example of business plan introduction pdf

Business Plan Introduction Example – Introduction of a Business Plan

business plan introduction

Your business plan introduction provides a general overview, the “bird’s eye view,” of your plan. It is written at a high level without going into details. (That’s what the rest of the plan should do.) The introduction of a business plan sets the tone right after your executive summary. Here’s how to make your words count.

Table of Contents

Introduction of a Business Plan

Your business plan introduction is different than your executive summary. The introduction should contain a two or three page management overview of the business. It covers the description of the business, the goals and why the business is a good venture to start.

The other parts of a business plan , like the management team outline, the financial plan, the marketing plan, etc., are all going to provide the reader with an intense look at the business: the “ground floor view” of how the business will succeed.

Video: Secrets for Crafting a Compelling Business Plan Intro

Discover the blueprint to crafting an impactful business plan introduction. The video podcast below shows you the proven strategies for crafting intros that grab attention, outline your vision, and guide your journey. It is an essential guide to creating a powerful opening section for your business plan.

The introduction in a business plan should take all the parts of the business plan and summarize them quickly.  Do this section of your business plan first, and last!

See free sample business plans on MoreBusiness.com’s Business Plan Template section.

Do it first to capture a general overview. This way, you know what you will write about in greater detail as you complete all of the other parts of the business plan.

Then, when you finish writing your business plan, do it last to make sure that you have covered all the critical points you need to convey.

Business Plan Introduction Template

Use the following questions as a template to write your business plan introduction. With this section of the plan you are trying answer a few things:

  • Why this business?
  • Who’s going to buy?
  • How will they buy? What’s the buying and selling process look like?
  • How will my business be different than the competitor’s?
  • What’s my path to profitability?
  • When will I become profitable?
  • How much will I make and by when?

Again, you will answer these items in detail later in the full plan. The introduction of a business plan gives a general overview and excite the reader to keep them interested.

Business Plan Introduction Example

Your business plan introduction should briefly talk about what you want to accomplish in the business and how you see it working.

For example, coffee shop business plan might talk about how the market has made specialty coffee shops very popular right now. Provide data on how the location you’ve selected is perfect for a new shop.

You don’t have to give details here (that’s taken care of in the individual analysis sections that will come later). Rather, you simply provide an overview that is meant to get the reader excited.

Download a free sample marketing plan to use as a template to create your own strategy.

So a coffee business can talk about the high profit margin of coffee and how the shop will be run by a coffee expert and an expert marketer and will serve the people in the area.

A professional services or technology business plan introduction should address the unique approach you will take to secure customers because you may have a lot of competition. Perhaps you will specialize in a specific target market or demographic. Talk about your niche marketing strategy in the introduction to keep readers tuned in.

In a clothing line business plan , for example, your business plan introduction should discuss what makes your brand unique and how you will generate buzz.

Address the Big Question: Profitability

Readers of your business plan – whether you are looking for investors or money from a bank – will be able to tell very quickly whether you have done your homework and actually researched the business or whether this is just a whim.

Your investors, or even you alone if you don’t have any investors, want to make sure your business doesn’t fail . You don’t have to give all the facts in the introduction of a business plan, but you should be clear and correct in your overview.

Remember, this is the second thing your potential investor will read (the first being the business plan executive summary). They may not be as convinced about the business opportunity as you are. Ultimately, the introduction of a business plan should answer the bottom line question that the reader is asking: will this business be profitable and make money from my investment?

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14 Professional Business Plan Samples [Downloadable pdf]

Looking for business plan examples for inspiration? Download or view 14 business plans examples/samples, vetted by our MBA business plan writers. Download in PDF format or read like a book. These real business plan samples would help in writing your own business plan.

14+professional business plan examples or samples

  • View Real Business Plan Examples/Samples

Bank Business Plan

As an entrepreneur, effectively pitching your idea to attract investors and secure funding can be a challenge. Moreover, when launching a business, creating a comprehensive business plan is paramount.

To aid you in these crucial tasks, we offer a collection of real-world and sample business plan examples across diverse industries. A well-structured business plan is indispensable in the fast-paced entrepreneurial landscape, as it delineates your goals, strategies, and financial projections, providing a clear roadmap for your venture.

Our aim is to facilitate the creation of an effective business plan by integrating real-life examples to elucidate the key elements involved. Below, you’ll find a range of 14 detailed business plan examples available for download and use.

Important Sections to Include in Business Plan

Practical business plan examples illustrating strategies for startup success, 1. e-commerce plan sample or example, 2. online marketplace business plan example or sample, 3. snack bar business plan sample / business plan example, 4. coffee shop business plan sample/business plan example pdf, 5. food hall business plan sample/business plan example pdf, 6. printing shop business plan sample/business plan example plan, 7. acquisition business plan sample/ example pdf, 8. l-1 visa business plan example with sample pdf, 9. e-2 visa business plan sample/ example pdf, 10. eb-5 business plan sample/ example pdf, 11. investor business plan sample/ example pdf, 12. nonprofit business plan sample/ example pdf, 13. bank business plan sample/ example pdf, 14. cannabis business plan sample/ example pdf, detailed overview of key components of a business plan, 1. executive summary, tips for writing executive summary, 2. company overview or description, tips for writing company description, 3. market analysis, tips for writing market analysis, 4. product and services, tips for writing product and services, 5. marketing and sales plan, tips for writing marketing and sales plan, 6. operation planning, tips for writing operational planning, 7. organization and management, tips for writing organization and management summary, 8. financial plan, tips for writing financial plan, 9. key external drivers, tips for writing key external drivers, 10. startup summary, tips for writing startup summary, 11. projected industry growth, tips for writing projected industry growth, 12. break-even analysis, tips for writing break-even analysis, 13. management summary, tips for writing management summary, 14. financial indicators, tips for writing financial indicators, discover business plan formats and free templates, business plan examples for students pdf, common types of business plan, 1. one page business plan, 2. start-up business plan, 3. strategic business plan, 4. feasibility business plan, 5. internal business plan, conclusion​, frequently asked questions, download pack of 14 business plan examples, are you looking for top business plan writer.

To create a robust business plan, ensure inclusion of the following key sections:

  • Executive Summary: A brief snapshot of your business and the key highlights of your business plan. Read more
  • Product and Services: An elaborate description of the offerings you will provide to your customers. Read more
  • Marketing and Sales Plan: A strategic roadmap outlining how you intend to promote and market your business before, during, and after its launch. Read more
  • Operating Planning: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools necessary to efficiently run your business behind the scenes. Read more
  • Organization and Management: Organization and management in a business plan outline the structure and leadership of the company. Read more
  • Financial Plan: A comprehensive plan mapping out your short-term and long-term financial goals and the associated costs of running your business. If you require funding, this section is where you can outline your request and financial needs. Read more
  • Key External Drivers: External drivers encompass factors like outsourcing, economic changes, industry competition, and business legislation complexity. Read more
  • Startup Summary: The startup summary offers a comprehensive financial overview of , detailing expenses, asset value, and total requirements, crucial for transparency with entrepreneurs and investors. Read more
  • Projected Industry Growth : Projected industry growth forecasts the sector’s expansion, offering a 10-year perspective and average annual growth rate, providing clarity to investors. Read more
  • Break-even analysis: The break-even analysis visually presents key metrics and a 12-month revenue forecast to help stakeholders grasp the point where the business covers costs and starts generating profit . Read more
  • Management Summary: The management summary provides a concise overview of organizational structure, key personnel, their roles, and financial commitments, ensuring stakeholders understand the business’s operational strength and leadership capability. Read more
  • Financial Indicators: The financial indicators section evaluates organizational fiscal health, focusing on year-over-year profitability metrics, leverage ratios, liquidity ratios, and additional metrics, providing a comprehensive understanding of the business’s financial performance and efficiency in revenue generation from equity investments. Read more

E-commerce Plan Sample or Example

Something Borrowed Something New is a burgeoning e-commerce enterprise specializing in wedding accessories and personalized gifts. Operating on a drop-shipping model, this business has the capability to make a significant impact in the market.

Moreover, leveraging social networking and blogging can be instrumental in generating awareness and capturing interest, thereby creating a robust online marketing strategy for Something Old and Something New.

To enhance their business operations, they are contemplating the integration of a WhatsApp CRM system. This initiative aims to optimize communication with potential customers, ensuring prompt responses to inquiries and fostering a seamless interaction process.

Online Marketplace Business Plan Example or Sample

EPlace Solutions will be an innovative online marketplace business portal offering a variety of products to consumers throughout the globe. Founded by Mr. John Jones, a seasoned business visionary with an eye toward profit and achievement, the organization is set to enter the market in 2023.

Online shopping is at an all-time high with new consumer mindsets calling for them to shop for the types of deals and bargains that will be so much a part of the online marketplace business model.

Snack Bar Business Plan Sample

There is an increasing demand for snack-type fast food to be consumed while window shopping and walking around inside a shopping mall.

Do you plan to start a snack bar business? Then here’s a complete snack bar startup business plan template and feasibility report you can use FREE of charge. It sounds easy to open a snack bar, but in reality, you need well-planned strategies to ensure that your business stands the test of time. 

Our snack bar business plan sample includes a detailed description of the products and services offered, as well as a market a nalysis  and competitive analysis.

It also includes a financial plan that outlines the startup costs, revenue projections, and break-even analysis. We like this sample plan because it demonstrates how to build a profitable snack bar business by creating a unique menu and offering healthy, high-quality snac ks that meet custome r demand.

Your snack shop business plan can look as polished and professional as the sample plan. It’s fun and easy, with Wise Business Plan. Let’s review the  snack shop business plan sample  and adjust them according to your audience for the best results.

Coffee Shop Business Plan Sample

A coffee shop business plan is a document that outlines what your business idea is and how it will be implemented. Its purpose is to answer questions such as what it costs to start a coffee shop, how these costs will be financed, and how much money you can expect to earn from your cafe.

Are you looking for the right business plan for your cafe? Let’s review the  Coffee shop business plan sample  to find out how cloud-based software can make your day-to-day work more efficient.

Our coffee shop business plan sample includes a detailed description of the products and services offered, as well as a market analysis and competitive analysis.

It also includes a financial plan that outlines the startup costs, revenue projections, and break-even analysis. We like this sample plan because it demonstrates how to build a profitable coffee shop business by creating a unique brand and offering high-quality products a nd customer service.

Food Hall Business Plan Sample

In the food industry, there is fierce competition. To ensure success, you need to hit the ground running with the right pitch. Our food house business plan is the ideal solution with an attractive design highlighting key information and conveying the right message.

This food business plan example features food images intended to tantalize the taste buds. It captures the theme perfectly and will convey the ultimate message to investors, clients and customers.

It is important to remember that the business plan template can be customized to meet your company’s specific needs and requirements. It will help showcase your business as a leader in the modern industry.

This food business plan template provides key slides to showcase everything from finances to marketing and key competitors. If you prefer, you can alter the content displayed to meet your specific needs, but this is a good starting point.

Ultimately, this  food house business plan  will be suitable for any business operating in the food industry and keen to get interested from key individuals. It will ensure that you can build up the rep of your company.

We provide a one-of-a-kind sales pitch deck designed to appeal to your prospective audience, as well as a custom presentation tailored to their information requirements.

Printing Shop Business Plan Sample

When establishing a think tank, you will need to develop a business plan and document it properly. As a mass think tank, you need a special strategy to legalize the think tank as a non-profit organization and to raise funds for your project successfully.

Copy and print businesses offer a variety of services to both businesses and consumers. A copy and print shop can handle everything from single-page printing to large-volume jobs using several types of media.

Our printing shop business plan sample includes a detailed description of the products and services offered, as well as a market analysis and competitive analysis. It also includes a financial plan that outlines the startup costs, revenue projections, and break-even analysis. We like this sample plan because it demonstrates how to build a profitable printing shop business by offering high-quality, customized printing services with a focus on customer s ervice and efficient operations.

Let’s take a look at Printing and Photocopy Business Plan Sample that you can use to inspire your own and easily create one.

Acquisition Business Plan Sample

The acquisition business plan sample is intended for businesses seeking to acquire another company or merge with a competitor. This plan includes an analysis of the target company, a valuation, and a strategy for integrating the acquired business into the existing operations. We like this sample plan because it provides a clear roadmap for the acquisition process and demonstrates the potential benefits of the deal.

L-1 Visa Business Plan Sample

At Wisebusinessplans, we understand that obtaining an L1 visa for an executive or manager requires a thorough and compelling business plan.

Our L1 business plan sample includes all the necessary components to satisfy USCIS requirements and demonstrate your qualifications and your company’s viability in the US market.

The L1 business plan sample is a comprehensive plan for a new business seeking L1 visa approval for an executive or manager. This plan focuses on demonstrating the applicant’s qualifications and the company’s viability in the US market.

We like this sample plan because it is specific to the L1 visa process and includes all the necessary components to satisfy USCIS requirements.

E-2 Visa Business Plan Sample

If you’re an entrepreneur seeking E-2 visa approval, Wise Business Plans can help you create a persuasive business plan.

Our E-2 business plan sample outlines your investment, business operations, and financial projections, providing a clear and compelling case for your ability to successfully run a business and make a significant economic impact.

The E-2 business plan sample is designed for entrepreneurs seeking E-2 visa approval, which allows individuals to invest in and manage a business in the United States. This plan outlines the applicant’s investment, business operations, and financial projections. We like this sample plan because it provides a clear and compelling case for the applicant’s ability to successfully run a business and make a significant economic impact.

EB-5 Business Plan Sample

If you’re looking to obtain an EB-5 visa by investing in a new commercial enterprise in the United States, Wise Business Plans can help you create a compelling business plan.

