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How to create a business plan: examples & free template.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or launching your very first startup, the guide will give you the insights, tools, and confidence you need to create a solid foundation for your business.

Table of Contents

How to Write a Business Plan

Executive summary.

It’s crucial to include a clear mission statement, a brief description of your primary products or services, an overview of your target market, and key financial projections or achievements.

Our target market includes environmentally conscious consumers and businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. We project a 200% increase in revenue within the first three years of operation.

Overview and Business Objectives

Example: EcoTech’s primary objective is to become a market leader in sustainable technology products within the next five years. Our key objectives include:

Company Description

Example: EcoTech is committed to developing cutting-edge sustainable technology products that benefit both the environment and our customers. Our unique combination of innovative solutions and eco-friendly design sets us apart from the competition. We envision a future where technology and sustainability go hand in hand, leading to a greener planet.

Define Your Target Market

Market analysis.

The Market Analysis section requires thorough research and a keen understanding of the industry. It involves examining the current trends within your industry, understanding the needs and preferences of your customers, and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

Our research indicates a gap in the market for high-quality, innovative eco-friendly technology products that cater to both individual and business clients.

SWOT Analysis

Including a SWOT analysis demonstrates to stakeholders that you have a balanced and realistic understanding of your business in its operational context.

Competitive Analysis

Organization and management team.

Provide an overview of your company’s organizational structure, including key roles and responsibilities. Introduce your management team, highlighting their expertise and experience to demonstrate that your team is capable of executing the business plan successfully.

Products and Services Offered

This section should emphasize the value you provide to customers, demonstrating that your business has a deep understanding of customer needs and is well-positioned to deliver innovative solutions that address those needs and set your company apart from competitors.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

Discuss how these marketing and sales efforts will work together to attract and retain customers, generate leads, and ultimately contribute to achieving your business’s revenue goals.

Logistics and Operations Plan

Inventory control is another crucial aspect, where you explain strategies for inventory management to ensure efficiency and reduce wastage. The section should also describe your production processes, emphasizing scalability and adaptability to meet changing market demands.

We also prioritize efficient distribution through various channels, including online platforms and retail partners, to deliver products to our customers in a timely manner.

Financial Projections Plan

This forward-looking financial plan is crucial for demonstrating that you have a firm grasp of the financial nuances of your business and are prepared to manage its financial health effectively.

Income Statement

Cash flow statement.

A cash flow statement is a crucial part of a financial business plan that shows the inflows and outflows of cash within your business. It helps you monitor your company’s liquidity, ensuring you have enough cash on hand to cover operating expenses, pay debts, and invest in growth opportunities.

SectionDescriptionExample
Executive SummaryBrief overview of the business planOverview of EcoTech and its mission
Overview & ObjectivesOutline of company's goals and strategiesMarket leadership in sustainable technology
Company DescriptionDetailed explanation of the company and its unique selling propositionEcoTech's history, mission, and vision
Target MarketDescription of ideal customers and their needsEnvironmentally conscious consumers and businesses
Market AnalysisExamination of industry trends, customer needs, and competitorsTrends in eco-friendly technology market
SWOT AnalysisEvaluation of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and ThreatsStrengths and weaknesses of EcoTech
Competitive AnalysisIn-depth analysis of competitors and their strategiesAnalysis of GreenTech and EarthSolutions
Organization & ManagementOverview of the company's structure and management teamKey roles and team members at EcoTech
Products & ServicesDescription of offerings and their unique featuresEnergy-efficient lighting solutions, solar chargers
Marketing & SalesOutline of marketing channels and sales strategiesDigital advertising, content marketing, influencer partnerships
Logistics & OperationsDetails about daily operations, supply chain, inventory, and quality controlPartnerships with manufacturers, quality control
Financial ProjectionsForecast of revenue, expenses, and profit for the next 3-5 yearsProjected growth in revenue and net profit
Income StatementSummary of company's revenues and expenses over a specified periodRevenue, Cost of Goods Sold, Gross Profit, Net Income
Cash Flow StatementOverview of cash inflows and outflows within the businessNet Cash from Operating Activities, Investing Activities, Financing Activities

Tips on Writing a Business Plan

4. Focus on your unique selling proposition (USP): Clearly articulate what sets your business apart from the competition. Emphasize your USP throughout your business plan to showcase your company’s value and potential for success.

FREE Business Plan Template

To help you get started on your business plan, we have created a template that includes all the essential components discussed in the “How to Write a Business Plan” section. This easy-to-use template will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you don’t miss any critical details.

What is a Business Plan?

Why you should write a business plan.

Understanding the importance of a business plan in today’s competitive environment is crucial for entrepreneurs and business owners. Here are five compelling reasons to write a business plan:

What are the Different Types of Business Plans?

Type of Business PlanPurposeKey ComponentsTarget Audience
Startup Business PlanOutlines the company's mission, objectives, target market, competition, marketing strategies, and financial projections.Mission Statement, Company Description, Market Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Organizational Structure, Marketing and Sales Strategy, Financial Projections.Entrepreneurs, Investors
Internal Business PlanServes as a management tool for guiding the company's growth, evaluating its progress, and ensuring that all departments are aligned with the overall vision.Strategies, Milestones, Deadlines, Resource Allocation.Internal Team Members
Strategic Business PlanOutlines long-term goals and the steps to achieve them.SWOT Analysis, Market Research, Competitive Analysis, Long-Term Goals.Executives, Managers, Investors
Feasibility Business PlanAssesses the viability of a business idea.Market Demand, Competition, Financial Projections, Potential Obstacles.Entrepreneurs, Investors
Growth Business PlanFocuses on strategies for scaling up an existing business.Market Analysis, New Product/Service Offerings, Financial Projections.Business Owners, Investors
Operational Business PlanOutlines the company's day-to-day operations.Processes, Procedures, Organizational Structure.Managers, Employees
Lean Business PlanA simplified, agile version of a traditional plan, focusing on key elements.Value Proposition, Customer Segments, Revenue Streams, Cost Structure.Entrepreneurs, Startups
One-Page Business PlanA concise summary of your company's key objectives, strategies, and milestones.Key Objectives, Strategies, Milestones.Entrepreneurs, Investors, Partners
Nonprofit Business PlanOutlines the mission, goals, target audience, fundraising strategies, and budget allocation for nonprofit organizations.Mission Statement, Goals, Target Audience, Fundraising Strategies, Budget.Nonprofit Leaders, Board Members, Donors
Franchise Business PlanFocuses on the franchisor's requirements, as well as the franchisee's goals, strategies, and financial projections.Franchise Agreement, Brand Standards, Marketing Efforts, Operational Procedures, Financial Projections.Franchisors, Franchisees, Investors

Using Business Plan Software

Upmetrics provides a simple and intuitive platform for creating a well-structured business plan. It features customizable templates, financial forecasting tools, and collaboration capabilities, allowing you to work with team members and advisors. Upmetrics also offers a library of resources to guide you through the business planning process.

SoftwareKey FeaturesUser InterfaceAdditional Features
LivePlanOver 500 sample plans, financial forecasting tools, progress tracking against KPIsUser-friendly, visually appealingAllows creation of professional-looking business plans
UpmetricsCustomizable templates, financial forecasting tools, collaboration capabilitiesSimple and intuitiveProvides a resource library for business planning
BizplanDrag-and-drop builder, modular sections, financial forecasting tools, progress trackingSimple, visually engagingDesigned to simplify the business planning process
EnloopIndustry-specific templates, financial forecasting tools, automatic business plan generation, unique performance scoreRobust, user-friendlyOffers a free version, making it accessible for businesses on a budget
Tarkenton GoSmallBizGuided business plan builder, customizable templates, financial projection toolsUser-friendlyOffers CRM tools, legal document templates, and additional resources for small businesses

Business Plan FAQs

What is a good business plan.

A good business plan is a well-researched, clear, and concise document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies, target market, competitive advantages, and financial projections. It should be adaptable to change and provide a roadmap for achieving success.

What are the 3 main purposes of a business plan?

Can i write a business plan by myself, is it possible to create a one-page business plan.

Yes, a one-page business plan is a condensed version that highlights the most essential elements, including the company’s mission, target market, unique selling proposition, and financial goals.

How long should a business plan be?

What is a business plan outline, what are the 5 most common business plan mistakes, what questions should be asked in a business plan.

A business plan should address questions such as: What problem does the business solve? Who is the specific target market ? What is the unique selling proposition? What are the company’s objectives? How will it achieve those objectives?

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

How is business planning for a nonprofit different.

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How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

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Every successful business has one thing in common, a good and well-executed business plan. A business plan is more than a document, it is a complete guide that outlines the goals your business wants to achieve, including its financial goals . It helps you analyze results, make strategic decisions, show your business operations and growth.

If you want to start a business or already have one and need to pitch it to investors for funding, writing a good business plan improves your chances of attracting financiers. As a startup, if you want to secure loans from financial institutions, part of the requirements involve submitting your business plan.

Writing a business plan does not have to be a complicated or time-consuming process. In this article, you will learn the step-by-step process for writing a successful business plan.

You will also learn what you need a business plan for, tips and strategies for writing a convincing business plan, business plan examples and templates that will save you tons of time, and the alternatives to the traditional business plan.

Let’s get started.

What Do You Need A Business Plan For?

Businesses create business plans for different purposes such as to secure funds, monitor business growth, measure your marketing strategies, and measure your business success.

1. Secure Funds

One of the primary reasons for writing a business plan is to secure funds, either from financial institutions/agencies or investors.

For you to effectively acquire funds, your business plan must contain the key elements of your business plan . For example, your business plan should include your growth plans, goals you want to achieve, and milestones you have recorded.

A business plan can also attract new business partners that are willing to contribute financially and intellectually. If you are writing a business plan to a bank, your project must show your traction , that is, the proof that you can pay back any loan borrowed.

Also, if you are writing to an investor, your plan must contain evidence that you can effectively utilize the funds you want them to invest in your business. Here, you are using your business plan to persuade a group or an individual that your business is a source of a good investment.

2. Monitor Business Growth

A business plan can help you track cash flows in your business. It steers your business to greater heights. A business plan capable of tracking business growth should contain:

  • The business goals
  • Methods to achieve the goals
  • Time-frame for attaining those goals

A good business plan should guide you through every step in achieving your goals. It can also track the allocation of assets to every aspect of the business. You can tell when you are spending more than you should on a project.

You can compare a business plan to a written GPS. It helps you manage your business and hints at the right time to expand your business.

3. Measure Business Success

A business plan can help you measure your business success rate. Some small-scale businesses are thriving better than more prominent companies because of their track record of success.

Right from the onset of your business operation, set goals and work towards them. Write a plan to guide you through your procedures. Use your plan to measure how much you have achieved and how much is left to attain.

You can also weigh your success by monitoring the position of your brand relative to competitors. On the other hand, a business plan can also show you why you have not achieved a goal. It can tell if you have elapsed the time frame you set to attain a goal.

4. Document Your Marketing Strategies

You can use a business plan to document your marketing plans. Every business should have an effective marketing plan.

Competition mandates every business owner to go the extraordinary mile to remain relevant in the market. Your business plan should contain your marketing strategies that work. You can measure the success rate of your marketing plans.

In your business plan, your marketing strategy must answer the questions:

  • How do you want to reach your target audience?
  • How do you plan to retain your customers?
  • What is/are your pricing plans?
  • What is your budget for marketing?

Business Plan Infographic

How to Write a Business Plan Step-by-Step

1. create your executive summary.

The executive summary is a snapshot of your business or a high-level overview of your business purposes and plans . Although the executive summary is the first section in your business plan, most people write it last. The length of the executive summary is not more than two pages.

Executive Summary of the business plan

Generally, there are nine sections in a business plan, the executive summary should condense essential ideas from the other eight sections.

A good executive summary should do the following:

  • A Snapshot of Growth Potential. Briefly inform the reader about your company and why it will be successful)
  • Contain your Mission Statement which explains what the main objective or focus of your business is.
  • Product Description and Differentiation. Brief description of your products or services and why it is different from other solutions in the market.
  • The Team. Basic information about your company’s leadership team and employees
  • Business Concept. A solid description of what your business does.
  • Target Market. The customers you plan to sell to.
  • Marketing Strategy. Your plans on reaching and selling to your customers
  • Current Financial State. Brief information about what revenue your business currently generates.
  • Projected Financial State. Brief information about what you foresee your business revenue to be in the future.

The executive summary is the make-or-break section of your business plan. If your summary cannot in less than two pages cannot clearly describe how your business will solve a particular problem of your target audience and make a profit, your business plan is set on a faulty foundation.

Avoid using the executive summary to hype your business, instead, focus on helping the reader understand the what and how of your plan.

View the executive summary as an opportunity to introduce your vision for your company. You know your executive summary is powerful when it can answer these key questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What sector or industry are you in?
  • What are your products and services?
  • What is the future of your industry?
  • Is your company scaleable?
  • Who are the owners and leaders of your company? What are their backgrounds and experience levels?
  • What is the motivation for starting your company?
  • What are the next steps?

Writing the executive summary last although it is the most important section of your business plan is an excellent idea. The reason why is because it is a high-level overview of your business plan. It is the section that determines whether potential investors and lenders will read further or not.

The executive summary can be a stand-alone document that covers everything in your business plan. It is not uncommon for investors to request only the executive summary when evaluating your business. If the information in the executive summary impresses them, they will ask for the complete business plan.

If you are writing your business plan for your planning purposes, you do not need to write the executive summary.

2. Add Your Company Overview

The company overview or description is the next section in your business plan after the executive summary. It describes what your business does.

Adding your company overview can be tricky especially when your business is still in the planning stages. Existing businesses can easily summarize their current operations but may encounter difficulties trying to explain what they plan to become.

Your company overview should contain the following:

  • What products and services you will provide
  • Geographical markets and locations your company have a presence
  • What you need to run your business
  • Who your target audience or customers are
  • Who will service your customers
  • Your company’s purpose, mission, and vision
  • Information about your company’s founders
  • Who the founders are
  • Notable achievements of your company so far

When creating a company overview, you have to focus on three basics: identifying your industry, identifying your customer, and explaining the problem you solve.

If you are stuck when creating your company overview, try to answer some of these questions that pertain to you.

  • Who are you targeting? (The answer is not everyone)
  • What pain point does your product or service solve for your customers that they will be willing to spend money on resolving?
  • How does your product or service overcome that pain point?
  • Where is the location of your business?
  • What products, equipment, and services do you need to run your business?
  • How is your company’s product or service different from your competition in the eyes of your customers?
  • How many employees do you need and what skills do you require them to have?

After answering some or all of these questions, you will get more than enough information you need to write your company overview or description section. When writing this section, describe what your company does for your customers.

It describes what your business does

The company description or overview section contains three elements: mission statement, history, and objectives.

  • Mission Statement

The mission statement refers to the reason why your business or company is existing. It goes beyond what you do or sell, it is about the ‘why’. A good mission statement should be emotional and inspirational.

Your mission statement should follow the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid). For example, Shopify’s mission statement is “Make commerce better for everyone.”

When describing your company’s history, make it simple and avoid the temptation of tying it to a defensive narrative. Write it in the manner you would a profile. Your company’s history should include the following information:

  • Founding Date
  • Major Milestones
  • Location(s)
  • Flagship Products or Services
  • Number of Employees
  • Executive Leadership Roles

When you fill in this information, you use it to write one or two paragraphs about your company’s history.

Business Objectives

Your business objective must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.) Failure to clearly identify your business objectives does not inspire confidence and makes it hard for your team members to work towards a common purpose.

3. Perform Market and Competitive Analyses to Proof a Big Enough Business Opportunity

The third step in writing a business plan is the market and competitive analysis section. Every business, no matter the size, needs to perform comprehensive market and competitive analyses before it enters into a market.

Performing market and competitive analyses are critical for the success of your business. It helps you avoid entering the right market with the wrong product, or vice versa. Anyone reading your business plans, especially financiers and financial institutions will want to see proof that there is a big enough business opportunity you are targeting.

This section is where you describe the market and industry you want to operate in and show the big opportunities in the market that your business can leverage to make a profit. If you noticed any unique trends when doing your research, show them in this section.

Market analysis alone is not enough, you have to add competitive analysis to strengthen this section. There are already businesses in the industry or market, how do you plan to take a share of the market from them?

You have to clearly illustrate the competitive landscape in your business plan. Are there areas your competitors are doing well? Are there areas where they are not doing so well? Show it.

Make it clear in this section why you are moving into the industry and what weaknesses are present there that you plan to explain. How are your competitors going to react to your market entry? How do you plan to get customers? Do you plan on taking your competitors' competitors, tap into other sources for customers, or both?

Illustrate the competitive landscape as well. What are your competitors doing well and not so well?

Answering these questions and thoughts will aid your market and competitive analysis of the opportunities in your space. Depending on how sophisticated your industry is, or the expectations of your financiers, you may need to carry out a more comprehensive market and competitive analysis to prove that big business opportunity.

Instead of looking at the market and competitive analyses as one entity, separating them will make the research even more comprehensive.

Market Analysis

Market analysis, boarding speaking, refers to research a business carried out on its industry, market, and competitors. It helps businesses gain a good understanding of their target market and the outlook of their industry. Before starting a company, it is vital to carry out market research to find out if the market is viable.

Market Analysis for Online Business

The market analysis section is a key part of the business plan. It is the section where you identify who your best clients or customers are. You cannot omit this section, without it your business plan is incomplete.

A good market analysis will tell your readers how you fit into the existing market and what makes you stand out. This section requires in-depth research, it will probably be the most time-consuming part of the business plan to write.

  • Market Research

To create a compelling market analysis that will win over investors and financial institutions, you have to carry out thorough market research . Your market research should be targeted at your primary target market for your products or services. Here is what you want to find out about your target market.

  • Your target market’s needs or pain points
  • The existing solutions for their pain points
  • Geographic Location
  • Demographics

The purpose of carrying out a marketing analysis is to get all the information you need to show that you have a solid and thorough understanding of your target audience.

Only after you have fully understood the people you plan to sell your products or services to, can you evaluate correctly if your target market will be interested in your products or services.

You can easily convince interested parties to invest in your business if you can show them you thoroughly understand the market and show them that there is a market for your products or services.

How to Quantify Your Target Market

One of the goals of your marketing research is to understand who your ideal customers are and their purchasing power. To quantify your target market, you have to determine the following:

  • Your Potential Customers: They are the people you plan to target. For example, if you sell accounting software for small businesses , then anyone who runs an enterprise or large business is unlikely to be your customers. Also, individuals who do not have a business will most likely not be interested in your product.
  • Total Households: If you are selling household products such as heating and air conditioning systems, determining the number of total households is more important than finding out the total population in the area you want to sell to. The logic is simple, people buy the product but it is the household that uses it.
  • Median Income: You need to know the median income of your target market. If you target a market that cannot afford to buy your products and services, your business will not last long.
  • Income by Demographics: If your potential customers belong to a certain age group or gender, determining income levels by demographics is necessary. For example, if you sell men's clothes, your target audience is men.

What Does a Good Market Analysis Entail?

Your business does not exist on its own, it can only flourish within an industry and alongside competitors. Market analysis takes into consideration your industry, target market, and competitors. Understanding these three entities will drastically improve your company’s chances of success.

Market Analysis Steps

You can view your market analysis as an examination of the market you want to break into and an education on the emerging trends and themes in that market. Good market analyses include the following:

  • Industry Description. You find out about the history of your industry, the current and future market size, and who the largest players/companies are in your industry.
  • Overview of Target Market. You research your target market and its characteristics. Who are you targeting? Note, it cannot be everyone, it has to be a specific group. You also have to find out all information possible about your customers that can help you understand how and why they make buying decisions.
  • Size of Target Market: You need to know the size of your target market, how frequently they buy, and the expected quantity they buy so you do not risk overproducing and having lots of bad inventory. Researching the size of your target market will help you determine if it is big enough for sustained business or not.
  • Growth Potential: Before picking a target market, you want to be sure there are lots of potential for future growth. You want to avoid going for an industry that is declining slowly or rapidly with almost zero growth potential.
  • Market Share Potential: Does your business stand a good chance of taking a good share of the market?
  • Market Pricing and Promotional Strategies: Your market analysis should give you an idea of the price point you can expect to charge for your products and services. Researching your target market will also give you ideas of pricing strategies you can implement to break into the market or to enjoy maximum profits.
  • Potential Barriers to Entry: One of the biggest benefits of conducting market analysis is that it shows you every potential barrier to entry your business will likely encounter. It is a good idea to discuss potential barriers to entry such as changing technology. It informs readers of your business plan that you understand the market.
  • Research on Competitors: You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and how you can exploit them for the benefit of your business. Find patterns and trends among your competitors that make them successful, discover what works and what doesn’t, and see what you can do better.

The market analysis section is not just for talking about your target market, industry, and competitors. You also have to explain how your company can fill the hole you have identified in the market.

Here are some questions you can answer that can help you position your product or service in a positive light to your readers.

  • Is your product or service of superior quality?
  • What additional features do you offer that your competitors do not offer?
  • Are you targeting a ‘new’ market?

Basically, your market analysis should include an analysis of what already exists in the market and an explanation of how your company fits into the market.

Competitive Analysis

In the competitive analysis section, y ou have to understand who your direct and indirect competitions are, and how successful they are in the marketplace. It is the section where you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, the advantage(s) they possess in the market and show the unique features or qualities that make you different from your competitors.

Four Steps to Create a Competitive Marketing Analysis

Many businesses do market analysis and competitive analysis together. However, to fully understand what the competitive analysis entails, it is essential to separate it from the market analysis.

Competitive analysis for your business can also include analysis on how to overcome barriers to entry in your target market.

The primary goal of conducting a competitive analysis is to distinguish your business from your competitors. A strong competitive analysis is essential if you want to convince potential funding sources to invest in your business. You have to show potential investors and lenders that your business has what it takes to compete in the marketplace successfully.

Competitive analysis will s how you what the strengths of your competition are and what they are doing to maintain that advantage.

When doing your competitive research, you first have to identify your competitor and then get all the information you can about them. The idea of spending time to identify your competitor and learn everything about them may seem daunting but it is well worth it.

Find answers to the following questions after you have identified who your competitors are.

  • What are your successful competitors doing?
  • Why is what they are doing working?
  • Can your business do it better?
  • What are the weaknesses of your successful competitors?
  • What are they not doing well?
  • Can your business turn its weaknesses into strengths?
  • How good is your competitors’ customer service?
  • Where do your competitors invest in advertising?
  • What sales and pricing strategies are they using?
  • What marketing strategies are they using?
  • What kind of press coverage do they get?
  • What are their customers saying about your competitors (both the positive and negative)?

If your competitors have a website, it is a good idea to visit their websites for more competitors’ research. Check their “About Us” page for more information.

How to Perform Competitive Analysis

If you are presenting your business plan to investors, you need to clearly distinguish yourself from your competitors. Investors can easily tell when you have not properly researched your competitors.

Take time to think about what unique qualities or features set you apart from your competitors. If you do not have any direct competition offering your product to the market, it does not mean you leave out the competitor analysis section blank. Instead research on other companies that are providing a similar product, or whose product is solving the problem your product solves.

The next step is to create a table listing the top competitors you want to include in your business plan. Ensure you list your business as the last and on the right. What you just created is known as the competitor analysis table.

Direct vs Indirect Competition

You cannot know if your product or service will be a fit for your target market if you have not understood your business and the competitive landscape.

There is no market you want to target where you will not encounter competition, even if your product is innovative. Including competitive analysis in your business plan is essential.

If you are entering an established market, you need to explain how you plan to differentiate your products from the available options in the market. Also, include a list of few companies that you view as your direct competitors The competition you face in an established market is your direct competition.

In situations where you are entering a market with no direct competition, it does not mean there is no competition there. Consider your indirect competition that offers substitutes for the products or services you offer.

For example, if you sell an innovative SaaS product, let us say a project management software , a company offering time management software is your indirect competition.

There is an easy way to find out who your indirect competitors are in the absence of no direct competitors. You simply have to research how your potential customers are solving the problems that your product or service seeks to solve. That is your direct competition.

Factors that Differentiate Your Business from the Competition

There are three main factors that any business can use to differentiate itself from its competition. They are cost leadership, product differentiation, and market segmentation.

1. Cost Leadership

A strategy you can impose to maximize your profits and gain an edge over your competitors. It involves offering lower prices than what the majority of your competitors are offering.

A common practice among businesses looking to enter into a market where there are dominant players is to use free trials or pricing to attract as many customers as possible to their offer.

2. Product Differentiation

Your product or service should have a unique selling proposition (USP) that your competitors do not have or do not stress in their marketing.

Part of the marketing strategy should involve making your products unique and different from your competitors. It does not have to be different from your competitors, it can be the addition to a feature or benefit that your competitors do not currently have.

3. Market Segmentation

As a new business seeking to break into an industry, you will gain more success from focusing on a specific niche or target market, and not the whole industry.

If your competitors are focused on a general need or target market, you can differentiate yourself from them by having a small and hyper-targeted audience. For example, if your competitors are selling men’s clothes in their online stores , you can sell hoodies for men.

4. Define Your Business and Management Structure

The next step in your business plan is your business and management structure. It is the section where you describe the legal structure of your business and the team running it.

Your business is only as good as the management team that runs it, while the management team can only strive when there is a proper business and management structure in place.

If your company is a sole proprietor or a limited liability company (LLC), a general or limited partnership, or a C or an S corporation, state it clearly in this section.

Use an organizational chart to show the management structure in your business. Clearly show who is in charge of what area in your company. It is where you show how each key manager or team leader’s unique experience can contribute immensely to the success of your company. You can also opt to add the resumes and CVs of the key players in your company.

The business and management structure section should show who the owner is, and other owners of the businesses (if the business has other owners). For businesses or companies with multiple owners, include the percent ownership of the various owners and clearly show the extent of each others’ involvement in the company.

Investors want to know who is behind the company and the team running it to determine if it has the right management to achieve its set goals.

Management Team

The management team section is where you show that you have the right team in place to successfully execute the business operations and ideas. Take time to create the management structure for your business. Think about all the important roles and responsibilities that you need managers for to grow your business.

Include brief bios of each key team member and ensure you highlight only the relevant information that is needed. If your team members have background industry experience or have held top positions for other companies and achieved success while filling that role, highlight it in this section.

Create Management Team For Business Plan

A common mistake that many startups make is assigning C-level titles such as (CMO and CEO) to everyone on their team. It is unrealistic for a small business to have those titles. While it may look good on paper for the ego of your team members, it can prevent investors from investing in your business.

Instead of building an unrealistic management structure that does not fit your business reality, it is best to allow business titles to grow as the business grows. Starting everyone at the top leaves no room for future change or growth, which is bad for productivity.

Your management team does not have to be complete before you start writing your business plan. You can have a complete business plan even when there are managerial positions that are empty and need filling.

If you have management gaps in your team, simply show the gaps and indicate you are searching for the right candidates for the role(s). Investors do not expect you to have a full management team when you are just starting your business.

Key Questions to Answer When Structuring Your Management Team

  • Who are the key leaders?
  • What experiences, skills, and educational backgrounds do you expect your key leaders to have?
  • Do your key leaders have industry experience?
  • What positions will they fill and what duties will they perform in those positions?
  • What level of authority do the key leaders have and what are their responsibilities?
  • What is the salary for the various management positions that will attract the ideal candidates?

