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 needi

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated May 7, 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

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  • 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: 10 AI prompts you need to write a 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 to include in a business plan is sometimes not quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

There are plenty of great options available (we’ve rounded up our 8 favorites to streamline your search).

But, if you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template , you can get one right now; 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

Free business plan templates and examples

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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.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

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.

Grow 30% faster with the right business plan. Create your plan with LivePlan.

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 in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started.

What Do You Need A Business Plan For?

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

1. Secure Funds

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

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

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

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

2. Monitor Business Growth

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

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

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

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

3. Measure Business Success

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

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

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

4. Document Your Marketing Strategies

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Infographic

How to Write a Business Plan Step-by-Step

1. create your executive summary.

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

Executive Summary of the business plan

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

A good executive summary should do the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Add Your Company Overview

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

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

Your company overview should contain the following:

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

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

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

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

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

It describes what your business does

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

  • Mission Statement

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

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

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

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

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

Business Objectives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Market Analysis

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

Market Analysis for Online Business

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

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

  • Market Research

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

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

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

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

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

How to Quantify Your Target Market

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

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

What Does a Good Market Analysis Entail?

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

Market Analysis Steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

Competitive Analysis

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

Four Steps to Create a Competitive Marketing Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Perform Competitive Analysis

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

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

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

Direct vs Indirect Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Factors that Differentiate Your Business from the Competition

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

1. Cost Leadership

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

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

2. Product Differentiation

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

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

3. Market Segmentation

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

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

4. Define Your Business and Management Structure

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

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

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

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

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

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

Management Team

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

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

Create Management Team For Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Key Questions to Answer When Structuring Your Management Team

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

Additional Tips for Writing the Management Structure Section

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organizational Chart

Organizational chart Infographic

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

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

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

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

5. Describe Your Product and Service Offering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Avoid Technical Descriptions and Industry Buzzwords

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Long or Short Products or Services Section

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Describe Your Relationships with Vendors or Suppliers

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

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

5. Your Primary Goal Is to Convince Your Readers

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

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

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

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

Key Questions to Answer When Writing your Products and Services Section

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

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

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

6. Show and Explain Your Marketing and Sales Plan

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

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

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

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

Outline Your Business’ Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

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

Target Market and Target Audience

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

Target Market Vs Target Audience

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

Creating a Smart Marketing and Sales Plan

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

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

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

Your Positioning Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic Rules to Follow When Pricing Your Offering

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

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

Pricing Strategy

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

Pricing strategy influences the price of offering

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

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

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

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

Advertising

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

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

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

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

Public Relations

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

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

Content Marketing

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

The Benefits of Content Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social Media

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

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

Most popular social media platforms

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

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

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

Choosing the right social media platform

Strategic Alliances

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

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

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

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

Steps Involved in Creating a Marketing and Sales Plan

1. Focus on Your Target Market

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

2. Evaluate Your Competition

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

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

These questions can help you know your competition.

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

3. Consider Your Brand

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

4. Focus on Benefits

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

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

5. Focus on Differentiation

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

Key Questions to Answer When Writing Your Marketing and Sales Plan

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

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

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

7. Clearly Show Your Funding Request

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funding Request: Debt or Equity?

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

Case for Equity

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

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

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

Case for Debt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Detail Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use Graphs and Charts

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

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

Address the Risk Factors and Show Realistic Financial Projections

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Sales Forecast

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

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

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

Benefits of Sales Forecasting

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

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

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

Factors that affect sales forecasting

2. Personnel Plan

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

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

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

True HR Cost Infographic

3. Income Statement

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

The income statement section

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

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

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

4. Cash Flow Statement

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

Cash Flow Statement Example

5. Balance Sheet

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

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

Balance sheet Formula

6. Exit Strategy

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

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

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

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

Exit Strategy Section of Business Plan Infographic

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

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

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

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

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

9. Add an Appendix to Your Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips and Strategies for Writing a Convincing Business Plan

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

1. Know Your Audience

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

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

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

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

2. Get Inspiration from People

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

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

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

3. Avoid Being Over Optimistic

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

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

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

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

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

4. Keep it Simple and Short

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

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

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

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

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

5. Make an Outline and Follow Through

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Ask a Professional to Proofread

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

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

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

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

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

1. hubspot's one-page business plan.

HubSpot's One Page Business Plan

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

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

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

2. Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

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

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

3. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

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

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

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

4. Business Plan by My Own Business Institute

The Business Profile

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

The comprehensive template consists of a whopping 15 sections.

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

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

5. Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

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

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

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

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

6. Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

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

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

7. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

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

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

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

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

The $100 Startup's One Page Business Plan

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

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

9. PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invoiceberry Templates Business Concept

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

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

Alternatives to the Traditional Business Plan

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

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

Business Model Canvas (BMC)

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

Business Model Canvas (BMC) Infographic

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

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

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

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

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

Lean Canvas

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

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

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

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

Startup Pitch Deck

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

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

Startup Pitch Deck Presentation

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

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

Airbnb Pitch Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan FAQ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exlore Further

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

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Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

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

How to make a business plan

Strategic planning in Miro

Table of Contents

How to make a good business plan: step-by-step guide.

A business plan is a strategic roadmap used to navigate the challenging journey of entrepreneurship. It's the foundation upon which you build a successful business.

A well-crafted business plan can help you define your vision, clarify your goals, and identify potential problems before they arise.

But where do you start? How do you create a business plan that sets you up for success?

This article will explore the step-by-step process of creating a comprehensive business plan.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document that outlines a business's objectives, strategies, and operational procedures. It typically includes the following information about a company:

Products or services

Target market

Competitors

Marketing and sales strategies

Financial plan

Management team

A business plan serves as a roadmap for a company's success and provides a blueprint for its growth and development. It helps entrepreneurs and business owners organize their ideas, evaluate the feasibility, and identify potential challenges and opportunities.

As well as serving as a guide for business owners, a business plan can attract investors and secure funding. It demonstrates the company's understanding of the market, its ability to generate revenue and profits, and its strategy for managing risks and achieving success.

Business plan vs. business model canvas

A business plan may seem similar to a business model canvas, but each document serves a different purpose.

A business model canvas is a high-level overview that helps entrepreneurs and business owners quickly test and iterate their ideas. It is often a one-page document that briefly outlines the following:

Key partnerships

Key activities

Key propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

Key resources

Cost structure

Revenue streams

On the other hand, a Business Plan Template provides a more in-depth analysis of a company's strategy and operations. It is typically a lengthy document and requires significant time and effort to develop.

A business model shouldn’t replace a business plan, and vice versa. Business owners should lay the foundations and visually capture the most important information with a Business Model Canvas Template . Because this is a fast and efficient way to communicate a business idea, a business model canvas is a good starting point before developing a more comprehensive business plan.

A business plan can aim to secure funding from investors or lenders, while a business model canvas communicates a business idea to potential customers or partners.

Why is a business plan important?

A business plan is crucial for any entrepreneur or business owner wanting to increase their chances of success.

Here are some of the many benefits of having a thorough business plan.

Helps to define the business goals and objectives

A business plan encourages you to think critically about your goals and objectives. Doing so lets you clearly understand what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.

A well-defined set of goals, objectives, and key results also provides a sense of direction and purpose, which helps keep business owners focused and motivated.

Guides decision-making

A business plan requires you to consider different scenarios and potential problems that may arise in your business. This awareness allows you to devise strategies to deal with these issues and avoid pitfalls.

With a clear plan, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions aligning with their overall business goals and objectives. This helps reduce the risk of making costly mistakes and ensures they make decisions with long-term success in mind.

Attracts investors and secures funding

Investors and lenders often require a business plan before considering investing in your business. A document that outlines the company's goals, objectives, and financial forecasts can help instill confidence in potential investors and lenders.

A well-written business plan demonstrates that you have thoroughly thought through your business idea and have a solid plan for success.

Identifies potential challenges and risks

A business plan requires entrepreneurs to consider potential challenges and risks that could impact their business. For example:

Is there enough demand for my product or service?

Will I have enough capital to start my business?

Is the market oversaturated with too many competitors?

What will happen if my marketing strategy is ineffective?

By identifying these potential challenges, entrepreneurs can develop strategies to mitigate risks and overcome challenges. This can reduce the likelihood of costly mistakes and ensure the business is well-positioned to take on any challenges.

Provides a basis for measuring success

A business plan serves as a framework for measuring success by providing clear goals and financial projections . Entrepreneurs can regularly refer to the original business plan as a benchmark to measure progress. By comparing the current business position to initial forecasts, business owners can answer questions such as:

Are we where we want to be at this point?

Did we achieve our goals?

If not, why not, and what do we need to do?

After assessing whether the business is meeting its objectives or falling short, business owners can adjust their strategies as needed.

How to make a business plan step by step

The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include.

1. Create an executive summary

Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

Keep your executive summary concise and clear with the Executive Summary Template . The simple design helps readers understand the crux of your business plan without reading the entire document.

2. Write your company description

Provide a detailed explanation of your company. Include information on what your company does, the mission statement, and your vision for the future.

Provide additional background information on the history of your company, the founders, and any notable achievements or milestones.

3. Conduct a market analysis

Conduct an in-depth analysis of your industry, competitors, and target market. This is best done with a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Next, identify your target market's needs, demographics, and behaviors.

Use the Competitive Analysis Template to brainstorm answers to simple questions like:

What does the current market look like?

Who are your competitors?

What are they offering?

What will give you a competitive advantage?

Who is your target market?

What are they looking for and why?

How will your product or service satisfy a need?

These questions should give you valuable insights into the current market and where your business stands.

4. Describe your products and services

Provide detailed information about your products and services. This includes pricing information, product features, and any unique selling points.

Use the Product/Market Fit Template to explain how your products meet the needs of your target market. Describe what sets them apart from the competition.

5. Design a marketing and sales strategy

Outline how you plan to promote and sell your products. Your marketing strategy and sales strategy should include information about your:

Pricing strategy

Advertising and promotional tactics

Sales channels

The Go to Market Strategy Template is a great way to visually map how you plan to launch your product or service in a new or existing market.

6. Determine budget and financial projections

Document detailed information on your business’ finances. Describe the current financial position of the company and how you expect the finances to play out.

Some details to include in this section are:

Startup costs

Revenue projections

Profit and loss statement

Funding you have received or plan to receive

Strategy for raising funds

7. Set the organization and management structure

Define how your company is structured and who will be responsible for each aspect of the business. Use the Business Organizational Chart Template to visually map the company’s teams, roles, and hierarchy.

As well as the organization and management structure, discuss the legal structure of your business. Clarify whether your business is a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or LLC.

8. Make an action plan

At this point in your business plan, you’ve described what you’re aiming for. But how are you going to get there? The Action Plan Template describes the following steps to move your business plan forward. Outline the next steps you plan to take to bring your business plan to fruition.

Types of business plans

Several types of business plans cater to different purposes and stages of a company's lifecycle. Here are some of the most common types of business plans.

Startup business plan

A startup business plan is typically an entrepreneur's first business plan. This document helps entrepreneurs articulate their business idea when starting a new business.

Not sure how to make a business plan for a startup? It’s pretty similar to a regular business plan, except the primary purpose of a startup business plan is to convince investors to provide funding for the business. A startup business plan also outlines the potential target market, product/service offering, marketing plan, and financial projections.

Strategic business plan

A strategic business plan is a long-term plan that outlines a company's overall strategy, objectives, and tactics. This type of strategic plan focuses on the big picture and helps business owners set goals and priorities and measure progress.

The primary purpose of a strategic business plan is to provide direction and guidance to the company's management team and stakeholders. The plan typically covers a period of three to five years.

Operational business plan

An operational business plan is a detailed document that outlines the day-to-day operations of a business. It focuses on the specific activities and processes required to run the business, such as:

Organizational structure

Staffing plan

Production plan

Quality control

Inventory management

Supply chain

The primary purpose of an operational business plan is to ensure that the business runs efficiently and effectively. It helps business owners manage their resources, track their performance, and identify areas for improvement.

Growth-business plan

A growth-business plan is a strategic plan that outlines how a company plans to expand its business. It helps business owners identify new market opportunities and increase revenue and profitability. The primary purpose of a growth-business plan is to provide a roadmap for the company's expansion and growth.

The 3 Horizons of Growth Template is a great tool to identify new areas of growth. This framework categorizes growth opportunities into three categories: Horizon 1 (core business), Horizon 2 (emerging business), and Horizon 3 (potential business).

One-page business plan

A one-page business plan is a condensed version of a full business plan that focuses on the most critical aspects of a business. It’s a great tool for entrepreneurs who want to quickly communicate their business idea to potential investors, partners, or employees.

A one-page business plan typically includes sections such as business concept, value proposition, revenue streams, and cost structure.

Best practices for how to make a good business plan

Here are some additional tips for creating a business plan:

Use a template

A template can help you organize your thoughts and effectively communicate your business ideas and strategies. Starting with a template can also save you time and effort when formatting your plan.

Miro’s extensive library of customizable templates includes all the necessary sections for a comprehensive business plan. With our templates, you can confidently present your business plans to stakeholders and investors.

Be practical

Avoid overestimating revenue projections or underestimating expenses. Your business plan should be grounded in practical realities like your budget, resources, and capabilities.

Be specific

Provide as much detail as possible in your business plan. A specific plan is easier to execute because it provides clear guidance on what needs to be done and how. Without specific details, your plan may be too broad or vague, making it difficult to know where to start or how to measure success.

Be thorough with your research

Conduct thorough research to fully understand the market, your competitors, and your target audience . By conducting thorough research, you can identify potential risks and challenges your business may face and develop strategies to mitigate them.

Get input from others

It can be easy to become overly focused on your vision and ideas, leading to tunnel vision and a lack of objectivity. By seeking input from others, you can identify potential opportunities you may have overlooked.

Review and revise regularly

A business plan is a living document. You should update it regularly to reflect market, industry, and business changes. Set aside time for regular reviews and revisions to ensure your plan remains relevant and effective.

Create a winning business plan to chart your path to success

Starting or growing a business can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, a well-written business plan can make or break your business’ success.

The purpose of a business plan is more than just to secure funding and attract investors. It also serves as a roadmap for achieving your business goals and realizing your vision. With the right mindset, tools, and strategies, you can develop a visually appealing, persuasive business plan.

Ready to make an effective business plan that works for you? Check out our library of ready-made strategy and planning templates and chart your path to success.

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

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What is a business plan?

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. summarize how your company operates, 10. add any additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

A business plan outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them over the next three to five years. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan that will offer a strong, detailed road map for your business.

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness

A business plan is a document that explains what your business does, how it makes money and who its customers are. Internally, writing a business plan should help you clarify your vision and organize your operations. Externally, you can share it with potential lenders and investors to show them you’re on the right track.

Business plans are living documents; it’s OK for them to change over time. Startups may update their business plans often as they figure out who their customers are and what products and services fit them best. Mature companies might only revisit their business plan every few years. Regardless of your business’s age, brush up this document before you apply for a business loan .

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

This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your business offers 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. This should contain basic 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, write a little about 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

steps on how to prepare a business plan

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

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

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

» MORE: How to write a successful business plan for a loan

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.

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.

Include details about your sales and distribution strategies, including the costs involved in selling each product .

» 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.

Accounting software may be able to generate these reports for you. It may also help you calculate 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.

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.

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

Before the end of your business plan, summarize how your business is structured and outline each team’s responsibilities. This will help your readers understand who performs each of the functions you’ve described above — making and selling your products or services — and how much each of those functions cost.

If any of your employees have exceptional skills, you may want to include their resumes to help explain the competitive advantage they give you.

Finally, attach any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere. That might include:

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

Details of your personal and business credit history, if you’re seeking financing.

If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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 write a detailed, convincing business plan:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business bank loan or professional investment, someone will be reading your business plan closely. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of approval.

Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors. 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. 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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Written by Jesse Sumrak | May 14, 2023

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

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

Bah. Sounds like homework, right?

Yes. Yes, it does.

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

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

Table of Contents

What Is a Business Plan?

Tips to Make Your Small Business Plan Ironclad

How to Write a Business Plan in 6 Steps

Startup Business Plan Template

Business Plan Examples

Work on Making Your Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan FAQs

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

A business plan is a roadmap that outlines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Skip: Business Startup Costs Checklist

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

Be Professional and Legit

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

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

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

Know Your Audience

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

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

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

Invest Time Researching

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

Your audience will want:

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

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

Stay Realistic

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

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

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How to Write a Business Plan—6 Essential Elements

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

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

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

1. Executive Summary

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

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

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

2. Business Overview

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

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

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

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

3. Products and Services

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

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

You’ll need to include:

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

4. Market Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Competitive Analysis

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

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

6. Financial Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

Read More: 16 Financial Concepts Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Startup Business Plan Template (Copy/Paste Outline)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Frame-Worthy Business Plan Examples

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

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

Get to Work on Making Your Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Learning: New Product Development Process in 8 Easy Steps

What financial information should be included in a business plan?

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

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

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

Who should review my business plan before I submit it?

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

Ready to Write Your Business Plan?

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

Let us help you get started.

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

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About Jesse Sumrak

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

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steps on how to prepare a business plan

Home > Business > Business Startup

How To Write a Business Plan

Stephanie Coleman

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How-to-write-a-business-plan

Starting a business is a wild ride, and a solid business plan can be the key to keeping you on track. A business plan is essentially a roadmap for your business — outlining your goals, strategies, market analysis and financial projections. Not only will it guide your decision-making, a business plan can help you secure funding with a loan or from investors .

Writing a business plan can seem like a huge task, but taking it one step at a time can break the plan down into manageable milestones. Here is our step-by-step guide on how to write a business plan.

Table of contents

  • Write your executive summary
  • Do your market research homework
  • Set your business goals and objectives
  • Plan your business strategy
  • Describe your product or service
  • Crunch the numbers
  • Finalize your business plan

steps on how to prepare a business plan

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Step 1: Write your executive summary

Though this will be the first page of your business plan , we recommend you actually write the executive summary last. That’s because an executive summary highlights what’s to come in the business plan but in a more condensed fashion.

An executive summary gives stakeholders who are reading your business plan the key points quickly without having to comb through pages and pages. Be sure to cover each successive point in a concise manner, and include as much data as necessary to support your claims.

You’ll cover other things too, but answer these basic questions in your executive summary:

  • Idea: What’s your business concept? What problem does your business solve? What are your business goals?
  • Product: What’s your product/service and how is it different?
  • Market: Who’s your audience? How will you reach customers?
  • Finance: How much will your idea cost? And if you’re seeking funding, how much money do you need? How much do you expect to earn? If you’ve already started, where is your revenue at now?

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Step 2: Do your market research homework

The next step in writing a business plan is to conduct market research . This involves gathering information about your target market (or customer persona), your competition, and the industry as a whole. You can use a variety of research methods such as surveys, focus groups, and online research to gather this information. Your method may be formal or more casual, just make sure that you’re getting good data back.

This research will help you to understand the needs of your target market and the potential demand for your product or service—essential aspects of starting and growing a successful business.

Step 3: Set your business goals and objectives

Once you’ve completed your market research, you can begin to define your business goals and objectives. What is the problem you want to solve? What’s your vision for the future? Where do you want to be in a year from now?

Use this step to decide what you want to achieve with your business, both in the short and long term. Try to set SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound benchmarks—that will help you to stay focused and motivated as you build your business.

Step 4: Plan your business strategy

Your business strategy is how you plan to reach your goals and objectives. This includes details on positioning your product or service, marketing and sales strategies, operational plans, and the organizational structure of your small business.

Make sure to include key roles and responsibilities for each team member if you’re in a business entity with multiple people.

Step 5: Describe your product or service

In this section, get into the nitty-gritty of your product or service. Go into depth regarding the features, benefits, target market, and any patents or proprietary tech you have. Make sure to paint a clear picture of what sets your product apart from the competition—and don’t forget to highlight any customer benefits.

