How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needing to write a business plan to get there.

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated February 2, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

What’s your biggest business challenge right now?

  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

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
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: How to collaborate with AI on your business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information you need to cover in a business plan sometimes isn’t quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

If you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template to get you started, download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. 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 when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

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.

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of 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, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

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

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

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Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

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Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

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1. Write an executive summary

2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. add additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

A business plan is a document that outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them. A strong, detailed plan will provide a road map for the business’s next three to five years, and you can share it with potential investors, lenders or other important partners.

Bizee

Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your business plan.

» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .

This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services offered, and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.

Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.

» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps

Next up is your company description, which should contain information like:

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.

Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.

Lastly, it should cover the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.

» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan

basic business plan format

The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out exactly what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the long term.

If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain why you have a clear need for the funds, how the financing will help your business grow, and how you plan to achieve your growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity presented and how the loan or investment will grow your company.

For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch the new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.

In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

Your sales strategy.

Your distribution strategy.

You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.

Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.

Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.

» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing

If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.

You may also include metrics such as:

Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.

Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.

Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.

This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.

» NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.

Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.

Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.

List any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere, such as resumes of key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts and personal and business credit history. If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

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

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

Here are some tips to help your business plan stand out:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business loan at a local bank, the loan officer likely knows your market pretty well. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of loan approval.

Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors, taking their mind off your business and putting it on the mistakes you made. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.

Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. You can search for a mentor or find a local SCORE chapter for more guidance.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.

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BUSINESS STRATEGIES

Free business plan template for small businesses

  • Cecilia Lazzaro Blasbalg
  • Dec 7, 2023

Free business plan template for your new business

Creating a successful business is about more than launching a business website or hanging a shingle on your front door. It requires a well-crafted plan that keeps you on track, anticipates obstacles and acts as a concrete roadmap for launching or improving your small business.

Business planning allows you to clarify your vision while providing information to both intrigue and reassure potential investors. The process may seem daunting, but creating a business plan isn’t difficult—and templates like the one below can help simplify the process even further.

Ready to launch your business? Create a website today.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is used by small business owners and entrepreneurs when starting a new business venture. It’s a strategic document that outlines the goals, objectives and strategies of your new or expanding business, including the company's vision, target market, financial projections and operational plans.

A business plan can attract potential partners, convince investors and banks to help you raise capital, and serve as a resource for future growth. Most importantly, you’ll be able to use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, operate and manage your new venture, whether it’s a sole proprietorship, a partnership or something larger.

Who needs a business plan?

Every business owner needs a business plan. They’re an essential tool for any person or entity interested in starting a business . There are many benefits, including:

Defining your business idea

Clarifying the market and competitive landscape

Outlining your marketing strategy

Stating your value proposition

Identifying/anticipating potential risks

Seeking investments from banks and other sources

Setting benchmarks, goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)

A business plan also gives you a way to assess the viability of a business before investing too much time or money into it. While all business involves risk, taking the time to create a plan can help mitigate fallout and avoid potentially costly mistakes.

When creating a business plan, it's important to establish your business goals up front and be prepared to spend time researching the market, performing a competitor analysis and understanding your target market .

Download Wix’s free business plan template

Creating a successful business plan is no easy feat. That’s why we’ve put together a simple, customizable, and free-to-download business plan template that takes the guesswork out of getting started. Use it to create a new business plan or to refresh an existing one.

Download your free Wix business plan template

Lean startup versus traditional business plan formats

In terms of types of business plans , there are two main formats to choose from: traditional and lean.

Traditional business plan format

A traditional business plan includes every detail and component that defines a business and contributes to its success. It's typically a sizable document of about 30 to 50 pages that includes:

Executive summary: The executive summary contains a high-level overview of everything included in the plan. It generally provides a short explanation of your business and its goals (e.g., your elevator pitch ). Many authors like to write this section last after fleshing out the sections below.

Company description: A company description should include essential details like your business name, the names of your founders, your locations and your company’s mission statement . Briefly describe your core services (or products if you’re writing an eCommerce business plan ), but don't go into too much detail since you’ll elaborate on this in the service/product section. Wix offers some helpful mission statement examples if you get stuck. It’s also a good idea to create a vision statement . While your mission statement clarifies your company’s purpose, a vision statement outlines what you want your company to achieve over time.

Market analysis: One of the most extensive sections of the business plan, this section requires that you conduct market research and write your conclusions. Include findings for the following: industry background, a SWOT analysis , barriers/obstacles, target market and your business differentiators.

Organization and management: This is where you outline how your business is structured and who's in charge, including founders, executive team members, board members, employees and key stakeholders. To this end, it can be helpful to create a visual layout (e.g., org chart) to illustrate your company structure.

Service or product line: Create a detailed list of your current and future products and services. If you’re still working on your idea, create a concept statement to describe your idea or product. You should also include a proof of concept (POC), which demonstrates the feasibility of your idea. Wherever applicable, include diagrams, product images and other visual components to illustrate the product life cycle.

Marketing and sales: Detail how your business idea translates into selling and delivering your offerings to potential customers. You can start by outlining your brand identity, which includes the colors and fonts you plan to use, your marketing and advertising strategy, and details about planned consumer touchpoints (like your website, mobile app or physical storefront).

Financial projections and funding requests: Include financial statements, such as a balance sheet, profit-and-loss statement (P&L), cash flow statement and break-even analysis. It's not uncommon for a business plan to include multiple pages of financial projections and information. You’ll also want to mention how much funding you seek and what you plan to do with it. If you’ve already secured funding, provide details about your investments.

essential parts of a business plan

Lean startup business plan format

A lean startup business plan—also referred to as a “lean canvas”—is presented as a problem/solution framework that provides a high-level description of your business idea. A lean plan is a single-page document that provides a basic overview of the most essential aspects of your business. It’s a good way to dip a toe into business planning since it doesn't require the same level of detail as a traditional plan. This includes:

Problem: What problem does your product or service solve, or what need does it fulfill?

Solution: How do you intend to solve it?

Unique value proposition (UVP): Why should people use your product or service versus someone else’s?

Unfair advantage: What do you have that other companies don’t?

Customers: Who are your ideal customers?

Channels: How will those customers find you?

Key metrics: How do you define success? How will you track and measure it?

Revenue streams: How will your business make money?

Cost structure: What will you spend money on (fixed and variable costs)?

Benefits of a business plan template

Business plan templates offer numerous benefits for entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners. Here are some key advantages:

1. Save time and effort: Templates provide a pre-defined structure, eliminating the need to start from scratch. This frees up valuable time and effort that can be invested in other crucial aspects of business development.

2. Improve structure: Templates ensure a consistent and organized approach to presenting your business plan. This makes it easier for potential investors, lenders and advisors to understand your vision and evaluate the feasibility of your business. 3. Enhance professionalism: Using a well-designed template demonstrates professionalism and seriousness to external stakeholders. This can significantly impact their perception of your business and increase their confidence in your venture. 4. Guide your thought process: Templates act as a helpful framework, prompting you to consider all the key elements of your business plan and ensuring you haven't overlooked any critical areas. 5. Ensure completeness: Templates often include checklists and prompts to ensure you cover all essential information, minimizing the risk of missing crucial details. 6. Standardize formatting: Templates ensure a consistent and uniform appearance throughout your business plan, contributing to a more polished and professional presentation. 7. Access to expert knowledge: Many templates are developed by experienced business professionals or organizations, incorporating best practices and insights gained from successful ventures. 8. Adaptability and customization: While templates offer a basic structure, they can be easily customized to reflect the unique characteristics and needs of your specific business. 9. Cost-effectiveness: Templates are generally available for free or at a low cost, making them an accessible and budget-friendly option for entrepreneurs. 10. Increased success rate: Studies have shown that businesses with well-developed plans are more likely to succeed. Templates can help you create a comprehensive and persuasive plan, increasing your chances of securing funding and achieving your business goals.

Tips for filling out your business plan template

The hardest part of a journey is always the first step, or so the saying goes. Filling out your business plan template can be daunting, but the template itself is meant to get you over that crucial first hurdle—getting started. We’ve provided some tips aimed at helping you get the most from our template.

These are best practices—they’re not rules. Do what works for you. The main thing to remember is that these tips can help you move more easily through the planning process, so that you can advance onto the next (exciting) step, which is launching your business.

Consider your goals: What is the purpose of your business? Are you looking to expand, launch a new product line or fund a specific project? Identifying your goals helps you prioritize important information in your business plan.

Fill out what you can: You may already have a vague—or specific—idea of what you want your business to achieve. Go through each section of the template and fill out what you can. We suggest leaving the executive summary blank for now, since it'll be the last thing you write.

Be realistic: Even though this document is meant to serve as a marketing tool for potential investors, don't exaggerate any numbers or make any false promises.

Dig into the research: Nothing's more motivating than getting some intel about your competitors and your market. If you're truly stuck, a little research can help motivate you and provide valuable insight about what direction to take your business. For example, if you plan to start a landscaping business, learn about the specific pricing offered in your area so that you can differentiate your services and potentially offer better options.

Get help from others: Bouncing your ideas off a friend, mentor or advisor is a great way to get feedback and discover approaches or products to incorporate into your plan. Your network can also give you valuable insight about the industry or even about potential customers. Plus, it's nice to be able to talk through the challenges with someone who understands you and your vision.

Revise and review: Once complete, step back from your plan and let it "cook." In a day or two, review your plan and make sure that everything is current. Have other people review it too, since having another set of eyes can help identify areas that may be lacking detail or need further explanation.

Once you’ve completed your business plan template, it can become a meaningful resource for developing your mission statement, writing business proposals and planning how to move forward with the marketing, distribution and growth of your products and services.

After launch, you can also analyze your value chain to identify key factors that create value for your customers and maximum profitability for you. This can help you develop a more effective business plan that considers the entire value chain, from research and development to sales and customer support.

Business plan template FAQ

What is the easiest way to write a business plan.

The easiest way to write a business plan is to utilize a template. Templates provide a structured format and guide you through each section, simplifying the process of creating a comprehensive plan.

Is there a template for how to write a business plan?

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Simple Business Plan Template for Entrepreneurs

Follow This Business Plan Outline to Write Your Own

Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.

basic business plan format

Pros and Cons of Using a Business Plan Template

Do i need a simple or detailed business plan, how to use this business plan template, table of contents, section 1: executive summary, section 2: business/industry overview.

  • Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition

Section 4: Sales and Marketing Plan

Section 5: ownership and management plan, section 6: operating plan, section 7: financial plan.

  • Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits

Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Think you have a great idea for a business? The best way to find out whether your idea is feasible is to create a business plan .

A solid, well-researched business plan provides a practical overview of your vision. It can be used to ground your ideas into workable actions and to help pitch your idea to financial institutions or potential investors when looking for funding.

The standard business plan consists of a single document divided into several sections for distinct elements, such as a description of the organization, market research, competitive analysis, sales strategies, capital and labor requirements, and financial data. Your plan may include more or fewer sections to best represent your business.

The template presented here will get you well on your way toward your simple business plan.

Ready-made layouts

Free downloads

Generic, not customized

No financial guidance

Additional skills needed

  • Ready-made layouts : Templates offer general guidance about what information is needed and how to organize it, so you’re not stuck looking at a blank page when getting started. Especially detailed templates may offer instructions or helpful text prompts along the way.
  • Variations : If you know what type of business plan you need—traditional, lean, industry-specific—chances are you can find a specialized template.
  • Free downloads : There are many free business plan templates available online, which can be useful for comparing formats and features, or refining your own.
  • Generic, not customized : Templates typically contain just the basics, and there will still be a lot of work involved to tailor the template to your business. For instance, you'll have to reformat, refine copy, and populate tables.
  • No financial guidance : You’ll need enough industry knowledge to apply financial models to your specific business, and the math skills to generate formulas and calculate figures.
  • Additional skills needed : Some degree of tech savvy is required to integrate charts and graphs, merge data from spreadsheets, and keep it all up-to-date.

A corporate business plan for a large organization can be hundreds of pages long. However, for a small business, it's best to keep the plan short and concise, especially if you're submitting it to bankers or investors . Around 35 to 50 pages should be sufficient, and more allowed for extras, such as photos of products, equipment, logos, or business premises or site plans.  Your audience will likely prefer solid research and analysis over long, wordy descriptions.

An entrepreneur who creates a business plan is nearly twice as likely to secure financing and grow their business compared with those who do not have a plan.

The business plan template below is divided into sections as described in the table of contents. Each section can be copied into a document of your own; you may need to add or delete sections or make adjustments to fit your specific needs.

Once complete, be sure to format it attractively and get it professionally printed and bound. You want your business plan to convey the best possible impression. Make it engaging, something people will to want to pick up and peruse.

Enter your business information, including the legal name and address. If you already have a business logo, you can add it at the top or bottom of the title page.

  • Business Plan for "Business Name"
  • Business address
  • Website URL

If you're addressing it to a company or individual, include:

  • Presented to "Name"
  • At "Company"
  • Executive Summary................................................Page #
  • Business/Industry Overview.................................Page #
  • Market Analysis and Competition.........................Page #
  • Sales and Marketing Plan.......................................Page #
  • Ownership and Management Plan.......................Page #
  • Operating Plan..........................................................Page #
  • Financial Plan............................................................Page #
  • Appendices and Exhibits........................................Page #

The  executive summary introduces the plan, but it is written last. It provides a concise and optimistic overview of your business and should capture the reader's attention and create a desire to learn more. The executive summary should be no more than two pages long, with highlights or brief summaries of other sections of the plan.

  • Describe your  mission —what is the need for your new business? Sell your vision.
  • Introduce your company briefly, sticking to vital details such as size, location, management, and ownership.
  • Describe your main product(s) and/or service(s).
  • Identify the customer base you plan to target and how your business will serve those customers.
  • Summarize the competition and how you will get market share. What is your competitive advantage?
  • Outline your financial projections for the first few years of operation.
  • State your startup financing requirements.

This section provides an overview of the industry and explains in detail what makes your business stand out.

  • Describe the overall nature of the industry, including sales and other statistics. Note trends and demographics, as well as economic, cultural, and governmental influences.
  • Explain your business and how it fits into the industry.
  • Mention the existing competition, which you'll expand upon in the following section.
  • Identify what area(s) of the market you will target and what unique, improved, or lower-cost products and/or services you will offer.

Many business plans cover their products/services in a standalone section to add more detail or emphasize unique aspects.

Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition

This section focuses on the competitive factor of your business and justifies it with financial models and statistics. You need to demonstrate that you have thoroughly analyzed the target market, assessed the competition, and concluded that there is enough demand for your products/services to make your business viable.

  • Define the target market(s) for your products/services in your geographic locale.
  • Explain the need for your products/services.
  • Estimate the overall size of the market and the units of your products/services that the target market might buy. Include forecasts of potential repeat-purchase volume and how the market might be affected by economic or demographic changes.
  • Estimate the volume and value of your sales in comparison with any existing competitors. Highlight any key strengths over the competition in easily digestible charts and tables.
  • Describe any helpful barriers to entry that may protect your business from competition, such as access to capital, technology, regulations, employee skill sets, or location.  

You may opt to split the target market description and competitive analysis into two separate sections, if either (or both) portray your business especially favorably.

Here's where you dive into profits, giving detailed strategic view of how you intend to entice customers to buy your products and/or services, including advertising or promotion, pricing, sales, distribution, and post-sales support.

Product or Service Offerings

If your products and/or services don't take up a standalone section earlier in the plan, here is where you can answer the question: What is your unique selling proposition? Describe your products and/or services, how they benefit the customer and what sets them apart from competitor offerings.

Pricing Strategy

How will you price your products/services? Pricing must be low enough to attract customers, yet high enough to cover costs and generate a profit. You can base pricing decisions on a number of financial models, such as markup from cost or value to the buyer, or in comparison with similar products and/or services in the marketplace.  

Sales and Distribution

For products, describe how you plan to distribute to the customer. Will you be selling wholesale or retail? What type of packaging will be required? How will products be shipped? If you offer a service, how will it be delivered to the customer? What methods will be used for payment?

Advertising and Promotion

List the various forms of media you will use to get your message to customers (e.g., website, email, social media, or newspapers). Will you use sales promotional methods such as free samples and product demonstrations? What about product launches and trade shows? Don't forget more everyday marketing materials such as business cards, flyers, or brochures. Include an approximate budget.

This section describes the legal structure, ownership, and (if applicable) management and staffing requirements of your business.

  • Ownership structure : Describe the legal structure of your company (e.g., corporation, partnership, LLC, or  sole proprietorship ). List ownership percentages, if applicable. If the business is a sole proprietorship, this is the only section required.
  • Management team : Describe managers and their roles, key employee positions, and how each will be compensated. Include brief résumés.
  • External resources and services : List any external professional resources required, such as accountants, lawyers, or consultants.
  • Human resources : List the type and number of employees or contractors you will need, and estimate the salary and benefit costs of each.
  • Advisory board : Include an advisory board as a supplemental management resource, if applicable.

The operating plan outlines the physical requirements of your business, such as office, warehouse, or retail space; equipment; supplies; or labor. This section will vary greatly by industry; a large manufacturer, for instance, should provide full details about supply chain or specialty equipment, while a therapist's office can get by with a much shorter list.

If your business is a small operation (like a one-person, home-based consulting firm), you might choose to eliminate the operating plan section altogether and include the operating essentials in the business overview.

  • Development : Explain what you have done to date to identify possible locations, sources of equipment, supply chains, and other relevant relationships. Describe your production workflow.
  • Production : For manufacturing, explain how long it takes to produce a unit and when you'll be ready to start production. Include factors that may affect the time frame of production and how you'll deal with potential problems, such as rush orders.
  • Facilities : Describe the physical location of the business. Include geographical or building requirements; square footage estimates (with room for expansion if expected); mortgage or leasing costs; and estimates of maintenance, utilities, and related  overhead costs . Include zoning approvals and other permissions that are necessary in order to operate.
  • Staffing : Outline expected staffing needs and the main duties of staff members, especially the key employees. Describe how the employees will be sourced and the employment relationship (i.e., contract, full-time, part-time) as well as any training needs and how these will be provided.
  • Equipment : Include a list of any specialized equipment needed, along with cost, whether it will be leased or purchased, and sources.
  • Supplies : If your business is, for example, manufacturing, retail, or food services, include a description of the materials needed, reliable sources, major suppliers, and how you will manage inventory.

The financial plan is the most important section for lenders or investors. The goal is to demonstrate that your business will grow and be profitable. To do this, you will need to create realistic predictions or forecasts.

To avoid inflated expectations, a prudent financial plan underestimates revenues and overestimates expenses.

  • Income statements : The income statement displays projected revenues, expenses, and profit. Do this on a monthly basis for at least the first year for a startup business.
  • Cash-flow projections : The cash-flow projection shows your monthly anticipated cash revenues and disbursements for expenses. To be considered a good credit risk, it is important to demonstrate that you can manage your cash flow.
  • Balance sheet : The  balance sheet  is a snapshot summary of the assets, liabilities, and equity of your business at a particular point in time. For a startup, this would be on the day the business opens.
  • Breakeven analysis : Including a breakeven analysis will demonstrate to lenders or investors what level of sales you need to achieve to make a profit.

Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits

The appendices and exhibits section contains any detailed information needed to support other sections of the plan.  

Possible Appendix or Exhibit items include:

  • Credit histories for the business owners
  • Detailed market research and analysis of competitors
  • Résumés of the owners and key employees
  • Diagrams and/or research about your products and/or services
  • Site, building, or office plans
  • Copies of mortgage documents or equipment leases (or quotes)
  • Marketing brochures and other materials
  • References from business colleagues
  • Links to your business website
  • Any other material that may impress potential lenders or investors

SCORE. " Business Plan Template for a Startup Business ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write your business plan ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

U.S. Small Business Administration. " SBA Recommended Business Plans and Length ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

Bplans. " Why Plan Your Business? Look at This Data ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

Marketing MO. " Pricing Strategy ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

Incorporate.com. " Write a Business Plan, a Step-by-Step Guide ." Accessed April 29, 2021.

Startup Nation. " The Five Costs You're Most Likely to Underestimate in Your Business Plan ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

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What Is a Business Plan?

Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

basic business plan format

A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
  • There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."

Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.

Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.

While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.

While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.

Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.

These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:

  • Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.

The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.

Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.

A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.

Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

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Free Microsoft Word Business Plan Templates

By Joe Weller | September 22, 2020

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We’ve compiled a variety of expert-approved business plan templates and samples for Microsoft Word. There are options for organizations of any size and type — from coffee shops and hair salons to professional services, and everything in between.

Included on this page, you’ll find Word business plan templates for small businesses , startup businesses , product and service businesses , and more.

Simple Business Plan Word Templates

These customizable business plan templates come professionally designed and ready to use, and are available to download in Microsoft Word format.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Use this template as a basis for creating an organized and thorough business plan. Customize the built-in table of contents to suit your needs, and use the space included to detail the nature of your business, the solution to the problem you’re solving, a market analysis, key performance indicators (KPIs), financial forecasts, and more.

Download Simple Business Plan Template — Word

Simple 30-60-90 Business Plan Template

Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

This template is ideal for developing a 90-day action plan to create and implement your business plan in manageable, 30-day chunks. Use the document to outline your main goals and deliverables, and then assign key business activities and deadlines to ensure your plan stays on track. 

Download Simple 30-60-90-Day Business Plan Template

Word  | Smartsheet

For more 30-60-90 business plan templates, visit our "Free 30-60-90-Day Business Plan Templates and Samples" article.

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

This template provides a standard outline for a traditional business plan, which you can use to guide your research and develop your plan. Easily modify the provided information to include information that is relevant to your business. 

Download Simple Business Plan Outline Template — Word

For additional downloadable resources in a variety of formats, visit, “ Simple Business Plan Templates .”

One-Page Business Plan Word Templates

These single page business plan templates in this section provide a useful way to organize ideas. Companies can use these templates to develop a pitch document for potential partners and investors.

One-Page Business Plan Template

basic business plan format

Use this template to capture the main details of your business concept, including your product or service offering, who it benefits, how it helps your target buyer, the pricing structure, income streams, and key milestones. There’s also room at the bottom to include a SWOT analysis .

Download One-Page Business Plan Template

Word | Smartsheet

One-Page Lean Business Plan

One Page Lean Business Plan Template

This template utilizes a Lean approach to help you showcase the core concepts of your business idea in a scannable format. Provide a brief overview of your company and industry, the unique benefits your product or service possesses, distribution strategy, key objectives and success metrics, and a financial plan. Use the visual timeline at the bottom to display dates and milestones.

Download One-Page Lean Business Plan Template - Word  

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

One Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

A 30-60-90-day template is useful for developing an actionable plan. Simply add your main goals and the activities required to achieve them in 30-day increments. Update the status of each goal regularly to ensure your plan stays on track.

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

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

Small Business Plan Word Templates

These customizable business plan templates are especially useful for small businesses to develop a roadmap for structuring, operating, and growing their organization.

Small Business Plan Template

Small Business Plan Template

This comprehensive business plan template is ideal for small businesses that want to thoroughly document key goals and the associated activities. Add essential information to each section to keep your plan clear and concise — and pay special attention to the financial section and provide details that will validate your plan.

Download Small Business Plan Template — Word

Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template

Fill-in-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template

This fill-in-the-blank template is useful for small business owners that need some guidance adding details to the various elements of their business plan. Each section of this standard business plan comes with pre-filled content that you can expand on and customize to reflect the specific needs and details of your business. 

Download Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template — Word

Additional Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan templates can be found here . 

One-Page Small Business Plan Template

One Page Business Plan For Small Business Template

Small businesses can use this template to articulate business ideas in a succinct, easily digestible manner. There is space to include a business overview, key team members, a market analysis, marketing and sales plans, objectives and success metrics, and a financial plan.

Download One-Page Business Plan for Small Business — Word

Startup Business Plan Word Templates

These business plan templates are ideal for entrepreneurs to assess the viability of their idea and gain buy-in from prospective investors and stakeholders.

Startup Business Plan Template

basic business plan format

Use this startup business plan template to create a strong and detailed roadmap of your concept and related goals. The template includes space for an executive summary, business description, summary of product or service offerings, pricing structure, marketing strategy, competitive analysis, startup expenses, funding sources, and more to ensure you have a thorough plan in place.

Download Startup Business Plan Template

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

Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup

This 30-60-90-day business plan template is versatile, and can be used to develop an actionable plan for virtually any business activity. This sample contains pre-filled information to help you explain the organization’s main goals and deliverables, as well as to assign key tasks, ownership, and deadlines. 

‌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 .”

Product and Service Business Plan Word Templates

These business plan templates are designed for a product or service-focused business to use to develop a workplan that articulates its vision and objectives.

Business Plan Template for Professional Services

Professional Services Business Plan Template

Entrepreneurs offering professional services can use this document to outline the main goals and objectives associated with their business, as well as how they plan to achieve them. This template comes with a built-in table of contents and includes all the components of a traditional business plan, including the company background, market and industry analysis, competitive analysis, service offering details, promotional plan, sales forecasts, financial statements, and more.

Download Business Plan Template for Professional Services — Word

One-Page Business Plan for Service Business

One Page Business Plan For A Service Business Template

This business plan template is ideal for a service-type business owner who needs a basic plan to jot down core business concepts. This single-page template has room to include the business mission and vision, service provided, target market, competitive advantage, marketing and sales plan, and key objectives. There is also a visual timeline of milestones included at the bottom of the template for tracking progress.

Download One-Page Business Plan Template for Service Business — Word

One-Page Business Plan for a Product Business

One Page Business Plan For A Product Business Template

Use this one-page business plan to outline the key details related to your product-focused idea. Articulate the purpose and vision of your business, the problem your product solves, potential customers, how you will get your product to buyers, pricing strategy, main objectives, and success metrics. The timeline of milestones at the bottom of the template automatically creates a visual display of noteworthy activities. 

Download One-Page Business Plan for Product Business — Word

Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Word Templates

Use these pre-filled business plan templates as a basis to build a thorough plan that keeps your strategy aligned with sales, promotional, and financial objectives.

Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

This fill-in-the-blank template features a traditional business plan layout, and includes pre-filled content in each section. Outline the key components of a well-rounded business plan, and add a company overview, market analysis, marketing and sales plan, operations plan, financial statements, supporting documentation, and more.

Download Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Template — Word

Lean Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan

Fill-in-the-Blank Lean  Business Plan Template

This Lean business plan has all the necessary parts to articulate your business vision and strategy. Add information about the problem you aim to solve, your product or service offering, unique value proposition, target customers, cost structure, revenue streams, and a timeline of milestones.

Download Fill-In-the-Blank Lean Business Plan Template — Word

For additional resources, visit " Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates ."

For more free, downloadable templates for all aspects of your business, take a look at “ Free Business Templates for Organizations of All Sizes .”

Empower Your Teams to Implement Your Business Plan with Smartsheet

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Discover why over 90% of Fortune 100 companies trust Smartsheet to get work done.

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

Clifford Chi

Published: February 06, 2024

Free Business Plan Template

basic business plan format

The essential document for starting a business -- custom built for your needs.

Thank you for downloading the offer.

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

sample business plans and examples

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

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

Table of Contents

Business Plan Format

Business plan types, sample business plan templates, top business plan examples.

Ask any successful sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you they have a unique plan for every single game. To me, the same logic applies to business.

If you want to build a thriving company that can pull ahead of the competition, you need to prepare for battle before breaking into a market.

Business plans guide you along the rocky journey of growing a company. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, I’m sure you’re wondering where to begin.

basic business plan format

  • Outline your idea.
  • Pitch to investors.
  • Secure funding.
  • Get to work!

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

First, you’ll want to nail down your formatting. Most business plans include the following sections.

1. Executive Summary

I’d say the executive summary is the most important section of the entire business plan. 

Why? Essentially, it's the overview or introduction, written in a way to grab readers' attention and guide them through the rest of the business plan. This is important, because a business plan can be dozens or hundreds of pages long.

There are two main elements I’d recommend including in your executive summary:

Company Description

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

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

Need some extra help firming up those business goals? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free course to help you set goals that matter — I’d highly recommend it

Products and Services

To piggyback off of the company description, be sure to incorporate an overview of your offerings. This doesn’t have to be extensive — just another chance to introduce your industry and overall purpose as a business.

In addition to the items above, I recommend including some information about your financial projections and competitive advantage here too.:

Keep in mind you'll cover many of these topics in more detail later on in the business plan. So, keep the executive summary clear and brief, and only include the most important takeaways.

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

This example was created with HubSpot’s business plan template:

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example

This executive summary is so good to me because it tells potential investors a short story while still covering all of the most important details.

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

Image Source

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

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

Check out our tips for writing an effective executive summary for more guidance.

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market.

The main question I’d ask myself here is this: Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will my product fill that gap?

More specifically, here’s what I’d include in this section:

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

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, and SOM analysis and perform market research on your industry.

You may also benefit from creating a SWOT analysis to get some of the insights for this section.

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Market Opportunity

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

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

3. Competitive Landscape

Since we’re already speaking of market share, you'll also need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are.

After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you'll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another.

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

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

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

I like how the competitive landscape section of this business plan below shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are.

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location, which shows useful experience in this specific industry. 

This can help build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

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

4. Target Audience

Use this section to describe who your customer segments are in detail. What is the demographic and psychographic information of your audience?

If your immediate answer is "everyone," you'll need to dig deeper. Here are some questions I’d ask myself here:

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

I’d also recommend building a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear on why you're targeting them.

Target Audience Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Target Audience

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

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

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you'll discuss how you'll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. I’d suggest including information:

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

I think it’s helpful to have a marketing plan built out in advance to make this part of your business plan easier.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler.

In my opinion, it really works because it offers a comprehensive picture of how they plan to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Business plans examples: Marketing Strategy

Tips for Writing Your Marketing Strategy

  • Include a section about how you believe your brand vision will appeal to customers.
  • Add the budget and resources you'll need to put your plan in place.
  • Outline strategies for specific marketing segments.
  • Connect strategies to earlier sections like target audience and competitive analysis.
  • Review how your marketing strategy will scale with the growth of your business.
  • Cover a range of channels and tactics to highlight your ability to adapt your plan in the face of change.

6. Key Features and Benefits

At some point in your business plan, you'll need to review the key features and benefits of your products and/or services.

Laying these out can give readers an idea of how you're positioning yourself in the market and the messaging you're likely to use. It can even help them gain better insight into your business model.