Additional Tips for Writing the Management Structure Section

1. Avoid Adding ‘Ghost’ Names to Your Management Team

There is always that temptation to include a ‘ghost’ name to your management team to attract and influence investors to invest in your business. Although the presence of these celebrity management team members may attract the attention of investors, it can cause your business to lose any credibility if you get found out.

Seasoned investors will investigate further the members of your management team before committing fully to your business If they find out that the celebrity name used does not play any actual role in your business, they will not invest and may write you off as dishonest.

2. Focus on Credentials But Pay Extra Attention to the Roles

Investors want to know the experience that your key team members have to determine if they can successfully reach the company’s growth and financial goals.

While it is an excellent boost for your key management team to have the right credentials, you also want to pay extra attention to the roles they will play in your company.

Organizational Chart

Organizational chart Infographic

Adding an organizational chart in this section of your business plan is not necessary, you can do it in your business plan’s appendix.

If you are exploring funding options, it is not uncommon to get asked for your organizational chart. The function of an organizational chart goes beyond raising money, you can also use it as a useful planning tool for your business.

An organizational chart can help you identify how best to structure your management team for maximum productivity and point you towards key roles you need to fill in the future.

You can use the organizational chart to show your company’s internal management structure such as the roles and responsibilities of your management team, and relationships that exist between them.

5. Describe Your Product and Service Offering

In your business plan, you have to describe what you sell or the service you plan to offer. It is the next step after defining your business and management structure. The products and services section is where you sell the benefits of your business.

Here you have to explain how your product or service will benefit your customers and describe your product lifecycle. It is also the section where you write down your plans for intellectual property like patent filings and copyrighting.

The research and development that you are undertaking for your product or service need to be explained in detail in this section. However, do not get too technical, sell the general idea and its benefits.

If you have any diagrams or intricate designs of your product or service, do not include them in the products and services section. Instead, leave them for the addendum page. Also, if you are leaving out diagrams or designs for the addendum, ensure you add this phrase “For more detail, visit the addendum Page #.”

Your product and service section in your business plan should include the following:

  • A detailed explanation that clearly shows how your product or service works.
  • The pricing model for your product or service.
  • Your business’ sales and distribution strategy.
  • The ideal customers that want your product or service.
  • The benefits of your products and services.
  • Reason(s) why your product or service is a better alternative to what your competitors are currently offering in the market.
  • Plans for filling the orders you receive
  • If you have current or pending patents, copyrights, and trademarks for your product or service, you can also discuss them in this section.

What to Focus On When Describing the Benefits, Lifecycle, and Production Process of Your Products or Services

In the products and services section, you have to distill the benefits, lifecycle, and production process of your products and services.

When describing the benefits of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Unique features
  • Translating the unique features into benefits
  • The emotional, psychological, and practical payoffs to attract customers
  • Intellectual property rights or any patents

When describing the product life cycle of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Upsells, cross-sells, and down-sells
  • Time between purchases
  • Plans for research and development.

When describing the production process for your products or services, you need to think about the following:

  • The creation of new or existing products and services.
  • The sources for the raw materials or components you need for production.
  • Assembling the products
  • Maintaining quality control
  • Supply-chain logistics (receiving the raw materials and delivering the finished products)
  • The day-to-day management of the production processes, bookkeeping, and inventory.

Tips for Writing the Products or Services Section of Your Business Plan

1. Avoid Technical Descriptions and Industry Buzzwords

The products and services section of your business plan should clearly describe the products and services that your company provides. However, it is not a section to include technical jargons that anyone outside your industry will not understand.

A good practice is to remove highly detailed or technical descriptions in favor of simple terms. Industry buzzwords are not necessary, if there are simpler terms you can use, then use them. If you plan to use your business plan to source funds, making the product or service section so technical will do you no favors.

2. Describe How Your Products or Services Differ from Your Competitors

When potential investors look at your business plan, they want to know how the products and services you are offering differ from that of your competition. Differentiating your products or services from your competition in a way that makes your solution more attractive is critical.

If you are going the innovative path and there is no market currently for your product or service, you need to describe in this section why the market needs your product or service.

For example, overnight delivery was a niche business that only a few companies were participating in. Federal Express (FedEx) had to show in its business plan that there was a large opportunity for that service and they justified why the market needed that service.

3. Long or Short Products or Services Section

Should your products or services section be short? Does the long products or services section attract more investors?

There are no straightforward answers to these questions. Whether your products or services section should be long or relatively short depends on the nature of your business.

If your business is product-focused, then automatically you need to use more space to describe the details of your products. However, if the product your business sells is a commodity item that relies on competitive pricing or other pricing strategies, you do not have to use up so much space to provide significant details about the product.

Likewise, if you are selling a commodity that is available in numerous outlets, then you do not have to spend time on writing a long products or services section.

The key to the success of your business is most likely the effectiveness of your marketing strategies compared to your competitors. Use more space to address that section.

If you are creating a new product or service that the market does not know about, your products or services section can be lengthy. The reason why is because you need to explain everything about the product or service such as the nature of the product, its use case, and values.

A short products or services section for an innovative product or service will not give the readers enough information to properly evaluate your business.

4. Describe Your Relationships with Vendors or Suppliers

Your business will rely on vendors or suppliers to supply raw materials or the components needed to make your products. In your products and services section, describe your relationships with your vendors and suppliers fully.

Avoid the mistake of relying on only one supplier or vendor. If that supplier or vendor fails to supply or goes out of business, you can easily face supply problems and struggle to meet your demands. Plan to set up multiple vendor or supplier relationships for better business stability.

5. Your Primary Goal Is to Convince Your Readers

The primary goal of your business plan is to convince your readers that your business is viable and to create a guide for your business to follow. It applies to the products and services section.

When drafting this section, think like the reader. See your reader as someone who has no idea about your products and services. You are using the products and services section to provide the needed information to help your reader understand your products and services. As a result, you have to be clear and to the point.

While you want to educate your readers about your products or services, you also do not want to bore them with lots of technical details. Show your products and services and not your fancy choice of words.

Your products and services section should provide the answer to the “what” question for your business. You and your management team may run the business, but it is your products and services that are the lifeblood of the business.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing your Products and Services Section

Answering these questions can help you write your products and services section quickly and in a way that will appeal to your readers.

  • Are your products existing on the market or are they still in the development stage?
  • What is your timeline for adding new products and services to the market?
  • What are the positives that make your products and services different from your competitors?
  • Do your products and services have any competitive advantage that your competitors’ products and services do not currently have?
  • Do your products or services have any competitive disadvantages that you need to overcome to compete with your competitors? If your answer is yes, state how you plan to overcome them,
  • How much does it cost to produce your products or services? How much do you plan to sell it for?
  • What is the price for your products and services compared to your competitors? Is pricing an issue?
  • What are your operating costs and will it be low enough for you to compete with your competitors and still take home a reasonable profit margin?
  • What is your plan for acquiring your products? Are you involved in the production of your products or services?
  • Are you the manufacturer and produce all the components you need to create your products? Do you assemble your products by using components supplied by other manufacturers? Do you purchase your products directly from suppliers or wholesalers?
  • Do you have a steady supply of products that you need to start your business? (If your business is yet to kick-off)
  • How do you plan to distribute your products or services to the market?

You can also hint at the marketing or promotion plans you have for your products or services such as how you plan to build awareness or retain customers. The next section is where you can go fully into details about your business’s marketing and sales plan.

6. Show and Explain Your Marketing and Sales Plan

Providing great products and services is wonderful, but it means nothing if you do not have a marketing and sales plan to inform your customers about them. Your marketing and sales plan is critical to the success of your business.

The sales and marketing section is where you show and offer a detailed explanation of your marketing and sales plan and how you plan to execute it. It covers your pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success, and the benefits of your products and services.

There are several ways you can approach your marketing and sales strategy. Ideally, your marketing and sales strategy has to fit the unique needs of your business.

In this section, you describe how the plans your business has for attracting and retaining customers, and the exact process for making a sale happen. It is essential to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales plans because you are still going to reference this section when you are making financial projections for your business.

Outline Your Business’ Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The sales and marketing section is where you outline your business’s unique selling proposition (USP). When you are developing your unique selling proposition, think about the strongest reasons why people should buy from you over your competition. That reason(s) is most likely a good fit to serve as your unique selling proposition (USP).

Target Market and Target Audience

Plans on how to get your products or services to your target market and how to get your target audience to buy them go into this section. You also highlight the strengths of your business here, particularly what sets them apart from your competition.

Target Market Vs Target Audience

Before you start writing your marketing and sales plan, you need to have properly defined your target audience and fleshed out your buyer persona. If you do not first understand the individual you are marketing to, your marketing and sales plan will lack any substance and easily fall.

Creating a Smart Marketing and Sales Plan

Marketing your products and services is an investment that requires you to spend money. Like any other investment, you have to generate a good return on investment (ROI) to justify using that marketing and sales plan. Good marketing and sales plans bring in high sales and profits to your company.

Avoid spending money on unproductive marketing channels. Do your research and find out the best marketing and sales plan that works best for your company.

Your marketing and sales plan can be broken into different parts: your positioning statement, pricing, promotion, packaging, advertising, public relations, content marketing, social media, and strategic alliances.

Your Positioning Statement

Your positioning statement is the first part of your marketing and sales plan. It refers to the way you present your company to your customers.

Are you the premium solution, the low-price solution, or are you the intermediary between the two extremes in the market? What do you offer that your competitors do not that can give you leverage in the market?

Before you start writing your positioning statement, you need to spend some time evaluating the current market conditions. Here are some questions that can help you to evaluate the market

  • What are the unique features or benefits that you offer that your competitors lack?
  • What are your customers’ primary needs and wants?
  • Why should a customer choose you over your competition? How do you plan to differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • How does your company’s solution compare with other solutions in the market?

After answering these questions, then you can start writing your positioning statement. Your positioning statement does not have to be in-depth or too long.

All you need to explain with your positioning statement are two focus areas. The first is the position of your company within the competitive landscape. The other focus area is the core value proposition that sets your company apart from other alternatives that your ideal customer might consider.

Here is a simple template you can use to develop a positioning statement.

For [description of target market] who [need of target market], [product or service] [how it meets the need]. Unlike [top competition], it [most essential distinguishing feature].

For example, let’s create the positioning statement for fictional accounting software and QuickBooks alternative , TBooks.

“For small business owners who need accounting services, TBooks is an accounting software that helps small businesses handle their small business bookkeeping basics quickly and easily. Unlike Wave, TBooks gives small businesses access to live sessions with top accountants.”

You can edit this positioning statement sample and fill it with your business details.

After writing your positioning statement, the next step is the pricing of your offerings. The overall positioning strategy you set in your positioning statement will often determine how you price your products or services.

Pricing is a powerful tool that sends a strong message to your customers. Failure to get your pricing strategy right can make or mar your business. If you are targeting a low-income audience, setting a premium price can result in low sales.

You can use pricing to communicate your positioning to your customers. For example, if you are offering a product at a premium price, you are sending a message to your customers that the product belongs to the premium category.

Basic Rules to Follow When Pricing Your Offering

Setting a price for your offering involves more than just putting a price tag on it. Deciding on the right pricing for your offering requires following some basic rules. They include covering your costs, primary and secondary profit center pricing, and matching the market rate.

  • Covering Your Costs: The price you set for your products or service should be more than it costs you to produce and deliver them. Every business has the same goal, to make a profit. Depending on the strategy you want to use, there are exceptions to this rule. However, the vast majority of businesses follow this rule.
  • Primary and Secondary Profit Center Pricing: When a company sets its price above the cost of production, it is making that product its primary profit center. A company can also decide not to make its initial price its primary profit center by selling below or at even with its production cost. It rather depends on the support product or even maintenance that is associated with the initial purchase to make its profit. The initial price thus became its secondary profit center.
  • Matching the Market Rate: A good rule to follow when pricing your products or services is to match your pricing with consumer demand and expectations. If you price your products or services beyond the price your customer perceives as the ideal price range, you may end up with no customers. Pricing your products too low below what your customer perceives as the ideal price range may lead to them undervaluing your offering.

Pricing Strategy

Your pricing strategy influences the price of your offering. There are several pricing strategies available for you to choose from when examining the right pricing strategy for your business. They include cost-plus pricing, market-based pricing, value pricing, and more.

Pricing strategy influences the price of offering

  • Cost-plus Pricing: This strategy is one of the simplest and oldest pricing strategies. Here you consider the cost of producing a unit of your product and then add a profit to it to arrive at your market price. It is an effective pricing strategy for manufacturers because it helps them cover their initial costs. Another name for the cost-plus pricing strategy is the markup pricing strategy.
  • Market-based Pricing: This pricing strategy analyses the market including competitors’ pricing and then sets a price based on what the market is expecting. With this pricing strategy, you can either set your price at the low-end or high-end of the market.
  • Value Pricing: This pricing strategy involves setting a price based on the value you are providing to your customer. When adopting a value-based pricing strategy, you have to set a price that your customers are willing to pay. Service-based businesses such as small business insurance providers , luxury goods sellers, and the fashion industry use this pricing strategy.

After carefully sorting out your positioning statement and pricing, the next item to look at is your promotional strategy. Your promotional strategy explains how you plan on communicating with your customers and prospects.

As a business, you must measure all your costs, including the cost of your promotions. You also want to measure how much sales your promotions bring for your business to determine its usefulness. Promotional strategies or programs that do not lead to profit need to be removed.

There are different types of promotional strategies you can adopt for your business, they include advertising, public relations, and content marketing.

Advertising

Your business plan should include your advertising plan which can be found in the marketing and sales plan section. You need to include an overview of your advertising plans such as the areas you plan to spend money on to advertise your business and offers.

Ensure that you make it clear in this section if your business will be advertising online or using the more traditional offline media, or the combination of both online and offline media. You can also include the advertising medium you want to use to raise awareness about your business and offers.

Some common online advertising mediums you can use include social media ads, landing pages, sales pages, SEO, Pay-Per-Click, emails, Google Ads, and others. Some common traditional and offline advertising mediums include word of mouth, radios, direct mail, televisions, flyers, billboards, posters, and others.

A key component of your advertising strategy is how you plan to measure the effectiveness and success of your advertising campaign. There is no point in sticking with an advertising plan or medium that does not produce results for your business in the long run.

Public Relations

A great way to reach your customers is to get the media to cover your business or product. Publicity, especially good ones, should be a part of your marketing and sales plan. In this section, show your plans for getting prominent reviews of your product from reputable publications and sources.

Your business needs that exposure to grow. If public relations is a crucial part of your promotional strategy, provide details about your public relations plan here.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a popular promotional strategy used by businesses to inform and attract their customers. It is about teaching and educating your prospects on various topics of interest in your niche, it does not just involve informing them about the benefits and features of the products and services you have,

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Businesses publish content usually for free where they provide useful information, tips, and advice so that their target market can be made aware of the importance of their products and services. Content marketing strategies seek to nurture prospects into buyers over time by simply providing value.

Your company can create a blog where it will be publishing content for its target market. You will need to use the best website builder such as Wix and Squarespace and the best web hosting services such as Bluehost, Hostinger, and other Bluehost alternatives to create a functional blog or website.

If content marketing is a crucial part of your promotional strategy (as it should be), detail your plans under promotions.

Including high-quality images of the packaging of your product in your business plan is a lovely idea. You can add the images of the packaging of that product in the marketing and sales plan section. If you are not selling a product, then you do not need to include any worry about the physical packaging of your product.

When organizing the packaging section of your business plan, you can answer the following questions to make maximum use of this section.

  • Is your choice of packaging consistent with your positioning strategy?
  • What key value proposition does your packaging communicate? (It should reflect the key value proposition of your business)
  • How does your packaging compare to that of your competitors?

Social Media

Your 21st-century business needs to have a good social media presence. Not having one is leaving out opportunities for growth and reaching out to your prospect.

You do not have to join the thousands of social media platforms out there. What you need to do is join the ones that your customers are active on and be active there.

Most popular social media platforms

Businesses use social media to provide information about their products such as promotions, discounts, the benefits of their products, and content on their blogs.

Social media is also a platform for engaging with your customers and getting feedback about your products or services. Make no mistake, more and more of your prospects are using social media channels to find more information about companies.

You need to consider the social media channels you want to prioritize your business (prioritize the ones your customers are active in) and your branding plans in this section.

Choosing the right social media platform

Strategic Alliances

If your company plans to work closely with other companies as part of your sales and marketing plan, include it in this section. Prove details about those partnerships in your business plan if you have already established them.

Strategic alliances can be beneficial for all parties involved including your company. Working closely with another company in the form of a partnership can provide access to a different target market segment for your company.

The company you are partnering with may also gain access to your target market or simply offer a new product or service (that of your company) to its customers.

Mutually beneficial partnerships can cover the weaknesses of one company with the strength of another. You should consider strategic alliances with companies that sell complimentary products to yours. For example, if you provide printers, you can partner with a company that produces ink since the customers that buy printers from you will also need inks for printing.

Steps Involved in Creating a Marketing and Sales Plan

1. Focus on Your Target Market

Identify who your customers are, the market you want to target. Then determine the best ways to get your products or services to your potential customers.

2. Evaluate Your Competition

One of the goals of having a marketing plan is to distinguish yourself from your competition. You cannot stand out from them without first knowing them in and out.

You can know your competitors by gathering information about their products, pricing, service, and advertising campaigns.

These questions can help you know your competition.

  • What makes your competition successful?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What are customers saying about your competition?

3. Consider Your Brand

Customers' perception of your brand has a strong impact on your sales. Your marketing and sales plan should seek to bolster the image of your brand. Before you start marketing your business, think about the message you want to pass across about your business and your products and services.

4. Focus on Benefits

The majority of your customers do not view your product in terms of features, what they want to know is the benefits and solutions your product offers. Think about the problems your product solves and the benefits it delivers, and use it to create the right sales and marketing message.

Your marketing plan should focus on what you want your customer to get instead of what you provide. Identify those benefits in your marketing and sales plan.

5. Focus on Differentiation

Your marketing and sales plan should look for a unique angle they can take that differentiates your business from the competition, even if the products offered are similar. Some good areas of differentiation you can use are your benefits, pricing, and features.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing Your Marketing and Sales Plan

  • What is your company’s budget for sales and marketing campaigns?
  • What key metrics will you use to determine if your marketing plans are successful?
  • What are your alternatives if your initial marketing efforts do not succeed?
  • Who are the sales representatives you need to promote your products or services?
  • What are the marketing and sales channels you plan to use? How do you plan to get your products in front of your ideal customers?
  • Where will you sell your products?

You may want to include samples of marketing materials you plan to use such as print ads, website descriptions, and social media ads. While it is not compulsory to include these samples, it can help you better communicate your marketing and sales plan and objectives.

The purpose of the marketing and sales section is to answer this question “How will you reach your customers?” If you cannot convincingly provide an answer to this question, you need to rework your marketing and sales section.

7. Clearly Show Your Funding Request

If you are writing your business plan to ask for funding from investors or financial institutions, the funding request section is where you will outline your funding requirements. The funding request section should answer the question ‘How much money will your business need in the near future (3 to 5 years)?’

A good funding request section will clearly outline and explain the amount of funding your business needs over the next five years. You need to know the amount of money your business needs to make an accurate funding request.

Also, when writing your funding request, provide details of how the funds will be used over the period. Specify if you want to use the funds to buy raw materials or machinery, pay salaries, pay for advertisements, and cover specific bills such as rent and electricity.

In addition to explaining what you want to use the funds requested for, you need to clearly state the projected return on investment (ROI) . Investors and creditors want to know if your business can generate profit for them if they put funds into it.

Ensure you do not inflate the figures and stay as realistic as possible. Investors and financial institutions you are seeking funds from will do their research before investing money in your business.

If you are not sure of an exact number to request from, you can use some range of numbers as rough estimates. Add a best-case scenario and a work-case scenario to your funding request. Also, include a description of your strategic future financial plans such as selling your business or paying off debts.

Funding Request: Debt or Equity?

When making your funding request, specify the type of funding you want. Do you want debt or equity? Draw out the terms that will be applicable for the funding, and the length of time the funding request will cover.

Case for Equity

If your new business has not yet started generating profits, you are most likely preparing to sell equity in your business to raise capital at the early stage. Equity here refers to ownership. In this case, you are selling a portion of your company to raise capital.

Although this method of raising capital for your business does not put your business in debt, keep in mind that an equity owner may expect to play a key role in company decisions even if he does not hold a major stake in the company.

Most equity sales for startups are usually private transactions . If you are making a funding request by offering equity in exchange for funding, let the investor know that they will be paid a dividend (a share of the company’s profit). Also, let the investor know the process for selling their equity in your business.

Case for Debt

You may decide not to offer equity in exchange for funds, instead, you make a funding request with the promise to pay back the money borrowed at the agreed time frame.

When making a funding request with an agreement to pay back, note that you will have to repay your creditors both the principal amount borrowed and the interest on it. Financial institutions offer this type of funding for businesses.

Large companies combine both equity and debt in their capital structure. When drafting your business plan, decide if you want to offer both or one over the other.

Before you sell equity in exchange for funding in your business, consider if you are willing to accept not being in total control of your business. Also, before you seek loans in your funding request section, ensure that the terms of repayment are favorable.

You should set a clear timeline in your funding request so that potential investors and creditors can know what you are expecting. Some investors and creditors may agree to your funding request and then delay payment for longer than 30 days, meanwhile, your business needs an immediate cash injection to operate efficiently.

Additional Tips for Writing the Funding Request Section of your Business Plan

The funding request section is not necessary for every business, it is only needed by businesses who plan to use their business plan to secure funding.

If you are adding the funding request section to your business plan, provide an itemized summary of how you plan to use the funds requested. Hiring a lawyer, accountant, or other professionals may be necessary for the proper development of this section.

You should also gather and use financial statements that add credibility and support to your funding requests. Ensure that the financial statements you use should include your projected financial data such as projected cash flows, forecast statements, and expenditure budgets.

If you are an existing business, include all historical financial statements such as cash flow statements, balance sheets and income statements .

Provide monthly and quarterly financial statements for a year. If your business has records that date back beyond the one-year mark, add the yearly statements of those years. These documents are for the appendix section of your business plan.

8. Detail Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projections

If you used the funding request section in your business plan, supplement it with a financial plan, metrics, and projections. This section paints a picture of the past performance of your business and then goes ahead to make an informed projection about its future.

The goal of this section is to convince readers that your business is going to be a financial success. It outlines your business plan to generate enough profit to repay the loan (with interest if applicable) and to generate a decent return on investment for investors.

If you have an existing business already in operation, use this section to demonstrate stability through finance. This section should include your cash flow statements, balance sheets, and income statements covering the last three to five years. If your business has some acceptable collateral that you can use to acquire loans, list it in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

Apart from current financial statements, this section should also contain a prospective financial outlook that spans the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, and capital expenditure budget.

If your business is new and is not yet generating profit, use clear and realistic projections to show the potentials of your business.

When drafting this section, research industry norms and the performance of comparable businesses. Your financial projections should cover at least five years. State the logic behind your financial projections. Remember you can always make adjustments to this section as the variables change.

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section create a baseline which your business can either exceed or fail to reach. If your business fails to reach your projections in this section, you need to understand why it failed.

Investors and loan managers spend a lot of time going through the financial plan, metrics, and projection section compared to other parts of the business plan. Ensure you spend time creating credible financial analyses for your business in this section.

Many entrepreneurs find this section daunting to write. You do not need a business degree to create a solid financial forecast for your business. Business finances, especially for startups, are not as complicated as they seem. There are several online tools and templates that make writing this section so much easier.

Use Graphs and Charts

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business. Charts and images make it easier to communicate your finances.

Accuracy in this section is key, ensure you carefully analyze your past financial statements properly before making financial projects.

Address the Risk Factors and Show Realistic Financial Projections

Keep your financial plan, metrics, and projection realistic. It is okay to be optimistic in your financial projection, however, you have to justify it.

You should also address the various risk factors associated with your business in this section. Investors want to know the potential risks involved, show them. You should also show your plans for mitigating those risks.

What You Should In The Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection Section of Your Business Plan

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section of your business plan should have monthly sales and revenue forecasts for the first year. It should also include annual projections that cover 3 to 5 years.

A three-year projection is a basic requirement to have in your business plan. However, some investors may request a five-year forecast.

Your business plan should include the following financial statements: sales forecast, personnel plan, income statement, income statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, and an exit strategy.

1. Sales Forecast

Sales forecast refers to your projections about the number of sales your business is going to record over the next few years. It is typically broken into several rows, with each row assigned to a core product or service that your business is offering.

One common mistake people make in their business plan is to break down the sales forecast section into long details. A sales forecast should forecast the high-level details.

For example, if you are forecasting sales for a payroll software provider, you could break down your forecast into target market segments or subscription categories.

Benefits of Sales Forecasting

Your sales forecast section should also have a corresponding row for each sales row to cover the direct cost or Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). The objective of these rows is to show the expenses that your business incurs in making and delivering your product or service.

Note that your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) should only cover those direct costs incurred when making your products. Other indirect expenses such as insurance, salaries, payroll tax, and rent should not be included.

For example, the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) for a restaurant is the cost of ingredients while for a consulting company it will be the cost of paper and other presentation materials.

Factors that affect sales forecasting

2. Personnel Plan

The personnel plan section is where you provide details about the payment plan for your employees. For a small business, you can easily list every position in your company and how much you plan to pay in the personnel plan.

However, for larger businesses, you have to break the personnel plan into functional groups such as sales and marketing.

The personnel plan will also include the cost of an employee beyond salary, commonly referred to as the employee burden. These costs include insurance, payroll taxes , and other essential costs incurred monthly as a result of having employees on your payroll.

True HR Cost Infographic

3. Income Statement

The income statement section shows if your business is making a profit or taking a loss. Another name for the income statement is the profit and loss (P&L). It takes data from your sales forecast and personnel plan and adds other ongoing expenses you incur while running your business.

The income statement section

Every business plan should have an income statement. It subtracts your business expenses from its earnings to show if your business is generating profit or incurring losses.

The income statement has the following items: sales, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), gross margin, operating expenses, total operating expenses, operating income , total expenses, and net profit.

  • Sales refer to the revenue your business generates from selling its products or services. Other names for sales are income or revenue.
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) refers to the total cost of selling your products. Other names for COGS are direct costs or cost of sales. Manufacturing businesses use the Costs of Goods Manufactured (COGM) .
  • Gross Margin is the figure you get when you subtract your COGS from your sales. In your income statement, you can express it as a percentage of total sales (Gross margin / Sales = Gross Margin Percent).
  • Operating Expenses refer to all the expenses you incur from running your business. It exempts the COGS because it stands alone as a core part of your income statement. You also have to exclude taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Your operating expenses include salaries, marketing expenses, research and development (R&D) expenses, and other expenses.
  • Total Operating Expenses refers to the sum of all your operating expenses including those exemptions named above under operating expenses.
  • Operating Income refers to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. It is simply known as the acronym EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). Calculating your operating income is simple, all you need to do is to subtract your COGS and total operating expenses from your sales.
  • Total Expenses refer to the sum of your operating expenses and your business’ interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
  • Net profit shows whether your business has made a profit or taken a loss during a given timeframe.

4. Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement tracks the money you have in the bank at any given point. It is often confused with the income statement or the profit and loss statement. They are both different types of financial statements. The income statement calculates your profits and losses while the cash flow statement shows you how much you have in the bank.

Cash Flow Statement Example

5. Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a financial statement that provides an overview of the financial health of your business. It contains information about the assets and liabilities of your company, and owner’s or shareholders’ equity.