Step 6: Crunch the numbers

Financial analysis is an essential part of your business plan. If you’re already in business that includes your profit and loss statement , cash flow statement and balance sheet .

These financial projections will give investors and lenders an understanding of the financial health of your business and the potential return on investment.

You may want to work with a financial professional to ensure your financial projections are realistic and accurate.

Step 7: Finalize your business plan

Once you’ve completed everything, it's time to finalize your business plan. This involves reviewing and editing your plan to ensure that it is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

You should also have someone else review your plan to get a fresh perspective and identify any areas that may need improvement. You could even work with a free SCORE mentor on your business plan or use a SCORE business plan template for more detailed guidance.

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The takeaway

Writing a business plan is an essential process for any forward-thinking entrepreneur or business owner. A business plan requires a lot of up-front research, planning, and attention to detail, but it’s worthwhile. Creating a comprehensive business plan can help you achieve your business goals and secure the funding you need.

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How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: 10 Essential Steps

Whether you’re starting a new small business or are already years into operating one, a business plan is one of the best ways to clarify your long-term vision. Follow our step-by-step guide to writing a highly effective business plan.

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hether you’re starting a new small business or are already years into operating one, a business plan is one of the best ways to clarify your long-term vision. While every business plan is different, there are several key elements to consider that will benefit you in the long run. 

Follow our step-by-step guide to writing a highly effective business plan. 

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that outlines your business goals and how you plan to achieve them. Ideally, this will become your roadmap for marketing, sales, finance, and growth. 

In other words, a business plan is...

  • An explanation of your overall vision.
  • A valuable tool to plan and track your business fundamentals.
  • An overview of your path to profitability, which can help get funding for your company.

Do You Need A Business Plan?

While it’s not a requirement, having a business plan is strongly recommended. In a recent QuickBooks survey , nearly 70% of current business owners recommended writing a business plan.

Creating a business plan is especially useful in the following scenarios:

  • Applying for business loans
  • Seeking additional rounds of funding or investors 
  • Growing your employee headcount  
  • Attracting top-level management candidates 
  • Looking for opportunities to scale your business

10 Steps To Creating A Comprehensive Business Plan

While not every business plan is the same, there are a few key steps you should take to create an effective and comprehensive document:

1. Create an executive summary

Think of an executive summary as your company's elevator pitch in written form. It should be 1 to 2 pages in length and summarize important information about your company and goals. If you are pitching your business plan to get funding, you should ensure your executive summary appeals to investors.

What should you include in an executive summary?

  • An overview of your business
  • Your company mission statement
  • A concise description of products or services offered
  • A description of your target market and customer demographics
  • A brief analysis of your competition
  • Financial projections and funding requirements
  • Information about your management team
  • Future plans and growth opportunities
  • An overall summary of your business plan

2. Write your company description

Your company description is a more detailed and comprehensive explanation of your business. It should provide a thorough overview of your company, including your company history, your mission, your objectives, and your vision. A company description should help the reader understand the context and background of the business, as well as the key factors that contribute to its success.

What should you include in your company description?

  • Official company name 
  • Type of business structure
  • Physical address(es)
  • Company history and background information
  • Mission statement and core values
  • Management team members and their qualifications
  • Products and services offered
  • Target market and customer segmentation
  • Marketing and sales strategy
  • Goals (both short- and long-term)
  • Vision statement

Novo Note : The company description is your chance to expound on the pain points your company solves. It should also give a reader an accurate impression of who you are. 

3. Conduct and outline market analysis

This is one of the most important steps in building a business plan. Here, you will assess the size and dynamics of the market your business operates in.

How to conduct a market analysis

Market analyses include both quantitative and qualitative data. You may want to conduct surveys or lean on existing industry research to gather this information. You’ll want to answer:

  • What is the size of the market?
  • How much revenue does your industry generate?
  • What trends are impacting this industry?
  • Where are opportunities for innovation?
  • What are the most well-known companies in the industry? What tactics do they use to sell to customers? How do they price their offering?
  • Where are there gaps in the market? 
  • What are your customer demographics? What problems do they have that need solving? What are their values, desires, and purchasing habits?
  • What barriers to entry, if any, exist? These could include startup costs, legal requirements, environmental conditions that impact consumer behavior, and market saturation.

What is your target market?

In this section, you will specify the customer segment(s) you’re targeting . You can divide customers into small segments organized by age, location, income, and lifestyle. The goal is to describe what type of consumer will be most interested in your offering.

Novo Note : Regardless of your company’s size, understanding the trends and opportunities within your target market enables you to build a more effective marketing plan to distinguish yourself from the marketplace and grow your business. This analysis might also help you find potential customers or new products you could offer. 

4. Analyze your competitors

After conducting a market analysis, you need to do a deep dive into your competitors. Look at how the competition is succeeding or failing and how each competitor has positioned itself. For example, you might want to evaluate your competitors’ brand, pricing, and distribution strategies. 

How to conduct a competitive analysis

You’ll want to research your competitors and ask the following questions:

  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What are their customer reviews like?
  • How do they price their offering(s)?
  • What are their value propositions?
  • What marketing and sales channels do they leverage?
  • How are they growing and evolving?

Novo Note : After you develop a strong understanding of the competitive landscape, consider how your business is unique. Solidifying your competitive advantage can help you appeal to your target audience.  

5. Describe your products or services

This is your chance to go into more detail about the products and services you offer! Use this opportunity to note where your offering or service differs from others in the industry. Highlight the standout features of your product, your company’s unique ability to solve customer problems, and your product roadmap.

What to include:

  • Your product catalog
  • Key differentiating features
  • Information about the production process
  • The resources required for production
  • Plans for future product releases

6. Define your marketing and sales strategy

Your marketing plan describes your strategy for connecting with your target market and generating leads. It doesn't need to be full-fledged at this point, but it should answer who you're trying to sell to and how you plan to target them. Investors also want to know how you plan on selling your brand and breaking into the market, so make sure to consider their perspective as you develop your marketing strategy.

  • Your sales and marketing budget
  • Your key sales and marketing objectives
  • Details about your sales process and sales goals
  • Platforms or strategies you’ll employ to reach your target audience
  • PR initiatives, content ideas, and social media strategies

7. Gather your business financials and outline financial projections

Your financials section lays out your company's past and current performance. You can also include a roadmap that dives into financial projections for your business. Aim to include projections for the next five years at a minimum.

  • Income statements
  • Cash flow statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Explanation of any significant changes

Novo Note : Novo offers integrations with accounting software like Quickbooks and Xero , allowing you to seamlessly access all your financial information within your business checking account .

sign up for Novo: powerfully simple business banking with no hidden fees

8. Describe your organization

Your business plan should also include an organizational chart that maps your company’s structure. 

What to include :

  • Company’s management structure
  • Other key personnel, along with their roles and responsibilities
  • Expertise of your team (feature any specialists or experts)

Novo Note : This is also a good place to explain the legal structure of your company — for example, if you are an LLC , a corporation, or a sole proprietorship . 

9. Outline your funding requests

If you’re looking for business funding, include an outline of any funding requests and requirements.

  • Why you are requesting funding
  • What the funding will be used for specifically
  • Desired terms and conditions of funding
  • The length of time over which the funding will be used
  • Type of funding required (for example, debt or equity)

Novo Note : Propose a five-year funding plan, and aim to be as detailed as possible about how you will utilize the funds to grow your business. 

10. Create an appendix

The last section, the appendix, includes supporting documents and additional information not listed elsewhere in your business plan. Not all of these items are necessary to include, so you’ll need to evaluate which are most relevant to your business. You might also want to include a table of contents to help keep the appendix organized.

Items to consider including:

  • Bank statements
  • Business credit history
  • Legal documents
  • Letters of reference

Sample Business Plans

Need an example to help you through the process? Check out the Small Business Administration’s downloadable examples or this even more in-depth one from Harvard Business School.

Tips For Creating A Great Business Plan

Here are some of our favorite tips for creating the most effective and efficient business plan:

  • Keep it short and sweet : You want to be sure people will actually read your business plan, so stay on topic and to the point.
  • Make it digestible : No need to use the fanciest terminology or draft up the most complex graphs. Keep wording and ideas simple and straightforward — it’s the most impactful way to get your information across.
  • Triple-check your work : There’s nothing worse than noticing a grammar, spelling, or mathematical error when you’re presenting your vision. So proofread… and then proofread again!
  • Start early : It’s never too late to write a business plan, but the earlier you do it, the stronger your strategy for growth and expansion will be from the start.
  • Reference credible sources : If you are going to reference third-party research in your business plan, lean on sources that are widely recognized as authorities. Try tapping into trade associations and government resources, like U.S. Census data or data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Set yourself apart : Wherever you can, explain why your product or service stands out and how it can solve a problem.
  • Be objective : Avoid the instinct to only showcase the good. Stakeholders and investors want to know that you are realistic and have a contingency plan if you hit a bump in the road.

Updating Your Business Plan

As with most situations in business (and life), things change! So don’t think that your business plan has to be set in stone after you create it. Instead, you should plan to return to it once a year and make updates.

Be sure to do the following when you review and update your business plan:

  • Analyze your progress: Review your original business plan and compare it to your actual financial data. Are you moving in the right direction, or do you need to reevaluate your strategy?
  • Consider whether your product offerings need to be adjusted: For example, decide if you want to diversify your product offerings or scale back and focus on a singular product. 
  • Reassess your overall goals: Perhaps your sales goals have changed with your new marketing strategy. Or maybe your customer’s needs have changed. In any case, be flexible where needed. 

We know there’s a lot that goes into creating a business plan, but it’s worth it. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for developing a business plan, but our steps outlined above will put you on the right track for developing a comprehensive, investor-friendly document.

Take time to review your business plan annually and make changes as your needs and goals change.

Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

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

May 24, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

Get a Business Idea

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

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

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

Three adjoining circles about business opportunity

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

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

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

Conduct Market Analysis

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

Product and Service Demand

An image showing product service and demand

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

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

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

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

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

Identify Demographics of Target Market

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

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan

Business plan development

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

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

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

SWOT Analysis

  • Competitor Data
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Marketing Expenses Strategy 

Pricing Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A notepad with a written executive summary for business plan writing

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

Mike told us,

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

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

It consists of three basic parts:

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

Example of an informal executive summary 

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

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

What should I include in an executive summary for investors?

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

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

Successful business plan examples

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

Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:

When to write an executive summary?

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

What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description

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

  • Mission statement
  • Philosophy and vision
  • Company goals

Target market

  • Legal structure

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

Mission Statement

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

Company Philosophy and Vision

Writing the company philosophy and vision

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

What makes your company different?

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

Examples of core values

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

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

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

What is a vision statement?

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

Example vision statements

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

A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.

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

Business Goals

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

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

How far in advance should a business plan?

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

Example of great business goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry resources

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

  • Trade Associations
  • Federal Reserve
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Legal Structure

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

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

Partnerships

Corporations.

  • Franchises.

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

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

Sole Proprietorship

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

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

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

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

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

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

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

An iPad with colored pens on a desk

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

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

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

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

Questions to answer about your products and services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SWOT Examples

Business plan SWOT analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan

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

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

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

Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

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

Advertising Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

An iPad with graph about pricing strategy

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

Some common pricing strategies are:

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

HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.

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

Distribution Plan

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

Supply Chain Examples

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

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

Examples of Supply Chains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quality Control

  • Legal environment

Let’s look at each for some insight.

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

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

A wooden stamp with the words "quality control"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organization chart

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements 

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

Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan

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

Mike gave the following advice in his interview:

Financial Forecasting Mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

A table showing yearly revenue of a business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ways to get funding for a small business

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

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

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

How funding will be used

When asking for business financing make sure to include:

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Resources

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

  • Sample plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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steps on how to prepare a business plan

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How to Start a Bakery: A Step-by-Step Guide (2024)

Have you ever wanted to make people happy with yummy cakes or tasty breads? Ever thought about entering one of the fastest-growing industries for small businesses? It may be time to start a bakery!

Today we're revealing insider information on how to start your own baking business.

We connected with Puran Deep, a successful bakery owner who runs the wildly popular Wild Wheat Bakery in Kent, Washington. In 2019, his bakery exceeded over $1 million in revenue!

Now, we're passing his expert advice on to you. We'll show you step-by-step how to plan, start, and grow a thriving bakery business in this $30 billion per year industry.

Step 1. Consider Bakery Business Ideas

Step 2. perform market research, step 3. understand your local business laws, step 4. consider locations, step 5. get menu ideas, step 6. understand the finances, step 7. create a bakery business plan, step 8. create a business entity, step 9. secure funding, step 10. develop a marketing plan, step 11. purchase equipment, step 12. hire staff, step 13. build your business, what are the biggest mistakes when opening a bakery.

Click any of the links above to jump ahead to that section.

How Do I Start My Own Bakery?

You'll find everything you need to know in this step-by-step guide for starting a bakery!

If you are new to the bakery world—or haven't ever stepped foot in a kitchen—it's a good idea to visit some bakery businesses to glean information and practical experience. Small business owners are often happy to share what they know.

We interviewed Puran Deep (P.D.) from Wild Wheat Bakery in Kent, Washington. P.D. started four different businesses in the past and now runs Wild Wheat, a cafe-bakery often featured in The Seattle Times and the winner of many “Best of Kent” awards.

See the YouTube video about how to start a bakery below.

P.D. grew tired of the rat race and wanted to start his own business. That's when the opportunity to purchase Wild Wheat, an established bakery-cafe with an excellent reputation, landed on his desk.

P.D. bought an existing bakery, but he still has tons of advice to offer to someone starting from scratch. We'll share his expert tips and other practical advice as we proceed through the steps for starting a bakery as a new business.

[su_quote]You have to treat everybody that walks in this door with great customer service. Make sure they are getting what they need. Make sure you're giving them quality food. Over 50% of our customers on a daily basis are our regular customers.[/su_quote]

Another alternative is to buy an existing bakery.

steps on how to prepare a business plan

The first step of starting a bakery is considering the different types of bakery ideas you're interested in. Retail bakeries, home bakeries, and wholesale bakeries are viable options.

Recently, the baked goods industry has grown significantly, so it’s a good time to get started. Several options are available for starting your own bakery business.

Bakery Cafes

• Average Annual Revenue : $1.52 million per year • Average Profit Margins : 5.4% • Startup Cost : $100 (at home) to $3M (Panera Franchise) • Time To Revenue : 1-6 months • Annual Market Growth Rate : 1.1% • Best for : Cooks, chefs, people who love cooking

A bakery cafe offers tables where customers can sit down and eat in a dining area. It combines the benefit of freshly baked goods with the enjoyment of a small restaurant business.

Like a small restaurant, this type of business also provides coffee, other beverages, and an extended menu. Wild Wheat Bakery offers an extended breakfast menu featuring omelets and other egg dishes.

As an added component, P.D. roasts his own coffee beans on location. Customers can enjoy a cup in the cafe or take home the beans to brew themselves.

A perfect example of a Bakery Cafe is the world-famous Ferrara Bakery in New York City.

Wholesale Bakeries

steps on how to prepare a business plan

This type of bakery business does not keep a storefront and acts as a supplier to restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

Wholesale bakeries benefit from predictable and reliable sales to retail businesses. Wholesale bakeries sell to customers who buy in bulk. And there's no worry about the upkeep of a retail bakery.

Finding grocers, local coffee shops, and restaurants to carry your product is the key challenge of a wholesale bakery. This critical aspect may be difficult for a new business trying to break into the baking market.

However, it is very important for any bakery. We asked P.D. why wholesale is so important for a bakery, and here's what he told us:

[su_quote]You have your staff; you have your employees that are producing a certain number of breads or whatever they're making. It's not a huge cost for them to produce a little bit more with the same employees and the same equipment, but you can increase your sales significantly.[/su_quote]

Marsee Baking is a wholesale bakery that operates in Seattle and Portland and would be a great model to build your business on.

Counter-Service Bakery

Typically, small counter-service bakeries expect customers to pick up their orders and go. One benefit is that it limits the time and energy spent on customer service.

Part of the larger category of retail bakeries, it's possible to combine a counter-service bakery with a wholesale bakery. The bakery would sell baked goods to grocers or restaurants and provide pick-up and/or delivery service to retail clients.

Clark Street Bakery in Los Angeles started in an apartment and now has four counter-service locations.

Food Truck Bakeries

steps on how to prepare a business plan

One of the most affordable ways to open a bakery is through food trucks. Food truck bakeries have become a viable option for running your own business. For more information on how to get started, check out our blog post on How to Start a Food Truck Business .

The Teal House Coffee and Bakery food truck is one of the most well-known around Austin, Texas!

Home Bakeries

Cottage industry businesses can be a simple way to dip into opening a bakery without a large investment. For those wondering how to start a home bakery, simply alter the steps in this business guide to meet your home baking needs.

[su_quote]Baking can be done with a few simple ingredients, so it's about simplicity and nostalgia – people are reminded of their childhood.” – Paul Hollywood – Celebrity Chef and Judge on The Great British Bake Off [/su_quote]

Specialty Bakery Cakes

Many business owners succeed with specialty bakeries like a cake business. One of my favorites is Freed’s Bakery in Vegas. They create custom wedding cakes and other treats for special events. Check out their fidget spinner cake below.

How to Start a Bakery Business From Home

Many people start a bakery from home simply by selling their baked goods to friends and family. You might not need a formal business plan, but check into local regulations on how to run a bakery from home without a commercial kitchen.

steps on how to prepare a business plan

You might wonder whether starting a bakery business in your area is viable.

It's important to know what's happening in the baking business in order to meet customer needs. This market research report provides tons of information and industry data about Bakery Cafes in the US.

The good news? Bakeries are on the upswing!

Even so, it's important to research your local business environment for things like:

  • Demographics
  • Local Market Trends
  • Competition
  • Target Audience

All of this information will be vital later when you build your business plan.

According to P.D., knowing what customers need is critical to running a business. He says:

[su_quote]…you have to have the right mindset, you have to take care of the customers and know their needs.[/su_quote]

So, before you even get started in business, find out what potential customers want by doing your research ahead of time.

When considering which baked good offerings to provide, know that certain segments of the market are larger than others, as seen below:

  • Retail bakery products: 10%
  • Soft cakes: 8%

Because it can take time for agencies to process paperwork, it's important to understand business licensing early in the process. The bakery industry deals with food, so the Health Department in your area should be your first contact.

Licensing and registration varies between states and even within local jurisdictions. One excellent resource for learning the basics is the Small Business Administration . The required permits depend on the type of bakery and location.

Run through this list for a cost estimate of your licenses and permits:

  • Business License – Around $50. Based on location/type/size. Renewable.
  • Food Service License: $100-1000. Based on size, # of employees. Renewable.
  • Employer ID Number (EIN) – Free. Issued by IRS for tax purposes. Takes time.
  • Certificate of Occupancy – Around $100. Proof of final inspection. Locally issued.
  • Fire Department Permit – $50-200. Inspection of ovens, etc. Locally issued.
  • Food Handler's Permit – $100-500 for each employee. Renewable.
  • Sign Permit – $20-50+. Allows a permanent sign. Locally issued.
  • Music License – $250-500 to play music.

Here's a link to the U.S. FDA list of regulations and codes for food service establishments by state. It clarifies the differences in regulations between states.

For county and city information, perform a quick internet search or inquire at your local health department.

Can I Get A Baking License For At-Home Bakery?

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Sometimes. It depends on your local laws. A home bakery business may also be called a home baking business or cottage food business. There may be special requirements for how to start a bakery from home including:

  • Refrigeration 
  • Ingredient 
  • Maximum Revenue
  • Distribution

Cast Iron is a home-based food business management software platform that has a list of laws that make a good starting point for those wondering how to start a cake business from home. It’s a good place to start for others starting a baking business too.