Key Features and Benefits Business Plan Example

In my opinion, the example below does a great job outlining products and services for this business, along with why these qualities will attract the audience.

Business plans examples: Key Features and Benefits

Tips for Writing Your Key Features and Benefits

  • Emphasize why and how your product or service offers value to customers.
  • Use metrics and testimonials to support the ideas in this section.
  • Talk about how your products and services have the potential to scale.
  • Think about including a product roadmap.
  • Focus on customer needs, and how the features and benefits you are sharing meet those needs.
  • Offer proof of concept for your ideas, like case studies or pilot program feedback.
  • Proofread this section carefully, and remove any jargon or complex language.

7. Pricing and Revenue

This is where you'll discuss your cost structure and various revenue streams. Your pricing strategy must be solid enough to turn a profit while staying competitive in the industry. 

For this reason, here’s what I’d might outline in this section:

  • The specific pricing breakdowns per product or service
  • Why your pricing is higher or lower than your competition's
  • (If higher) Why customers would be willing to pay more
  • (If lower) How you're able to offer your products or services at a lower cost
  • When you expect to break even, what margins do you expect, etc?

Pricing and Revenue Business Plan Example

I like how this business plan example begins with an overview of the business revenue model, then shows proposed pricing for key products.

Business plans examples: Pricing and Revenue

Tips for Writing Your Pricing and Revenue Section

  • Get specific about your pricing strategy. Specifically, how you connect that strategy to customer needs and product value.
  • If you are asking a premium price, share unique features or innovations that justify that price point.
  • Show how you plan to communicate pricing to customers.
  • Create an overview of every revenue stream for your business and how each stream adds to your business model as a whole.
  • Share plans to develop new revenue streams in the future.
  • Show how and whether pricing will vary by customer segment and how pricing aligns with marketing strategies.
  • Restate your value proposition and explain how it aligns with your revenue model.

8. Financials

To me, this section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to figure out funding strategies, investment opportunities, and more.

 According to Forbes , you'll want to include three main things:

  • Profit/Loss Statement - This answers the question of whether your business is currently profitable.
  • Cash Flow Statement - This details exactly how much cash is incoming and outgoing to give insight into how much cash a business has on hand.
  • Balance Sheet - This outlines assets, liabilities, and equity, which gives insight into how much a business is worth.

While some business plans might include more or less information, these are the key details I’d include in this section.

Financials Business Plan Example

This balance sheet is a great example of level of detail you’ll need to include in the financials section of your business plan.

Business plans examples: Financials

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

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

As you create your business plan, keep in mind that each of these sections will be formatted differently. Some may be in paragraph format, while others could be charts or graphs.

The formats above apply to most types of business plans. That said, the format and structure of your plan will vary by your goals for that plan. 

So, I’ve added a quick review of different business plan types. For a more detailed overview, check out this post .

1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas.

If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business.

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

2. Feasibility Studies

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

3. Internal Use

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

4. Strategic Initiatives

Another business plan that's often for sharing internally is a strategic business plan. This plan covers long-term business objectives that might not have been included in the startup business plan.

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

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

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

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

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

Download a free, editable one-page business plan template..

The business plan linked above was created here at HubSpot and is perfect for businesses of any size — no matter how many strategies we still have to develop.

Fields such as Company Description, Required Funding, and Implementation Timeline give this one-page business plan a framework for how to build your brand and what tasks to keep track of as you grow.

Then, as the business matures, you can expand on your original business plan with a new iteration of the above document.

Why I Like It

This one-page business plan is a fantastic choice for the new business owner who doesn’t have the time or resources to draft a full-blown business plan. It includes all the essential sections in an accessible, bullet-point-friendly format. That way, you can get the broad strokes down before honing in on the details.

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

We also created a business plan template for entrepreneurs.

The template is designed as a guide and checklist for starting your own business. You’ll learn what to include in each section of your business plan and how to do it.

There’s also a list for you to check off when you finish each section of your business plan.

Strong game plans help coaches win games and help businesses rocket to the top of their industries. So if you dedicate the time and effort required to write a workable and convincing business plan, you’ll boost your chances of success and even dominance in your market.

This business plan kit is essential for the budding entrepreneur who needs a more extensive document to share with investors and other stakeholders.

It not only includes sections for your executive summary, product line, market analysis, marketing plan, and sales plan, but it also offers hands-on guidance for filling out those sections.

3. LiveFlow’s Financial Planning Template with built-in automation

Sample Business Plan: LiveFLow

This free template from LiveFlow aims to make it easy for businesses to create a financial plan and track their progress on a monthly basis.

The P&L Budget versus Actual format allows users to track their revenue, cost of sales, operating expenses, operating profit margin, net profit, and more.

The summary dashboard aggregates all of the data put into the financial plan sheet and will automatically update when changes are made.

Instead of wasting hours manually importing your data to your spreadsheet, LiveFlow can also help you to automatically connect your accounting and banking data directly to your spreadsheet, so your numbers are always up-to-date.

With the dashboard, you can view your runway, cash balance, burn rate, gross margins, and other metrics. Having a simple way to track everything in one place will make it easier to complete the financials section of your business plan.

This is a fantastic template to track performance and alignment internally and to create a dependable process for documenting financial information across the business. It’s highly versatile and beginner-friendly.

It’s especially useful if you don’t have an accountant on the team. (I always recommend you do, but for new businesses, having one might not be possible.)

4. ThoughtCo’s Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: ThoughtCo.

One of the more financially oriented sample business plans in this list, BPlan’s free business plan template dedicates many of its pages to your business’s financial plan and financial statements.

After filling this business plan out, your company will truly understand its financial health and the steps you need to take to maintain or improve it.

I absolutely love this business plan template because of its ease-of-use and hands-on instructions (in addition to its finance-centric components). If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing an entire business plan, consider using this template to help you with the process.

6. Harvard Business Review’s "How to Write a Winning Business Plan"

Most sample business plans teach you what to include in your business plan, but this Harvard Business Review article will take your business plan to the next level — it teaches you the why and how behind writing a business plan.

With the guidance of Stanley Rich and Richard Gumpert, co-authors of " Business Plans That Win: Lessons From the MIT Enterprise Forum ", you'll learn how to write a convincing business plan that emphasizes the market demand for your product or service.

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

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

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know writing a business plan is one of the most challenging first steps to starting a business.

Fortunately, with HubSpot's comprehensive guide to starting a business, you'll learn how to map out all the details by understanding what to include in your business plan and why it’s important to include them. The guide also fleshes out an entire sample business plan for you.

If you need further guidance on starting a business, HubSpot's guide can teach you how to make your business legal, choose and register your business name, and fund your business. It will also give small business tax information and includes marketing, sales, and service tips.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of starting a business, in addition to writing your business plan, with a high level of exactitude and detail. So if you’re in the midst of starting your business, this is an excellent guide for you.

It also offers other resources you might need, such as market analysis templates.

8. Panda Doc’s Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Panda Doc

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

Once you fill it out, you’ll fully understand your business’ nitty-gritty details and how all of its moving parts should work together to contribute to its success.

This template has two things I love: comprehensiveness and in-depth instructions. Plus, it’s synced with PandaDoc’s e-signature software so that you and other stakeholders can sign it with ease. For that reason, I especially love it for those starting a business with a partner or with a board of directors.

9. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several free business plan templates that can be used to inspire your own plan.

Before you get started, you can decide what type of business plan you need — a traditional or lean start-up plan.

Then, you can review the format for both of those plans and view examples of what they might look like.

We love both of the SBA’s templates because of their versatility. You can choose between two options and use the existing content in the templates to flesh out your own plan. Plus, if needed, you can get a free business counselor to help you along the way.

I’ve compiled some completed business plan samples to help you get an idea of how to customize a plan for your business.

I chose different types of business plan ideas to expand your imagination. Some are extensive, while others are fairly simple.

Let’s take a look.

1. LiveFlow

business plan example: liveflow

One of the major business expenses is marketing. How you handle your marketing reflects your company’s revenue.

I included this business plan to show you how you can ensure your marketing team is aligned with your overall business plan to get results. The plan also shows you how to track even the smallest metrics of your campaigns, like ROI and payback periods instead of just focusing on big metrics like gross and revenue.

Fintech startup, LiveFlow, allows users to sync real-time data from its accounting services, payment platforms, and banks into custom reports. This eliminates the task of pulling reports together manually, saving teams time and helping automate workflows.

"Using this framework over a traditional marketing plan will help you set a profitable marketing strategy taking things like CAC, LTV, Payback period, and P&L into consideration," explains LiveFlow co-founder, Lasse Kalkar .

When it came to including marketing strategy in its business plan, LiveFlow created a separate marketing profit and loss statement (P&L) to track how well the company was doing with its marketing initiatives.

This is a great approach, allowing businesses to focus on where their marketing dollars are making the most impact. Having this information handy will enable you to build out your business plan’s marketing section with confidence. LiveFlow has shared the template here . You can test it for yourself.

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

3. Patagonia

Business plan example: Patagonia mission statement

Sometimes all you need is a solid mission statement and core values to guide you on how to go about everything. You do this by creating a business plan revolving around how to fulfill your statement best.

For example, Patagonia is an eco-friendly company, so their plan discusses how to make the best environmentally friendly products without causing harm.

A good mission statement  should not only resonate with consumers but should also serve as a core value compass for employees as well.

Patagonia has one of the most compelling mission statements I’ve seen:

"Together, let’s prioritise purpose over profit and protect this wondrous planet, our only home."

It reels you in from the start, and the environmentally friendly theme continues throughout the rest of the statement.

This mission goes on to explain that they are out to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to protect nature."

Their mission statement is compelling and detailed, with each section outlining how they will accomplish their goal.

4. Vesta Home Automation

business plan example: Vesta executive summary

This executive summary for a smart home device startup is part of a business plan created by students at Mount Royal University .

While it lacks some of the sleek visuals of the templates above, its executive summary does a great job of demonstrating how invested they are in the business.

Right away, they mention they’ve invested $200,000 into the company already, which shows investors they have skin in the game and aren’t just looking for someone else to foot the bill.

This is the kind of business plan you need when applying for business funds. It clearly illustrates the expected future of the company and how the business has been coming along over the years.