You can get the net worth of your company by subtracting your company’s liabilities from its assets.

Balance sheet Formula

6. Exit Strategy

The exit strategy refers to a probable plan for selling your business either to the public in an IPO or to another company. It is the last thing you include in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

You can choose to omit the exit strategy from your business plan if you plan to maintain full ownership of your business and do not plan on seeking angel investment or virtual capitalist (VC) funding.

Investors may want to know what your exit plan is. They invest in your business to get a good return on investment.

Your exit strategy does not have to include long and boring details. Ensure you identify some interested parties who may be interested in buying the company if it becomes a success.

Exit Strategy Section of Business Plan Infographic

Key Questions to Answer with Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection

Your financial plan, metrics, and projection section helps investors, creditors, or your internal managers to understand what your expenses are, the amount of cash you need, and what it takes to make your company profitable. It also shows what you will be doing with any funding.

You do not need to show actual financial data if you do not have one. Adding forecasts and projections to your financial statements is added proof that your strategy is feasible and shows investors you have planned properly.

Here are some key questions to answer to help you develop this section.

  • What is your sales forecast for the next year?
  • When will your company achieve a positive cash flow?
  • What are the core expenses you need to operate?
  • How much money do you need upfront to operate or grow your company?
  • How will you use the loans or investments?

9. Add an Appendix to Your Business Plan

Adding an appendix to your business plan is optional. It is a useful place to put any charts, tables, legal notes, definitions, permits, résumés, and other critical information that do not fit into other sections of your business plan.

The appendix section is where you would want to include details of a patent or patent-pending if you have one. You can always add illustrations or images of your products here. It is the last section of your business plan.

When writing your business plan, there are details you cut short or remove to prevent the entire section from becoming too lengthy. There are also details you want to include in the business plan but are not a good fit for any of the previous sections. You can add that additional information to the appendix section.

Businesses also use the appendix section to include supporting documents or other materials specially requested by investors or lenders.

You can include just about any information that supports the assumptions and statements you made in the business plan under the appendix. It is the one place in the business plan where unrelated data and information can coexist amicably.

If your appendix section is lengthy, try organizing it by adding a table of contents at the beginning of the appendix section. It is also advisable to group similar information to make it easier for the reader to access them.

A well-organized appendix section makes it easier to share your information clearly and concisely. Add footnotes throughout the rest of the business plan or make references in the plan to the documents in the appendix.

The appendix section is usually only necessary if you are seeking funding from investors or lenders, or hoping to attract partners.

People reading business plans do not want to spend time going through a heap of backup information, numbers, and charts. Keep these documents or information in the Appendix section in case the reader wants to dig deeper.

Common Items to Include in the Appendix Section of Your Business Plan

The appendix section includes documents that supplement or support the information or claims given in other sections of the business plans. Common items you can include in the appendix section include:

  • Additional data about the process of manufacturing or creation
  • Additional description of products or services such as product schematics
  • Additional financial documents or projections
  • Articles of incorporation and status
  • Backup for market research or competitive analysis
  • Bank statements
  • Business registries
  • Client testimonials (if your business is already running)
  • Copies of insurances
  • Credit histories (personal or/and business)
  • Deeds and permits
  • Equipment leases
  • Examples of marketing and advertising collateral
  • Industry associations and memberships
  • Images of product
  • Intellectual property
  • Key customer contracts
  • Legal documents and other contracts
  • Letters of reference
  • Links to references
  • Market research data
  • Organizational charts
  • Photographs of potential facilities
  • Professional licenses pertaining to your legal structure or type of business
  • Purchase orders
  • Resumes of the founder(s) and key managers
  • State and federal identification numbers or codes
  • Trademarks or patents’ registrations

Avoid using the appendix section as a place to dump any document or information you feel like adding. Only add documents or information that you support or increase the credibility of your business plan.

Tips and Strategies for Writing a Convincing Business Plan

To achieve a perfect business plan, you need to consider some key tips and strategies. These tips will raise the efficiency of your business plan above average.

1. Know Your Audience

When writing a business plan, you need to know your audience . Business owners write business plans for different reasons. Your business plan has to be specific. For example, you can write business plans to potential investors, banks, and even fellow board members of the company.

The audience you are writing to determines the structure of the business plan. As a business owner, you have to know your audience. Not everyone will be your audience. Knowing your audience will help you to narrow the scope of your business plan.

Consider what your audience wants to see in your projects, the likely questions they might ask, and what interests them.

  • A business plan used to address a company's board members will center on its employment schemes, internal affairs, projects, stakeholders, etc.
  • A business plan for financial institutions will talk about the size of your market and the chances for you to pay back any loans you demand.
  • A business plan for investors will show proof that you can return the investment capital within a specific time. In addition, it discusses your financial projections, tractions, and market size.

2. Get Inspiration from People

Writing a business plan from scratch as an entrepreneur can be daunting. That is why you need the right inspiration to push you to write one. You can gain inspiration from the successful business plans of other businesses. Look at their business plans, the style they use, the structure of the project, etc.

To make your business plan easier to create, search companies related to your business to get an exact copy of what you need to create an effective business plan. You can also make references while citing examples in your business plans.

When drafting your business plan, get as much help from others as you possibly can. By getting inspiration from people, you can create something better than what they have.

3. Avoid Being Over Optimistic

Many business owners make use of strong adjectives to qualify their content. One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make when preparing a business plan is promising too much.

The use of superlatives and over-optimistic claims can prepare the audience for more than you can offer. In the end, you disappoint the confidence they have in you.

In most cases, the best option is to be realistic with your claims and statistics. Most of the investors can sense a bit of incompetency from the overuse of superlatives. As a new entrepreneur, do not be tempted to over-promise to get the interests of investors.

The concept of entrepreneurship centers on risks, nothing is certain when you make future analyses. What separates the best is the ability to do careful research and work towards achieving that, not promising more than you can achieve.

To make an excellent first impression as an entrepreneur, replace superlatives with compelling data-driven content. In this way, you are more specific than someone promising a huge ROI from an investment.

4. Keep it Simple and Short

When writing business plans, ensure you keep them simple throughout. Irrespective of the purpose of the business plan, your goal is to convince the audience.

One way to achieve this goal is to make them understand your proposal. Therefore, it would be best if you avoid the use of complex grammar to express yourself. It would be a huge turn-off if the people you want to convince are not familiar with your use of words.

Another thing to note is the length of your business plan. It would be best if you made it as brief as possible.

You hardly see investors or agencies that read through an extremely long document. In that case, if your first few pages can’t convince them, then you have lost it. The more pages you write, the higher the chances of you derailing from the essential contents.

To ensure your business plan has a high conversion rate, you need to dispose of every unnecessary information. For example, if you have a strategy that you are not sure of, it would be best to leave it out of the plan.

5. Make an Outline and Follow Through

A perfect business plan must have touched every part needed to convince the audience. Business owners get easily tempted to concentrate more on their products than on other sections. Doing this can be detrimental to the efficiency of the business plan.

For example, imagine you talking about a product but omitting or providing very little information about the target audience. You will leave your clients confused.

To ensure that your business plan communicates your full business model to readers, you have to input all the necessary information in it. One of the best ways to achieve this is to design a structure and stick to it.

This structure is what guides you throughout the writing. To make your work easier, you can assign an estimated word count or page limit to every section to avoid making it too bulky for easy reading. As a guide, the necessary things your business plan must contain are:

  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Product or service description
  • Target audience
  • Market size
  • Competition analysis
  • Financial projections

Some specific businesses can include some other essential sections, but these are the key sections that must be in every business plan.

6. Ask a Professional to Proofread

When writing a business plan, you must tie all loose ends to get a perfect result. When you are done with writing, call a professional to go through the document for you. You are bound to make mistakes, and the way to correct them is to get external help.

You should get a professional in your field who can relate to every section of your business plan. It would be easier for the professional to notice the inner flaws in the document than an editor with no knowledge of your business.

In addition to getting a professional to proofread, get an editor to proofread and edit your document. The editor will help you identify grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and inappropriate writing styles.

Writing a business plan can be daunting, but you can surmount that obstacle and get the best out of it with these tips.

Business Plan Examples and Templates That’ll Save You Tons of Time

1. hubspot's one-page business plan.

HubSpot's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan template by HubSpot is the perfect guide for businesses of any size, irrespective of their business strategy. Although the template is condensed into a page, your final business plan should not be a page long! The template is designed to ask helpful questions that can help you develop your business plan.

Hubspot’s one-page business plan template is divided into nine fields:

  • Business opportunity
  • Company description
  • Industry analysis
  • Target market
  • Implementation timeline
  • Marketing plan
  • Financial summary
  • Funding required

2. Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplans' free business plan template is investor-approved. It is a rich template used by prestigious educational institutions such as Babson College and Princeton University to teach entrepreneurs how to create a business plan.

The template has six sections: the executive summary, opportunity, execution, company, financial plan, and appendix. There is a step-by-step guide for writing every little detail in the business plan. Follow the instructions each step of the way and you will create a business plan that impresses investors or lenders easily.

3. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot’s downloadable business plan template is a more comprehensive option compared to the one-page business template by HubSpot. This free and downloadable business plan template is designed for entrepreneurs.

The template is a comprehensive guide and checklist for business owners just starting their businesses. It tells you everything you need to fill in each section of the business plan and how to do it.

There are nine sections in this business plan template: an executive summary, company and business description, product and services line, market analysis, marketing plan, sales plan, legal notes, financial considerations, and appendix.

4. Business Plan by My Own Business Institute

The Business Profile

My Own Business Institute (MOBI) which is a part of Santa Clara University's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers a free business plan template. You can either copy the free business template from the link provided above or download it as a Word document.

The comprehensive template consists of a whopping 15 sections.

  • The Business Profile
  • The Vision and the People
  • Home-Based Business and Freelance Business Opportunities
  • Organization
  • Licenses and Permits
  • Business Insurance
  • Communication Tools
  • Acquisitions
  • Location and Leasing
  • Accounting and Cash Flow
  • Opening and Marketing
  • Managing Employees
  • Expanding and Handling Problems

There are lots of helpful tips on how to fill each section in the free business plan template by MOBI.

5. Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score is an American nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs build successful companies. This business plan template for startups by Score is available for free download. The business plan template asks a whooping 150 generic questions that help entrepreneurs from different fields to set up the perfect business plan.

The business plan template for startups contains clear instructions and worksheets, all you have to do is answer the questions and fill the worksheets.

There are nine sections in the business plan template: executive summary, company description, products and services, marketing plan, operational plan, management and organization, startup expenses and capitalization, financial plan, and appendices.

The ‘refining the plan’ resource contains instructions that help you modify your business plan to suit your specific needs, industry, and target audience. After you have completed Score’s business plan template, you can work with a SCORE mentor for expert advice in business planning.

6. Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

The minimalist architecture business plan template is a simple template by Venngage that you can customize to suit your business needs .

There are five sections in the template: an executive summary, statement of problem, approach and methodology, qualifications, and schedule and benchmark. The business plan template has instructions that guide users on what to fill in each section.

7. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two free business plan templates, filled with practical real-life examples that you can model to create your business plan. Both free business plan templates are written by fictional business owners: Rebecca who owns a consulting firm, and Andrew who owns a toy company.

There are five sections in the two SBA’s free business plan templates.

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Service Line
  • Marketing and Sales

8. The $100 Startup's One-Page Business Plan

The $100 Startup's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan by the $100 startup is a simple business plan template for entrepreneurs who do not want to create a long and complicated plan . You can include more details in the appendices for funders who want more information beyond what you can put in the one-page business plan.

There are five sections in the one-page business plan such as overview, ka-ching, hustling, success, and obstacles or challenges or open questions. You can answer all the questions using one or two sentences.

9. PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

The free business plan template by PandaDoc is a comprehensive 15-page document that describes the information you should include in every section.

There are 11 sections in PandaDoc’s free business plan template.

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Products and services
  • Operations plan
  • Management organization
  • Financial plan
  • Conclusion / Call to action
  • Confidentiality statement

You have to sign up for its 14-day free trial to access the template. You will find different business plan templates on PandaDoc once you sign up (including templates for general businesses and specific businesses such as bakeries, startups, restaurants, salons, hotels, and coffee shops)

PandaDoc allows you to customize its business plan templates to fit the needs of your business. After editing the template, you can send it to interested parties and track opens and views through PandaDoc.

10. Invoiceberry Templates for Word, Open Office, Excel, or PPT

Invoiceberry Templates Business Concept

InvoiceBerry is a U.K based online invoicing and tracking platform that offers free business plan templates in .docx, .odt, .xlsx, and .pptx formats for freelancers and small businesses.

Before you can download the free business plan template, it will ask you to give it your email address. After you complete the little task, it will send the download link to your inbox for you to download. It also provides a business plan checklist in .xlsx file format that ensures you add the right information to the business plan.

Alternatives to the Traditional Business Plan

A business plan is very important in mapping out how one expects their business to grow over a set number of years, particularly when they need external investment in their business. However, many investors do not have the time to watch you present your business plan. It is a long and boring read.

Luckily, there are three alternatives to the traditional business plan (the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck). These alternatives are less laborious and easier and quicker to present to investors.

Business Model Canvas (BMC)

The business model canvas is a business tool used to present all the important components of setting up a business, such as customers, route to market, value proposition, and finance in a single sheet. It provides a very focused blueprint that defines your business initially which you can later expand on if needed.

Business Model Canvas (BMC) Infographic

The sheet is divided mainly into company, industry, and consumer models that are interconnected in how they find problems and proffer solutions.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas was developed by founder Alexander Osterwalder to answer important business questions. It contains nine segments.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

  • Key Partners: Who will be occupying important executive positions in your business? What do they bring to the table? Will there be a third party involved with the company?
  • Key Activities: What important activities will production entail? What activities will be carried out to ensure the smooth running of the company?
  • The Product’s Value Propositions: What does your product do? How will it be different from other products?
  • Customer Segments: What demography of consumers are you targeting? What are the habits of these consumers? Who are the MVPs of your target consumers?
  • Customer Relationships: How will the team support and work with its customer base? How do you intend to build and maintain trust with the customer?
  • Key Resources: What type of personnel and tools will be needed? What size of the budget will they need access to?
  • Channels: How do you plan to create awareness of your products? How do you intend to transport your product to the customer?
  • Cost Structure: What is the estimated cost of production? How much will distribution cost?
  • Revenue Streams: For what value are customers willing to pay? How do they prefer to pay for the product? Are there any external revenues attached apart from the main source? How do the revenue streams contribute to the overall revenue?

Lean Canvas

The lean canvas is a problem-oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas. It was proposed by Ash Maurya, creator of Lean Stack as a development of the business model generation. It uses a more problem-focused approach and it majorly targets entrepreneurs and startup businesses.

The lean canvas is a problem oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas

Lean Canvas uses the same 9 blocks concept as the business model canvas, however, they have been modified slightly to suit the needs and purpose of a small startup. The key partners, key activities, customer relationships, and key resources are replaced by new segments which are:

  • Problem: Simple and straightforward number of problems you have identified, ideally three.
  • Solution: The solutions to each problem.
  • Unfair Advantage: Something you possess that can't be easily bought or replicated.
  • Key Metrics: Important numbers that will tell how your business is doing.

Startup Pitch Deck

While the business model canvas compresses into a factual sheet, startup pitch decks expand flamboyantly.

Pitch decks, through slides, convey your business plan, often through graphs and images used to emphasize estimations and observations in your presentation. Entrepreneurs often use pitch decks to fully convince their target audience of their plans before discussing funding arrangements.

Startup Pitch Deck Presentation

Considering the likelihood of it being used in a small time frame, a good startup pitch deck should ideally contain 20 slides or less to have enough time to answer questions from the audience.

Unlike the standard and lean business model canvases, a pitch deck doesn't have a set template on how to present your business plan but there are still important components to it. These components often mirror those of the business model canvas except that they are in slide form and contain more details.

Airbnb Pitch Deck

Using Airbnb (one of the most successful start-ups in recent history) for reference, the important components of a good slide are listed below.

  • Cover/Introduction Slide: Here, you should include your company's name and mission statement. Your mission statement should be a very catchy tagline. Also, include personal information and contact details to provide an easy link for potential investors.
  • Problem Slide: This slide requires you to create a connection with the audience or the investor that you are pitching. For example in their pitch, Airbnb summarized the most important problems it would solve in three brief points – pricing of hotels, disconnection from city culture, and connection problems for local bookings.
  • Solution Slide: This slide includes your core value proposition. List simple and direct solutions to the problems you have mentioned
  • Customer Analysis: Here you will provide information on the customers you will be offering your service to. The identity of your customers plays an important part in fundraising as well as the long-run viability of the business.
  • Market Validation: Use competitive analysis to show numbers that prove the presence of a market for your product, industry behavior in the present and the long run, as well as the percentage of the market you aim to attract. It shows that you understand your competitors and customers and convinces investors of the opportunities presented in the market.
  • Business Model: Your business model is the hook of your presentation. It may vary in complexity but it should generally include a pricing system informed by your market analysis. The goal of the slide is to confirm your business model is easy to implement.
  • Marketing Strategy: This slide should summarize a few customer acquisition methods that you plan to use to grow the business.
  • Competitive Advantage: What this slide will do is provide information on what will set you apart and make you a more attractive option to customers. It could be the possession of technology that is not widely known in the market.
  • Team Slide: Here you will give a brief description of your team. Include your key management personnel here and their specific roles in the company. Include their educational background, job history, and skillsets. Also, talk about their accomplishments in their careers so far to build investors' confidence in members of your team.
  • Traction Slide: This validates the company’s business model by showing growth through early sales and support. The slide aims to reduce any lingering fears in potential investors by showing realistic periodic milestones and profit margins. It can include current sales, growth, valuable customers, pre-orders, or data from surveys outlining current consumer interest.
  • Funding Slide: This slide is popularly referred to as ‘the ask'. Here you will include important details like how much is needed to get your business off the ground and how the funding will be spent to help the company reach its goals.
  • Appendix Slides: Your pitch deck appendix should always be included alongside a standard pitch presentation. It consists of additional slides you could not show in the pitch deck but you need to complement your presentation.

It is important to support your calculations with pictorial renditions. Infographics, such as pie charts or bar graphs, will be more effective in presenting the information than just listing numbers. For example, a six-month graph that shows rising profit margins will easily look more impressive than merely writing it.

Lastly, since a pitch deck is primarily used to secure meetings and you may be sharing your pitch with several investors, it is advisable to keep a separate public version that doesn't include financials. Only disclose the one with projections once you have secured a link with an investor.

Advantages of the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck over the Traditional Business Plan

  • Time-Saving: Writing a detailed traditional business plan could take weeks or months. On the other hand, all three alternatives can be done in a few days or even one night of brainstorming if you have a comprehensive understanding of your business.
  • Easier to Understand: Since the information presented is almost entirely factual, it puts focus on what is most important in running the business. They cut away the excess pages of fillers in a traditional business plan and allow investors to see what is driving the business and what is getting in the way.
  • Easy to Update: Businesses typically present their business plans to many potential investors before they secure funding. What this means is that you may regularly have to amend your presentation to update statistics or adjust to audience-specific needs. For a traditional business plan, this could mean rewriting a whole section of your plan. For the three alternatives, updating is much easier because they are not voluminous.
  • Guide for a More In-depth Business Plan: All three alternatives have the added benefit of being able to double as a sketch of your business plan if the need to create one arises in the future.

Business Plan FAQ

Business plans are important for any entrepreneur who is looking for a framework to run their company over some time or seeking external support. Although they are essential for new businesses, every company should ideally have a business plan to track their growth from time to time.  They can be used by startups seeking investments or loans to convey their business ideas or an employee to convince his boss of the feasibility of starting a new project. They can also be used by companies seeking to recruit high-profile employee targets into key positions or trying to secure partnerships with other firms.

Business plans often vary depending on your target audience, the scope, and the goals for the plan. Startup plans are the most common among the different types of business plans.  A start-up plan is used by a new business to present all the necessary information to help get the business up and running. They are usually used by entrepreneurs who are seeking funding from investors or bank loans. The established company alternative to a start-up plan is a feasibility plan. A feasibility plan is often used by an established company looking for new business opportunities. They are used to show the upsides of creating a new product for a consumer base. Because the audience is usually company people, it requires less company analysis. The third type of business plan is the lean business plan. A lean business plan is a brief, straight-to-the-point breakdown of your ideas and analysis for your business. It does not contain details of your proposal and can be written on one page. Finally, you have the what-if plan. As it implies, a what-if plan is a preparation for the worst-case scenario. You must always be prepared for the possibility of your original plan being rejected. A good what-if plan will serve as a good plan B to the original.

A good business plan has 10 key components. They include an executive plan, product analysis, desired customer base, company analysis, industry analysis, marketing strategy, sales strategy, financial projection, funding, and appendix. Executive Plan Your business should begin with your executive plan. An executive plan will provide early insight into what you are planning to achieve with your business. It should include your mission statement and highlight some of the important points which you will explain later. Product Analysis The next component of your business plan is your product analysis. A key part of this section is explaining the type of item or service you are going to offer as well as the market problems your product will solve. Desired Consumer Base Your product analysis should be supplemented with a detailed breakdown of your desired consumer base. Investors are always interested in knowing the economic power of your market as well as potential MVP customers. Company Analysis The next component of your business plan is your company analysis. Here, you explain how you want to run your business. It will include your operational strategy, an insight into the workforce needed to keep the company running, and important executive positions. It will also provide a calculation of expected operational costs.  Industry Analysis A good business plan should also contain well laid out industry analysis. It is important to convince potential investors you know the companies you will be competing with, as well as your plans to gain an edge on the competition. Marketing Strategy Your business plan should also include your marketing strategy. This is how you intend to spread awareness of your product. It should include a detailed explanation of the company brand as well as your advertising methods. Sales Strategy Your sales strategy comes after the market strategy. Here you give an overview of your company's pricing strategy and how you aim to maximize profits. You can also explain how your prices will adapt to market behaviors. Financial Projection The financial projection is the next component of your business plan. It explains your company's expected running cost and revenue earned during the tenure of the business plan. Financial projection gives a clear idea of how your company will develop in the future. Funding The next component of your business plan is funding. You have to detail how much external investment you need to get your business idea off the ground here. Appendix The last component of your plan is the appendix. This is where you put licenses, graphs, or key information that does not fit in any of the other components.

The business model canvas is a business management tool used to quickly define your business idea and model. It is often used when investors need you to pitch your business idea during a brief window.

A pitch deck is similar to a business model canvas except that it makes use of slides in its presentation. A pitch is not primarily used to secure funding, rather its main purpose is to entice potential investors by selling a very optimistic outlook on the business.

Business plan competitions help you evaluate the strength of your business plan. By participating in business plan competitions, you are improving your experience. The experience provides you with a degree of validation while practicing important skills. The main motivation for entering into the competitions is often to secure funding by finishing in podium positions. There is also the chance that you may catch the eye of a casual observer outside of the competition. These competitions also provide good networking opportunities. You could meet mentors who will take a keen interest in guiding you in your business journey. You also have the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs whose ideas can complement yours.

Exlore Further

  • 12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)
  • 13 Sources of Business Finance For Companies & Sole Traders
  • 5 Common Types of Business Structures (+ Pros & Cons)
  • How to Buy a Business in 8 Steps (+ Due Diligence Checklist)

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8 Business Plan Templates You Can Get for Free

Author: Kody Wirth

8 min. read

Updated July 3, 2024

A business plan template can be an excellent tool to simplify the creation of your business plan. 

The pre-set structure helps you organize ideas, covers all critical business information, and saves you time and effort on formatting.

The only issue? There are SO many free business plan templates out there. 

So, which ones are actually worth using? 

To help remove the guesswork, I’ve rounded up some of the best business plan templates you can access right now. 

These are listed in no particular order, and each has its benefits and drawbacks.

What to look for in a business plan template

Not all business plan templates are created equal. As you weigh your options and decide which template(s) you’ll use, be sure to review them with the following criteria in mind:

  • Easy to edit: A template should save you time. That won’t be the case if you have to fuss around figuring out how to edit the document, or even worse, it doesn’t allow you to edit at all.
  • Contains the right sections: A good template should cover all essential sections of a business plan , including the executive summary, product/service description, market/competitive analysis, marketing and sales plan, operations, milestones, and financial projections. 
  • Provides guidance: You should be able to trust that the information in a template is accurate. That means the organization or person who created the template is highly credible, known for producing useful resources, and ideally has some entrepreneurial experience.
  • Software compatibility: Lastly, you want any template to be compatible with the software platforms you use. More than likely, this means it’s available in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or PDF format at a minimum. 

1. Bplans — A plan with expert guidance

Preview of Bplans' free business plan template download asset.

Since you’re already on Bplans, I have to first mention the templates that we have available. 

Our traditional and one-page templates were created by entrepreneurs and business owners with over 80 years of collective planning experience. We revisit and update them annually to ensure they are approachable, thorough, and aligned with our team’s evolving best practices.  

The templates, available in Word, PDF, or Google Doc formats, include in-depth guidance on what to include in each section, expert tips, and links to additional resources. 

Plus, we have over 550 real-world sample business plans you can use for guidance when filling out your template.

Download: Traditional lender-ready business plan template or a simple one-page plan template .

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2. SBA — Introduction to business plans

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two different business plan templates along with a short planning guide. 

While not incredibly in-depth, it’s enough to help you understand how traditional and lean plans are structured and what information needs to be covered. The templates themselves are more like examples, providing you with a finished product to reference as you write your plan.

The key benefit of using these templates is that they were created by the SBA. While they may provide less guidance, you can be assured that the information and structure meet their expectations.

Explore: The SBA’s planning guide and free templates

3. SCORE — Planning workbook

best place for business plan

SCORE’s template is more like a workbook. It includes exercises after each section to help you get your ideas down and turn them into a structured plan.

The market research worksheets are especially useful. They provide a clear framework for identifying your target market and analyzing competitors from multiple angles. Plus, they give you an easy way to document all the information you’re collecting.

You will likely have to remove the exercises in this template to make it investor-ready. But it can be worth it if you’re struggling to get past a blank page and want a more interactive planning method.

Download: SCORE’s business plan template

4. PandaDoc — A template with fillable forms

best place for business plan

PandaDoc’s library offers a variety of industry-specific business plan templates that feature a modern design flair and concise instructions. 

These templates are designed for sharing. They include fillable fields and sections for non-disclosure agreements, which may be necessary when sending a plan to investors.  

But the real benefit is their compatibility with PandaDoc’s platform. Yes, they are free, but if you’re a PandaDoc subscriber, you’ll have far more customization options. 

Out of all their templates, the standard business plan template is the most in-depth. The rest, while still useful, go a bit lighter on guidance in favor of tailoring the plan to a specific industry.

Explore: PandaDoc’s business plan template library  

5. Canva — Pitch with your plan

A sample of the 696 free business plan templates available from Canva. The templates represented here are for a restaurant and two options designed around a minimalist beige aesthetic.

Canva is a great option for building a visually stunning business plan that can be used as a pitch tool. It offers a diverse array of templates built by their in-house team and the larger creative community, meaning the number of options constantly grows.

You will need to verify that the information in the template you choose matches the standard structure of a traditional business plan. 

You should do this with any template, but it’s especially important with any tool that accepts community submissions. While they are likely reviewed and approved, there may still be errors.

Remember, you can only edit these templates within Canva. Luckily, you only need a free subscription, and you may just miss out on some of the visual assets being used. 

