only person with the company right now, down the road you’ll need more people. Make sure to consider and document the answers to the following questions:
- What is the current leadership structure and what will it look like in the future?
- What types of employees will you have? Are there any licensing or educational requirements?
- How many employees will you need?
- Will you ever hire freelancers or independent contractors?
- What is each position’s job description?
- What is the pay structure (hourly, salaried, base plus commission, etc.)?
- How do you plan to find qualified employees and contractors?
One of the most crucial parts of a business plan is the organizational chart. This simply shows the positions the company will need, who is in charge of them and the relationship of each of them. It will look similar to this:
Our small business plan template has a much more in-depth organizational chart you can edit to include when you include the organizational chart in your business plan.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements
No business plan is complete without financial statements or financial projections. The business plan format will be different based on whether you are writing a business plan to expand a business or a startup business plan. Let’s dig deeper into each.
Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business
An existing business should use their past financial documents including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement to find trends to estimate the next 3-5 years.
You can create easy trendlines in excel to predict future revenue, profit and loss, cash flow, and other changes in year-over-year performance. This will show your expected performance assuming business continues as normal.
If you are seeking an investment, then the business is probably not going to continue as normal. Depending on the financial plan and the purpose of getting financing, adjustments may be needed to the following:
- Higher Revenue if expanding business
- Lower Cost of Goods Sold if purchasing inventory with bulk discounts
- Adding interest if utilizing financing (not equity deal)
- Changes in expenses
- Addition of financing information to the cash flow statement
- Changes in Earnings per Share on the balance sheet
Financial modeling is a challenging subject, but there are plenty of low-cost courses on the subject. If you need help planning your business financial documentation take some time to watch some of them.
Make it a point to document how you calculated all the changes to the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in your business plan so that key team members or investors can verify your research.
Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan
Unlike an existing business, a startup doesn’t have previous success to model its future performance. In this scenario, you need to focus on how to make a business plan realistic through the use of industry research and averages.
Mike gave the following advice in his interview:
Financial Forecasting Mistakes
One of the things a lot of inexperienced people use is the argument, “If I get one percent of the market, it is worth $100 million.” If you use this, investors are likely to file the document under bad business plan examples.
Let’s use custom t-shirts as an example.
Credence Research estimated in 2018 there were 11,334,800,000 custom t-shirts sold for a total of $206.12 Billion, with a 6% compound annual growth rate.
With that data, you can calculate that the industry will grow to $270 Billion in 2023 and that the average shirt sold creates $18.18 in revenue.
Combine that with an IBIS World estimate of 11,094 custom screen printers and that means even if you become an average seller, you’ll get .009% of the market.
Here’s a table for easier viewing of that information.
The point here is to make sure your business proposal examples make sense.
You’ll need to know industry averages such as cost of customer acquisition, revenue per customer, the average cost of goods sold, and admin costs to be able to create accurate estimates.
Our simple business plan templates walk you through most of these processes. If you follow them you’ll have a good idea of how to write a business proposal.
How to Write a Business Plan Step 9. Business Plan Example of Funding Requests
What is a business plan without a plan on how to obtain funding?
The Small Business Administration has an example for a pizza restaurant that theoretically needed nearly $20k to make it through their first month.
In our video, How to Start a $500K/Year T-Shirt Business (Pt. 1 ), Sanford Booth told us he needed about $200,000 to start his franchise and broke even after 4 months.
Freshbooks estimates it takes on average 2-3 years for a business to be profitable, which means the fictitious pizza company from the SBA could need up to $330k to make it through that time and still pay their bills for their home and pizza shop.
Not every business needs that much to start, but realistically it’s a good idea to assume that you need a fairly large cushion.
Ways to get funding for a small business
There are a variety of ways to cover this. the most common are:
- Bootstrapping – Using your savings without external funding.
- Taking out debt – loans, credit cards
- Equity, Seed Funding – Ownership of a percentage of the company in exchange for current funds
- Crowdsourcing – Promising a good for funding to create the product
Keep reading for more tips on how to write a business plan.
How funding will be used
When asking for business financing make sure to include:
- How much to get started?
- What is the minimum viable product and how soon can you make money?
- How will the money be spent?
Mike emphasized two aspects that should be included in every plan,
How to Write a Business Plan Resources
Here are some links to a business plan sample and business plan outline.
- Sample plan
It’s also helpful to follow some of the leading influencers in the business plan writing community. Here’s a list:
- Wise Plans – Shares a lot of information on starting businesses and is a business plan writing company.
- Optimus Business Plans – Another business plan writing company.
- Venture Capital – A venture capital thread that can help give you ideas.
How to Write a Business Plan: What’s Next?
We hope this guide about how to write a simple business plan step by step has been helpful. We’ve covered:
- The definition of a business plan
- Coming up with a business idea
- Performing market research
- The critical components of a business plan
- An example business plan
In addition, we provided you with a simple business plan template to assist you in the process of writing your startup business plan. The startup business plan template also includes a business model template that will be the key to your success.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our business hub .
Have you written a business plan before? How did it impact your ability to achieve your goals?
Brandon Boushy lives to improve people’s lives by helping them become successful entrepreneurs. His journey started nearly 30 years ago. He consistently excelled at everything he did, but preferred to make the rules rather than follow him. His exploration of self and knowledge has helped him to get an engineering degree, MBA, and countless certifications. When freelancing and rideshare came onto the scene, he recognized the opportunity to play by his own rules. Since 2017, he has helped businesses across all industries achieve more with his research, writing, and marketing strategies. Since 2021, he has been the Lead Writer for UpFlip where he has published over 170 articles on small business success.
- 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)
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Our guide for founders: how to write a business plan successfully
Adventurers don’t embark on a journey without charting a path first, nor should you as an entrepreneur found a startup without a business plan. Your business plan is your map, and a solid business foundation is your destination. Creating a business plan has many components. You’ll need to decide what kind suits your goals, before laying out the steps required to reach completion. To guide you through these high seas, we’ve put together a guide on how to write a business plan successfully, for you to consult so you can chart your path confidently. Read on to fully understand what a business plan is and why you should create one, which type is right for you, and how to put it together step by step.
What is a business plan?
