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.

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.

Check out 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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Table of Contents

How to Write a Business Plan

Executive summary.

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

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

Overview and Business Objectives

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

Company Description

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

Define Your Target Market

Market analysis.

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

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

SWOT Analysis

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

Competitive Analysis

Organization and management team.

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

Products and Services Offered

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

Marketing and Sales Strategy

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

Logistics and Operations Plan

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

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

Financial Projections Plan

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

Income Statement

Cash flow statement.

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

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

Tips on Writing a Business Plan

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

FREE Business Plan Template

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

What is a Business Plan?

Why you should write a business plan.

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

What are the Different Types of Business Plans?

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

Using Business Plan Software

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

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

Business Plan FAQs

What is a good business plan.

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

What are the 3 main purposes of a business plan?

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

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

How long should a business plan be?

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

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

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

How is business planning for a nonprofit different.

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:

Function Audience Type of Business Plan
Serve as a loose guide of objectives and timeline Internal Lean
Serve as a detailed, brass-tacks blueprint of business goals and timeline Internal Traditional
Serve as a strategic document with a narrative focus on organization-wide goals, priorities, and vision Internal Strategic
Earn a company loan or grant External Traditional (with focus on financial documents)
Attract investors or partners External Traditional/strategic (with focus on financials, as well as support departments, such as marketing, sales, product, etc.)
To test a business or startup idea Internal Lean

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.

Streamline Your Business Planning Activities with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

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

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business plan for 2021

7 Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own (2024)

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

business plan examples

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

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

7 business plan examples: section by section

The business plan examples in this article follow this template:

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

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

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

A four-paragraph long executive summary for a business.

  • Company description

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

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

A company description from the website of soap brand Orris

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

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

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

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

  • Market analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

An example products and services section from a business plan

  • Marketing plan

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

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

  • Logistics and operations plan

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

Financial plan

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

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

A sample bar chart showing business expenses by month

It then dives deeper into the financials to include:

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

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

A sample financial plan spreadsheet

Types of business plans, and what to include for each

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feasibility

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

Set yourself up for success as a business owner

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

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

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Business plan examples FAQ

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

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

What are the 3 main points of a business plan?

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

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How to write a business plan

A step-by-step guide to writing your business plan

how to write a business plan step by step

When you're starting or restructuring your business , writing a business plan can seem like an intimidating task, especially if you’ve never done it before. It can be even more difficult to convey the value of what you envision to potential investors, this is where knowing how to write a business plan comes into play.  

Business plans should be a priority, as they lay out the steps you need to take in order to accomplish your specific goals and ensure nothing is missed. They can also be used to show potential investors that you're serious and that you have a strong plan and business model, increasing the likelihood of receiving financing. 

Here are the key steps to writing a business plan

business plan for 2021

Don't get down to business without a plan, hire a business plan writer on Fiverr today.

1. Write an executive summary

The executive summary is a short overview of your business and your plans. It shouldn't be more than two pages, and it can be used to capture the interest of potential partners, investors, and vendors. This should highlight why you'll be successful.

Executive summaries must include the following:

A mission statement , which is a sentence or two that will explain what purpose your business will serve and what pain points you can fulfill

Information about your product or service, including anything that makes it different from what's already out there

Basic information about your company's leadership team, including existing team members and their roles

Information about where your team is located

Basic financial information (including current funding or what you're seeking funding for) and high-level growth plans about what you plan to accomplish if you're asking for financing

2. Write a company description 

This section will dive deep into the company itself, including the problems that you plan to solve, and the communities you want to reach. List out the specific audience segments, consumers, organizations, or businesses that you want as customers.

You also want to highlight what differentiators or competitive advantages will set your business up for success. This is, simply put, the place to advertise your strengths. 

You should include the following:

Every unique selling proposition (USP) that your business has, and each should be tied back into your mission statement

An explanation of every competitive advantage that you have as a business and a business owner

An individual highlight for each individual expert on your team

Information about company patents or copyrights if relevant

3. Outline your business goals

This section should include what you'd like to accomplish with your company in the short and long term. For example: To become a $100 million dollar corporation in five years by becoming one of the top online retailers in certain categories. This is usually written first because it gives everyone an idea of where your business is going.

The goal of your business is important. Don’t be too vague when writing an objective for your business. Be specific about what you want to accomplish and how you want it done. An objective statement should also include how your vision has affected you personally and why it's important for others (customers) as well.

4. Outline your organizational & management structure

The organization and management section will detail how your company will be structured and who specifically will run it.

It should include the following:

Information about your business's legal incorporation structure, which may be an S or C corporation, a general or limited partnership, an LLC, or a sole proprietorship. Explain who the different owners would be.

An organizational chart that showcases your management and leadership structure within the company. 

Highlight any executives and upper-level team members who are currently on board, along with information about each that explains how they'll contribute to the success of your budding business. Including CVs of key members of your team may be useful. 

5. Describe your services and products

Your business will offer products, services, or both. This is where you'll detail exactly what you're planning on selling.

This section should include the following information:

An explanation of how the product or service benefits your customer

The product lifecycle, which is how long it can be sustainable in the market after it's first introduced

Plans for intellectual property like patent filings or copyright 

Research or product testing that you've conducted for your product or service

6. Detail your marketing and sales plan

All businesses need a detailed marketing strategy if they want to connect with new customers and generate sales. This portion of your business plan will detail what your plans are.

You'll need to include:

Specific plans you have for attracting, acquiring, and retaining customers . This will include different platforms that you plan to use, both online and in-person, and should account for all stages of the digital sales funnel .

An explanation of the sale process, including whether online checkout will be available, what the lead collection process is like, and what any client onboarding processes look like (if any). 

Data about how much you plan to invest in your marketing campaigns, and on which platforms. This will be important during the financial projections part of the business plan, so don't neglect it; it can always be adjusted later, but you want to have a solid foundation now. 

7. Outline funding requirements 

Not all business plans are requesting funding, but if you are, this is where you need to outline what you're seeking in terms of financing and what it will cover.

Explain what funding you'll need over the next five-year period, and why you need it. 

This section should elaborate on the following:

Whether you want debt or equity in exchange for financing 

The terms under which you're seeking financing

The length of time of the loan, line of credit, or investment

An explanation of how you'll use the funds and why they're needed to start and scale your business

A future strategy about how you'll pay off the debt in the future

8. Write a financial projection

Your funding requests should immediately be followed by your financial projections. This will explain how much you expect to make, both over the first one-year period and over a five-year period. You need to convince the reader that your business will be financially stable long-term so that they can recoup on their investment.

Here's what you should include:

Established businesses should include financial reports like income statements, cash flow statements, profit and loss statements, and balance sheets for the past five years (or whatever is available)

Mention any collateral that you can put against a loan

Explain how you plan to make money, including information like profit margins on your product or service line

Provide a financial projection of how much you expect to grow over the five year period

9. Write an appendix 

If you have anything else that you want the reader to know or see, the appendix is the perfect place to put it. This may include additional information like client testimonials if you're already up and running, images of products or product prototypes , or resumes of any key players. 

Your appendix should always include the following if they aren't already listed in the business plan:

Copies of any patents or copyrights 

Personal recommendations or testimonials 

Product research that didn't have a place earlier in the business plan

Resumes or CVs of any high-level members 

Additional data about the process of manufacturing or creation

Any necessary permits or licenses that you've obtained 

Taking the time to write a strong, comprehensive business plan that can guide your business and persuade external team members to get on board is well worth the effort, whether you pen the plan yourself or hire outside help.

Business plans are a crucial part of connecting with financers, partners, vendors, and investors.  Since they can also guide your internal team on how to move forward during the early years of managing the business, they're exceptionally valuable for multiple different purposes. They can help you convey why your business will be a success and why it's such a great investment for everyone involved.

Related Guides

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Simple Business Plan Template for Startups, Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Written by Dave Lavinsky

business plan template

Business Plan Template for Startups and Small Businesses

Growthink’s business plan template is the result of 25+ years of research into the business plans that help entrepreneurs and small business owners attract potential investors, raise investment capital, and build successful companies.

Using our business plan template, you will be able to write a proper business plan for your new or growing business. It will also help you lay out your business goals and your strategies for reaching them.

Importantly, our simple business plan template allows you to create a winning business plan much faster than starting from scratch. Our template features:

  • Easy-to-follow instructions for completing each business plan section
  • Questions to help you think through each component
  • Automated financials to easily create your 5-year financial projections

What Does This Business Plan Template Include

This template includes the 10 key sections of a business plan, each with detailed guidance and examples to quickly and easily complete your own business plan.

1. Executive Summary

The Executive Summary provides a high level synopsis of your business plan, including your company’s business concept, mission statement, company description and an overview of your product and service offerings. The Executive Summary is the most important part of your business plan because if it doesn’t excite the reader, they won’t continue reading your plan, and they certainly won’t invest in your company.

2. Company Overview

This Company Overview section provides an overview of your business and lets readers know its history. Start this section with a concise explanation of your business and the products and services it offers. 

3. Industry Analysis

The Industry Analysis section describes the market in which your company will be competing, including market research, data on target market segments, and industry trends. 

4. Customer Analysis

The Customer Analysis provides insights about your key customer segments and their needs. This helps you create products, services and marketing strategies that best resonate with your customers. 

5. Competitive Analysis

The Competitive Analysis identifies your direct and indirect competitors, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and show your company’s competitive advantages. 

6. Marketing Plan

The Marketing Plan must detail your key products and services, your pricing strategy, your promotions plan and your distribution channels.

7. Operations Plan

The Operations Plan details the key day-to-day processes that your company performs to serve customers and the key milestones your company expects to accomplish as you grow. 

8. Management Team

The Management Team section demonstrates that your company has the required management team and staff to be successful. Include short biographies of key personnel along with their qualifications and experience.

9. Financial Plan

The Financial Plan includes your 5-year projected business financials including your pro forma income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements. These financial statements should clearly illustrate your company’s revenue streams, sales volume and profitability over the next five years.

10. Appendix

The Appendix supports your overall business plan and should include your full financial projections along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling.

Finish your business plan today!

Download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template (including a full, customizable financial model) to your computer and finish your plan today.

Fill in the blank business plan template financial projections

Growthink’s Free Business Plan Templates

Below are multiple free business plan templates to help you. You can edit each template to fit your needs and each one is printable. Use the one that best fits your business needs.

Free Simple Business Plan Template

A simple, free business plan template that can be used for any type of business.

Free Business Plan Template PDF

Free Business Plan Template PDF

Free Business Plan Template Word

Free Business Plan Template Word

One page business plan template.

A one-page business plan that is a compressed version of a traditional business plan.

One Page Business Plan Template PDF

One Page Business Plan Template PDF

One Page Business Plan Template Word

One Page Business Plan Template Word

Additional business plan template resources.

Pastry Shop Business Plan on computer screen

Growthink's Business Plan Template

Download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template and complete a solid business plan and your financial statements in hours.

Business Plan Examples

Business Plan Examples

We have over 300 business plan examples available to help you to develop a professional business plan for your own business.

Writing a Business Plan and Business Plan Template FAQs

How can i access growthink's ultimate business plan template, why you need a business plan template.

Using a business plan template will significantly cut down on the time it takes to complete your plan. Specifically, our template, which:

  • Starts you off with content already on the page. It’s hard to start any document from a blank page and having your key sections already listed is helpful.
  • Lays out the key questions you must answer in each section, so you have guidance on what information to include and where.
  • Helps you understand the questions you must focus on, and what’s not important, so you do a better job of conveying the key information readers need to know.

How Can I Write a Simple Business Plan?