To get the most value, it may be best to create a more traditional planning document and transfer that information into Canva. 

Explore: Canva’s business plan gallery

6. ClickUp — The collaborative template

Preview of ClickUp's business plan template within the project management platform. It includes a number of fillable cells to help guide the creation process.

Out of all the project management tools that offer free business plan templates, ClickUp’s is the most approachable.

Rather than throwing you into all the features and expecting you to figure it out—ClickUp provides a thorough startup guide with resource links, images, and videos explaining how to write a plan using the tool. 

There’s also a completed sample plan (structured like an expanded one-page plan) for you to reference and see how the more traditional document can connect to the product management features. You can set goals, target dates, leave comments, and even assign tasks to someone else on your team. 

These features are limited to the ClickUp platform and will not be useful for everyone. They will likely get in the way of writing a plan you can easily share with lenders or investors. 

But this is a great option if you’re looking for a template that makes internal collaboration more fluid and keeps all your information in one place.

Sign Up: Get a free trial of ClickUp and explore their template library

7. Smartsheet — A wide variety of templates

A preview of the Smartsheet business plan template. It provides a preview of the cover page, directory, and small views of the remaining template pages.

I’m including Smartsheet’s library of templates on this list because of the sheer number of options they provide. 

They have a simple business plan template, a one-page plan, a fill-in-the-blank template, a plan outline, a plan grading rubric, and even an Excel-built project plan. All are perfectly usable and vary in visual style, depth of instructions, and the available format.

Honestly, the only drawback (which is also the core benefit) is that the amount of templates can be overwhelming. If you’re already uncertain which plan option is right for you, the lengthy list they provide may not provide much clarity.

At the same time, it can be a great resource if you want a one-stop shop to view multiple plan types.

8. ReferralRock affiliate marketing business plan

Preview of the ReferralRock affiliate marketing business plan template. It just represents the cover page of the full template.

I’m adding ReferralRock’s template to this list due to its specificity. 

It’s not your standard business plan template. The plan is tailored with specific sections and guidance around launching an affiliate marketing business. 

Most of the template is dedicated to defining how to choose affiliates, set commissions, create legal agreements, and track performance.

So, if you plan on starting an affiliate marketing business or program, this template will provide more specific guidance. Just know that you will likely need to reference additional resources when writing the non-industry sections of your plan.

Download: ReferralRock affiliate marketing business plan template

Does it matter what business plan template you use?

The short answer is no. As long as the structure is correct, it saves you time, and it helps you write your business plan , then any template will work. 

What it ultimately comes down to, is what sort of value you hope to get from the template. 

  • Do you need more guidance? 
  • A simple way to structure your plan? 
  • An option that works with a specific tool?
  • A way to make your plan more visually interesting?

Hopefully, this list has helped you hone in on an option that meets one (or several) of these needs. Still, it may be worth downloading a few of these templates to determine the right fit. 

And really, what matters most is that you spend time writing a business plan . It will help you avoid early mistakes, determine if you have a viable business, and fully consider what it will take to get up and running. 

If you need additional guidance, check out our library of planning resources . We cover everything from plan formats , to how to write a business plan, and even how to use it as a management tool . 

If you don’t want to waste time researching other templates, you can download our one-page or traditional business plan template and jump right into the planning process.

Content Author: Kody Wirth

Kody Wirth is a content writer and SEO specialist for Palo Alto Software—the creator's of Bplans and LivePlan. He has 3+ years experience covering small business topics and runs a part-time content writing service in his spare time.

Check out LivePlan

Table of Contents

  • Qualities of a good template
  • ReferralRock
  • Does the template matter?

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The 7 Best Business Plan Examples (2024)

As an aspiring entrepreneur gearing up to start your own business , you likely know the importance of drafting a business plan. However, you might not be entirely sure where to begin or what specific details to include. That’s where examining business plan examples can be beneficial. Sample business plans serve as real-world templates to help you craft your own plan with confidence. They also provide insight into the key sections that make up a business plan, as well as demonstrate how to structure and present your ideas effectively.

Example business plan

To understand how to write a business plan, let’s study an example structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick overview of those parts:

  • Executive summary: A quick overview of your business and the contents of your business plan.
  • Company description: More info about your company, its goals and mission, and why you started it in the first place.
  • Market analysis: Research about the market and industry your business will operate in, including a competitive analysis about the companies you’ll be up against.
  • Products and services: A detailed description of what you’ll be selling to your customers.
  • Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market.
  • Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background.
  • Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even long-term) financial goals and the costs to run the business. If you’re looking for funding, this is the place to discuss your request and needs.

7 business plan examples (section by section)

In this section, you’ll find hypothetical and real-world examples of each aspect of a business plan to show you how the whole thing comes together. 

  • Executive summary

Your executive summary offers a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. You’ll want to include a brief description of your company, market research, competitor analysis, and financial information. 

In this free business plan template, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:

  • Company description

You might go more in-depth with your company description and include the following sections:

  • Nature of the business. Mention the general category of business you fall under. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of your products?
  • Background information. Talk about your past experiences and skills, and how you’ve combined them to fill in the market. 
  • Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your company —as a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC, or other business type.
  • Industry. Which business sector do you operate in? The answer might be technology, merchandising, or another industry.
  • Team. Whether you’re the sole full-time employee of your business or you have contractors to support your daily workflow, this is your chance to put them under the spotlight.

You can also repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business. Hair extensions brand Luxy Hair has a blurb on it’s About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan. 

company description business plan

  • Market analysis

Market analysis comprises research on product supply and demand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. You might do a SWOT analysis to learn where you stand and identify market gaps that you could exploit to establish your footing. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis for a hypothetical ecommerce business: 

marketing swot example

You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component of your business plan. This will show you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to gain an edge over the competition. 

  • Products and services

This part of your business plan describes your product or service, how it will be priced, and the ways it will compete against similar offerings in the market. Don’t go into too much detail here—a few lines are enough to introduce your item to the reader.

  • Marketing plan

Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. So it’s essential to build a marketing plan that highlights the promotion and customer acquisition strategies you’re planning to adopt. 

Most marketing plans focus on the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. However, it’s easier when you break it down by the different marketing channels . Mention how you intend to promote your business using blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing. 

Here’s an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website:

marketing section template for business plan

Logistics and operations

This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.

Financial plan

The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit, and other financial metrics. You’ll want to include all the numbers and concrete data to project your current and projected financial state.

In this business plan example, the financial statement for ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy includes forecasted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.

financial plan example

It then goes deeper into the financials, citing:

  • Funding needs
  • Project cash-flow statement
  • Project profit-and-loss statement
  • Projected balance sheet

You can use Shopify’s financial plan template to create your own income statement, cash-flow statement, and balance sheet. 

Types of business plans (and what to write for each)

A one-page business plan is a pared down version of a standard business plan that’s easy for potential investors and partners to understand. You’ll want to include all of these sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized:

  • Logistics and operations plan
  • Financials 

A startup business plan is meant to secure outside funding for a new business. Typically, there’s a big focus on the financials, as well as other sections that help determine the viability of your business idea—market analysis, for example. Shopify has a great business plan template for startups that include all the below points:

  • Market research: in depth
  • Financials: in depth

Your internal business plan acts as the enforcer of your company’s vision. It reminds your team of the long-term objective and keeps them strategically aligned toward the same goal. Be sure to include:

  • Market research

Feasibility 

A feasibility business plan is essentially a feasibility study that helps you evaluate whether your product or idea is worthy of a full business plan. Include the following sections:

A strategic (or growth) business plan lays out your long-term vision and goals. This means your predictions stretch further into the future, and you aim for greater growth and revenue. While crafting this document, you use all the parts of a usual business plan but add more to each one:

  • Products and services: for launch and expansion
  • Market analysis: detailed analysis
  • Marketing plan: detailed strategy
  • Logistics and operations plan: detailed plan
  • Financials: detailed projections

Free business plan templates

Now that you’re familiar with what’s included and how to format a business plan, let’s go over a few templates you can fill out or draw inspiration from.

Bplans’ free business plan template

best place for business plan

Bplans’ free business plan template focuses a lot on the financial side of running a business. It has many pages just for your financial plan and statements. Once you fill it out, you’ll see exactly where your business stands financially and what you need to do to keep it on track or make it better.

PandaDoc’s free business plan template

best place for business plan

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is detailed and guides you through every section, so you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Filling it out, you’ll grasp the ins and outs of your business and how each part fits together. It’s also handy because it connects to PandaDoc’s e-signature for easy signing, ideal for businesses with partners or a board.

Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template

Miro

Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template helps you map out the essentials of your business, like partnerships, core activities, and what makes you different. It’s a collaborative tool for you and your team to learn how everything in your business is linked.

Better business planning equals better business outcomes

Building a business plan is key to establishing a clear direction and strategy for your venture. With a solid plan in hand, you’ll know what steps to take for achieving each of your business goals. Kickstart your business planning and set yourself up for success with a defined roadmap—utilizing the sample business plans above to inform your approach.

Business plan FAQ

What are the 3 main points of a business plan.

  • Concept. Explain what your business does and the main idea behind it. This is where you tell people what you plan to achieve with your business.
  • Contents. Explain what you’re selling or offering. Point out who you’re selling to and who else is selling something similar. This part concerns your products or services, who will buy them, and who you’re up against.
  • Cash flow. Explain how money will move in and out of your business. Discuss the money you need to start and keep the business going, the costs of running your business, and how much money you expect to make.

How do I write a simple business plan?

To create a simple business plan, start with an executive summary that details your business vision and objectives. Follow this with a concise description of your company’s structure, your market analysis, and information about your products or services. Conclude your plan with financial projections that outline your expected revenue, expenses, and profitability.

What is the best format to write a business plan?

The optimal format for a business plan arranges your plan in a clear and structured way, helping potential investors get a quick grasp of what your business is about and what you aim to achieve. Always start with a summary of your plan and finish with the financial details or any extra information at the end.

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Business plans might seem like an old-school stiff-collared practice, but they deserve a place in the startup realm, too. It’s probably not going to be the frame-worthy document you hang in the office—yet, it may one day be deserving of the privilege.

Whether you’re looking to win the heart of an angel investor or convince a bank to lend you money, you’ll need a business plan. And not just any ol’ notes and scribble on the back of a pizza box or napkin—you’ll need a professional, standardized report.

Bah. Sounds like homework, right?

Yes. Yes, it does.

However, just like bookkeeping, loan applications, and 404 redirects, business plans are an essential step in cementing your business foundation.

Don’t worry. We’ll show you how to write a business plan without boring you to tears. We’ve jam-packed this article with all the business plan examples, templates, and tips you need to take your non-existent proposal from concept to completion.

Table of Contents

What Is a Business Plan?

Tips to Make Your Small Business Plan Ironclad

How to Write a Business Plan in 6 Steps

Startup Business Plan Template

Business Plan Examples

Work on Making Your Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan FAQs

What is a business plan why do you desperately need one.

A business plan is a roadmap that outlines:

  • Who your business is, what it does, and who it serves
  • Where your business is now
  • Where you want it to go
  • How you’re going to make it happen
  • What might stop you from taking your business from Point A to Point B
  • How you’ll overcome the predicted obstacles

While it’s not required when starting a business, having a business plan is helpful for a few reasons:

  • Secure a Bank Loan: Before approving you for a business loan, banks will want to see that your business is legitimate and can repay the loan. They want to know how you’re going to use the loan and how you’ll make monthly payments on your debt. Lenders want to see a sound business strategy that doesn’t end in loan default.
  • Win Over Investors: Like lenders, investors want to know they’re going to make a return on their investment. They need to see your business plan to have the confidence to hand you money.
  • Stay Focused: It’s easy to get lost chasing the next big thing. Your business plan keeps you on track and focused on the big picture. Your business plan can prevent you from wasting time and resources on something that isn’t aligned with your business goals.

Beyond the reasoning, let’s look at what the data says:

  • Simply writing a business plan can boost your average annual growth by 30%
  • Entrepreneurs who create a formal business plan are 16% more likely to succeed than those who don’t
  • A study looking at 65 fast-growth companies found that 71% had small business plans
  • The process and output of creating a business plan have shown to improve business performance

Convinced yet? If those numbers and reasons don’t have you scrambling for pen and paper, who knows what will.

Don’t Skip: Business Startup Costs Checklist

Before we get into the nitty-gritty steps of how to write a business plan, let’s look at some high-level tips to get you started in the right direction:

Be Professional and Legit

You might be tempted to get cutesy or revolutionary with your business plan—resist the urge. While you should let your brand and creativity shine with everything you produce, business plans fall more into the realm of professional documents.

Think of your business plan the same way as your terms and conditions, employee contracts, or financial statements. You want your plan to be as uniform as possible so investors, lenders, partners, and prospective employees can find the information they need to make important decisions.

If you want to create a fun summary business plan for internal consumption, then, by all means, go right ahead. However, for the purpose of writing this external-facing document, keep it legit.

Know Your Audience

Your official business plan document is for lenders, investors, partners, and big-time prospective employees. Keep these names and faces in your mind as you draft your plan.

Think about what they might be interested in seeing, what questions they’ll ask, and what might convince (or scare) them. Cut the jargon and tailor your language so these individuals can understand.

Remember, these are busy people. They’re likely looking at hundreds of applicants and startup investments every month. Keep your business plan succinct and to the point. Include the most pertinent information and omit the sections that won’t impact their decision-making.

Invest Time Researching

You might not have answers to all the sections you should include in your business plan. Don’t skip over these!

Your audience will want:

  • Detailed information about your customers
  • Numbers and solid math to back up your financial claims and estimates
  • Deep insights about your competitors and potential threats
  • Data to support market opportunities and strategy

Your answers can’t be hypothetical or opinionated. You need research to back up your claims. If you don’t have that data yet, then invest time and money in collecting it. That information isn’t just critical for your business plan—it’s essential for owning, operating, and growing your company.

Stay Realistic

Your business may be ambitious, but reign in the enthusiasm just a teeny-tiny bit. The last thing you want to do is have an angel investor call BS and say “I’m out” before even giving you a chance.

The folks looking at your business and evaluating your plan have been around the block—they know a thing or two about fact and fiction. Your plan should be a blueprint for success. It should be the step-by-step roadmap for how you’re going from Point A to Point B.

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How to Write a Business Plan—6 Essential Elements

Not every business plan looks the same, but most share a few common elements. Here’s what they typically include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Overview
  • Products and Services
  • Market Analysis
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Financial Strategy

Below, we’ll break down each of these sections in more detail.

1. Executive Summary

While your executive summary is the first page of your business plan, it’s the section you’ll write last. That’s because it summarizes your entire business plan into a succinct one-pager.

Begin with an executive summary that introduces the reader to your business and gives them an overview of what’s inside the business plan.

Your executive summary highlights key points of your plan. Consider this your elevator pitch. You want to put all your juiciest strengths and opportunities strategically in this section.

2. Business Overview

In this section, you can dive deeper into the elements of your business, including answering:

  • What’s your business structure? Sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.
  • Where is it located?
  • Who owns the business? Does it have employees?
  • What problem does it solve, and how?
  • What’s your mission statement? Your mission statement briefly describes why you are in business. To write a proper mission statement, brainstorm your business’s core values and who you serve.

Don’t overlook your mission statement. This powerful sentence or paragraph could be the inspiration that drives an investor to take an interest in your business. Here are a few examples of powerful mission statements that just might give you the goosebumps:

  • Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
  • Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
  • InvisionApp : Question Assumptions. Think Deeply. Iterate as a Lifestyle. Details, Details. Design is Everywhere. Integrity.
  • TED : Spread ideas.
  • Warby Parker : To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.

3. Products and Services

As the owner, you know your business and the industry inside and out. However, whoever’s reading your document might not. You’re going to need to break down your products and services in minute detail.

For example, if you own a SaaS business, you’re going to need to explain how this business model works and what you’re selling.

You’ll need to include:

  • What services you sell: Describe the services you provide and how these will help your target audience.
  • What products you sell: Describe your products (and types if applicable) and how they will solve a need for your target and provide value.
  • How much you charge: If you’re selling services, will you charge hourly, per project, retainer, or a mixture of all of these? If you’re selling products, what are the price ranges?

4. Market Analysis

Your market analysis essentially explains how your products and services address customer concerns and pain points. This section will include research and data on the state and direction of your industry and target market.

This research should reveal lucrative opportunities and how your business is uniquely positioned to seize the advantage. You’ll also want to touch on your marketing strategy and how it will (or does) work for your audience.

Include a detailed analysis of your target customers. This describes the people you serve and sell your product to. Be careful not to go too broad here—you don’t want to fall into the common entrepreneurial trap of trying to sell to everyone and thereby not differentiating yourself enough to survive the competition.

The market analysis section will include your unique value proposition. Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the thing that makes you stand out from your competitors. This is your key to success.

If you don’t have a UVP, you don’t have a way to take on competitors who are already in this space. Here’s an example of an ecommerce internet business plan outlining their competitive edge:

FireStarters’ competitive advantage is offering product lines that make a statement but won’t leave you broke. The major brands are expensive and not distinctive enough to satisfy the changing taste of our target customers. FireStarters offers products that are just ahead of the curve and so affordable that our customers will return to the website often to check out what’s new.

5. Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis examines the strengths and weaknesses of competing businesses in your market or industry. This will include direct and indirect competitors. It can also include threats and opportunities, like economic concerns or legal restraints.

The best way to sum up this section is with a classic SWOT analysis. This will explain your company’s position in relation to your competitors.

6. Financial Strategy

Your financial strategy will sum up your revenue, expenses, profit (or loss), and financial plan for the future. It’ll explain how you make money, where your cash flow goes, and how you’ll become profitable or stay profitable.

This is one of the most important sections for lenders and investors. Have you ever watched Shark Tank? They always ask about the company’s financial situation. How has it performed in the past? What’s the ongoing outlook moving forward? How does the business plan to make it happen?

Answer all of these questions in your financial strategy so that your audience doesn’t have to ask. Go ahead and include forecasts and graphs in your plan, too:

  • Balance sheet: This includes your assets, liabilities, and equity.
  • Profit & Loss (P&L) statement: This details your income and expenses over a given period.
  • Cash flow statement: Similar to the P&L, this one will show all cash flowing into and out of the business each month.

It takes cash to change the world—lenders and investors get it. If you’re short on funding, explain how much money you’ll need and how you’ll use the capital. Where are you looking for financing? Are you looking to take out a business loan, or would you rather trade equity for capital instead?

Read More: 16 Financial Concepts Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Startup Business Plan Template (Copy/Paste Outline)

Ready to write your own business plan? Copy/paste the startup business plan template below and fill in the blanks.

Executive Summary Remember, do this last. Summarize who you are and your business plan in one page.

Business Overview Describe your business. What’s it do? Who owns it? How’s it structured? What’s the mission statement?

Products and Services Detail the products and services you offer. How do they work? What do you charge?

Market Analysis Write about the state of the market and opportunities. Use date. Describe your customers. Include your UVP.

Competitive Analysis Outline the competitors in your market and industry. Include threats and opportunities. Add a SWOT analysis of your business.

Financial Strategy Sum up your revenue, expenses, profit (or loss), and financial plan for the future. If you’re applying for a loan, include how you’ll use the funding to progress the business.

What’s the Best Business Plan to Succeed as a Consultant?

5 Frame-Worthy Business Plan Examples

Want to explore other templates and examples? We got you covered. Check out these 5 business plan examples you can use as inspiration when writing your plan:

  • SBA Wooden Grain Toy Company
  • SBA We Can Do It Consulting
  • OrcaSmart Business Plan Sample
  • Plum Business Plan Template
  • PandaDoc Free Business Plan Templates

Get to Work on Making Your Business Plan

If you find you’re getting stuck on perfecting your document, opt for a simple one-page business plan —and then get to work. You can always polish up your official plan later as you learn more about your business and the industry.

Remember, business plans are not a requirement for starting a business—they’re only truly essential if a bank or investor is asking for it.

Ask others to review your business plan. Get feedback from other startups and successful business owners. They’ll likely be able to see holes in your planning or undetected opportunities—just make sure these individuals aren’t your competitors (or potential competitors).

Your business plan isn’t a one-and-done report—it’s a living, breathing document. You’ll make changes to it as you grow and evolve. When the market or your customers change, your plan will need to change to adapt.

That means when you’re finished with this exercise, it’s not time to print your plan out and stuff it in a file cabinet somewhere. No, it should sit on your desk as a day-to-day reference. Use it (and update it) as you make decisions about your product, customers, and financial plan.

Review your business plan frequently, update it routinely, and follow the path you’ve developed to the future you’re building.

Keep Learning: New Product Development Process in 8 Easy Steps

What financial information should be included in a business plan?

Be as detailed as you can without assuming too much. For example, include your expected revenue, expenses, profit, and growth for the future.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing a business plan?

The most common mistake is turning your business plan into a textbook. A business plan is an internal guide and an external pitching tool. Cut the fat and only include the most relevant information to start and run your business.

Who should review my business plan before I submit it?

Co-founders, investors, or a board of advisors. Otherwise, reach out to a trusted mentor, your local chamber of commerce, or someone you know that runs a business.

Ready to Write Your Business Plan?

Don’t let creating a business plan hold you back from starting your business. Writing documents might not be your thing—that doesn’t mean your business is a bad idea.

Let us help you get started.

Join our free training to learn how to start an online side hustle in 30 days or less. We’ll provide you with a proven roadmap for how to find, validate, and pursue a profitable business idea (even if you have zero entrepreneurial experience).

Stuck on the ideas part? No problem. When you attend the masterclass, we’ll send you a free ebook with 100 of the hottest side hustle trends right now. It’s chock full of brilliant business ideas to get you up and running in the right direction.

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About Jesse Sumrak

Jesse Sumrak is a writing zealot focused on creating killer content. He’s spent almost a decade writing about startup, marketing, and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped business. A writer by day and a peak bagger by night (and early early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

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7 Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own (2024)

Need support creating your business plan? Check out these business plan examples for inspiration.

business plan examples

Any aspiring entrepreneur researching how to start a business will likely be advised to write a business plan. But few resources provide business plan examples to really guide you through writing one of your own.

Here are some real-world and illustrative business plan examples to help you craft your business plan .

7 business plan examples: section by section

The business plan examples in this article follow this template:

  • Executive summary.  An introductory overview of your business.
  • Company description.  A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists.
  • Market analysis.  Research-based information about the industry and your target market.
  • Products and services.  What you plan to offer in exchange for money.
  • Marketing plan.   The promotional strategy to introduce your business to the world and drive sales.
  • Logistics and operations plan.  Everything that happens in the background to make your business function properly.
  • Financial plan.  A breakdown of your numbers to show what you need to get started as well as to prove viability of profitability.
  • Executive summary

Your  executive summary  is a page that gives a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. It’s easiest to save this section for last.

In this  free business plan template , the executive summary is four paragraphs and takes a little over half a page:

A four-paragraph long executive summary for a business.

  • Company description

You might repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, social media profile pages, or other properties that require a boilerplate description of your small business.

Soap brand ORRIS  has a blurb on its About page that could easily be repurposed for the company description section of its business plan.

A company description from the website of soap brand Orris

You can also go more in-depth with your company overview and include the following sections, like in the example for Paw Print Post:

  • Business structure.  This section outlines how you  registered your business —as an  LLC , sole proprietorship, corporation, or other  business type . “Paw Print Post will operate as a sole proprietorship run by the owner, Jane Matthews.”
  • Nature of the business.  “Paw Print Post sells unique, one-of-a-kind digitally printed cards that are customized with a pet’s unique paw prints.”
  • Industry.  “Paw Print Post operates primarily in the pet industry and sells goods that could also be categorized as part of the greeting card industry.”
  • Background information.  “Jane Matthews, the founder of Paw Print Post, has a long history in the pet industry and working with animals, and was recently trained as a graphic designer. She’s combining those two loves to capture a niche in the market: unique greeting cards customized with a pet’s paw prints, without needing to resort to the traditional (and messy) options of casting your pet’s prints in plaster or using pet-safe ink to have them stamp their ‘signature.’”
  • Business objectives.  “Jane will have Paw Print Post ready to launch at the Big Important Pet Expo in Toronto to get the word out among industry players and consumers alike. After two years in business, Jane aims to drive $150,000 in annual revenue from the sale of Paw Print Post’s signature greeting cards and have expanded into two new product categories.”
  • Team.  “Jane Matthews is the sole full-time employee of Paw Print Post but hires contractors as needed to support her workflow and fill gaps in her skill set. Notably, Paw Print Post has a standing contract for five hours a week of virtual assistant support with Virtual Assistants Pro.”

Your  mission statement  may also make an appearance here.  Passionfruit  shares its mission statement on its company website, and it would also work well in its example business plan.

A mission statement example on the website of apparel brand Passionfruit, alongside a picture of woman

  • Market analysis

The market analysis consists of research about supply and demand, your target demographics, industry trends, and the competitive landscape. You might run a SWOT analysis and include that in your business plan. 

Here’s an example  SWOT analysis  for an online tailored-shirt business:

A SWOT analysis table showing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

You’ll also want to do a  competitive analysis  as part of the market research component of your business plan. This will tell you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to differentiate your brand. A broad competitive analysis might include:

  • Target customers
  • Unique value add  or what sets their products apart
  • Sales pitch
  • Price points  for products
  • Shipping  policy
  • Products and services

This section of your business plan describes your offerings—which products and services do you sell to your customers? Here’s an example for Paw Print Post:

An example products and services section from a business plan

  • Marketing plan

It’s always a good idea to develop a marketing plan  before you launch your business. Your marketing plan shows how you’ll get the word out about your business, and it’s an essential component of your business plan as well.

The Paw Print Post focuses on four Ps: price, product, promotion, and place. However, you can take a different approach with your marketing plan. Maybe you can pull from your existing  marketing strategy , or maybe you break it down by the different marketing channels. Whatever approach you take, your marketing plan should describe how you intend to promote your business and offerings to potential customers.

  • Logistics and operations plan

The Paw Print Post example considered suppliers, production, facilities, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.

Financial plan

The financial plan provides a breakdown of sales, revenue, profit, expenses, and other relevant financial metrics related to funding and profiting from your business.

Ecommerce brand  Nature’s Candy’s financial plan  breaks down predicted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.

A sample bar chart showing business expenses by month

It then dives deeper into the financials to include:

  • Funding needs
  • Projected profit-and-loss statement
  • Projected balance sheet
  • Projected cash-flow statement

You can use this financial plan spreadsheet to build your own financial statements, including income statement, balance sheet, and cash-flow statement.

A sample financial plan spreadsheet

Types of business plans, and what to include for each

A one-page business plan is meant to be high level and easy to understand at a glance. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re truncated and summarized:

  • Executive summary: truncated
  • Market analysis: summarized
  • Products and services: summarized
  • Marketing plan: summarized
  • Logistics and operations plan: summarized
  • Financials: summarized

A startup business plan is for a new business. Typically, these plans are developed and shared to secure  outside funding . As such, there’s a bigger focus on the financials, as well as on other sections that determine viability of your business idea—market research, for example.

  • Market analysis: in-depth
  • Financials: in-depth

Your internal business plan is meant to keep your team on the same page and aligned toward the same goal.

A strategic, or growth, business plan is a bigger picture, more-long-term look at your business. As such, the forecasts tend to look further into the future, and growth and revenue goals may be higher. Essentially, you want to use all the sections you would in a normal business plan and build upon each.