5. NALB Creative Center

business plan examples: nalb creative center

This fictional business plan for an art supply store includes everything one might need in a business plan: an executive summary, a company summary, a list of services, a market analysis summary, and more.

One of its most notable sections is its market analysis summary, which includes an overview of the population growth in the business’ target geographical area, as well as a breakdown of the types of potential customers they expect to welcome at the store. 

This sort of granular insight is essential for understanding and communicating your business’s growth potential. Plus, it lays a strong foundation for creating relevant and useful buyer personas .

It’s essential to keep this information up-to-date as your market and target buyer changes. For that reason, you should carry out market research as often as possible to ensure that you’re targeting the correct audience and sharing accurate information with your investors.

Due to its comprehensiveness, it’s an excellent example to follow if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store and need to get external funding to start your business .

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

If you’re looking for a SaaS business plan example, look no further than this business plan for a fictional educational software company called Curriculum Companion Suites. 

Like the business plan for the NALB Creative Center, it includes plenty of information for prospective investors and other key stakeholders in the business.

One of the most notable features of this business plan is the executive summary, which includes an overview of the product, market, and mission.

The first two are essential for software companies because the product offering is so often at the forefront of the company’s strategy. Without that information being immediately available to investors and executives, then you risk writing an unfocused business plan.

It’s essential to front-load your company’s mission if it explains your "Why?" and this example does just that. In other words, why do you do what you do, and why should stakeholders care? This is an important section to include if you feel that your mission will drive interest in the business and its offerings.

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

Culina's sample business plan is an excellent example of how to lay out your business plan so that it flows naturally, engages readers, and provides the critical information investors and stakeholders need. 

You can use this template as a guide while you're gathering important information for your own business plan. You'll have a better understanding of the data and research you need to do since Culina’s plan outlines these details so flawlessly for inspiration.

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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Go to homepage business.govt.nz business.govt.nz

Business.govt.nz, in association with, how to write a business plan.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula to write a business plan. But there are some key things to consider. Check out our free templates — one for start-ups and a quick-focus template for growing businesses.

Tips for preparing a business plan

  • Be clear and focused about what you want to achieve – this will help align your team so you’re all working toward the same thing.
  • Choose the type of business plan that works for you – you may like to have a document, or a business canvas might work better.
  • Keep it short, simple and easy to understand.
  • Keep your goals realistic and relevant to what is going on in the economy and in your industry.
  • Use Stats NZ’s Data for Business website to find useful business tools and statistics.
  • Contact Stats NZ to get useful business data.
  • Get out and speak with your customers to gain understanding of how your product works for them and whether it’s something they would pay for.
  • Do a SWOT analysis to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Ask your advisor or mentor to review your plan and give you feedback and suggested improvements.

Data for Business (external link) — Stats NZ

Call Stats NZ toll-free on 0508 525 525

Use this free template to help you write a great plan for launching your new business.

A business plan helps you set goals for your business, and plan how you’re going to reach them. When you’re starting out it’s a good idea to do a full and thorough business plan.

Quick-focus business plan

Quick-focus planning to make sure you work on the right things for your growing business - every day.

It’s important to take time to reflect on your business strategies and plan. It doesn’t have to be a difficult or time-consuming task.

Implementing your business plan

  • Keep your business plan as a living document – don’t leave it to gather dust on a shelf.
  • Make sure it’s easily accessible and top-of-mind for you and your team.
  • Reflect your goals in the day-to-day operations of your business.
  • Outline the most practical and cost-effective way to achieve each goal – make a note of any extra resources you’ll need.
  • Make it clear these goals are the top priority for the business.

SWOT your business, and your competition

A SWOT analysis is a great way to assess what your business does well, and where you’ll need to improve. It can also help you identify ways you can exploit opportunities, and to identify and prepare for potential threats to your business success.

Strengths and weaknesses are typically inside your business — what are you good at, what are you not so good at — while opportunities and threats are external factors.

It can be as simple as drawing a large square, and dividing it into four quadrants – one for each element of the SWOT analysis.

Think about what you, your team, and your business are good at – all the attributes that will help you achieve your goals, for example, what you (and your team) do well, any unique skills or expert knowledge, what you/your business do better than your competitors, good processes and systems, and where your business is most profitable.

Think about the things that could stop you from achieving your objectives. This might include what costs you time and/or money, the areas you or your company need to improve in, what resources you lack, which parts of the business aren’t profitable, poor brand awareness, disorganised processes, or a poor online presence. Think about what you can do to minimise your weaknesses.

Opportunities

Think about the external conditions that will help you achieve your goals. How can you do more for your existing customers, or reach new markets? Are there related products and services that could provide opportunities for your business, and how could you use technology to enhance your business?

Consider the external conditions that could damage your business's performance – things like what’s going on in your industry, and in the economy, the obstacles you face, the strengths of your biggest competitors, and things your competitors are doing that you're not. Think about how you could try to minimise or manage the threats.

Repeat the exercise for your competition too – it’ll help you identify areas where you can beat them, to fine-tune your niche market, and make sure you’re prepared to address the challenge they pose.

Refine and review

Craig Jackson has dabbled in business planning before. But when he set up his ice pop business Dr Feelgood, he decided to work with a mentor.

“She was instrumental to pushing us to a very healthy product. Our first business plan was 47 pages long. It came down to four pages, which distilled down what we were doing and how we look at it,” says Jackson.

“It’s really important to ask ‘do people want your product’ and then ‘are there enough of them to buy it’? Our market validation was me going around gas stations, cafes, dairies and looking in freezers and talking to freezer managers and talking to our friends.”

Jackson regularly reviews progress against his business plan. “We’ve hit all our targets, but have learnt a lot in the first six months of operating. Places I thought we’d really sell, we don’t, and places I thought we’d never go is where we’re going.”

Review your business plan

  • Check how you’re tracking to reach key milestones in your business plan every month, and celebrate when these have been reached.
  • Stay on top of industry trends and stay connected with your customers – this will help you keep ahead of any changes needed in your business.
  • Update your business plan with any changes affecting your business or industry.

Tips on when business planning is right for your business

Tips on types of advice you’ll need

Common mistakes

Not being able to clearly articulate your business and the value it offers to customers.

Making assumptions about your customers rather than speaking with them.

Not reviewing and monitoring your business plan.

Setting unrealistic or uninformed targets.

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How to Write a Business Plan [Complete Guide]

Last Updated on – Aug 8, 2023 @ 3:22 pm

Preparing to write your business plan? You’re already one step ahead of other entrepreneurs who don’t see its value.

A well-thought-out and well-written plan for starting and running your business helps you focus on what you need to do to make your business idea work. It can also boost your chance of getting investments and loans to finance your business .

Did you know that half of small businesses fail in their first four years? Planning is such a crucial step to reducing the risks of managing an enterprise. Turn your business idea from something abstract and uncertain into a successful venture. It starts with drafting a good business plan.

Here’s your definitive guide to writing a business plan that speaks for itself.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a written document that details what a business is, what direction it will take, and how you’ll get it there.

Practically speaking, the business plan evaluates your business’ viability. As the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) puts it , the document allows entrepreneurs to find out whether or not their business idea will bring in more money than how much it costs to start and run it.

More than just a document, the business plan helps business owners to figure out the key aspects of an enterprise, including the following:

  • Business goals and strategies to meet them
  • Competitive edge and how to leverage it
  • Potential problems and how to solve them
  • Funding required to start the business
  • Equipment, facilities, and manpower needed for operations

Who Needs a Business Plan and What Is It Used For?

Every aspiring entrepreneur who will spend a great amount of money, time, and energy to earn a profit needs a business plan.

Business planning is a crucial part of starting an entrepreneurial journey, no matter how small or big a business is. Never skip this step—as they say, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Here are some examples of business types that benefit much from business planning:

Founders of startup businesses seek funds to begin their new venture. Business plans help them persuade investors and lenders to provide the funding they need.

For startups, a business plan explains the nature of the new venture, how it will achieve its goals, and why the founders are the best people to lead the company. The startup business plan should also specify the capital needed to jumpstart the new business.

Related: Fast-Growing Startups in the Philippines

Existing Businesses

Not only do startups gain advantage from a business plan—existing enterprises need it, too.

But business plans for growing businesses serve a different purpose. Usually, a business plan helps a middle-stage business raise funds for additional facilities, equipment, manpower, and others needed for expansion. This document also defines strategies for growth and allocates resources based on strategic priorities.

Growing businesses also use business plans to communicate their vision to various stakeholders such as customers, business partners, potential investors and lenders, employees, and suppliers.

For such needs, a business plan for existing businesses lays out the goals, strategies, metrics to evaluate success, responsibilities, and resource allocation.

Social Enterprises

Social enterprises may not be as profit-driven as other business types, but that doesn’t mean they need business planning any less.

A social enterprise needs to prepare a business plan to achieve its social objectives and keep empowering the communities it’s supporting. This document is what government agencies and donor agencies require and evaluate when approving grants for funding a social project .

A social enterprise business plan determines the social issue that a business idea will solve, its beneficiaries, products or services, target market, and sales projections, among many others.

Non-Profit Organizations/NGOs

Like social enterprises, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can also use business plans to source funds for their campaigns and projects.

A nonprofit business plan discusses the problems an NGO is trying to solve through a certain project, as well as how it will do that and how much resources are needed.

It also helps the organization and its board members to prepare for risks by making projections on how likely the activities will push through and how the current sources of funds will continue to yield a certain level of revenue. Most importantly, the business plan defines the Plan B if the original plan ends up failing.

Business Plan Format and Its Components

How does a business plan exactly look like? There’s no recommended universal format for business plans. Ideally, yours is customized according to the nature of your business and what you’re going to use the plan for.

However, all business plans have sections in common. Here’s a quick walkthrough of the six components that make up a business plan.

1. Executive Summary

Like an abstract of a college thesis or a foreword of a book, the executive summary is meant to provide a brief overview of the document. It presents the highlights of a business plan in a page or two.

The executive summary the first thing that readers see, so keep it short yet engaging and compelling enough to make them want to view more details in your plan.

2. Company Profile

The company profile is your chance to introduce yourself and your business to people outside your company. It’s also called the company summary, company information, business description, and business profile.

This section quickly answers the five Ws and one H of your business: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Think of it as your business calling card. Being the shortest section of the business plan, the company profile provides a quick overview of the business—who the owner and founder is, management team, business goals, business address, product or service, and what makes it unique.