Your business plan is a document that creates a picture of your business. In it you will clarify the kinds of products or services you offer, who is on your leadership board and staff, how you will finance your business, what your daily operations will be, and anything else key to your success. Visually, you will have the freedom to design your own business plan. Like CVs, there is no one template for a business plan. That being said, There are components you will need to include in the document, and displaying them clearly on the page will inevitably force some recognisable structure into your document.
Why write a business plan?
There are two groups of people for whom you will create your business plan: 1. You and your staff, and 2. Your investors.
For you and your staff
Whether or not you’ll have a staff will not influence your need for a business plan. It just changes how many eyes there will be on it. For yourself, a business plan will lay out in plain terms, soberly and backed up with financial data, all the big plans you have about your venture’s success. As you begin to put down on paper what you hope to achieve, interrogating it with influencing factors, you will begin to understand both the likelihood of completing your goals and the things required for you to do so.
For your investors
Think of your business plan like an argument you will need to present to win the case of financing your venture. All entrepreneurs, even the ones with a huge cache of money saved before they begin, will need to approach investors to finance their companies. In the early stages before you’ve accrued many customers or made many sales, your business plan is the strongest piece of evidence in your case. It not only shows you have planned ahead and thought of all the potential roadblocks, but it demonstrates how the investors themselves would benefit from getting involved with you, ultimately securing funding for your business .
What are the business plan formats?
Before putting together your business plan, you’ll need to determine what kind will serve you best. Business plan formats differ in length and content, depending on the size and type of company you plan to run. Typical business plan formats are:
- Traditional business plans
- Lean business plans
- Nonprofit business plans
Traditional business plan
The traditional business plan format is the most common and most comprehensive type. They often reach around 40 pages and are suited to entrepreneurs with long-term, large growth plans for their ventures, reaching investors they hope to convince to invest heavily in their businesses. Approach the traditional format like you would a comprehensive blueprint of your business’s future. You want to cover as much as possible, to have already answered the majority of questions that might come up when someone takes a look at your business plan. Below, we’ll lay out the steps to creating a traditional business plan, including how to draft these necessary components:
- Executive summary
- Business description and strategy
- Industry analysis
- Market analysis
- Organisation and management
- Financial projections
- Financing request
Lean business plan
This is the kind of business plan that works for a startup. If you’re keen to get started quickly and don’t need a huge amount of resources right at the beginning, a lean startup might be the way to go. While it’s a concern that you might opt for a lean startup plan when a more comprehensive one would serve you better, it’s conversely true that spending too much time on a business plan when a lean one will suffice is detrimental too. Not only do you waste time and resources putting one together, but without a staff or management board involved, or many investors needed, you’re simply expending effort that need not be expended. Putting together a lean startup plan, you won’t need to include as strict a list of components as the traditional model requires. Lean business plans are more about general subheadings denoting what to include.
- Identifying a problem
- Proposing your solution
- Presenting your key metrics
- Describing your unique value proposition
- Explaining your marketing strategy
- Estimating your target market
- Laying out your cost structure
- Listing your revenue streams
Nonprofit business plan
Crafting a nonprofit business plan will mean focusing on appealing to donors rather than investors. Therefore, your chief concern will be appealing to a problem and providing a solution to it. Beyond this, the basic structure of a nonprofit business plan will be the same as a traditional one, or lean business plan depending on the size of your venture. Our steps below can be used for this kind of business plan.
How to write a business plan in 8 steps
Creating a business plan can seem like huge task. But if you break it down to just a few simple steps, it quickly become a quite manageable affair:
- Business description
Step 1: Executive summary
Here is where you lay out the contents of your ensuing business plan. Use it to highlight the most important parts of your plan, which will depend on the kind of business you will be running. If you are running a nonprofit business, emphasise the urgency of the problem you plan to solve, through data and figures which help to clarify the need for donors. It’s with the executive summary that you want to capture the reader’s attention and then explain in brief terms what your business stands for and what you are going to do. You can think of the executive summary like a microcosm of the overall business plan. Be sure to include:
- Objective of your business
- Target market you intend to reach
- Products and services you aim to provide
- Marketing and sales strategies you will employ
- Analysis of competitors in your chosen market
- Funding and budget allocation for strategies and operations
- Number of employees you will hire
- How you will implement your business plan
Lean business plans should also include the above components in an executive summary. Ideally, you will present them in a shorter form, through bullet points rather than explanatory paragraphs.
Step 2: Business description
With the business description, you can make clear what makes your business unique among the others in your market. Answer these questions when putting together your business description: What do I do that my competitors don’t? Analyse your main competitors’ websites and mission statements. What services do they provide that match yours? How will you offer yours differently? How do they manufacture their products in ways you could improve upon? What is my company philosophy? Also called your mission statement or brand identity, your philosophy is the driving purpose for which you created your company. Brand identity is more common today with companies aligning themselves with causes, making this part of your business description equally important whether you are profit- or donation-based. Who are my target customers? Demonstrate a clear understanding of who you wish to reach with your product or services. Consider demographic, region, wealth status, occupations, and age when outlining your potential customer base. What are my goals? Finally, what do you hope to achieve with your business venture? Investors and donors want to see ambition, but they also want to see realism. Counter your ambitious goals with expectations that situate them in the realm of possibility without eliminating the possibility to do something great.
Step 3: Industry analysis
Ideally, you should know what industry you’re getting into before you start putting together your business plan. Industry analysis in a business plan is about presenting to interested parties a thorough understanding of more than just your competitors—it’s also about the historical developments and influencing factors within your industry: what has formed it and what might continue to shape it in the future. Include in your industry analysis things like:
- The influencing factors in your industry: what causes the competition to intensify/decrease, how customers’ needs have changed/are changing, what technological innovations have/will change your industry, how globalisation affects your industry, which government bodies will regulate your industry.
- The current attractiveness of the industry: whether or not now is the right time to be in your chosen industry, what are the challenges/advantages of entering this industry now, how does the trajectory of this industry look when forecasting its future.
It’s also important to clarify where in that industry you stand, and to be realistic about your competition. For example, if you’re opening a film studio, it may be accurate to say that your industry includes Disney and Netflix, but it would be unrealistic to assume you can compete with them. Instead, further break down your industry competitors by finding ones more similar to you: what kind of films might your studio produce? What will the general budget of those films be? Who are the other studios with similar budget margins and output type?