How Long Does It Take to Start a Bakery?

Starting a bakery can take from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the scale of the operation.

A bakery at home can be fairly quick when your customers are people you know. A retail or wholesale bakery may take a few months or even a year to start, depending on your location, funding, and other circumstances.

A retail bakery does best in a high-traffic area. Ideally, your space will be easily accessible to lots of people, have enough space for seating, and a reasonable rent for the square footage.

For example, the world-famous Ferrara Bakery is located in New York City in the heart of Little Italy on the corner of Grand and Mulberry Street. 

It may not be the most spacious cafe, but the foot traffic more than makes up for the lack of seating. Try to find this balance with your location!

[su_quote]In any business, location is key. If someone is planning to open up a new location, pay a lot of attention to the foot traffic where you are opening it. Location can be something that can make or break your business. It's very important.[/su_quote]

Consider these factors when choosing your business location:

steps on how to prepare a business plan

  • Accessibility : Is it easy for customers to get to your location? 
  • Competition : Are there other bakeries nearby?
  • Foot traffic : How many potential customers pass by on foot? Remember P.D.'s advice.
  • Parking : For customers arriving in their own vehicles, is there enough space to park?
  • Growth potential : Is there a possibility to expand in the future?
  • Demographics (target audience): Who lives or works in the area? Does this align with your ideal customer?
  • Cost : Research all the details of the price to buy or rent the space.
  • Bakery layout : There's much more to consider than just how customers will move through the bakery. Keep reading below.

Bakery Layout

You should consider the new bakery floor plan before you open a bakery in a commercial space. You’ll want to consider the following features:

  • Counter space
  • Bakery equipment
  • Dining space
  • Office space

All this goes into a bakery floor plan. You should probably consult an architect and a commercial real estate agent before choosing a small commercial space where you’ll open bakery operations.

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Before determining the cost of opening your new business, you must have a rough idea of your menu. Mastering recipes takes time and practice. The good news is that you can enjoy tasting the test recipes!

Business success hinges on offering the highest quality products that people want. It's important to create an eye-catching menu.

Offer special items that make you stand out from the crowd. Give customers a reason to do business with you!

If you need some inspiration, here are some recipe sites to review:

  • Love and Lemons
  • Food Network
  • Taste of Home

Look at the bakery offerings that offer the highest profit potential.

While spending time in the kitchen is loads of fun, you also need to crunch the numbers to open a successful bakery. You’ll want to consider the following:

  • Cost of opening a bakery
  • Monthly operating costs
  • Cost of goods sold for the products.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Bakery?

steps on how to prepare a business plan

The startup capital for starting a bakery varies based on the type of bakery you choose to start. Those who want to know how to start a baking business should expect the following startup costs depending on what type of business entity they start.

  • Home-based : $100+
  • Food Trucks: $100+. Learn more about getting the startup capital for food trucks .
  • Franchises : You’ll need to demonstrate up to $7.5 million net worth for starting a Panera franchise.

While the low end is just for a small bakery to buy the materials, those who are really interested in owning a bakery should expect $2-5K just for the business licensing. Depending on the scale, you can get by with the minimum, or go all out.

Learn How to Price Your Baked Goods

To run a profitable business, you must figure out how much it costs to make each one of your baked goods. This allows you to price items for the highest profit margin.

It's easy to lose money on a product if you don't know exactly how much it costs to make it. This includes ingredients, labor, packaging, and even cooking time to account for the electricity (or gas) running the oven. Most restaurant managers aim for the cost of serving to be approximately 1/3rd of revenue.

Before you open, call local vendors to price their supplies, and then determine the cost of production. Consider this pricing guide based on information from the Houston Chronicle .

PRICING GUIDE FOR BAKED GOODS

Click through the 10 steps below to calculate your costs.

Track Your Finances

Along with determining costs, you need to decide on a way to keep track of your business finances. One option is to hire a trusted bookkeeper or accountant to free up your time to run the business.

There are also several options available for small business accounting software including Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Wave, Xero, and more.

A detailed business plan is helpful when starting a bakery.

Consider these components when writing your bakery’s business plan:

  • Executive Summary : contains the most important points from each of the following categories
  • Company Overview : a description of your business
  • Market Analysis : includes pertinent information from your market research
  • Business Offering : a list of the products you will sell to your customers
  • Management : includes business partnerships, number of employees, who will run the various areas
  • Marketing Plan : information on how you plan to reach customers, advertise, etc.
  • Financial Projections : predictions for the financial success of your business

The Small Business Administration offers this business plan writing guide . We’re also partial to our business plans created by Mike Andes or Brandon Boushy to help you create a bakery business plan.

Is a Bakery a Profitable Business?

Baking can be very profitable if you work hard and provide the best products for customers. Depending on various factors,  bakery owner salaries range from around $17K to $71K per year.

These statistics include tiny home bakeries, so there's potential for earning much more!

steps on how to prepare a business plan

With a business plan in place, it's time to create a legal company. Register your business at the federal and state levels and establish a legal structure. It's possible to register online .

Choosing a business structure (Limited Liability Corporation, Sole Proprietorship, Corporation, S Corporation, or Partnership) can be complicated if you're not familiar with the process.

The IRS has extensive resources on business structures, but it’s best to work with an accountant and/or business attorney to maximize your legal and tax benefits.

Typically, a bakery will be set up as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to avoid exposing the owner's personal assets to legal action (like a slip and fall in the bakery).

If you have personal savings available to start your business, that's fantastic! But you may need to borrow a portion of your startup costs until it becomes a viable business.

If you only have around $50,000, but want a larger cushion at $100,000, you may get a business loan. However, you must provide viable financial projections that show your ability to pay back the loan.

As P.D. said,

[su_quote]If you make a good business plan and the lenders buy into that, you can get funding.[/su_quote]

Consider these different options to secure funding for your business, as suggested by the Small Business Association:

Venture Capital Funding

steps on how to prepare a business plan

If you can find an angel investor who believes in you and your plan, this type of funding can be effective.

However, it means shared ownership, which many entrepreneurs are not super excited about. But it also lowers risk and prevents borrowing money.

Consider this video we've created about Venture Funding .

Crowdfunding

Another way to avoid a loan is to raise the money from many people who invest a small amount of money.

Typically, investors get something in return, such as advertising credit, or gifts and other perks. Several online platforms host crowdfunding campaigns.

Business Loan

steps on how to prepare a business plan

The amount and interest rate on business loans varies significantly. You can try for a loan through a local bank, as well as through the government-assisted loan programs with the SBA.

Securing this type of funding requires a business plan, financial projections (usually for 5 years), and expense sheets.

Friends and Family

If your friends or family are interested in your project, you may find you can borrow the funds from someone you know.

How to Start a Bakery Business With No Money

steps on how to prepare a business plan

If you want to start your bakery on a shoestring budget, that's great! As mentioned above, you can save a ton of money by starting in your own home and by selling to friends and family.

Another option, if you have good credit, is to leverage a zero-interest rate period on a credit card. It's risky but possible to use the zero-interest period to start your business and then pay the card off before the interest kicks in.

Note : Have a solid business plan in place if you're thinking about this option.

When you invest in starting a bakery, make sure customers can find you!

P.D.'s strategy for getting new customers is based on Social Media Marketing , like these recommendations from Neil Patel. He outsources a marketing company to run his Instagram, Facebook, and other profiles.

They focus on letting customers know about new product releases and any interesting news.

[su_quote]These days everyone is on their phone![/su_quote]

You can get your name out there and draw in customers in a variety of ways, including these options:

Traditional Advertising

This includes print ads, billboards, radio, flyers, and going door-to-door.

Social Media

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Initially free to use, you can also purchase additional social media ad options. It's possible to outsource your social media marketing by hiring a professional marketer. Find a professional to help with this through Fiverr or Upwork .

Press Releases

Besides social media, don't forget about print and online newspapers. Depending on your location, your local paper may print your bakery opening as business news when you present it to them as a press release.

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Consider placing coupon ads in a local paper. To offer bounce-back coupons (used on a return visit), use an online tool like Canva to design them, then have them printed locally. Many bakeries or coffee shops have loyalty cards designed and printed this way.

Is It Hard to Open a Bakery?

Opening a bakery is hard work, but it is worth it! According to P.D.:

[su_quote]There's nothing you can't learn if you have the right mindset and the right attitude. You need to be open-minded. Keep the right mindset. Stay the course, do what you have to do, keep at it. Eventually, things smooth out and you come out on top.[/su_quote]

You've found your space and secured funding. Now you must prepare your kitchen and dining area to bake and serve the best products.

What Equipment Do I Need to Start a Bakery?

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Reliable equipment is essential for any commercial kitchen. Purchase your equipment online or locally. Your bakery equipment list for your commercial kitchen should include:

  • Ovens – Commercial-grade ovens can be extremely pricey but are a vital piece of equipment for your business. P.D. says his ovens cost around $100K each brand new. Many bakeries choose to lease larger equipment to save on startup costs.
  • Mixers – Large capacity stand mixers, with special dough hooks for kneading bread.
  • Refrigeration – For storing your perishable ingredients such as milk and cream.
  • Tables/Workspace – Depending on the type of baking, tables may be necessary for decorating cakes or for packaging products.
  • Storage – A place to store your ingredients prior to use, and for storage of packaging, or other items. Carts with shelves may be useful for cooling baked goods fresh out of the oven.
  • Dining Area – Tables, chairs, and a counter for the retail area are all important aspects of your bakery.
  • POS System – One critical point for any business is how to let your customers pay. A Point-of-Sale system is vital to your business. When you can choose one that links well with your accounting software (mentioned above), it's even better!

For a retail or wholesale bakery business, qualified employees working in the kitchen are the backbone of the business. Bakeries open very early, and it is essential to have reliable employees willing to bake bread at four in the morning.

If you're running a cafe-bakery, counter help and possibly servers are a necessity. They act as the front line for providing great customer service that ensures return business.

Here are some sites where you can post jobs and find qualified candidates:

  • ZipRecruiter

Finding top talent in food service is no simple task, so go beyond traditional job hiring sites like Indeed. Instead, reach out to local culinary schools and food programs (community colleges) to secure reliable talent with interest in the industry.

According to P.D., in taking care of your staff, you don't want to skimp:

[su_quote]I tell them to make sure that your people are taken care of, and the rest will be fine. You only have so many hours in a day. You'll burn out if you're not careful. It's not worth stressing yourself out.[/su_quote]

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Once you've started baking, pursue continuous growth for your business. That means setting goals and making plans to find and keep customers.

P.D. says you should ask yourself a simple question:

[su_quote]I want to grow 10% every year. What do I have to do?[/su_quote]

Here are some other questions to ponder on growth:

  • What should I do differently or better to gain new customers and keep existing ones?
  • Is there room to add new products?
  • Would a customer loyalty program help our bottom line?
  • What does our marketing data show?

Brainstorm and research ways to please your customers and then execute the best ideas.

According to P.D., wholesale products are one of the best ways to grow a bakery business. They provide large profit margins without a large investment.

It may mean running the ovens a bit longer or arranging for more deliveries, but it's a steady way to increase revenue without a lot more work.

P.D. says that with samples in hand, cold call restaurants with whom you want to do business and let them try your products. If your product is of outstanding quality, it should sell itself. But you must get people to try it.

[su_quote]I would throw a bunch of samples in my car and just go to a bunch of different restaurants and drop off samples and ask them. Look at their menu, whether they're serving hamburgers or if they're a sub shop. Give them hamburger buns or baguettes for their sandwiches. And when they like the product, they call and they're ready to order.[/su_quote]

P.D. stated that one of the biggest mistakes in opening a bakery is not finding and keeping the best employees. With 36 full and part-time staff, P.D. offers this insight:

[su_quote]Employees are what you need for your business. You can't be everywhere, so you have to put trust in your people and take care of them, then they'll take care of your business.[/su_quote]

If you can already smell the heavenly croissants baking in your oven, then it might be time to get started with these steps on how to start a bakery! Follow our guide to overcome many of the hurdles beginning entrepreneurs and bakers face. 

With planning and perseverance, you'll be serving customers and raking in dough (get it?) like P.D.

If you were thinking about starting a bakery, would you start a home bakery, wholesale, or food truck bakery? Let us know in the comments below!

212 Best Farm Names (for 2024)

Are you buying a farm or starting any kind of farm business? You’ll want to come up with some creative farm names. What are good farm names? Well, the best farm name ideas combine farm references with some indication of what you do.

[su_note note_color="#dbeafc"] Consider some of these farm business name categories. Then use the helpful tips while naming your farm. Jump to any category to find a memorable name to attract potential customers to your new farm.

26 Funny Farm Names

20 cute farm names, 46 good farm names, 30 cool farm names, 24 unique farm names, 34 chicken farm names, 32 catchy farm names, what should i name my farm company, how to name your farm business.

  • Next Steps After Choosing Your Farm Name [/su_note]

Get ready to find a farm business name you’ll love.

Farmer holding a chicken in front of a red barn with "funny farm names" written on a blackboard behind him

While the funny farm is slang for a mental hospital, these funny names are for a farm business that raises animals or grows food.

1. Moo La Land Farm 2. Chuckle Hut Homestead 3. Quack Shack Ranch 4. Giggling Gourd Gardens 5. Poultry in Motion Farm 6. Fifty Shades of Hay 7. Feather Friends Farm and Petting Zoo 8. Crop Circle Circus 9. Snicker Snack Fields 10. Loco Harvest Haven 11. Udder Delight Homestead 12. Chuckleberry Acres 13. Grin and Grain Gardens

14. Whimsical Weeds Farmstead 15. Barnyard Banter Ranch 16. Hootenanny Homestead 17. Laughing Llama Meadows 18. Silly Sprout Fields 19. Chuckle Cove Cultivators 20. Giggle Grove Gardens 21. Quirk Quarters Ranch 22. Udder Nonsense Farm 23. Egg-cellent Acres 24. The Laughing Stockyard 25. Legen Dairy Farm 26. One or the Udder Farm

Pro Tip: When selecting a funny farm name, let humor be your guide while keeping it lighthearted and universally appealing. Incorporate puns, wordplay, or playful references related to farming, animals, or crops to add a touch of whimsy. Consider your target audience and ensure the humor aligns with their sensibilities. Test the name on friends or family to gauge its comedic impact. A funny farm name can create a memorable and enjoyable brand, but be cautious not to choose anything offensive or too niche. Striking the right balance between wit and charm will make your farm stand out and leave a lasting impression on customers.

Want a cute farm name? Consider some of these:

1. GreenVista Farms 2. Harvest Haven 3. Meadow Bliss 4. Sunlit Acres 5. Rustic Roots Farm 6. Sown Serenity 7. Prairie Purity 8. Golden Fields Ranch 9. Tranquil Tiller Farm 10. Cedar Grove Homestead

11. Valley View Gardens 12. Whispering Winds Ranch 13. Country Charm Cultivators 14. Evergreen Meadows 15. Serene Pasture Farm 16. Blue Sky Harvest 17. Hidden Grove Gardens 18. Rolling Hills Homestead 19. Noble Oak Orchard 20. Gilded Grain Fields

Pro Tip: When choosing a catchy farm name, consider incorporating elements that reflect the essence of your farm, such as its location, key crops or produce, or the values it represents. Additionally, ensure the name is easy to remember, spell, and pronounce. Check online and local business directories to avoid unintentional duplicates, and choose a name that resonates with your target audience. A unique and memorable farm name not only sets you apart but also contributes to brand recognition and customer recall, fostering a positive and lasting impression.

There are plenty of good farm business names. Consider some of these for your farm business:

1. Ironwood Oasis Farm 2. Mystic Meadows Ranch 3. Whispering Wind Homestead 4. Hidden Hills Ranch 5. Timber Trail Homestead 6. Starlight Serenity Farm 7. Radiant Ridge Meadows 8. Solitude Springs Homestead 9. Mountain Breeze Fields 10. Whispering Waters Farmstead 11. Sunset Symphony Ranch 12. Serendipity Sown Fields 13. Sunkissed Summit Homestead 14. Whispering Willow Vineyard 15. Azure Sky Harvest 16. Harmony Hills Ranch 17. Rustic Refuge Fields 18. Blissful Birch Homestead 19. Mystic Maple Homestead 20. Mountain Vista Meadows 21. Cedar Ridge Ranch 22. Whispering Willow Fields 23. Tranquil Terrace Homestead

24. Rolling Ridge Vineyard 25. Whispering Wind Ranch 26. Sunset Symphony Fields 27. Starlight Serenity Homestead 28. Hidden Hills Vineyard 29. Rustic Refuge Meadows 30. Blue Horizon Ranch 31. Timber Trail Fields 32. Green Valley Produce 33. The Orchard 34. Ripe Production 35. Cornucopia Produce 36. Sunny Side Farms 37. Green Acres 38. Harvest Moon 39. Green Thumb Farms 40. Farm to Table 41. Green Meadows 42. Farmhouse Country Crops 43. Harvest Bounty 44. Countryside Fields 45. Berry Lush Hills 46. Fertile Valley Farms

Pro Tip: When selecting a cool farm name, aim for a combination of creativity and relevance. Consider incorporating words or phrases that evoke a sense of adventure, uniqueness, or modernity while staying connected to your farm's identity or products. Think about the overall vibe you want to convey and choose a name that aligns with the personality of your farm. Additionally, check online platforms and databases to ensure the chosen name is not already in use. A cool farm name should not only resonate with your target audience but also spark curiosity and interest, making it a memorable and attractive choice for your agricultural venture.

Dairy farmer walking among stalls using a tablet

Think farm life is cool? Consider a farm business name like the ones below.

1. Enchanted Harvest Homestead 2. Labyrinth of Crops Farmstead 3. Celestial Sow Ranch 4. Whimsy Willow Fields 5. Timeless Terra Gardens 6. Nebula Nectar Vineyard 7. Secret Sanctuary Farm 8. Celestial Meadows Ranch 9. Zenith Zen Garden 10. Kaleidoscope Cultivators 11. Ethereal Eden Homestead 12. Aether Acres 13. Utopia Uplands Farm 14. Quasar Quarters Ranch 15. Ponderosa Paradise Fields

16. Solar Symphony Gardens 17. Tranquil Tendril Homestead 18. Velvet Vale Vineyard 19. Synchronicity Sown Farm 20. Blissful Bounty Ranch 21. Terra Nova Meadows 22. Radiant Roots Farmstead 23. Infinite Harvest Haven 24. Serenity Springs Homestead 25. Terra Tint Fields 26. Terra Firma 27. Sunburst Farmstead 28. Wildwood Harvest 29. Blossoming Acres 30. Honeycomb Fields

Pro Tip: When selecting a creative farm name, let your imagination roam freely while keeping it connected to the essence of your farm. Combine words, concepts, or themes that evoke a sense of innovation and uniqueness. Consider the story you want your farm name to tell and how it aligns with your values or the products you offer. Embrace metaphors, symbols, or cultural references that resonate with your target audience. Check for name availability online to avoid duplicates and ensure that your chosen name is easy to spell and remember. A creatively crafted farm name can serve as a powerful storytelling tool, helping your agricultural venture stand out and fostering a strong connection with customers.