  • Market analysis: comprehensive outlook
  • Products and services: for launch and expansion
  • Marketing plan: comprehensive outlook
  • Logistics and operations plan: comprehensive outlook
  • Financials: comprehensive outlook

Feasibility

Your feasibility business plan is sort of a pre-business plan—many refer to it as simply a feasibility study. This plan essentially lays the groundwork and validates that it’s worth the effort to make a full business plan for your idea. As such, it’s mostly centered around research.

Set yourself up for success as a business owner

Building a good business plan serves as a roadmap you can use for your ecommerce business at launch and as you reach each of your business goals. Business plans create accountability for entrepreneurs and synergy among teams, regardless of your  business model .

Kickstart your ecommerce business and set yourself up for success with an intentional business planning process—and with the sample business plans above to guide your own path.

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Business plan examples FAQ

How do i write a simple business plan, what is the best format to write a business plan, what are the 4 key elements of a business plan.

  • Executive summary: A concise overview of the company's mission, goals, target audience, and financial objectives.
  • Business description: A description of the company's purpose, operations, products and services, target markets, and competitive landscape.
  • Market analysis: An analysis of the industry, market trends, potential customers, and competitors.
  • Financial plan: A detailed description of the company's financial forecasts and strategies.

What are the 3 main points of a business plan?

  • Concept: Your concept should explain the purpose of your business and provide an overall summary of what you intend to accomplish.
  • Contents: Your content should include details about the products and services you provide, your target market, and your competition.
  • Cashflow: Your cash flow section should include information about your expected cash inflows and outflows, such as capital investments, operating costs, and revenue projections.

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5 Best Business Plan Software in 2022

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When you’re starting a business, developing a strong business plan will be one of the first steps you take. Your business plan will cover everything from a detailed explanation of your products or services and pricing model to at least three years of financial projections—plus much more. Therefore, whether you’re not sure how to get started or you’re just looking to make the process easier, you may want to turn to business plan software for help.

In this guide, we'll break down five of the best business plan software options—discussing their pros, cons, features, pricing, and more—so you have all the information you need to decide which solution is right for your small business.

Looking for tools to help grow your business?

Tell us where you're at in your business journey, and we'll direct you to the experience that fits.

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The 5 best business plan software options

The right business plan software will make the process of writing your business plan much simpler. Like many business software solutions, however, there are a number of different business plan software options out there—each of which has a unique set of features, user experience, and price.

This being said, if you're looking for a place to start your search for the best business plan software, you can explore the five top options below:

How much do you need?

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We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

1. LivePlan

Best overall business plan software.

If you want template-rich, modern-feeling business plan software, then LivePlan may be the right pick for you. LivePlan excels with their user interface, which feels updated and slick, and also offers intuitive, easy-to-use features and options.

Their step-by-step instruction will help you kick things off from the beginning, and you can take advantage of their online learning center to continue to gain business skills.

Affordable plans, including pay-as-you-go option

No long-term contracts or cancellation fee; 60-day money-back guarantee

Modern, intuitive interface; cloud-based, can be used on Mac, PC, as well as tablets

Ability to create unlimited plans in one account; over 500 customizable templates

Variety of business resources including video tutorials, step-by-step instruction, and general customer support

Limited integration options

Challenging to enter your own financial modeling projections

Can be difficult to learn

Ability to create an unlimited number of business plans on one account

More than 500 business plan templates spanning various industries

Integration with Xero and QuickBooks Online

Real-time tracking of financial data with accounting integrations

Ability to export your business plan to Word or PDF

Expert advice and step-by-step instruction included

Performance dashboards for tracking against budgets and sales goals

Ability to create and export a one-page pitch executive summary

Annual plan: $15 per month, billed every 12 months

Six-month plan: $18 per month, billed every six months

Pay-as-you-go plan: $20 per month, billed once every month

2. GoSmallBiz

Best for multiple business management tools in one platform.

Next on our list of the best business plan software options is GoSmallBiz, which is much more than just a business plan software. With GoSmallBiz, you have access to business continuity planning software with features that cover creating a roadmap, working through business and legal forms, building a website, and more.

In this way, GoSmallBiz is great for startups or newer businesses looking to access multiple business management tools through one platform.

Unlimited business consultation and extensive library of online resources

Multiple business tools in one software

Website consultation analysis and business assessment

Industry-specific business plan templates with emphasis on financial projections and statements

Expensive monthly cost compared to alternatives

Limited business plan features

Entire business plan can only be exported to Microsoft Word

Outdated interface

Industry-specific business plan templates with step-by-step building wizard

Ability to create financial statements and projections

Free website hosting and website builder

Customer relationship manager with integration with MailChimp

Digital marketing dashboard with social media and Google Analytics integrations

HR document builder

Corporate minutes writer

Business documents library

Business courses library

Unlimited business consultation

$39 per month, no contracts, free cancellation

Best for simple, fast business plan creation.

If you're looking for free business plan software, Enloop will be one of your closest options—they offer an all-inclusive seven-day free trial, no credit card required. Additionally, unlike some of the other options on our list, Enloop is strictly dedicated to business plan creation, including automated text writing, financial forecast comparisons, and a real-time performance score that tracks your progress.

This being said, if you'd prefer the most straightforward, fast, and simple way to write your business plan, Enloop will be a platform worth considering.

Simple and straightforward software, solely dedicated to business plan creation

Seven-day free trial

Automatic text generation available to streamline the writing process

Affordable plans with annual discount option

Limited additional educational resources

Only one template option

No integration options

Ability to create three business plans with customizable text, images, tables, charts, and over 100 currency symbols and formats

Includes automatic text generation for each plan section that you can then customize

Automatically generated financial statements

Includes financial performance comparison analysis (using three ratios with Detailed plan and 16 with Performance plan)

Real-time performance score to track your progress

Ability to invite users to edit (two with Detailed plan, five with Performance plan)

Pass/fail report and certificate to help you identify issues with your plan

Free plan: Seven-day free trial with no credit card required

Detailed plan: $19.95 per month or $11 per month, paid annually

Performance plan: $39.95 per month, or $24 per month, paid annually

Best for startups looking to acquire funding or find investors.

Part of the Startups.com suite, Bizplan gets top marks for their user interface—it’s intuitive, easy to use, and modern. You’ll work with a step-by-step business plan builder to get exactly what you’d like from your business plan. It may remind you of a modern website builder, since it has drag-and-drop tools to build templates.

Moreover, for one subscription fee, you have access to all of the tools in the Startups.com network, including self-guided courses, how-to guides, masterclass videos, and more. All in all, with a direct connection to Fundable, Bizplan is a top business plan software option for startups looking to acquire funding and find investors.

Subscription gives you access to all Startups.com tools

Lifetime access subscription option

User-friendly drag-and-drop business plan builder

Excellent educational resources

Connection to Fundable great for businesses looking for capital

No free trial

No templates based on industry

No mobile access

Drag-and-drop templates for business plan building

Financial command center to track all business financials in one place

Unlimited account collaborators

Ability to share business plan online with investors

Online resources including self-guided courses, masterclass videos, how-to guides, mentorship access

Unlimited software use for Fundable, Launchrock, and Startups.com

Monthly plan: $29 per month

Annual plan: $20.75 per month, billed at $249 per year

Lifetime access: $349 one-time fee

5. PlanGuru

Best for financial planning and budgeting.

Finally, for some of the strongest financial features among business plan software options, including budgeting and forecasting, you might check out PlanGuru. Whereas the other solutions we've reviewed were first and foremost focused on writing a business plan, PlanGuru is dedicated to business financial planning —providing the tools you need to create budgets, financial forecasts, reports, and more.

Therefore, if you need a software solution that can streamline the financial piece of your business planning processes, PlanGuru will certainly have the most to offer.

Extensive financial tools and detailed forecasting, budgeting, and reporting capabilities

Substantial library of resources

Cloud-based and desktop options

14-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee

Expensive, especially for additional users

Only focuses on the financial aspect of business planning; no templates or tools for basic business plan writing

Difficult to use without prior financial knowledge

Cloud-based version of software, as well as locally installed Windows version (desktop version has a few more features)

Works with QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Excel

Budgeting and forecasting for up to 10 years

Over 20 standard forecasting methods

Formula builder to create custom methods

Ratios and KPIs

Dashboard and reporting tools

Help guides, video tutorials, knowledgebase, and live U.S.-based customer support

14-day free trial

$99 per month (additional users $29 per month)

$899 per year (additional users $299 per year)

What to look for in business plan software

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide, which, if any, of the best business plan software solutions on our list is right for your business.

So, if you're trying to figure out how to choose between the various options out there, it might be helpful to compare your top choices based on the following criteria:

Features: As we've seen different business plan software solutions offer different features. You'll want to look carefully at the feature list of any software and determine what features are most important for your business needs. Do you need an extensive library of templates with detailed customization? Would you prefer software that includes an online learning center for business skills? Are you looking for a solution that combines business plan writing with other tasks? It may be useful to list out your ideal feature set, so you can compare individual software plans to that list.

Price: Although you might be able to find some free business plan software options (or at the very least, free trials), in most cases, you'll need to pay a subscription fee to access the platform you choose. Therefore, you'll want to think about what your budget is for this business tool and what type of software is most cost-effective for your needs.

User experience: User experience can vary widely among different business plan software options. You’ll find some programs that are newer or have been recently updated. Others might have the kind of interfaces that felt new years ago but are now pretty out of date—and, subsequently, make them a little harder to use. The right user experience for your needs is genuinely a matter of opinion and comfort—nevertheless, it's worth testing thoroughly testing out a platform to ensure that it can truly work for you before investing in a monthly or annual subscription.

The bottom line

There's no doubt that properly crafting your business plan is important for the future growth and success of your small business. Luckily, the right business plan software should make the process much simpler.

This being said, whether you opt for one of the best business plan software options listed here, or another platform entirely, you'll want to take the time to compare multiple solutions and ensure you choose the one that's right for your business.

As we mentioned, it can be helpful to think about the features you're looking for, your budget, and your user-experience preferences ahead of time—that way, you'll have a set of criteria in mind as you explore different solutions.

Ultimately, perhaps the best thing you can do to find the right software is to actually test out the platforms themselves—either by using a free trial or a money-back guarantee.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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How to Write Your First Business Plan

Bryce Warnes

Reviewed by

April 8, 2021

This article is Tax Professional approved

A business plan lays out where your business stands in the present and where it’s headed in the future. If you’re applying for a loan or bringing on investors, your business plan proves that your business is making money, and that you’re well positioned to make more.

I am the text that will be copied.

But even if you aren’t looking for working capital, having a business plan can be a huge benefit. It helps you set future goals, put together strategies to help you reach them, and make decisions along the way.

What a business plan tells you

Every business plan is different. The way you create yours will depend on the nature of your business. However, it should include the following:

  • The value you offer customers or clients
  • How your business makes money
  • The resources you rely on to operate
  • New products or services you may provide in the future
  • Your position in the market versus competitors
  • How you plan for your business to grow
  • Current financial report
  • Financial projections

There are different ways to communicate this information—we’ll get to those shortly.

Reasons to write a business plan

A business plan is like a Swiss Army knife—it can do a lot of things really well. And once you have one, it soon becomes indispensable.

While each industry’s business plan will look different— an ecommerce business plan will be different than a medical tech company—there are very basic commonalities. Broadly speaking, here are five important goals you can achieve with a business plan.

1. Test out your business idea

Maybe you’re considering turning your side hustle into a full-time gig, or maybe it’s still just a twinkle in your eye. Either way, writing a plan is a good way to see if it’s feasible before you start investing serious time and money.

Working through a business plan can lay bare your idea’s strengths and weaknesses, and flag any roadblocks you may face down the line. Specifically, when you do market and competitor analysis for your prospective business, you should quickly be able to tell whether it will be profitable. Financial projections can help you determine what type of income you’ll be earning, and what you need for funding.

2. Get funding

If you’re applying for a small business loan, having a thorough business plan is essential. Lenders want to be sure you’ll be able to pay off the loan, with interest. A business plan shows them how you’ll do that.

3. Attract investors

Similar to lenders, investors—whether they’re angel investors, venture capital firms, or even friends and family—want to know your business will turn a profit. After all, they’ll want a good return on their investment. Most investors expect to see your business plan before they risk their money.

4. Plan for the future

With financial projections and marketing objectives, your business plan sets a roadmap for the future. That can help you decide what to do in the here and now, and prepare for the years to come.

5. Make decisions more easily

When you’ve got a map guiding you, you spend less time at the crossroads picking a direction to take. As you face decisions during periods of business growth, your business plan acts as a powerful tool.

Should you open a brick-and-mortar location, or offer a wider range of products online? Should you apply for a loan now, or wait until next year? If your business plan is thorough, you already have the answers. That means less time debating, and more time acting.

Steps to writing a business plan

1. Determine its purpose

First, decide what goals you hope your business plan will help you achieve. Your business plan’s purpose will determine how you format it, what type of documentation you need to support it, and the kind of research you’ll need to conduct. For instance, if your aim is to secure financing, your plan will be different than it would be if you were using it internally to make business decisions.

2. Pick your audience

Who will read your business plan? Potential investors, lenders, or buyers? Employees? All of the above? Write your plan, choosing the language you use and the information you present with your specific audience in mind.

3. Do the research

Any claims you make need to be supported by hard facts. Research will take up the bulk of the time you spend creating your business plan. For instance, if your business plan assumes your industry is on the upswing, you should have the numbers to prove it.

Some questions you should be prepared to answer with the support of research:

  • Who are your main competitors?
  • What services/products are your target clients or customers looking for?
  • Where is your industry headed?
  • What is the history of your industry or niche?
  • What types of roadblocks could you potentially face down the line?

4. Get documentation together

The most important documents in your business plan are your financial records . Past tax returns, financial reports, and comprehensive bookkeeping demonstrate your company’s history and future viability. You’ll use them to create financial projections.

You’ll also need a list of all employees and their positions within the company. And if your business relies on licensing agreements or intellectual property, be prepared to compile those as well.

5. Create a company profile

Your company profile is a public-facing document. For inspiration, make a list of companies you admire and then check their website’s “About” page and their LinkedIn profile.

Your company profile should explain:

  • The problems your business solves for customers and clients
  • What sets you apart from the competition
  • The resources you use to get the job done
  • Your company’s history
  • What inspired you to go into business
  • Your mission statement and vision for the future

This should be a short document, no longer than one page. These topics will be covered in greater detail within the business statement itself, but spelling out all the info now can help you get started and guide you as you write it.

6. Write the business plan

When you’ve decided what you’re aiming to achieve and who you’re addressing, compiled all the information you need, and laid the groundwork with a company profile, you’re ready to write your plan. Don’t start until you’ve covered the previous five steps—it’s better to over prepare for writing your plan rather than scramble for information when you’re in the thick of it.

It’s also best practice to include a cover page . It should be simple and introduce the key information of your business including a logo and legal information.

7. (Optional) Prepare a presentation

If you’re looking for funding or sharing your work with partners and employees, you may want to create a business plan presentation. This can take the form of a speech, slideshow, promotional video, audio track, or any combination of the above.

Think of it as a pitch for your company and your plans for the future. Boil down the information in your business plan into a digestible format, with the goal of getting your audience excited.

Types of business plans: traditional vs. lean

Business plans can be split into two categories: traditional and lean (or “startup”). Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the type that’s relevant to your business will depend on how you intend to use your business plan.

Traditional

A traditional business plan is highly detailed, and relies on plenty of research. This is the type favored by investors and lenders—if you’re seeking out more working capital, it’s a good choice.

The drawback? Traditional plans take longer to research, plan, and write than lean business plans.

A lean business plan is less detailed than a traditional one, relying on less research. Specifically, it doesn’t feature financial projections or detailed competitor and market analysis. It’s relatively quick to write, and leaves you more flexibility—you can write a lean business plan now, and a traditional one later on. That makes it a great choice for startups still sketching out exactly what their business will look like.

Since it’s less detailed than a traditional plan, if you present a lean business plan to lenders or investors, they may ask you for more information. A lean plan is best used as a “rough draft” to help guide you in the early days of your business.

Business plan formats

Even if you’re seeking funding, the traditional format may seem like overkill. But each of the following nine parts plays an important role—feel free to adjust them to suit your needs.

Section Includes

Provides essential information about your business, and serves as a broad overview of your business plan. While it comes first in your business plan, you should write it last, once you’ve put together all your information in the following sections. Try to keep the executive summary concise—no more than one or two pages.
- Your mission statement
- A description of your product/service
- Where your business is based
- The members of your leadership team
- The number of employees you have
- Up-to-date financial data
- Growth projections

Explains what you do for customers or clients, positioning your business relative to the rest of your industry. This helps readers understand the value you have to offer, and puts your business in a broader context.
- Description of your industry and its niches
- Explanation of where your business is positioned within your industry
- Who your business serves (demographics, verticals, sectors, organizations)
- The problems your business solves for customers/clients

Outlines the companies you’re going up against, and how you’ll beat them, based on your market research. For this section, consider reaching out to others in your industry—they may have insights into the current state of the industry that can help you get started with your research.
- Description of how you plan to gain more shares of the market
- Explanation of how you’ll protect your current market share
- Listing of your top competitors
- Examples of successful competitors, and the reasons for their success
- How you plan to distinguish yourself from the competition
- Any new products/services you intend to introduce to your industry

Introduces readers to key executives on your team, what they do, and how they all work together. This proves you’ve got a team ready to help grow your business. Highlight opportunities to bring on new members—or leverage current members’ specializations and experience to get better results.
- Organizational chart explaining each team member’s contribution to the business (e.g., specialization, experience)
- Your current legal structure, and any plans to change it (e.g., by incorporating)
- (Optional) resumés or bios of key team members

Walks readers through the process of how you create value and generate revenue. It also demonstrates how you stand out from the competition.
- The products/services you offer and the problems they solve for your customers/clients
- How your products/services stand out from those of competitors
- The life cycle of your product/service
- How you fulfill orders for customers/clients (including delivery methods)
- Your pricing model
- Detailed description of any current research and development

Explains how you get from Point A (your current revenue) to Point B (your future revenue). Do this through defining key marketing objectives—such as establishing yourself in your industry, making more sales, and increasing brand awareness.
- Outline of the sales journey
- How you attract and retain customers/clients
- Marketing objectives

Describes your funding needs. Be concrete about how much you’re seeking, how long you’ll take to repay it (in the case of debt), and the work you’ll put it to. You should have a clear five-year plan for how you’ll use funding. Readers will see the effects of this use in your financial projections.
- How much funding you’re seeking
- Prospective repayment terms (debt)
- A five-year plan for how you’ll use funding if you secure it

Show how you expect your revenue to increase, year over year, for the next five years. If you’re seeking additional funding, use this section to demonstrate how it will help increase your revenue. Consider using visual aids, like line graphs or pie charts, to help readers more easily process the information.
- Financial projections for the next five years

Includes any materials you make reference to in your business plan—supplementary information that supports or clarifies statements you make.
- Your credit history
- Team member resumés
- Letters of reference
- Business licenses and permits
- Samples of branding materials
- Photos of your products or storefront
- Legal documents
- Other supplementary info

The lean business plan is based on the Lean Business Model Canvas , a classic format for startup business plans. When creating a lean business plan, keep it brief and digestible. It can be as short as one page.

Section Includes
Key partnerships List of suppliers, subcontractors, strategic partners
Key activities Services and products your business offers, what helps you stand out from the competition
Key resources Team members, intellectual property, and capital at your disposal
Value proposition Clear, concise explanation of the value you offer customers/clients (examples)
Customer relationships How customers interact with your business, what it looks like when they buy your product/service
Customer segments Description of your target market, broken down into verticals
Channels How you communicate with the world through marketing and customer relations
Cost structure How you either decrease cost or increase value for customers/clients
Revenue streams How your business makes money, including both primary and secondary streams

Even if you aren’t using your business plan to seek funding, including financial projections offers major benefits. By looking into the future of your business, you can make plans for growth and set realistic goals to reach along the way. Get started with our guide to financial forecasting .

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18 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

Clifford Chi

Published: July 01, 2024

I believe that reading sample business plans is essential when writing your own.

sample business plans and examples

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As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, it’s easier for you to learn how to write a good one.

So what does a good business plan look like? And how do you write one that’s both viable and convincing? I’ll walk you through the ideal business plan format along with some examples to help you get started.

Table of Contents

Business Plan Types

Business plan format, sample business plan: section by section, sample business plan templates, top business plan examples.

Ultimately, the format of your business plan will vary based on your goals for that plan. I’ve added this quick review of different business plan types that achieve differing goals.

For a more detailed exploration of business plan types, you can check out this post .

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1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas. If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business.

You can check out this guide for more detailed business plan inspiration .

2. Feasibility Studies

Feasibility business plans focus on that business's product or service. Feasibility plans are sometimes added to startup business plans. They can also be a new business plan for an already thriving organization.

3. Internal Use

You can use internal business plans to share goals, strategies, or performance updates with stakeholders. In my opinion, internal business plans are useful for alignment and building support for ambitious goals.

4. Strategic Initiatives

A strategic business plan is another business plan that's often shared internally. This plan covers long-term business objectives that might not have been included in the startup business plan.

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

When a business is moving forward with an acquisition or repositioning, it may need extra structure and support. These types of business plans expand on a company's acquisition or repositioning strategy.

Growth sometimes just happens as a business continues operations. But more often, a business needs to create a structure with specific targets to meet set goals for expansion. This business plan type can help a business focus on short-term growth goals and align resources with those goals.

I’m going to focus on a startup business plan that needs to be detailed and research-backed as well as compelling enough to convince investors to offer funding. In my experience, the most comprehensive and convincing business plans contain the following sections.

Executive Summary

This all-important introduction to your business plan sets the tone and includes the company description as well as what you will be exchanging for money — whether that’s product lines, services, or product-service hybrids.

Market Opportunity

Information about gaps in your industry’s market and how you plan to fill them, focused on demand and potential for growth.

Competitive Landscape Analysis

An overview of your competitors that includes consideration of their strengths and how you’ll manage them, their weaknesses and how you’ll capitalize on them, and how you can differentiate your offerings in the industry.

Target Audience

Descriptions of your ideal customers, their various problems that you can solve, and your customer acquisition strategy.

Marketing Strategy

This section details how you will market your brand to achieve specific goals, the channels and tactics you’ll utilize to reach those goals, and the metrics you’ll be using to measure your progress.

Key Features and Benefits

This is where you’ll use plain language to emphasize the value of your product/service, how it solves the problems of your target audiences, and how you’ll scale up over time.

Pricing and Revenue

This section describes your pricing strategy and plans for building revenue streams that fit your audiences while achieving your business goals.

This is the final section, communicating with investors that your business idea is worth investing in via profit/loss statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets to prove viability.

Okay, so now that we have a format established, I’ll give you more specific details about each section along with examples. Truthfully, I wish I’d had this resource to help me flesh out those first business plans long ago.

1. Executive Summary

I’d say the executive summary is the most important section of the entire business plan. It is essentially an overview of and introduction to your entire project.

Write this in such a way that it grabs your readers' attention and guides them through the rest of the business plan. This is important because a business plan can be dozens or hundreds of pages long.

There are two main elements I’d recommend including in your executive summary: your company description and your products and services.

Company Description

This is the perfect space to highlight your company’s mission statement and goals, a brief overview of your history and leadership, and your top accomplishments as a business.

Tell potential investors who you are and why what you do matters. Naturally, they’re going to want to know who they’re getting into business with up front. This is a great opportunity to showcase your impact.

Need some extra help firming up your business goals? I’d recommend HubSpot Academy’s free course to help you set meaningful goals that matter most for your business.

Products and Services

Here, you will incorporate an overview of your offerings. This doesn’t have to be extensive, as it is just a chance to introduce your industry and overall purpose as a business. I recommend including snippets of information about your financial projections and competitive advantage here as well.

Keep in mind that you'll cover many of these topics in more detail later on in the business plan. The executive summary should be clear and brief, only including the most important takeaways.

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

This example was created with HubSpot’s business plan template . What makes this executive summary good is that it tells potential investors a short story while still covering all of the most important details.

Our Mission

Maria’s Gluten Free Bagels offers gluten-free bagels, along with various toppings, other gluten-free breakfast sandwich items, and coffee. The facility is entirely gluten free. Our team expects to catch the interest of gluten-free, celiac, or health-conscious community members who are seeking an enjoyable cafe to socialize. Due to a lack of gluten-free bagel products in the food industry currently, we expect mild competition and are confident we will be able to build a strong market position.

The Company and Management

Maria’s Gluten Free Bagels was founded in 2010 by Maria Jones, who first began selling her gluten-free bagels online from her home, using social media to spread the word. In 2012 she bought a retail location in Hamilton, MA, which now employs four full-time employees and six part-time employees. Prior to her bagel shop, Maria was a chef in New York and has extensive experience in the food industry.

Along with Maria Jones, Gluten Free Bagel Shop has a board of advisors. The advisors are:

  • Jeni King, partner at Winding Communications, Ltd.
  • Henry Wilson, president of Blue Robin, LLP.

Our Product

We offer gluten-free products ranging from bagels and cream cheese to blueberry muffins, coffee, and pastries. Our customers are health-conscious, community-oriented people who enjoy gluten-free products. We will create a welcoming, warm environment with opportunities for open mic nights, poetry readings, and other community functions. We will focus on creating an environment in which someone feels comfortable meeting a friend for lunch, or working remotely.

Our Competitive Advantages

While there are other coffee shops and cafes in the North Shore region, there are none that offer purely gluten-free options. This restricts those suffering from gluten-free illnesses or simply those with a gluten-free preference. This will be our primary selling point. Additionally, our market research [see Section 3] has shown a demand for a community-oriented coffee and bagel shop in the town of Hamilton, MA.

Financial Considerations

Our sales projections for the first year are $400,000. We project a 15% growth rate over the next two years. By year three, we project 61% gross margins.

We will have four full-time employees. The salary for each employee will be $50,000.

Start-up Financing Requirements

We are seeking to raise $125,000 in startup to finance year one. The owner has invested $50,000 to meet working capital requirements, and will use a loan of $100,000 to supplement the rest.

Example 2 :

Marianne and Keith Bean have been involved with the food industry for several years. They opened their first restaurant in Antlers, Oklahoma in 1981, and their second in Hugo in 1988. Although praised for the quality of many of the items on their menu, they have attained a special notoriety for their desserts. After years of requests for their flavored whipped cream toppings, they have decided to pursue marketing these products separately from the restaurants.

Marianne and Keith Bean have developed several recipes for flavored whipped cream topping. They include chocolate, raspberry, cinnamon almond, and strawberry. These flavored dessert toppings have been used in the setting of their two restaurants over the past 18 years, and have been produced in large quantities. The estimated shelf life of the product is 21 days at refrigeration temperatures and up to six months when frozen. The Beans intend to market this product in its frozen state in 8 and 12-ounce plastic tubs. They also intend to have the products available in six ounce pressurized cans. Special attention has been given to developing an attractive label that will stress the gourmet/specialty nature of the products.

Distribution of Fancy's Foods Whipped Dream product will begin in the local southeastern Oklahoma area. The Beans have an established name and reputation in this area, and product introduction should encounter little resistance.

Financial analyses show that the company will have both a positive cash flow and profit in the first year. The expected return on equity in the first year is 10.88%

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • Start with a strong introduction of your company that showcases your mission and impact, then outline the products and services you provide.
  • Clearly define a problem, explain how your product solves that problem, and show why the market needs your business.
  • Be sure to highlight your value proposition, market opportunity, and growth potential.
  • Keep it concise and support ideas with data.
  • Customize your summary to your audience. For example, you might emphasize finances and return on investment for venture capitalists, whereas you might emphasize community benefits and minimal environmental impact for progressive nonprofits.