Step 4: Market analysis
Market analysis and industry analysis may seem like the same thing, however they have a crucially different focus: where industry analysis focuses on your competitors, market analysis is focused on your customer base. To return to the film studio example, the market will have to be more narrow than ‘people who watch movies’. Instead, it would be better to appeal to demographic by genre, censorship rating, style, etc. Gathering data on such a demographic will be too broad and impossible to determine any useful metrics or trends. Sharpen your market analysis by introducing factors that will drain the pool a bit:
- Customer age/location/family status etc.
- Customer shopping habits
- Potential number of buyers/subscribers
- Amount customers are willing to spend
Keep your analysis broad enough to ensure growth if your venture is successful, but remember that at the business planning stage, accuracy and realistic expectations are key.
Step 5: Organisation and management
Less relevant for startups putting lean business plans together, this section will lay out the structure of your staff and board of directors. In other words, who is involved and what are they doing? Divide this section into two sections:
- Business structure and people involved
- Management team or board of directors
Usually displayed visually, your business structure will lay out the hierarchy of your company. In the form of the chart, position the founders, management teams, and staff in whatever structure best suits you.
Here, bring a personal element to your organisational structure. Describe what each member (incl. yourself) of your management team brings to the company, with all of or a selection of these details:
- Ownership percentage
- Involvement level
- Ownership type (stocks, general partner, etc.)
- Company position
- Educational background
- Relevant skills and experience
- Relevant employment history
- Awards received
Step 6: Financial projections
Two year financial projections will help readers of your business plan understand your cash flow, loan repayment schedules—ultimately what you plan to do with your money and how. Similar to your business budget . Here are the key elements of the financial projections section of your business plan:
- Spending and sales: daily operations like rent, utilities, production materials; one time purchases such as vehicles, software; countered with projected sales revenue for the month
- Financial projections: monthly expenses and revenue cash flow demonstrating cash flow for the first twelve months of business operations; determine projected annual income with statements and balance sheet predictions
- Contingency plan: demonstrate plan for unexpected expenses via financial projections and cash flows; how you plan to handle sudden events; present in the form of a cash reserve
Plan for your business and your finances accordingly–with Qonto's digital business account.
Step 7: Financing request
Towards the end of your financial projections section is where you ask for funding from readers. Having presented a detailed and thorough understanding of your business operations and cash flows you can now make your case for corporate financing . You will need to include in your financing request:
- Amount required
- Future financial plans
- Financial history
- Loan repayment terms
When filling in these requirements keep these things in mind:
- Who is my audience for this report? Your readers are your financiers. How will you reach them? Appealing for a profit-based vs nonprofit business will require a different kind of approach in this section, as you are speaking to donors vs people who are hoping to profit through their investments to you.
- Have I been accurate in my presentation? Make sure the information you have provided previously matches the funding request you are about to make. The ending of your business plan should be like the ending of a good movie: it makes sense considering the events that preceded it.
- Is my request reasonable? What you are asking for should be a balance between what you need and what you hope to receive. Asking too low will cause you to seek more financing later on, and asking too high might be met with scepticism or outright rejections.
Step 8: Appendix
The final section of your report will provide any supporting documents that have been requested by your readers. This could be:
- Credit history report
- Product pictures
- Reference letters
Writing the best business plan: tips and common mistakes
Understanding how to write your business plan most successfully means keeping several things in mind while putting together all the components. A good business plan is the product of a forward-thinking and logical business owner who knows what they want and how to deliver it clearly. Keep these concepts in mind when putting your business plan together:
How long does your business plan need to be? Long-winded business plans that provide too much information when it isn’t needed. We tend to glaze over when looking at a document providing more than the necessary information. You don’t want potential investors glazing over your report.
A business plan might not seem like the right medium in which to convey passion, but this is misleading and potentially dangerous. Too many business reports are dry documents. Investors and donors want to see a business owner who believes in what they do, who sees a bright future ahead for themselves and the people who work with them. Use your opening section and business description to communicate what makes your business more than just a business—it’s your passion.
Know exactly who you’re speaking to. Keep your audience in mind at all times when crafting your document so that you only put in information relevant to those readers. A business plan that appeals too broadly will only harm your potential to convince.
There are a lot of components to a good business plan. Whether lean or traditional, you will have to consider your venture from many different angles and back up a lot of your proposals with research. But the more effort you put into this stage of business formation, the stronger foundation on which you’ll start your business, increasing the likelihood of a long term career. Hopefully, our extensive guide on how to write a business plan has provided some useful pointers on getting started with your business plan.
- A business plan is a document which a founder presents to potential investors and interested parties, to demonstrate the financing and operations of their business venture
- Business plans are useful to both staff and founders, as well as potential investors
- Business plans come in three types: traditional, lean, and nonprofit
- Write your business plan by first putting together and executive summary and business description to establish what you do
- Market and industry analyses will demonstrate your understanding of the competition and potential customer base
- Organisation and management lays out the structure of your business and staff
- Financial projections and funding request sections clarify your financial standing and what kind of financing you require from readers
- The appendix includes any extra documents requested by the reader
- Keep in mind length, audience, and passion when writing your business plan
© Copyright by John Doe. The photo above should be optional. The photo can be added as a cover, if it makes sense for a given article.
Where to start.
Whether you are opening a self-pour taproom, brewery, bar, or restaurant, building and opening a successful business, requires a lot of time and dedication. Every establishment should begin its journey with an effective business plan, which will not only keep your business ideas organized but will be a crucial deliverable when approaching banks or other investors for financial help.
This task can seem daunting for someone who hasn’t created a full business plan before, especially when opening a taproom for the first time. Thankfully, there are plenty of online resources to help you get on track and figure out which questions you’ll need to answer in that crucial first pitch.
Another great thing to emphasize in it (particularly to make your investors feel safer) is that the failure ratio of self-pour establishments is significantly lower than an industry standard. If you need the latest numbers and data on this, reach out to my team at [email protected] .
Business Plan Templates & Samples
There are even free templates available online to help you begin. You can also use our sample business plan example adapted from one of our customers’ self-pour taprooms.
fill out the form below to download it!
What to cover in your business plan.
Whether you’re operating in the brewery or bar space, looking to bring a new type of restaurant to your area, or doing something unique, you need a solid business plan that contains certain key elements. These include:
Company description, industry analysis, swot analysis, marketing & sales, financial plan.