Wooden baskets full of produce with a chalk board sign that reads "unique names" situated among them

A farm business name should stand out from the pack. Consider some of these names to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Agrarian Endeavors 2. Rural Resources Ranch 3. Precision Harvest Homestead 4. Sustainable Fields Farm 5. EcoHarvest Holdings 6. TerraSphere Cultivators 7. ProHarvest Partners 8. Modern Farmstead Solutions 9. AgriTech Ventures 10. CultivaCore Agriculture 11. TerraLogic Holdings 12. Harvest Hub Farms

13. GreenVista Agro Ranch 14. ProSeed Precision Farms 15. TerraForm Innovations 16. Sustainable Harvest Network 17. PrimeCrop Agribusiness 18. HarvestSphere Homestead 19. AgriVision Holdings 20. TerraCatalyst Farms 21. EcoGrove Ranching 22. Apex Agro Solutions 23. GreenHarbor Harvesters 24. TerraNexa Cultivators

Pro Tip: When choosing a professional farm name, envision it on business signage, marketing materials, and digital platforms. Opt for a name that is not only representative of your farm's values and offerings but is also visually and verbally versatile. A professional farm name should be easy to pronounce, spell, and remember, facilitating effective communication with customers and partners. Consider the scalability of the name as your business grows and ensure it aligns with a professional and trustworthy image. Lastly, conduct a thorough online search to confirm domain name and social platform availability, securing a cohesive online presence for your professional farm.

Old McDonald had a farm and on his farm, he had a chicken. What did he name his farm?

1. E-I-E-I-O Farms 2. Willow's Haven Farm 3. Meadow Dreams Homestead 4. Sunflower Ridge Ranch 5. Whispering Oaks Fields 6. Hen-derson's Happy Chicks 7. Cedar Haven Homestead 8. Cluck Cluck Here 9. Grandma's Yolk Farm 10. Evergreen Embrace Ranch 11. Here a Cluck 12. Feather Lite Acres 13. There A Cluck 14. Tranquil Tendril Ranch 15. Ponderosa Pines Homestead 16. The Egg-cellent Adventure 17. Golden Gateways Farm

18. Lush Legacy Ranch 19. Starlight Sanctuary Fields 20. The Happy Cluckery 21. Everywhere a Cluck Cluck 22. Whispering Winds Homestead 23. Jolly Wings Farm 24. Ethereal Eden Ranch 25. Rolling Ridges Farmstead 26. Sunset Valley Cluckers 27. Gentle Grove Fields 28. Enchanted Elm Fields 29. Second Chance Sanctuary 30. Elysian Echo Ranch 31. Tranquil Terrace Farm 32. Cluckingham Palace 33. The Yolk's on Us Farm 34. Rustic Reverie Fields

Pro Tip: If you opt for a personal-sounding farm name, focus on creating a connection between your farm and the individuals who will interact with it. Consider incorporating elements of personal significance, such as family names, local landmarks, or sentimental references. This not only adds a touch of authenticity but also fosters a sense of familiarity for your customers. Additionally, choose a name that resonates emotionally and reflects the warm and inviting atmosphere you want to convey. A personal-sounding farm name creates a more intimate brand identity, making customers feel like they are part of a unique and cherished community.

Professional gardener on his patio pointing to a large sprouting plant

Catchy farm names might reference the natural environment or the critters you keep with names like:

1. Sunshine Acres 2. Ozark Orchards Homestead 3. Green Gables 4. Rockies Retreat Farmstead 5. Bluegrass Bliss Ranch 6. Pacific Peak Fields 7. Shenandoah Valley Homestead 8. Gulf Coast Gardens 9. Adirondack Acreage Ranch 10. Sierras Solitude Farm 11. Chesapeake Charm Fields 12. Napa Valley Nexus Homestead 13. Everglades Essence Ranch 14. Green Mountain Grove 15. Desert Mirage Farmstead 16. Cape Cod Cultivators

17. Yellowstone Yonder Fields 18. Palmetto Plains Homestead 19. Great Lakes Gardens 20. Pine Ridge Ranch 21. Mojave Meadow Fields 22. Finger Lakes Farmstead 23. Hoppin' Mad Ranch 24. Sow Much Love Farm 25. Sundown Patch 26. Rooted in Tradition Farm 27. County Fairground Greens 28. Barn Quilt Farm 29. Bluegrass Dairy Farm 30. Happy Hens Sanctuary 31. Squealing Piglet Acres 32. Moovelous Hilltop

Pro Tip: Consider a location-based farm name that identifies the geographic setting and captures the essence and unique features of your area. Consider the landscape, local flora or fauna, historical landmarks, or cultural elements that make your location special. This ensures that your farm name reflects a sense of pride and connection to the community. Additionally, think about the scalability of the name in case your farm expands or diversifies its offerings. A well-chosen location-based name not only roots your farm in a specific place but also helps create a strong local identity, attracting customers who appreciate the regional character of your agricultural venture.

A good farm name communicates the essence of your farm while being memorable, distinctive, and relevant. Here are some key factors that contribute to a good farm name:

  • Relevant: Choose a name that reflects the nature of your farm, whether it's related to the crops you grow, the livestock you raise, or the farming practices you employ.
  • Memorable: A good farm name should be easy to remember. Avoid overly complex or confusing names that may be hard for customers to recall.
  • Distinct: Ensure that your farm name stands out from competitors. Avoid generic terms and aim for a unique and original name that sets your farm apart.
  • Value-Driven: If your farm has specific values or principles, consider incorporating them into the name. This helps convey a sense of authenticity and purpose.
  • Positive Imagery: Choose words or phrases that evoke positive emotions and imagery. This creates a favorable impression and attracts customers.
  • Scalable: Think about the future growth and diversification of your farm. A good name should be versatile enough to accommodate potential changes in your offerings or business focus.
  • Cultural and Regional Considerations: If your farm is rooted in a specific culture or region, consider incorporating elements from that culture or region into the name. This adds a local touch and connection.
  • Avoids Trends: While it's tempting to follow current trends, consider that trends change quickly. Opt for a timeless name that will remain relevant over the long term.
  • Available: Before finalizing a name, check for its availability online and in business registries to ensure there are no conflicts or trademark issues.
  • Easy Pronunciation and Spelling: A good farm name should be easy for customers to pronounce and spell correctly. This facilitates word-of-mouth marketing and online searches.

Remember that your farm name is an essential part of your brand identity and take the time to choose a name that aligns with your vision and values and will resonate with your target audience.

Miami Fruits owner holding a box full of plantains

Registering your farm's name is a pivotal step in building and safeguarding your agricultural brand. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to register your farm's name:

  • Check Availability: Before you settle on a name, make sure it isn't already in use by another farm, especially in your agricultural sector and location. Conduct online searches, check local business directories, and examine trademark databases to confirm the availability of your chosen name.
  • Perform a Trademark Search: A thorough trademark search is essential to ensure your chosen farm name is not already trademarked by another entity. This step is crucial for legal protection and to avoid potential infringement issues.
  • Buy the Domain: In today's digital landscape, securing an online presence is crucial. Check the availability of your farm name as a domain to secure a corresponding website address. Even if you don't plan an immediate website launch, reserving the domain is a wise move for future use.
  • Determine the Legal Structure: Define the legal structure of your farm, whether it's a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. The chosen structure will impact the registration process.
  • Register with the Local Agricultural Authority: Officially register your farm name with the relevant local agricultural authority. The process varies depending on your location but often involves filing a "Doing Business As" (DBA) or trade name registration with the appropriate local agency.
  • Consider Trademark Registration: While not mandatory, registering your farm name as a trademark with the relevant intellectual property office can offer additional legal protection. This becomes especially crucial if you plan to expand your farm's presence nationally or internationally.
  • Claim Online Platforms and Social Media: Secure your farm name on popular social media platforms and relevant online marketplaces, even if you don't intend to use them immediately. Maintaining a consistent brand across various channels strengthens your online presence.
  • Renew and Maintain: Stay vigilant about renewal requirements for your farm's registration and trademark, if applicable. Regularly update your contact information to ensure you receive renewal notices.

By following these steps, you can effectively register your farm's name, establish a robust brand identity, and shield your agricultural business from potential legal challenges. If you have specific questions or concerns about the registration process in your area, consult with legal professionals or agricultural advisors.

Next Steps After Choosing Your Farm Name

In conclusion, choosing the perfect name for your farm is an exciting step that sets the tone for your agricultural journey. Whether you're drawn to catchy or cool, professional or personal, the key is to find a moniker that resonates with your values and captures the essence of your venture.

To spark your creativity, we provided examples of farm names that are funny, cute, cool, and beyond. Consider exploring all the lists then mixing and matching elements to create a name that suits your farm's personality perfectly.

Once you've found the perfect name, the next step is to register it. Follow our suggested steps for registering farm names, ensuring legal protection and a solid foundation for your brand. Don't forget to check for domain availability and secure your online presence for future growth.

Remember, the right name for your farm is a blend of creativity, relevance, and resonance. Trust your instincts, involve others for feedback, and enjoy the process of naming your farm. Happy farming!

The 11 Best Print-on-Demand Companies of 2024

Are you planning to start your own online store? One of the easiest ways to fulfill your orders is by working with one of the best print-on-demand companies.

We’ve talked to numerous small business owners in the clothing industry, and they all agree that on-demand T-shirt printing is the easiest way to start an online business. So we reviewed the best print-on-demand companies for you to work with, whether you’re printing T-shirts, mugs, or something else.

We’ll explore the features of the top print-on-demand companies of 2024, discuss the importance of quality and shipping times, and explain how to start a small business using a print-on-demand model.

[su_note note_color="#dbeafc"]Learn how to start your own successful print-on-demand business with this step-by-step guide. Click on any of the links below to jump straight to that section.

What is print-on-demand?

How does print-on-demand work, top 11 print-on-demand companies, choosing the right print-on-demand company, print-on-demand marketplaces, how to start a print-on-demand business, print-on-demand faq.

  • Start using print-on-demand services [/su_note]

Custom UpFlip t-shirt on a press

Print-on-demand (POD) is a business model that provides custom designs without carrying inventory. This has caused an upsurge of POD services suited to various interests and customer demands.

A suitable print partner will offer plenty of products, including T-shirts, wall art, phone cases, and more. Manufacturing happens within several days at a reasonable rate, even when the products are personalized to customers. That means it’s ideal for starting an online store!

Print-on-demand is a technology that allows businesses to create unique and attractive designs for their products without the need for inventory management. This process involves third-party companies, which handle printing and shipping.

It’s essential to select an appropriate print-on-demand provider, as it impacts product quality, shipping times, fees charged, and customization options.

Providers also offer eCommerce platform integrations that help improve profits while reducing upfront costs. This can allow sellers to offer goods at competitive prices.

Concept of miniature storefronts representing merch by Amazon, gooten, JetPrint, and other POD companies

To help you decide which print-on-demand solution your business should use, we have compiled a list of the top print-on-demand companies in 2024. These include:

Merch by Amazon

The following sections will outline the features of each print-on-demand platform so you can select the best partner for your business needs. Once you’re done reading the following sections, you’ll be prepared to make an informed decision about which company you want to work with.

Merch by Amazon is an exclusive POD platform with generous royalties, fast delivery services, and access to Amazon’s large user base.

It gives sellers a unique advantage in the print-on-demand sector by providing swift shipping and allowing sellers to adjust profits and set their margins. The site allows people to design prints for clothing but has limited branding choices (e.g., no branded packaging or product labels).

Merch by Amazon requires acceptance into the program, and many get denied for Amazon print-on-demand.

Printful is renowned for its customization possibilities, connections to well-known eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy, and its extensive selection of items. Companies can personalize their product offerings with custom labels, uniquely designed packaging, and personalized packing slips.

By integrating 17 different eCommerce outlets and five online marketplaces into one system, Printful presents a hassle-free solution for enterprises aiming to broaden their market share.

Printify home page on a laptop

Printify is one of the highest-rated print-on-demand solutions available for businesses of all sizes.

Thanks to its network reaching over 200 global printing partners, Printify offers a wide selection of custom-designed products—such as apparel, homeware, and accessories—at competitive prices.

This extensive catalog also includes integrations with leading eCommerce platforms. Keep in mind that Printify does not manage labels or pack-ins itself, nor can you store goods there. You might need to test each Printify supplier before outsourcing to them; otherwise, quality control and customer service could be an issue.

Gooten provides a vast selection of customizable goods, fast turnaround times for manufacturing and shipping, and rewards through its loyalty program.

Its fulfillment network links up more than 30 producers in 70+ international locations, which allows businesses to have prints generated swiftly and received promptly by customers.

Although Gooten offers many product options and customization possibilities, the print quality of prototypes may not match those provided by other print-on-demand companies.

SPOD is an excellent choice for those seeking a reliable POD service, competitive prices, and white-label items. More than 90% of orders are fulfilled in 48 hours or less.

Businesses that desire control over shipping rules for upselling and cross-marketing may lean toward SPOD . Unfortunately, the company has fewer print-on-demand products than other POD companies on the list.

TPop homepage on a desktop computer

TPop is a European POD provider that specializes in environmentally friendly items and practices, custom designs, and sustainable delivery services.

Its broad range of customization allows you to add pockets or patches to clothing and design the inner linings of hoodies. You might want to choose this print-on-demand service if you are an eco-friendly brand.

Learn more about TPop .

JetPrint offers a comprehensive selection of distinct print-on-demand products like shoes, watches, and jewelry. Plus they have stunning product images and free or express delivery options. With these features, JetPrint allows businesses to build striking visuals and stand out in the print-on-demand marketplace.

Production times may extend from three up to five days, which could affect customer satisfaction levels if you do not adequately disclose the print-on-demand terms in your own store.

Teelaunch is an attractive option for those looking to bring luxury products to their customers. The teelaunch mockup tool produces professional images. Plus their list of goods may enhance your brand and customer loyalty.

Features include an artist bio, follow button, profile pictures, headers, and product personalization.

Like other print-on-demand companies, teelaunch production times range from three to six business days.

Screenshot of CustomCat homepage in background with a young man wearing an UpFlip logo custom printed tee in the foreground

CustomCat offers customers an expansive selection of over 550 print-on-demand products, competitive price plans, and a straightforward design tool to create engaging designs.

Businesses that use CustomCat benefit from product variety as well as an affordable paid plan. But some POD companies provide more customization options than CustomCat currently has available.

Gelato is a well-known print-on-demand company with an array of impressive features. It has 100+ partners across over 200 countries for speedy production and delivery. Meanwhile, its cost-effective local printing options are attractive to customers.

Gelato’s mobile application allows for easy ordering while its tracking capabilities provide updates on shipment progress. Basic analytics offer insight into performance.

Unfortunately, the downside lies in the variable quality, which may undermine customer satisfaction levels. This could be improved upon moving forward.

Businesses can create unique, high-quality custom products with Apliiq . These include digital printing, screen printing for bulk orders, plus cut and sew, appliqué, and embroidery services. This gives entrepreneurs a competitive edge.

Unfortunately, other print-on-demand companies have lower prices than Apliiq.

Casually dressed man looking over documents with a magnifying glass and miniature model storefronts stacked up on the table he’s sitting at

Now that you’ve gained an understanding of the top POD companies, it’s time to pick one suitable for your business. Consider criteria such as:

Product quality

Shipping times.

  • Pricing schemes

Customization options

Platform integrations.

A reliable partnership between your business and a print-on-demand company will help cultivate customer satisfaction and improve profit margins (since you won’t have the upfront costs associated with carrying inventory).

Picking out the right POD supplier can make all the difference. Choosing the right customization solutions and pricing points can delight your customers and your pocketbook.

You should test product quality from potential print-on-demand partners before choosing to go with them. Print-on-demand work can vary dramatically, which affects customer satisfaction, revenue, and profit.

Evaluate samples from different companies to find the print-on-demand partner that meets your quality standards. A great design combined with top-notch direct-to-garment printing results will make all the difference!

Premium custom-printed products will help protect your brand and prepare you for long-term success.

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Consider the standard shipping times when you choose which print-on-demand site to use for your online stores.

The time to print and ship can vary dramatically. Using a U.S. factory will be more expensive for each item, but it is far quicker than free global shipping from China.

You’ll also want to pay attention to fulfillment center locations. The shorter the distance between the fulfillment center and the customers, the easier it is to build brand loyalty. Competitive shipping rates can also please potential buyers.

Pricing and fees

The best print-on-demand offerings can last for years, while cheaper products may be destroyed after a couple of washes. To understand where a prospective POD company falls on that scale, check their prices and fees.

Low fees and prices may mean low-quality items, while higher figures often mean better print-on-demand results.

It will take some trial and error to balance quality and affordability, but don’t worry. Everyone goes through that when selecting print-on-demand sites.

Screenshot of a decision fatigue study published by Symend

Customization capabilities impact how unique your products are. Search for a POD provider with the specific features you want, including personalization services, product options, and logo branding.

Offering an array of modification choices allows you to create items that consumers feel are more personal. Just don’t go overboard because decision fatigue can cause customers to leave your site.

Having a POD service that integrates with Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, and other eCommerce platforms will make it much easier to streamline order management, stock tracking, and customer service.

Connecting the online store with your POD partner makes life simpler by seamlessly integrating these systems. Then your print-on-demand service can efficiently provide support for multi-channel selling.

Woman looking at Society6, Zazzle, and Redbubble logos on a tablet

Print-on-demand marketplaces are specifically designed for artists to promote their creations and sell their products in one place. You’ll want to consider:

Let’s look at each print-on-demand marketplace.

Redbubble is a POD eCommerce platform that prioritizes artists who make custom designs. You can create an online store with lots of products and adjustable pricing. You can also set your own profit margins, which some other platforms do not allow.

Other platforms offer better royalties, so it’s vital that creatives consider the pros and cons before choosing Redbubble.

Society6 offers many printed art options and an online community for independent artists to collaborate and receive feedback. It allows artists to design, market, and make money from their artwork (such as wall art or apparel) without worrying about manufacturing and fulfillment.

By joining this print-on-demand marketplace, you can focus solely on honing your craft while growing a faithful customer base that will enable you to profit from what you create.

Society6 carries various unique items, like home decorations, which helps put artwork in front of buyers who love it!

A great benefit of using Zazzle is its personalization and associate programs, offering the ability to customize products with designs in addition to selling artwork you made elsewhere.

Despite these advantages, other print-on-demand marketplaces provide more significant royalties than this platform, so it’s essential to consider all options before committing.

Man comparing the quality of two UpFlip t-shirts

Now that you know about different print-on-demand companies and marketplaces, it’s time to discuss starting your own business with a print-on-demand model. You’ll want to follow the steps below to create your brand.

  • Choose a niche.
  • Create eye-catching designs.
  • Set up online stores.
  • Calculate shipping costs.
  • Market your products.

Choose a niche

Before you can start a successful business with a print-on-demand model, you’ll need to identify a niche that reflects your passions and interests. It’s easier to generate your own designs when you are interested in the products your target market wants.

You might narrow your target market by:

  • Their interests: Eco-friendly products might be important to some people, while low-cost products might be more important to other target markets.
  • Type of product: When you create your own brand, you might want to narrow the types of products you sell. If you split your efforts between wall art, digital products, and print-on-demand T-shirts, you might have a hard time developing authority for each.
  • Competition: Less competition can be a good thing, but it may also mean that there is no demand for the type of products. If there is high search volume and low competition, you may have found a winner.

Once you’ve chosen your niche, it's time to start designing.

Create designs

You’ll have to create designs using tools like Canva , Adobe Photoshop, or Illustrator. Creating nice-looking, legible graphics may take some time. Most print-on-demand companies provide design guidelines to make it easier to create quality prints.

Quality products can make it easier to improve product sales and grow your business.

Set up your online stores

Concept of a young man business owner looking at a laptop next to a box and rack of clothing with a Shopify screenshot hovering in the background

Once you have your designs ready to go, the next step is setting up your online store. To do this, choose an eCommerce platform such as:

  • Shopify: The print-on-demand or dropshipping business model works particularly well on Shopify because of its built-in marketing tools that help you integrate with Amazon, Facebook, and other major eCommerce platforms.
  • WooCommerce: The WordPress eCommerce solution, WooCommerce, is also an acceptable option for setting up your online store.
  • Etsy: You can use print-on-demand companies with Etsy, but you’ll need to get a production partner and set up estimated delivery dates to make sure customers understand the delivery time frame.