Whether you are starting a new business or growing your existing business, you need a business plan. A business plan template will help you get started writing your plan and will provide you with a road map to long-term success and business growth. It should include the 10 key components of all business plans:

  • Describe your business, mission and long-term goals in the executive summary.
  • Explain the structure of your business, the physical location, and other basic business information in the company overview.
  • Research your industry to explain current trends and influential factors for your business through a complete industry analysis.
  • Identify the demographics and purchasing habits of your ideal customer in a detailed customer analysis.
  • Better understand what your business is up against with a competitive analysis to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Develop a marketing plan that will help you reach your ideal customers, drive traffic to your website, and increase conversions.
  • Create an operations plan that describes your day-to-day processes and procedures that make your business successful.
  • Describe the management team that will be responsible for the success of your business.
  • Create a comprehensive financial plan with realistic projections of where your business will be in the next 3-5 years.
  • Attach supporting documents, financial statements, etc. in the appendix.

Learn the step-by-step writing process for how to write a business plan and get a startup business plan template.

If you need help writing your plan, Growthink’s expert business plan consultants can help. We have helped develop winning business plans for countless happy customers .

We also have a step-by-step video to help guide you through the process as well:

How Can I Get a Printable Business Plan Template?

If you’re looking for a printable business plan template, there are a few different options available to you:

  • One option is to download a free business plan template .
  • Another option is to purchase a template . These types of business plan templates are of higher quality and include a range of features that can help you to create professional-looking business plans and financial model including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.

Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your needs and budget. If you’re looking for high-quality, printable business plan templates that are easy to edit, then a purchasing a business plan template is the best option. If you’re on a tight budget or you don’t need a lot of features, then a free, simple business plan template may be a better choice. Whichever option you choose, make sure to take the time to customize the template to fit your specific business.

Is a Business Plan Required For Funding?

Yes, a written business plan is nearly always required when seeking financing.  You need a business plan whether you are a small business, a startup, an existing business looking to grow or a seasoned business owner. Business plans fall into three common categories: business plans for funding, those used for strategy, and business plans for both fundraising and strategy.

Regardless of their business model, many business owners use their business plans to raise bank loans to grow. The funding request allows them to acquire additional business resources and improve their financial health. New business owners often seek bank loans and  SBA Loans as well as funding from angel investors and/or friends and family.

Importantly, regardless of the source of funding you desire, a good business plan will stand out to a potential investor by showing compelling reasons why you will achieve financial success. A successful business plan must clearly highlight the business opportunity and want investors to buy in.  Investors will recognize a well researched business plan. A winning business plan will help you achieve long-term success, business growth and secure funding.

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Dave Lavinsky is an internationally renowned expert in business planning, capital raising & new venture development. He has helped over 1 million entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses over the past 25 years.

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What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

business plan for 2021

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A business plan is a document that outlines a company's goals and the strategies to achieve them. It's valuable for both startups and established companies. For startups, a well-crafted business plan is crucial for attracting potential lenders and investors. Established businesses use business plans to stay on track and aligned with their growth objectives. This article will explain the key components of an effective business plan and guidance on how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document detailing a company's business activities and strategies for achieving its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to launch their venture and to attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan helps keep the executive team focused on short- and long-term objectives.
  • There's no single required format for a business plan, but certain key elements are essential for most companies.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

Any new business should have a business plan in place before beginning operations. Banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before considering making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a company doesn't need additional funding, having a business plan helps it stay focused on its goals. Research from the University of Oregon shows that businesses with a plan are significantly more likely to secure funding than those without one. Moreover, companies with a business plan grow 30% faster than those that don't plan. According to a Harvard Business Review article, entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than those who don't.

A business plan should ideally be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect achieved goals or changes in direction. An established business moving in a new direction might even create an entirely new plan.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. It allows for careful consideration of ideas before significant investment, highlights potential obstacles to success, and provides a tool for seeking objective feedback from trusted outsiders. A business plan may also help ensure that a company’s executive team remains aligned on strategic action items and priorities.

While business plans vary widely, even among competitors in the same industry, they often share basic elements detailed below.

A well-crafted business plan is essential for attracting investors and guiding a company's strategic growth. It should address market needs and investor requirements and provide clear financial projections.

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

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

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, gathering the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document is best. Any additional crucial elements, such as patent applications, can be referenced in the main document and included as appendices.

Common elements in many business plans include:

  • Executive summary : This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services : Describe the products and services the company offers or plans to introduce. Include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique consumer benefits. Mention production and manufacturing processes, relevant patents , proprietary technology , and research and development (R&D) information.
  • Market analysis : Explain the current state of the industry and the competition. Detail where the company fits in, the types of customers it plans to target, and how it plans to capture market share from competitors.
  • Marketing strategy : Outline the company's plans to attract and retain customers, including anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. Describe the distribution channels that will be used to deliver products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections : Established businesses should include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses should provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. This section may also include any funding requests.

Investors want to see a clear exit strategy, expected returns, and a timeline for cashing out. It's likely a good idea to provide five-year profitability forecasts and realistic financial estimates.

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can vary in format, often categorized into traditional and lean startup plans. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These are detailed and lengthy, requiring more effort to create but offering comprehensive information that can be persuasive to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These are concise, sometimes just one page, and focus on key elements. While they save time, companies should be ready to provide additional details if requested by investors or lenders.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

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

How Often Should a Business Plan Be Updated?

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on its nature. Updating your business plan is crucial due to changes in external factors (market trends, competition, and regulations) and internal developments (like employee growth and new products). While a well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary, a new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is ideal for quickly explaining a business, especially for new companies that don't have much information yet. Key sections may include a value proposition , major activities and advantages, resources (staff, intellectual property, and capital), partnerships, customer segments, and revenue sources.

A well-crafted business plan is crucial for any company, whether it's a startup looking for investment or an established business wanting to stay on course. It outlines goals and strategies, boosting a company's chances of securing funding and achieving growth.

As your business and the market change, update your business plan regularly. This keeps it relevant and aligned with your current goals and conditions. Think of your business plan as a living document that evolves with your company, not something carved in stone.

University of Oregon Department of Economics. " Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Business Planning Using Palo Alto's Business Plan Pro ." Eason Ding & Tim Hursey.

Bplans. " Do You Need a Business Plan? Scientific Research Says Yes ."

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

Harvard Business Review. " How to Write a Winning Business Plan ."

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

SCORE. " When and Why Should You Review Your Business Plan? "

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  • 5 Best Business Plan Software and Tools in 2023 for Your Small Business

4.5 out of 5 stars

Data as of 3 /13/23 . Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Chloe Goodshore

We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our editorial guidelines and advertising disclosure .

A business plan can do a lot for your business. It can help you secure investors or other funding. It can give your company direction. It can keep your finances healthy. But, if we’re being honest, it can also be a pain to write.

Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch or go it alone. Business plan software and services can help you craft a professional business plan, like our top choice LivePlan , which provides templates, guidance, and more.

You’ve got quite a few choices for business plan help, so we’re here to help you narrow things down. Let’s talk about the best business plan tools out there.

  • LivePlan : Best overall
  • BizPlanBuilder : Most user-friendly
  • Wise Business Plans : Best professional service
  • Business Sorter : Best for internal plans
  • GoSmallBiz.com : Most extra features
  • Honorable mentions

Business plan software 101

The takeaway, business plan software faq, compare the best business plan software.

Cloud-based software $12.00/mo. 60-day money back guarantee

Windows app and cloud-based software $20.75/mo. 60-day money back guarantee

Professional service Custom quote N/A

Cloud-based software $10.00/mo. 14 days

Cloud-based software $39.00/mo. N/A

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LivePlan: Best overall business plan software

Data as of 3 /13/23 . Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *With annual billing

LivePlan has been our favorite business plan software for a while now, despite the stiff competition.

There’s a lot to like about LivePlan. It has pretty much all the features you could want from your business plan software. LivePlan gives you step-by-step instructions for writing your plan, helps you create financial reports, lets you compare your business’s actual financials to your plan’s goals, and much more. And if you ever need inspiration, it includes hundreds of sample business plans that can guide your writing.

LivePlan software pricing

$12.00/mo.$15.00/mo.
$24.00/mo.$30.00/mo.

But the best part? You get all that (and more) at a very competitive price. (You can choose from annual, six-month, or monthly billing.) While LivePlan isn’t quite the cheapest business plan builder out there, it’s not too far off either. And if comes with a 60-day money back guarantee. So there’s no risk in trying LivePlan out for yourself.

With a great balance of features and cost, LivePlan offers the best business plan solution for most businesses.

BizPlanBuilder: Most user-friendly

Need something easy to use? BizPlanBuilder fits the bill.

BizPlanBuilder doesn’t have a flashy, modern user interface―but it does have a very clear, intuitive one. You’ll be able to see your plan’s overall structure at a glance, so you can quickly navigate from your title page to your market trend section to that paragraph on your core values. And as you write, you’ll use a text editor that looks a whole lot like the word processing programs you’re already familiar with.

BizPlanBuilder software pricing

$20.75/mo. $29.00/mo.$349.00

Data effective 3/13/23. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

BizPlanBuilder also offers lots of helpful guidance for actually writing your plan. It gives you pre-written text, in which you just have to fill in relevant details. It offers explanations for what information you need to include in each section of your plan and way. It even gives you helpful tips from experts, so you’ll have all the information you need to plan like a pro.

So if you want planning software with almost no learning curve, you’ll like BizPlanBuilder.

Wise Business Plans: Best professional service

  • Custom quote

Unlike all the other companies on this list, Wise Business Plans doesn’t offer software. Instead, it offers professional business plan writing services―meaning someone does all the hard work for you.

Now, you might think that sounds expensive―and you’re probably right (you have to request a custom quote for your plan). But there’s a lot to be said for expertise, and Wise Business Plans has plenty of that. Your business plan will get written by an experienced writer (with an MBA, no less). They’ll get information from you, do their own research, and then write your plan. You get one free revision, and you can always pay for more.  

Wise Business Plans service pricing

N/AN/ACustom quote

Your end result will be a polished, entirely original business plan. (You can even get printed copies.) And best of all, you won’t have to spend your precious time working on the plan yourself. Wise Business Plans takes care of all the hard parts, and makes your business look good while doing it. Sounds like a service worth paying for, right?

Put simply, if you want the most professional business plan possible, we recommend using Wise Business Plans’s writing service.

Business Sorter: Best for internal plans

Many businesses need plans to show to people outside the company (to get financing, for example). But what if you just need a plan for internal use? In that case, we suggest Business Sorter.

Business Sorter uses a unique card-based method to help you craft the perfect business plan. (You can watch a demo video to see how it works.) You’ll plan some of the usual things, like finances and marketing. But Business Sorter also lets you make plans for specific teams and team members. It also emphasizes more internal matters, like operations, that might get overlooked in a business plan for outsiders.

Business Sorter software pricing

$10.00/mo.$80.00/yr.
$30.00/mo.$240.00/yr.
$80.00/mo.$640.00/yr.
Custom pricingCustom pricing

After you’ve made your business plan, Business Sorter also helps you stay accountable to it. You can create tasks, give them deadlines, and assign them to team members―giving you basic project management tools to make sure your business plans become business actions. (Oh, and did we mention that Business Sorter has the lowest starting prices of any software on this list?)

It all adds up to a business plan software that works great for internal planning.

GoSmallBiz: Most extra features

Want to get way more than just business planning software? Then you probably want GoSmallBiz.

See, GoSmallBiz offers business plan software as part of its service―but it’s just one part of a much bigger whole. You also get everything from discounts on legal services to a website builder to a CRM (customer relationship manager) to business document templates. And more. In other words, you get just about everything you need to get your startup off the ground.