The purpose of the executive summary is to introduce and outline your business concept and provide a brief overview of your business plan as a whole. In this section, you’ll want to include things like the name of your business, its primary product offering, and any mission statement you may have. You should also include the primary goal of this business plan; this may be to secure investors or get a business loan, etc., so you will want to make sure that it communicates your idea and why it will be successful.
NOTE : Because the executive summary pulls from other parts of the business plan, many people decide to complete it last. Nevertheless, once you finalize your business plan, the executive summary should be the first part of your document.
This is where you will describe what your business truly is in as much detail as possible. What kind of establishment is it? A bar, restaurant, taproom? How many people will you serve at a time? What will your staffing structure be?
You must cover all of these factors in detail, which means you need to plan them out beforehand. This is where you should also make it completely clear what your primary product offering is and in which format you are offering it. For a taproom, this is likely to be beer or other beverages. But for a restaurant, this will be the food of a specific cuisine. Be thoughtful about this and ensure you know what you want your customers to focus on when they think of your business.
For self-pour establishments, this concept is likely to be at least one of your main product offerings – if it isn’t your only one. It’s a good move to make this a part of your business plan and emphasize that the self-pour industry is growing in size and popularity. The self-pour industry arose from changes in customer preferences , perhaps especially among millennial consumers , who continue to dominate the consumer base for the drink industry. These are great things to emphasize in a self-pour business plan.
The industry analysis section should include a market overview by identifying your core customers, location, and competition – which may provide insight on many demographics such as age, sex, household income, and ethnicity. You should identify specific customer segments and approximate their size and projected interest in your business.
A detailed evaluation of your competition is also essential and should include other similar businesses in the area that may capture market share. You should analyze their target market and size as well. All of these things will inform your pricing structure and branding elements. You want to make sure that the business you are bringing to your sector is one that your target market wants to visit. For example, it might not be the best idea to have an upscale taproom with a higher price point in a college town if there are not enough potential customers.
PourMyBeer TIP : We can’t stress this enough – bringing a concept that fits within your area as well as the amount of foot traffic you have will be key to your success!
Within the hospitality industry, location is extremely important . Many PourMyBeer customers have noted the importance of already existing foot traffic, and this is something that is inherent to the location that you choose. So, select your location carefully after conducting plenty of research into the area.
The “SWOT” Analysis is used in the business world to evaluate your current position as a business before implementing a new strategy. The acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can be used in several contexts. It is most relevant to use in the business plan as an examination of the competitive landscape in the area.
Using SWOT analysis, you can compile information to create a summarized report that gives investors or other readers a quick and effective idea of where your business would stand when it first opens.
Marketing Strategy & Sales Plan
A very important part of the business plan is to come up with several specific strategies for future marketing campaigns and generally get the word out. The hospitality industry is a highly competitive one. You must communicate to your customers why they should try out your place and become regulars there, rather than other bars or restaurants.
You will need to figure out what marketing methods and platforms you will want to use and make sure to use multiple approaches. You can use more tangible marketing methods such as physical branding on-site and partnerships with local organizations; or digital marketing methods such as email, social media, and search engine optimization methods. Ideally, aim to do plenty of both. Using personal networks for spreading the word is also a great way to start building excitement in your community long before your business officially opens. You want the grand opening of your business to be a big one that locals know about and discuss and want to be a part of.
Sales go hand-in-hand with marketing, as boosting revenue is ultimately the main goal of marketing, just as it is with sales. Before you start your marketing efforts, figure out additional specifics such as a pricing structure for the menu, who you are trying to reach and allure to your establishment, and possible loyalty clubs and promotions/discounts if this is something you want to pursue.
To help put your business in the best possible position for success, we have compiled a quick guide containing the most important Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when opening your own self-pour business, based on experiences with our 500+ customers. Fill out the form below to download it.
Self-Pour Operations “Do’s” and “Do Not’s”
Fill out this form to download these do's and don'ts.
Whether you are speaking to a bank or potential investor, it is important to make your funding requirements clear and explain exactly where the initial money will go. You’ll want to provide a cost sheet that details initial expenses and how you plan to spend capital. If you are putting any money into the business yourself, you will also need to provide relevant financial statements and explain your investment clearly.
Also, you may want to include a management team analysis, which provides a background of your management team and your investors. You can use resumes to your advantage.
It’s essential for investors that you include detailed cash flow projections. First, calculate estimated revenue projections for years one, two, and three. Estimates should be conservative and realistic. Second, determine your total liabilities and costs. Your costs will include items such as lease, payroll, insurance, licenses, utilities, banknote, and taxes. Last, estimate your cash flow for years one, two, and three. This will project the business’ future net income.
Regardless of what you include in your plan, make sure it’s thorough and organized. You’ll be presenting it to banks or investors to convince them to finance your business.
For more information on how to get started, check out the resources below:
- How to Start Your Own Self-Pour Business
- How Did I Open 3 Successful Self-Pour Taprooms? – Fireside Chat with the owner of 3 self-pour taprooms called Tapster
Or, fill out the form below to access our opening a self-pour establishment checklist .
Checklist for opening a self-pour establishment
Fill out this form so you can check off the steps as you go.
Or, get in touch with us at (312) 416-9989 or [email protected] , and we will be happy to help!
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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.
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How to create your partner business plan in 5 easy steps
One of the partner business plan tools we use with our small firm clients is the STAGe model. This is widely used to create 3-year or 12-month business plans for them. The good news is that it is versatile enough to help you create your 3-year partner business plan or 12-month partner business plan or vision for your practice. In this article ,I explain how to use the tool, plus you can download a template to create your 3-year partner business plan or 12-month partner business plan for your own practice.
What does the tool enable you to do?
The STAGe Tool is a one-page vision summarising your practice’s expected performance over the next 3 years or 12 months. It gives you a simple visual way to explain how your practice will develop in the future. In other words, it acts as a very simple, but highly effective tool to help you create your partner business plan – a key component of your business case for partner.
The tool consists of 5 circles that correspond to now, year 1, year 2, year (or the timescales of your choice.), or Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4. The circles are dissected by axes which represent the performance measures that best illustrate how your practice will develop. Each performance measure is broken down into what it will be at each year. This article assumes you are creating a 3-year partner business plan. However, you can also use the same template to create a 12-month partner business plan.
Click here to download your free PDF of the STAGe model to help you rapidly put together your partner Business plan.