Next, you’ll want to integrate your print-on-demand partner into your eCommerce platform. You’ll sync your products, and they’ll appear in your store. This simplifies inventory management, ordering, payments, and customer service.

You can also construct product listings that show off each of your own designs correctly while providing necessary details, like sizing info, material type, and shipping information.

Calculate shipping costs

Your shipping costs depend on factors including:

  • Products: The size and weight of products impact shipping rates.
  • Customer location: Some print-on-demand or dropshipping companies may charge different rates for different distances from the company.
  • Print-on-demand company location: You may have shipping and fulfillment costs if you choose to store any inventory on site to speed up delivery times.
  • eCommerce site: Many eCommerce sites charge a fee based on the cost of the product plus the shipping. Etsy fees are between 6.5% and 21.5%, which means if you sell T-shirts that cost you $16.50 to make and ship, you won’t even break even until you make $20.05. Make sure to check the break-even point on each site you sell, then price your shipping based on the most expensive platform.
  • Shipping discounts: Many print-on-demand companies offer free shipping depending on the size of the order. When you offer free shipping, you need to include it in your product cost, which would use the same calculation we used in the example above.

Cost-effective shipping can be a selling point, so make sure to spend some time figuring out the best way to handle your shipping costs.

Market your products

Marketing concept showing a hand with megaphone and two envelopes emerging from a laptop screen

You’ll need to market your print-on-demand store to become a successful print-on-demand business.

Online sales strategies will normally combine social media, paid ads, and email collection to reach new customers and sell products. You’ll want to use strategies like a loyalty program, subscription boxes, email marketing, and remarketing campaigns to encourage repeat business.

Next, we’re going to answer some of the frequently asked questions about print-on-demand sites.

Which print-on-demand companies work with Etsy?

Several companies that specialize in print-on-demand services integrate with Etsy to give their customers an easier way to manage orders, inventory, and customer service.

Gelato, Printful, Printify, and AOP+ are some of the print-on-demand companies that work with Etsy. By using a POD company compatible with Etsy, you can easily keep track of your products without stressing over order fulfillment or timely delivery.

Which print-on-demand companies work with Shopify?

Shopify "print-on-demand" app options loaded on a tablet next to a potted plant and a cup of coffee

There are over 450 Shopify print-on-demand apps. Shopify print-on-demand apps include:

  • Zendrop: 6,322 reviews with a 4.7-star rating
  • Printful: 4,634 reviews with a 4.6-star rating
  • Printify: 1,960 reviews with a 4.4-star rating
  • ShineOn: 769 reviews with a 4.8-star rating
  • SPOD: 709 reviews with a 4.1-star rating

Which print-on-demand companies work with Amazon?

Merch by Amazon is directly integrated with Amazon and allows people to add custom branding to quality products. You have to be approved, though.

For those with their own website, any print-on-demand companies that are integrated with Shopify can also sell products on Amazon through the Shopify integration .

Is print-on-demand profitable?

The print-on-demand industry can be extremely profitable. According to the business research firm IBIS World, the average online store makes about $90K per month.

Logo Unlimited makes $170K per month. Find out how below:

Effective SEO and brand positioning can help entrepreneurs reap potentially lucrative rewards from print-on-demand businesses.

Start using print-on-demand services

The print-on-demand business model is an amazing way to start a business with no money . You should thoroughly research on-demand printing services to find one that meets your standards for product quality, shipping time, pricing, customization options, and platform integrations.

After you’ve decided which of the print-on-demand services best meet your needs, start designing and selling your products. You can get started with print-on-demand companies in a day and start making money fast.

Have you created print-on-demand shirts? What do you think are the best print-on-demand companies?

steps on how to prepare a business plan

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steps on how to prepare a business plan

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steps on how to prepare a business plan

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:

  • Product goals and deadlines for each month
  • Monthly financials for the first two years
  • Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
  • Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years

Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.

While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.

For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .

Business Plan Steps

The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Description of business
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Description of organizational management
  • Description of product or services
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Funding details (or request for funding)
  • Financial projections

If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.

Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.

Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.

In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the vision and mission of the company?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?

See our  roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.

Step 2: Description of Business

The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:

  • What business are we in?
  • What does our business do?

Step 3: Market Analysis

In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:

  • Who is our customer? 
  • What does that customer value?

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:

  • Who is the competition? 
  • What do they do best? 
  • What is our unique value proposition?

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

  • What is the product or service?
  • How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?

Step 7: Marketing Plan

In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:

  • Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
  • What channels will you use to reach your target market?
  • What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
  • If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Step 8: Sales Plan

Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts. 

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the sales strategy?
  • What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
  • What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
  • What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
  • What are the metrics of success?

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
  • How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
  • What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?

Step 10: Financial Projections

Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years. 

While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:

  • How and when will the company first generate a profit?
  • How will the company maintain profit thereafter?

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.

For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy. 

If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.

Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .

  • Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. 
  • Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision. 
  • Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
  • Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
  • Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
  • Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
  • Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
  • Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
  • Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting. 
  • Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.

Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates . 

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.

While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:

  • Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
  • List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
  • Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
  • Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
  • Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.). 
  • Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
  • Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
  • Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.

See our wide variety of  startup business plan templates for more options.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.

In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.

  • Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
  • Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
  • Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
  • Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
  • Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”

Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.

Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.

“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”

Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.

Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships. 

Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.

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Starting a Business | How To

How to Write a Business Plan in 7 Steps

Published February 2, 2024

Published Feb 2, 2024

Mary King

WRITTEN BY: Mary King

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Step 1: Gather Your Information

Step 2: outline your business plan, step 3: write each section, step 4: organize your appendix, step 5: add final details, step 6: add a table of contents, step 7: get feedback, bottom line.

A solid business plan helps you forecast your future business and is a critical tool for raising money or attracting key employees or business partners. A business plan is also an opportunity to show why and how your business will become a success. Learning how to write a business plan successfully requires planning ahead and conducting financial and market research.

How to write a business plan step-by-step:

  • Gather your information
  • Outline your business plan
  • Write each section
  • Organize your appendix
  • Add final details
  • Add a table of contents
  • Get feedback.

Your first step is to get organized by gathering all your relevant business information. This will save you time completing the various sections of your business plan. At a minimum, you’ll want to have the following handy:

  • Business name, contact information, and address
  • Owner(s) names, contact information, and addresses
  • Names, contact information, and addresses of any business partners (if you will be working with partners)
  • Resume and relevant work history for yourself and any key partners or employees
  • Any significant sales, commerce, traffic, and financial data and forecasts
  • Customer data (if applicable)
  • Any significant data about your nearest competitors’ commerce, traffic, or finances

Now it’s time to outline your business plan, making note of the sections you need to include and what data you want to include in each section. You can create an outline on your own or use a business plan template to help. Whichever route you choose, it is common to include these sections in your business plan outline:

  • Introduction
  • Executive summary
  • Company overview
  • Products and services
  • Market and industry analysis
  • Marketing strategy
  • Sales strategy
  • Management and organization
  • Financial data, analysis, and forecasts

Connect the data you gathered in step one to specific sections of your outline. Make a note if you need to convert some information into charts or images to make them more compelling for potential investors. For example, you’ll want to include relevant work history in your management section and convert your sales forecasts into charts for your financial data section.

Now it’s time to write your business plan. Attack this one section at a time, adding the relevant data as you go.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is an overview of the business plan and should ideally be one, but no more than two, pages in length. Some investors actually only request the executive summary. So make it an informative, persuasive, and concise version of your business plan.

It can be easier to write the executive summary last, after the other sections. Then you can more clearly understand which sections of your business plan are the most important to highlight in the executive summary.

When learning how to write an executive summary for a business plan, remember to include the following:

  • Business objectives : Your business objectives are specific and attainable goals for your business. Create at least four business objectives organized by bullet point. If you’re not sure how to phrase your objectives, read our SMART goals examples to understand how to do so.
  • Mission statement: The mission statement discusses the aim, purpose, and values of your business. It’s typically a short statement from one sentence to several sentences in length. You may find that your mission statement evolves as your business grows. Learn more on how to write your mission statement in our guide.

Consider also including the following in your executive summary:

  • Business description : Similar to a 30-second pitch, describing your business and what makes it unique
  • Products and services : The type of products and services you’re providing and their costs
  • Competitors : Your biggest competitors and why your business will succeed despite them
  • Management and organization : The owners’ backgrounds and how they will help the business succeed; management structure within the business
  • Business location (or facility) : Location benefits and the surrounding area
  • Target market and ideal customer : Who your ideal customers are and why they’re going to purchase your products or services
  • Financial data and projections : Provide brief financial data and projections relevant to your business, such as startup costs, at what month the business will be profitable, and forecasted sales data
  • Financing needed : Explanation of the startup funding sources and the amount of financing being requested

The bullets above can be combined into several paragraphs. You can add or remove sections based on your business’ needs. For example, if you don’t have a physical location, you might remove that piece of information. Or, if a web presence is crucial to your success, include two to three sentences about your online strategy .

Company Overview

The company overview (sometimes also called a “business overview”) section highlights your company successes (if you’re already in business) or why it will be successful (if you’re a startup). In the opening paragraph or paragraphs, provide information like location, owners, hours of operation, products, and services.

How you structure this section depends on whether you’re a startup or an established business. A startup will discuss the general expenses and steps needed to open the business, such as permits, build-outs, rent, and marketing. An established business will briefly discuss the company’s financial performance over the past three years.

If you’re trying to raise capital from an investor or bank, include a chart listing the items your business will acquire with the capital. For example, if you’re purchasing equipment with the additional funding, list each piece of equipment and the associated cost. At the bottom of the chart, show the total of all expenses, which should be the requested amount of funding.

Screenshot of Startup Expenses From Startup Assets

This startup cost table for a pizza restaurant separates startup expenses from startup assets.

Your company overview should cover the following:

  • Location & Facilities : If you have a brick-and-mortar location or a facility, like a warehouse, describe it here. Detail the benefits of your location and the surrounding areas. Write about square footage, leases or ownership, the surrounding area, and a brief description of the population.
  • Ownership : Briefly mention the company ownership team and their backgrounds. Show why these owners are likely to be successful in operating this business by providing certain details, such as each owner’s industry experience, previous employers, education, and awards. This will be discussed more in-depth in the management and organization section below.
  • Competitive advantage : Ideally, your competitive advantage is what your business can do that your competitors cannot. It’s the one big differentiator that will make your company successful. Many investors are looking for specific competitive advantages, such as patents, proprietary tech, data, and industry relationships. If you don’t have these, describe the top aspect in which your business will do better than competitors, such as quality of products, quality of services, relationships with vendors, or marketing strategy.

Products & Services

The products and services section is the most flexible section because its structure depends on what your business sells. Regardless of what you’re selling, include a description of your business model to explain how your business makes money. Also include future products or services your business could provide one, two, or five years down the road.

List and describe all physical and digital products you plan to sell, as well as any services the business provides. Services don’t necessarily have to be sold for a cost—your business might offer entertainment, like live music or bar games as a free service.

Whether you’re selling products, services, or both, it’s important to discuss fulfillment, or how each will be delivered. If you make or sell physical products, describe how products will be sold, assembled, packed, and shipped. If your business is service-based, describe how a service, such as a window installation, will be ordered and completed. Where will the glass be purchased from and acquired, how will customers place orders, and how will the window be installed?

Market & Industry Analysis

The market and industry analysis section is where you analyze potential customers and the forces that influence your industry. This section is where you make the case as to why your business should succeed, ideally backed by data. You’ll want to do a deep dive into your competitors and discuss their challenges and successes. Learn more about sales targeting to improve how you approach your sales strategy.

Market Segmentation

Market segmentation, or your target market, consists of the customers who are most likely to purchase your products or services. Describe these groups of customers based on demographics, including attributes like age, income, location, and buying habits. Additionally, if you’ll be operating with a business-to-business (B2B) model, use characteristics to describe the ideal businesses to which you’ll sell.

Once your target market is segmented into groups, use market research data to show that those customers are physically located near your business (or are likely to do business with you if you’re online). If you’re opening a daycare, for example, you’ll want to show the data on how many families are in a certain mile radius around your business. You can obtain this kind of data from a free resource, like the U.S. Census and ReferenceUSA .

Once you have at least three segments, briefly outline the strategy you’ll use to reach them. Most likely it will be a combination of marketing, pricing, networking, and sales.

Learn the best approach to product pricing in our guide.

Industry Analysis

Take a look at your business’s industry and explain why it’s a great idea to start a business in that niche. If you’re in a growing industry, a bank is more likely to lend your business capital because it’s predicted to be in demand and have additional customers. Learn about how to find a niche market .

Find industry statistics from a free tool, like the Bureau of Labor Statistics , or a paid tool like the Hoovers Industry Research , which provides professionally curated reports for over 1,000 industries.

Competitor Research

Wrap up the market and industry analysis section by analyzing at least five competitors within a five-mile radius (expand the radius, if needed). Create a table with the five competitors and mention their distance from your business (if applicable), along with their challenges, and successes.

During your analysis, you’ll want to frame their challenges as something you can improve upon. Persuade your reader that your business will provide superior products and services than the competitors.

Marketing Strategy & Implementation Summary

In the opening paragraphs of your marketing strategy and implementation summary, give an overview of the subsections below.

Include any industry trends you may take advantage of. If applicable, include the advertising strategy and budget, stating specific channels. Mention who in the business will be responsible for overseeing the marketing.

Include any platforms and tools the business will use, like your website, social media, email marketing, and video. If you’re hiring a company to do any online work, like creating a website or managing social media, briefly describe them and the overall cost (you can elaborate more on costs in the financial data section ).

Don’t forget to include a subsection for your traditional marketing plan. Traditional marketing encompasses anything not online, such as business cards, flyers, local media, direct mail, magazine advertising, and signage.

Sales Strategy

If sales is an important component of your business, include a section about your sales strategy. Describe the role of the salesperson (or persons), strategies they’ll use to close the deal with clients, lead follow-up procedures, and networking they’ll attend. Also, list any training your sales staff will attend.

Sales Forecast Table

A sales forecast table gives a high-level summary of where you expect your sales and expenses to occur for each of the next three years in business. In the paragraph before the table, state where you expect growth to come from and include a growth percentage rate. The annual sales forecast chart will be broken down further in the financial projections section below.

Screenshot of Annual Sales Forecast

The annual sales forecast for this restaurant summarizes sales, cost, and profit for the first three years in business.

Pricing Strategy

In the pricing strategy section, discuss product/service pricing, competitor pricing, sales promotions , and discounts—basically anything related to the pricing of what you sell. You should discuss pricing in relation to product and service quality as well. Consider including an overview of pricing for specific products, e.g., pizza price discounts when ordering a specific number of pizzas for catering.

Milestones in a business plan are typically displayed in a table. They outline important tasks to do before the business opens (or expands, if already in business). For each milestone, include the name, estimated start and completion date, cost, person responsible, and department responsible (or outside company responsible). List at least seven milestones.

Screenshot of Milestones for This Commercial Photography Business

Milestones for this commercial photography business include hiring staff and completing marketing campaigns.

Management & Organization Summary

The management and organization summary is an in-depth look at the ownership background and key personnel. This is an important section because many investors say they don’t invest in companies, they invest in people. In this section, make the case why you and your team have the experience and knowledge to make this business a success.

Ownership Background

Discuss the owners’ backgrounds and place an emphasis on why that background will ensure the business succeeds. If you don’t have experience managing a retail business, consider finding a co-owner who does. Typically, banks won’t lend to someone who doesn’t have experience in the type of business they’re trying to open.

Management Team Gaps

If there are any experience or knowledge gaps within the management team, state them. List the consultants or employees you will hire to cover the gaps. Investors who know your industry well may recognize gaps within your business plan, and it’s important to state the gaps without waiting for the investor to bring it up. This makes it appear that you know the industry well.

Personnel Plan

The personnel plan outlines every position within your business for at least the next three years. In the opening paragraph, discuss the roles within the company and who will report to whom. Include a table with at least three years of salary projections for each employee in your business. Include a total salary figure at the bottom. This table may be broken down further into salaries for each month in the financial projections or appendix.

Screenshot of Personnel Plan

This commercial photography business has the CEO at the same salary every year, with their employees’ salaries increasing year over year.

Financial Data & Analysis

The financial data and analysis section is the most difficult part of a business plan. This section requires you to forecast income and expenses for the next three years. You’ll need a working knowledge of common financial statements, like the profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

In the opening paragraphs of the financial data and analysis section, give an overview of the sections below. Discuss the break-even point and the projected profit at the first, second, and third year in business. State the assets and liabilities from the projected balance sheet as well.

If you’re getting a loan from a bank, say how long and from what source the loan will be repaid. One of the main pieces of information bankers want to ascertain from financial forecasting is if they will be paid back and how likely that is to happen.

You might also include the following financial reports:

  • Break-even analysis : Break-even is when your business starts to make money. Break-even analysis is where you illustrate the point at which your revenue exceeds expenses and a profit occurs. In this section’s opening paragraph, state your monthly fixed costs and average percent variable costs (cost that changes with output, like labor or cost of goods). In the example below, variable costs increase 8% for every additional dollar made.

Screenshot of Breakeven Analysis

The break-even point for this document shredding business is $31,500 in a month.

  • Projected profit & loss: The profit and loss table is a month-by-month breakdown of income and expenses (including startup expenses). Typically, you should expect your business to show a profit within the first year of operating and increase in years two and three. Be sure to show income and expenses month-by-month for the first two years in operation. Create a separate chart that shows income and expenses year-by-year for the first three years.
  • Projected cash flow : The cash flow section shows your business’s monthly incoming and outgoing cash. It should cover the first two years in business. Mention what you plan to do with excess cash. See how to run a statement cash flow in QuickBooks Online .
  • Projected balance sheet: The balance sheet shows the net worth of the business and the financial position of the company on a specific date. It focuses on the assets and liabilities of the business. Ideally, the balance sheet should show that the net worth of your business increases. Prepare a projected year-by-year balance sheet for the first three years.
  • Business ratios: Also called financial ratios, these are a way to evaluate business performance. It’s helpful to compare your projected business ratios to the industry standard. Project your business ratios by year for the first three years.

The appendix is where you put information about the business that doesn’t fit in the above categories. What you put here largely depends on the type of business you’re creating. It’s a good idea to put any visual components in the appendix. A restaurant might add an image of the menu and an artist rendering of the interior and exterior, for example.

Consider including the following items in your business plan appendix:

  • Artist mock-up of interior
  • Building permits
  • Equipment documentation
  • Incorporation documents
  • Leases and agreements
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Licenses and permits
  • Marketing materials
  • Media coverage
  • Supplier agreements

An appendix isn’t required in a business plan, but it’s highly recommended for additional persuasion. Documents like media coverage, agreements, and equipment documentation show the investor and banker you’re serious about the business. If your appendix is more than 10 pages, consider creating a second table of contents just for the appendix.

Detailed Financial Projections

Put the more detailed projections in the appendix. The financial projections in the previous section is typically a year-by-year breakdown for three years in the future. But many bankers and investors want to see the first two years broken down month-by-month for at least the profit and loss statement, balance sheet, cash flow, and personnel plan.

Typically, you can print out the spreadsheet in smaller font and include it in the appendix. You don’t need to create additional charts for the appendix.

With all of your information organized, now it’s time to add the final details, like cover pages and a nondisclosure agreement (NDA).