For more guidance, check out our tips for writing an effective executive summary .

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market. Ask and answer: Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will my product fill that gap?

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, SOM analysis , a SWOT analysis , and perform market research on your industry to get some insights for this section. More specifically, here’s what I’d include.

  • The size of the market
  • Current or potential market share
  • Trends in the industry and consumer behavior
  • Where the gap is
  • What caused the gap
  • How you intend to fill it

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

I like this example because it uses critical data to underline the size of the potential market and what part of that market this service hopes to capture.

Example: The market for Doggie Pause is all of the dog owners in the metropolitan area and surrounding areas of the city. We believe that this is going to be 2/3 of the population, and we have a goal of gaining a 50% market share. We have a target of a 20% yearly profit increase as the business continues.

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

  • Focus on demand and potential for growth.
  • Use market research, surveys, and industry trend data to support your market forecast and projections.
  • Add a review of regulation shifts, tech advances, and consumer behavior changes.
  • Refer to reliable sources.
  • Showcase how your business can make the most of this opportunity.

3. Competitive Landscape Analysis

Since we’re already speaking of market share, you‘ll also need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are. After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you’ll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another.

My favorite part of performing a competitive analysis is that it can help you uncover the following:

  • Industry trends that other brands may not be utilizing.
  • Strengths in your competition that may be obstacles to handle.
  • Weaknesses in your competition that may help you develop selling points.
  • The unique proposition you bring to the market that may resonate with customers.

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

I like how the competitive landscape section of this business plan shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are. It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location. This demonstrates useful experience in the industry, helping to build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Competitive Environment

Currently, there are four primary competitors in the Greater Omaha Area: Pinot’s Palette Lakeside (franchise partner), Village Canvas and Cabernet, The Corky Canvas, and Twisted Vine Collective. The first three competitors are in Omaha and the fourth is located in Papillion.

Despite the competition, all locations have both public and private events. Each location has a few sold-out painting events each month. The Omaha locations are in new, popular retail locations, while the existing Papillion location is in a downtown business district.

There is an opportunity to take advantage of the environment and open a studio in a well-traveled or growing area. Pinot’s Palette La Vista will differentiate itself from its competitors by offering a premium experience in a high-growth, influential location.

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

  • Complete in-depth research, then emphasize your most important findings.
  • Compare your unique selling proposition (USP) to your direct and indirect competitors.
  • Show a clear and realistic plan for product and brand differentiation.
  • Look for specific advantages and barriers in the competitive landscape. Then, highlight how that information could impact your business.
  • Outline growth opportunities from a competitive perspective.
  • Add customer feedback and insights to support your competitive analysis.

4. Target Audience

Use this section to describe who your customer segments are in detail. What is the demographic and psychographic information of your audience? I’d recommend building a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear about why you're targeting them. Here are some questions I’d ask myself:

  • What demographics will most likely need/buy your product or service?
  • What are the psychographics of this audience? (Desires, triggering events, etc.)
  • Why are your offerings valuable to them?

Target Audience Business Plan Example

I like the example below because it uses in-depth research to draw conclusions about audience priorities. It also analyzes how to create the right content for this audience.

The Audience

Recognize that audiences are often already aware of important issues. Outreach materials should:

  • Emphasize a pollution-prevention practice
  • Tell audience a little about how to prevent pollution
  • Tell audience where they can obtain information about prevention.

Message Content

  • Focus the content for outreach materials on cost savings, such as when and where pollution prevention is as cheap as or cheaper than traditional techniques. Include facts and figures.
  • Emphasize how easy it is to do the right thing and the impacts of not engaging in pollution prevention.
  • Stress benefits such as efficiency or better relations with government, for businesses not primarily concerned with public image.

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

  • Include details on the size and growth potential of your target audience.
  • Figure out and refine the pain points for your target audience , then show why your product is a useful solution.
  • Describe your targeted customer acquisition strategy in detail.
  • Share anticipated challenges your business may face in acquiring customers and how you plan to address them.
  • Add case studies, testimonials, and other data to support your target audience ideas.
  • Remember to consider niche audiences and segments of your target audience in your business plan.

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you‘ll discuss how you’ll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. I think it’s helpful to have a marketing plan built out in advance to make this part of your business plan easier. I’d suggest including these details:

  • Your brand positioning vision and how you'll cultivate it.
  • The goal targets you aim to achieve.
  • The metrics you'll use to measure success.
  • The channels and distribution tactics you'll use.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler. In my opinion, it works because it offers a comprehensive picture of how they plan to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Screenshot of sample marketing plan

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

  • Growth potential is important in this section too. Using your data, create a forecast of financial performance in the next three to five years.
  • Include any data that supports your projections to assure investors of the credibility of your proposal.
  • Add a break-even analysis to show that your business plan is financially practical. This information can also help you pivot quickly as your business grows.
  • Consider adding a section that reviews potential risks and how sensitive your plan is to changes in the market.
  • Triple-check all financial information in your plan for accuracy.
  • Show how any proposed funding needs align with your plans for growth.

Now that you know what‘s included and how to format a business plan, let’s review some of my favorite templates.

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

Screenshot of sample business plan from Hubspot

You’ll also learn the financial benefits investors can reap from putting money into your venture rather than trying to sell them on how great your product or service is.

This business plan guide focuses less on the individual parts of a business plan, and more on the overarching goal of writing one. For that reason, it’s one of my favorites to supplement any template you choose to use. Harvard Business Review’s guide is instrumental for both new and seasoned business owners.

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

Screenshot of business startup kit download page from hubspot

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Create Your Business Plan

By Annie Zaleski

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Once you've settled on an online business idea , the next step is creating a business plan. A well-written business plan will support your business as it grows, and act as a blueprint for decision-making over time. Read on to learn how to create a strategic business plan that supports your long-term goals. 

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a written document outlining every aspect of your business: what it is, your goals, how you plan to grow, financial forecasts, market research, and strategies. A business plan serves two main purposes as your business grows:

Business plans can be shared with potential investors or used to attract funding, because they include detailed road maps to profitability and analysis of financial needs. 

A business plan can be used internally to keep you on the right track and as motivation during tougher moments—or show you any weak spots where you need to bolster your analysis or tighten your business focus.

Ideally, a business plan should be written in direct, plain language that anyone can understand, even if they're unfamiliar with the industry.

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The parts of a professional business plan

When you're starting out, you might not be able to fill out every single section of a business plan. If you aren't at a place yet where a lengthy document makes sense, creating a one-page business plan is a good alternative. Some experts even recommend first writing a shorter, condensed version of a business plan to share with trusted colleagues for feedback and refinement before diving into a longer, more detailed plan.

Business plans should contain the following sections:

Executive summary

Think of an executive summary as how you might describe the ins and outs of your small business to a stranger. This is a high-level look at your company—what it is, what it does or sells, and its overarching goals—that also includes a brief overview of the information covered in detail in the rest of the plan. Later sections will be more robust and detail exactly how you plan to operate. In fact, many people find it easier to write out the more detailed plan first and then pull the most important points out for the executive summary. As a rule of thumb, keep this section under two pages. 

Company description

This is a deeper dive into your company, including its mission and vision, location, and other details.

Products and services

What are you selling or what products are you offering? Be as detailed as possible about your angle and approach. For example, instead of selling "drawings," specify that you sell "hand-drawn artwork." If you have a unique aesthetic, or focus on just one area of merchandise, share that too. You want to be clear about what makes your online business unique .

Competitive analysis

This section of the business plan is all about research. A competitive analysis is a deep dive into the other companies operating in your corner of the business world. Look at their growth and financials, and show where your company fits in. What makes you different from other companies? What is your opportunity and your advantage?

Market analysis

A market analysis considers the market as a whole, not just your immediate competitors. You can also include an industry analysis, looking at whether your desired business area is growing, poised for a turnaround, or in a slump.

Customer analysis

Customers are core to any online business. This section can outline the personas of your ideal customer and the best ways to reach them, as well as the typical customers of competitors.

Marketing plan

A marketing plan focuses on promoting your business to the outside world. Drawing on the analysis from above, this forward-thinking plan contains information on how you intend to grow by using strategies such as social media, advertising, content, and events. Marketing plans and strategies change often, so don't be surprised if this section of your business plan evolves.

Management and organization

This section becomes more important as your business grows. It includes an organization chart, complete with bios that capture your expertise as the founder, and the skills and achievements of your employees.

Financial plan and outlook

From startup expenses, to potential capital infusions and profit and loss information, this section contains the financial outlook and projections for your online business. This section's composition will vary depending on your stage of business development.

Read our guide to small business finances

The appendix is a place to add information that didn't fit in the rest of the business plan, or elaborate on any important points in a previous section. For example, you can cite sources for your competitive research, or include more thorough breakdowns of your market analysis. 

Learn more about how to build the foundation for a  successful brand . 

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How to Write a Professional Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

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Home » Blog » How to Write a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

During financial uncertainty, many of us press pause on our entrepreneurial aspirations.

Wondering if now’s the right time to start our business . Doubting our ideas and worrying about the what-ifs and maybes! 

A business plan removes the uncertainty and what-ifs from the equation. It validates our business ideas, confirms our marketing strategies, and identifies potential problems before they arise.  

Replacing our doubts with positivity, ensuring we see the complete picture, and increasing our chances of success.

Because you could be starting and running your own business . But you’ll only know for sure it’s the right move for you when you write your business plan.

Here’s everything you need to know to create the perfect business plan.

What is a business plan?

What is a business plan

A well-written business plan contains the recipe for your new business’s growth and development. 

It’s your compass. 

It describes your goals and how you’ll achieve them by infusing the ingredients you need to turn your dream into a reality. 

  • Your business description- Tells readers about your idea, why it'll succeed, and how you'll make it happen.
  • A market analysis- That backs up your company description.
  • Your management and organization plan- Includes employees or contractors because even a one-person show may need a team's help on a contract basis, like bookkeeping services, graphic design, research, and if your business grows, with time, also full-time employees.
  • Your products or services descriptions- Explaining how they work, where you'll get them, and how much they`ll cost.
  • A target audience analysis- So, you know exactly who you`re selling to and what makes them buy what you`re offering.
  • Your marketing and sales plan- Proving your chosen niche is profitable and how you'll reach your customers.
  • A financial funding request/projections - What you need and how you'll get it.

Your business plan is like a GPS, guiding your business to its destination for the next 3 to 5 years. 

Why is a business plan important?

Here’s the short answer.

A business plan enables you to convey your vision to those who can help you make it a reality.  

It does it in 2 ways:

  • It empowers you to evaluate your goals and confirm their viability before entering a marketplace.
  • And equips you with the information, using a proven outline, that convinces others to help you achieve them.

A business plan does it by explaining who you are, what you are going to do, and how you’ll do it. It clarifies your strategies, identifies future roadblocks, and determines your immediate and future financial and resource needs.

Let’s look at what that means and why each part is important.

A business plan helps you evaluate your ideas

Do you have over one business idea or a range of products or services you believe you could bring to a single marketplace? 

If so, a business plan helps determine which is worth focusing on and where to apply your energy and resources by evaluating your idea’s possible market share and profitability before investing.

Clarifies your costs

Your chosen market determines your initial investment and future revenue. And it would be best if you knew those before you invest a dollar in your business idea.

With your chosen idea, your business plan can help you understand your set-up and running costs, the resources you’ll need, and the time it’ll take to get started.

It’s also where you’ll calculate your future sales and revenue goals to ensure they fit your budget and required breakeven point.  

And those are essential because every business needs a consistent cash flow to stay afloat!

Steers your business in the right direction

Your business plan guides you through every stage of starting and running your business . 

It acts as your GPS, giving you a course to steer. Ensuring your business stays on track, helping you achieve your goals every step of the way.  

Acts as your financial guide

As your new business grows, you might need to expand. 

But with expansion come big spending decisions, such as purchasing expensive equipment, leasing a new location, or hiring your first employees.

Your business plan’s financial forecast gives you a solid foundation to build on by clarifying when you’re ready to make those investments, ensuring you don’t overreach.

And when you are ready to employ staff, it helps you with that too!

Helps recruit the people you need

Your business is often only as good as its employees. A business plan helps you communicate your vision and pitch your dream to the best candidates. Building their confidence in your venture and encouraging them to join you.

It's essential if seeking a loan or investment

Do you need a loan from a bank or a venture capitalist/angel investor?

If so, you’ll need a business plan that shows your past and future financial trajectory so potential investors can evaluate your business’ feasibility to determine whether you’re worth the risk.

It's an asset if you want to sell your business

Owners of legal entities, such as LLCs, can sell all or part of their business to raise funds for other business ventures or expand their existing ones.

A solid business plan with proven financial recordings and realistic forecasts based on current performance can make your business more attractive to potential investors. 

And it makes sense because when buyers understand your business model and its potential growth, they’ll see the value in it for them.  

All great reasons to write a business plan, don`t you agree?

Okay, here’s how you do it: 

The steps for creating a business plan

The steps for a creating a business plan

Most business plan templates are similar, containing several steps for writing a conclusive plan. If you’re interested in a very short plan, we prepared a lean (one-page) version, including a template . 

The perfect business plan isn’t one or the other; it’s the plan that meets your business needs.

That said, every business plan should contain crucial elements and essential details . And a rhythm to your outline that encourages action, growth, and investors to read it from start to finish. Our step-by-step guide, along with our template, will help you achieve both. 

But first, you must choose the style that works for you:

Pick a business plan format that works for you

You can tackle creating a business plan in different ways; one could be a long-form, more traditional approach or a one-page business plan that acts as a summarized road map.

Traditional business plans use a standard, industry-expected structure, with each section written in great detail. They require a lot of research because businesses often use them to gain investment, and they can be anywhere from 10 to 50 pages long. 

A one-page business plan uses a similar structure but summarizes each step by highlighting the key points. 

You can write a one-page plan in an hour and use it as a personal blueprint for running your business or as a guide to writing a future traditional plan.

Here are the core component that create a great business plan:

1.  An executive summary

2.  Your company’s description

3. Market analysis

4. management and organization outline, 5. products and service description, 6. target audience analysis, 7. marketing and sales plan.

8. Financial funding request 

9. Financial projections

10. an appendix, 1. an executive summary.

The first section of your business plan’s an executive summary that tells anyone reading in simple terms what your business is and why you believe it’ll be successful.

It’s the most crucial part of your plan because anyone reviewing it often decides whether to continue reading based on what’s in your executive summary.

Your executive should contain your mission statement (why you’re starting your business). A product/service description. Your leadership team and financial information.

Even though the first thing people read is your executive summary, it’s the last section you write. 

The next step is about you:

2. Your company's description

Here you sell yourself and your business by telling readers why you’re starting your business and know it’ll succeed.

You must be realistic, business-like, and detailed.  

Begin by explaining who you are, what you plan on doing, and how you’ll do it. Describe your future market, your target audience, and why they need your product/service. 

Elaborate on your unique selling point (USP) and how your competitive advantage will ensure your success. 

Describe your team, highlight their skills and technical expertise, and if you`re a brick-and-mortar business, discuss your location and why it’s right for your target audience or logistics. 

Now your market:

A great business idea is only as good as its future marketplace. Enter a declining market with an insufficient or uninterested audience, and you’ll be toast.

Choose one on an upward trajectory with people you understand and need your product, and you’ll be in business. 

That makes your market analysis a crucial step in your business plan outline. Here’s where you identify your target audience, competitors’ performance, strengths and weaknesses, and whether the market can sustain your business needs.

Your market analysis should include the following:

  • Your market description and outlook- Provide a detailed outline defining your market, including its size, trends, growth rate, and outlook.
  • Target Market- Describe your ideal customers, including their demographics such as age, gender, employment status, income level, and lifestyle preferences. Also, include your market size, what motivates your ideal clients, and how you'll reach them.
  • Competitive Analysis- Identify your main competitors and list their strengths and weaknesses. Also, highlight any potential roadblocks that might prevent you from entering your chosen marketplace.

Step 4 is where you tell readers how you’ll construct your business and who’ll run it.  

Describe your business’s legal structure, whether you’re a sole proprietor intending to form an LLC or a limited/general partnership with dreams of incorporating an S or C corps. 

Include your registered business name and any DBA brand name you have. And any member’s percentage ownership and managerial duties per your operating agreement.

And consider using a chart to show who runs what section of the business. Explain how each employee, manager, or owner’s experience and expertise will contribute to your venture’s success. And if you have them, include your team’s resumes and CVs.

Now you must get technical about what you plan to offer.

List your products or services and explain how they work. If in the development stage, describe the process and when you’ll be market ready.

Include the following product/service information:

  • Describe how your product/service will benefit your target audience.
  • Provide a breakdown of costs per unit made/sold, life cycle, and expected profit margins.
  • Explain your supply chain, order fulfillment, and sales strategy.
  • Include your plans for intellectual property, like trademarks and patents.

Your product and service description brings you to those who matter most. Your target audience:

The target audience section of your business plan is the most important one to get right. After all, your customers are your business. And the better you know them, the easier it’ll be to sell to them. 

To gain a clear picture of your ideal clients, learn about their demographics and create a client persona.

Those include: 

  • Their location
  • Education level
  • Employment status
  • Where they work
  • How much they earn
  • How they communicate
  • Preferred social media platforms
  • Common behavior patterns
  • Free time interests
  • And what their values and beliefs are

You need your target audience’s demographics to create a branding style that resonates with them. To build marketing strategies that engage their interest. And to identify where to spend your advertising dollars.

Target market’s persona in place, your next step is to describe how you’ll reach and sell to them:

Your marketing plan outlines your strategies to connect with and convert your ideal clients. 

Here’s where you explain how you’ll reach your audience, describe your sales funnel, and develop customer loyalty to keep customers.

Your business plan doesn’t require your complete marketing/sales plan but should answer basic questions like:

  • Who's your target market?
  • Which channels will you use to reach them? (Social media, email, website, traditional marketing, etc.)
  • What sales strategies will you use?
  • Which resources do you need to implement those strategies?
  • Do you have the resources, and if not, where will you get them?
  • What are the potential marketing obstacles, and how you'll overcome them?
  • What's your initial marketing campaign timeline and budget?
  • What your success metrics are, and how you'll measure them?

8. Financial funding request

This step applies if you require funding to start or grow your business.

Similar to the marketing plan step, including your entire financial plan is unnecessary. However, you’ll need to answer specific questions to explain how much investment you require and how you’ll use it.

The following financial funding outline will suffice:

  • Your current capital balance and how much future capital you'll need.
  • Specify whether you want equity or debt.
  • The terms and conditions you need and the duration of any loan repayments.
  • Provide a detailed description of why you need investment, IE., to pay salaries, buy equipment or stock, and what percentage will go where.

Start-ups that need investment must rely on something other than past sales and balance sheets. Here, you’ll need to use financial projections to persuade lenders you’ll generate enough profit to repay their loans. And that investors will get a worthwhile return. 

Your goal is to convince potential lenders or investors that your business will make enough profit to repay any loans or fulfill your equity promises.

Depending on your loan requirements and market, these projections can vary from 3 to 5 years. 

Financial projections aren’t an exact science; you’re forecasting the future! However, accuracy is essential (meaning your projected numbers must add up correctly). And while your goals should be positive, they must also be realistic.

What to include in your financial forecast:

  • Forecasted income statements.
  • Capital expenditures, fixed and variable.
  • Quarterly and annual balance sheets.
  • Projected cash flow statements.

Be specific with your projections and ensure they match your funding requests. And if you have collateral to put against a loan, include it at the end of your financial projections to improve your chances of approval. 

Also, consider using charts and graphs to tell your financial story, as visuals are great for conveying your message.

Use your appendix to list and provide supporting information, documents, or additional materials you couldn’t fit in elsewhere.

If the appendix is lengthy, start it with a table of contents.

What to include:

  • Key employee resumes.
  • Letters of reference.
  • Licenses and permits.
  • Intellectual property - patents or trademarks.
  • Legal documents.
  • Any current contracts.
  • Product pictures and information.
  • Bank statements/credit history.

Conclusion

Financial uncertainty shouldn`t stop you from following your dreams. In fact, recessions are often the best time to start a business . 

And your business plan is one of the main things that can help you make your dream of owning a business a reality.

Take it one step at a time, do your research, and use your business plan to remove the uncertainty of the unknown. 

Because then you’ll know if the time is right to start your business.

This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.

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Blog Business 8 Best Business Plan Software for 2024

8 Best Business Plan Software for 2024

Written by: Krystle Wong Jan 01, 2024

7 Best Business Plan Software

Gone are the days of staring at blank pages and struggling to structure a business plan effectively. With user-friendly interfaces and a wide range of business plan templates catering to various industries, creating business plans that are polished, professional and data-driven can now be done in a fraction of the time.

For startups, business plan software guides them through the crucial early stages with comprehensive business plan templates and financial modeling tools. Established businesses on the other hand benefit from the software’s collaborative features, enabling seamless teamwork as they pivot, innovate and pursue new growth opportunities.

In this article, let’s delve into exploring the seven best business plan software for 2024. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur with a groundbreaking idea or a seasoned business owner ready to elevate your enterprise to new heights, these software solutions have all you need to create a solid business plan.

Click to jump ahead:

What is a business plan software?

  • 7 Best business plan software for 2024

Factors to consider when choosing a business plan software

7 steps to create your own business plan, business plan software faq, key takeaway.

A Business plan software is a specialized digital tool designed to assist entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses in creating, organizing and presenting comprehensive business plans. 

Business plan software significantly reduces the time and effort required to create a comprehensive business plan . The availability of business plan templates, financial modeling tools and automated features streamlines the process of business planning and eliminates the need for starting from scratch.

Some advanced business planning software even integrates market research capabilities. This feature provides users with access to market trends, industry benchmarks and relevant data. Access to such data helps users make informed decisions and demonstrate a thorough understanding of their target market.

8 Best business plan software for 2024 

1. venngage.

Venngage

Venngage specializes in transforming traditional business plans into captivating visual stories. Visuals can communicate complex information effectively, ensuring your ideas stand out and resonate with your audience.

When it comes to business planning, conveying your ideas with impact is just as important as the content itself. In this digital age, visual storytelling has emerged as a powerful way to captivate audiences and leave a lasting impression. That’s where Venngage steps in.

With a rich library of templates, Venngage offers a variety of themes and styles to suit different industries and business types. Customize your business plans with our user-friendly drag-and-drop tools by adding your brand elements, customizing colors, fonts and visuals to make your business plan truly unique. Check out our library of sample business plans to get started today.

However, while Venngage excels in visual storytelling, it might not be the go-to tool for in-depth financial forecasts and analysis. Users seeking extensive financial modeling might want to complement Venngage with a comprehensive business planning tool.

Pricing options:

Create your first 5 designs with Venngage for free and upgrade to a premium or business plan for $10/month per user and $24/month per user respectively to enjoy premium features. For larger teams who need extra support, controls and security, the enterprise plan starts from $499/month for 10+ seats.

Can I collaborate with team members using this business plan software?

Yes, absolutely! Venngage offers collaborative features that allow you to work seamlessly with multiple team members when creating business plans. You can invite team members to join your Venngage account and they can contribute to the design process in real time. 

Can I export my business plan to different file formats?

Upgrade to a premium or business plan on Venngage to export your professional business plan to different file formats. After designing your business plan, you can choose to export it as a high-quality PDF document, which is ideal for sharing and printing. Additionally, Venngage allows you to export your business plan as an image file (PNG or JPG), making it easy to use in presentations or on your website. 

Is this business plan software suitable for startups or established businesses? 

Venngage is great for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to enhance their business plans with visually engaging infographics and visual assets.

Instead of sharing a lengthy, 50-page document that may bore your audience and fail to effectively convey your message — present your business plan with infographics. Here’s how you can create a business plan infographic that will wow your readers and showcase your business at its best. 

2. LivePlan

LivePlan

Source: Screenshot from LivePlan

In the realm of business planning software, LivePlan stands out as a reliable and user-friendly tool. With a focus on seamless financial forecasting and budgeting capabilities, LivePlan streamlines the planning process, helping businesses transform their visions into reality.

The software’s financial forecasting tools provide users with the ability to project revenue, expenses and cash flow accurately. This financial insight is invaluable for making informed decisions and setting realistic goals.

For hassle-free data integration, the business plan software offers seamless integration with accounting software . This feature allows users to import financial data effortlessly, saving time and reducing manual data entry.

While LivePlan excels in financial planning and user-friendliness, some users may find the customization options for design and layout to be limited. For businesses seeking highly tailored visual aesthetics, LivePlan’s template-based approach might be less ideal.

The standard plan is available at $20/month for monthly billing and $15/month for annual billing. For businesses seeking extensive financial tools to support their operations and growth, the Premium plan costs $20 for the first month and $40/month (monthly billing) or $30/month (annual billing) for subsequent months.

LivePlan facilitates seamless collaboration among users within your account, allowing multiple individuals to work on the same plan concurrently. To prevent conflicting edits, LivePlan restricts access to specific sections, allowing only one user to edit at a time while others observe the locked section.

You can export your business plan by using the print to PDF feature. This generates your plan content in a standard file format compatible with Adobe Reader and other free reader programs. Alternatively, you can export your plan to Microsoft Word (2007 or later).

A great tool for small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs looking for easy-to-use software with solid financial planning tools.

3. Upmetrics

best place for business plan

Upmetrics is an AI-powered business planning software that helps businesses of all sizes and industries write their business plan.

With Upmetrics AI Assistant, you can write your plan faster, get answers to any business-related queries, and prepare financial forecasts in no time. 

Besides, the subscription includes access to 400+ sample business plans, various informative guides, and video tutorials to keep your business plan writing process on track. 

Additionally, it has collaborative features, so that everyone on the team can share their insights. Not just that, the software provides you with an AI pitch deck generator, so you can make a stellar pitch.

As an AI business plan builder , Upmetrics is suitable for entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses to write their plans at any stage. Although it has various cover page designs and immense customization options, it might still lack visual appeal. 

Pricing plan options 

  • Starter plan – $7 monthly 
  • Premium plan – $14 monthly 

Yes, you can collaborate with your team members while using Upmetrics. It offers collaboration tools that allow you to work effortlessly with your team on the business plan. You can invite team members to collaborate, assign tasks, and track the progress together. 

You can download your business plan as a PDF or directly as a document in Word. Besides, you can share the business plan directly to any email, and they will get the viewer access to the plan. 

Upmetrics is a versatile business planning software suitable for startups and established businesses. But its financial planning features, step-by-step guidance, and AI Assistant make it more useful for startups writing business plans for the first time.

4. BizPlan by Startups.com

BizPlan by Startups.com

Source: Screenshot from BizPlan

If you’re a startup aiming to raise investments, BizPlan is the one for you. As a universal professional business plan builder, BizPlan offers the added advantage of seamless integration with all the tools within the Startups.com network.

Designed with startups in mind, BizPlan’s step-by-step approach allows you to break down the entire scope of work into manageable steps and the built-in Progress Tracker tool keeps you on track towards success.

Once you subscribe, BizPlan opens the door to utilizing all the tools offered by Startups.com, making it a one-stop shop for your entrepreneurial needs. Whether it’s lifetime access to the service, connectivity to Findable to attract financial investments, a wealth of online educational programs or the ability to connect multiple owners to a single account, BizPlan delivers comprehensive support.