Here is a completed STAGe tool:
Stage 1: Envision the future
Take a moment to think about where you want your practice to be in 3 years if you are successful at the partnership vote. (Or 12 months if you are being asked to create a 12-month partner business plan) You may find it useful to do this exercise away from your desk and distractions.
You may like to consider the following areas:
- Average spend?
- Services offered?
- Key accounts won? Or were panels appointed too?
- Revenue and/or GRF?
- Key metrics which are important for your firm, e.g. WIP, Lockup, utilisation?
- Contribution to the firm?
- Structure of your team/practice?
- Development required?
- No. of leads required a month?
- Referrers needed?
- Sectors/markets/Niche to target?
Read: What needs to go in the 12-month marketing plan for your business case for partner
Stage 2: Identify the really important metrics or things for your practice
In stage 2, you identify what are the really important things for you and your practice. Those things that if you focus on them you will achieve your 3-year. These then become the axes on your STAGe diagram. Ideally, you will identify 8-12 measures of performance to accurately show how you will grow your practice in the next three years.
One of our most sought-after courses in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner i s called “ How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner” . We think it’s a must-have in your arsenal of tools and guidance to help with your career progression. There is also a section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the system. Check it out!
Stage 3: Identify your year 3 performance measures
Now take the STAGe template and label your performance measures and name the years on the concentric circles. For each performance, measure the axis and add what you are currently achieving. You now want to define your year 3 performance measures. By defining year 3 first you can then work backward towards your 12-month targets.
It can be very helpful to start the year 3 discussions by considering the fundamental financial measures for your practice such as revenue, GRF, turnover, profit, or contribution. This is because they are normally easier to complete, and it often sets the agenda for the rest of the performance measures.
Stage 4: Identify year 1 and 2 performance measures
Once you have completed your year 3 performance measures you then want to work along each of the performance measures axes to complete year 1 and year 2 goals. You may like to use questions such as:
“If I am to achieve this level of performance in year 3, what level should I achieve in year 2?”
“If I am to achieve this level of performance in year 2, what do I need to achieve in year 1? Is this too big a stretch from where I am now?”
At the end of this stage, you should have a fully completed diagram with each performance measure having a number or statement for each year on the diagram.
Stage 5: Critically review your partner business plan
Now you have completed the partner business plan, it is time to critically review it. That means:
- Are the targets really feasible? Do the numbers stack up and relate to each other?
- Is it stretching enough? Or could you easily achieve more?
- Have you missed anything? Is anything really obvious? Any blind spots?
If you haven’t already click here to download your free PDF of the STAGe model to help you rapidly put together your partner Business plan.
Once you have completed your partner business plan, it’s time to get feedback on it, plus identify the projects or activities which are critical to achieving your year 1 targets. Did you know? One of our most sought-after courses in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner i s called “ How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner” . We think it’s a must-have in your arsenal of tools and guidance to help with your career progression. There is also a section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the system. Check it out!
Or Check out our How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner self study course . ✔️ What makes a good Business Case for Partner ✔️ 5 things you need to consider so the partners take notice of you ✔️ What needs to go into your 12-month business development plan
5 ways growing your online presence NOW can help you sign up the right clients later
With so many people working remotely right now, there has never been a more important time to have an online presence. Think about it, everyone is at home and searching online, so if you don’t have a presence, how will your prospects find you? We have always stressed how vitally important your online footprint is…
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Business Plan for Partnership Firm
A business plan for partnership firm is recommended for anyone entering into a business partnership. 3 min read
Updated November 2, 2020:
A business plan for a partnership firm is recommended for anyone entering into a business partnership. A business partnership is two or more people working together to run a business. Each person takes on equal risks and rewards that come from the business. A proper business plan is ideal for handling current and future business decisions.
Steps For Planning a Business Partnership
- Write a mission statement to clearly state the direction and goals the business plans to take. By writing a mission statement, the partners agree to the company's direction now and in the future.
- Develop a reimbursement plan for the costs and investments incurred during startup. The amount of money provided for the startup is not always equal. Therefore, it is beneficial to make a plan that takes this into account with repayment and returns on investment. Avoiding arguments over the value of the startup amount versus levels of sweat equity will be removed with a reimbursement plan.
- Create a method to resolve partner disputes. If an odd number of members are part of the partnership, you can choose to vote democratically. In the case of two partners, the partners may split areas of the business having the final say. For example, one person can make final decisions on marketing and sales planning, while the other person makes final decisions on financial planning.
- Appoint an outside panel of advisors, or ombudsman , to resolve any internal disputes. Trusted experts should always be used to avoid ruining the partner relationship.
- Divide all the responsibilities of the partners related to labor and management and assign the amount of compensation they will receive. The compensation is not always equal based on the workload the partner takes on.
- Request that outside experts review the partnership agreement for any legal or accounting mistakes. The experts may be able to point out unknown problems that exist in the agreement. This review should take place before the partnership begins business operations.
A partnership deed and partnership agreement are the same, but the partnership deed is in writing . A partnership agreement can exist solely through verbal communications or actions. A partnership deed is recommended for businesses as it clearly defines the terms of the partnership.
The partnership deed helps prove the agreed-upon terms if there are any conflicts. Without a deed, the rules to settle disputes will fall to the state laws where the partnership exists. This creates another issue where one partner may file suit to benefit from the existing laws. Legal action can be avoided with a partnership deed that lists all details of the business that the partners agreed to when they began the business.
Partner Business Plans
When legal firms are looking to add a new partner, a well-written business plan that shows the new partners' intent to grow the business will make them stand out from the rest of the applicants. The business plan should exceed the expectations of the firm.
The key elements of the business plan are:
- Create an introduction that details your professional history, areas of expertise, and why you are the right fit for the firm.
- Provide market research and analysis of the needs of the local area, what competition exists, and why the firm offers the best way to reach this marketplace.
- Describe your current client base, prospective clients, and untapped areas you'd like to reach.
- Include any cross-selling opportunities that exist with current and prospective clients.
- Share ways you can develop business sources including publications, speeches, client seminars, newsletters, and similar.
- Explain your long-term strategy to meet the goals and targets that will benefit the firm.
- Show a history of collections, billing rates, and billable hours and projections for the current year, three-years, and five-years.
- Time the partners must invest.
- Key staff will be needed (paralegals, secretaries, etc.)
- Travel expenses.