  • Cover Page: The cover page provides contact information about the business and its owner. The cover page should have the business name and who prepared it, including your name, address, phone number, and email address. Additionally, if the registered company name with the state is different from the business name, you may want to add that as a “company name.”
  • Nondisclosure Agreement: An NDA ((also called a confidentiality agreement) is a legal document that safeguards business information. You’d want someone to sign it before reading your business plan if you believe they could use the information to their advantage and your disadvantage, such as to steal your business idea or marketing strategy.

Screenshot of Fit Small Business Providing a Free Non-Disclosure Agreement

Fit Small Business provides a free non-disclosure agreement.

Once your final details are added, proofread all the sections of your business plan, ensuring that the information is accurate and that all spelling and grammar are correct. If there are any illustrations, projections, or additional information you forgot to include, now is the time to add it.

The final step is adding a table of contents so that bankers and potential investors can easily navigate your business plan. A table of contents lists the sections and subsections of your business plan. All of the headers above (Executive Summary, Business Objectives, Company Overview, Products and Services, and so on) are considered sections of a business plan. You can number the sections for additional organization. For example, 1.0 is the executive summary, 1.1 is the business objectives, and 1.2 is the mission statement.

Editing and formatting can change the pagination of your business plan. So you’ll save yourself work if you finalize the business plan content first, then arrange the table of contents at the end.

Congratulations! You’ve captured your business idea and plan for profitability on paper. Before you send this business plan to loan officers and potential investors, ask friends, family, and other supportive business owners to read it and provide feedback. They may notice typos or other errors that you missed. They may also identify details you can add to make your business plan more persuasive.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About How to Write a Business Plan

These are the most common questions I hear about writing a business plan.

What needs to be in a business plan?

What you should put in a business plan depends on its purpose and your industry. If you’re seeking funding from a bank or investor, you’re going to need most of the sections above, with a strong focus on your financial projections. If you are using your business plan to attract key employees (like a chef for your restaurant), mock-ups and vendor agreements will be more useful. Think about the information that will help your target reader make a decision about whether to get involved with your business—whether that is a location, a business model, or product idea—and be sure your business plan includes that information.

How do you write a business plan for a startup?

The business plan for a startup is similar to a business plan for an established business. The startup business plan will include startup costs, which will be listed by item and factored into the financial projections. Additionally, since your business hasn’t proven it can be successful yet, you may need additional information about the ownership, business model, market, and industry to convince the reader your business will succeed.

How long does it take to write a business plan?

A simple business plan may only take a couple of hours. However, for the business plan provided with this template, which includes financial projections, it may take over 60 hours to research the income and costs associated with running your business. You also have to format those costs into a chart, because it’s best to showcase the data with easy-to-understand charts.

Is writing a business plan hard?

Creating a business plan for funding from a bank or investor is a detailed process. Unless you have a background in financial statements, the financial projections may be difficult for the average business owner. But you can ask for help; it is common to hire a bookkeeper or accountant to assist you with financial projects to ensure your math is correct. Outside of the projections, most other business plan sections are simple, though you’ll want to give yourself time to make each section persuasive.

Every type of business, whether it’s a side hustle or a multimillion-dollar business, should have a business plan. The industry analysis and market segmentation sections validate your business idea. Researching and forecasting financial projections helps you logically think through income and expenses, which lessens the risk of business failure. Remember to get feedback on your business plan from business employees and associates. If necessary, have them sign an NDA before they review the plan.

About the Author

Mary King

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Mary King is an expert restaurant and small business contributor at Fit Small Business. With more than a decade of small business experience, Mary has worked with some of the best restaurants in the world, and some of the most forward-thinking hospitality programs in the country. Mary’s firsthand operational experience ranges from independent food trucks to the grand scale of Michelin-starred restaurants, from small trades-based businesses to cutting-edge co-working spaces.

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How to write a business plan in 12 steps (2024 edition)

Updated 18 April 2024 • 12 min read

This guide breaks down how to write a business plan, step-by-step, detailing what your document needs to include and what you need to think about to make your business plan as persuasive as possible.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is an essential document that can provide immense value for new and existing companies of all sizes. It is an overview that includes an outline of your business, its key objectives and plan for achieving important goals.

This information can be used to communicate strategic actions to internal teams and also attract interest from potential partners and investors . However, writing a business plan can be a lengthy and involved process. For many, using a business plan template can be a good way to get started.

For best results, you’ll need to do a lot of thinking and planning before you start writing your business plan. This way you have all the information and resources you need at your fingertips and won’t be under time pressure to come up with something at the last minute. After all, a well-thought-out business plan can help you avoid generic information and set your company up for success.

Download your free business plan template .

Why write a business plan?

Writing your business plan helps to get your strategy nailed down and onto the page. A plan that stays in your head is probably going to be full of unrealistic assumptions and biases, whereas a strategically thought-out and organised approach forces you to notice your blind spots and find a way forward.

If you’re looking for financing, a bank or investor needs to be persuaded by your business proposal and the opportunity to work with you. Therefore, a well-written business plan can help provide potential financial partners with the confidence that your business can become profitable. Your business plan gives them a comprehensive view of all aspects of your business and details your strategy for achieving your goals.

What are the main sections of a business plan?

Whatever your line of work, your business plan will generally need to provide the following:

An executive summary

A business overview

The market opportunity

Your products/services

How to write a business plan

Make sure you cover each of the following steps when preparing your document:

1. Write an executive summary

This section of your business plan should be 1–2 pages in length and enables potential financiers or partners to get an overview of what your business does and – most importantly — what the opportunity is for them. If they’re interested in the opportunity, they’ll conduct their own due diligence - and this will start with going through your business plan and financials.

It’s a good idea to write your executive summary last, when you’ve clarified your thinking around every section of the document. As an overview section, you don’t want to add any new content that isn’t in your business plan. Aim to keep this summary succinct and engaging by using simple, plain language, as this is much more persuasive than complicated or academic wording.

Use sub-headings and bullet points to help your most important information stand out, especially as busy executives may simply scan your executive summary and use this to decide whether they want to find out more.

What to include in an executive summary?

Make sure you include details on:

What your business does

What the opportunity is

What your unique selling points / differentiators are

How much funding you’re looking for

What the funding will be used for

How you'll succeed

Remember, you’re providing the big picture overview of your business - the detail is in the rest of the document and in the appendices.

2. Write your business overview

This section of your business plan needs to be more than just a list of what your business does. Its purpose is to excite those you’re hoping will work with you or help to fund your business.

Information to address includes:

What's the purpose of your business?

What problem does your business’ product or service solve?

What niche could it fill?

What’s different about your offering?

How are you better than anyone else at what you do?

Consider what your customer value proposition is by deciding what you want to achieve and what your number 1 benefit is for your customer.

3. Identify your USP

Think about what your unique selling points (USP) or differentiators are, and what proof-points you can provide to back them up.

For example, you can use terms like “market-leading” but if you don’t provide any evidence to back up your claims, your reader will take them with a big pinch of salt!

You should certainly reference any awards or endorsements that position you as the best person to provide your product or service, as well as any client testimonials. Make sure you include any education or experience that makes you an expert in your field as well.

4. Describe the market opportunity

Show you understand your industry, market and where you fit in it. While no-one can predict the future, offer up where you think the opportunity is for your business and make sales projections based on that. 

For example, imagine your business is selling personalised cookies - there's little competition in your area and you see your market opportunity to create designs for all calendar and holiday events. You expect to increase sales by 30% in one year and 50% in three years, driven primarily by word-of-mouth referrals.

Make sure you also consider macro trends that may create opportunities for you, such as social, environmental, or technological changes that may affect buying behaviour.

5. Include a SWOT analysis

Whatever your business strengths or opportunities, they’ll always be known and unknown weaknesses and threats; there’s no such thing as certainty in business or in life!

However, you can demonstrate that you’ve examined your business through different lenses and have a thorough understanding of it by doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

Don’t worry about drawing attention to your business’ shortcomings - every opportunity has them and it’ll give investors and partners confidence in you that you won't bury your head in the sand. Naturally, it's important that you specify what you’re going to do to address these weaknesses and counter these threats.

Here are some areas you can think about to get started: reputation, technology, location, experience, staff, overheads, competition, suppliers and price.

6. Present a competitor analysis

Let’s face it, no matter what industry you’re in, or what you’re selling, there’s going to be other businesses offering the same thing. But instead of worrying about the competition, use this as a positive opportunity to up your game and work out the unique advantages you have that will keep you competitive.

Identify your top 3 competitors and analyse what they're doing well and where they’re coming up short. Try to be as objective as possible and identify how to differentiate yourself from them.

You should also look into who the industry leaders are and what the benchmarks are for your industry so that you can set yourself targets for continuous improvement.

7. Create a customer persona

A customer persona is a fictional person who represents your company's ideal customer. Naturally, the persona can be based on a real person - the more you get to know your ideal customer, the more targeted and successful your marketing efforts will be.

To create a customer persona, you need to conduct research into your ideal customer’s age, sex, income, employment, daily activities, interests and hobbies. If you’re feeling unsure about your customer persona, you may need to give your ideal customer further thought and download the customer persona template to get started.

8. Write your marketing strategy

When you’ve created your customer persona, you need to work out how you’re going to reach them. Do they hang out on social media apps, like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or LinkedIn? Or are they more used to local, traditional marketing like free local papers or high foot traffic areas?

Once you’ve figured where your audience is likely to hang out, you can outline your strategies for promoting and advertising your products or services in the next 12 months.

Make a list of the marketing channels you’ll use to achieve your advertising strategy and be sure to include your budget. How much can you set aside for advertising? And where are you most likely to see a return on your efforts? Paid ads on Facebook? Half or full paid spreads in an industry magazine? Or even a direct mail out? 

For more structured help around this, check out free course: Business 101 | Get social with your business on Facebook . 

9. Design your customer retention strategy

Business success relies heavily on the relationship you’re able to build with your customers. What techniques will you use to keep them coming back? Consider the following:

What can your business do to increase the number of repeat customers? 

Does your business have a referral or loyalty program? 

Do you have a post-purchase follow up in place?

Will you use surveys to track customer satisfaction?

What ways can you continue delivering outstanding service?

Is there a way to continue educating and adding value to your customers?

10. Present your financials

Most people who are looking at investing their time and/or money in your business will want to see your financial statements - your performance to date and your projections over the short and medium term. They'll also want to know how much you’ve received in funding to date and what these other sources of funding are - including your own investment.

Current finances

You need to show how your business has performed financially over the last year, highlighting metrics such as positive cashflow , net profit and assets.

Financial forecasts

You should also provide a balance forecast projecting total assets, total liabilities and net assets over 1, 2 and 3 years, and a profit and loss forecast for the same periods detailing gross profit /net sales, total expenses and net profit/loss. Finally, you should also provide a cash flow forecast month by month over the next year.

It’s also a good idea to speak to an expert like an accountant or bookkeeper about your finances and get advice on how best to present them in this all-important section of your business plan.

11. Detail how much funding is needed

Naturally, you also need to be very clear about how much money you’re looking for and what you plan to do with it. If you’re looking for a loan , you need to detail what it’s for, over what period it’ll be repaid, and what collateral you have to secure it.

12. Propose an exit strategy

Any financial stakeholder in your business will want a return on investment. If you’re pursuing this type of funding, you should include some detail on your proposed exit strategy . For example, do you want to sell the company at some point or go public?

Similarly, you should outline your succession plan so the business can continue to operate if you decide to step away from it. Likewise, you need a plan for what happens if the business loses money and can’t sustain itself. Documenting this means that everyone is on the same page and potential investors have this information upfront.

Frequently asked questions about writing a business plan:

When to write a business plan.

Typically, entrepreneurs write their business plans within the first year of operations. A business plan is a tool that helps business owners refine their strategy, attract partners and financiers, and grow their business.

If a business plan is written too soon, it may lack the substance that comes with time in the market. However, it’s important to note that a business plan isn't a static document - it can and should change as the business evolves.

How long should your business plan be?

There are no hard and fast rules around how long your business plan should be - it just needs to include all the relevant information. Aim for clear, concise sections and build a business plan that is as easy to read and navigate as possible.

Using a business plan template can help you make sure you have everything covered off, while also having a document that looks as professional as possible. Make sure you run a spelling and grammar check too - any sloppy errors can undermine your credibility.

What’s a business plan on a page?

It’s important to write your business plan as it helps to embed your strategy - as well as communicate what you’re about to potential partners or investors. When you have a comprehensive business plan you can easily adapt it to suit different audiences. For example, a full business plan is essential for raising capital but a business plan on a page may be enough for potential partners or employees.

What do venture capitalists look for in a business plan?

Venture capitalists invest money into businesses with the goal of achieving a return on their investment within the short to medium term. As a result, they’re looking for an attractive market opportunity, a clear point of differentiation, a strong management team, a proven track record, solid financials and, importantly, an exit opportunity.

Where to go for help or more information?

There are many great resources out there to help you fine-tune your business strategy and write your business plan. The Australian Government has a comprehensive website dedicated to supporting businesses at all stages of their journey.

You can also get help from Business Enterprise Centres , business advisors, accountants and fellow business owners. MYOB also has a list of business advisors who can give you feedback on your business plan, so your venture has the very best chance of success. 

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Start » startup, writing a business plan here’s how to do it, step by step.

At the foundation of every strong business is a solid business plan. Looking to develop a business plan for your new venture? Here’s what to include in each step.

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In our Startup2021 series, we're helping aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the new business climate of the COVID-19 era. Each week, we'll share an in-depth look at one step you can to take toward launching your business in 2021.

At the foundation of every strong business is a solid business plan. A business plan outlines important information regarding a company’s operations and goals, and serves as a blueprint for how to achieve those goals. This document not only helps entrepreneurs think through and research their venture thoroughly, it also demonstrates to investors the viability of the business idea.

If you’re looking to develop a business plan for your new venture, it’s important to include all the necessary information. Here are the nine sections to include in a strong business plan, step by step.

1. Executive summary.

Your business plan should begin with an executive summary, which outlines what your company is about and why it will succeed. This section includes your mission statement, a brief description of the product or service you are offering, a summary of your plans and basic logistical details about your team.

2. Company description.

Your company description should further detail the logistics of your business, such as its registered name, address and key people involved. Here, you should also provide specific information about your product or service, including who your business serves and what problem you solve for that population.

3. Market analysis.

Conducting thorough market research can help you understand the nature of your industry, as well as how to stand out from competitors. Include a summary of your research findings in this section. Consider any trends or themes that emerge, what other successful businesses in the field are doing (or failing to do) and how your business can do better.

[Read: How to Conduct a Market Analysis ]

4. Organization and management.

This section should include your business’s legal structure — for example, whether you are incorporating as an S or C corporation, forming a partnership or operating as an LLC or sole proprietor. Provide pertinent information on your leadership team and other key employees, including each relevant individual’s percent of ownership and extent of involvement.

Describe how you will attract and retain your customer base, including what makes you stand out from competitors, and detail the actual sales process.

5. Products/services.

Your product or service is the crux of your business idea, so you’ll want to ensure you make a strong case for it being on the market. Use this section to elaborate on your product or service throughout its life cycle, including how it works, who it serves, what it costs and why it is better than the competition. If you have any pending or current intellectual property, include this information here. You can also detail any research and development for your product or service in this section.

6. Marketing and sales.

In this section, you should explain what your marketing and sales strategies are, and how you will execute them. (Note that these strategies will likely evolve over time, and you can always make adjustments as needed.) Describe how you will attract and retain your customer base, including what makes you stand out from competitors, and detail the actual sales process.

[Read: 5 KPIs to Measure Your Business’s Marketing Success ]

7. Funding request.

If you’re seeking funding, this section is critical for investors to understand the level of funding you need. Specify what type of funding you need (debt or equity) and how much, as well as how that capital will be used. You should also include information on any future financial plans, such as selling your business or paying off debts.

8. Financial projections.

The goal of your financial projections section is to show that your business is viable and worth the investment. Offer a financial forecast for the next five years, using information from current or projected income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements to support it. Graphs and charts can be an especially helpful tool in visualizing your business’s finances.

9. Appendix.

Finally, use the appendix for any information that could not fit or did not apply to other sections of the document. Information such as employee resumes, permits, credit history and receipts are often included in this section. If you have a long appendix, consider adding a table of contents to make it easier for the reader.

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How to Write a Detailed Business Plan, Step-by-Step (Free Templates)

Posted november 14, 2022 by noah parsons.

how to write a business plan step by step

Writing a business plan is one of the most valuable things you can do for your business. Study after study proves that business planning significantly improves your chances of success by up to 30 percent . That’s because the planning process helps you think about all aspects of your business and how your business will operate and grow.

In fact, writing a business plan is one of the only free things you can do to greatly impact the success and growth of your business. Ready to write your own detailed business plan? Here’s everything you need ( along with a free template ) to create your plan.

Before you write a detailed business plan, start with a one-page business plan

Despite the benefit of planning, it’s easy to procrastinate writing a business plan. Most people would prefer to work hands-on in their business rather than think about business strategy. That’s why, to make things easier, we recommend you start with a simpler and shorter one-page business plan .

With a one-page plan, there’s no need to go into a lot of details or dive deep into financial projections—you just write down the fundamentals of your business and how it works. A one-page plan should cover:

  • Value proposition
  • Market need
  • Your solution

Competition

Target market.

  • Sales and marketing
  • Budget and sales goals
  • Team summary
  • Key partners
  • Funding needs

A one-page business plan is a great jumping-off point in the planning process. It’ll give you an overview of your business and help you quickly refine your ideas.

If you’re ready to work on your one-page plan, check out our guide to writing a one-page business plan . It has detailed instructions, examples, and even a free downloadable template .

When do you need a more detailed business plan?

A one-page plan doesn’t always capture all the information that you need, however. If that’s the case, then it may be time to expand into a more detailed business plan.

There are several reasons for putting together a detailed business plan:

Flesh out the details 

A one-page business plan is just a summary of your business. If you want to document additional details such as market research, marketing and sales strategies, or product direction—you should expand your plan into a longer, more detailed plan. 

Build a more detailed financial forecast

A one-page plan only includes a summary of your financial projections. A detailed plan includes a full financial forecast, including a profit and loss statement , balance sheet , and cash flow forecast —one of the most important forecasts for any business.

Be prepared for lenders and investors

While investors might not ask to actually read your business plan, they will certainly ask detailed questions about your business. Planning is the only way to be well-prepared for these investor meetings.

Selling your business

If you’re selling your business, a detailed business plan presentation will be part of your sales kit. Potential buyers will want to know the details of how your business works, from marketing details to your product roadmap.

How to write a detailed business plan

When you do need to write a detailed business plan, focus on the parts most important to you and your business. If you plan on distributing your plan to outsiders, you should complete every section. But, if your plan is just for internal use, focus on the areas that will help you right now.

For example, if you’re struggling with marketing, spend time working on your target market section and marketing strategy and skip the sections covering the company organization.

Let’s go step-by-step through the sections you should include in your business plan:

1. Executive summary

Yes, the executive summary comes first in your plan, but you should write it last, once you know all the details of your business plan. It is truly just a summary of all the details in your plan, so be careful not to be too repetitive—just summarize and try to keep it to one or two pages at most. If you’ve already put together a one-page business plan, you can use that here instead of writing a new executive summary.

Your executive summary should be able to stand alone as a document because it’s often useful to share just the summary with potential investors. When they’re ready for more detail, they’ll ask for the full business plan.

For existing businesses, write the executive summary for your audience—whether it’s investors, business partners, or employees. Think about what your audience will want to know and just hit the highlights.

The key parts of your plan that you’ll want to highlight in your executive summary are:

  • Your opportunity: This is a summary of what your business does, what problem it solves, and who your customers are. This is where you want readers to get excited about your business
  • Your team: For investors, your business’s team is often even more important than what the business is. Briefly highlight why your team is uniquely qualified to build the business and make it successful.
  • Financials: What are the highlights of your financial forecast ? Summarize your sales goals , when you plan to be profitable, and how much money you need to get your business off the ground.