GoSmallBiz software pricing

$39.00/mo.
$49.00/mo.
$199.00/mo.

Don’t worry though―you still get all the business planning help you need. GoSmallBiz gives you business plan templates, step-by-step instructions, and the ability to create financial projections. And if you get stuck, GoSmallBiz will put you in touch with experts who can offer advice.

If you want business planning and much, much more, give GoSmallBiz a try.

  • PlanGuru : Best financial forecasting
  • EnLoop : Cheapest tool for startups

We recommend the software above for most business planning needs. Some businesses, though, might be interested in these more specialized planning software.

Honorable mention software pricing

$899.00/yr. $99.00/mo. N/A

$11.00/mo.$19.95/mo. N/A

PlanGuru: Best financial forecasting features

Plan Guru

PlanGuru is pretty pricey compared to our other picks, but you might find its forecasting features worth paying for. It has more forecasting methods than other software (over 20) plus it lets you forecast up to 10 years.

EnLoop: Cheapest tool for startups

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EnLoop doesn’t have our favorite features or interface, but it does have really, really low pricing plus a seven-day free trial. It's the most affordable software for startup business planning and still provides all the essential features like financial analysis, team collaboration, charting, and more.

Data as of 3 /13/23 . Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. * With annual billing

Several of our previous favorite planning software, including BusinessPlanPro and StratPad, seem to have gone out of business.

A business plan is a written, living document that tells the story of your business and what you plan to do with it. It serves as the source of truth for you—the business owner—as well as potential partners, employees, and investors, but it also serves as a roadmap of what you want your business to be.

Why you need a business plan

While some small-business owners don’t see the point of creating a formal business plan, it can have some concrete benefits for your business. For example, one 2016 study found that business owners with written plans are more successful than those that don’t. 1

Still too vague? Then let’s get specific.

If you ever seek business funding (from, say, banks, angel investors , or venture capitalists ), you’ll have to prove that your business deserves the money you want. A formal business plan―complete with financial data and projections―gives you a professional document you can use to make your case. (In fact, most potential investors will expect you to have a business plan ready.)

Even if you’re not seeking funding right now, a business plan can help your business. A formal plan can guide your business’s direction and decision making. It can keep your business accountable (by, for example, seeing if your business meets the financial projections you included). And a formal plan offers a great way to make sure your team stays on the same page.

What to include in your business plan

Not all business plans are created equal. To make a really useful business plan, you’ll want to include a number of elements:

  • Basic information about your business
  • Your products/services
  • Market and industry analysis
  • What makes your business competitive
  • Strategies and upcoming plans
  • Your team (and your team’s background)
  • Current financial status
  • Financial and market projections
  • Executive summary

Of course, you can include more or fewer elements―whatever makes sense for your business. Just make sure your business plan is comprehensive (but not overwhelming).

How business plan software can help

With so many elements to include, business plan creation can take a while. Business plan software tries to speed things up.

Most business plan software will include prompts for each section. In some cases, you can just fill in your business’s specific information, and the software will write the text for you. In other cases, the software will give you specific guidance and examples, helping you write the text yourself.

Plus, business plan software can help you stay organized. You’ll usually get intuitive menus that let you quickly flip through sections. So rather than endlessly scrolling through a long document in a word processor, you can quickly find your way around your plan. Some software even lets you drag and drop sections to reorganize your plan.

Sounds way easier than just staring at a blank page and trying to start from scratch, right?

Choosing business plan software

To find the right business plan builder for your business, you’ll want to compare features. For example, would you rather write your own text, getting prompts and advice from your software? Or would you rather go with a fill-in-the-blank method?

Likewise, think about the elements you need. If your plan will have a heavy focus on finances, you’ll want to choose business plan software with robust financial projection features. If you care more about market and competitor analysis, look for software that can help with that research.

You may also want to find business plan software that integrates with your business accounting software . Some plan builders will import data from Xero, QuickBooks, etc. to quickly generate your financial data and projections.

And of course, you’ll want to compare prices. After all, you always want to end up with software that fits your business budget.

The right business plan software can make your life easier. With LivePlan ’s wide breadth of features and online learning tools, you can’t go wrong. Plus, BizPlanBuilder 's one-time pricing makes it easy to invest while Business Sorter has a low starting cost. And if you're business is looking to grow, GoSmallBiz and Wise Business Plans will scale with you.

But of course, different companies have different needs. So shop around until you find the software that’s best for you and your business.

Now that you've got a business plan, take a look at our checklist for starting a small business.  It can help you make sure you have everything else you need to get your startup off to a good start!

Related content

  • 7 Steps to Build a Successful Project Management Sales Plan
  • Best Project Management Software and Tools in 2023
  • 4 Cost Management Techniques for Small Businesses

Creating a business plan can take anywhere from a couple hours to several weeks. Your timeline will depend on things like the elements you choose to include, whether you use software or hire a writing service, and how much research goes into your plan.

That said, much of the business plan software out there brags that it can help you create a fairly detailed plan in a few hours. So if you’re going the software route, that can help you set your expectations.

If you want to get the most out of your business plan, you should update it on a regular basis―at least annually. That way, you can continually refer to it to inform your company’s strategies and direction.  

At the very least, you should update your business plan before you start looking for a new round of funding (whether that’s with investors or lenders).

Thanks to business plan software, you can easily write your own business plan rather than pay someone to do it for you. And in most cases, software will cost you less than a professional business plan service.

There are some times you might want to go with a service though. If time is tight, you might find that it’s worth the cost of a service. Or if you’ve got big investor meetings on the horizon, you might want the expertise and polish that a professional service can offer.

Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether business plan software or a business plan service will work better for your company.

Methodology

We ranked business plan software and tools based on features, pricing and plans, and connections to project management and other services. The value of each plan and service, along with what it offers, was a big consideration in our rankings, and we looked to see if what was offered was useful to small businesses or just extra. The final thing we looked at was the ease of use of the software to see if it's too complex for small businesses.

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources 1. Harvard Business Review, “ Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed .” Accessed March 13, 2023.

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Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.

Our mission is to help consumers make informed purchase decisions. While we strive to keep our reviews as unbiased as possible, we do receive affiliate compensation through some of our links. This can affect which services appear on our site and where we rank them. Our affiliate compensation allows us to maintain an ad-free website and provide a free service to our readers. For more information, please see our  Privacy Policy Page . |

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Creating a Post-Covid Business Plan

  • Dev Patnaik,
  • Michelle Loret de Mola,
  • Brady Bates

business plan for 2021

Organizations need to understand how the pandemic is changing behaviors and habits.

To plan for a post-pandemic world, businesses must understand what your stakeholders’ behaviors will look like after the pandemic. Some behaviors will return to their pre-crisis state; others will be transformed; and others will disappear entirely. Drawing on research into habit formation, technology adoption and behavioral economics, the authors offer a framework to help companies make reasonable predictions on what happens next.

Right now, every company in the world is facing the same question: What’s going to happen when the pandemic is over? Grocery stores and consumer packaged goods manufacturers have experienced an unexpected boost in sales: Will that growth sustain? Hotels and airlines have experienced unprecedented drops in demand: Will their business ever come back? Movie studios, video game producers, and theaters need to envision how the pandemic will permanently affect entertainment habits. When the pandemic is over, many companies will find that their business model has been disrupted in fundamental ways.

  • Dev Patnaik is the CEO of Jump Associates . Dev is a frequent keynote speaker at major forums, and his writing has appeared in BusinessWeek , Forbes , Fast Company , and many others. He is the author of the book Wired to Care , named one of the best books of the year by both Fast Company and BusinessWeek . Malcolm Gladwell called Wired to Care “just what we need for the lean years ahead.” When not at Jump, Dev is an adjunct professor at Stanford University, where he teaches a course called Needfinding. In the class, students draw upon methods from anthropology, design, and business strategy to discover insights about people and create new products and services.​​
  • Michelle Loret de Mola is a director of strategy at Jump Associates . Michelle is an expert at bringing together clear strategic direction and compelling experiences to drive change, and she advises future-focused leaders across industries. She has worked with a major financial institution to define the future of finance, partnered with a Fortune 500 consumer goods company to develop a sustainability strategy, and helped a leading retailer define its five-year marketing strategy. If you want to learn more about Jump and what we’re doing to help companies figure out what’s next, please connect with us.
  • Brady Bates brings together rigorous bottom-line focus and bold creativity to help his clients thrive in uncertain times. Brady helped architect America’s fastest growing loyalty program for a Fortune 50 retailer, supported the U.S. government in establishing innovation practices for farmers across the country, and envisioned the future of finance for a $50 billion banking institution. Prior to Jump, Brady was an analyst in Deloitte’s Strategy & Operations practice, where he worked with leading health care and financial services clients. In addition to business administration, Brady studied painting and artistic expression, spending time to hone his skills in Perugia, Italy.

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What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Planning Essentials Explained

Posted february 21, 2022 by kody wirth.

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What is a business plan? It’s the roadmap for your business. The outline of your goals, objectives, and the steps you’ll take to get there. It describes the structure of your organization, how it operates, as well as the financial expectations and actual performance. 

A business plan can help you explore ideas, successfully start a business, manage operations, and pursue growth. In short, a business plan is a lot of different things. It’s more than just a stack of paper and can be one of your most effective tools as a business owner. 

Let’s explore the basics of business planning, the structure of a traditional plan, your planning options, and how you can use your plan to succeed. 

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that explains how your business operates. It summarizes your business structure, objectives, milestones, and financial performance. Again, it’s a guide that helps you, and anyone else, better understand how your business will succeed.  

Why do you need a business plan?

The primary purpose of a business plan is to help you understand the direction of your business and the steps it will take to get there. Having a solid business plan can help you grow up to 30% faster and according to our own 2021 Small Business research working on a business plan increases confidence regarding business health—even in the midst of a crisis. 

These benefits are directly connected to how writing a business plan makes you more informed and better prepares you for entrepreneurship. It helps you reduce risk and avoid pursuing potentially poor ideas. You’ll also be able to more easily uncover your business’s potential. By regularly returning to your plan you can understand what parts of your strategy are working and those that are not.

That just scratches the surface for why having a plan is valuable. Check out our full write-up for fifteen more reasons why you need a business plan .  

What can you do with your plan?

So what can you do with a business plan once you’ve created it? It can be all too easy to write a plan and just let it be. Here are just a few ways you can leverage your plan to benefit your business.

Test an idea

Writing a plan isn’t just for those that are ready to start a business. It’s just as valuable for those that have an idea and want to determine if it’s actually possible or not. By writing a plan to explore the validity of an idea, you are working through the process of understanding what it would take to be successful. 

The market and competitive research alone can tell you a lot about your idea. Is the marketplace too crowded? Is the solution you have in mind not really needed? Add in the exploration of milestones, potential expenses, and the sales needed to attain profitability and you can paint a pretty clear picture of the potential of your business.

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For those starting or managing a business understanding where you’re going and how you’re going to get there are vital. Writing your plan helps you do that. It ensures that you are considering all aspects of your business, know what milestones you need to hit, and can effectively make adjustments if that doesn’t happen. 

With a plan in place, you’ll have an idea of where you want your business to go as well as how you’ve performed in the past. This alone better prepares you to take on challenges, review what you’ve done before, and make the right adjustments.

Pursue funding

Even if you do not intend to pursue funding right away, having a business plan will prepare you for it. It will ensure that you have all of the information necessary to submit a loan application and pitch to investors. So, rather than scrambling to gather documentation and write a cohesive plan once it’s relevant, you can instead keep your plan up-to-date and attempt to attain funding. Just add a use of funds report to your financial plan and you’ll be ready to go.