- Marketing materials,
- Foreign language skill requirements.
End with a conclusion that is creative recaps the important points in the plan, what value will be added to the firm, and why you are the best fit for the firm.
If you need help with a business plan for a partnership firm, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.
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7 elements of international trade strategies.
Published: November 23, 2023
Learn how to develop the right regional and local plans to improve your international trade strategy and create long-lasting business opportunities.
International trade is the backbone of a strong global economy. Having international trading partners helps open a country’s businesses to new markets, including U.S. companies looking to take their business global . In fact, U.S. exports accounted for about 11% of the country’s GDP in 2023 as of Q3, and the International Trade Association (ITA) indicates that as of 2021, 9 million domestic jobs were supported by U.S. exports.
The potential impacts of international trade on business growth is staggering. Companies that have yet to embark on an international business strategy have plenty of reason to do so, even if there are several critical questions that have to be answered first. Understanding how to find the right market, develop the right regional and local plans, and familiarize oneself with the legal implications of international trade are but a few of the many questions every business owner should consider when devising their international trade strategy.
How to Put Together an International Trade Game Plan
Coming up with an international trade strategy can be a significant undertaking for a business of any size. Developing one for a small business poses its own unique challenges, as it can be harder for these companies to get brand recognition overseas, navigate complex regulations, and divert resources to a dedicated team of local consultants.
To improve chances of success, any global strategy for trade should first consider focusing on seven key concepts:
1. Have a Strong Product Offering
The right product can make a massive difference when it comes to capitalizing on trade opportunities abroad. Any successful plan for international trade should start with a high-quality, unique product that also resonates with the cultural nuances and preferences of the target market. While copying what is already available on the market may seem like an easy in, it can be challenging for newcomers to carve out space – especially if existing businesses and overseas manufacturers have the incumbent advantage. To stand out and gain traction, opt for a unique offering that will meet the needs and cultural sensibilities of your international customers.
To stand out and gain traction, opt for a unique offering that will meet the needs and cultural sensibilities of your international customers.
2. Be Sure There’s a Market Opportunity
Having a strong offering is one thing. But is there a market opportunity in your target location? To make sure your efforts are directed toward a genuine and profitable market need, it may be necessary to build a global strategy based on extensive market research . To gain valuable insights into your target market, consider utilizing tools like a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and a PEST analysis (political, economic, social, technological), as well as conducting primary research through surveys and focus groups. Digital platforms and market research databases can also give a glimpse into product demand and emerging trends. Small businesses should be prepared to dive deeply into the nuances of market opportunity, size up both international and domestic competitors, assess product demand, and, ultimately, develop a unique business proposition .
3. Work Out Supply Chain Logistics
Supply chain considerations such as management and logistics take on increased importance when entering into global trade. Whether you’re exporting goods directly from the U.S. or instructing overseas manufacturers to deliver goods to new geographic locales, consider building a robust supply chain with as few weaknesses as possible – one that’s diverse and flexible. Leveraging multiple suppliers, for instance, can help safeguard operations against potential disruptions like geopolitical events, natural disasters, or even supplier-specific issues. In addition, try to make sure that any current partners can support steady shipments to international clients and outposts. If you don’t and your business begins to gain traction in its new location, they may struggle to fill early orders.
4. Comply With International Law
Legal considerations for international trade are multifaceted and may involve three different sets of rules and regulations: domestic laws in a country’s home base, laws in the destination country, and international laws governing global trade. Compliance with all three of these sets of standards requires not only steadfast adherence to guidelines but also a proactive approach to keep up with frequent changes – otherwise, your business could run into pitfalls such as inadvertently violating intellectual property rights, running afoul of import/export restrictions, or misinterpreting contractual terms in a foreign legal context. Hiring local assistance in the country you plan to export to can help you get real-time guidance and ensure that you’re abreast of local nuances and legal shifts.
5. Form Strategic Partnerships
When expanding internationally, understanding local cultural dynamics can be as crucial as knowing the market. These dynamics can influence consumer preferences, business etiquette , negotiation styles, and even regulatory adherence. Forging strategic partnerships with local businesses or consultants can offer valuable insights into these cultural nuances. Whether you plan to establish offices in other countries or simply want to expand where you do business, having a network of trustworthy local contacts can not only make an otherwise difficult process smoother, it can also ensure that your business practices resonate with local values and expectations. For example, good local partners can help guide your business through cultural ceremonies, introduce you to the right decision-makers, and advise on culturally appropriate marketing strategies, helping your business navigate and thrive in a brand-new cultural environment.
6. Leverage Government Resources
Try not to overlook federal and local resources that can help you with your international ambitions – they are plentiful. The ITA offers a “how-to” guide to exporting , and U.S. Export Assistance Centers are available to teach small businesses about the exporting process. The U.S. Department of Commerce also puts together an annual National Export Strategy report that outlines what actions the government is taking to help businesses, including small businesses, compete globally and overcome barriers to trade. You can also check out the State International Development Organization’s State Trade Directory for localized assistance.
7. Hire the Right Talent
Any international trade strategy is only as strong as the team behind it. Your company’s staff should have clear, actionable guidance in order to successfully bring your business to new markets. Not only does this mean hiring individuals experienced in exports and cross-cultural communications, but it also emphasizes the need for continuous training, including cultural sensitivity sessions. These training sessions can help make sure your team has the tools to effectively interact with a diverse array of clients and collaborators. In turn, this can reduce misunderstandings and foster positive relationships.
The Bottom Line
Businesses looking to expand into international markets stand to benefit from diversified revenue streams and an increased market size, to say the least. But getting started can be a challenge. Although there are myriad factors that have to go into developing a robust, successful international trade strategy, paying careful attention to everything – from your product offering and destination market needs to compliance with international laws can make a major difference.
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Design in the making
- Business resilience
How architects can put together a business continuity plan
Learn more about the benefits of having a plan, and how to go about putting one together
Most practices came face-to-face with business continuity planning – knowingly or otherwise – when the COVID lockdown suddenly became a reality and offices had to be all but vacated overnight and staff sent home to work remotely.
The pandemic was a vivid illustration of the value of having a business continuity plan (BCP) in place to guide the process of an adaptation to suddenly disrupted ways of working, says Tina McKenzie, Policy Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) , who believes businesses of all sizes should have a BCP in place.