2. Opportunity

The “opportunity” section of your business plan is all about the products and services that you are creating. The goal is to explain why your business is exciting and the problems that it solves for people. You’ll want to cover:

Mission statement

A mission statement is a short summary of your overall goals. It’s a short summary of how you hope to improve customers’ lives with your products and services. It’s a summary of the aspirations of your business and the guiding north star for you and your team. 

Problem & solution

Most successful businesses solve a problem for their customers. Their products and services make people’s lives easier or fill an unmet need in the marketplace. In this section, you’ll want to explain the problem that you solve, whom you solve it for, and what your solution is. This is where you go in-depth to describe what you do and how you improve the lives of your customers.

In the previous section, you summarized your target customer. Now you’ll want to describe them in much greater detail. You’ll want to cover things like your target market’s demographics (age, gender, location, etc.) and psychographics (hobbies and other behaviors). Ideally, you can also estimate the size of your target market so you know how many potential customers you might have.

Every business has competition , so don’t leave this section out. You’ll need to explain what other companies are doing to serve your customers or if your customers have other options for solving the problem you are solving. Explain how your approach is different and better than your competitors, whether it’s better features, better pricing, or a better location. Explain why a customer would come to you instead of going to another company. 

3. Execution

This section of your business plan dives into how you’re going to accomplish your goals. While the Opportunity section discussed what you’re doing, you now need to explain the specifics of how you’re going to do it.

Marketing & sales

What marketing tactics do you plan to use to get the word out about your business? You’ll want to explain how you get customers to your door and what the sales process looks like. For businesses that have a sales force, explain how the sales team gets leads and what the process is like for closing a sale.

Depending on the type of business that you are starting, the operations section needs to be customized to meet your needs. If you are building a mail-order business you’ll want to cover how you source your products and how fulfillment will work .

If you’re building a manufacturing business, explain the manufacturing process and the facilities you need to use. This is where you’ll talk about how your business “works,” meaning, you should explain what day-to-day functions and processes are needed to make your business successful.

Milestones & metrics

Until now, your business plan has mostly discussed what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it. The milestones and metrics section is all about timing. Your plan should highlight key dates and goals that you intend to hit. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. You should also discuss key metrics: the numbers you will track to determine your success.

Use the Company section of your business plan to explain the overall structure of your business and the team behind it.

Organizational structure

Describe your location, facilities, and anything else about your physical location that is relevant to your business. You’ll also want to explain the legal structure of your business—are you an S-corp, C-corp, or an LLC? What does company ownership look like?

Arguably one of the most important parts of your plan when seeking investment is the “Team” section. This should explain who you are and who else is helping you run the business. Focus on experience and qualifications for building the type of business that you want to build. 

It’s OK if you don’t have a complete team yet. Just highlight the key roles that you need to fill and the type of person you hope to hire for each role.

5. Financial plan and projections

Your business plan has now covered the “what”, the “how”, and the “when” for your business. Now it’s time to talk about money. What revenue do you plan on bringing in and when? What kind of expenses will you have?

Financial Forecasts

Your sales forecast should cover at least the first 12 months of your business and ideally contain educated guesses at the following two years in annual totals. Some investors and lenders might want to see a five-year forecast, but three years is usually enough.

You’ll want to cover sales, expenses, personnel costs, asset purchases, and more. You’ll end up with three key financial statements: An Income Statement (also called Profit and Loss), a Cash Flow Statement , and a Balance Sheet .

If you’re raising money for your business, the Financing section is where you describe how much you need. Whether you’re getting loans or investments, you should highlight what you need, and when you need it. Ideally, you’ll also want to summarize the specific ways that you’ll use the cash once you have it in hand.

6. Appendix 

The final section of your business plan is the appendix. Include detailed financial forecasts here as well as any other key documentation for your business. If you have product schematics, patent information, or any other details that aren’t appropriate for the main body of the plan but need to be included for reference.

Download a business plan template

Are you ready to write your business plan? Get started by downloading our free business plan template . With that, you will be well on your way to a better business strategy, with all of the necessary information expected in a more detailed plan.

If you want to elevate your ability to build a healthy, growing business, you may want to consider LivePlan.

It’s a product that makes planning easy and features step-by-step guidance that ensures you cover everything necessary while reducing the time spent on formatting and presenting. You’ll also gain access to financial forecasting tools that propel you through the process. Finally, it will transform your plan into a management tool that will help you easily compare your forecasts to your actual results.

Using your plan to grow your business

Your business plan isn’t just a document to attract investors or close a bank loan. It’s a tool that helps you better manage and grow your business. And you’ll get the most value from your business plan if you use it as part of a growth planning process . 

With growth planning, you’ll easily create and execute your plan, track performance, identify opportunities and issues, and consistently revise your strategy. It’s a flexible process that encourages you to build a plan that fits your needs.  So, whether you stick with a one-page plan or expand into a more detailed business plan—you’ll be ready to start growth planning. 

Ready to try it for yourself? Learn how LivePlan can help you use this modern business planning method to write your plan and consistently grow your business.

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October 31, 2023

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How to Write a Business Plan Step-By-Step

October 31, 2023 • Block Advisors

QUICK ANSWER:

  • A business plan outlines your business’s goals, services, financing, and more.
  • Business plans vary in length and complexity but should always include an explanation of what your business will do and how it will do it.
  • Business plans serve as a guide for business owners and employees and are key to boosting investor confidence.

Whether you’re a serial entrepreneur or just getting your first small business idea off the ground, creating a business plan is an important step. Good business planning will help you clarify your goals and objectives, identify strategies, and note any potential issues or roadblocks you might face.

Not every business owner chooses to write a business plan, but many find it to be a valuable step to take when starting a business. Creating a business plan can seem daunting and confusing at first. But taking the time to plan and research can be very beneficial, especially for first-time small business owners.

If you want to learn how to create a business plan or if you feel you just need a little business plan help, read on!

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan serves as a comprehensive document that outlines your business’s goals, services, financing, leadership, and more details essential to its success. Think of the plan as the who, what, and why of your new business:

A small business owner learning how to write a business plan

Who are the major players in your business?

What goods or services do you offer and why are they important?

Why are you in business and why should customers choose you?

Business plans can range in complexity and length, but, at their core, all plans explain what the business will do and how it will do it. A business plan serves as a guide for business owners and employees and should boost investor confidence. Some important advantages of business plans include:

  • Shows investors you have an in-demand product or service, a solid team to achieve business goals, and the potential for growth and scalability.
  • Increases the likelihood of securing a business loan, locking in investments, or raising capital. >>Read: A Guide to Raising Capital as a Small Business Founder
  • Helps recognize partnership opportunities with other companies.
  • Identifies and defines competitors within your given industry.

Looking for an examples of a successful business plan? Check out the SBA’s business plan page for walkthroughs of different business plan outlines.

How to Write a Business Plan: 10 Simple Steps

Starting with a blank page is undoubtedly intimidating. So, begin with a structured business plan template including the key elements for each section. Once your outline is complete, it’ll be time to fill in the details. Don’t worry, you’ll know how to write a business plan in no time. We’ve broken each section down to help you write a business plan in a few simple steps.

1. Brainstorm and Draft an Executive Summary for Your Business Plan

This will be the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your business’ written elevator pitch. In this high level summary, include a mission statement, a short description of the products or services you will be providing, and a summary of your financial and growth projections.

This section will be the first part people read, but you may find it easier to write it last. Writing it after building out the rest of your plan may help you condense the most important information into a concise statement. You’ll need to streamline your thoughts from the other sections into a one page or less summary.

2. Create a Business Description

In this next section, describe your business. Add more specific details than the executive summary. You should include your business’s registered name, the address of your business’s location, basic information about your business structure , and the names of key people involved in the business.

The company description should also answer these two questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you plan to do?

Explain why you’re in business. Show how you are different from competitors. Tell investors why they should finance your company. This section is often more inspirational and emotional. Make sure you grab the reader’s attention. The goal is to get them to believe in your vision as much as you do.

What business structure is right for my company?

Answer these six questions to help you find your fit

3. Outline Your Business Goals

This section should serve as an objective statement. Explain what you want to accomplish and your timeline. Business goals and objectives give you a clear focus. They drive your business to success, so dream big. Include objectives that will help you reach each goal. Don’t forget to make your goals and objectives SMART – that is, they should be:

S pecific | M easurable | A ttainable | R elevant | T ime-bound

4. Conduct and Summarize Market Research

Next, outline your ideal customer with some research. Do the math to estimate the potential size of your target market. Make sure you are choosing the right market for your product, one with plenty of customers who want and need your product. Define your customer’s pain points. Explain your expertise in relation to the market. Show how your product or service fills an important gap and brings value to your customers. Use your findings to build out a value proposition statement.

5. Conduct a Competitive Analysis

In a similar way, you’ll also want to conduct and include a competitive analysis. The purpose of this analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of competitors in your market, strategies that will give you a competitive advantage, and how your company is different. Some people choose to conduct a competitive analysis using the SWOT method .

6. Outline Your Marketing and Sales Strategies

Your marketing sales strategy can make or break your business. Your marketing plan should outline your current sales decisions as well as future marketing strategies. In this section, you should reiterate your value proposition, target markets, and customer segments. Then, include details such as:

  • A launch plan
  • Growth tactics and strategies
  • A customer retention plan
  • Advertising and promotion channels (i.e. social media, print, search engines, etc.)

7. Describe Your Product or Service

By this point, your products or services have probably been mentioned in several areas of the business plan. But it’s still important to include a separate section that outlines their key details. Describe what you’re offering and how it fits in the current market. Also include details about the benefits, production process, and life cycle of your products. If you have any trademarks or patents, include them here. This is also a good time to ask yourself, “Should my plan include visual aids?”

[ Read More Must-Have Tips to Start Your Small Business ]

8. Compile Financial Plans

Financial health is crucial to the success of any business. If you’re just starting your business, you likely won’t have financial data yet. However, you still need to prepare a budget and financial plan. If you have them, include income statements , balance sheets , and cash flow statements . You can also include reporting metrics such as net income and your ratio of liquidity to debt repayment ability.

If you haven’t launched your business yet, include realistic projections of the same information. Set clear financial goals and include projected milestones. Share information about the budget. What are the business operations costs? Ensure you are comprehensive when considering what costs you may need to prepare for.

9. Build a Management and Operations Plan

Identify your team members. Highlight their expertise and qualifications. Outline roles that still need to be filled now to establish your company and later as the business grows. Read More: 8 tax steps to take when hiring employees >>

Include a section detailing your logistics and operations plan. Consider all parts of your operation. Create a plan that provides details on suppliers, production, equipment, shipment and fulfillment, and inventory. This shows how your business will get done.

10. Create an Appendix – A Place for Additional Information and Documents

Lastly, assemble an organized appendix. This section can contain any other relevant information a reader might need to enhance their understanding of other sections. If you feel like the appendix is getting long, consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section. Appendices often include documents such as:

  • Licenses and permits
  • Bank statements
  • Resumes of key employees
  • Equipment leases

How to Create a Business Plan: The Bottom Line

A business plan helps you identify clear goals and provides your business direction. Many small business plans are 10-20 pages in length. But as long as the essentials are covered, feel empowered to build a plan that works for you and your company’s needs. Creating a business plan will help you identify your market and target customers, define business aims, and foster long-term financial health.

We’re ready to help you get your business started on the right foot today, and help you find long-term satisfaction as you pursue your business dream. Writing a business plan can be exciting. But if the steps to starting your business are feeling overwhelming, Block Advisors is here to help. Make an appointment today – our experts can assist you with tax prep , bookkeeping , payroll , business formation , and more .

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Learn How to Craft a Successful Business Plan (Even with No Experience)

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Take the First Step in Learning How to Write a Business Plan, Even with No Experience

Antonio Del Cueto, CPA

May 8, 2024

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Imagine your business as a spaceship blasting off into uncharted territory. It may sound exciting, but without a precise flight plan, that thrilling journey could end in a fiery crash. Similarly, most businesses don't fail because of bad ideas. They fail because they lack a clear roadmap.

This article will guide you through the process of crafting a business plan that's more than just numbers on a page. Learn the secret formulas that propel businesses from mere concepts to thriving realities.

steps on how to prepare a business plan

Reimagining Traditional Business Plan Components

Executive summary with interactive elements.

Transform the executive summary into a dynamic experience using multimedia elements such as videos and interactive timelines. These components help demonstrate the business’s mission and goals, making it more attractive to would-be investors and potential customers.

Flexible Organizational Structures

Suggest designing an adaptable organizational framework that evolves according to strategic business needs and operational demands. This is especially beneficial for entrepreneurs who might need to navigate changes without a background in HR or traditional management.

Navigating Financial Management Without a Background

Simplified accounting tools.

For many new entrepreneurs, managing finances can feel overwhelming. Leveraging simplified digital accounting tools can significantly reduce this stress by automating most of the routine bookkeeping tasks. These tools are particularly beneficial for those without a financial background, making it easier to focus on other aspects of entrepreneurship.

  • Automation : Choose tools that automate entries for sales, purchases, and payroll transactions, ensuring accuracy and saving time.
  • User-Friendly Dashboard : Opt for software with an intuitive interface that simplifies financial tracking and report generation. This feature is essential for entrepreneurs who need to quickly access financial data without navigating complex menus.
  • Integration Capabilities : It’s important to invest in software that integrates with other business tools (e.g., inventory management systems, e-commerce platforms) to streamline all financial processes.
  • Scalability : As your business grows, you’ll need accounting software that can adapt to more complex financial demands without requiring a complete overhaul.

Further reading: Mastering Accounting for Tech Companies: The Ultimate Guide to Industry Accounting in the Technology Sector

Understanding business taxes.

A basic understanding of business taxes is essential for any entrepreneur, including those running a nonprofit or other types of organizations. Here are key elements your business plan should focus on:

  • Fundamental Tax Responsibilities : Clearly outline what taxes the business is liable for, such as income, payroll, and sales taxes. This information should be specific to your business's location and structure.
  • Maximizing Deductions : Include information on how to identify and claim relevant deductions to minimize tax liability. For example, if your business has significant equipment expenses or if you’re renting office space, you should know how these affect your taxes.
  • Seeking Professional Advice : While basic tax guides are helpful, consulting with a tax advisor or strategist can provide tailored advice that ensures compliance and optimizes tax benefits. This step is integral for complex situations or where the tax implications could significantly impact business finances.

Further reading: Maximizing Your Small Business Tax Benefits: 2023 Tax Year Strategies & New Reporting Changes

Budgeting made easy.

Budgeting effectively is a core skill every business owner should develop to ensure financial stability and facilitate growth. Here’s how to incorporate straightforward budgeting strategies into your business operations:

  • Expense Tracking : Start by categorizing expenses to track where every dollar is going. Categories might include rent, salaries, marketing, and web design. This clarity helps in making informed spending decisions.
  • Financial Forecasting : Use historical data to predict future spending needs and income . This is especially important for planning major investments or when scaling operations.
  • Regular Financial Reviews : Conducting regular reviews of your budget will help you stay on track and make necessary adjustments in response to financial performance or changing market conditions.
  • Budgeting Tools : Recommend specific budgeting tools that are designed for small business needs. These tools should provide visual representations of financial data, making it easier to digest and act upon.

Each of these sections should be detailed in the business plan to demonstrate a thorough understanding and proactive management of financial aspects. This approach not only helps in securing funding (e.g., from banks or venture capital) but also in managing day-to-day financial operations efficiently.

Building Strategic Partnerships and Collaborative Networks

Cross-industry alliances.

Engaging in cross-industry alliances is a strategic move that can drive substantial business growth and innovation. These partnerships leverage complementary strengths and resources, offering a multitude of benefits:

  • Innovation through Diverse Expertise : Combining knowledge and resources from different sectors can catalyze innovative solutions that neither partner could develop alone. For instance, a tech startup could collaborate with an established manufacturing firm to optimize production processes using advanced technology, resulting in a competitive edge in the market.
  • Access to New Markets : Each industry has its unique customer base. By forming alliances, businesses can bridge their offerings to new audiences. A successful example could involve a collaboration between a software development company and a telecommunications firm to introduce a new tech product to a broader audience, utilizing the telecom firm's extensive customer network.
  • Resource Sharing : Strategic partnerships allow for the sharing of critical assets such as technology, marketing channels, and expertise, leading to cost savings and enhanced product offerings. This might involve sharing R&D facilities or co-branding efforts for joint marketing campaigns.
  • Enhanced Credibility and Brand Perception : Partnering with reputable firms in other sectors can significantly boost a company's credibility and strengthen its brand image, attracting more customers and potential investors.

Documenting cross-industry alliances in a business plan must specify the objectives, expected outcomes, and the nature of the collaboration. Include specific information on how these alliances align with the business’ strategy and how they contribute to achieving the company’s goals.

Customer Involvement in Product Development

Integrate customer feedback into the product development process for aligning products with market needs and enhancing customer satisfaction. This strategy not only improves product-market fit but also fosters customer loyalty:

  • Direct Feedback for Better Products : Involving customers early in the development process ensures that the final product meets actual user needs and solves relevant problems. This can be achieved through methods like crowdsourcing ideas, beta testing new products, and incorporating user-generated content and suggestions into product design.
  • Build Customer Loyalty : Customers who participate in the product development lifecycle are more likely to develop a deeper connection with the brand, increasing their likelihood of becoming repeat buyers and brand advocates.
  • Agile Feedback Loops : Utilizing customer feedback during product testing phases allows for quick iterations and adjustments, greatly enhancing the product’s relevance and appeal upon launch.
  • Unlocking New Ideas : Customers often see different uses for a product or identify missing features that can lead to significant innovations, helping a company stay ahead of competitors.

The business plan must include a dedicated section outlining how customer feedback will be integrated into product development processes. This section should also include pricing strategies informed by customer input to ensure market competitiveness.

For businesses seeking funding or partnership, a well-crafted business plan is essential. Including sections like Cross-Industry Alliances and Customer Involvement showcases a comprehensive approach to strategic planning and market engagement.

For simplicity and clarity, especially when presenting to potential investors, consider summarizing key strategies in a one-page overview within the larger business plan. This not only highlights the strategic vision but also ensures that readers can quickly grasp the core elements of your plan.

Key Takeaways

  • Clarity is Key : Craft a clear, concise business plan to create financial projections and ensure a solid foundation.
  • Know Your Audience : Tailor your plan to engage stakeholders, addressing related topics like brand awareness.
  • Research Matters : Thorough market research strengthens your plan, supporting its solidity.
  • Financial Focus : Develop realistic projections for revenue and expenses to fortify your business plan.
  • Stay Adaptable : Flexibility is key to evolve strategies, including those for brand awareness, to maintain relevance.

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At Taxfyle , we connect small businesses with licensed, experienced CPAs or EAs in the US. We handle the hard part of finding the right tax professional by matching you with a Pro who has the right experience to meet your unique needs and will manage your bookkeeping and file taxes for you.

Legal Disclaimer

Tickmark, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal, tax or accounting advice or recommendations. All information prepared on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied on for legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your own legal, tax or accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The content on this website is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free.

steps on how to prepare a business plan

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6 easy steps to become a sep-ira millionaire.

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Can a SEP IRA make you a millionaire?

Anyone, and I mean anyone, can become an IRA millionaire if given enough time. According to Fidelity, the number of IRA millionaires on its platform has grown 40% over the past year. That figure doesn't include all retirement account millionaires (those combining assets in retirement accounts).

Becoming a SEP-IRA millionaire may be easier than becoming a 401(k) millionaire. However, you will need to have self-employment income to contribute. Keep reading as we share the reasonably easy steps to put yourself on the path to becoming a SEP-IRA millionaire.