The benefits of having a plan don’t stop there. You can then use your business plan to help you manage the funding you receive. You’ll not only be able to easily track and forecast how you’ll use your funds but easily report on how it’s been used. 

Better manage your business

A solid business plan isn’t meant to be something you do once and forget about. Instead, it should be a useful tool that you can regularly use to analyze performance, make strategic decisions, and anticipate future scenarios. It’s a document that you should regularly update and adjust as you go to better fit the actual state of your business.

Doing so makes it easier to understand what’s working and what’s not. It helps you understand if you’re truly reaching your goals or if you need to make further adjustments. Having your plan in place makes that process quicker, more informative, and leaves you with far more time to actually spend running your business.

What should your business plan include?

The content and structure of your business plan should include anything that will help you use it effectively. That being said, there are some key elements that you should cover and that investors will expect to see. 

Executive summary

The executive summary is a simple overview of your business and your overall plan. It should serve as a standalone document that provides enough detail for anyone—including yourself, team members, or investors—to fully understand your business strategy. Make sure to cover the problem you’re solving, a description of your product or service, your target market, organizational structure, a financial summary, and any necessary funding requirements.

This will be the first part of your plan but it’s easiest to write it after you’ve created your full plan.

Products & Services

When describing your products or services, you need to start by outlining the problem you’re solving and why what you offer is valuable. This is where you’ll also address current competition in the market and any competitive advantages your products or services bring to the table. Lastly, be sure to outline the steps or milestones that you’ll need to hit to successfully launch your business. If you’ve already hit some initial milestones, like taking pre-orders or early funding, be sure to include it here to further prove the validity of your business. 

Market analysis

A market analysis is a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the current market you’re entering or competing in. It helps you understand the overall state and potential of the industry, who your ideal customers are, the positioning of your competition, and how you intend to position your own business. This helps you better explore the long-term trends of the market, what challenges to expect, and how you will need to initially introduce and even price your products or services.

Check out our full guide for how to conduct a market analysis in just four easy steps .  

Marketing & sales

Here you detail how you intend to reach your target market. This includes your sales activities, general pricing plan, and the beginnings of your marketing strategy. If you have any branding elements, sample marketing campaigns, or messaging available—this is the place to add it. 

Additionally, it may be wise to include a SWOT analysis that demonstrates your business or specific product/service position. This will showcase how you intend to leverage sales and marketing channels to deal with competitive threats and take advantage of any opportunities.

Check out our full write-up to learn how to create a cohesive marketing strategy for your business. 

Organization & management

This section addresses the legal structure of your business, your current team, and any gaps that need to be filled. Depending on your business type and longevity, you’ll also need to include your location, ownership information, and business history. Basically, add any information that helps explain your organizational structure and how you operate. This section is particularly important for pitching to investors but should be included even if attempted funding is not in your immediate future.

Financial projections

Possibly the most important piece of your plan, your financials section is vital for showcasing the viability of your business. It also helps you establish a baseline to measure against and makes it easier to make ongoing strategic decisions as your business grows. This may seem complex on the surface, but it can be far easier than you think. 

Focus on building solid forecasts, keep your categories simple, and lean on assumptions. You can always return to this section to add more details and refine your financial statements as you operate. 

Here are the statements you should include in your financial plan:

  • Sales and revenue projections
  • Profit and loss statement
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheet

The appendix is where you add additional detail, documentation, or extended notes that support the other sections of your plan. Don’t worry about adding this section at first and only add documentation that you think will be beneficial for anyone reading your plan.

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

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. We recommend only starting with this business plan format if you plan to immediately pursue funding and already have a solid handle on your business information. 

Business model canvas

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

The structure ditches a linear structure in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It’s faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations. This is really best for those exploring their business idea for the first time, but keep in mind that it can be difficult to actually validate your idea this way as well as adapt it into a full plan.

One-page business plan

The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan. This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. It basically serves as a beefed-up pitch document and can be finished as quickly as the business model canvas.

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

Now, the option that we here at LivePlan recommend is the Lean Plan . This 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 holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27-minutes . However, it’s even easier to convert into a full plan thanks to how heavily it’s tied to your financials. The overall goal of Lean Planning isn’t to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the Lean Planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and stable through times of crisis.

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

Try the LivePlan Method for Lean Business Planning

Now that you know the basics of business planning, it’s time to get started. Again we recommend leveraging a Lean Plan for a faster, easier, and far more useful planning process. 

To get familiar with the Lean Plan format, you can download our free Lean Plan template . However, if you want to elevate your ability to create and use your lean plan even further, you may want to explore LivePlan. 

It 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. 

Check out how LivePlan streamlines Lean Planning by downloading our Kickstart Your Business ebook .

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How to Write a Business Plan Outline in 9 Steps (Example Included!)

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Starting a business often begins with writing a business plan , especially if you need funding . It acts as a roadmap, guiding you through each stage of launching and managing your company, and it presents a clear, compelling case to potential investors and partners. But here's the thing: not everyone finds this step intuitive. That's where a business plan outline can be incredibly helpful.

Creating a detailed business plan outline helps you organize your thoughts and ensure you cover all the key aspects of your business strategy. Plus, it might be just what you need to overcome that blank page and start typing.

Below, you'll find an easy-to-follow guide on how to craft your business plan outline, and an example to show you what it should look like.

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What is an outline of a business plan?

Think of a business plan outline as the skeleton of your entire business plan. It gives a high-level overview of the main sections you'll need to flesh out later. It's not the final document but a crucial step in getting you there.

Simply put, it's like creating a detailed table of contents for your business plan, showing you exactly what information to include and how everything fits together. A well-structured business plan outline also helps you plan things ahead, saving time and effort.

Writing a business plan outline in 9 steps

Follow these steps to build your business plan outline and learn exactly what each section should include.

(Bear in mind that every business plan is unique, tailored to the specific needs and goals of the business. While the structure below is common, the order of sections may vary—only the executive summary will always come first.)

1. Executive summary

Imagine you have just 60 seconds to convince someone to invest in your business. That's the essence of a strong executive summary. Although it appears first on your business plan, this section is often written last because it sums up the entire plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch . This section gives a quick overview of your entire business plan, highlighting key points that grab the reader's attention.

Keep it clear and concise. Start with a brief overview of your business, including its name and what it offers. Summarize your mission statement and objectives, and don’t forget to mention crucial aspects like financial projections and competitive advantages.

2. Company description

Here's where you provide detailed information about your company. Begin with the business name and location. Describe the legal structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation) and ownership. If your business already exists, share a brief history.

For new ventures, explain the business's nature and the problems you aim to solve. Go into more detail about your vision and mission statements, outlining your goals and the principles guiding your business. This section helps potential investors and stakeholders grasp your company’s identity and purpose.

3. Market research and analysis

This section shares insights into your company’s industry. Start with a landscape analysis to give an overview of the market, including its size, growth rate, and key players.

Next, define your target market and customer demographics—age, location, income, and interests—detailing who your ideal customers are. Identify market needs and trends your business will address, and highlight customer pain points your product or service aims to solve.

Consider conducting a SWOT analysis to evaluate your business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and gain a strategic view of where your business stands in the competitive landscape.

4. Organization and management

Describe how your business is structured and who runs it. Outline the organizational structure, and if helps, include a chart. Introduce the leadership team and key personnel, highlighting their qualifications and roles. If you have a board of directors, mention them and briefly explain their involvement.

Then, outline your production processes, detailing how your product or service is (or will be) created—from sourcing materials to delivery—to give a comprehensive view of your operational capabilities.

5. Products and services

This section of your business plan outline is crucial for showing potential investors what makes your products and services unique and valuable.

Clearly describe what your business offers, emphasizing your unique selling propositions (USPs) and the benefits and features that set you apart from the competition. Talk about the product life cycle, including any plans for future updates.

If your business holds any intellectual property or proprietary technologies, detail them here to underscore your competitive advantages.

6. Marketing strategy

Having a fantastic product or service is just half the battle. The marketing plan section should outline how you'll reach your target market and convert them into customers.

Begin with market positioning and branding, explaining how you want your brand perceived. Detail your marketing and promotional strategies, including specific tactics to reach your target audience.

Discuss your sales strategy, focusing on how you'll convert leads into customers. Lastly, include your pricing strategy and provide a sales forecast, projecting your expected revenue over a certain period.

7. Operations plan

Here, the goal is to give a detailed overview of the physical and logistical aspects of your company. Start with the business location and facilities, describing where it operates and any significant physical assets. Detail the technology and equipment needed for daily operations.

Briefly describe your supply chain and logistics processes to illustrate how you manage inventory, procurement, and distribution. Finish it by outlining your production process and quality control measures to ensure your products or services consistently meet high standards.

8. Financial plan

Use this section of the business plan to show how your company will succeed financially. Include financial projections like income statements and cash flow statements. Specify how much capital you need and how you plan to use it, discussing funding sources.

Conduct a break-even analysis to estimate when your business will become profitable. Be transparent and address any financial risks and assumptions, outlining how you plan to mitigate them.

9. Appendices and exhibits

In this section, include any additional information that supports your business plan. This might be resumes of key personnel to highlight your team's expertise and experience, or even legal documents and agreements.

Include market research data and surveys to back up your market analysis. Add financial statements for a detailed look at your financial plan. Also, provide detailed product specifications to give a clear understanding of your products and services.

Here's a business plan outline example

Not quite there yet? Take a look at this business plan outline example—it will make everything clear for you.

3.1 Executive Summary

  • Overview of the business
  • Key points of the business plan

3.2 Company Description

  • Business name and location
  • History and nature of the business
  • Legal structure and ownership
  • Vision and mission statement

3.3 Market Research and Analysis

  • Industry analysis
  • Target market and customer demographics
  • Market needs, trends
  • Customer pain points
  • SWOT analysis

3.4 Organization and Management

  • Organizational structure
  • Leadership team and key personnel
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Board of directors (if applicable)
  • Production processes

3.5 Products and Services

  • Description of products or services offered
  • Unique selling propositions, benefits, features
  • Product lifecycle and development plans
  • Intellectual property and proprietary technologies

3.6 Marketing Strategy

  • Market positioning and branding
  • Marketing and promotional strategies
  • Sales strategy and tactics
  • Pricing strategy and sales forecast

3.7 Operations Plan

  • Business location and facilities
  • Technology and equipment
  • Supply chain and logistics
  • Production process and quality control

3.8 Financial Plan

  • Financial projections (income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements)
  • Funding requirements and sources
  • Break-even analysis
  • Financial risks and assumptions

3.9 Appendices and Exhibits (if applicable)

  • Supporting documents and additional information
  • Resumes of key personnel
  • Legal documents and agreements
  • Market research data and surveys
  • Financial Statements
  • Detailed Product Specifications

Bonus tips on how to write a winning business plan

Once you've done your business plan outline, it's time to fill in the gaps and craft a winning business plan. Here are some bonus tips to keep in mind:

  • Tailor it to fit your business : Customize sections to meet industry-specific needs and highlight what makes your business unique.
  • Keep it clear and concise : Use straightforward language and support your points with data to ensure easy understanding and avoid any confusion.
  • Set actionable and realistic goals : Define measurable objectives with clear timelines and milestones to track your progress.
  • Update regularly : Keep your plan dynamic by making regular updates to reflect changes in goals, market conditions, and strategies.
  • Seek feedback : Gain insights from mentors and advisors to refine your plan.

Read this next: How to Start a Business in 8 Steps: A Comprehensive Guide from Concept to Launch

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How to shore up your 2021 business plan.