Our EB-5 business plan sample includes a description of your business, a market analysis, and financial projections, providing a detailed and persuasive case for the potential success of your venture.

The EB-5 business plan sample is designed for individuals seeking to obtain an EB-5 visa by investing in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. This plan includes a description of the business, a market analysis, and financial projections. We like this sample plan because it provides a detailed and persuasive case for the potential success of the business, which is crucial for obtaining EB-5 visa approval.

Investor Business Plan Sample

If you’re seeking investment from angel investors, venture capitalists, or other private equity firms, Wise Business Plans can help you create a compelling pitch.

Our investor business plan sample includes a pitch deck, financial projections, and a detailed analysis of the market the potential return on investment and the scalability of your business.

The investor business plan sample is intended for businesses seeking to attract investment from angel investors, venture capitalists, or other private equity firms. This plan includes a pitch deck, financial projections, and a detailed analysis of the market opportunity. We like this sample plan because it emphasizes the potential return on investment and the scalability of the business.

Nonprofit Business Plan Sample

At Wisebusinessplans, we’re committed to helping non-profit organizations achieve their social impact goals.

Our non-profit business plan sample includes a mission statement, programs and services, marketing and outreach strategies, and a financial analysis, providing a clear roadmap for establishing or expanding your organization.

The non-profit business plan sample is designed for organizations seeking to establish or expand a non-profit entity. This plan includes a mission statement, programs and services, marketing and outreach strategies, and a financial analysis. We like this sample plan because it demonstrates a strong commitment to social impact and outlines a clear strategy for achieving the organization’s goals.

Bank Business Plan Sample

Whether you’re seeking financing from a bank or other financial institution, Wise Business Plans can help you create a detailed and persuasive business plan.

Our bank business plan sample includes a thorough financial analysis, market research, and a strategy for achieving profitability, highlighting the key factors that banks consider when evaluating loan applications.

The bank business plan sample is tailored for businesses seeking financing from a bank or other financial institution. This plan includes a detailed financial analysis, market research, and a strategy for achieving profitability. We like this sample plan because it highlights the key factors that banks consider when evaluating loan applications, and provides a strong case for the borrower’s ability to repay the loan.

Cannabis Business Plan Sample

The cannabis industry is rapidly growing, and Wise Business Plans can help you enter it with confidence.

Our cannabis business plan sample includes a market analysis, operational strategy, and regulatory compliance a comprehensive overview of the unique challenges and opportunities in the industry and offering a clear roadmap for success.

The cannabis business plan sample is tailored for entrepreneurs seeking to enter the rapidly growing cannabis industry. This plan includes a market analysis, operational strategy, and regulatory compliance plan. We like this sample plan because it provides a comprehensive overview of the unique challenges and opportunities in the cannabis industry, and offers a clear roadmap for success.

The executive summary is a concise overview of your business plan, highlighting the key points of each section. It should capture the essence of your business, its mission, and the purpose of the business plan. This section should be written last, but it’s placed at the beginning of the business plan. Here is an example executive summary from our professional business plan written for Eplace Solution , an innovative e-commerce portal.

executive summary

  • Keep it brief and focused on key points.
  • Clearly define the problem and your solution.
  • Highlight market opportunities and growth potential.
  • Showcase your team’s qualifications.
  • Include financial projections.
  • End with a clear call to action.
  • Tailor it to your audience.
  • Review and update regularly.

the executive summary of a real estate business example

In this section, provide a detailed description of your company, including its history, legal structure, location, and vision. Explain your mission statement and core values that guide your business decisions. Use real-life examples of successful companies and how their strong company descriptions have contributed to their growth. In addition, you can reuse your company description on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business.

This section also allows you to describe how you register your business . Here you must choose whether your business is a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC , or another type of business .

Business Overview Example Screenshot

  • Describe your company’s mission and vision.
  • Explain what your business does and the problems it solves.
  • Mention your target market and customer base.
  • Highlight your unique selling points.
  • Provide a brief history and background.

A market analysis analyzes how you are positioned in the market, who your target customers are, what your product or service will offer them, and industry trends. It might be useful to do a SWOT analysis to discover your strengths and weaknesses to identify market gaps that you may be able to exploit to build your business.

As part of your market research, you’ll also need to perform a competitive analysis. It will give you an idea of who your competition is and how to differentiate your brand. Here’s an example of a competitive analysis we did for a food business.

Market Analysis

  • Research and understand your industry thoroughly.
  • Identify market trends and growth opportunities.
  • Analyze your competitors and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Define your target audience and their needs.
  • Include data and statistics to support your analysis.

market analysis summary

Adding products and services to a business plan involves more than listing your company’s offerings. If you intend to gain funding or partner with another business, your products, and services section needs to demonstrate your company’s quality, value, and benefits.

Here’s an example of a product and service section in the business plan we wrote for an e-commerce business that offers wedding accessories.

An example of Product and service section of business plan

  • Clearly describe your offerings and their features.
  • Explain how your products/services address customer needs.
  • Highlight any unique qualities or advantages.
  • Discuss your pricing strategy.
  • Mention any future product/service development plans.

Here is example of services section of a bank.

Example of Services Section

It is always a good idea to have a marketing plan before launching your business. A potential investor will want to know how you will advertise your business. Therefore, you should create a marketing plan that explains your planned promotion and customer acquisition strategies.

Discuss how you will make a sale. How will you attract customers and maximize their lifetime value? Ensure your marketing and sales forecasts align with your financial forecasts Marketing plans are usually based on the four Ps : product, price, place, and promotion. Breaking it down by marketing channels makes it easier. Discuss how you intend to market your business via blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth. Here is an example of marketing strategies we develop for a restaurant business.

Marketing plan of business plan screenshot

  • Define your marketing goals and objectives.
  • Outline your marketing strategies, including channels and tactics.
  • Explain your sales strategy and target sales goals.
  • Include a budget for marketing and sales activities.
  • Discuss your sales team and their roles.
  • Detail your customer acquisition and retention strategies.
  • Mention any partnerships or collaborations for marketing and sales.

Example of marketing and sales plan section of a bank

Example of Marketing and Sales Plan Section

The operation plan should include all the steps needed to run the business in the long run. The plan should include details about logistics, duties for each department of the company, and responsibilities for the team.

The main aspect of running a business is its costs. Whether it’s machinery or services, each requires capital.

how to write an operation plan in a business plan

  • Describe your day-to-day business operations.
  • Explain your supply chain and production processes.
  • Outline your facility and equipment requirements.
  • Discuss your quality control and efficiency measures.
  • Mention any legal and regulatory compliance considerations.
  • Detail your staffing and management structure.
  • Include contingency plans for potential disruptions.

In this section, you can describe your current team and the people you need to hire. You will need to highlight your team’s relevant experience if you intend to seek funding. Basically, this is where you demonstrate that this team can be successful in starting and growing the business.

Management summary of a business plan screenshot

  • Introduce your leadership team and their roles.
  • Highlight their relevant experience and qualifications.
  • Explain your organizational structure and hierarchy.
  • Discuss key personnel responsibilities and functions.
  • Mention any plans for team growth or development.
  • Address any advisory boards or external support.

Management summary of coffee shoppe business.

Here is Example of Management Summary

A financial plan should include sales and revenue forecasts, profit and loss statements , cash flow statements , and balance sheets .

Now, if you plan to pitch investors or submit a loan application, you’ll also need a “use of funds” report. Here you outline how you plan to leverage any funding you might acquire for your business.

With our business templates , you can create your own income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet.

Financial highlights of a business plan

  • Include detailed financial projections (income statement, cash flow, balance sheet).
  • Explain your funding requirements and sources.
  • Discuss your pricing and revenue model.
  • Describe your expense management and cost controls.
  • Mention any financial risks and mitigation strategies.
  • Highlight key financial milestones and goals.

Financial highlights of foodShack business.

Here is Example of Financial Highlights

External drivers refer to the external factors or influences that significantly impact the activity and growth of an industry. These drivers include outsourcing of non-core activities, changes in economic activity, competition from other industries, and the complexity of business legislation.

Additionally, external drivers encompass the effects of changes in new business formation, especially among small businesses, which directly affect the demand for services within the industry.

key External Driver

  • Identify and analyze current and emerging market trends in your industry.
  • Assess potential positive or negative impacts these trends may have on your business.
  • Evaluate broader economic conditions, including inflation rates, interest rates, and GDP growth.
  • Elucidate how changes in economic conditions could influence consumer behavior, product demand, and overall cost structure.
  • Outline key industry regulations and compliance requirements, discussing potential impacts on operations, costs, and market access.
  • Highlight relevant technological advancements and explain their potential effects on your product or service offerings, operations, and competitiveness.
  • Analyze current and potential future competitors, emphasizing the evolving competitive landscape’s impact on market share, pricing strategy, and overall business strategy.
  • Consider social and cultural factors influencing consumer preferences and behaviors, exploring how societal changes can affect product demand.
  • Evaluate environmental trends and regulations, discussing potential impacts on operations, supply chain, and customer perceptions.
  • Assess political stability, government policies, and geopolitical factors, exploring potential risks and opportunities from political changes.
  • Discuss global market conditions, analyzing how global economic trends, trade policies, and currency fluctuations may affect operations and expansion plans.
  • Identify and discuss potential risks in the supply chain, such as disruptions, shortages, or geopolitical issues.
  • Consider demographic shifts affecting your target market and discuss how changes may impact your customer base and marketing strategies.
  • Highlight key legal and regulatory factors affecting the business, discussing potential legal challenges, compliance costs, and regulatory changes.
  • Outline comprehensive risk management strategies, including contingency plans and risk mitigation strategies.
  • Explain how you will monitor external drivers and emphasize the importance of staying agile and responsive to changes in the external environment.

Tips Key External

The startup summary serves as a comprehensive overview of essential financial aspects, encompassing total startup expenses, the overall value of startup assets, and the total requirements, which is the cumulative sum of all expenses and startup investments.

It provides a clear financial snapshot, outlining the costs involved in launching the business, the value of assets acquired, and the overall financial needs for the startup.

This section is crucial for entrepreneurs and potential investors, offering a transparent understanding of the financial foundation required to initiate and sustain the business successfully.

This roadmap ensures a realistic evaluation of the business idea, identifying potential challenges and offering solutions.To write an effective plan, focus on what sets your venture apart from competitors, maintain conciseness, and embrace flexibility as a living document.

Answer fundamental questions about your business, create actionable checklists, execute the plan, and continually revise and update based on experiences and feedback.This iterative process fosters continuous improvement, helping entrepreneurs stay adaptable and enhance their business strategies over time.

Overview Example of Ecommerce Company

  • Clearly state the startup’s name and provide a concise description of its activities.
  • Include a succinct mission statement capturing the startup’s purpose and goals, reflecting its core values.
  • Specify the founding date and offer brief bios of key founders, highlighting relevant experience.
  • Summarize the startup’s concept, explaining offered products or services and key distinguishing features.
  • Clearly articulate the problem or need in the market that the startup addresses, defining the target audience.
  • State what makes the startup unique, whether it’s a special feature, market gap, or competitive advantage.
  • Provide a brief description of the market opportunity, covering target market size, trends, and growth prospects.
  • Outline how the startup plans to generate revenue, detailing streams, pricing strategy, and potential partnerships.
  • Offer a snapshot of the startup’s current status, highlighting key achievements such as product development or partnerships.
  • If seeking funding, clearly state the amount sought and its allocation, covering areas like product development and marketing.
  • Include a high-level financial summary with key projections for revenue, expenses, and profitability.
  • Briefly outline future aspirations and plans, encompassing areas like expansion, product development, or strategic partnerships.

The projected industry growth is a pivotal aspect that forecasts the expansion of a specific sector over a defined timeframe.

For instance, it could provide an estimate of where that particular business will be standing in the next 10 years, and what will be the average annual growth rate of that industry.

This information provides prospective investors and stakeholders with a clear understanding of the industry’s potential and positions the startup within a dynamic and flourishing market.

Projected Industry Growth

  • Emphasize the importance of industry trends and growth to your business.
  • Provide a concise overview, including market size, major players, and recent trends.
  • Briefly explain how you gathered data on industry growth projections (e.g., market research reports, expert interviews).
  • Identify and discuss prevailing trends, such as technological advancements, changes in consumer behavior, and regulatory shifts.
  • Summarize the industry’s historical growth, highlighting growth rates, market expansion, and notable milestones.
  • Highlight key factors expected to drive industry growth, such as emerging markets, technological innovations, and demographic shifts.
  • Discuss specific opportunities within the industry, including gaps in the market, underserved segments, or areas of competitive advantage.
  • Acknowledge potential challenges or risks that could impact industry growth, demonstrating a realistic understanding.
  • Present projections for future growth rates based on historical data, expert opinions, and your analysis. Include short-term and long-term projections.
  • Discuss how key competitors are positioned to leverage industry growth, emphasizing your business’s differentiation strategies.
  • Consider the regulatory landscape impacting growth, discussing anticipated changes and their potential effects on the industry.
  • Explore international trends and their implications for industry growth, including factors like global economic conditions and geopolitical influences.

Here is example of market analysis section of a bank.

Tips for Writing Projected Industry Growth

The break-even analysis serves as a vital financial tool, offering a detailed estimation of key metrics such as Sales Revenue, Cost of Sales, Gross Profit, Fixed Expenses, and Income Before Tax.

These critical components are visually presented through a bar graph, providing a clear and concise overview of the financial dynamics.

Additionally, the break-even analysis delves into a 12-month forecast, outlining the projected amount of revenue generated and the corresponding fixed costs.

This section is instrumental in helping stakeholders understand the financial threshold at which the business covers its costs and begins to generate profit.