3. Operations Plan

The operations plan explains how you’ll run your business, focusing on the different aspects of manufacturing your product. This section includes the following information, among many others:

  • Type of business (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation , or non-profit)
  • How the product is made or the service completed
  • Necessary materials, equipment, and facilities to manufacture the product or complete the service
  • Any subcontractors needed
  • Quality control system

4. Organizational Plan

Your people should play a major role in your business plan, just as how they’re important to your business success . The organizational plan includes a chart that shows how your company is structured according to key departments or functions such as administration, production/manufacturing, marketing, and finance. This organizational chart not only presents the levels of authority in a company but also clarifies who is responsible for which people and function.

Aside from the organizational chart, the organizational plan also includes these details:

  • Number of employees to hire
  • Responsibilities of each job role
  • Qualifications of workers who will perform each role
  • Salaries and benefits per job assignment

5. Marketing Plan

The marketing plan and the succeeding chapters are the heart and soul of your business plan, explaining the things that will make your business work. This section details how you plan to promote your product or service in the market.

Specifically, the marketing plan covers the following:

  • How the product or service will work and how it will benefit customers
  • Target market and its profile
  • Strategies for packaging, advertising, public relations, and distribution
  • Competitive advantage

6. Financial Plan

A critical section in your business plan, the financial plan helps you assess how much money you’ll need to start or grow your enterprise and identify your funding sources to get your business off the ground and sustain its operations. This is where you’ll provide financial estimates that cover at least one year of running your business.

Investors and lenders specifically look for these financial details in business plans:

  • How much you’re going to borrow, what you’ll use the loan for, and how you’ll pay it back
  • How much profit you’re expecting to make (through an income statement and balance sheet)
  • How you can finance your business operations (through a cash flow statement)
  • Whether to keep the business going or close it down to cut losses (through a break-even analysis)

Related: How to Write a Business Proposal

Should You Use a Business Plan Template?

Business plan templates identify what information to put into each section and how it should be structured.

They provide instructions to guide entrepreneurs through the process. This way, nothing is missed out while writing the plan.

Thus, using a business plan template is a great idea, especially if this is your first time to prepare a plan for starting or growing your enterprise.

Helpful as it as may be, a business plan template doesn’t make business planning 100% effortless. While it provides the outline that makes writing the plan easy and quick, you still need to do your homework.

For example, a template won’t compute the financial projections for you—it’s a task you have to complete either on your own or with the help of a professional.

So before you use a business plan template, manage your expectations first and be prepared to do a lot of math!

8 Free Business Plan Templates

Yes, you read it right—you can download free online business plan templates. Some of these templates are designed for a specific niche, while others offer sample business plans for a wide range of business categories and industries.

Start off by choosing any of these free templates that suit your business planning needs.

1. Business Plan Format by the DTI

DTI has a wealth of useful information for micro, small, and medium businesses in the Philippines. Of course, it’s free to access since it comes from the government.

On the DTI website, simply look for the Business Planning section and download the business plan format in a PDF file. This document not only lists down all the information to be included in every section of a business plan, but it also provides guide questions per section—making business planning easier for first-timers.

If you want a more detailed discussion of what should go into each component of your business plan plus sample scenarios, check the DTI’s Negosyo Center e-book that fleshes out things for small business owners.

2. Simple Business Plan Template by The Balance Small Business 

The Balance is an online resource for small business owners. It has a free business plan template that’s simple and easy to understand for beginners, with instructions on how to use it. Broken down into sections, the simple business plan template tells you what to include in each component of the plan.

Simply copy the free template and paste it into a word document or spreadsheet. From there, you can start drafting your business plan with the template as a guide.

3. Free Sample Business Plans by Bplans

This website features a collection of over 500 free business plan samples for various industries, including restaurants, e-commerce, real estate, services, nonprofit, and manufacturing.

Under each category are links to many sample business plans for specific types of business. Each sample comes with a plan outline, too. For example, under the Services category, you’ll find sample plans for businesses like auto repair shops, advertising agencies, catering companies, health spas, photography studios, and more.

4. Business Plan Samples by LivePlan

More than 500 free sample business plans are available at the LivePlan website, so you’re likely to find one that suits your business best. The samples allow users to know how other businesses structured and worded each component of their business plans. You can copy and paste the sections into your own plan.

To download a full business plan sample, you’ll have to sign up by submitting your name and email address through the website.

5. Business Plan Templates by PandaDoc

PandaDoc offers free business plan templates for NGOs, startups, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, hotels, and salons. These documents can be downloaded in PDF format.

But if you want a customizable template, you can download the PandaDoc template for a 14-day free trial. This template allows you to edit the document, choose a theme that matches your branding, and add pictures and videos.

The website also has free templates for executive summaries and business letters.

6. The One-Page Business Plan by The $100 Startup

If your business has a simple concept, then a one-page business plan template is ideal to use. This downloadable PDF file is a very simple outline made up of a few sections with questions that you have to answer in just a short sentence or two.

7. Business Plans by Microsoft

Microsoft provides a broad selection of templates for its users, including business plan templates in Word, business plan presentations in PowerPoint, and business plan checklists in Excel.

  • Sample business plan template (Word) – Provides the steps in writing a complete business plan
  • Business plan presentation template (PowerPoint) – Consists of slides for different sections of a business plan that highlight the key points for viewers
  • Business plan checklist template (Excel) – Enumerates the important things to do when writing a business plan, using the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) analysis framework

The advantage of using a template from Microsoft is having a professional-looking document, slideshow presentation, or spreadsheet. No need to do the formatting by yourself because the template is already formatted. All you have to do is enter the necessary information into the template to complete your business plan.

8. Social Business Plan Guidelines by the Ateneo de Manila

This free business plan format for social entrepreneurs comes from the Ateneo de Manila University’s John Gokongwei School of Management. In a glimpse, it provides the basic information you need to plan a social enterprise.

It also has more detailed business plan guidelines you can refer to. Simply click the link to the word document at the bottommost part of the page.

Related: 11 Best MBA Programs & Schools in the Philippines

How to Write a Business Plan

An outstanding business plan covers everything your stakeholders need to know about your business. So don’t just wing it—put a lot of thought into this critical document.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of drafting a business plan, whether you’ll use a template or not.

1. Brainstorm about your business idea

You may have a very promising business idea, but it won’t fly unless you develop it into a clear-cut concept.

Brainstorm with your team about everything you can think of about starting and running the business. Then list them all down.

Be as creative as possible. No need to be too critical at this point.

While brainstorming, aim to answer these key questions:

  • Why do you want to start the business? What has inspired you to go for it?
  • What product or service do you plan to sell?
  • Who will be your target customers? What are their problems that you’re hoping to solve through your product or service? How will you promote your offerings to them?
  • What will be your business branding ? How will you position your brand in the industry?
  • What is your competitive advantage? What makes your business unique?
  • Where do you see your business within a year?

2. Validate your business idea

Research on the specifics of your business idea—paying special attention to your product or service, target market, and competitors.

According to entrepreneurship experts, it’s best to spend twice as much time on this step as spending the time to the actual drafting of the business plan.

Here are some ways to validate your business idea:

  • Read studies and research to find information and trends about your industry .
  • Conduct market research to gather insights from industry leaders, potential customers, and suppliers . You can do this through surveys, focus group discussions, and one-on-one interviews with your stakeholders.
  • Collect data about your competitors , especially the product or service they offer and how they reach their customers. Consider buying from them or visiting their store to get a feel of their products and customer experience.

Gather all relevant information and analyze your findings to assess whether the business idea is feasible or not. You may need to tweak your business idea based on your evaluation of its feasibility.

3. Define the purpose of your business plan

It’s extremely difficult to carry out anything if you aren’t sure about why you’re doing it in the first place. Without a clear purpose, you’re like driving a car without knowing where you’re headed to.

When it comes to writing your business plan, you should have its purpose in mind from the get-go. It can be one or more of the following:

  • Create a roadmap to provide the directions the business must take to achieve your goals and overcome challenges. This is ideal for bootstrapping or self-funding startups.
  • Seek investments and loans to finance a business. If this is your purpose for making a business plan, it should be compelling enough to attract investors and lenders.
  • Set your targets, budget, timelines, and milestones. When you put them all in writing, it’s so much easier to evaluate and measure your business’ actual performance versus your goals.
  • Communicate your vision and strategic priorities with the management team. With this purpose, your business plan must establish specific goals for your managers so that they have something to commit to, you can track progress, and get them to follow through on their commitments. Also, having a business plan for this purpose ensures that everybody involved in running your business is on the same page.
  • Minimize risks. Running a business in itself involves a lot of risks, and it gets riskier with a poorly researched business idea. A business plan can help entrepreneurs mitigate them by organizing activities and preparing for contingencies.

4. Create an outline for the executive summary

The first section of any business plan is the executive summary. You don’t have to draft it yet at this point, but it helps to write an outline for it before you proceed with the rest of the sections.

In a sentence or two, describe these key aspects of your business:

  • Product or service
  • Target market
  • Competitors
  • Unique value proposition (how you set your business apart from the competition)
  • Management team
  • Short-term and long-term business goals
  • Possible sources of revenue

5. Describe your business

The next step is to write your company profile. Get your readers to become familiar with your business and realize why they should be interested in it.

If you have no idea what specifically goes into this crucial business plan section, you can check the company profiles of businesses in your industry. Usually, you can find them on their websites at the About Us or About the Company page. Take note of the information included and how they’re written.

Here are the must-haves of a great company profile:

  • Brief history of the company
  • Mission and vision
  • Product or service lineup
  • Target market and audience
  • How the business will address the customers’ pain points
  • What makes the business unique

6. Provide details about your operations and organizational structure

Anyone who will read your business plan needs to know what they should expect when they deal with you. They need to see a solid plan for your operations and the people who make up your team. So give your operations plan and organizational plan a careful thought.

For your operations plan, choose carefully the right legal structure for your business. Will you be a sole proprietor? Or will you partner with someone or form a corporation? Your choice will have an impact not only on your business operations but also on the taxes you’ll pay and your personal liability .  

As for the organizational plan, it’s where you put your organizational chart that shows a glimpse of the hierarchy within your organization. You can easily create this chart in Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Also introduce the people who comprise your management team—their relevant experience, qualifications, and expertise . The organizational plan must also include information of the support personnel, as well as who reports to whom and who manages whom.