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CEO of  Agency Management Institute , serving 250+ marketing agencies to help their owners build profitable agencies that evolve and scale.

A year ago, businesses around the world were looking forward to implementing their 2020 business plans — with no idea what lay on the horizon. In many ways, it seems like a year has passed in the blink of an eye as companies have scrambled to rebuild after facing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic and its resulting economic dislocation have affected everyone in different ways and to different degrees. We’ve seen that firsthand at Agency Management Institute, where our 250 agencies have all reacted and responded to the crisis in unique ways. But our agencies share one commonality: No one had anything close to a normal year. With agencies cutting an estimated 35,000 roles in 2020, companies are operating on a smaller — and often smarter — scale.

Regardless of whether your plans were altered directly or indirectly, chances are that it’s been challenging to create your 2021 business plan. You’ve likely either had other commitments and responsibilities pulling you in different directions, or you've faced too many unknowns to adequately plan for the year. The good news is that there’s still time to create your business plan for 2021 — but that time is right now. If your agency has not yet finalized yours, here’s how to do the best you can with the information you have at hand.

1. Start by gathering existing materials.

It may seem intimidating to build out your entire year’s plan in such a short period, but don't let it deter you. By breaking down your plan into manageable parts, you can build a plan strong enough to withstand change but flexible enough to evolve as needed.

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First, gather any planning documents you’ve already started creating for 2021. Ask managers on different teams to send you their top-line goals, key performance indicators, considerations and plans for the year. Then, schedule a two- to three-hour meeting with your leadership team to review the goals and prioritize. Send leaders the documents a week before the meeting, along with your take on how the agency has progressed on each top-line goal. Ask your team members to arrive prepared to talk about which items are still priorities, how to get off-track goals back on track, who should be responsible and which goal matters most to the organization.

2. Factor in taking care of your people.

Your people strategy should be a core component of your business plan every year, but it’s never been more crucial than now to prioritize your employees’ health — mental, physical and emotional.

With your leadership team, discuss what you’re currently doing to support employees, how it’s going and what you could do better. Are you supporting their work-life balance while they're working remotely? Do you have an employee wellness program or access to an employee assistance program? What sorts of volunteer opportunities do you offer, and are they paid? The more you take care of your team, the more loyal and hardworking they are likely to be.

3. Stay conservative.

When it comes to budget, this may not be the time to take risks. While many economic forecasts do predict a small growth rate in 2021 , myriad unknowns still exist. No one has a crystal ball, and we still don’t know how the virus, economy, businesses or government will behave in 2021. All these things are interconnected and out of your control.

Therefore, it’s better to err on the side of caution with your projections. You can still set stretch goals to keep employees motivated, encourage your team to think creatively and identify new opportunities, but you also want to create a buffer in case of future downturns.

4. Up your flexibility factor.

There’s a fine line to walk when you’re systematizing processes and efficiency procedures and making them adaptable enough for an economy that changes daily or even hourly. A traditional SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is a good way to identify areas to improve. They teach it in every Marketing 101 class for a reason.

Stress test using hypothetical situations. Work with your operations team and head of operations to understand exactly what would happen if your region suddenly implemented another lockdown. Do you have a plan in place? You should be able to create one using your insights and learning from the previous lockdown period.

Now is the time to start planning for 2021. Even if you feel behind the curve, remember that many other agencies are navigating the same choppy waters. But by prioritizing your people and striking a balance between strong core operations and flexibility, you can set your team up for success, no matter what the new year brings.

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Drew McLellan

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A business plan for 2021 - what to expect and how to win new reality?

10 december 2020 • 8 min read.

Paweł Małkowiak

Introduction

2020 became a huge game-changer in nearly every aspect of life, bringing new habits, practices, and relationships. The trust issues became even more important. We are heading to an end of the year that requires all of us to take the necessary steps to get through the crisis, face up to the challenges, redefine business goals and come to conclusions for the future. We have all experienced, to some extent, the aftermath caused by global lockdown - the economic slowdown, varied models in response to the crisis. 2020 was a year of testing, remodeling, and creating multiple scenarios. These challenging conditions affected the way people perceive and want to hold conversations with professionals, as well as match business partners. Here you can find some useful, universal information about the global changes in B2B that were dictated by the recent pandemic and how they may help redefine strategy for 2021. Some data and personal view for the passing year as well as tips for the year ahead.

Global response in B2B sales

Following the survey conducted by McKinsey&Company , the preferences and behaviors of B2B decision-makers have changed dramatically since the beginning of 2020. This applies to the way how business meetings were arranged, as well as to services provided by various participants. Global trends redefine how B2B sales models diversify affected by the pandemic. The survey applies to the new state of sales, and business management which might be helpful when designing new strategies, funnels, and creating partnerships. This is a good time for rethinking and implementing, for both current and future projects, because the design that takes into account the preferences of decision-makers will play a significant role in creating the company’s value and future profits.

Remote and self-service models are preferred by 70-80% of decision-makers. The advantages pointed out are travel savings, safety, and ease of scheduling a meeting. This approach applies either to ordering and reordering, as well as identifying and evaluating new suppliers.

New sales models are as efficient or even more powerful than the prior models. In April 2020 65% of respondents declared that remote sales are as effective as face-to-face meetings (or even better performing). In August the number of respondents claiming the effectiveness of remote sales increased up to 75%. Additionally, 45% of respondents pointed out that remote sales were more effective.

The order value for remote sales or self-service does not only apply to the low-value purchase. 70% of B2B decision-makers declare the purchase of up to 500,000 USD via a self-service or remote interaction. 97% of the B2B clients consider a purchase in an end-to-end digital purchase model.

The new normal will become a new normal. Nearly 90% of the respondents declared that the new, remote sales models will stay for a longer time, and 60% declared to keep a certain limit in face-to-face meetings, even if the salesforce will be ready to meet in-person. Most companies point out additional sets to become successful, these are the ability to remote transition, basic video technology, new profiles of sales representatives, redesigned sales training. Over 80% of B2B companies declare to introduce more agile sales processes and focus on different sales methods, while nearly 60% plan to decrease the number of sales representatives, 70% plans to switch to a more dynamic resource model.

What are the forecasts for the economy of 2021?

After the global economic decline, the market is expected to bounce back. In the mid-2020 we faced a V-shaped recovery, that is noted, to drive to excel pre-pandemic GDP levels by the end of this year - setting the stage for strong post-recovery growth in 2021. The economists from Morgan Stanley point out that now we are entering a new phase that is on track to deliver 6.4% GDP growth in the coming year. Several industries generally have been more affected by the effects of global lockdown, despite fears and uncertainties, global forecasts are more optimistic than they might seem.

Taking into account the changes that will remain with us, as well as the predictions for 2021, and the fact that we will never return 100% to pre-pandemic behavior and processes, it is worthwhile to redefine the core strategy. When looking for new opportunities, as well as setting new strategic goals, you should not reject the solutions given on the plate. Knowing that the expected growth, as well as digital relationships, will be fed by credibility, trust, and experience, these qualities will play an even more important role in building sustainable partnerships than before. Combining with excellent customer service, unique experiences, and discovering new paths will boost the global recovery, as well as will set businesses on a new road to success.

2020 proved that we create a system of connected vessels. When one broke, the next dependent parts started to leak. After a year of uncertainty, another optimistic view is that since we live in a mostly digitized world, where partnerships transcend political borders, the recovery is expected to happen even faster. Asynchronous recovery, on both, developed and emerging markets will accelerate in the same year. The exact speeding up is assumed around March or April when most of the geographies and sectors will join the revival.

Customer experience will play a central role

Promising forecasts are ahead, here are some thoughts which you can execute right now to be prepared for an upturn. Strengthen your partnerships and focus on making new ones. Setting a customer in a center of all your efforts, or in other words, having a focus on your customer’s needs and filling their expectations, will help you win 2021. Accelerated digital transformation will continue to grow, mapping, and designing improved customer journeys. According to the research , 87% of professionals say customer feedback became more important than it was before the pandemic. Businesses also gather feedback in new places, 60% of respondents claimed they’ve added new touchpoints.

A fast response will be crucial but must be followed in the right direction. Whether it is B2B or B2C, the rules are similar. Understanding the value you can provide, and what your customers expect from you will let your business make strategic changes quickly and confidently. That’s one principle that establishes agile businesses apart from the rest.

Face-to-face meetings won’t happen anytime soon, and even if, these will differ from what we have known. Digital experiences will play a dominant role. E-commerce and digital actions have become more important, keeping a close eye on the customer experience, setting new paths, and testing new digital channels will become the new winning strategy. The data that can be gathered and analyzed via digital channels will help improve decision making, shaping the future of your business, and prepare to better react when unexpected turbulences appear. Consider how the experience you’re delivering via the website or digital services could play a dominant role in the 2021 strategy.

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

By Homebase Team

Person writing in a notebook

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

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

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

Why do you need a business plan?

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

Business plans serve two main purposes:

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

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

What are the 7 main points in a business plan?

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

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

1. Executive summary

Your executive summary is an overview of your business plan. 

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

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

2. Company overview and description

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

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

3. Market and competitive analysis

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

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

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

4. Business offerings

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

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

5. Management and operational plan

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

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

6. Sales, marketing, and PR strategy

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

7. Financial forecast and budget

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

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

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

What is a one-page business plan?

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

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

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

Top benefits of a one-page business plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary and overview

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

The problem—and your solution

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

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

Target market

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

Competitor overview

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

Business timeline

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

Sales and marketing plan

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

Financial projections

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

Our tips for creating a one-page business plan.

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

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

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

One-page business plan example.

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

Example of business plan

Download our free one-page business plan template.

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

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

Download your one-page business plan template PDF

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

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

One-page business plan FAQs

Why should you create a business plan.

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

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

What types of companies need a business plan?

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

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

Can a business plan be one page?

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s time to get serious and make a business plan

Boh staff

Quick poll: Do you have a business plan?

If your answer is “What business plan?” you are not alone. Plenty of designers paid $50 for their resale tax license, opened a checking account and hung their shingle without a business plan. You might be one of them.

Can you truly be successful without a business plan? Maybe, but the odds are stacked against you.

What is a business plan? A business plan is a document that outlines your company’s objectives and goals—and your path to achieving them. That may sound daunting, but knowing what to include is half the battle.

Why do you need a business plan? It may seem like a tedious process, but writing a business plan forces you to think through the factors that will ultimately lead to your success. Do you have enough cash to pay the bills for the next three to six months as you start, or as you grow ? Do you know how to get clients? Do you know who your ideal client is? Do you know who to hire ? Do you know when you can afford to hire?

What should you include in your business plan?

  • Executive summary: Write a description of who you are and why you are the right person to run your company.
  • Products and services description: Explain what you offer to your clients.
  • Company overview: Express what is special about you and your business, and why you are competing.
  • Market analysis: Give an overview of the industry.
  • Competition: Identify the key players working in your market.
  • Marketing and sales: Create a plan to get clients.
  • Benchmarks: Establish metrics so that you (and your investors) will know if you’re successful.
  • Financial model: Calculate how much it costs to run your business, and what it takes to make a profit.
  • Appendix: Include any additional details.

Do you have a contingency plan? One thing that’s often missing from traditional business plans is the “what if?” scenario. In essence: What happens if things don’t go as expected?

That’s your contingency plan.

The industry’s many ups and downs in recent decades have shown just how important having a Plan B can be. In my own design business, my clients stopped their projects after 9/11 because they felt guilty spending money on themselves. As a result, I had to lay off employees and get out of my expensive office lease—a humbling experience.