Break Even Analysics

  • Define break-even analysis as a financial calculation where total revenue equals total costs.
  • Identify constant costs regardless of production or sales levels.
  • Enumerate and explain costs changing with production or sales.
  • Present the break-even analysis formula, indicating the units needed to cover costs.
  • Perform a practical break-even calculation using business-specific fixed costs, selling price, and variable cost per unit.
  • Include a break-even chart or graph for a visual understanding of cost-revenue dynamics.
  • Conduct a proactive sensitivity analysis to explore how changes in variables impact the break-even point.
  • Specify the anticipated timeframe to reach the break-even point in terms of months or units sold.
  • Clearly outline assumptions made in the analysis and provide justifications for transparency and credibility.
  • Acknowledge potential risks or challenges that may affect the accuracy of the break-even analysis.
  • Briefly mention contingency plans for difficulties in reaching the break-even point within the projected timeframe.

The management summary within the business plan provides a concise overview of the organizational structure and key personnel.

This includes a count of individuals, specifying the number of founders and operational team members integral to the organization.

The summary delves into the roles and responsibilities of each key figure, offering insights into the leadership dynamics driving the business.

Furthermore, the management summary sheds light on the financial aspect by presenting details about personal wages and payroll allocations for both founders and operational staff.

This comprehensive section ensures a clear understanding of the human resource framework and the financial commitments associated with the management team, crucial for stakeholders evaluating the business’s operational strength and leadership capability.

Mangement Summary

  • Highlighting the critical role the management team plays in the business’s success, the introduction emphasizes their significance.
  • Listing each key member with names, positions, and brief role summaries introduces the core of the management team.
  • Providing brief biographies for each team member underscores their relevant experience, skills, achievements, and industry-specific expertise.
  • Clearly outlining roles and responsibilities emphasizes how each team member’s skills contribute to the overall success of the business.
  • Sharing the team’s vision and strategy involves discussing key strategic goals and outlining the plans to achieve them.
  • Highlighting notable achievements or milestones showcases the team members’ successful ventures, industry recognition, or career accomplishments.
  • Discussing team dynamics emphasizes collaboration and the complementary nature of their skills in driving the business forward.
  • Introducing advisory board members, if applicable, underscores the additional guidance and expertise they bring to the business.
  • Discussing how the team plans to contribute to future growth and development includes strategies for talent acquisition, leadership development, and succession planning.
  • Touching on the team’s culture and values emphasizes their role in shaping the overall ethos of the business.
  • If seeking investment, briefly mentioning how the management team plans to use funding for business growth and development provides insight into their financial strategy.

Here is example of marketing and sales plan section of a bank.

Tips for Writing Management Summary

The financial indicators section within the business plan helps in evaluating the fiscal health and performance of the organization.

Year-after-year profitability estimates take center stage, encompassing key metrics such as gross margin, net profit margin, and EBITDA to revenue.

These indicators provide a comprehensive understanding of the business’s ability to generate profit relative to its revenue.

Furthermore, the financial indicators extend to leverage ratios, including the critical Debt to Equity ratio, Debt to Assets ratio, and Interest Coverage ratio.

These metrics illuminate the organization’s capital structure, debt management, and its capacity to meet interest obligations.

Liquidity ratios includes the Current Ratio and Current Debt to Total Asset Ratio.

These ratios provide insights into the company’s short-term financial health and its ability to meet immediate obligations.

The financial indicator toolbox is enriched with additional metrics, notably the Revenue to Equity ratio, which sheds light on the efficiency of generating revenue from equity investments.

Financial Indicator

  • Detailed revenue forecasts for the next 3-5 years. Breakdown by product/service and geographical regions.
  • Detailed breakdown of anticipated expenses. Include fixed and variable costs, operational expenses, and other relevant expenditures.
  • Historical P&L statements if available. Projected future profits and losses based on revenue and expense projections.
  • Outline of expected cash inflows and outflows. Emphasis on the ability to meet short-term obligations.
  • Snapshot of the company’s financial position. Includes assets, liabilities, and equity.
  • Calculation and presentation of key financial ratios (liquidity, solvency, profitability). Discussion on the significance of these ratios.
  • Identification and explanation of relevant KPIs. Highlighting alignment with the overall business strategy.
  • Discussion of potential financial risks. Mitigation strategies and addressing uncertainties.
  • Clear statement of the amount and purpose of funds required.
  • Outline of key assumptions underlying financial projections. Rationale for these assumptions.
  • Summary of industry financial trends and business positioning. Outlook on future financial prospects considering market dynamics.

Tips For Writing Financial Indicators

Looking For The Right Business Plan Format?

These sample business plans will provide you with a complete structure and format for your business plan, which will give you a head start on developing your document, so you won’t be stuck seeing an empty page and wondering what to write.

Simply going through the process of writing a business plan is one of its key benefits. If you sit down to write, you’ll naturally think about your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you’ll need to conduct. In addition to defining your position among your competitors, you will establish your goals and milestones.

You can see what should be included in a sample financial plan, but It is wrong to assume that a sample company’s financial projections will fit your own. If you need more resources to get you started, we recommend this guide on how to write a business plan .

In addition, you can download our 40+ free business plan templates covering a range of industries.

One-page business plans are short, compact, and to the point and are designed to make the plan easy to read at a glance. Make sure to include all of the sections, but truncate and summarize them

Start-up business plans are for businesses that are just getting started. They are usually developed to secure outside funding. In this regard, financials are of increased importance, as well as other sections that determine whether your business idea is viable, such as market research.

A strategic business plan lays out a company’s goals and how it will achieve them at a high level. It is a foundational document for the company as a whole. A strategic business plan allows all levels of the business to see the big picture, inspiring employees to work together to reach the company’s goals.

Developing a feasibility plan answers two primary questions about a business venture: who would purchase the service or product the company wants to sell, and if the venture is profitable.

Internal Business plans are geared to a specific audience within a company to keep your team on the same page and focused on the same goals.

In conclusion, whether you’re venturing into a traditional business or creating an innovative startup, the significance of a well-crafted business plan cannot be overstated. Different types of business plans cater to specific needs, from internal alignment to strategic expansion. Employing a template in MS Word ensures a polished presentation. The process of writing an executive summary, creating a plan, and defining the components of your business plan is essential.

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive and standard business plan can help guide your endeavors. Whether you choose to write a full business plan or opt for a one-page business overview, leveraging templates in MS Word can simplify the process. In essence, understanding the types of business plans and utilizing an executive summary template provides a structured approach to showcase your business overview.

Take inspiration from example business plans to tailor your strategy, ensuring a roadmap for success in the dynamic world of entrepreneurship. Always remember, a meticulously crafted business plan not only communicates your vision effectively but also serves as a valuable resource that can help secure investments and guide your business’s growth trajectory.

Begin with an executive summary, delve into market analysis, outline your strategies, create financial projections, and use available business plan examples as templates to guide your writing.

A comprehensive business plan template should encompass key sections such as an executive summary, business description, market analysis, marketing strategy, organizational structure, and financial projections. Seek templates online that cover these elements.

Tailor your business plan to the scale of your small business. Define your objectives clearly, outline cost-effective strategies, and emphasize agility in adapting to market changes.

Explore well-crafted business plan examples you can visit our website  wisebusinessplan.

The fundamental components include an executive summary, business description, market analysis, marketing and sales strategy, organizational structure, product/service description, and financial projections.

Investors focus on growth potential, detailed financial projections, market analysis, competition analysis, and the qualifications and experience of your management team when reviewing a business plan.

To find a business plan example for a tech startup,you can visit our visit wisebusinessplan .

A business plan provides a comprehensive overview of your entire business, including strategies, operations, and financials. In contrast, a business proposal typically focuses on a specific project or offer, outlining the details and benefits to a potential client.

Craft an engaging executive summary by summarizing your business’s mission, highlighting the market opportunity, showcasing your product or service, and providing a concise overview of your financial projections.

Seek tailored business plan examples for nonprofit organizations you can visit wisebusinessplan .

These business plans are written by MBA writers. Real-world use cases were used in these plans.

Get our business plan writing and consultation service.

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Download 14 Professional Business Plan Samples

Your Full Name

Free PDF Business Plan Templates and Samples

By Joe Weller | September 9, 2020

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We’ve gathered the most useful collection of business plan PDF templates and samples, including options for organizations of any size and type.

On this page, you’ll find free PDF templates for a simple business plan , small business plan , startup business plan , and more.

Simple Business Plan PDF Templates

These simple business plan PDF templates are ready to use and customizable to fit the needs of any organization.

Simple Business Plan Template PDF

Simple Business Plan Template

This template contains a traditional business plan layout to help you map out each aspect, from a company overview to sales projections and a marketing strategy. This template includes a table of contents, as well as space for financing details that startups looking for funding may need to provide. 

Download Simple Business Plan Template - PDF

Lean Business Plan Template PDF

Lean Business Plan Template

This scannable business plan template allows you to easily identify the most important elements of your plan. Use this template to outline key details pertaining to your business and industry, product or service offerings, target customer segments (and channels to reach them), and to identify sources of revenue. There is also space to include key performance metrics and a timeline of activities. 

Download Lean Business Plan Template - PDF

Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template PDF

Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

This template is designed to help you develop and implement a 90-day business plan by breaking it down into manageable chunks of time. Use the space provided to detail your main goals and deliverables for each timeframe, and then add the steps necessary to achieve your objectives. Assign task ownership and enter deadlines to ensure your plan stays on track every step of the way.

Download Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

PDF | Smartsheet

One-Page Business Plan PDF Templates

The following single page business plan templates are designed to help you download your key ideas on paper, and can be used to create a pitch document to gain buy-in from partners, investors, and stakeholders.

One-Page Business Plan Template PDF

example of business plan introduction pdf

Use this one-page template to summarize each aspect of your business concept in a clear and concise manner. Define the who, what, why, and how of your idea, and use the space at the bottom to create a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) for your business. 

Download One-Page Business Plan Template

If you’re looking for a specific type of analysis, check out our collection of SWOT templates .

One-Page Lean Business Plan PDF

One Page Lean Business Plan Template

This one-page business plan template employs the Lean management concept, and encourages you to focus on the key assumptions of your business idea. A Lean plan is not stagnant, so update it as goals and objectives change — the visual timeline at the bottom is ideal for detailing milestones. 

Download One-Page Lean Business Plan Template - PDF

One-Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

One Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

Use this business plan template to identify main goals and outline the necessary activities to achieve those goals in 30, 60, and 90-day increments. Easily customize this template to fit your needs while you track the status of each task and goal to keep your business plan on target. 

Download One-Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

For additional single page plans, including an example of a one-page business plan , visit " One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."

Small Business Plan PDF Templates

These business plan templates are useful for small businesses that want to map out a way to meet organizational objectives, including how to structure, operate, and expand their business.

Simple Small Business Plan Template PDF

Simple Small Business Plan Template

A small business can use this template to outline each critical component of a business plan. There is space to provide details about product or service offerings, target audience, customer reach strategy, competitive advantage, and more. Plus, there is space at the bottom of the document to include a SWOT analysis. Once complete, you can use the template as a basis to build out a more elaborate plan. 

Download Simple Small Business Plan Template

Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template PDF

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

This fill-in-the-blank template walks you through each section of a business plan. Build upon the fill-in-the-blank content provided in each section to add information about your company, business idea, market analysis, implementation plan, timeline of milestones, and much more.

Download Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template - PDF

One-Page Small Business Plan Template PDF

One Page Business Plan For Small Business Template

Use this one-page template to create a scannable business plan that highlights the most essential parts of your organization’s strategy. Provide your business overview and management team details at the top, and then outline the target market, market size, competitive offerings, key objectives and success metrics, financial plan, and more.

Download One-Page Business Plan for Small Business - PDF

Startup Business Plan PDF Templates

Startups can use these business plan templates to check the feasibility of their idea, and articulate their vision to potential investors.

Startup Business Plan Template

Startup Business Plan Template

Use this business plan template to organize and prepare each essential component of your startup plan. Outline key details relevant to your concept and organization, including your mission and vision statement, product or services offered, pricing structure, marketing strategy, financial plan, and more.

‌Download Startup Business Plan Template

Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup

Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup

Startups can use this sample 30-60-90 day plan to establish main goals and deliverables spanning a 90-day period. Customize the sample goals, deliverables, and activities provided on this template according to the needs of your business. Then, assign task owners and set due dates to help ensure your 90-day plan stays on track.

‌Download Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup Template 

For additional resources to create your plan, visit “ Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples .”

Nonprofit Business Plan PDF Templates

Use these business plan PDF templates to outline your organization’s mission, your plan to make a positive impact in your community, and the steps you will take to achieve your nonprofit’s goals.

Nonprofit Business Plan Template PDF

Fill-in-the-Blank Nonprofit Business Plan Template

Use this customizable PDF template to develop a plan that details your organization’s purpose, objectives, and strategy. This template features a table of contents, with room to include your nonprofit’s mission and vision, key team and board members, program offerings, a market and industry analysis, promotional plan, financial plan, and more. This template also contains a visual timeline to display historic and future milestones.

Download Nonprofit Business Plan Template - PDF

One-Page Business Plan for Nonprofit Organization PDF 

One Page Business Plan for Nonprofit Organizations Template

This one-page plan serves as a good starting point for established and startup nonprofit organizations to jot down their fundamental goals and objectives. This template contains all the essential aspects of a business plan in a concise and scannable format, including the organizational overview, purpose, promotional plan, key objectives and success metrics, fundraising goals, and more.

Download One-Page Business Plan for Nonprofit Organization Template - PDF

Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan PDF Templates

Use these fill-in-the-blank templates as a foundation for creating a comprehensive roadmap that aligns your business strategy with your marketing, sales, and financial goals.

Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan PDF

The fill-in-the-blank template contains all the vital parts of a business plan, with sample content that you can customize to fit your needs. There is room to include an executive summary, business description, market analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, financial statements, and more. 

Download Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Template - PDF

Lean Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan PDF

Fill-in-the-Blank Lean  Business Plan Template

This business plan is designed with a Lean approach that encourages you to clarify and communicate your business idea in a clear and concise manner. This single page fill-in-the-blank template includes space to provide details about your management team, the problem you're solving, the solution, target customers, cost structure, and revenue streams. Use the timeline at the bottom to produce a visual illustration of key milestones. 

Download Fill-In-the-Blank Lean Business Plan Template - PDF

For additional resources, take a look at " Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates ."

Sample Business Plan PDF Templates

These sample business plan PDF templates can help you to develop an organized, thorough, and professional business plan.

Business Plan Sample 

Basic Business Plan Sample

This business plan example demonstrates a plan for a fictional food truck company. The sample includes all of the elements in a traditional business plan, which makes it a useful starting point for developing a plan specific to your business needs.

Download Basic Business Plan Sample - PDF

Sample Business Plan Outline Template

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Use this sample outline as a starting point for your business plan. Shorten or expand the outline depending on your organization’s needs, and use it to develop a table of contents for your finalized plan.

Download Sample Business Plan Outline Template - PDF

Sample Business Financial Plan Template

Business Financial Plan Template

Use this sample template to develop the financial portion of your business plan. The template provides space to include a financial overview, key assumptions, financial indicators, and business ratios. Complete the break-even analysis and add your financial statements to help prove the viability of your organization’s business plan.

Download Business Financial Plan Template

PDF  | Smartsheet

For more free, downloadable templates for all aspects of your business, check out “ Free Business Templates for Organizations of All Sizes .”

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Library Home

Business Plan Development Guide

(6 reviews)

example of business plan introduction pdf

Lee Swanson, University of Saskatchewan

Copyright Year: 2017

Publisher: OPENPRESS.USASK.CA

Language: English

Formats Available

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Reviewed by Kevin Heupel, Affiliate Faculty, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 3/4/20

The text does a good job of providing a general outline about writing and developing a written business plan. All of the important steps and components are included. However, the text is light on details, examples, and rationale for each element... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 3 see less

The text does a good job of providing a general outline about writing and developing a written business plan. All of the important steps and components are included. However, the text is light on details, examples, and rationale for each element of the business plan. Some examples from actual business plans would be helpful.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

For the most part, the content is accurate. The content covers all important aspects of drafting a business plan. I thought the industry analysis could use more information about collecting primary and secondary sources; instead, this information was referenced in the marketing plan section.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

Most of the content relies on cites as far back as 2006; however, when it comes to developing and writing a business plan nothing has changed. Thus, the content is current and there is no concern about it becoming obsolete in the near future.

Clarity rating: 4

The text is clear. There are no difficult terms used and the writing is simple. The text uses a lot of bullet points though, which gets tedious to read for a few pages.

Consistency rating: 5

The text does a good job of maintaining consistency in terms of framework and terminology. The text is organized where it's easy to find the information you want in a quick manner.

Modularity rating: 3

The text has a lot of bullet points and the paragraphs are dense. However, the use of subheading is excellent.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The book is organized as if you're writing a business plan from start to finish, which is helpful as a practical guide.

Interface rating: 5

There are no navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, or any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

The text is free of grammatical errors. The sentence structure is simple with many bullet points, which helps to avoid any grammatical issues.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

This book was written by a Canadian professor and provides references to Canadian sources. However, the information in this text can be used for U.S. schools.

This book is very short and provides a good, general overview about the process of creating and writing a business plan. It won't help a reader if he/she is confused about a certain part of the business plan. The reader will have to find another source, such as "Preparing Effective Business Plans" by Bruce Barringer, Ph.D. The book provides links to good resources and a finished business plan that the reader can reference. I would recommend the book for undergraduate courses.

example of business plan introduction pdf

Reviewed by Kenneth Lacho, Professor of Management, The University of New Orleans on 6/19/18

1. Text is relevant to Canada. Not the United States 2. Needs to cover resources available to entrepreneur, e.g., federal government agencies, trade associations, chambers of commerce, economic development agencies. 3. Discuss local economy or... read more

1. Text is relevant to Canada. Not the United States 2. Needs to cover resources available to entrepreneur, e.g., federal government agencies, trade associations, chambers of commerce, economic development agencies. 3. Discuss local economy or economic area relevant to this proposed business. 4. Business model ok as a guide. 5. Suggested mission statement to cover: product/business, target customer, geographical area covered. 6. Need detailed promotion plan, e.g., personal selling, advertising, sales promotion, networking publicity, and social media. 7. How do you find the target market? 8. Chapter 6 too much detail on debt and equity financing. 9. Discuss how to find sources of financing, e.g., angels. 10. Expand coverage of bootstring, crowdfunding. 11. Chapter 4 – good checklist. 12. Chapter 3 - overlaps. 13. Chapter 7 – 3 pages of executive summary – double or single spaced typing. Number all tables, graphs. 14. Some references out-of-date, mostly academic. Bring in trade magazines such as Entrepreneur.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

In my opinion, the content is accurate and error free.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

The material is relevant to writing a business plan. I wonder if the Porter, SWOT VRIO, etc. material is too high level for students who may not be seniors or have non-business degrees (e.g., liberal arts). Porter has been around for a while and does have longevity. The author has to be more alert to changes in promotion, e.g., social media and sources of financing, e.g., crowdfunding.

Clarity rating: 3

As noted in No. 9, the tone of the writing is too academic, thus making the material difficult to understand. Paragraphs are too long. Need to define: Porter, TOWS Matrix, VRIO, PESTEL. A student less from a senior or a non-business major would not be familiar with these terms.

Consistency rating: 4

The text is internally consistent. The model approach helps keep the process consistent.

Modularity rating: 4

The process of developing a business plan is divided into blocks which are parts of the business plan. Paragraphs tend to be too long in some spots.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

The topics are presented in a logical step-wise flow. The language style is too academic in parts, paragraphs too long. Leaves out the citations. Provides excellent check lists.

There are no display features which confuse the reader.

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

The text has no grammatical errors. On the other hand, I found the writing to be too academic in nature. Some paragraphs are too long. The material is more like an academic conference paper or journal submission. Academic citations references are not needed. The material is not exciting to read.

The text is culturally neutral. There are no examples which are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

This book best for a graduate class.

Reviewed by Louis Bruneau, Part Time Faculty, Portland Community College on 6/19/18

The text provides appropriate discussion and illustration of all major concepts and useful references to source and resource materials. read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

The text provides appropriate discussion and illustration of all major concepts and useful references to source and resource materials.

Contents of the book were accurate, although it could have benefited from editing/proofreading; there was no evidence of bias. As to editing/proofreading, a couple of examples: A. “Figure 1 – Business Plan… “ is shown at the top of the page following the diagram vs. the bottom of the page the diagram is on. (There are other problems with what is placed on each page.) B. First paragraph under heading “Essential Initial Research” there is reference to pages 21 to 30 though page numbering is missing from the book. (Page numbers are used in the Table of Contents.)

The book is current in that business planning has been stable for sometime. The references and resources will age in time, but are limited and look easy to update.

Clarity rating: 5

The book is written in a straightforward way, technical terms that needed explanations got them, jargon was avoided and generally it was an easy read.

The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework.

Modularity rating: 5

The book lends itself to a multi-week course. A chapter could be presented and students could work on that stage of Plan development. It could also be pre-meeting reading for a workshop presentation. Reorganizing the book would be inappropriate.

The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion.

Generally, the book is free of interface problems. The financial tables in the Sample Plan were turned 90° to maintain legibility. One potential problem was with Figure 6 – Business Model Canvas. The print within the cells was too small to read; the author mitigated the problem by presenting the information, following Figure 6, in the type font of the text.

I found no grammatical errors.

The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

I require a business plan in a course I teach; for most of the students the assignment is a course project that they do not intend to pursue in real life. I shared the book with five students that intended to develop an actual start-up business; three of them found it helpful while the other two decided not to do that much work on their plans. If I were planning a start-up, I would use/follow the book.

Reviewed by Todd Johnson, Faculty of Business, North Hennepin Community College on 5/21/18

The text is a thorough overview of all elements of a business plan. read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

The text is a thorough overview of all elements of a business plan.

The content is accurate and seems to lack bias.

Content seems relevant and useful . It does not help an entrepreneur generate ideas, and is very light on crowdfunding and other novel funding source content. It is more traditional. This can be easily updated in future versions, however. "Social Media" appears once in the book, as does "Crowd Funding".

The book is comprehensive, but perhaps not written in the most lucid, accessible prose. I am not sure any college student could pick this up and just read and learn. It would be best used as a "teach along guide" for students to process with an instructor.

The text seems consistent. The author does a nice job of consistently staying on task and using bullets and brevity.

Here I am not so certain. The table of contents is not a good guide for this book. It does make the book look nicely laid out, but there is a lot of complexity within these sections. I read it uncertain that it was well organized. Yes there are many good bits of information, however it is not as if I could spend time on one swathe of text at a time. I would need to go back and forth throughout the text.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 2

Similar to the above. I did not like the flow and organization of this. An editor would help things be in a more logical order.

Interface rating: 2

The interface is just OK. It is not an attractice interface, as it presents text in a very dense manner. The images and charts are hard to follow.

I did not find any grammatical errors.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

I a not certain of the origins of Saskatchewan, but I do feel this is a different read. It is more formal and dense than it has to be. This would be a difficult read for my students. I do not feel it is insensitive in any way, or offensive in any way.

I would not adopt this book if given the chance. It is too dense, and not organized very well, even though the information is very good. The density and lack of modularity are barriers to understanding what is obviously very good information.

Reviewed by Mariana Mitova, Lecturer, Bowling Green State University on 2/1/18

Though this textbook has a prescriptive nature, it is quite comprehensive. The author strikes a good balance between presenting concepts in a concise way and providing enough information to explain them. Many every-day examples and live links to... read more

Though this textbook has a prescriptive nature, it is quite comprehensive. The author strikes a good balance between presenting concepts in a concise way and providing enough information to explain them. Many every-day examples and live links to other resources add to the completeness of the textbook.

Content seems accurate.

Since the content is somewhat conceptual, the text will not become obsolete quickly. In addition, the author seems to be updating and editing content often hence the relevance to current developments is on target.

The text is very clear, written in clear and straight-to-the point language.

The organization of content is consistent throughout the entire text.

The textbook is organized by chapters, beginning with overview of the model used and followed by chapters for each concept within the model. Nicely done.

The flow is clear, logical and easy to follow.

Overall, images, links, and text are well organized. Some headlines were misaligned but still easy to follow.

No concerns for grammar.

No concerns for cultural irrelevance.

Reviewed by Darlene Weibye, Cosmetology Instructor, Minnesota State Community and Technical College on 2/1/18

The text is comprehensive and covers the information needed to develop a business plan. The book provides all the means necessary in business planning. read more

The text is comprehensive and covers the information needed to develop a business plan. The book provides all the means necessary in business planning.

The text was accurate, and error-free. I did not find the book to be biased.

The content is up-to-date. I am reviewing the book in 2017, the same year the book was published.

The content was very clear. A business plan sample included operation timelines, start up costs, and all relevant material in starting a business.

The book is very consistent and is well organized.

The book has a table of contents and is broken down into specific chapters. The chapters are not divided into sub topics. I do not feel it is necessary for sub topics because the chapters are brief and to the point.

There is a great flow from chapter to chapter. One topic clearly leads into the next without repeating.

The table of contents has direct links to each chapter. The appearance of the chapters are easy to read and the charts are very beneficial.

Does not appear to have any grammatical errors.

The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.

I am incorporating some of the text into the salon business course. Very well written book.

Table of Contents

Introduction

  • Chapter 1 – Developing a Business Plan
  • Chapter 2 – Essential Initial Research
  • Chapter 3 – Business Models
  • Chapter 4 – Initial Business Plan Draft
  • Chapter 5 – Making the Business Plan Realistic
  • Chapter 6 – Making the Plan Appeal to Stakeholders and Desirable to the Entrepreneur
  • Chapter 7 – Finishing the Business Plan
  • Chapter 8 – Business Plan Pitches

References Appendix A – Business Plan Development Checklist and Project Planner Appendix B – Fashion Importers Inc. Business Plan Business Plan Excel Template

Ancillary Material

About the book.

This textbook and its accompanying spreadsheet templates were designed with and for students wanting a practical and easy-to-follow guide for developing a business plan. It follows a unique format that both explains what to do and demonstrates how to do it.

About the Contributors

Dr. Lee Swanson is an Associate Professor of Management and Marketing at the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan. His research focuses on entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, Aboriginal entrepreneurship, community capacity-building through entrepreneurship, and institutional-stakeholder engagement. Dr. Swanson’s current research is funded through a Social Sciences Humanities Research Council grant and focuses on social and economic capacity building in Northern Saskatchewan and Northern Scandinavia. He is also actively studying Aboriginal community partnerships with resource based companies, entrepreneurship centres at universities, community-based entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial attitudes and intentions. He teaches upper-year and MBA entrepreneurship classes and conducts seminars on business planning and business development.

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550+ Free Sample Business Plans

550+ Business Plan Examples to Launch Your Business

550+ Free Sample Business Plans

Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration.

Find your business plan example

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Business plan template: There's an easier way to get your business plan done.

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View all sample business plans

Example business plan format

Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the business plan samples in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your business plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.

Your executive summary should include a summary of the problem you are solving, a description of your product or service, an overview of your target market, a brief description of your team, a summary of your financials, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).

Products & services

The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.

This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.

Market analysis

Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.