While the business plan software offers an array of benefits, it’s essential to consider the possible downsides. The absence of a free version and a mobile app, along with a lack of industry-specific templates for business plans may be worth considering before making your decision

Pricing plan options:

  • Monthly plan ($29 per month)
  • Annual plan ($20.75 per month or $249/year)
  • Lifetime access (one-time fee of $349)

Bizplan encourages collaboration with partners, team members, advisors and subject matter experts by allowing threaded comments throughout the entire plan. It provides control over who can access sensitive financial data and enables convenient cloud-based access from anywhere.

Bizplan provides multiple options for sharing your business plan with others. You can generate an online version of your plan, which can be set as private by default or made publicly accessible through a unique shareable URL. Additionally, Bizplan offers the option to create a custom-branded PDF of your business plan. 

BizPlan is great for entrepreneurs and small businesses who value a vast collection of resources and need support in financial analysis.

Enloop

Source: Screenshot from Enloop

Enloop emerges as one of the best business plan tools for startups, catering to entrepreneurs who crave a streamlined planning process. With the ability to automatically generate basic text for each section of your plan, Enloop saves time and effort in crafting your business vision.

A highlight of the business plan tool is its automatic generation of financial projections, offering accurate insights based on your entered data. This powerful feature empowers entrepreneurs to make informed decisions and project future outcomes with confidence.

For those with a penchant for strategic thinking, Enloop’s “what-if” scenario analysis becomes an invaluable tool. It allows users to explore various business strategies and assess their potential impact on plan outcomes, enabling sound decision-making.

Enloop doesn’t stop at generating numbers; it goes a step further by providing a business plan grading system. This insightful feature assesses plan quality, giving users valuable feedback to refine and enhance their business plans.

However, it’s essential to consider the software’s limitations as customization and design options are relatively limited. Additionally, the basic version of Enloop might not meet the needs of all users, as it lacks certain advanced features. 

  • Seven day free trial (no credit card required)
  • Detailed plan ($19.95/month or $11/month when billed annually)
  • Performance plan ($39.95/month or $24/month when billed annually)

Enloop’s online business plan writing app lets you invite and collaborate with anyone on your business plans using the ‘Invite & Share’ feature.

Enloop allows you to download your business plan in PDF format whenever you’re ready. The plans remain accessible in your paid account, encouraging regular updates to keep track of your business’s health and have an up-to-date plan ready for financing needs.

Suitable for entrepreneurs seeking a tool that simplifies financial forecasting and scenario analysis.

6. PlanGuru

PlanGuru

Source: Screenshot from PlanGuru

PlanGuru’s standout feature lies in its ability to forecast all three financial statements – income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement so that users can make data-driven decisions.

Creating detailed analyses becomes a breeze with PlanGuru’s general ledger import utilities, allowing seamless historical data import. The software facilitates budget vs actual reporting and enables building rolling forecasts with just a few clicks each month.

Unlimited budgeting flexibility is another advantage offered by the business plan builder. Users can craft simple high-level small business budgets or delve into intricate multi-department operating budgets with ease.

With scenario analysis capabilities, PlanGuru empowers users to interpret the financial impact of specific events accurately. This feature enables making critical investments and strategic decisions with confidence, knowing thorough due diligence has been performed.

Given its sophisticated features, PlanGuru may be more suitable for financial professionals and analysts looking for in-depth financial analysis and budgeting tools. Users not familiar with financial modeling may face a steeper learning curve when utilizing Enloop’s robust capabilities.

  • Single entity ($99/month or $75/month when billed annually)
  • Multi-department consolidations ($299/month or $225/month when billed annually)

You can add up to 3 users with the multi-department consolidation plan. Additionally, all plans allow you to add on $29/month (billed monthly) or $25/month (billed annually) for each extra user.

What other apps does PlanGuru integrate with?

The cloud-based platform is also accessible as a Windows-based desktop version, giving you the freedom to choose the format that suits you best. Additionally, PlanGuru seamlessly integrates with MS Excel, QuickBooks Online and Xero, providing further flexibility and convenience in using the software.

The cloud-based version is suitable for SMBs or nonprofits budgeting for a single entity while the multi-department consolidations plan is for companies with multiple departments needing consolidated budgets.

7. Business Sorter

Business Sorter

Source: Screenshot from Business Sorter

With Business Sorter’s card sort system, crafting the foundation of your plan becomes a breeze. Featuring 273 cards covering various business situations, the business plan generator offers flexibility, allowing users to customize their plan by adding their cards or modifying existing ones, tailoring the plan to their specific needs.

The platform also provides the convenience of viewing your plan on any device, including smartphones, which not many business plan apps have. Additionally, guidance is at hand with Business Sorter as the software provides valuable tips and advice for every key step, empowering users to implement their business strategy with confidence.

While Business Sorter excels in its interactive features, it may not offer as extensive financial analysis tools as other business plan software. For businesses requiring advanced financial modeling capabilities, Business Sorter might not fully meet their requirements.

  • For small teams with up to 3 users ($10/month or $80/year)
  • For medium teams with up to 10 users ($30/month or $240/year)
  • For large teams with up to 30 users ($80/month or $640/year)
  • For enterprises with unlimited users (custom pricing)

Your business plan can be edited by only one user at a time. When a user opens a plan, it automatically locks to prevent any data loss and remains locked until the user finishes their work and exits the plan.

You can print each business plan directly from the plan summaries on your dashboard. 

Suitable for both entrepreneurs and businesses looking for an interactive and visually appealing planning approach.

9. AchieveIt

AchieveIt

Source: Screenshot from AchieveIt

AchieveIt stands as a versatile software for business plans, designed to simplify the planning process for businesses of all sizes and planning methods. With AchieveIt, you can easily build plans, ensuring alignment and engagement among your employees and optimizing plans for seamless execution.

Regardless of your preferred planning method, AchieveIt empowers you to construct plans effortlessly, providing a flexible solution for any planning use case. The software ensures your plans are well-aligned with your organization’s objectives, engaging all team members for successful plan execution.

The business plan tool provides robust tracking and reporting features, allowing businesses to monitor the progress of their plans and measure performance against set goals. Users can create customized dashboards to visualize key performance metrics, making it easier to identify trends and insights.

That said, In comparison to most business plan software, AchieveIt’s pricing might be relatively higher with its extensive features. On top of that, for users new to strategic planning software, AchieveIt may present a learning curve during the initial adoption phase.

The business plan software packages for AchieveIt varies based on factors like organization size, required functionality and the number of users. AchieveIt being an enterprise-level software offers custom pricing to cater to the specific needs of each business. For accurate pricing details, it’s best to contact their sales or customer support team.

AchieveIt allows team members, stakeholders and advisors to have shared access to the platform, providing them with visibility into the latest updates and progress on the plans. Users can assign tasks to team members and track their progress within the platform. 

Can AchieveIt integrate with existing systems?

AchieveIt’s Data Integration API lets you import key metric data from existing systems, saving time and reducing errors by eliminating the need for data entry in multiple places.

AchieveIt is best suited for medium to large-sized businesses and organizations that require a comprehensive and collaborative strategic planning platform. It caters to teams and enterprises seeking to improve their planning processes, track performance and drive organizational alignment to achieve business objectives effectively.

No idea what your business plan should look like? Check out these business plan examples for inspiration. 

best place for business plan

When searching for the best business planning software, you may be wondering — what features should I look for in business plan software? You want to make sure it meets your specific requirements and streamlines the planning process effectively. Here are the top six factors to consider:

Ease of use

The software should have a user-friendly interface that simplifies the process of creating a business plan. Look for intuitive navigation, clear instruction and a layout that makes it easy to input and organize your information.

Features and business plan templates

Check the range of features and business plan templates the software offers. Look for a diverse selection of business plan templates catering to various industries and business types. The software should provide essential sections like executive summaries, market analysis, financial projections and more.

best place for business plan

Financial modeling tools

Your business plan software should allow you to input financial data and generate accurate and comprehensive financial projections. These business plan creation tools are vital for assessing the financial viability of your business.

Collaboration and sharing

If you’ll be working with a team or seeking feedback from others, consider software that enables real-time collaboration and easy sharing. The ability to work together seamlessly can enhance productivity and improve the quality of your business plan.

Built for fast-moving teams that need to be on the same page, Venngage’s real-time collaboration enables you to polish your design with your team in real time, leave comments on each other’s work,and save your designs in one shared folder. With your  Venngage Business  account, you can easily invite and manage your team members to collaborate on a design, all in real time.

Security and data protection

Since a business plan contains sensitive information, prioritize software that prioritizes security. Ensure that the software uses encryption and data protection measures to keep your data safe from unauthorized access.

Exporting and sharing options

Check the software’s export options. You’ll likely want to share your business plan with others, so ensure it can be exported in popular formats like PDF or PowerPoint.

Are you an entrepreneur starting a new business or expanding your existing business? This guide on how to create a small business plan might come in handy for you. 

best place for business plan

Creating business plans can be a crucial step in setting your entrepreneurial vision on the right track. To help you through the process, here are 7 steps to guide you in crafting a comprehensive business plan:

Step 1: Executive summary

Start with an attention-grabbing executive summary. This section provides an overview of your business. In your executive summary, make sure to highlight your mission, goals, products or services, target market and the unique value you offer. Keep it concise, yet compelling.

best place for business plan

Step 2: Company description

Give a detailed description of your company. Explain your business’s history, its legal structure (e.g. sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation) and the reasons why your business will succeed in the market.

best place for business plan

Step 3: Market analysis

Conduct thorough market research to understand your industry, target market and competition. Identify your ideal customers, their needs and preferences. Analyze your competitors and highlight your competitive advantages.

Step 4: Products and Services

Describe your products or services in depth. Explain their features, benefits and how they meet the needs of your target customers. Emphasize what sets your offerings apart from the competition.

best place for business plan

Step 5: Marketing and sales strategy

Outline your marketing and sales strategies to reach your target audience. Explain your promotional activities, pricing strategies, distribution channels and sales tactics. Detail how you plan to acquire and retain customers.

Step 6: Financial projections

Project your financial performance over the next three to five years. Include estimated revenue, expenses and cash flow. Detail your startup costs and funding requirements if applicable. Be realistic and supported by market research.

Step 7: Implementation plan

Create a detailed roadmap for executing your business plan. Set specific goals and milestones. Break down tasks and assign responsibilities. Include timelines and a plan for measuring progress.

best place for business plan

A great tip here is to start with a well-structured outline. This guide on how to create a business plan outline will help you in creating your blueprint to easily identify your business’ resource needs, including finances, personnel and equipment. 

Is my business data safe with business plan software?

Most reputable business plan software providers prioritize data security and employ encryption and other measures to keep your business data safe from unauthorized access.

What are the benefits of using business planning tools?

Business planning tools offer time efficiency, professional presentation, error reduction, collaborative features and accessibility, making it easier to create a comprehensive business plan that impresses investors and stakeholders.

Do I need any specific skills or expertise to use business plan software?

No, many business plan software solutions are designed to be user-friendly, requiring no specific skills or expertise. They often come with templates and step-by-step guidance to assist you through the planning process.

In the dynamic landscape of 2024, businesses are on the lookout for innovative tools to stay ahead of the curve and drive their growth. These 7 business plan software picks for 2024 offer a wide range of features, from user-friendly interfaces and real-time collaboration to sophisticated financial analysis tools and customizable dashboards.

Whether you’re looking for user-friendly platform business planning tools that aligns with your business planning processes or a business plan writing software that allows you to tailor the business plan according to your industry, goals and unique requirements — I’m quite certain I’ve got them all covered. 

The value of these business plan software options lies not only in their efficiency but also in their ability to save time and reduce errors. By integrating with existing systems through Data Integration APIs, users can seamlessly import key metric data, eliminating redundant data entry and streamlining the process.

If you’re still unsure about which is the right business plan software for your business, you can always take advantage of free trials or video tutorials and demos offered by software providers. Testing the platform firsthand will give you a practical understanding of its usability and suitability for your business.

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Where to Find Hundreds of Business-Plan Examples

These samples will be incredibly helpful to you as you begin writing your own business plan..

Young architect work project. Photo woman working with new startup

Whether you want to create the next unicorn startup  or lay the groundwork for a successful and sustainable business, the process starts with your business plan .

Every business plan should include the following elements:

  • Executive Summary:  Start off with an overview of your company's purpose and goals, and why you believe it will be successful. 
  • Company Overview and Objectives: Now you can take a deep dive into the problem your company wants to solve, how it will do so, and any competitive advantages it has. 
  • Market Opportunities:  This is the evaluation of your target market, target audience, market trends, and competition.
  • Marketing and Sales:  Explain how you plan to grow and market your company.
  • Management Team and Operations:  Here's where you explain who will lead your company and how it will be structured.
  • Financial Analysis: Include forecasted expenditures, income, cash flow, etc. Break your projections down by quarter or month. If your business is already running, include things like your balance sheet, income statement, cash-flow statement, operating budget, etc.
  • Funding Request:  If you're going after funding, explain how much you'll need and what you'll need it for, in detail. Clarify how far in terms of months or years this funding will carry you. Don't forget to include how you plan to pay back this debt down the road. 
  • Appendix:  This is where you include supporting materials such as résumé?s, images, credit history, patents, permits, licenses, letters of reference, etc. 

While knowing what to include is incredibly helpful, what can be even more helpful is seeing some examples of actual business plans.

Examples can give you the inspiration you need as you start writing your own business plan.

Here are my favorite resources that showcase really good business plans. 

At Bplans , you'll find more than 500 business-plan samples tailored to specific industries, including:

  • Online and offline retail stores
  • Medical and health care
  • Restaurants, cafés, and bakeries
  • Pet services
  • Beauty salons and day spas
  • Manufacturing
  • And many more

2. LivePlan

LivePlan is another place you can find some inspiration to write your own business plan.

It has hundreds of examples across industries.

It  also  have 10 professionally designed themes that you can use to make your business plan look extra polished. 

3. ACCA Global

ACCA Global has three downloadable, fictional business plans.

You'll find one for an airport café, another for a stone-importing business, and a third for a fuel-efficiency business.

4. U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a complete guide to business plans, as well as a deep dive into the difference between a traditional business plan and a lean-startup business plan. 

Discover a traditional business plan for a consulting firm, and a lean-startup business plan for a toy company.

The U.S. Small Business Administration also connects you with free business-plan counselors if you need further guidance. 

There's only one sample business plan here, but it's a good one.

Shopify  created a sample business plan for a fictional organic denim and apparel company, and it's definitely worth a look. 

Now that you've got some ideas and inspiration, you can make a unique business plan for your company by communicating your unique vision for your product, your target audience, and your go-to-market strategy.

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How to Write a Business Plan Outline in 9 Steps (Example Included!)

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Starting a business often begins with writing a business plan , especially if you need funding . It acts as a roadmap, guiding you through each stage of launching and managing your company, and it presents a clear, compelling case to potential investors and partners. But here's the thing: not everyone finds this step intuitive. That's where a business plan outline can be incredibly helpful.

Creating a detailed business plan outline helps you organize your thoughts and ensure you cover all the key aspects of your business strategy. Plus, it might be just what you need to overcome that blank page and start typing.

Below, you'll find an easy-to-follow guide on how to craft your business plan outline, and an example to show you what it should look like.

​​ Build your dream business with the help of a high-paying job—browse open jobs on The Muse »

What is an outline of a business plan?

Think of a business plan outline as the skeleton of your entire business plan. It gives a high-level overview of the main sections you'll need to flesh out later. It's not the final document but a crucial step in getting you there.

Simply put, it's like creating a detailed table of contents for your business plan, showing you exactly what information to include and how everything fits together. A well-structured business plan outline also helps you plan things ahead, saving time and effort.

Writing a business plan outline in 9 steps

Follow these steps to build your business plan outline and learn exactly what each section should include.

(Bear in mind that every business plan is unique, tailored to the specific needs and goals of the business. While the structure below is common, the order of sections may vary—only the executive summary will always come first.)

1. Executive summary

Imagine you have just 60 seconds to convince someone to invest in your business. That's the essence of a strong executive summary. Although it appears first on your business plan, this section is often written last because it sums up the entire plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch . This section gives a quick overview of your entire business plan, highlighting key points that grab the reader's attention.

Keep it clear and concise. Start with a brief overview of your business, including its name and what it offers. Summarize your mission statement and objectives, and don’t forget to mention crucial aspects like financial projections and competitive advantages.

2. Company description

Here's where you provide detailed information about your company. Begin with the business name and location. Describe the legal structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation) and ownership. If your business already exists, share a brief history.

For new ventures, explain the business's nature and the problems you aim to solve. Go into more detail about your vision and mission statements, outlining your goals and the principles guiding your business. This section helps potential investors and stakeholders grasp your company’s identity and purpose.

3. Market research and analysis

This section shares insights into your company’s industry. Start with a landscape analysis to give an overview of the market, including its size, growth rate, and key players.

Next, define your target market and customer demographics—age, location, income, and interests—detailing who your ideal customers are. Identify market needs and trends your business will address, and highlight customer pain points your product or service aims to solve.

Consider conducting a SWOT analysis to evaluate your business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and gain a strategic view of where your business stands in the competitive landscape.

4. Organization and management

Describe how your business is structured and who runs it. Outline the organizational structure, and if helps, include a chart. Introduce the leadership team and key personnel, highlighting their qualifications and roles. If you have a board of directors, mention them and briefly explain their involvement.

Then, outline your production processes, detailing how your product or service is (or will be) created—from sourcing materials to delivery—to give a comprehensive view of your operational capabilities.

5. Products and services

This section of your business plan outline is crucial for showing potential investors what makes your products and services unique and valuable.

Clearly describe what your business offers, emphasizing your unique selling propositions (USPs) and the benefits and features that set you apart from the competition. Talk about the product life cycle, including any plans for future updates.

If your business holds any intellectual property or proprietary technologies, detail them here to underscore your competitive advantages.

6. Marketing strategy

Having a fantastic product or service is just half the battle. The marketing plan section should outline how you'll reach your target market and convert them into customers.

Begin with market positioning and branding, explaining how you want your brand perceived. Detail your marketing and promotional strategies, including specific tactics to reach your target audience.

Discuss your sales strategy, focusing on how you'll convert leads into customers. Lastly, include your pricing strategy and provide a sales forecast, projecting your expected revenue over a certain period.

7. Operations plan

Here, the goal is to give a detailed overview of the physical and logistical aspects of your company. Start with the business location and facilities, describing where it operates and any significant physical assets. Detail the technology and equipment needed for daily operations.

Briefly describe your supply chain and logistics processes to illustrate how you manage inventory, procurement, and distribution. Finish it by outlining your production process and quality control measures to ensure your products or services consistently meet high standards.

8. Financial plan

Use this section of the business plan to show how your company will succeed financially. Include financial projections like income statements and cash flow statements. Specify how much capital you need and how you plan to use it, discussing funding sources.

Conduct a break-even analysis to estimate when your business will become profitable. Be transparent and address any financial risks and assumptions, outlining how you plan to mitigate them.

9. Appendices and exhibits

In this section, include any additional information that supports your business plan. This might be resumes of key personnel to highlight your team's expertise and experience, or even legal documents and agreements.

Include market research data and surveys to back up your market analysis. Add financial statements for a detailed look at your financial plan. Also, provide detailed product specifications to give a clear understanding of your products and services.

Here's a business plan outline example

Not quite there yet? Take a look at this business plan outline example—it will make everything clear for you.

3.1 Executive Summary

  • Overview of the business
  • Key points of the business plan

3.2 Company Description

  • Business name and location
  • History and nature of the business
  • Legal structure and ownership
  • Vision and mission statement

3.3 Market Research and Analysis

  • Industry analysis
  • Target market and customer demographics
  • Market needs, trends
  • Customer pain points
  • SWOT analysis

3.4 Organization and Management

  • Organizational structure
  • Leadership team and key personnel
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Board of directors (if applicable)
  • Production processes

3.5 Products and Services

  • Description of products or services offered
  • Unique selling propositions, benefits, features
  • Product lifecycle and development plans
  • Intellectual property and proprietary technologies

3.6 Marketing Strategy

  • Market positioning and branding
  • Marketing and promotional strategies
  • Sales strategy and tactics
  • Pricing strategy and sales forecast

3.7 Operations Plan

  • Business location and facilities
  • Technology and equipment
  • Supply chain and logistics
  • Production process and quality control

3.8 Financial Plan

  • Financial projections (income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements)
  • Funding requirements and sources
  • Break-even analysis
  • Financial risks and assumptions

3.9 Appendices and Exhibits (if applicable)

  • Supporting documents and additional information
  • Resumes of key personnel
  • Legal documents and agreements
  • Market research data and surveys
  • Financial Statements
  • Detailed Product Specifications

Bonus tips on how to write a winning business plan

Once you've done your business plan outline, it's time to fill in the gaps and craft a winning business plan. Here are some bonus tips to keep in mind:

  • Tailor it to fit your business : Customize sections to meet industry-specific needs and highlight what makes your business unique.
  • Keep it clear and concise : Use straightforward language and support your points with data to ensure easy understanding and avoid any confusion.
  • Set actionable and realistic goals : Define measurable objectives with clear timelines and milestones to track your progress.
  • Update regularly : Keep your plan dynamic by making regular updates to reflect changes in goals, market conditions, and strategies.
  • Seek feedback : Gain insights from mentors and advisors to refine your plan.

Read this next: How to Start a Business in 8 Steps: A Comprehensive Guide from Concept to Launch

best place for business plan

More From Forbes

How To Start A Business Plan: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Creating a business plan is a critical first step for any entrepreneur. Knowing how to start a business plan will help you create a roadmap, guiding your business from startup to growth and beyond. Whether you're looking for investment, trying to set clear goals, or simply organizing your thoughts, a solid business plan can make all the difference.

Here is a guide to help you get started on your business plan:

1. executive summary.

What It Is: This section summarizes your business plan as a whole and outlines your company profile and goals.

What to Include:

  • Business name and location
  • Products or services offered
  • Mission statement
  • The purpose of the plan (e.g., seeking funding, guiding the startup process)

Tip: Keep it concise. Although it's the first section, it's often best to write it last, after you’ve detailed everything else.

2. Company Description

What It Is: This section provides detailed information about your company, including who you are, what you do, and what markets you serve.

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  • Your business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation)
  • The industry and marketplace needs your business meets
  • Your business’s objectives and how you stand out from competitors

Tip: Use this section to highlight your company’s strengths and what makes you unique.

3. Market Research

What It Is: Market research demonstrates your understanding of the industry and target market.

  • Market size and growth potential
  • Target customer demographics
  • Market trends and outlook
  • Competitive analysis, including strengths and weaknesses of competitors

Tip: Include data and statistics to back up your findings and show that you’ve done your homework.

4. Organization and Management

What It Is: This section outlines your business’s organizational structure and management team.

  • Organizational chart
  • Information about the ownership of the company
  • Backgrounds and qualifications of the management team
  • Roles and responsibilities within the company

Tip: Highlight the skills and experiences of your team that will help the business succeed.

5. Products or Services Line

What It Is: Here, you detail the products or services you offer or plan to offer.

  • A description of each product or service
  • The lifecycle of products or services
  • Research and development activities, if applicable
  • Intellectual property, such as patents or trademarks

Tip: Focus on the benefits your products or services bring to your customers.

6. Marketing and Sales Strategy

What It Is: This section explains how you will attract and retain customers.

  • Marketing strategies, including advertising, promotions, and public relations
  • Sales strategies, including sales processes, channels, and tactics
  • Pricing strategy and how it compares to competitors

Tip: Ensure your marketing and sales strategies are aligned with your market research findings.

7. Funding Request

What It Is: If you’re seeking funding , this section outlines your requirements.

  • Your current funding needs
  • Future funding requirements over the next five years
  • How you intend to use the funds
  • Potential future financial plans (e.g., selling the business, repaying debt)

Tip: Be specific and realistic about how much funding you need and how it will be used.

8. Financial Projections

What It Is: Financial projections provide a forecast of your business’s financial future.

  • Income statements
  • Cash flow statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Break-even analysis

Tip: Use realistic and conservative estimates. Consider hiring a financial professional to help with this section if needed.

9. Appendix

What It Is: The appendix includes any additional information that supports your business plan.

  • Resumes of key management team members
  • Permits and leases
  • Legal documents
  • Detailed market research data
  • Product photos

Tip: Only include essential information that adds value to your business plan.

Final Tips for Creating a Business Plan

Creating a business plan requires clarity and precision. First and foremost, keep your business plan clear and concise. Avoid using jargon or complex language that could make the plan difficult to read or understand. Your aim should be to communicate your ideas effectively and efficiently.

Next, be realistic in your approach. Ensure that your goals and financial projections are attainable based on your research and understanding of the market. Overly ambitious projections can undermine your credibility and potentially lead to unrealistic expectations.

It's also essential to remember that a business plan is a dynamic document. As your business grows and market conditions change, you should revisit and revise your plan regularly. This helps you stay aligned with your goals and adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

Finally, seek feedback from experienced business professionals. Having someone with business experience review your plan can provide valuable insights and help identify any potential issues or areas for improvement. Their feedback can enhance the overall quality and effectiveness of your business plan.

By following these tips, you'll be better equipped to create a robust and effective business plan that can guide your business towards success.

The bottom line is that starting a business plan may seem challenging, but with careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a comprehensive guide to steer your business toward success. Use this step-by-step guide to ensure that all essential components are covered, giving your business the best possible start.

Melissa Houston, CPA is the author of Cash Confident: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating a Profitable Business and the founder of She Means Profit . As a Business Strategist for small business owners, Melissa helps women making mid-career shifts, to launch their dream businesses, and I also guide established business owners to grow their businesses to more profitably.

The opinions expressed in this article are not intended to replace any professional or expert accounting and/or tax advice whatsoever.

Melissa Houston

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Understanding retirement needs

  • How much do you need to retire comfortably?
  • How much to save based on age

Building your retirement savings

Adjusting for inflation, lifestyle, and healthcare costs.

  • General rules of thumb
  • Seeking professional advice

How Much Do I Need to Retire? A Complete Guide to Retirement Planning

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  • Target savings will vary for each future retiree, depending on one's expenses and current salary.
  • Many advisors recommend saving 15% of your earnings annually or even more if you are getting a late start.
  • Multiple income streams and a conservative withdrawal rate ensure you don't run out of money.

Insider Today

Acquiring adequate retirement savings doesn't happen overnight. For most people, saving enough for retirement requires decades of dedication and strategic financial planning . But how much do you actually need to save to ensure a comfortable retirement? 

Here are the best retirement plans , calculators, investment strategies, and tips you can use to ensure your retirement savings plan is on track. 

Assessing your retirement needs

Unfortunately, there's no general number to aim for when saving toward retirement. Your target retirement savings goal will differ greatly from your siblings', neighbors', and even your coworkers' goals since the amount you'll need largely depends on personal factors.

However, one rule of thumb applies to everyone: The sooner you start saving, the less effort you'll need to put in to reach your goal, and the better-positioned you'll be later in life. 

According to the 2024 MassMutual Retirement Happiness Study , the average age for retirees in the U.S. is 62. If you were to live to 85, this means you'd need enough money to cover all your expenses (and retirement goals) for at least 22 years. Economic factors like inflation will also certainly impact your savings over time.

Estimating your retirement expenses

Understanding what you expect retirement to look like will help determine how much you'll need to fund that lifestyle. If you plan to travel the world in luxury, your budget will differ from someone wanting to bird watch from the backyard each morning.