Amid the 2008 recession , approximately 40 percent of designers went out of business because clients stopped spending. More recently, Covid forced designers to pivot to remote work, something most had no experience with before. Supply chain interruptions also made business challenging, and designers struggled to explain why it would take 12 to 18 months to get furnishings. Learning how to handle disgruntled clients became the norm.

Today, designers and their project timelines are impacted by interest rate and inflation challenges, which have led to sleepless nights and financial woes.

My favorite mantra is “Market when you’re the busiest.” The idea is that you go looking for future work before you need it. But if you didn’t do that, it will take time to restoke the pipeline: attending every possible charitable and networking event, reaching out to past clients for referrals, and discussing additional scope with current clients. If you are a solopreneur, you should plan to spend at least 10 hours per week marketing your business. If the pipeline is dry, stop all spending except marketing—that’s the last place to cut your budget—and promote your firm full-time.

A contingency plan doesn’t predict external challenges, but it will give you options so that you know what to do in case things don’t go as planned. You’ll have peace of mind because you’ve already accounted for the unexpected, which will allow you to take action quickly and definitively.

For insights and analysis on how designers across the country run their firms, download the 2023 Interior Design Business Survey report , presented by Pearl Collective , Interior Talent and Business of Home .

____________

Gail Doby is co-founder of Pearl Collective (formerly Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting), an interior design business consultancy that helps designers, architects and other creatives increase their profitability. Doby ran her own design firm in Denver for nearly 20 years and has a degree in finance and banking. Since 2008, she has been helping designers scale their businesses profitably and reach financial freedom. As a coach, mentor and business transformation specialist, she shares innovative ways to overcome the roadblocks, challenges and detours creative entrepreneurs face. She is also the bestselling author of Business Breakthrough: Your Creative Value Blueprint to Get Paid What You’re Worth . Her goal is to empower design industry clients to differentiate themselves, drive measurable results, achieve business projections, and create personal satisfaction through game-changing strategies and business practices.

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Run » technology, electronic medical records software : a 6-step purchasing guide.

Ready to choose and buy an EMR system for your office? Learn how to find the right health care solution.

 Two people stand side-by-side and look at an electronic tablet. The person on the left is an older man with white hair and a white beard; he wears glasses and a lab coat, and he has a stethoscope draped around his neck. He points at something on the screen of the tablet, which is held by the woman on the right.

Foundational technologies like electronic medical records (EMR) software, electronic health records (EHR), or integrated health care practice management systems (PMS) enhance patient care delivery and improve outcomes. These tools also help practitioners manage administrative processes, from appointment scheduling to claims processing. However, finding the right EMR or PMS for your office (and budget) can be challenging.

The best solutions are easy to deploy and use, meet provider and patient needs, and scale as your practice grows. Cover your bases before buying EMR software to avoid unexpected yet preventable problems later. Follow these steps to choose the best practice management application or EMR system.

Outline your motivations for buying EMR software

What is the main reason you decided to purchase EMR software? For many physicians, having access to patient histories and improving workflows are critical. Some want to solve current issues in their practice, like inefficient patient visits. Others simply have run out of space to store paper records.

Write down your main goals and the outcomes you expect to occur once you deploy a practice management or EMR system. This step helps you focus on the essential features while sticking to your budget.

[ Read more: Starting Small and Focusing on Networking Brought Success to This Physical Therapy Practice ]

Make a budget for purchasing, implementation, and training

EMR and practice management software pricing varies. Most vendors provide custom quotes, with pricing starting at over $100 monthly. In addition, software providers may charge fees for implementation, training, and support services. Cloud-based systems or software as a service (SaaS) have lower upfront costs, as these solutions don’t require on-site infrastructure. On-premise applications can cost thousands of dollars, and you may need to upgrade your on-site computers or server system.

Even technically savvy doctors and assistants will need training in EMR and practice management systems. Although vendors may supply self-service guides, most recommend an implementation program for quicker deployment.

Your budget should factor in costs for:

  • EMR or practice management licensing, implementation, and other fees.
  • Employee training and wages.
  • Workplace phone and office coverage during system deployment, if necessary.
  • Possible reduction in patient services during implementation.

Decide between a standalone EMR or integrated PMS

EMR software handles clinical aspects, whereas PMS applications manage the administrative side. Both are essential medical practice tools. If you choose separate solutions, ideally, they should integrate. However, modern practice management systems often have built-in EMR capabilities. Some may offer patient engagement modules, too.

Consider your practice size, including the number of patients and staff. Then, speak with your team to learn which features would improve clinical and managerial workflows, from patient scheduling to visits. Refer to your business goals and challenges to identify must-have features your EMR or PMS software should have.

EMR and PMS applications may offer the following tools and capabilities:

  • Appointment scheduling.
  • Patient portals.
  • Lab integrations.
  • Customizable EMR templates.
  • Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing).
  • 24/7 access.
  • Physician decision support.
  • Medical charting.
  • Telehealth and video conferencing.
  • Insurance verification and claims management.
  • Analytics, reporting, and dashboards.
  • Clinical workflow management.
  • Revenue cycle integrations.

It’s almost impossible to know what capabilities come with a software package without speaking to a sales representative.

Identify potential EMR solutions

For starters, ask members of your professional network for recommendations. They can discuss how the buying, implementation, and training process worked and talk about any hurdles they experienced along the way. Read medical office software reviews to learn about the pros and cons or to explore various options. Capterra and G2 also provide user ratings for most software solutions.

Here are a few EMR and PMS tools to check out:

  • athenahealth: This scalable integrated practice solution offers tools for startups, specialty practices, and more. The athenaOne platform has a voice-powered EHR with telehealth services and population support. athenahealth also provides revenue cycle software, patent engagement tools, and advisory services.
  • AdvancedMD: Solo practitioners and large physician groups can leverage automation capabilities with AdvancedMD’s all-in-one suite of smart applications. It combines practice management, patient engagement, and electronic health records on a single platform. Built-in credit card processing, financial reporting, and clinical decision support tools help doctors oversee every aspect of their practice.
  • NextGen Healthcare: Thoma Bravo recently signed an agreement to purchase NextGen Healthcare, aiming to “best position NextGen Healthcare for continued growth and success.” NextGen Healthcare’s EHR has an integrated practice management system with native email and messaging tools, analytics, and an embedded patient portal.

Speak with sales reps and request pricing information

Many medical software vendors offer several types of applications. Few provide pricing online. So, it’s almost impossible to know what capabilities come with a software package without speaking to a sales representative. Set aside time to gather information by chatting with agents online or over the phone. Remember to ask about additional costs for implementation, support services, and training.

In most cases, you’ll need to provide details about your practice. This may include:

  • Number of software users.
  • Current number of patients.
  • Your billing method (in-house or outsourced).
  • Number of providers.
  • Your primary specialty.

[ Read more: How Crom Rehab Built a Successful Practice on Good Customer Service ]

Schedule demos

Once you’ve gathered information about each software solution, it’s time to dig into the details. During a product demonstration, the sales representative reviews the features and answers questions. It’s an excellent time to see how the user interface handles different workflows. Chat with your staff to see which functions they’re most interested in or concerned about.

Consider the following before and during the meeting:

  • Have one or more employees join the demo when possible.
  • Ask the host if you can record the session.
  • Develop a list of questions.
  • Speak up if you feel the rep is moving too fast or want to see a particular feature more in-depth.

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CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here .

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Live chat software: features to consider before buying, 6 things you should always include on your business’s website, electronic medical records software: a 6-step purchasing guide.

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Understanding retirement needs

  • How much do you need to retire comfortably?
  • How much to save based on age

Building your retirement savings

Adjusting for inflation, lifestyle, and healthcare costs.

  • General rules of thumb
  • Seeking professional advice

How Much Do I Need to Retire? A Complete Guide to Retirement Planning

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  • Target savings will vary for each future retiree, depending on one's expenses and current salary.
  • Many advisors recommend saving 15% of your earnings annually or even more if you are getting a late start.
  • Multiple income streams and a conservative withdrawal rate ensure you don't run out of money.

Insider Today

Acquiring adequate retirement savings doesn't happen overnight. For most people, saving enough for retirement requires decades of dedication and strategic financial planning . But how much do you actually need to save to ensure a comfortable retirement? 

Here are the best retirement plans , calculators, investment strategies, and tips you can use to ensure your retirement savings plan is on track. 

Assessing your retirement needs

Unfortunately, there's no general number to aim for when saving toward retirement. Your target retirement savings goal will differ greatly from your siblings', neighbors', and even your coworkers' goals since the amount you'll need largely depends on personal factors.

However, one rule of thumb applies to everyone: The sooner you start saving, the less effort you'll need to put in to reach your goal, and the better-positioned you'll be later in life. 

According to the 2024 MassMutual Retirement Happiness Study , the average age for retirees in the U.S. is 62. If you were to live to 85, this means you'd need enough money to cover all your expenses (and retirement goals) for at least 22 years. Economic factors like inflation will also certainly impact your savings over time.

Estimating your retirement expenses

Understanding what you expect retirement to look like will help determine how much you'll need to fund that lifestyle. If you plan to travel the world in luxury, your budget will differ from someone wanting to bird watch from the backyard each morning.

In retirement, your savings will cover many of the same expenses you had pre-retirement. This includes costs like food, housing, transportation, clothes, gifts, utilities, insurance (including a health plan), and travel.

In most cases, these expenses won't change much from pre- to post-retirement, which makes creating a budget easier. But if you have big plans for your retirement years (moving to a new state or country, buying a bigger home, increasing travel, etc.), you must calculate how much your new standard of living will cost. 

How much do you need to retire comfortably? 

The first step to adequately saving for retirement is to determine how much you'll need. This means analyzing current and future expenses and deciding how much you can afford to put away each month. You may also want to use a number of different savings and investment vehicles or passive income streams.

Financial advisors suggest saving around 10 times your current salary by the time you reach retirement age. Before you retire, you should aim to reduce your annual expenses as much as possible, including paying off existing debt. This can help stretch your retirement savings for even longer. 

As always, it's wise to consult with a trusted financial planner to help you determine your unique needs and retirement savings strategy.

How much to save for retirement based on your age

One way to see if you're on track to reach a comfortable retirement savings is to aim for a multiple of your current annual earnings. This serves as a rough estimate so you can get a better sense of your situation. Remember that the amount of savings required to ensure a comfortable retirement varies according to your projected retirement costs and even the specific investments you choose for your retirement portfolio.

According to Fidelity , here's how much you should have saved up each decade to meet your retirement goals:

30

1-2 times your starting salary

40

3-4 times your starting salary

50

6-7 times your starting salary

60

8 times your starting salary

67

10+ times your starting salary 

Financial advisors recommend dedicating 15% of your annual income toward retirement. However, depending on your retirement goals, financial obligations, and current assets, you may need to save even more.

Types of retirement accounts (401(k), IRA, etc.)

There are multiple savings vehicles and income streams to consider for building your nest egg. These can affect how much you need to save today, depending on which sources of income are available to you.

Some of the most popular types of retirement accounts include: 

  • 401(k) plans: Employer-sponsored investment vehicles with compounding power and tax advantages to help you grow your nest egg steadily over time. Money in a 401(k) can be invested in various securities, and your contributions may even be matched by your employer, amplifying your efforts. Funds can be distributed without penalty beginning at age 59 ½, or earlier with certain exceptions.
  • IRAs: IRAs are retirement accounts individuals open through major banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. The best IRA accounts include traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs. IRAs have the same tax advantages as 401(k)s but offer more flexibility over how your funds are allocated.
  • Traditional pension plans: Traditional pensions are another employer-sponsored investment vehicle certain businesses offer. With a pension, your employer is responsible for contributing and investing the funds in your account. The amount contributed is determined by employee earnings and years at the business. 