Competition

Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.

To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how your business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.

Marketing & sales

The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.

The operations section in our business plan examples covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.

Milestones & metrics

The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.

A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.

You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.

Company & team

Use this section of your business plan to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.

Financial projections

Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.

Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this business plan section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.

The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your business plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.

Types of business plans explained

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. To get the most out of your business plan, it's best to find a format that suits your needs. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan

The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used for external purposes. Typically this is the type of plan you'll need when applying for funding or pitching to investors. It can also be used when training or hiring employees, working with vendors, or in any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual.

Business model canvas

The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.

The structure ditches a linear format in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It's faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations.

One-page business plan

The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan . This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business.

By starting with a one-page plan , you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You'll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan.

Growth planning

Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.

It holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27 minutes . However, it's even easier to convert into a more detailed business plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remains stable through times of crisis.

It's faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your business plan is always up-to-date.

Download a free sample business plan template

Ready to start writing your own business plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2024.

This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan sample is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.

How to use an example business plan to help you write your own

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How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at business plan examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a business plan sample.

Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company

You don't need to find an example of a business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the business plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a business plan sample that's related to the type of business you're starting.

For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.

Use a business plan example as a guide

Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example of a business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your business plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.

One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.

You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example of a business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.

If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template .

Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document

Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.

Adjust your business plan regularly to use it as a business management tool

Keep in mind that businesses that use their business plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.

If things are going well, your business plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.

Prepare to pitch your business

If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.

Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily we have a round-up of real-world pitch deck examples used by successful startups that you can review and reference as you build your pitch.

For more resources, check out our full Business Pitch Guide .

Ready to get started?

Now that you know how to use an example of a business plan to help you write a plan for your business, it's time to find the right one.

Use the search bar below to get started and find the right business plan example for your business idea.

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example of business plan introduction pdf

Business Plan Example and Template

Learn how to create a business plan

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that contains the operational and financial plan of a business, and details how its objectives will be achieved. It serves as a road map for the business and can be used when pitching investors or financial institutions for debt or equity financing .

Business Plan - Document with the words Business Plan on the title

A business plan should follow a standard format and contain all the important business plan elements. Typically, it should present whatever information an investor or financial institution expects to see before providing financing to a business.

Contents of a Business Plan

A business plan should be structured in a way that it contains all the important information that investors are looking for. Here are the main sections of a business plan:

1. Title Page

The title page captures the legal information of the business, which includes the registered business name, physical address, phone number, email address, date, and the company logo.

2. Executive Summary

The executive summary is the most important section because it is the first section that investors and bankers see when they open the business plan. It provides a summary of the entire business plan. It should be written last to ensure that you don’t leave any details out. It must be short and to the point, and it should capture the reader’s attention. The executive summary should not exceed two pages.

3. Industry Overview

The industry overview section provides information about the specific industry that the business operates in. Some of the information provided in this section includes major competitors, industry trends, and estimated revenues. It also shows the company’s position in the industry and how it will compete in the market against other major players.

4. Market Analysis and Competition

The market analysis section details the target market for the company’s product offerings. This section confirms that the company understands the market and that it has already analyzed the existing market to determine that there is adequate demand to support its proposed business model.

Market analysis includes information about the target market’s demographics , geographical location, consumer behavior, and market needs. The company can present numbers and sources to give an overview of the target market size.

A business can choose to consolidate the market analysis and competition analysis into one section or present them as two separate sections.

5. Sales and Marketing Plan

The sales and marketing plan details how the company plans to sell its products to the target market. It attempts to present the business’s unique selling proposition and the channels it will use to sell its goods and services. It details the company’s advertising and promotion activities, pricing strategy, sales and distribution methods, and after-sales support.

6. Management Plan

The management plan provides an outline of the company’s legal structure, its management team, and internal and external human resource requirements. It should list the number of employees that will be needed and the remuneration to be paid to each of the employees.

Any external professionals, such as lawyers, valuers, architects, and consultants, that the company will need should also be included. If the company intends to use the business plan to source funding from investors, it should list the members of the executive team, as well as the members of the advisory board.

7. Operating Plan

The operating plan provides an overview of the company’s physical requirements, such as office space, machinery, labor, supplies, and inventory . For a business that requires custom warehouses and specialized equipment, the operating plan will be more detailed, as compared to, say, a home-based consulting business. If the business plan is for a manufacturing company, it will include information on raw material requirements and the supply chain.

8. Financial Plan

The financial plan is an important section that will often determine whether the business will obtain required financing from financial institutions, investors, or venture capitalists. It should demonstrate that the proposed business is viable and will return enough revenues to be able to meet its financial obligations. Some of the information contained in the financial plan includes a projected income statement , balance sheet, and cash flow.

9. Appendices and Exhibits

The appendices and exhibits part is the last section of a business plan. It includes any additional information that banks and investors may be interested in or that adds credibility to the business. Some of the information that may be included in the appendices section includes office/building plans, detailed market research , products/services offering information, marketing brochures, and credit histories of the promoters.

Business Plan Template - Components

Business Plan Template

Here is a basic template that any business can use when developing its business plan:

Section 1: Executive Summary

  • Present the company’s mission.
  • Describe the company’s product and/or service offerings.
  • Give a summary of the target market and its demographics.
  • Summarize the industry competition and how the company will capture a share of the available market.
  • Give a summary of the operational plan, such as inventory, office and labor, and equipment requirements.

Section 2: Industry Overview

  • Describe the company’s position in the industry.
  • Describe the existing competition and the major players in the industry.
  • Provide information about the industry that the business will operate in, estimated revenues, industry trends, government influences, as well as the demographics of the target market.

Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition

  • Define your target market, their needs, and their geographical location.
  • Describe the size of the market, the units of the company’s products that potential customers may buy, and the market changes that may occur due to overall economic changes.
  • Give an overview of the estimated sales volume vis-à-vis what competitors sell.
  • Give a plan on how the company plans to combat the existing competition to gain and retain market share.

Section 4: Sales and Marketing Plan

  • Describe the products that the company will offer for sale and its unique selling proposition.
  • List the different advertising platforms that the business will use to get its message to customers.
  • Describe how the business plans to price its products in a way that allows it to make a profit.
  • Give details on how the company’s products will be distributed to the target market and the shipping method.

Section 5: Management Plan

  • Describe the organizational structure of the company.
  • List the owners of the company and their ownership percentages.
  • List the key executives, their roles, and remuneration.
  • List any internal and external professionals that the company plans to hire, and how they will be compensated.
  • Include a list of the members of the advisory board, if available.

Section 6: Operating Plan

  • Describe the location of the business, including office and warehouse requirements.
  • Describe the labor requirement of the company. Outline the number of staff that the company needs, their roles, skills training needed, and employee tenures (full-time or part-time).
  • Describe the manufacturing process, and the time it will take to produce one unit of a product.
  • Describe the equipment and machinery requirements, and if the company will lease or purchase equipment and machinery, and the related costs that the company estimates it will incur.
  • Provide a list of raw material requirements, how they will be sourced, and the main suppliers that will supply the required inputs.

Section 7: Financial Plan

  • Describe the financial projections of the company, by including the projected income statement, projected cash flow statement, and the balance sheet projection.

Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits

  • Quotes of building and machinery leases
  • Proposed office and warehouse plan
  • Market research and a summary of the target market
  • Credit information of the owners
  • List of product and/or services

Related Readings

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Business Plans. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful:

  • Corporate Structure
  • Three Financial Statements
  • Business Model Canvas Examples
  • See all management & strategy resources
  • Share this article

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How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)

example of business plan introduction pdf

Have you ever wondered how to write a business plan step by step? Mike Andes, told us: 

This guide will help you write a business plan to impress investors.

Throughout this process, we’ll get information from Mike Andes, who started Augusta Lawn Care Services when he was 12 and turned it into a franchise with over 90 locations. He has gone on to help others learn how to write business plans and start businesses.  He knows a thing or two about writing  business plans!

We’ll start by discussing the definition of a business plan. Then we’ll discuss how to come up with the idea, how to do the market research, and then the important elements in the business plan format. Keep reading to start your journey!

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is simply a road map of what you are trying to achieve with your business and how you will go about achieving it. It should cover all elements of your business including: 

  • Finding customers
  • Plans for developing a team
  •  Competition
  • Legal structures
  • Key milestones you are pursuing

If you aren’t quite ready to create a business plan, consider starting by reading our business startup guide .

Get a Business Idea

Before you can write a business plan, you have to have a business idea. You may see a problem that needs to be solved and have an idea how to solve it, or you might start by evaluating your interests and skills. 

Mike told us, “The three things I suggest asking yourself when thinking about starting a business are:

  • What am I good at?
  • What would I enjoy doing?
  • What can I get paid for?”

Three adjoining circles about business opportunity

If all three of these questions don’t lead to at least one common answer, it will probably be a much harder road to success. Either there is not much market for it, you won’t be good at it, or you won’t enjoy doing it. 

As Mike told us, “There’s enough stress starting and running a business that if you don’t like it or aren’t good at it, it’s hard to succeed.”

If you’d like to hear more about Mike’s approach to starting a business, check out our YouTube video

Conduct Market Analysis

Market analysis is focused on establishing if there is a target market for your products and services, how large the target market is, and identifying the demographics of people or businesses that would be interested in the product or service. The goal here is to establish how much money your business concept can make.

Product and Service Demand

An image showing product service and demand

A search engine is your best friend when trying to figure out if there is demand for your products and services. Personally, I love using presearch.org because it lets you directly search on a ton of different platforms including Google, Youtube, Twitter, and more. Check out the screenshot for the full list of search options.

With quick web searches, you can find out how many competitors you have, look through their reviews, and see if there are common complaints about the competitors. Bad reviews are a great place to find opportunities to offer better products or services. 

If there are no similar products or services, you may have stumbled upon something new, or there may just be no demand for it. To find out, go talk to your most honest friend about the idea and see what they think. If they tell you it’s dumb or stare at you vacantly, there’s probably no market for it.

You can also conduct a survey through social media to get public opinion on your idea. Using Facebook Business Manager , you could get a feel for who would be interested in your product or service.

 I ran a quick test of how many people between 18-65  you could reach in the U.S. during a week. It returned an estimated 700-2,000 for the total number of leads, which is enough to do a fairly accurate statistical analysis.

Identify Demographics of Target Market

Depending on what type of business you want to run, your target market will be different. The narrower the demographic, the fewer potential customers you’ll have. If you did a survey, you’ll be able to use that data to help define your target audience. Some considerations you’ll want to consider are:

  • Other Interests
  • Marital Status
  • Do they have kids?

Once you have this information, it can help you narrow down your options for location and help define your marketing further. One resource that Mike recommended using is the Census Bureau’s Quick Facts Map . He told us,  

“It helps you quickly evaluate what the best areas are for your business to be located.”

How to Write a Business Plan

Business plan development

Now that you’ve developed your idea a little and established there is a market for it, you can begin writing a business plan. Getting started is easier with the business plan template we created for you to download. I strongly recommend using it as it is updated to make it easier to create an action plan. 

Each of the following should be a section of your business plan:

  • Business Plan Cover Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Description of Products and Services

SWOT Analysis

  • Competitor Data
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Marketing Expenses Strategy 

Pricing Strategy

  • Distribution Channel Assessment
  • Operational Plan
  • Management and Organizational Strategy
  • Financial Statements and/or Financial Projections

We’ll look into each of these. Don’t forget to download our free business plan template (mentioned just above) so you can follow along as we go. 

How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page

The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions.

A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:

  • Professionally designed logo
  • Company name
  • Mission or Vision Statement
  • Contact Info

Basically, think of a cover page for your business plan like a giant business card. It is meant to capture people’s attention but be quickly processed.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 2. Create a Table of Contents

Most people are busy enough that they don’t have a lot of time. Providing a table of contents makes it easy for them to find the pages of your plan that are meaningful to them.

A table of contents will be immediately after the cover page, but you can include it after the executive summary. Including the table of contents immediately after the executive summary will help investors know what section of your business plan they want to review more thoroughly.

Check out Canva’s article about creating a  table of contents . It has a ton of great information about creating easy access to each section of your business plan. Just remember that you’ll want to use different strategies for digital and hard copy business plans.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 3. Write an Executive Summary

A notepad with a written executive summary for business plan writing

An executive summary is where your business plan should catch the readers interest.  It doesn’t need to be long, but should be quick and easy to read.

Mike told us,

How long should an executive summary bein an informal business plan?

For casual use, an executive summary should be similar to an elevator pitch, no more than 150-160 words, just enough to get them interested and wanting more. Indeed has a great article on elevator pitches .  This can also be used for the content of emails to get readers’ attention.

It consists of three basic parts:

  • An introduction to you and your business.
  • What your business is about.
  • A call to action

Example of an informal executive summary 

One of the best elevator pitches I’ve used is:

So far that pitch has achieved a 100% success rate in getting partnerships for the business.

What should I include in an executive summary for investors?

Investors are going to need a more detailed executive summary if you want to secure financing or sell equity. The executive summary should be a brief overview of your entire business plan and include:

  • Introduction of yourself and company.
  • An origin story (Recognition of a problem and how you came to solution)
  • An introduction to your products or services.
  • Your unique value proposition. Make sure to include intellectual property.
  • Where you are in the business life cycle
  • Request and why you need it.

Successful business plan examples

The owner of Urbanity told us he spent 2 months writing a 75-page business plan and received a $250,000 loan from the bank when he was 23. Make your business plan as detailed as possible when looking for financing. We’ve provided a template to help you prepare the portions of a business plan that banks expect.

Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:

When to write an executive summary?

Even though the summary is near the beginning of a business plan, you should write it after you complete the rest of a business plan. You can’t talk about revenue, profits, and expected expenditures if you haven’t done the market research and created a financial plan.