In retirement, your savings will cover many of the same expenses you had pre-retirement. This includes costs like food, housing, transportation, clothes, gifts, utilities, insurance (including a health plan), and travel.

In most cases, these expenses won't change much from pre- to post-retirement, which makes creating a budget easier. But if you have big plans for your retirement years (moving to a new state or country, buying a bigger home, increasing travel, etc.), you must calculate how much your new standard of living will cost. 

How much do you need to retire comfortably? 

The first step to adequately saving for retirement is to determine how much you'll need. This means analyzing current and future expenses and deciding how much you can afford to put away each month. You may also want to use a number of different savings and investment vehicles or passive income streams.

Financial advisors suggest saving around 10 times your current salary by the time you reach retirement age. Before you retire, you should aim to reduce your annual expenses as much as possible, including paying off existing debt. This can help stretch your retirement savings for even longer. 

As always, it's wise to consult with a trusted financial planner to help you determine your unique needs and retirement savings strategy.

How much to save for retirement based on your age

One way to see if you're on track to reach a comfortable retirement savings is to aim for a multiple of your current annual earnings. This serves as a rough estimate so you can get a better sense of your situation. Remember that the amount of savings required to ensure a comfortable retirement varies according to your projected retirement costs and even the specific investments you choose for your retirement portfolio.

According to Fidelity , here's how much you should have saved up each decade to meet your retirement goals:

30

1-2 times your starting salary

40

3-4 times your starting salary

50

6-7 times your starting salary

60

8 times your starting salary

67

10+ times your starting salary 

Financial advisors recommend dedicating 15% of your annual income toward retirement. However, depending on your retirement goals, financial obligations, and current assets, you may need to save even more.

Types of retirement accounts (401(k), IRA, etc.)

There are multiple savings vehicles and income streams to consider for building your nest egg. These can affect how much you need to save today, depending on which sources of income are available to you.

Some of the most popular types of retirement accounts include: 

  • 401(k) plans: Employer-sponsored investment vehicles with compounding power and tax advantages to help you grow your nest egg steadily over time. Money in a 401(k) can be invested in various securities, and your contributions may even be matched by your employer, amplifying your efforts. Funds can be distributed without penalty beginning at age 59 ½, or earlier with certain exceptions.
  • IRAs: IRAs are retirement accounts individuals open through major banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. The best IRA accounts include traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs. IRAs have the same tax advantages as 401(k)s but offer more flexibility over how your funds are allocated.
  • Traditional pension plans: Traditional pensions are another employer-sponsored investment vehicle certain businesses offer. With a pension, your employer is responsible for contributing and investing the funds in your account. The amount contributed is determined by employee earnings and years at the business. 

Outside of savings accounts, other ways to generate income during retirement include:

  • Social Security benefits: Social Security is a government program that provides individuals with monthly retirement and disability benefits. You can opt-in to start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but you'll receive lower payments. Financial experts recommend delaying Social Security until you reach full retirement age (age 70). 
  • Annuities: Annuities are another retirement income source to consider. They're offered by insurance companies and act as a long-term investment vehicle. After purchasing an annuity — either with a lump sum or periodic purchase payments — you will receive regular payments over the course of your retirement.

Planning for inflation in retirement

Remember to consider inflation and its impact on your savings. For instance, in 2024, there have been inflation rates of 3%, following the 3.3% increase in 2023 and the high 6.5% rate in 2022. Generally, you should account for inflation of approximately 2% per year.

However, certain economic, political, or natural disasters can cause unexpected spikes in inflation. In those cases, you may experience significant financial losses that require you to permanently or temporarily adjust your lifestyle and budget. One of the best ways to hedge against inflation and market downturns is by continuing to invest after retirement . 

Healthcare costs and long-term care planning

Try to account for potential unexpected expenses, such as medical care for you and your spouse or even financially helping a child or grandchild.

"The most common expense that a retiree can ignore (or forget to budget for) is end-of-life expectancy expenses," says Jim Ludwick, a CFP and member at Garrett Planning Network . "This includes caregivers coming to your house, going into assisted living, or skilled nursing. Those are very expensive parts of people's lives. And a lot of times that can eat up quite a bit of savings if it goes on for an extended period of time."

Downsizing and lifestyle adjustments

When planning your retirement lifestyle, consider where you want to live. You may want to downsize depending on your preferred lifestyle, savings amount, and priorities. That said, your priorities may be buying your dream retirement home or moving to a certain location. In this case, be sure that you factor those larger expenses into your budget.

Retirement planning general rules of thumb

While everyone's situation and needs will differ, there are a few primary rules of thumb that most financial advisors follow, which you should consider when determining how much to save for retirement.

Retirement income as a percentage of pre-retirement income

Many financial professionals recommend that you account for between 70% and 80% of your pre-retirement income each year in retirement. This means that if you currently earn $60,000 per year, you should plan to spend between $42,000 to $48,000 annually once you retire. 

This isn't a set rule for everyone, and you may need to even account for more savings. "Many people need to have income streams (or savings and investments) cover 80%, 90%, or even 100% of their pre-retirement budget," Ludwick says. It all depends on your specific expenses now and in retirement.

Saving 15% of your earnings every year

If you start saving for retirement early enough, an annual savings rate of 15% may be sufficient to meet your goals. If you're off to a late start, you may need to save a lot more each year to catch up. 

"As you get older, the amount needed for savings to reach the same end goal roughly doubles every 10 years," says Tolen Teigen, chief investment officer for FinDec . "So, if someone waits ten years to start saving, instead of 30, they are now 40. Instead of 8% to 10% annually, they are now looking at 16% to 20% saved to reach the same end number."

Saving 10 times your income by retirement age

As mentioned above, many financial advisors and firms like Fidelity recommend having approximately 10 times your annual salary saved by the time you reach retirement age. While this may not be exactly what you need, it's a good target to keep in mind as you go. You can always adjust it depending on your projected needs in retirement.

The 4% withdrawal rule 

Many retirees are concerned about running out of money once they reach retirement. The 4% rule may be a good guideline to avoid this. While many factors can affect the actual drawdown process, the 4% rule can be a good place to start if you want to avoid running out of money.

This rule states that retirees can withdraw up to 4% of their retirement savings in year one of retirement. So, if you have $2,000,000 in retirement savings, you would withdraw $80,000 that first year. In year two, you would adjust that $80,000 for inflation and withdraw that amount from your savings.

Keep in mind that while the 4% rule is standard, some financial advisors say your actual withdrawal percentage could be anywhere from 3% to 5%.

Seeking professional advice when retirement planning

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to saving for retirement. Everyone's needs will be different, and so will their approach to saving, including when they start and how much they can set aside each year. Consulting with a certified financial planner or other retirement expert is the best way to understand your unique needs.

"Planning ahead and checking in on your efforts" is key to saving enough for the retirement years, Ludwick says."It's dangerous when you're 75 and realize you're running out of money and you have to move in with a younger sibling or something." 

His advice? "If you want to stay independent, do your homework ahead of time. Think about all those things that could possibly happen. If they don't happen, you're lucky … and your kids and grandkids can have a nice gift that you leave behind."

You can calculate how much you need to retire by assessing your expected expenses, considering your desired lifestyle, current expenses, projected inflation, and healthcare costs. Business Insider's free retirement calculator can help you see if you're on track to secure a comfortable retirement. You can also use other rules of thumb, such as having an annual savings rate of 15%.

The 4% rule in retirement planning suggests withdrawing 4% of your retirement savings each year to prevent you from prematurely running out of money for at least 30 years. It's a general guideline to help estimate how much you need to save. However, some advisors recommend more or less than that rate.

You can maximize your retirement savings by regularly contributing to tax-advantaged retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs to maximize employer matching contributions, investment opportunities, and compound interest. Generally, it's best practice to max out your retirement accounts first. Also, adopt a diversified investment strategy for greater portfolio growth and risk management.

The sooner you start planning for retirement, the easier it will be to compound your savings and reach your goals. Starting in your 20s and 30s allows more time for your investments to grow. It's still possible to catch up if you start in your 40s or 50s by saving more aggressively and adjusting your strategy, but it will be generally more stressful. 

Common mistakes to avoid in retirement planning include underestimating expenses, waiting to start saving, relying too heavily on Social Security, failing to diversify investments, spending too quickly, and not accounting for healthcare costs and inflation. The best way to avoid these common mistakes is by creating a thorough financial plan and consulting a financial advisor.

best place for business plan

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Achieve success with a business map

best place for business plan

There are two common reasons why new businesses fail : either they don’t know what success means to them or they don’t have a clear path from point A, where they are when they start their company, to point B, where they want to be. A business map solves both problems.

Industries change so quickly, thanks to the constant development of technology, that a business plan is no longer enough to plot the future of your business with any certainty. Disruptive technologies or unexpected competitors can come along and displace your business overnight. How do you position your business in this hyper-competitive environment? Are you wondering how to make a business action plan that will lead you in the right direction? Do you know how to write a business plan that will turn your worries into wins?

This is force #1 of the 7 Forces of Business Mastery : Know Where You Really Are and Create an Effective Business Map.

That’s right. You need to stop focusing on how to set up a business plan and instead focus on how to create a business map. Watch the video below to discover the power of the business map plan through the eyes of one business owner who attended Business Mastery.

What is a business map?

A business map looks at your business in terms of roles, responsibilities and standards. It’s not just a way to get from point A to point B or to achieve certain goals – it’s an in-depth look at what’s working or not working in your business and a path to make changes or improvements that will achieve greater success.

A business map allows for a top-down view of how your business works. It does more than just identify where you want company growth to be in two years or how hiring a sales team will lead to greater profits. Instead, it revolves around introspection – regarding everything from processes, inputs and workflow to why you’re in your particular field and the impact you want to have on your community .

A business map can come in many forms, including flowcharts, diagrams and value stream maps, or it can be created with various types of software. Don’t get caught up in the details and choose a combination of modules that work best for your company. The format is less important than the questions you ask to develop it and the mindset behind it.

The benefits of a business map

The process of creating a business map goes deeper than a business action plan. Not only does it address growth possibilities, sales and other surface issues, but it delves into what your business does, who’s responsible for what and what standards need to be met to determine success.

Keep the focus on the big picture

The goal of a business map is the same as a business plan: to be more effective. However, it takes a more holistic approach to get there. A business map ensures that the big picture of your company is always front and center. It not only helps with your company’s long-term goals, but it also helps you and your team keep the business vision in sight on a day-to-day basis. You don’t just use your business map during the growth phases of your business – you use it for the life of your business.

Problem solve more effectively

You can’t solve problems if you don’t know what they are. Business maps will reveal where your company really is – and what its true problems are. They allow you to take a step back from day-to-day management tasks and see your business holistically. A business map also involves soliciting input from your employees on the front lines about the challenges and issues they face every day, giving you valuable information that will help you solve problems and make tough decisions .

Align internal processes

Many business problems are the result of poorly designed internal processes. You might experience high employee turnover , poor inventory management, a large amount of manual labor or other inefficiencies that can cost you time and money. A business map will help you identify these inefficiencies and establish best practices to fix them. And that will help you scale the business , drive revenue and overcome challenges more easily.

Better manage risk

While some people tolerate risk better than others, the fact is that business ownership always comes with risk. Risk can create a business’s highest highs – Netflix certainly proved everyone wrong and changed the media industry when it changed its business model. It can also lead to complete failure – Hostess, Converse, Polaroid and others have all gone bankrupt more than once. A business map can help you manage risk and compliance by documenting and managing your processes to help employees understand their responsibilities.

Improve flexibility

When you design a business plan, you create a rigid framework with specific goals and actions. When you create a business map, flexibility is the goal. In industries that change on almost a daily basis and where businesses are at risk of being disrupted , flexibility is key. Though your business map plan will have structure, it will also be able to respond to any changes that occur with your customers, the economy or the industry. This helps you create an innovation culture and foster growth. Changing your mindset to one of flexibility helps you develop empowering beliefs that will permeate your entire organization.

How to create a business map

Get major players involved when you create a business map. To turn your employees into raving fans of your business, ask for their input and implement their ideas. Schedule regular meetings to create a business map, improve the map and identify when goals are achieved. Assign team members to different tasks including project managing, writing out action plans and taking the appropriate next steps. At your meetings, ask yourself the following questions.

best place for business plan

What business am I in?

Your first answer will probably be the obvious one. You’re in the business of developing software or constructing homes or providing professional services. But when you stop there, you’re not digging deep enough. There are thousands of companies that develop software, build homes and do taxes. What makes you different? With a business map, you’ll connect your business to your passion – which is ultimately what gives you the hunger to succeed.

For instance, what business is Starbucks in ? Most people would say the coffee business. But ask Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, and he will likely tell you about his trip to Italy, where he saw people eagerly meeting in cafés before and after work.

Before Schultz ever began wondering how to create a business map or plan, he saw the promise of a transitional meeting place between home and work, and that was the seed that grew into Starbucks. He knew his business was about creating an experience, not just delivering coffee.

When creating a business map plan, you’ll ask yourself and your team what experience you want to create with your business. Is it about the products or service or is it about something bigger? When you discover and harness your purpose – both as an individual and a business – you can truly realize your vision.

What business am I really  in?

How is this question useful when you create a business map? This question prompts business owners to think not only about their specific company, but the industry as a whole and the people they’re delivering value to. It makes you focus on what really matters – the customer – and ensures you are constantly striving to create the ultimate customer experience .

Back in the early 1900s, if railroad companies in the U.S. realized that they were really in the transportation business, not the railroad business, they could have prevented the entire industry from going bankrupt as the trucking industry took over. Having a business map really means framing your business in terms that enable you to see opportunities (and threats) that you might otherwise overlook.

It’s common for business owners to fall in love with their product and not their customer. To build a thriving business – or save a failing one – you must fall in love with your customer, not your product. Knowing what business you’re really in means having a deep and thorough understanding of your customer and the value they gain from you. This is your X factor . It’s the way that you provide more value to your customers and clients than anyone else. And it’s what guides constant and strategic innovation in your industry and your business.

best place for business plan

How is business now and how do I want it to be?

Asking “How is my business doing?” when creating a business map is the next step to achieving your overall goals. Once you really understand how to consistently offer more value than anyone else in your market, you’re in a better position to identify where you are now, and what it will take to get to where you want to be.

Being realistic and honest about the state of your business is essential. If you’ve fallen in love with your product – like the railroads – you may be seeing your business through “rose-colored glasses” and missing signs of trouble. At the same time, if you’re feeling discouraged and disempowered, you may believe things are worse than they are. That’s why a key part of creating a business map is to get input from others who can help you be objective.

When you’re asking yourself how you want your business to be, think beyond revenue, profits and numbers. Connecting values and purpose to your business map will not only help you grow and create a better experience for your customers, but it will also ensure that you, your partners and your team members will be happy in the workplace . As every good leader knows, their business can’t succeed unless they have an engaged team that is deeply connected to their cause.

Using a business map to achieve success

Through the deep introspection that is part of creating a business map, you’ll discover what success really means to you and how to determine when you achieve it. This clarity helps you and your employees stay hungry for that defined success and keep fear at bay. A detailed business map provides a clear plan for how you and your team need to get there. This allows you to make tweaks when you’re not hitting smaller goals and stay flexible within the broader framework of your overall vision.

When you create a business map rather than a business action plan, you dig deeply into your business to find out what really makes it tick. This will help you create a better experience for your customers, your team members and you. You’ll have more certainty about what your business needs to grow now and you’ll be better able to steer your organization in accordance with that vision. Most importantly, you’ll understand what business you need to be in to become the dominant force in your market.

If you want to increase engagement in your business for yourself and for those you lead, take the next step in personal development by attending Business Mastery , a powerful 5-day experience that will greatly improve your business skills.

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Chancellor Rachel Reeves is taking immediate action to fix the foundations of our economy

In her first speech as Chancellor, Rachel Reeves laid out plans to rebuild Britain and make every part of the country better off.

Rachel Reeves in front of the Union Jack.

Good morning.

Last week, the British people voted for change.

And over the last 72 hours I have begun the work necessary to deliver on that mandate.

Our manifesto was clear:

Sustained economic growth is the only route to the improved prosperity that country needs and the living standards of working people.

Where previous governments have been unwilling to take the difficult decisions to deliver growth…

… or have waited too long to act…

… I will not hesitate.

Growth [political content removed]. It is now our national mission.

There is no time to waste.

This morning I want to outline the first steps [political content removed] taken to fix the foundations of our economy.

So we can rebuild Britain and make every part of our country better off.

But first, let me address the inheritance.

I have repeatedly warned that whoever won the general election would inherit the worst set of circumstances since the Second World War.

What I have seen in the past 72 hours has only confirmed that.

Our economy has been held back by decisions deferred and decisions ducked.

Political self-interest put ahead of the national interest.

A government that put party first, country second.

We face the legacy of fourteen years of chaos and economic irresponsibility.  

That is why over the weekend I instructed Treasury officials to provide an assessment of the state of our spending inheritance so that I can understand the scale of the challenge. And I will present this to Parliament before the summer recess. 

This will be separate from a Budget that will be held later this year – and I will confirm the date of that Budget, alongside a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility, in due course.

All governments face difficult choices – and I will not shrink from those choices.

Those choices are made harder, however, by the absence of the economic growth necessary to not only balance the books but also to improve living standards.

New Treasury analysis that I requested over the weekend shows that, had the UK economy grown at the average rate of other OECD economies this last 13 years, our economy would have been over £140 billion larger.

This could have brought in an additional £58 billion in tax revenues in the last year alone. That’s money that could have revitalised our schools, our hospitals, and other public services.

Growth requires difficult choices – choices that previous governments have shied away from.

And it now falls to [political content removed] fix the foundations.

We have promised a new approach to growth – one fit for a changed world.

That approach will rest on three pillars – stability, investment, and reform.

Let me turn first to stability.

In the run-up to the general election, I set out the crucial first steps in our economic plans:

To deliver economic stability, so we can grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.

And that commitment stands.

I emphasised this commitment in a meeting with the Governor of the Bank of England on Friday, and I will do the same when I meet the chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility this week.

These institutions are guarantors of our economic stability and I will not be playing games at their expense.

Over the weekend I made clear to Treasury officials that the manifesto commitments that we were elected on will be kept to and they will be delivered on.

That includes robust fiscal rules.

And it includes our commitments to no increases in National Insurance, and the basic, higher, or additional rates of Income Tax, or VAT.

Now I know there are some who will argue that the time for caution is past.

[Political content removed].

That a large majority in Parliament means we have the licence to row back on the principles of sound money and economic responsibility.

I know that many of you aren’t used to hearing this after recent years. But I believe that the promises that a party is elected on should be delivered on in government and we will do so.

We do not take lightly the trust of voters who have been burned too often by incompetence, irresponsibility, and recklessness.

And to investors and businesses who have spent fourteen years doubting whether Britain is a safe place to invest, then let me tell you:

After fourteen years, Britain has a stable government. A government that respects business, wants to partner with business, and is open for business.

In an uncertain world, Britain is a place to do business.

Let me turn to how we will unlock private investment that we so desperately need.

[Political content removed] …plans to launch a new National Wealth Fund, with a remit to invest – and so to catalyse private sector investment – in new and growing industries.

And in March, the former governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, agreed to lead a Taskforce on the establishment of a new National Wealth Fund.

I can tell you today that I have received the report from that Taskforce, and I will be announcing the next steps in short order.

Alongside investment must come reform.

Because the question is not whether we want growth, but how strong is our resolve – how prepared are we to make hard choices and face down the vested interests;

How willing, even, to risk short-term political pain to fix Britain’s foundations.

The story of the last fourteen years has been a refusal to confront the tough and responsible decisions that are demanded.

This government will be different.

And there is no time to waste.

Nowhere is decisive reform needed more urgently than in the case of our planning system.

Planning reform has become a byword for political timidity in the face of vested interests and a graveyard of economic ambition.

Our antiquated planning system leaves too many important projects getting tied up in years and years of red tape before shovels ever get into the ground.

We promised to put planning reform at the centre of our political argument – and we did.

We said we would grasp the nettle of planning reform – and we are doing so.

Today I can tell you that work is underway.

Over the weekend, I met with the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to agree the urgent action needed to fix our planning system.

Today, alongside the Deputy Prime Minister, I am taking immediate action to deliver this [political content removed] government’s mission to kickstart economic growth;

And to take the urgent steps necessary to build the infrastructure that we need, including one and a half million homes over the next five years.

The system needs a new signal. This is that signal.

First, we will reform the National Planning Policy Framework, consulting on a new growth-focused approach to the planning system before the end of the month, including restoring mandatory housing targets.

And, as of today, we are ending the absurd ban on new onshore wind in England. We will also go further and consult on bringing onshore wind back into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime, meaning decisions on large developments will be taken nationally not locally.

Second, we will give priority to energy projects in the system to ensure they make swift progress…

… and we will build on the spatial plan for Energy by expanding this to other infrastructure sectors.  

Third, we will create a new taskforce to accelerate stalled housing sites in our country…

…beginning with Liverpool Central Docks, Worcester Parkway, Northstowe and Langley Sutton Coldfield, representing more than 14,000 homes.

Fourth, we will also support local authorities with 300 additional planning officers across the country.

Fifth, if we are to put growth at the centre of our planning system, that means changes not only to the system itself, but to the way that ministers use our powers for direct intervention.

The Deputy Prime Minister has said that when she intervenes in the economic planning system, the benefit of development will be a central consideration and that she will not hesitate to review an application where the potential gain for the regional and national economies warrant it.

… and I welcome her decision to recover two planning appeals already, for data centres in Buckinghamshire and in Hertfordshire.

To facilitate this new approach, the Deputy Prime Minister will also write to local mayors and the Office for Investment to ensure that any investment opportunity with important planning considerations that comes across their desks is brought to her attention and also to mine.

The Deputy Prime Minister will also write to Local Planning Authorities alongside the National Planning Policy Framework consultation, making clear what will now be expected of them…

…including universal coverage of local plans, and reviews of greenbelt boundaries. These will prioritise Brownfield and grey belt land for development to meet housing targets where needed.

And our golden rules will make sure the development this frees up will allow us to deliver thousands of the affordable homes too, including more for social rent.

Sixth, as well as unlocking new housing, we will also reform the planning system to deliver the infrastructure that our country needs.

Together, [political content removed] we will ask the Secretaries of State for Transport and Energy Security and Net Zero to prioritise decisions on infrastructure projects that have been sitting unresolved for far too long.

And finally, we will set out new policy intentions for critical infrastructure in the coming months, ahead of updating relevant National Policy Statements within the year.

I know that there will be opposition to this.

I’m not naïve to that;

And we must acknowledge that trade offs always exist: any development may have environmental consequences, place pressure on services, and rouse voices of local opposition.

But we will not succumb to a status quo which responds to the existence of trade-offs by always saying no, and relegates the national interest below other priorities.

We will make those tough decisions, to realise that mandate. 

Be in no doubt – we are going to get Britain building again.

We are going to get Britain’s economy growing again.

We will end the prevarication and make the necessary choices to fix the foundations:

We will introduce a modern industrial strategy, to create good work and drive investment in all of our communities.

We will reform our skills system, for a changing world of work.

We will tackle economic inactivity and get people back to work.

We will take on the hard work of reforming our public services, to make them fit for the future.

We will work closely with our national, regional and local leaders to power growth in every part of Britain.

And we will turn our attention to the pensions system, to drive investment in homegrown businesses and deliver greater returns to pension savers.

I know the voters’ trust cannot be repaid through slogans or gimmicks – only through action, only through delivery.

The Treasury I lead is proceeding on that basis.

I was appointed to this post less than 72 hours ago.

Upon my arrival, I told Treasury staff that the work starts straight away.

That work has begun.

I have commissioned and received economic analysis from HMT officials on the lost growth of the past 14 years, which I have set out today.

I have instructed Treasury officials to prepare an assessment of the state of our spending inheritance, to be presented to Parliament before the summer recess.

I have started working with the Prime Minister, to make the necessary preparations for the establishment of a Growth Mission Board, and that board will meet before summer recess, focused squarely on reviving our country’s economic growth and prosperity

I have established a new Growth Delivery Unit here, at the heart of  the Treasury.

I have received the recommendations of the National Wealth Fund Taskforce, and will shortly be announcing next steps.

There is much more to do.

More tough decisions to be taken.

You have put your trust in us.

And we will repay that trust.

The work towards a decade of national renewal has begun.

And we are just getting started.

Thank you very much.

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Ossipee Valley Fair, Moxie Festival and more happening this weekend

The Maine International Film Festival starts Friday in Waterville.

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Now that we’re all comfortably settled into the rhythm of summer, let’s do a classic summer thing and go to a fair!

best place for business plan

Jeremy Schoff of York leads his oxen, Pete and Red, during the ox pull on Thursday at the Ossippe Valley Fair in 2021. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The Ossipee Valley Fair starts today and runs through Sunday. We especially love the Farmer Olympics because the hay bale toss and blind wheelbarrow obstacle course competition is fierce. Ray Routhier has details about Ossipee Valley and several others fairs happening this summer in Bangor, Waterville and Acton, among other locales.

Go a little farther afield and find a Maine summer fair for you

best place for business plan

Aretha Aoki & Ryan MacDonald (right, in bear suit) performing IzumonookunI (stet capital letter at the end). Aretha Aoki & Ryan MacDonald will be bringing this dance program to the Bates Dance Festival July 12 and 14, 2024 at the Schaeffer Theatre on the Bates College campus in Lewiston, Maine. Photo by Colin Kelly

Another summer tradition is the Bates Dates Festival in Lewiston . Performances are underway, and arts writer Megan Gray has the scoop on “IzumonookunI” by Aretha Aoki and Ryan MacDonald. See it tonight and Saturday.

Topsham couple’s Bates Dance Festival performance is inspired by kabuki, punk rock and their 7-year-old

best place for business plan

Big Yellow Taxi. Photo by Julian Parker Burns

I’m headed to One Longfellow Square on Friday night to see the Massachusetts-based Joni Mitchell tribute band Big Yellow Taxi. They’ll be playing Mitchell’s 1974 album “Court and Spark,” along with other tunes.

Tribute to Joni Mitchell celebrates 50 years of ‘Court and Spark’

best place for business plan

“3 Vendors of Ipanema” is directed by Lewiston native Jonathan S. Lee. Courtesy of JSL Films

We weren’t kidding when we said there’s a lot going on right now. The 27th annual Maine International Film Festival starts on Friday and runs through July 21 in Waterville. Our film writer, Dennis Perkins, offers up his picks for 12 screenings worth your while.

12 hidden gems of this year’s Maine International Film Festival

best place for business plan

Spectators watching a previous year’s Moxie Festival Parade in Lisbon Falls. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Our weekly events roundup includes the East Bayside block party in Portland and the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls. Should you make it to the festival on Saturday, don’t miss “American Idol” alum Julia Gagnon singing at 1:30 p.m.

Kennebunks garden tour, Moxie Festival, East Bayside block party

best place for business plan

One with Everything from Gunnar’s Icelandic Hot Dogs. Photo by Ray Routhier

Need a break from standard-issue hot dogs? We love them too, but sometimes a new twist is just what your taste buds need. Ray Routhier stopped by Gunnar’s Icelandic Hot Dogs cart . If you like what you read, you can find it parked from 4-9 p.m. Thursday at Apres in Portland, then on the roof of Bayside Bowl on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Sick of red snappers? Try an Icelandic hot dog instead

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COMMENTS

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