Why you should consider drawing up a business continuity plan
‘The kinds of events that might cause a BCP to be put into action range from severe damage to business premises, such as through flood or fire, to a devastating cybersecurity incident, to the unexpected and sudden loss of a key member of staff,’ says McKenzie.
‘Your priorities will likely include your IT infrastructure, your premises if applicable, your work in progress, and your key staff functions, such as accounting and HR.’
Knowing what’s in a plan is all well and good, but putting one together requires careful consideration.
Read more about RIBA’s Security Overlay to the Plan of Work
She continues: ‘To start building a plan, think about how you and your staff provide your services – what are the key tools needed? Who are your essential service providers? Ensure you have contact details for your main external partners, customers and suppliers saved somewhere that will be accessible if you can’t get to your office, or if you’re locked out of your IT systems. What regulations do you need to comply with in order to keep trading? How can you communicate with customers in case of emergency?’
Clearly, priorities for restoring operations after an unexpected event will vary hugely from practice to practice. In these days of hybrid working, damage to premises may not be so critical, whereas data loss or a ransomware attack could bring any business to a halt if secure data backup arrangements are not in place.
For small practices the sudden loss of a key staff member could precipitate a crisis at corporate level and at specific project level – can you continue to work to meet agreed timelines? Clients will be looking for assurances that projects can continue despite the disruption. They will expect you to have a plan.
What resources are available to help architects draw up a BCP?
The FSB Insurance Service offers a free business continuity planning kit (which requires registration with the insurance service). The process begins with an analysis of business functions, threats and impacts and the key resources your company relies upon. This will include key members of staff, external contacts, equipment and documents.
The insurance service suggests ranking resources in order of importance to your business, according to maximum manageable downtime and how long your company can survive without that resource in place.
Larger organisations might want to carry out a more in-depth Business Impact Analysis that predicts potential consequences of processes being disrupted. The amount of time for recovery before the business suffers consequences is known as the Recovery Time Objective.
There are various template resources available for BCPs online, which practices can draw upon and perhaps use to inspire their own plan according to their own risk profile.
RIBA’s US counterpart the AIA offers a downloadable guide, The Architect’s Guide to Business Continuity .
The 90-page AIA guide offers practices a comprehensive step-by-step process, supported by worksheets, for assessing and reducing risks associated with disruption. The guide shares lessons learned from impacted practices and adapts business continuity best practices specifically for the building industry. While business practices and processes in the US naturally differ from those in the UK, the AIA guide does suggests some useful, universal principles to consider when it comes to preparedness:
- Understand the elements of a business continuity plan and how it reduces risk and protects profits.
- Inventory the resources that enable your firm to run.
- Anticipate the financial, legal, brand, and operational consequences of disruption.
- Develop recovery strategies and solutions to enable the firm to maintain functionality despite disruption.
- Assess hazard and climate risks that can disrupt your ability to conduct business.
- Develop a Risk Treatment Plan to reduce the chance of disruption and to minimise the impacts caused by disruption.
Most small practices are unlikely to want to devote the time and resources needed to draw up a comprehensive BCP, but they could use the guide to identify their own priorities and how they can plan for risk mitigation.
What are the risks of not having a BCP in place?
The FSB suggests that BCPs should be reviewed annually at least, and ideally every six months, with the knowledge and participation of senior staff. The plan should be reviewed as soon as possible after major changes to your business, such as an office move, a wave of staff changes and promotions, new key suppliers or customers and other external factors that might impact your ability to trade.
Read more on business resilience with RIBA’s Business Resilience Roadmap
‘The risks of not having a plan in place are real,’ McKenzie stresses. ‘You could suffer a knock to your reputation among customers, putting your future business pipeline at risk. If you’re unable to complete in-process projects according to agreed timelines, or to take on new projects, you could face financial clawbacks and loss of income.’
Thanks to Tina McKenzie, Policy Chair, The Federation of Small Businesses .
This is a Professional Feature edited by the RIBA Practice team. Send us your feedback and ideas
RIBA Core Curriculum topic: Business, clients and services .
As part of the flexible RIBA CPD programme , professional features count as microlearning. See further information on the updated RIBA CPD core curriculum and on fulfilling your CPD requirements as an RIBA Chartered Member .
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Politics latest: Elgin Marbles row deepens; former deputy PM who stood in for Johnson to face COVID inquiry
Rishi Sunak is embroiled in a deepening row with Athens after cancelling a meeting with the Greek prime minister over the Elgin Marbles. Later, former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab will appear at the COVID inquiry.
Wednesday 29 November 2023 06:33, UK
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- Row intensifies with Greece over Elgin Marbles
- Beth Rigby: Even Sunak backers think he's made the 'wrong decision' over Elgin Marbles
- Key day for COVID inquiry with former deputy PM set to appear
- Pledge tracker: Is PM keeping his promises?
- Live reporting by Faith Ridler
In January this year, Rishi Sunak made five pledges for voters to judge him on.
The prime minister has met one of these so far - halving inflation by the end of the year.
One thing to bear in mind is prior to him making the inflation pledge, most economists predicted it would drop to 5% anyway.
Sky News has developed a tool to track the government's progress in delivering these pledges - and you can see the progress for yourself below.
Rishi Sunak hasn't had many wins in his short premiership. But one he could legitimately claim was being a prime minister who improved Britain's standing in the world - drawing a line under the bumpy Brexit years and provocative style of his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
He was the prime minister who delivered the Windsor Framework, settling the standoff with the European Union over post-Brexit trading relationships in Northern Ireland.
He has struck up a solid relationship with President Biden, signing the Atlantic Declaration signalling closer diplomatic, security and trade ties with the US while also hosting a successful global AI summit in London last month.
He was meant to stand for professional, grown up leadership.
Then he refused to meet the Greek prime minister in what appears to be a fit of pique after Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg that having the Elgin Marbles in London was like having the Mona Lisa "cut in half".
Given all of the above - grown up leadership, resetting relations with European allies, more policy less politicking - it seemed to me a rather confusing decision that undermined the PM's pitch.
So I asked other people from across the political spectrum what they thought - click the link below to read what I found out...
Today is the third day of a packed week at the COVID inquiry in central London, after Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove gave evidence on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, we will hear evidence from former deputy chief medical officer Professor Dame Jenny Harries, after yesterday's morning session overran.