What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?

Business owners commonly go into too much detail about the following items in an executive summary:

  • Marketing and sales processes
  • Financial statements
  • Organizational structure
  • Market analysis

These are things that people will want to know later, but they don’t hook the reader. They won’t spark interest in your small business, but they’ll close the deal.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description

Every business plan should include a company description. A great business plan will include the following elements while describing the company:

  • Mission statement
  • Philosophy and vision
  • Company goals

Target market

  • Legal structure

Let’s take a look at what each section includes in a good business plan.

Mission Statement

A mission statement is a brief explanation of why you started the company and what the company’s main focus is. It should be no more than one or two sentences. Check out HubSpot’s article 27 Inspiring Mission Statement for a great read on informative and inspiring mission and vision statements. 

Company Philosophy and Vision

Writing the company philosophy and vision

The company philosophy is what drives your company. You’ll normally hear them called core values.  These are the building blocks that make your company different. You want to communicate your values to customers, business owners, and investors as often as possible to build a company culture, but make sure to back them up.

What makes your company different?

Each company is different. Your new business should rise above the standard company lines of honesty, integrity, fun, innovation, and community when communicating your business values. The standard answers are corporate jargon and lack authenticity. 

Examples of core values

One of my clients decided to add a core values page to their website. As a tech company they emphasized the values:

  •  Prioritize communication.
  •  Never stop learning.
  •  Be transparent.
  •  Start small and grow incrementally.

These values communicate how the owner and the rest of the company operate. They also show a value proposition and competitive advantage because they specifically focus on delivering business value from the start. These values also genuinely show what the company is about and customers recognize the sincerity. Indeed has a great blog about how to identify your core values .

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement communicate the long lasting change a business pursues. The vision helps investors and customers understand what your company is trying to accomplish. The vision statement goes beyond a mission statement to provide something meaningful to the community, customer’s lives, or even the world.

Example vision statements

The Alzheimer’s Association is a great example of a vision statement:

A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.

It clearly tells how they want to change the world. A world without Alzheimers might be unachievable, but that means they always have room for improvement.

Business Goals

You have to measure success against goals for a business plan to be meaningful. A business plan helps guide a company similar to how your GPS provides a road map to your favorite travel destination. A goal to make as much money as possible is not inspirational and sounds greedy.

Sure, business owners want to increase their profits and improve customer service, but they need to present an overview of what they consider success. The goals should help everyone prioritize their work.

How far in advance should a business plan?

Business planning should be done at least one year in advance, but many banks and investors prefer three to five year business plans. Longer plans show investors that the management team  understands the market and knows the business is operating in a constantly shifting market. In addition, a plan helps businesses to adjust to changes because they have already considered how to handle them.

Example of great business goals

My all time-favorite long-term company goals are included in Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux . These goals were written in 2016 and drive the company’s decisions through 2026. They are the reason that investors are so forgiving when Elon Musk continually fails to meet his quarterly and annual goals.

If the progress aligns with the business plan investors are likely to continue to believe in the company. Just make sure the goals are reasonable or you’ll be discredited (unless you’re Elon Musk).

A man holding an iPad with a cup of coffee on his desk

You did target market research before creating a business plan. Now it’s time to add it to the plan so others understand what your ideal customer looks like. As a new business owner, you may not be considered an expert in your field yet, so document everything. Make sure the references you use are from respectable sources. 

Use information from the specific lender when you are applying for lending. Most lenders provide industry research reports and using their data can strengthen the position of your business plan.

A small business plan should include a section on the external environment. Understanding the industry is crucial because we don’t plan a business in a vacuum. Make sure to research the industry trends, competitors, and forecasts. I personally prefer IBIS World for my business research. Make sure to answer questions like:

  • What is the industry outlook long-term and short-term?
  • How will your business take advantage of projected industry changes and trends?
  • What might happen to your competitors and how will your business successfully compete?

Industry resources

Some helpful resources to help you establish more about your industry are:

  • Trade Associations
  • Federal Reserve
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Legal Structure

There are five basic types of legal structures that most people will utilize:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

Partnerships

Corporations.

  • Franchises.

Each business structure has their pros and cons. An LLC is the most common legal structure due to its protection of personal assets and ease of setting up. Make sure to specify how ownership is divided and what roles each owner plays when you have more than one business owner.

You’ll have to decide which structure is best for you, but we’ve gathered information on each to make it easier.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the easiest legal structure to set up but doesn’t protect the owner’s personal assets from legal issues. That means if something goes wrong, you could lose both your company and your home.

To start a sole proprietorship, fill out a special tax form called a  Schedule C . Sole proprietors can also join the American Independent Business Alliance .

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is the most common business structure used in the United States because an LLC protects the owner’s personal assets. It’s similar to partnerships and corporations, but can be a single-member LLC in most states. An LLC requires a document called an operating agreement.

Each state has different requirements. Here’s a link to find your state’s requirements . Delaware and Nevada are common states to file an LLC because they are really business-friendly. Here’s a blog on the top 10 states to get an LLC.

Partnerships are typically for legal firms. If you choose to use a partnership choose a Limited Liability Partnership. Alternatively, you can just use an LLC.

Corporations are typically for massive organizations. Corporations have taxes on both corporate and income tax so unless you plan on selling stock, you are better off considering an LLC with S-Corp status . Investopedia has good information corporations here .

An iPad with colored pens on a desk

There are several opportunities to purchase successful franchises. TopFranchise.com has a list of companies in a variety of industries that offer franchise opportunities. This makes it where an entrepreneur can benefit from the reputation of an established business that has already worked out many of the kinks of starting from scratch.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 5. Products and Services

This section of the business plan should focus on what you sell, how you source it, and how you sell it. You should include:

  • Unique features that differentiate your business products from competitors
  • Intellectual property
  • Your supply chain
  • Cost and pricing structure 

Questions to answer about your products and services

Mike gave us a list  of the most important questions to answer about your product and services:

  • How will you be selling the product? (in person, ecommerce, wholesale, direct to consumer)?
  • How do you let them know they need a product?
  • How do you communicate the message?
  • How will you do transactions?
  • How much will you be selling it for?
  • How many do you think you’ll sell and why?

Make sure to use the worksheet on our business plan template .

How to Write a Business Plan Step 6. Sales and Marketing Plan

The marketing and sales plan is focused on the strategy to bring awareness to your company and guides how you will get the product to the consumer.  It should contain the following sections:

SWOT Analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Not only do you want to identify them, but you also want to document how the business plans to deal with them.

Business owners need to do a thorough job documenting how their service or product stacks up against the competition.

If proper research isn’t done, investors will be able to tell that the owner hasn’t researched the competition and is less likely to believe that the team can protect its service from threats by the more well-established competition. This is one of the most common parts of a presentation that trips up business owners presenting on Shark Tank .

SWOT Examples

Business plan SWOT analysis

Examples of strengths and weaknesses could be things like the lack of cash flow, intellectual property ownership, high costs of suppliers, and customers’ expectations on shipping times.

Opportunities could be ways to capitalize on your strengths or improve your weaknesses, but may also be gaps in the industry. This includes:

  • Adding offerings that fit with your current small business
  • Increase sales to current customers
  • Reducing costs through bulk ordering
  • Finding ways to reduce inventory
  •  And other areas you can improve

Threats will normally come from outside of the company but could also be things like losing a key member of the team. Threats normally come from competition, regulations, taxes, and unforeseen events.

The management team should use the SWOT analysis to guide other areas of business planning, but it absolutely has to be done before a business owner starts marketing. 

Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan

When you plan a business, taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the competition is key to navigating the field. Providing an overview of your competition and where they are headed shows that you are invested in understanding the industry.

For smaller businesses, you’ll want to search both the company and the owners names to see what they are working on. For publicly held corporations, you can find their quarterly and annual reports on the SEC website .

What another business plans to do can impact your business. Make sure to include things that might make it attractive for bigger companies to outsource to a small business.

Marketing Strategy

The marketing and sales part of business plans should be focused on how you are going to make potential customers aware of your business and then sell to them.

If you haven’t already included it, Mike recommends:

“They’ll want to know about Demographics, ages, and wealth of your target market.”

Make sure to include the Total addressable market .  The term refers to the value if you captured 100% of the market.

Advertising Strategy

You’ll explain what formats of advertising you’ll be using. Some possibilities are:

  • Online: Facebook and Google are the big names to work with here.
  • Print : Print can be used to reach broad groups or targeted markets. Check out this for tips .
  • Radio : iHeartMedia is one of the best ways to advertise on the radio
  • Cable television : High priced, hard to measure ROI, but here’s an explanation of the process
  • Billboards: Attracting customers with billboards can be beneficial in high traffic areas.

You’ll want to define how you’ll be using each including frequency, duration, and cost. If you have the materials already created, including pictures or links to the marketing to show creative assets.

Mike told us “Most businesses are marketing digitally now due to Covid, but that’s not always the right answer.”

Make sure the marketing strategy will help team members or external marketing agencies stay within the brand guidelines .

An iPad with graph about pricing strategy

This section of a business plan should be focused on pricing. There are a ton of pricing strategies that may work for different business plans. Which one will work for you depends on what kind of a business you run.

Some common pricing strategies are:

  • Value-based pricing – Commonly used with home buying and selling or other products that are status symbols.
  • Skimming pricing – Commonly seen in video game consoles, price starts off high to recoup expenses quickly, then reduces over time.
  • Competition-based pricing – Pricing based on competitors’ pricing is commonly seen at gas stations.
  • Freemium services –  Commonly used for software, where there is a free plan, then purchase options for more functionality.

HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.

Beyond explaining what strategy your business plans to use, you should include references for how you came to this pricing strategy and how it will impact your cash flow.

Distribution Plan

This part of a business plan is focused on how the product or service is going to go through the supply chain. These may include multiple divisions or multiple companies. Make sure to include any parts of the workflow that are automated so investors can see where cost savings are expected and when.

Supply Chain Examples

For instance, lawn care companies  would need to cover aspects such as:

  • Suppliers for lawn care equipment and tools
  • Any chemicals or treatments needed
  • Repair parts for sprinkler systems
  • Vehicles to transport equipment and employees
  • Insurance to protect the company vehicles and people.

Examples of Supply Chains

These are fairly flat supply chains compared to something like a clothing designer where the clothes would go through multiple vendors. A clothing company might have the following supply chain:

  • Raw materials
  • Shipping of raw materials
  • Converting of raw materials to thread
  • Shipping thread to produce garments
  • Garment producer
  • Shipping to company
  • Company storage
  • Shipping to retail stores

There have been advances such as print on demand that eliminate many of these steps. If you are designing completely custom clothing, all of this would need to be planned to keep from having business disruptions.

The main thing to include in the business plan is the list of suppliers, the path the supply chain follows, the time from order to the customer’s home, and the costs associated with each step of the process.

According to BizPlanReview , a business plan without this information is likely to get rejected because they have failed to research the key elements necessary to make sales to the customer.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 7. Company Organization and Operational Plan

This part of the business plan is focused on how the business model will function while serving customers.  The business plan should provide an overview of  how the team will manage the following aspects:

Quality Control

  • Legal environment

Let’s look at each for some insight.

Production has already been discussed in previous sections so I won’t go into it much. When writing a business plan for investors, try to avoid repetition as it creates a more simple business plan.

If the organizational plan will be used by the team as an overview of how to perform the best services for the customer, then redundancy makes more sense as it communicates what is important to the business.

A wooden stamp with the words "quality control"

Quality control policies help to keep the team focused on how to verify that the company adheres to the business plan and meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Quality control can be anything from a standard that says “all labels on shirts can be no more than 1/16″ off center” to a defined checklist of steps that should be performed and filled out for every customer.

There are a variety of organizations that help define quality control including:

  • International Organization for Standardization – Quality standards for energy, technology, food, production environments, and cybersecurity
  • AICPA – Standard defined for accounting.
  • The Joint Commission – Healthcare
  • ASHRAE – HVAC best practices

You can find lists of the organizations that contribute most to the government regulation of industries on Open Secrets . Research what the leaders in your field are doing. Follow their example and implement it in your quality control plan.

For location, you should use information from the market research to establish where the location will be. Make sure to include the following in the location documentation.

  • The size of your location
  • The type of building (retail, industrial, commercial, etc.)
  • Zoning restrictions – Urban Wire has a good map on how zoning works in each state
  • Accessibility – Does it meet ADA requirements?
  • Costs including rent, maintenance, utilities, insurance and any buildout or remodeling costs
  • Utilities – b.e.f. has a good energy calculator .

Legal Environment

The legal requirement section is focused on defining how to meet the legal requirements for your industry. A good business plan should include all of the following:

  • Any licenses and/or permits that are needed and whether you’ve obtained them
  • Any trademarks, copyrights, or patents that you have or are in the process of applying for
  • The insurance coverage your business requires and how much it costs
  • Any environmental, health, or workplace regulations affecting your business
  • Any special regulations affecting your industry
  • Bonding requirements, if applicable

Your local SBA office can help you establish requirements in your area. I strongly recommend using them. They are a great resource.

Your business plan should include a plan for company organization and hiring. While you may be the only person with the company right now, down the road you’ll need more people. Make sure to consider and document the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the current leadership structure and what will it look like in the future?
  • What types of employees will you have? Are there any licensing or educational requirements?
  • How many employees will you need?
  • Will you ever hire freelancers or independent contractors?
  • What is each position’s job description?
  • What is the pay structure (hourly, salaried, base plus commission, etc.)?
  • How do you plan to find qualified employees and contractors?