Outside of savings accounts, other ways to generate income during retirement include:

  • Social Security benefits: Social Security is a government program that provides individuals with monthly retirement and disability benefits. You can opt-in to start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but you'll receive lower payments. Financial experts recommend delaying Social Security until you reach full retirement age (age 70). 
  • Annuities: Annuities are another retirement income source to consider. They're offered by insurance companies and act as a long-term investment vehicle. After purchasing an annuity — either with a lump sum or periodic purchase payments — you will receive regular payments over the course of your retirement.

Planning for inflation in retirement

Remember to consider inflation and its impact on your savings. For instance, in 2024, there have been inflation rates of 3%, following the 3.3% increase in 2023 and the high 6.5% rate in 2022. Generally, you should account for inflation of approximately 2% per year.

However, certain economic, political, or natural disasters can cause unexpected spikes in inflation. In those cases, you may experience significant financial losses that require you to permanently or temporarily adjust your lifestyle and budget. One of the best ways to hedge against inflation and market downturns is by continuing to invest after retirement . 

Healthcare costs and long-term care planning

Try to account for potential unexpected expenses, such as medical care for you and your spouse or even financially helping a child or grandchild.

"The most common expense that a retiree can ignore (or forget to budget for) is end-of-life expectancy expenses," says Jim Ludwick, a CFP and member at Garrett Planning Network . "This includes caregivers coming to your house, going into assisted living, or skilled nursing. Those are very expensive parts of people's lives. And a lot of times that can eat up quite a bit of savings if it goes on for an extended period of time."

Downsizing and lifestyle adjustments

When planning your retirement lifestyle, consider where you want to live. You may want to downsize depending on your preferred lifestyle, savings amount, and priorities. That said, your priorities may be buying your dream retirement home or moving to a certain location. In this case, be sure that you factor those larger expenses into your budget.

Retirement planning general rules of thumb

While everyone's situation and needs will differ, there are a few primary rules of thumb that most financial advisors follow, which you should consider when determining how much to save for retirement.

Retirement income as a percentage of pre-retirement income

Many financial professionals recommend that you account for between 70% and 80% of your pre-retirement income each year in retirement. This means that if you currently earn $60,000 per year, you should plan to spend between $42,000 to $48,000 annually once you retire. 

This isn't a set rule for everyone, and you may need to even account for more savings. "Many people need to have income streams (or savings and investments) cover 80%, 90%, or even 100% of their pre-retirement budget," Ludwick says. It all depends on your specific expenses now and in retirement.

Saving 15% of your earnings every year

If you start saving for retirement early enough, an annual savings rate of 15% may be sufficient to meet your goals. If you're off to a late start, you may need to save a lot more each year to catch up. 

"As you get older, the amount needed for savings to reach the same end goal roughly doubles every 10 years," says Tolen Teigen, chief investment officer for FinDec . "So, if someone waits ten years to start saving, instead of 30, they are now 40. Instead of 8% to 10% annually, they are now looking at 16% to 20% saved to reach the same end number."

Saving 10 times your income by retirement age

As mentioned above, many financial advisors and firms like Fidelity recommend having approximately 10 times your annual salary saved by the time you reach retirement age. While this may not be exactly what you need, it's a good target to keep in mind as you go. You can always adjust it depending on your projected needs in retirement.

The 4% withdrawal rule 

Many retirees are concerned about running out of money once they reach retirement. The 4% rule may be a good guideline to avoid this. While many factors can affect the actual drawdown process, the 4% rule can be a good place to start if you want to avoid running out of money.

This rule states that retirees can withdraw up to 4% of their retirement savings in year one of retirement. So, if you have $2,000,000 in retirement savings, you would withdraw $80,000 that first year. In year two, you would adjust that $80,000 for inflation and withdraw that amount from your savings.

Keep in mind that while the 4% rule is standard, some financial advisors say your actual withdrawal percentage could be anywhere from 3% to 5%.

Seeking professional advice when retirement planning

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to saving for retirement. Everyone's needs will be different, and so will their approach to saving, including when they start and how much they can set aside each year. Consulting with a certified financial planner or other retirement expert is the best way to understand your unique needs.

"Planning ahead and checking in on your efforts" is key to saving enough for the retirement years, Ludwick says."It's dangerous when you're 75 and realize you're running out of money and you have to move in with a younger sibling or something." 

His advice? "If you want to stay independent, do your homework ahead of time. Think about all those things that could possibly happen. If they don't happen, you're lucky … and your kids and grandkids can have a nice gift that you leave behind."

You can calculate how much you need to retire by assessing your expected expenses, considering your desired lifestyle, current expenses, projected inflation, and healthcare costs. Business Insider's free retirement calculator can help you see if you're on track to secure a comfortable retirement. You can also use other rules of thumb, such as having an annual savings rate of 15%.

The 4% rule in retirement planning suggests withdrawing 4% of your retirement savings each year to prevent you from prematurely running out of money for at least 30 years. It's a general guideline to help estimate how much you need to save. However, some advisors recommend more or less than that rate.

You can maximize your retirement savings by regularly contributing to tax-advantaged retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs to maximize employer matching contributions, investment opportunities, and compound interest. Generally, it's best practice to max out your retirement accounts first. Also, adopt a diversified investment strategy for greater portfolio growth and risk management.

The sooner you start planning for retirement, the easier it will be to compound your savings and reach your goals. Starting in your 20s and 30s allows more time for your investments to grow. It's still possible to catch up if you start in your 40s or 50s by saving more aggressively and adjusting your strategy, but it will be generally more stressful. 

Common mistakes to avoid in retirement planning include underestimating expenses, waiting to start saving, relying too heavily on Social Security, failing to diversify investments, spending too quickly, and not accounting for healthcare costs and inflation. The best way to avoid these common mistakes is by creating a thorough financial plan and consulting a financial advisor.

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Best Business Savings Accounts of 2024

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Kelsey Sheehy is a senior writer and NerdWallet authority on small business. She started at NerdWallet in 2015 and spent six years as a personal finance writer and spokesperson before switching gears to cover the financial decisions and challenges faced by small-business owners. Kelsey’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Nasdaq and MarketWatch, among other publications. Kelsey has appeared on the "Today" show, NBC News and ABC’s "World News Tonight" and has been quoted by the Los Angeles Times, CNBC, American Banker, NPR and Vice, among other publications. Prior to joining NerdWallet, Kelsey covered college (and how to pay for it) for U.S. News & World Report. She is based in Washington, D.C.

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Ryan Lane is an editor on NerdWallet’s small-business team. He joined NerdWallet in 2019 as a student loans writer, serving as an authority on that topic after spending more than a decade at student loan guarantor American Student Assistance. In that role, Ryan co-authored the Student Loan Ranger blog in partnership with U.S. News & World Report, as well as wrote and edited content about education financing and financial literacy for multiple online properties, e-courses and more. Ryan also previously oversaw the production of life science journals as a managing editor for publisher Cell Press. Ryan is located in Rochester, New York.

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The best business savings accounts deliver competitive interest rates with minimal barriers to entry, so you can earn a top annual percentage yield on every dollar you set aside. To make things simple, here are our top-rated picks for each type of business savings account.

Best overall business savings account: Live Oak Business Savings (4.00% APY).

Best business money market account: First Internet Bank Business Money Market Savings (3.46%-5.48% APY).

Best business certificate of deposit: Live Oak Bank 12 Month Business CD (5.00% APY).

Which kind of account should you get?

Jar with some coins inside and some cash on the side.

  • NerdWallet's editorial picks: Best business savings account

All of our picks below for business savings accounts are chosen by our editorial team without outside input. NerdWallet looked at more than 20 national, regional and online financial institutions to find the top options for business owners. Accounts were scored in APY, transaction limits, fees and customer support availability, among other factors. Only accounts that earn at least 2.00% APY were eligible to be included in our list of best business savings accounts.

Why trust NerdWallet

250+ small-business products reviewed and rated by our team of experts.

95+ years of combined experience covering small-business and personal finance.

Objective comprehensive business bank account ratings rubric ( Methodology ).

NerdWallet's business banking content — including our ratings, reviews and recommendations — is produced by a team of writers and editors who specialize in small-business finances. Their journalism has appeared in The Associated Press, Washington Post, MarketWatch, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur, ABC News, MSN and other national and local media outlets. Each writer and editor follows NerdWallet's strict editorial guidelines to ensure fairness and accuracy in our coverage.

Live Oak Bank Business Savings

Live Oak Bank Business Savings

Live Oak Bank Business Savings offers one of the best — and most attainable — interest rates on the market. The online-based account earns 4.00% APY with no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements, and you start earning interest with a balance of 1 cent.

Account holders can access up to $10 million in FDIC coverage through Live Oak's separate Insured Cash Sweep service, though you'll earn a slightly lower APY (accounts are otherwise protected up to the standard $250,000). You can transfer funds to your Live Oak Business Savings account by ACH payment, mobile check deposit, mailed check or wire deposit. Live Oak does not accept cash deposits or offer ATM access with this account.

Key account details:

Opening deposit: $ 0 .

Monthly fee: $ 0 .

APY: 4.00% .

Checks: No.

Debit/ATM card: No.

Transaction limits: No transaction limit.

Industry-leading APY.

No minimum balance to earn interest.

No monthly fee or minimum deposit.

Access up to $10 million in FDIC insurance with Insured Cash Sweep.

No ATM or debit card access.

No weekend customer support.

Axos Business Premium Savings

Business Premium Savings Account

Axos Business Premium Savings Account

Axos Business Premium Savings Account earns 4.01% on all balances and has no minimum opening deposit or monthly fee. Account holders can opt into an Insured Cash Sweep account to extend FDIC coverage up to $240 million for no additional charge.

Unlike some of the other best business savings accounts on this list, Axos Business Premium Savings Account does limit your transactions and charge for overage. Account holders are allowed 20 transactions per month (including debits, credits and deposits) at no charge; additional transactions are 30 cents each.

Monthly fee: $0.

APY: 4.01% .

Transaction limits: Up to 20 transactions per month (debits, credits and deposited items). Additional transactions are 30 cents each.

Access to Insured Cash Sweep network for expanded FDIC insurance.

Fee for excess transactions.

Prime Alliance Bank Business Savings

Prime Alliance Bank Business Savings

Prime Alliance Bank has a top-notch business savings account that earns up to between 3.85% and 4.25% APY, depending on your balance. The bank also offers an outstanding business CD that currently earns 5.30% APY for six and 12-month terms.

You need to email the bank to open an account, though if you’re local to Salt Lake City you can also open one in person at the bank’s lone brick-and-mortar location. Prime Alliance does enforce a monthly limit on withdrawals and transfers — up to six per month — and charges a $10 fee for exceeding that limit.

Given that, this account is best suited for funds you plan to park and leave in the account. (Note: Withdrawals/transfers made in person, by telephone, by mail or via ATM don’t count toward the limit.)

Up to $99,999: 3.85% APY.

$100,000 to $199,999: 4.05%.

$200,000 or higher: 4.25% APY.

APY: 3.85% -4.25%.

Debit/ATM card: Yes.

Transaction limits: Up to six withdrawals or transfers per month; $10 fee for additional transactions.

No monthly fee or opening deposit requirement.

Includes ATM card.

Need to email bank to open an account.

High fee for excess transactions.