If you’ll be outsourcing some of your business functions, add them to your organizational plan, too. These may include consultants , accountants , lawyers , logistics specialists, and IT specialists. This way, you’re showing that you’re planning to fill in any expertise and skill gaps in your in-house team.

Also Read: Business Process Outsourcing to the Philippines [Complete Guide]

7. Compose your marketing plan

Make this section of your business plan as comprehensive and detailed as possible. You’d want to prove that you’ll take a strategic and aggressive approach to reach your target customers and promote your brand and product or service to them.

Divide your marketing plan into five subsections: objectives, product/service description, target market profile, competition profile, and promotional activities.

A. Objectives

Zero in on the what and the why of your marketing activities. Under the marketing objectives section, list down all your goals and the strategies you’ll implement to meet them.

Your marketing goals can be any of the following:

  • Raise brand awareness
  • Introduce a new product or service
  • Regain or get more customers for an existing product or service
  • Secure long-term contracts with your ideal clients
  • Increase sales in a certain market, product, or price point
  • Improve product manufacturing or product/service delivery
  • Increase prices without affecting sales

B. Product/Service Description

Describe each product or service you’ll offer, including its features and benefits. You can use storytelling , images, charts, tables, or any visual element that best illustrates how each item will work to the benefit of your target customers.

C. Target Market Profile

Present as much relevant data as you can about your potential customers. Make sure to include the following:

  • Demographic profile: age range, gender, income level, education, interests, etc.
  • Buying behaviors
  • Factors that influence their buying decisions: purchasing power, personal preferences, economic conditions, marketing campaigns, social factors (such as peer pressure and social media influencers ), cultural factors, etc.

D. Competition Profile

Your marketing plan must focus not only on your own business but also those of your competitors. List down the similar products or services that they offer to your target customers.

Also, provide an assessment of your competitors’ performance. Which areas are they doing well? How can you improve on their strengths and weaknesses? How can your business stand out? Is it your more competitive pricing? Better customer service? Superior product quality?

To come up with a good competition profile, take the time to research about your competitors. When interviewing your target customers, ask them about the brands they use or businesses they deal with.

You can also do an online search of your competitors. For example, if you’ll run a pet supplies store in Pasig, search for “pet stores Pasig” on Google. The search engine results page may show you the different stores that sell the same products as the ones you plan to offer. Read customer reviews online to get deeper insights on how these businesses serve their clients.

Consider doing a “secret shopping” in your competitor’s store. This way, you can experience firsthand how they treat their customers and how they market and sell their products or services. You might even be able to get information about their product lineup and pricing.

E. Promotional Activities

The last subsection of your marketing plan must discuss how you’ll promote your brand and products or services and connect with customers. Also, be ready to allocate budget for each marketing activity you identify in your plan.

Create a list of marketing activities you plan to implement. Will you reach your audience through SEO (organic online search), paid advertising, and/or social media? Or will you go the traditional route through print and TV advertising or joining expos, exhibits, and trade shows? The right choice depends on the nature of your business and the type of audience you’re trying to reach.

8. Develop your financial plan

The financial plan is the section where you’ll crunch the numbers. Unless you’re really good at math, it’s best to hire an accountant or business consultant who will work with you to develop a foolproof financial plan.

Put simply, a financial plan explains how a business will spend money and make more money. It also estimates the amount of time it will take for the business to earn a profit.

Here are the specifics of a good financial plan:

  • Total capital requirement
  • Business financing plan and any loan requirement
  • Collateral to put up for a business loan
  • Schedule for loan repayment
  • Financial statements : cash flow statement, income statement/profit and loss statement, and balance sheet
  • Break-even analysis
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Financial analysis

Ultimately, these financial projections answer the question, “Is your business financially feasible?”

9. Back up your business plan with supporting documents

Books and theses have an appendix section at the end that provides additional resources. Your business plan should have one, too. This final section consists of documents, surveys, studies, charts, tables, images, and other elements that provide supporting data.

Depending on the information you’ve presented in the other sections of the plan, your appendix may include these things:

  • Market research data and findings
  • Resumes of the management team
  • Relevant financial documents
  • Lease agreements
  • Bank statements
  • Licenses and permits

10. Review and refine your business plan

Your business plan is almost done at this point. Now all you have to do is go over the document once more to ensure you’ve covered everything and nothing crucial is left out.

Check your final draft and be sure it has the following:

  • Sound business idea – If you’ve done Step 2 properly (validating business idea), you can be confident that you have a sound business idea.
  • Comprehensive and in-depth look into your business in a professional format
  • Thorough understanding of your target customers , their behaviors, interests, and needs
  • Competent management team – The people who make up your team must possess the skills and expertise that complement yours.
  • Business focus or specialization

Aside from yourself, ask a business partner, proofreader, and accountant or financial expert to review your business plan and spot any errors and inconsistencies. You’d want to make sure that it looks professional and is accurate.

11. Write the executive summary

Lastly, get back to the outline you created in Step 4 and write it based on your final draft. Make sure to craft an engaging executive summary that hooks people into reading the rest of the plan.

6 Actionable Tips on Writing a Business Plan

Anyone can write a business plan—but it takes more than great writing skills to create an exceptional one.

Here are some tips to help you prepare an effective business plan that goes beyond the ordinary.

1. Write with your audience in mind

When drafting your business plan, you’re writing not for yourself but for people who will play key roles in starting and running your enterprise. This is why it’s important that you know whom you’re writing for and keep them in mind while preparing your business plan.

If you think you can’t create a plan that caters to all your audience groups, consider having different versions of the document. For example, you can come up with a business plan for investors, another for lenders, one for employees, and so on. But keep the data consistent across all versions.

To write a business plan that suits a particular audience, you have to use the right language, highlight the parts that interest them, and adjust the format accordingly.

A. Use the Right Language

One of the most important rules in business writing: use the language that your target audience easily understands. If you’re writing for engineers, finance people, or lawyers, your language can be technical—meaning you can use jargons and terminologies familiar to them.

However, if you’re writing for investors who barely have technical knowledge, tweak your language in simple terms that are easy to grasp and appreciate.

Likewise, if you’re writing a business plan to communicate internally with managers and employees your company’s direction and strategies, it’s best to use more casual language than you would when writing for high-level, external stakeholders.

B. Appeal to Your Audience’s Interests

It also helps to understand what interests your audience because they will influence how you’ll write your business plan.

Your management team, for instance, will be interested in knowing your business goals and strategies so that they can help you steer the company in the right direction.

Investors and lenders look at the business plan differently—they’ll be more interested in your financial statements to determine your financial health, like if your business is worth investing in or has the ability to pay back a loan.

C. Adopt a Suitable Business Plan Format

There’s no one-size-fits-all format for business plans because it depends mainly on your audience, aside from the nature of your business.

Let’s say you’ll set up a restaurant, and you’re drafting a business plan to apply for a business loan. To convince lenders that your business is viable, details such as your restaurant’s location and possible renovations are crucial.

Meanwhile, if you’re writing the plan for potential big-time investors, you’ll take a different approach. A good restaurant business plan focuses on the business aspects that will lead to growth and profitability (Remember that investors are interested in how they’ll make money from partnering with you).

2. Keep it concise

How long should a business plan be? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , it depends on various factors such as the specific audience it’s written for and the nature of a business. The SBA cites surveys that found the ideal length to be at least 25 to 100 pages.

Sounds a lot? If you have a simple business idea and you’re writing a business plan for busy people who don’t have time to pore over hundreds of pages, then one page up to 20 pages should be fine.

However, you may need to provide more explanation (which will take up more pages in your business plan) if you’re planning to build a new kind of business, and a risky one at that.

The size of your business also affects the length of your business plan. Business plans for small businesses need not exceed 30 pages. Corporate business plans are expected to be longer.

What matters more than length is how concise your business plan is. Meaning, it provides all the necessary information—including solid research and analysis—using the fewest words possible. No place for wordiness here!

3. Document everything related to your business

Support your claims in the business plan with solid facts and proof. Investors, for instance, need an assurance that they won’t lose their investment when they trust you with their money. This is where documenting your business thoroughly plays a crucial role.

What kinds of documentation can you include in your business plan?

  • Industry forecast or projections
  • Licensing agreements
  • Location strategy
  • Prototype of your product or service
  • Survey and FGD results
  • Resumes of your management team

4. Show your passion and dedication to your business

Although business plans have straightforward, matter-of-fact content, you can still establish an emotional connection with your readers through your plan. After all, your readers are humans with feelings and motivations.

No need to be dramatic about it—you can show your passion and dedication while still sounding professional in your business plan. Write about the mistakes you’ve had (like a failed business in the past), what you’ve learned from the experience, the values you hold, and the problems of your customers you want to solve through your product or service.

5. Know your competition and how you’ll stand out

Your business won’t be the single player in your industry. Other businesses in the same niche have started way ahead of you, and some new ones will also compete for business in the future.

Write your business plan in such a way that you know your competitors so well. Identify all of them and what makes your business unique compared with the rest without belittling them.

6. Be realistic and conservative in all your estimates

In any aspect of your business, it’s better to underpromise and overdeliver than the other way around. This also holds true when writing a business plan. You wouldn’t want to set unrealistic expectations that will lead to disappointments and worse, losses, when you fail to deliver on your promise.

There’s no place for too much optimism in your business plan. Your budget allocation, timelines, capital requirements, sales and revenue targets, and financial projections must be reasonable, realistic, and conservative. These will lend credibility to your business plan and yourself as an entrepreneur. Because there are a lot of factors beyond your control, always assume that things will get completed longer and cost more ( consider inflation over time! ).

This is where your research prior to writing the draft comes extremely helpful. You have something solid and factual to benchmark against. For example, if your analysis based on the facts you’ve gathered indicates that you’ll be able to get 40% share off the market in your first year of operations, consider making your estimates a bit more conservative and attainable.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Business Valuation in the Philippines

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Business Plan

Now, let’s explore the mistakes entrepreneurs often commit when writing a business plan. Listing them all down here to let you know what to avoid.

1. Prioritizing Form Over Substance

Spend most of your time and energy on building solid research and facts rather than obsessing about which font type or background color will look best for your document.