1) Be Self-Employed And Pay Yourself

To become a SEP-IRA millionaire, you need to be eligible to contribute to one. For most people, this means owning a business, being self-employed, or being an independent contractor with income paid via 1099.

2) Open A SEP-IRA Account

For many, the biggest hurdle to becoming a SEP-IRA millionaire is simply getting started. This is a relatively easy process that involves a bit of paperwork. It gets even easier if you have a tax-planning-focused financial planner who takes care of opening the account for you.

If you are self-employed, take the time to set up a SEP-IRA or Solo 401(k) for your business. If you make more than $500,000 per year, consider also setting up a c ash balance pension plan for even more tax savings.

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Houston rockets land third pack in upcoming nba draft, northern lights might be visible again tonight here s the updated aurora forecast, 3) contribute enough money to your sep-ira.

The third step toward becoming a SEP-IRA millionaire is determining how much money to contribute. Below, we will share some math for building a millionaire retirement account. A rough rule of thumb is to save at least 10% of your salary. If you start late or want to become a SEP-IRA millionaire more quickly, you must contribute even more.

The tax benefits of contributing to a SEP-IRA can help you make even larger contributions each year. You will not owe income taxes on the amount you contribute to your SEP-IRA each year. The maximum SEP-IRA contribution for tax year 2023 is $66,000. The SEP-IRA contribution limit for 2024 is $69,000. Remember that your maximum SEP contribution each year will depend on your business income.

The magic of compound interest can help you use your SEP IRA to become a millionaire.

4) Invest Your SEP-IRA Contributions

Becoming a SEP-IRA millionaire without contributing $1 million into your retirement account will require investing your funds. Compounding interest can help your money grow even faster.

If you want to do it the slow and hard way by contributing $22,500 per year to your SEP-IRA and just having it sit there, it will take around 45 years. Assuming a 10% return on your investments, it would take 18 years with the same $22,500 yearly contribution.

If you were able to make the current maximum $69,000 contribution to your SEP each year, it would take just under 10 years to become a SEP-IRA millionaire.

5) Take The Time To Become A SEP-IRA Millionaire

Becoming a SEP-IRA millionaire takes time. There are annual contribution limits to your retirement accounts, so at a minimum, we are talking about a few years for anyone to become a SEP-IRA millionaire. Here are some rough calculations to become a SEP-IRA millionaire, depending on how long you have to reach this big milestone. We are assuming an eight-percent return on your retirement account investment.

Forty-eight years requires about $170 per month.

Thirty years requires about $735 per month.

Twenty years requires about $1,821 per month.

Ten years would require about $5,755 per month.

Five years require about $14,205 per month (which is above the contribution limits.)

As you can see, the earlier you start investing for retirement, the easier it will be to become a SEP-IRA millionaire.

Avoid raiding your SEP IRA when times get tough.

6) Don't Make The Mistake Of Raiding Your SEP-IRA

Following these five steps should have you well on your way to becoming a SEP-IRA millionaire. However, if you make the mistake of raiding your investments before retirement, you will significantly reduce your chance of achieving financial freedom. You will also get hit with taxes and penalties on withdrawals. Not raiding your SEP-IRA when times get tough is essential to accumulating enough assets to maintain your standard of living in retirement.

Follow these simple steps, and you should be on your way to becoming a real-life retirement account millionaire. While a million-dollar balance in your SEP-IRA is a huge accomplishment, most people reading this post will likely need to accumulate even more retirement assets to have the retirement they dream of. Work with your fiduciary financial planner to determine your financial freedom number .

David Rae

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steps on how to prepare a business plan

How To Start a Landscaping Business and Make It a Success

There are nearly a million people working in the landscaping industry throughout the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A career in this industry enables you to beautify your environment, work with your hands, and engage your creativity.

But, what if you want to do more than just work for a landscaping company? What if you want to own one? This guide will explain how to start a landscaping business, including steps like developing your skills, purchasing required supplies, and more. The tips will help you get a successful company off the ground and maximize your chances of consistently turning a profit.

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Key takeaways

  • You'll need to develop landscaping skills to start a landscaping business.
  • Purchasing landscaping supplies can be an expensive but essential upfront investment.
  • A business plan will help you make the right decisions for your growing company.
  • The right business structure can help protect you from liability.
  • A detailed marketing plan will help you find the right customers for your landscaping business.

Pros and cons of starting a landscaping business

  • There's a steady demand for landscapers.
  • The barriers to entry are relatively low.
  • You can work outdoors or lead a team from your office.
  • The work may be seasonal in some parts of the country.
  • You may have high equipment and labor costs for certain kinds of landscaping work.
  • There's intense competition.

As long as there are homeowners and commercial buildings that need lawns mowed and flowers planted, there will be a demand for landscaping services. Since all you need is some basic equipment to get started, you can take advantage of the low barriers to entry and the high demand to get your company off the ground.

Unfortunately, in parts of the country with unfavorable winters, your work may be seasonal, and you may be forced to venture into related fields — like snow plowing — during the winter months. This can require finding a new customer base and purchasing additional equipment.

Depending on the type of landscaping you do, you may also incur high business expenses and startup costs for labor and for equipment. If you'll be doing specialized work that requires a bulldozer or other machinery, for example, it could cost tens of thousands of dollars to purchase this equipment. You could also face intense competition in many areas of the country.

Steps for starting a landscaping business

When you are figuring out how to start a business in the landscaping field, you'll need to both make sure your landscaping skills are up to par and make smart choices about the business side of your operations. Here are nine steps to take to get your company off the ground and make it a success.

1. Develop your landscaping skills

If you expect people to pay you for your landscaping skills, you'll need to make sure your talents in this industry are well-developed. There are a number of ways to do that.

You could obtain formal education, such as by completing an academic program focused on landscape management or horticulture. You could also complete various certifications through the National Association of Landscape Professionals .

Depending on what type of landscaping jobs you plan to focus on, you may also want to undergo additional training. For example, you could become a landscape architect if you hope to focus on complex landscape design work, but would need at least a bachelor's degree and would be required to complete a Landscape Architect Registration Examination.

You will likely also need real-world training, especially if you are going to be working with machinery or performing complex tasks such as hardscaping. This can often be obtained on the job by working for a landscaper or through certification programs.

2. Purchase landscaping supplies

Landscapers use many tools, and you may need to purchase a variety of different supplies depending on the kinds of services your company plans to offer. Some of the supplies you may need include, but are not limited to:

  • A truck to transport landscape equipment and materials
  • A lawn mower
  • Various shears and trimmers, including string trimmers (weed whackers) and hedge trimmers
  • Edgers to create perfect borders around flower beds
  • Rakes and leaf blowers to remove leaves and debris
  • Shovels for removing and adding soil, mulch, and plants
  • Spreaders and/or sprayers to distribute fertilizer and weed- or insect-control applications

If you plan to do larger jobs such as installing a swimming pool or moving large rocks, you will also need to buy or rent equipment such as a bulldozer or a skid steer.

3. Create a business plan

Running your own landscaping business involves more than just focusing on your landscaping talents. In order to become an entrepreneur, you'll need to develop your business skills as well, starting by making a business plan. Business plans serve as a guide or roadmap to help you lead your company to profitability and make cohesive decisions as you begin operations.

Traditional business plans are incredibly detailed and include things like:

  • A description of your company
  • An analysis of the market
  • Details about your organizational structure
  • A description of your product line and services
  • Your marketing plans and sales methods
  • Financial projections for when your landscaping business will become profitable and how much you might charge for different services.

You could also opt for a lean business plan that focuses just on the key elements of your business.

4. Choose a name for your business

You'll need to select a name for your new business. This should be something catchy, simple for customers to remember, and distinctive to your brand. You'll also want to register it with your local government if required, which can usually be completed through the secretary of state's office where you plan to operate.

You will need to make sure no other companies have the same business name as you, or you will not be able to register it. You'll likely also want to register an online domain name with your company's name so you can set up a website people can navigate to when searching for your services or information about your company.

5. Decide on a business structure

You'll need to decide on the right type of business entity your landscaping company should operate as. You have several options, including the following:

  • Sole proprietorship. No paperwork is involved in creating a sole proprietorship, and you and your business are the same legal entity. You'll declare business profits and losses on your personal taxes and have no protection from liability.
  • Partnership: If you are going to start the business with another (or more than one) person, you can choose to operate as a partnership. Partners in general partnerships share liability and are responsible for operations, whereas partners in limited partnerships are more hands-off and are typically protected from liability. Whatever type of partnership you choose, make sure you put a partnership agreement in place. And, you and your partners will declare company profits and losses on personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Companies. When you create an LLC, your business has a separate legal identity. You'll typically have to file tax returns and register your business with the state. LLC owners are called members and are protected from personal liability. Profits and losses still pass through to them and are declared on personal taxes.
  • S corporations: S-corps are also separate legal entities that must file their own tax returns and be registered with the state. They can be more complicated to create but provide liability protections as well as some tax flexibility, as you can declare certain income to be a distribution rather than wage income, which can have favorable tax benefits. Profits and losses pass through to owners with an S-corporation as well.
  • C corporations: C-Corporations are separate entities without the restrictions on ownership that exist with LLCs and S-corps. Many large and publicly traded companies are C-corps. C-corps file their own taxes and declare profits and losses, which creates a risk of double taxation, as owners are also taxed on dividends the corporation pays.

The right business structure will depend on your goals for the company, your tolerance for paperwork, and how important it is for you to put liability protections in place.

6. Register your business for taxes

Once you start your company, you will typically need to apply for an Employer Identification Number, especially if you plan to hire workers to staff your landscaping business. You can apply for an EIN on the IRS website.

If your business exists as a separate legal entity, your company's EIN is used when filing tax forms with the IRS on behalf of the business.

7. Get licenses, permits, and insurance

Depending on where you live and what kind of landscaping work you plan to perform, you may need to obtain specific business licenses and permits to operate.

For example, you may need a commercial applicator license to apply pesticides as part of your landscaping work. Or you may need a landscaping construction professional license if you intend to design or plant trees, grasses, or nursery stock or may require other special licenses to do tree work. It's a good idea to research the specific requirements in your state to find out what the mandates are.

You will need business insurance to protect against financial loss as well. You should purchase general liability insurance in case you harm someone or damage a customer's property. If you will be hiring any workers, unemployment and workers' compensation insurance may also be necessary. And, it's a good idea to get business interruption insurance in case a covered event causes you to temporarily pause operations.

8. Fund and budget for your landscaping business

You will need money to operate your landscaping business, so you should open a separate bank account to keep your company funds in. You'll also need to look into how you will secure funding to get your business off the ground. You could rely on your savings, pursue a business loan, get a small business credit card , or ask investors to help fund your startup landscaping enterprise.

9. Market your business

The key to figuring out how to make money as a landscaper is knowing your target market and being proactive in reaching customers.

To do that, you'll need to identify who you want to provide services to, if there's a niche you want to fill, and how you will reach potential customers so they'll know you can provide the services they require.

There are a number of ways to market your landscaping company, including through ads in local magazines, creating a website, connecting with customers through local groups, creating a word-of-mouth referral program, or posting pictures and videos of your work on social media sites like Houzz, TikTok, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to print and hand out your business cards.

Consider what kind of marketing is most likely to help you reach your target audience — and what kind of marketing is within your budget and skill level.

What is landscaping?

Landscaping is the process of improving and maintaining a property's grounds. There are different kinds of landscaping work that you could do, with landscaping tasks ranging from planting flowers to installing a patio or pool to adding other ornamental features such as ponds and outdoor kitchens.

What is the difference between landscaping and lawn care?

Lawn care focuses specifically on lawn maintenance. A lawn care business could include mowing, trimming and edging, pest control, leaf blowing, and fertilization. Landscaping can include lawn care services but also involves a broader array of services designed to make land more attractive. Landscaping could include planting flowers and trees, leaf removal, or adding pools or other outdoor structures.

How profitable is a landscaping business?

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), the typical landscaping business owner's salary ranged from $54,000 to $115,000. However, the salary of a landscape business owner — and the profits a landscaping business makes — will vary depending on many factors, including geographic location, reputation, and services provided.

How much does it cost to start a landscaping business?

The cost of starting a landscaping business varies depending on what kinds of services you wish to perform. If you simply plan to mow lawns, you could potentially get started with a few hundred dollars. If you need an equipment truck or specialized equipment such as a bulldozer, then you may need tens of thousands of dollars to get your business off the ground.

How do I make my landscaping business successful?

To make your landscaping business successful, you must develop both your landscaping skills and your business skills. You will need a business plan and a marketing plan so you can reach customers, set prices, and determine how to become profitable. It can help to have certifications or other advanced training in landscaping. And getting good reviews once you begin work can become referrals and positive references to provide potential clients.

Bottom line

Figuring out how to start a successful landscaping business can be a challenge, but it is worth the effort if you want to help people enhance their homes or buildings — while also making a good income. Start working on these steps today, and your company will be off the ground before you know it.

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How To Start a Landscaping Business and Make It a Success

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  1. How To Write A Business Plan In 9 Steps Template And Examples

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  2. Step-By-Step Guide to Write Your Business Plan + Template

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  3. How to create a perfect Business Plan? Steps to create a successful plan

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  4. 8 Steps To Create A Successful Business Plan Visually

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

    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.

  2. 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 ...

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

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

  4. How To Make A Business Plan: Step By Step Guide

    The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include. 1. Create an executive summary. Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

  5. How to Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Step 7: Financial Analysis and Projections. It doesn't matter if you include a request for funding in your plan, you will want to include a financial analysis here. You'll want to do two things here: Paint a picture of your business's performance in the past and show it will grow in the future.

  6. Write your business plan

    Common items to include are credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts. Example traditional business plans. Before you write your business plan, read the following example business plans written by fictional business owners.

  7. How to Write a Business Plan: Beginner's Guide (& Templates)

    Step #3: Conduct Your Market Analysis. Step #4: Research Your Competition. Step #5: Outline Your Products or Services. Step #6: Summarize Your Financial Plan. Step #7: Determine Your Marketing Strategy. Step #8: Showcase Your Organizational Chart. 14 Business Plan Templates to Help You Get Started.

  8. Business Plan: What it Is, How to Write One

    Learn about the best business plan software. 1. Write an executive summary. This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your ...

  9. How to Write a Business Plan (Tips, Templates, Examples)

    1. Executive Summary. While your executive summary is the first page of your business plan, it's the section you'll write last. That's because it summarizes your entire business plan into a succinct one-pager. Begin with an executive summary that introduces the reader to your business and gives them an overview of what's inside the ...

  10. How To Write a Business Plan

    Step 2: Do your market research homework. The next step in writing a business plan is to conduct market research. This involves gathering information about your target market (or customer persona), your competition, and the industry as a whole. You can use a variety of research methods such as surveys, focus groups, and online research to ...

  11. How To Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (2024)

    While your plan will be unique to your business and goals, keep these tips in mind as you write. 1. Know your audience. When you know who will be reading your plan—even if you're just writing it for yourself to clarify your ideas—you can tailor the language and level of detail to them.

  12. How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: 10 Essential Steps

    10 Steps To Creating A Comprehensive Business Plan. While not every business plan is the same, there are a few key steps you should take to create an effective and comprehensive document: ‍. 1. Create an executive summary. Think of an executive summary as your company's elevator pitch in written form.

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

    Basically, think of a cover page for your business plan like a giant business card. It is meant to capture people's attention but be quickly processed. How to Write a Business Plan Step 2. Create a Table of Contents. Most people are busy enough that they don't have a lot of time.

  14. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    Write the Executive Summary. This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what's in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. Add a Company Overview. Document the larger company mission and vision.

  15. How to Write a Business Plan in 7 Steps

    Step 1: Gather Your Information. Your first step is to get organized by gathering all your relevant business information. This will save you time completing the various sections of your business plan. At a minimum, you'll want to have the following handy: Business name, contact information, and address. Owner (s) names, contact information ...

  16. 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 ...

  17. How to Write a Business Plan (Step-By-Step Guide)

    No matter who you're writing for, your business plan should be short and readable—generally, no longer than 15 to 20 pages. If you do have additional documents you think may be valuable to your audience and your goals, consider adding them as appendices. Keep the tone, style, and voice consistent.

  18. How to write a business plan in 12 steps (2024 edition)

    How to write a business plan. Make sure you cover each of the following steps when preparing your document: 1. Write an executive summary. This section of your business plan should be 1-2 pages in length and enables potential financiers or partners to get an overview of what your business does and - most importantly — what the opportunity ...

  19. 9 Steps to Writing Your Business Plan

    1. Executive summary. Your business plan should begin with an executive summary, which outlines what your company is about and why it will succeed. This section includes your mission statement, a brief description of the product or service you are offering, a summary of your plans and basic logistical details about your team. 2.

  20. Free business plan template & how to write a business plan

    Once you've got your audience in mind, you can start your business plan, which should include: 1. Executive summary. Even though it appears first in the official plan, write this section last so you can condense essential ideas from the other nine sections. For now, leave it as a placeholder.

  21. How to Write a Business Plan, Step-by-Step (Free Templates)

    Let's go step-by-step through the sections you should include in your business plan: 1. Executive summary. Yes, the executive summary comes first in your plan, but you should write it last, once you know all the details of your business plan. It is truly just a summary of all the details in your plan, so be careful not to be too repetitive ...

  22. How to Write a Business Plan in 10 Steps

    Once your outline is complete, it'll be time to fill in the details. Don't worry, you'll know how to write a business plan in no time. We've broken each section down to help you write a business plan in a few simple steps. 1. Brainstorm and Draft an Executive Summary for Your Business Plan. This will be the first page of your business plan.

  23. A step-by-step guide on how to write a business plan

    8. Write up your financial forecast. This is one of the trickier parts of writing a business plan and requires a good understanding of business finance and accounting. If your business has been trading for a while, you'll want to start off by outlining some historical data, such as sales and gross margin.

  24. Take the First Step in Learning How to Write a Business Plan, Even with

    The business plan must include a dedicated section outlining how customer feedback will be integrated into product development processes. This section should also include pricing strategies informed by customer input to ensure market competitiveness. For businesses seeking funding or partnership, a well-crafted business plan is essential.

  25. How to start a business from home: 15 steps, ideas, and tips

    You've written your business plan, conducted a competitive analysis, identified your target market, and calculated your startup costs. Now it's time to hit the ground running. Here are a few additional steps you can take to build a successful home-based business: Secure a marketing plan; Dedicate space for work; Get a business bank account

  26. How to register as an Amazon seller

    Company registration number: Enter the number you were issued when you registered your business. This unique identifier isn't the same as your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Registered business address: Enter the address that appears on your business license. Phone number: Enter your phone number, including your country code.

  27. How to Create a Financial Plan in 12 Easy Steps

    10. Plan for taxes. Financial planning also allows you to strategically prepare for tax season. Make sure to keep track of all your sources of income to meet your tax obligations. You may be able to reduce your tax liabilities by deducting things like charitable contributions and business expenses as well as by taking advantage of certain tax ...

  28. Exclusive: Shein steps up London IPO preparations amid U.S. hurdles to

    The plan for a U.S. IPO is still officially on the table, but the Singapore-based company has been struggling to clear regulatory hurdles both in the U.S. and China, amid lambasts from U.S ...

  29. 6 Easy Steps To Become A SEP-IRA Millionaire

    If you are self-employed, take the time to set up a SEP-IRA or Solo 401(k) for your business. If you make more than $500,000 per year, consider also setting up a cash balance pension plan for even ...

  30. How To Start a Landscaping Business and Make It a Success

    In order to become an entrepreneur, you'll need to develop your business skills as well, starting by making a business plan. Business plans serve as a guide or roadmap to help you lead your ...