We also expect to hear from former health secretary Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab, who stood in for Boris Johnson when the prime minister caught COVID in April 2020.
The inquiry is understood to be hopeful Mr Raab's evidence will begin today, despite the delays.
Here's the COVID inquiry schedule for today:
- 10am: Dame Jenny Harries , former deputy chief medical officer
- Later this morning: Sajid Javid , former health secretary
- 2pm: Dominic Raab , former deputy prime minister
We'll bring you updates live in the Politics Hub.
Rishi Sunak is embroiled in a deepening row with Athens after cancelling a meeting with the Greek prime minister over the Elgin Marbles.
Downing Street said the talks had only been agreed on the basis the Greeks would not publicly lobby for the return of the ancient artefacts, on display and owned by the British Museum.
But the Greek labour minister, Adonis Georgiades, told Sky News "this kind of agreement cannot ever happen with any Greek prime minister - and certainly with [current prime minister] Kyriakos Mitsotakis".
Athens has long demanded the return of the historic works, also known as the Parthenon Sculptures. They were removed from Greece by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century when he was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
Mr Georgiades branded Lord Elgin a "thief" when speaking to Sky - adding that it "this is the historical reality".
However, he said while cancelling the meeting was a "mistake", he said Mr Sunak "has to find a way out" of the situation.
You can read more from Sky News in the link below:
Welcome back to the Politics Hub for another busy day of updates from the very heart of Westminster.
Here's what's happening today:
- Rishi Sunak will face Sir Keir Starmer in the Commons for Prime Minister's Questions at noon;
- Fallout is also likely to continue today as the Elgin Marbles row intensifies, with Greece now denying promising not to raise issue with Downing Street;
- The COVID inquiry will also resume on Wednesday, with former deputy chief medical officer Professor Dame Jenny Harries and former health secretary Sajid Javid expected to give evidence;
- Also on the roster for today is former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab , though as yesterday overran it is unclear whether all evidence will be given;
- Abroad, Lord Cameron is at the NATO foreign ministers' summit in Brussels;
- Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is also expected to give evidence on his autumn statement to the Treasury Select Committee this afternoon.
We will discuss all this and more with:
- Environment Secretary Steve Barclay at 7.15am;
- Labour's Anneliese Dodds at 8.05am.
Stay with us for the very latest political news.
Thank you for joining us on the Politics Hub for another busy day in Westminster.
Here's what happened:
- Rishi Sunak was criticised for cancelling a meeting with the Greek prime minister, with Downing Street saying it was because the Greek leader broke an agreement not to publicly raise the issue of the Elgin marbles;
- But Greek government representatives refuted that account, saying no such deal was made and no Greek prime minister would agree to such terms;
- Elsewhere, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove gave evidence to the COVID inquiry, apologising for mistakes the government made;
- He said the Cabinet Office's response was "flawed", and while he said he shares the view that the overall government response was "dysfunctional", he defended Boris Johnson's record on Brexit and the vaccine rollout;
- Mr Gove also said the tier system was "inherently flawed", and said he had to argue vehemently in favour of the second national lockdown.
Join us tomorrow from 6am for the very latest political news, including Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid at the COVID inquiries, as well as PMQs at 12pm.
We've reported this evening about Home Secretary James Cleverly meeting with irate Conservative MPs over the government's stance on illegal migration - see the 7.30pm post for more.
The gathering has wrapped up, and now we're starting to hear how people feel about what was said.
It's worth bearing in mind around 50 Tories were thought to be present - and this is the view of just one attendee.
They say they are"not happy" with what they heard - as they were not told new legislation on migration and the Rwanda plan would be forthcoming.
The MP says: "It seems the focus is to do something that will pass both Commons and Lords, so a skimmed option seems preferable."
Mr Cleverly has faced repeated questioning from his own side in the House of Commons about the government's plans on migration.
Some claimed that his junior, immigration minister Robert Jenrick, is overshadowing the secretary of state by being more hardline on the subject.
The MP above tells Sky News that the meeting tonight was "clearly" organised to "tell MPs they didn't need to brief against" Mr Cleverly.
They said the home secretary told the group "he likes to discuss issues within the party in private" so he can "save his fire for Labour".
Mr Cleverly is apparently "sick of [shadow home secretary] Yvette Cooper trying to make out" there is a wedge between the home secretary and Mr Jenrick.
This morning in a Westminster Hall debate, MPs discussed controlling the grey squirrel population and how to protect red squirrels.
The DUP's Jim Shannon made an early intervention in the debate, comparing grey squirrels to Hamas - the proscribed terror group.
Mr Shannon said: “The Ards Red Squirrel Group is full of fantastic volunteers who work tirelessly to protect the future of the red squirrel in my constituency of Strangford, particularly at Mount Stewart.
"The organisation is led by the National Trust Mount Stewart ranger team, and they are in constant contact with local landowners to monitor red squirrels and eradicate any greys that venture in.
"Indeed, the issue is the very presence of grey squirrels – grey squirrels are the Hamas of the squirrel world."
He went on to say there should be "greater integration" between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and local red squirrel groups in the devolved institutions to ensure they have the "means necessary to preserve and expand the red squirrel species throughout Northern Ireland".
Hamas was responsible for a brutal attack on Israel on October 7.
You can watch his intervention below:
In case you missed tonight's edition of Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge , we spoke to the general secretary of the National Education Union Daniel Kebede about the government's plans to impose minimum service levels in education.
We also heard from Labour MP Sarah Champion after the government announced it would legislate to ban sex offenders from changing their names - something she has campaigned for for years.
On the panel this evening was Tory MP and Foreign Affairs Committee chair, Alicia Kearns , alongside Labour MP and former cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw .
Watch the show in full here:
By Alexandra Rogers , political reporter
Thousands of offenders who are serving controversial indefinite prison sentences will no longer have to wait 10 years before they can apply to have their licence terminated under changes announced by the government.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said he was taking "decisive action" to reform the now-abolished imprisonment for public protection (IPP) regime after concerns were raised by campaigners and cross-party MPs, as reported by Sky News in September.
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said the reforms mean more than 1,800 offenders who have been seeing out their licence period in the community could see an end to their "unjust" sentences by March 2025, in addition to about 800 people who will be eligible to have their licence period reviewed by the Parole Board.
Campaigners welcomed the move but said they were "gravely disappointed that no reforms are proposed for people trapped in prison on IPP".
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