2. Overthinking

Many entrepreneurs take too long to complete their business plans because they worry too much about it. Don’t get intimidated by business planning—you don’t have to be an expert or a degree holder in business management or business administration to be able to write an outstanding business plan. Overthinking will just lead to analysis paralysis and get nothing done.

As long as you know your business well and are passionate about it, then writing a business plan won’t be as difficult as you think, especially if you’re using a template.

3. Submitting the Document Without Proofreading It

If your business plan is filled with typos and grammatical errors, readers will get distracted even if you’re presenting substantial information. It may also give your audience an impression that you’re careless—and who wants to deal with a person who isn’t professional and careful enough?

Even if it costs you money, pay a professional proofreader to check your work and correct any errors so that the message you wanted to convey through your business plan will get across.

4. Making Empty Claims

Any statement that isn’t sufficiently supported by solid research or documentation has to go. For example, if you want to claim to be the top player in your industry but you don’t have any evidence to back it up, rethink about including it in your business plan.

5. Writing an Overly Long and Wordy Plan

Make sure that everything you put into your business plan is relevant and serves your purpose. Otherwise, remove unnecessary statements that just add fluff to the document.

Also, don’t waste your readers’ time by using too many words—including highfalutin ones. Remember, your goal is to make your audience understand your business, not to impress them with beautiful or complex prose.

6. Using Too Many Superlatives

Even if you really feel that your business, business idea, or projection is incredible, amazing, the best, great, fantastic, or one of a kind, avoid using these superlatives because they aren’t appropriate for formal documents like a business plan.

7. Doing the Financial Projections on Your Own

Unless you’re an accountant yourself, it’s best that you get a professional to do the job for you. It will save you time and the headache of dealing with numbers and formatting your financial plan properly.

8. Overestimating Your Projections

The business plan is not a place to make impossible promises—while they look good on paper, you might run into trouble fulfilling them. To avoid this mistake, always do your research. Find out how other businesses do it and what the typical timeframes and financial projections are before you come up with your estimates.

9. Long-Term Business Planning

As much as possible, limit your projections to only a year. A lot of things can happen and make your business different from how you initially planned it. Stick with your short-term or one-year targets and estimates, then just tweak your business plan as time goes by.

10. Including Unfounded Rumors About Your Competitors

Not only do rumors make your business plan look unprofessional, but they also distract your readers from your intended message, which is to highlight what makes your business different from the competition. Avoid including details based only on hearsay. Everything in your plan must be backed up by solid, quantifiable facts.

Key Takeaway

A business plan is more than just a document that you prepare once and will never look at again. Rather, it’s a strategic tool that you should use from time to time to guide your business operations, get the buy-in of your stakeholders, and grow your business over time.

Once you’re done with writing your business plan, make the most of it for your business. Use it and modify it as often as needed!

Ready and confident to start writing your business plan? Share your thoughts and questions below!

Other Useful Business Resources from Grit PH:

  • How to Sell a Business in the Philippines

basic business plan format

About Venus Zoleta

Venus Zoleta is an experienced writer and editor, specializing in personal finance and digital marketing.

She has been a regular columnist for some of the biggest business & finance publications in the Philippines, such as MoneyMax.ph and Filipiknow.net.

Hoping to retire early, she started investing and bought a home in her early 20s. This crazy cat mom eats ramen like there's no tomorrow.

Education: University of the Philippines (B.A. Journalism) Focus: Personal Finance, Personal Development, and Entrepreneurship

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March 6, 2020 at 9:46 am

Hello Ms. Venus, Rise Against Hunger Philippines, N.G.O. , branching out into a new high ways… and i am newly hired as a social enterprise development officer… whose main tasks to launch a product line; an up-cycled tarpaulin bags.. manufactured by a group of community women (skills training’s, coordinated by life coached; aiming w-holistic transformation and sustainability program.. . with such a big tasks, i need a step by step guides, and if possible a coach for i cannot do it alone… thank you, henry reandino chua

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basic business plan format

  • Business and self-employed
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Write a business plan

Download free business plan templates and find help and advice on how to write your business plan.

Business plan templates

Download a free business plan template on The Prince’s Trust website.

You can also download a free cash flow forecast template or a business plan template on the Start Up Loans website to help you manage your finances.

Business plan examples

Read example business plans on the Bplans website.

How to write a business plan

Get detailed information about how to write a business plan on the Start Up Donut website.

Why you need a business plan

A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.

A business plan helps you to:

  • clarify your business idea
  • spot potential problems
  • set out your goals
  • measure your progress

You’ll need a business plan if you want to secure investment or a loan from a bank. Read about the finance options available for businesses on the Business Finance Guide website.

It can also help to convince customers, suppliers and potential employees to support you.

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2024 Super Bowl: Free live stream for 49ers vs. Chiefs, time, TV, how to watch on CBS, Nickelodeon, Paramount+

Make sure you know when and where to tune into super bowl lviii.

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The biggest NFL game of the season has reached halftime! After three rounds of playoff games and 18 regular-season weeks, Super Bowl LVIII is half over. The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are playing for the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. 

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How to watch the 2024 Super Bowl

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Note: This marks the first time in NFL history that the Super Bowl will be broadcast in two different formats, with CBS carrying the traditional broadcast of the game and Nickelodeon airing an exclusive kids- and family-friendly telecast. The CBS broadcast will also be available to stream via Paramount+ . Paramount+ can be streamed on a number of supported devices , including iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, Fire TVs, PlayStation 4s and 5s, Roku TVs, Xboxs and Google TVs.

Super Bowl LVIII TV schedule (CBS)

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  • Following the game -- The NFL Today Postgame Show  -- Jim Nantz will present the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the champions.

What is the Nickelodeon broadcast?

CBS Sports and Nickelodeon have teamed up to air several iterations of family-friendly NFL action, infusing kid-themed elements like virtual-reality graphics and Nick characters into game broadcasts. This will continue with Super Bowl LVIII.

"There is nobody more suited than our CBS Sports production team, in conjunction with our friends at Nickelodeon, to deliver an innovative and slime-filled Nick-ified telecast for kids and family," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said, "alongside our industry-leading NFL production on CBS, to create a truly unique viewing experience and broaden the reach of the Super Bowl to a new legion of fans."

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IMAGES

  1. Business plan sample in Word and Pdf formats

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  2. Simple Business Plan Template Gratis

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  3. 13+ Business Plan Guideline Templates

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  4. Free Printable Business Plan Template Form (GENERIC)

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  5. FREE Simple Business Plan Template

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  6. Free Printable Business Plan Sample Form (GENERIC)

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VIDEO

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  2. How to earn Rs 30,000 monthly from investing Rs 30,000

  3. How to Write a Business plan? 10 Important Steps of Business Plan

  4. 9 Step Help You to Write the best business plan

  5. Writing a business plan

  6. Business Plan Examples

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    Sales strategy Funding details (or request for funding) Financial projections If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read " How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step " below.

  2. Simple Business Plan Template (2024)

    This section of your simple business plan template explores how to structure and operate your business. Details include the type of business organization your startup will take, roles and ...

  3. Write your business plan

    Learn how to write a business plan quickly and efficiently with a business plan template. Choose between a traditional or lean startup format, depending on your needs and goals. Find out the key elements of a traditional business plan and a lean startup format, and see examples of each.

  4. Free Simple Business Plan Templates

    Word | PDF Use this fill-in-the-blank business plan template to guide you as you build your business plan. Each section comes pre-filled with sample content, with space to add customized verbiage relevant to your product or service. For additional free, downloadable resources, visit " Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates ."

  5. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  6. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    The basics of business planning If you're reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . You understand that planning helps you: Raise money Grow strategically Keep your business on the right track As you start to write your plan, it's useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is.

  7. How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

    7. Perform a business financial analysis 8. Make financial projections 9. Add additional information to an appendix Business plan tips and resources MORE LIKE THIS Small Business A business...

  8. How To Write a Simple Business Plan in 5 Steps (With Example)

    Title page: Use this page to include your business information, such as your business's legal name, address, website URL, email, phone number and logo. Table of contents: Get organized by numbering each section of your business plan. Executive summary: Explain what your mission is for your business.

  9. How to Format a Business Plan: Basic Business Plan Template

    1. Executive summary: An executive summary serves as an overview of your entire business plan, from the company description to the business model. This summary might include a broad-strokes overview of your company's marketing plan, financial plan, and legal structure, but it will not go into detail. 2. Mission statement: Your mission statement ...

  10. Free Business Plan Template For Small Businesses

    In terms of types of business plans, there are two main formats to choose from: traditional and lean. Traditional business plan format A traditional business plan includes every detail and component that defines a business and contributes to its success.

  11. Simple Business Plan Template for Entrepreneurs

    Introduce your company briefly, sticking to vital details such as size, location, management, and ownership. Describe your main product (s) and/or service (s). Identify the customer base you plan to target and how your business will serve those customers. Summarize the competition and how you will get market share.

  12. 10-part business plan template and how write a business plan

    Whether you're a long-time business owner or starting to think about launching a business, to-do lists pile up fast, and determining how to write a business plan—much less following a business plan template—often feels overwhelming.

  13. Free simple business plan templates to edit and print

    68 templates Create a blank Simple Business Plan Restaurant Business Plan in Terracotta Coral Peach Friendly Dynamic Style Document by Canva Creative Studio White and Blue Modern Business Plan Cover Page Document by cavani team Clothing Business Plan in Navy White Minimal Corporate Style Document by Canva Creative Studio

  14. Business Plan

    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

  15. Free editable and printable business plan templates

    Find business plan templates from Canva's premade document gallery for a crash course on how to effectively present your objectives. Business plans can come in various formats, and our ready-made selection reflects that. We've got simple business plan templates, which you can use while brainstorming ideas on your own or with a team. ...

  16. Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One

    Business Plan: A business plan is a written document that describes in detail how a business, usually a new one, is going to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written plan from a ...

  17. Free Business Plan Templates for Word

    This template is ideal for developing a 90-day action plan to create and implement your business plan in manageable, 30-day chunks. Use the document to outline your main goals and deliverables, and then assign key business activities and deadlines to ensure your plan stays on track. Download Simple 30-60-90-Day Business Plan Template.

  18. 24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

    8. Panda Doc's Free Business Plan Template. PandaDoc's free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

  19. How to write a business plan

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