One of the most crucial parts of a business plan is the organizational chart. This simply shows the positions the company will need, who is in charge of them and the relationship of each of them. It will look similar to this:

Organization chart

Our small business plan template has a much more in-depth organizational chart you can edit to include when you include the organizational chart in your business plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements 

No business plan is complete without financial statements or financial projections. The business plan format will be different based on whether you are writing a business plan to expand a business or a startup business plan. Let’s dig deeper into each.

Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business

An existing business should use their past financial documents including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement to find trends to estimate the next 3-5 years.

You can create easy trendlines in excel to predict future revenue, profit and loss, cash flow, and other changes in year-over-year performance. This will show your expected performance assuming business continues as normal.

If you are seeking an investment, then the business is probably not going to continue as normal. Depending on the financial plan and the purpose of getting financing, adjustments may be needed to the following:

  • Higher Revenue if expanding business
  • Lower Cost of Goods Sold if purchasing inventory with bulk discounts
  • Adding interest if utilizing financing (not equity deal)
  • Changes in expenses
  • Addition of financing information to the cash flow statement
  • Changes in Earnings per Share on the balance sheet

Financial modeling is a challenging subject, but there are plenty of low-cost courses on the subject. If you need help planning your business financial documentation take some time to watch some of them.

Make it a point to document how you calculated all the changes to the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in your business plan so that key team members or investors can verify your research.

Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan

Unlike an existing business, a startup doesn’t have previous success to model its future performance. In this scenario, you need to focus on how to make a business plan realistic through the use of industry research and averages.

Mike gave the following advice in his interview:

Financial Forecasting Mistakes

One of the things a lot of inexperienced people use is the argument, “If I get one percent of the market, it is worth $100 million.” If you use this, investors are likely to file the document under bad business plan examples.

Let’s use custom t-shirts as an example.

Credence Research estimated in 2018 there were 11,334,800,000 custom t-shirts sold for a total of $206.12 Billion, with a 6% compound annual growth rate.

With that data,  you can calculate that the industry will grow to $270 Billion in 2023 and that the average shirt sold creates $18.18 in revenue.

Combine that with an IBIS World estimate of 11,094 custom screen printers and that means even if you become an average seller, you’ll get .009% of the market.

Here’s a table for easier viewing of that information.

A table showing yearly revenue of a business

The point here is to make sure your business proposal examples make sense.

You’ll need to know industry averages such as cost of customer acquisition, revenue per customer, the average cost of goods sold, and admin costs to be able to create accurate estimates.

Our simple business plan templates walk you through most of these processes. If you follow them you’ll have a good idea of how to write a business proposal.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 9. Business Plan Example of Funding Requests

What is a business plan without a plan on how to obtain funding?

The Small Business Administration has an example for a pizza restaurant that theoretically needed nearly $20k to make it through their first month.

In our video, How to Start a $500K/Year T-Shirt Business (Pt. 1 ), Sanford Booth told us he needed about $200,000 to start his franchise and broke even after 4 months.

Freshbooks estimates it takes on average 2-3 years for a business to be profitable, which means the fictitious pizza company from the SBA could need up to $330k to make it through that time and still pay their bills for their home and pizza shop.

Not every business needs that much to start, but realistically it’s a good idea to assume that you need a fairly large cushion.

Ways to get funding for a small business

There are a variety of ways to cover this. the most common are:

  • Bootstrapping – Using your savings without external funding.
  • Taking out debt – loans, credit cards
  • Equity, Seed Funding – Ownership of a percentage of the company in exchange for current funds
  • Crowdsourcing – Promising a good for funding to create the product

Keep reading for more tips on how to write a business plan.

How funding will be used

When asking for business financing make sure to include:

  • How much to get started?
  • What is the minimum viable product and how soon can you make money?
  • How will the money be spent?

Mike emphasized two aspects that should be included in every plan, 

How to Write a Business Plan Resources

Here are some links to a business plan sample and business plan outline. 

  • Sample plan

It’s also helpful to follow some of the leading influencers in the business plan writing community. Here’s a list:

  • Wise Plans –  Shares a lot of information on starting businesses and is a business plan writing company.
  • Optimus Business Plans –  Another business plan writing company.
  • Venture Capital – A venture capital thread that can help give you ideas.

How to Write a Business Plan: What’s Next?

We hope this guide about how to write a simple business plan step by step has been helpful. We’ve covered:

  • The definition of a business plan
  • Coming up with a business idea
  • Performing market research
  • The critical components of a business plan
  • An example business plan

In addition, we provided you with a simple business plan template to assist you in the process of writing your startup business plan. The startup business plan template also includes a business model template that will be the key to your success.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our business hub .

Have you written a business plan before? How did it impact your ability to achieve your goals?

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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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This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.

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Home >> #realtalk Blog >> Manage a business >> Writing an Effective…

Writing an Effective One-Page Business Plan: What You Need to Know (+ Free Template)

By Homebase Team

Person writing in a notebook

If you’ve started—or are starting—a small business, you’ve probably heard the words ‘business plan’ thrown around. That’s because a business plan is an important document with important information! Even a one-page business plan can help you address key questions early in the planning process.

That’s right—we said  one page. In many cases, there’s no need for a supermassive document that takes ages to create. In this article, we walk you through what a good business plan needs—and what a business plan one-pager should contain. 

Whether you’re writing your business plan for the first time or giving your existing plan a refresh, we’ve got your back. We’ve even got a free, downloadable business plan template to help you get started. Let’s get into it!

Why do you need a business plan?

A business plan is a blueprint for your business. It outlines everything your business needs, from goals to market to the steps you need to implement.

Business plans serve two main purposes:

  • To help you set your business up for success. As you put together your business plan, you’ll be forced to think strategically about all your business goals and activities . Are they realistic? Is something likely to go wrong? What haven’t you thought of? The goal is for you to walk away feeling confident in the future of your business.
  • To communicate the value of your business to others. It’s rare that entrepreneurs like yourself will go it 100% alone. You’ll likely work with partners, investors, or vendors to bring your small business to life. A business plan gives your collaborators confidence in you and your business and helps them support you in the best way possible.

Taking the time to create a business plan can feel like you’re wasting all-too-precious time, but it can help keep you focused and increase efficiency down the road. It’ll also help you make better business decisions off the bat so you can grow your small business quickly and wisely. 

What are the 7 main points in a business plan?

Every business plan is unique, which is part of the reason writing one can feel a tad overwhelming. You can’t just copy and paste the plan from another business—instead, you need to assess your business’s idea within its niche.

Luckily, the skeleton of every plan is usually very similar. Whether you’re creating a plan for a neighborhood daycare or that cool new bar down the street , here are a few main points to put into any comprehensive business plan.

1. Executive summary

Your executive summary is an overview of your business plan. 

Think about this section like a TL;DR or too long, don’t read . If someone wants to understand the gist of your business plan in just a few minutes, what information would they need to know?

If you find yourself just sharing your executive summary with your business’s interested parties, it may be that your business plan is too long! Consider a one-page business plan as your business’s elevator pitch, or a longer executive summary.

2. Company overview and description

In this section, you should introduce your business to the reader. By the time they finish reading this section, they should have a good idea of who you are, what you do, and what you sell—in other words, your business’s niche.

Don’t be afraid to dive into your own background and why you decided to start this business. Building a small business is personal, and your story can go a long way in giving the reader some context.

3. Market and competitive analysis

Every business needs customers. Here’s where you’ll detail who they are and the potential target market of your business, including your ideal customer.

You’ll also want to take note of potential competitors that may impact your business. These might be direct competitors, but could also be similar businesses that may compete for your customers’ time and money. For example, if you’re opening a cycling studio, you might consider any other type of fitness studio to be a competitor.

Competition isn’t a bad thing, but being aware of your competition is one way to ensure your business stands out from the crowd. 

4. Business offerings

Here’s where you’ll outline what products or services your business will offer in more detail. It doesn’t have to be a complete laundry list, but it should give readers a general idea and show a certain degree of forethought and attention to details.

For example, if you’re opening a bakery , this might be a sample of your menu. Or if you’re an HVAC repair company , you might share an overview of the services you’ll offer your customers. This section might even mention the products or services you won’t offer and why, especially if it helps clarify how your business is unique.

5. Management and operational plan

From managing employees and inventory to securing equipment and a lease, there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly. Every business plan should touch on how you’ll manage the day-to-day of your business.

This is also a great place to indicate key milestones and timelines so you know that you’re on track for a successful grand opening. 

6. Sales, marketing, and PR strategy

Now that you’ve got all the research and operational plans in place , it’s time to start attracting customers and securing those sales. Even with the best products or services in town, every business can use a little marketing boost. Feel free to get creative. From social media to paid ads, there are tons of ways you can spread the word about your budding business . 

7. Financial forecast and budget

No one loves to crunch financials, but when it comes to business, money talks. And a strong financial plan is key to the long-term success of your business.

This final section of your business plan should estimate the costs, revenue, and profits of your business in the short and long term. How do you plan to finance your business? What costs will you incur before opening day ? What are the ongoing costs?

Not only will this give your vendors and investors confidence in your business, but it helps you make sure that your business is profitable in the long run.

What is a one-page business plan?

A one-page business plan is essentially a condensed version of a full business plan.  

It covers all the core information about your business without overwhelming the reader with details. The goal is to summarize your business plan for yourself and potential stakeholders so they can understand your business at a glance.

Depending on your business needs, this concise document may even be all you need to get your business off the ground. Or it could serve as a stepping stone to a more robust plan in the future. 

Top benefits of a one-page business plan.

Bigger isn’t always better—and one-page business plans are here to prove it.

Here are some benefits and reasons why you might opt for a one-page business plan:

  • To kickstart your business planning: A full business plan can be incredibly daunting. A one-page business plan gives you a place to start without feeling overwhelmed with the nitty gritty. 
  • To share and distribute: Sometimes potential vendors, partners, or investors want to get more information about your business before they sign on officially. Instead of leaving them with a massive document, a one-page business plan helps you share the relevant need-to-know information easily.
  • To focus on the key details: If you’re early on in the business ideation process and want to make sure you have all the important information, a one-page business plan can help you easily validate your business plan.
  • To save time: In the long term, you may still expect to put together a full business plan at some point. However, if you’re in a time crunch, a one-page plan can help you get the important insights without the time commitment.
  • To easily edit: In an ever-changing business environment, a one-page business plan is much easier to keep updated. 

Key details to include in a one-page business plan.

Above, we outlined the key components of any business plan. The key with a one-pager is to keep it brief without losing any of those important details. 

Let’s look at the sections of a business plan one-pager and dig into how you can adapt them to cover all the details of your business—all on one page. 

Summary and overview

Start your one-page plan by sharing the name of your business, what you do, and your main value proposition.

The problem—and your solution

In a few sentences, share the problem that your business solves and how you solve it. This clarifies why your business should exist, so it’s an important section!

Depending on your business, you may also want to share a few of your team members to help readers put a face to your business. Great examples include the executive chef for a restaurant, or the lead veterinarian for your vet clinic.

Target market

Briefly describe who you expect to be a customer and their characteristics. This could be in the form of a short “ideal customer” profile.

Competitor overview

Here, you’ll touch on potential competitors and what makes your business stand out.

Business timeline

Share the key milestones for your business. For example, pitch when you’ll start marketing your business, when you’ll hire employees , and when you expect to open.

Sales and marketing plan

Here, you’ll quickly highlight the key marketing activities that you’ll use to drive new customers to your business. Try to stick to the most interesting or high-value stuff, like a website or social media .

Financial projections

Outline your expected revenue , expenses, and profits to give the reader an idea of your financial future.

Our tips for creating a one-page business plan.

If you’ve ever written something with a limited word count, you know that sometimes keeping things concise can be easier said than done.

As you get writing your one-page business plan, here are some of our top tips so you can make the most of that one page.

  • Focus on the need-to-know information.
  • Avoid fluff and keep your sentences short.
  • Link out to additional resources and material if more information is necessary.
  • Don’t be afraid to strategically incorporate visuals to emphasize the important points.
  • Feel free to up sections or have different versions of your one-page business plan based on who’s reading it. 
  • Get creative with formatting to keep information organized.

One-page business plan example.

If you’re skeptical that all that information can fit on one page—we have proof!  Here’s an example that you can use to start thinking about your business plan.

Example of business plan

Download our free one-page business plan template.

A one-page business plan is one of the most important pages you’ll write for your business. While there’s a lot to think about, it’s worth the effort to give both you and your partners peace of mind.

The good news is that we’ve done the heavy lifting for you! If the above one-pager looks good to you, we’ve pulled it together as a download for you. All that’s left for you to customize it for your unique business, fill in the sections, and get ready to launch your business.

Download your one-page business plan template PDF

As you think about starting your business, think about how you’re going to keep track of your team! Get your business on track with one app to manage everything from employee scheduling to team communication.

Get your team in sync with our easy-to-use, all-in-one employee app.

One-page business plan FAQs

Why should you create a business plan.

There are several reasons you should create a business plan, such as:

  • Improving your decision-making as you start and grow your business.
  • Setting realistic goals and timelines.
  • Attracting top-notch suppliers, investors, and even employees.
  • Keeping your business profitable and your financials in order.

What types of companies need a business plan?

From brand-new small businesses to established corporations, companies of all shapes and sizes need a business plan. It’s a key part of setting your business up for success and improving your business trajectory.

Even if you already have a business plan in place, revisiting it from time to time can help you stay on track with your goals and adapt as your business changes.

Can a business plan be one page?

Yes, in many cases a business page can be one page. The trick to creating an effective one-page business plan is making sure that you’re covering the most important pieces of information. 

Our top tips? Keep it as concise and organized as possible, so you can effectively communicate the value of your business to your audience.

Writing a one-page business plan is simple. You can create a business plan from scratch or use a free template like the one above to stay on track, but generally, the steps to writing a one-page business plan include:

  • Start with a short executive summary and value proposition to introduce your business.
  • Share the problem your business solves and your solution.
  • Give an outline of top competitors and how your business compares.
  • Create a timeline of key milestones.
  • Outline your sales and marketing plan for attracting customers.
  • Summarize your financial projections and funding plans.

Remember:  This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

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Introduction to standardization in business reporting.

Posted on June 27, 2024 by Numbers around us in R bloggers | 0 Comments

Why Standardization Matters

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Hey there! Thanks for joining me on this exciting journey into the world of International Business Communication Standards (IBCS). Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of the SUCCESS acronym, let’s take a step back and chat about why standardization in business reporting is such a game-changer. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by messy reports with inconsistent formatting, you’re not alone. I’ve been there too, staring at a sea of numbers that don’t quite add up.

Standardization in business reporting ensures that data is presented in a consistent manner, enhancing comprehensibility and comparability across different reports. Imagine flipping through different reports where each one tells its story in its own unique language — confusing, right? Standardization is like translating all those languages into one that everyone can understand easily.

Consistency is Key

Think of standardized reports as a well-organized bookshelf. You know exactly where to find what you’re looking for, and every book (or in this case, piece of data) is presented in a way that makes sense. This consistency is crucial for making informed business decisions quickly and accurately. No more wasting time trying to figure out what’s what!

I remember a time when I was working on a project that involved analyzing sales data across multiple brands. Each region had its own way of reporting — different formats, different terminologies, and different visualization styles. It was a nightmare to compile all this information into a coherent report. That’s when I discovered the power of standardization. By applying consistent formats and visual styles, the report not only became easier to read but also revealed insights that were previously hidden in the chaos.

Time-Saving and Efficiency

Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to save time? Standardization not only reduces the risk of misinterpretation but also enhances the efficiency of report generation and review processes. Once you have a standardized template, creating new reports becomes a breeze. You can focus more on analyzing the data rather than formatting the report.

Understanding IBCS Standards

Now that we’ve established why standardization is so important, let’s get to know IBCS. The International Business Communication Standards provide a comprehensive framework for the design of business communication, particularly in the context of reports, presentations, and dashboards. The goal of IBCS is to improve the clarity, efficiency, and effectiveness of business communications.

The SUCCESS Formula

The heart of IBCS is the SUCCESS formula:

  • SAY : Convey a clear message.
  • UNIFY : Apply consistent semantic notation.
  • CONDENSE : Increase information density.
  • CHECK : Ensure visual integrity.
  • EXPRESS : Choose proper visualization.
  • SIMPLIFY : Avoid clutter.
  • STRUCTURE : Organize content logically.

Let’s break down each component briefly:

  • SAY : It’s all about making your key message unmistakably clear. Your audience should be able to grasp the main point at a glance. This involves using clear titles, highlighting key figures, and ensuring that the message is front and center.
  • UNIFY : Consistency is key. This principle ensures that all visual elements (like colors, shapes, and fonts) are used consistently throughout your reports. This helps in creating a familiar look and feel, making it easier for readers to navigate and understand.
  • CONDENSE : More information doesn’t necessarily mean more clutter. This principle focuses on presenting data in a compact and dense format, without overwhelming the reader. Think of using small multiples, sparklines, and condensed tables that pack a lot of information in a small space.
  • CHECK : Accuracy and integrity are paramount. This involves verifying the data, ensuring that scales and labels are accurate, and avoiding any visual misrepresentations. It’s about being honest and precise with your visuals.
  • EXPRESS : Choosing the right type of visualization for your data is crucial. This principle guides you on selecting the most effective chart types to convey your message clearly, whether it’s bar charts, line charts, scatter plots, or more advanced visualizations.
  • SIMPLIFY : Less is more. Avoiding unnecessary elements and focusing on what’s important helps in reducing cognitive load on the reader. This means removing gridlines, reducing colors, and using white space effectively.
  • STRUCTURE : Organize your content logically. This involves structuring your reports in a way that guides the reader through the data naturally. Sections, subsections, and a logical flow of information are essential here.

Clarity and Comprehension

I’ve been standardizing reports in my previous roles for quite some time. But I only came across IBCS recently, and let me tell you, I’m absolutely loving it as a framework. It has transformed the way I think about presenting data. Suddenly, my reports are not just a collection of numbers but a coherent story that my audience can easily understand and act upon. Each element of the SUCCESS formula plays a critical role in achieving this clarity.

Practical Steps to Implement Standardization

Alright, let’s get practical. How can you start standardizing your reports? Here’s a step-by-step guide that I’ve found incredibly useful:

  • Evaluate Current Practices : Start by evaluating your current reporting practices. Identify inconsistencies and areas for improvement. Trust me, you’ll find plenty of “aha!” moments here.
  • Educate and Train : Educate your team about the importance of standardization and the principles of IBCS. Knowledge is power, after all. Conduct workshops or training sessions to get everyone on the same page.
  • Develop Templates and Tools : Develop standardized templates and tools that align with IBCS guidelines. This step is crucial for ensuring consistency across all reports. Tools like Quarto can be incredibly helpful here.
  • Monitor and Collect Feedback : Regularly review your reports for compliance with the standards and gather feedback from users. Continuous improvement is the name of the game. Set up a feedback loop where users can suggest improvements and share their experiences.

Personal Experience in Implementation

In my previous role, we initiated a project to standardize our sales reports. Initially, there was some resistance — change is always hard. But after a few training sessions and some hands-on practice, the team started to see the benefits. The reports were not only easier to produce but also much more impactful. We even started receiving positive feedback from our clients who appreciated the clarity of our presentations.

Here’s a personal tip: Start small. Implement standardization in one type of report first. This approach allows you to refine the process and make adjustments before rolling it out across all reports.

Challenges and Solutions

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. We faced challenges like getting everyone to adopt the new standards and ensuring consistency across all reports. But with persistent effort and open communication, we overcame these hurdles. The key was to make everyone understand the long-term benefits of standardization.

One challenge we faced was with custom reports requested by different departments. These reports often deviated from the standard format. Our solution was to create a flexible template that allowed for some customization while still adhering to the core IBCS principles. This compromise ensured that the reports remained standardized but could still meet the specific needs of each department.

Types of Data Analysis

Before we dive deeper into reporting, let’s quickly touch on the different types of data analysis. Understanding these will help you tailor your reports to your specific needs.

Descriptive Analysis: The What

Descriptive analysis is all about summarizing past data to understand what happened. Think of it as the “what” of your data. It’s like looking at your car’s speedometer to see how fast you went. This type of analysis uses statistics like mean, median, and mode to describe the data.

For instance, if we look at the nycflights13 R dataset, a descriptive analysis might involve calculating the average delay time for flights, the total number of flights, or the distribution of flight delays across different months. This helps to paint a clear picture of historical performance.

Diagnostic Analysis: The Why

Diagnostic analysis moves us to the “why.” This type of analysis examines data to understand why something happened. It’s like figuring out why your car’s speed dropped suddenly — maybe there was a traffic jam? Diagnostic analysis involves looking at correlations and potential causal relationships to uncover the reasons behind certain trends or anomalies.

In the context of nycflights13, we might investigate why certain flights are delayed more frequently. This could involve examining variables like weather conditions, carrier performance, or airport congestion. Understanding these factors can help pinpoint the causes of delays.

Predictive Analysis: The What Might Happen

Predictive analysis uses statistical models and forecasting techniques to predict future outcomes based on historical data. It’s like forecasting whether you’ll hit traffic on your next trip based on past experiences. This type of analysis helps in anticipating future trends and making proactive decisions.

Using nycflights13, a predictive analysis might involve forecasting future flight delays based on historical delay patterns and upcoming weather forecasts. This can help airlines and passengers plan better and mitigate potential issues.

Prescriptive Analysis: The What Should We Do

Finally, prescriptive analysis provides recommendations for actions based on predictive analysis. It’s like your GPS suggesting an alternate route to avoid that predicted traffic jam. This type of analysis uses algorithms to suggest various courses of action and their potential outcomes.

For nycflights13, prescriptive analysis could recommend optimal flight schedules or routes to minimize delays. It might also suggest operational changes, like adjusting staffing levels during peak hours or implementing new maintenance protocols.

Reporting Delivery Platforms

Not all reports are created equal, and neither are the platforms we use to deliver them. Let’s break down the different platforms and how they impact standardization:

Interactive Dashboards

Interactive dashboards are dynamic and allow users to explore data in real-time. Standardization here ensures consistency across various views and interactions. Think of platforms like Power BI or Tableau. These dashboards are great for providing an overview and enabling detailed drill-downs.

Using the nycflights13 dataset, an interactive dashboard might include various widgets and filters that allow users to view flight performance by date, carrier, or destination. Ensuring that these elements are standardized makes the dashboard intuitive and user-friendly.

Presentations

Presentations are typically used for communicating key findings to stakeholders. Standardized slides enhance clarity and ensure that key messages are consistently communicated. PowerPoint or Google Slides are your friends here.

Imagine preparing a quarterly review using nycflights13 data. A standardized presentation template would include consistent slide layouts, color schemes, and fonts, making it easier for the audience to follow along and understand the insights.

Static Reports

Static reports provide a fixed snapshot of data. Standardization in static reports ensures that all necessary information is included and presented clearly. PDF reports or printed documents often fall into this category.

For example, a static report using nycflights13 data could be a detailed monthly performance report. Standardized headers, footers, and table formats ensure that the report is easy to read and understand.

How Different Types and Delivery Points Affect Standardization

Alright, let’s tie it all together. Different types of analysis and delivery platforms influence how you apply standardization:

  • Descriptive Analysis on Dashboards : Ensure that interactive elements are standardized so users can easily compare past performance across different metrics.
  • Diagnostic Analysis in Presentations : Use consistent visuals to explain why certain trends occurred. This helps stakeholders grasp the insights quickly.
  • Predictive Analysis in Static Reports : Present forecasts in a standardized format to make it easier for readers to understand and trust the predictions.
  • Prescriptive Analysis Across Platforms : Whether it’s a dashboard, presentation, or report, standardized recommendations ensure that the suggested actions are clear and actionable.

Tools for Standardizing Reports in R

In this chapter, we’ll discuss the tools I’ll be using in R to ensure our reports adhere to IBCS standards. Standardizing reports involves a combination of data manipulation, visualization, and documentation tools. Here are the main tools and packages we’ll be using throughout this series:

Data Manipulation with dplyr and tidyr

To start, we need robust tools for data manipulation. The dplyr and tidyr packages from the tidyverse suite are indispensable for cleaning, transforming, and organizing our data.

  • dplyr : This package is perfect for data wrangling. With functions like select(), filter(), mutate(), summarize(), and arrange(), we can easily manipulate our data frames to get them into the right shape for analysis.
  • tidyr : This package helps in tidying data, ensuring that it follows the tidy data principles. Functions like pivot_longer(), pivot_wider(), unite(), and separate() make it straightforward to reshape data as needed.

Data Visualization with ggplot2

Visualization is a cornerstone of effective reporting, and ggplot2 is the go-to package for creating high-quality graphics in R. It follows the grammar of graphics, which makes it highly flexible and powerful.

  • Consistent Themes : We’ll use ggplot2's theming capabilities to apply consistent colors, fonts, and layouts across all our visualizations. This aligns with the UNIFY principle of IBCS.
  • Custom Visuals : We’ll create custom visuals that not only look good but also convey the right message clearly, adhering to the EXPRESS principle.

Enhancing ggplot2 with Extensions

There are several extensions to ggplot2 that can help enhance its capabilities and ensure our visualizations are both informative and aesthetically pleasing:

  • ggthemes : Provides additional themes and scales that help in standardizing the look and feel of plots.
  • gghighlight : Allows us to highlight specific data points in a plot, making it easier to draw attention to key information.
  • ggrepel : Helps in adding labels to plots without overlapping, ensuring that our visualizations remain clear and readable.
  • patchwork : Facilitates the combination of multiple ggplot2 plots into a single cohesive layout, supporting the CONDENSE principle by increasing information density.

Reporting with Quarto

For generating and maintaining our reports, we’ll use Quarto, a new, powerful tool for creating dynamic documents in R.

  • Dynamic Reports : Quarto allows for the integration of R code and markdown, enabling us to create reports that are both reproducible and interactive.
  • Standardized Templates : We can create standardized templates that ensure consistency across all reports.

Table Formatting with kableExtra

Tables are a crucial part of any report, and kableExtra is an excellent package for creating well-formatted tables in R.

  • Enhanced Tables : kableExtra provides functionality to produce beautiful tables within Quarto documents. It supports various table styling options, including striped rows, column alignment, and more.
  • Interactive Tables : This package also supports the creation of interactive tables, making it easier for readers to explore data.

Supplementary Tools

  • scales : This package works with ggplot2 to ensure that our scales are appropriately formatted, enhancing readability and accuracy.
  • lubridate : Useful for handling date-time data, ensuring our time series data is properly formatted and easy to manipulate.
  • stringr : Helps with string manipulation, making it easier to clean and prepare text data for reporting.

So, there you have it — a comprehensive introduction to the importance of standardization in business reporting and an overview of how IBCS can help you achieve it. In the next episodes, we’ll dive deep into each component of the SUCCESS formula, starting with SAY: Convey a Message . We’ll explore how to clearly and effectively communicate the main message in your reports, using practical examples and the nycflights13 dataset to illustrate these principles in action.

Remember, the goal here is to make your reports not just informative but also engaging and easy to understand. Let’s embark on this journey together and transform your business reporting skills!

Stay tuned, and happy reporting!

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Introduction to Standardization in Business Reporting was originally published in Numbers around us on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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