NBKC Business Money Market

nbkc bank Business Money Market Account

nbkc bank Business Money Market Account

The nbkc bank Business Money Market Account has no monthly fees and no minimum opening deposit requirement. This account earns 2.75% APY as long as you have a balance of at least 1 cent.

Like the NBKC business checking account , this business savings account includes no transaction fees, no overdraft or nonsufficient funds fees, no stop payment or returned item fees and no fees for incoming domestic wires. The only fees you’ll face with this online business savings account are for sending domestic wires ($5 each) and sending or receiving international wires ($45 each).

Opening deposit: $0.

APY: 2.75% .

Checks: Yes.

Debit/ATM card: Yes. 

Earns 2.75% APY.

No monthly fee or minimum opening deposit.

Includes checks and an ATM card.

High fee ($45) for international wire transfers.

No weekend or after-hours customer support.

First Internet Bank Business Money Market Savings

First Internet Bank Business Money Market Savings

The First Internet Bank Business Money Market Savings has a couple potential drawbacks compared to the nbkc bank Business Money Market Account . You'll need to deposit at least $ 100 , and there's a $ 5 maintenance fee (though it can be waived). If those aren't barriers for you, you'll earn an APY of 3.46% on balances up $5 million — and businesses with a daily balance of more than $5 million can get an even greater yield, earning 5.48% APY.

Opening deposit: $ 100 .

Monthly fee: $ 5 , waived with an average daily balance of $4,000.

APY: 3.46% -5.48%.

ATM card: Sole proprietors only.

Transaction limits: Up to six per month. No fee for additional transactions, but you may need to transition to a business checking account if you regularly exceed the limit.

ATM card access (sole proprietors only).

Monthly fee.

Minimum opening deposit ($100).

Holdings High-Yield Cash Account

Holdings High-Yield Cash Account

Holdings bills itself as a business cash management account , but it lacks the investment component typical of that type of account, which generally includes money market funds and Treasury bills (and can earn north of 5.00% APY).

Holdings High-Yield Cash Account advertises an APY of up to 4.62%, but you'll need a balance of at least $10 million to hit that mark. Accounts with $250,000 or less earn a still solid 4.32%, while those between $250,000 and $10 million earn 4.47%. The account includes up to $5 million in FDIC insurance through a network of more than 45 partner banks.

There are no transaction limits, and you can move in and out of your account via wire transfer or same-day ACH to a connected account. Holdings High-Yield Cash Account does not include checks or ATM access.

Monthly fee: None.

APY: 4.32% .

Industry-leading APY

No minimum opening deposit.

Access up to $5 million in FDIC insurance with Insured Cash Sweep

Phone support only available during business hours.

U.S. Bank Platinum Business Money Market Account

Platinum Business Money Market Account

Platinum Business Money Market Account

The standard interest rate on U.S. Bank's Platinum Business Money Market Account isn't remarkable on its own — you earn a base rate of 0.05 % to 1.15% APY, depending on your balance — but the account's promotional rate ups the ante for those who qualify.

Receive up to 4.34% APY from the account opening date when you open a new Platinum Business Money Market Account and complete qualifying activities, subject to certain terms and limitations. Offer valid through August 7, 2024. Member FDIC.

To net the bonus rate, you need a U.S. Bank business checking account (Silver, Gold or Platinum) and a balance of at least $25,000 in your new Platinum Business Money Market Account . The promotional rate does not apply to balances of $3 million or higher.

Opening deposit: $ 100 but you need a balance of at least $25,000 to earn the promotional rate.

Monthly fee: $ 15 , waived with a minimum balance of $10,000.

APY: Base rate of 0.05% -1.15%, with the potential to earn up to 4.34% APY if you qualify for the bonus rate. 

Bonus APY. Terms apply.

Low ongoing APY.

High balance requirement for promotional rate.

Live Oak Business CD

Live Oak Bank 12 Month Business CD

Live Oak Bank 12 Month Business CD

Live Oak also offers a 12-month business CD that earns 5 % APY. The certificate of deposit has a minimum deposit of $2,500, and the maximum per CD is $250,000. As with any certificate of deposit, you won't be able to touch your funds for the duration without paying a penalty — making this a good choice only if you won't need these funds for a year.

Opening deposit: $ 2500 .

Checks: None.

Transaction limits: You cannot make transactions with the funds in a CD.

6-month, 9-month, 12-month and 18-month CDs all earn more than 4% APY as of this writing.

CD interest rates are fixed for the duration of the term.

Many types of business entities can open an account, including sole proprietorships and non-profits.

Minimum deposit of $2,500 is higher than many other options.

Early withdrawal penalty of 90 days of interest. That's comparable to other business CDs, but business savings accounts and money market accounts usually offer some free transactions.

  • Other business savings accounts to consider

These business savings accounts offer competitive APYs, but you need to have a business checking account with the provider in order to open a business savings account.

Relay Business Savings Account : Earns 1.00% APY on balances up to $50,000 with the potential to earn up to 3.00% APY, depending on your balance. 

LendingClub Business Savings : Earns 3.60% APY, as of this writing.

Lili Business Savings : Earns 4.15% APY, as of this writing. Must have a Lili Pro ($15/mo) business checking account or higher plan to qualify.

  • What is a high-yield business savings account?

A high-yield business savings account is a deposit account with a strong interest rate. Technically any savings account that earns more than the national average (currently 0.46%, according to the FDIC) could be considered high yield, but NerdWallet holds financial institutions to a higher standard. We consider a business savings account with an APY of at least 2.00% to be a high-yield account.

The best high-yield business accounts typically come from online-only financial institutions or neobanks (technology companies that partner with FDIC-insured banks for account services). These providers often offer better APYs because they lack the physical footprint — and thus the expenses — of brick-and-mortar banks.

Big national banks tend to have the worst business savings account for earning interest. Chase and Bank of America's business savings accounts offer less than 0.05% APY as of this writing, for instance.

  • Business savings account calculator
  • Types of business savings accounts

Business savings accounts . These are deposit accounts with variable interest rates. High-yield accounts offer APYs of 2.00% or higher. These accounts typically don’t include checks and many don’t offer ATM cards. Some banks cap account transactions at six per month.

Business money market accounts. Similar to traditional business savings accounts, money market accounts have variable interest rates and some banks cap transactions at six per month. Money market accounts tend to have higher interest rates, though, and most include check-writing and debit card access.

Business certificates of deposit. Business CDs offer the best yield, but the least flexibility. You select from available “terms” — anywhere from a few months to a few years — and get a fixed interest rate for the duration of your term . There's a penalty to withdraw funds before the end of your CD term.

  • Pros and cons of business savings accounts

Earn interest on account balances.

Tap into potentially higher levels of FDIC insurance with Insured Cash Sweep options.

Access funds as needed with relative ease.

Will likely need to use an online bank to get highest rates possible.

Can face limits on monthly transactions.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change.

  • Business savings account rates for July 2024

NerdWallet looked at national, regional and online financial institutions for the following list of current rates for business savings accounts. Listed are the starting APYs for these accounts; some options may have higher rates based on balance or your relationship with the institution. Higher rates are sometimes available via business bank promotional offers , too.

%

%

%

Business banks don't always publish their savings rates. For instance, you’ll need to contact a banker for current rate information from Truist, BMO Harris and Huntington Bank. These accounts may advertise "competitive" rates, but their lack of transparency likely isn’t hiding a high yield.

Want features like checks and a debit card? Several online business checking accounts offer APYs of 1.50% or higher. While you will sacrifice potential yield, you won't have the same strict restrictions on transfers and withdrawals as savings accounts.

  • How to choose a business savings account

Depending on your business’s financial needs, here are some factors that you may want to consider — on top of the interest rate — to help you choose a business savings account:

Minimum opening deposit: How much does it cost to open the account? These requirements can range, but you’ll want to make sure that you have enough money set aside to open the account.

Monthly fees: Is there a monthly fee associated with maintaining the account? Ideally, your business savings account will have low or no fees.

Minimum balance requirement: Is there a minimum account balance required to earn the APY? This term might also be used in reference to monthly fees: Is there a minimum account balance required to waive any monthly maintenance fees associated with the account? Make sure that you can sustain minimum balance requirements on an ongoing basis to avoid losing out on interest or, conversely, incurring monthly fees.

Monthly withdrawals or transfers: Although the Federal Reserve removed the requirement that imposes a six-per-month maximum on withdrawals from savings accounts in April 2020, many banks and credit unions continue to enforce these limits. In some cases, excessive withdrawals may result in your business savings account being transferred to a business checking account.

Level of FDIC insurance: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. protects up to $250,000 per depositor, per financial institution. Will you keep more than that in your business savings account? If so, look for options that expand coverage via Insured Cash Sweep . These accounts spread deposits across multiple insured institutions to increase FDIC protection. For instance, Relay offers up to $2.5 million in FDIC insurance.

ATM access: Is a business debit card or ATM card included with your savings account? And if so, where can you use it? Live Oak Bank Business Savings doesn't include ATM access, for example, but nbkc bank Business Money Market Account holders get fee-free access to more than 37,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide.

How to open: Consider how convenient it is to open a business account . Many of our picks for best business savings accounts let you open your account online, but other small business banks may require you to open your account in person at a local branch.

Methodology

NerdWallet rates business savings and money market accounts on more than a dozen factors, including monthly fee, APY, funds accessibility and access to enhanced FDIC coverage via Insured Cash Sweep networks. Customer support availability, website usability and other account features and restrictions also play a role in out overall rating.

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  • Bottom line: Is H&R Block right for you?
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  • Summary of best home warranties
  • Compare the best Medicare Advantage plans in Maine
  • Compare the best Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado
  • Compare the best Medicare Advantage plans in Connecticut
  • Compare the best Medicare Advantage plans in California
  • Compare the best Medigap plans in New York
  • Compare the best Medicare Advantage plans in Virginia
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  • Compare the best Medicare Advantage plans in Florida
  • Nolo’s Quicken WillMaker: Best all-inclusive
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  • Most popular Medicare Supplement Insurance plan types in Florida
  • What to know about Medicare in Pennsylvania
  • What to know about Medicare in Florida
  • Best for size of dental network: UnitedHealthcare
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  • Best overall: Liberty Home Guard
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  • Top-rated Medicare Advantage plans in Connecticut
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  • Best for high-deductible Medigap Plan G: Mutual of Omaha
  • Best for local support: Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Additional Medicare Part D companies
  • Medicare resources in California
  • Medicare resources in New York
  • Medicare resources in Florida
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  • Trust & Will: Best for ease of use
  • Honorable mention: Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Best for low-cost plan availability: Humana
  • Best for high coverage limits: First American Home Warranty
  • Rocket Lawyer: Best customer service
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  • Best for low-cost plans: Humana
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  • What is Trust & Will?
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  • Wellabe (Medico) Medicare Supplement Insurance
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  • Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement Insurance
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  • Choice Home Warranty coverage limits
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  • Cons of Liberty Home Guard
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  • Themes from customer reviews
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  • What we didn’t like
  • Florida Blue Medicare Advantage service area
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  • Additional benefits
  • What additional benefits does Aetna Medicare offer?
  • Alternatives to Liberty Home Guard
  • Available Highmark Medicare Advantage plans
  • American Home Shield warranty cost
  • Alternatives to Arlo
  • AARP Medicare Advantage plan types
  • Choice Home Warranty price
  • Available Anthem Part D prescription drug plans
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  • A closer look at Dave's star rating
  • Pros of 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty
  • About Alignment Healthcare
  • AARP Medicare Advantage service area
  • USAA member complaints
  • Available Highmark Part D prescription drug plans
  • Cons of 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty
  • A closer look at Empower's star rating
  • Aetna member complaints
  • Wellabe member complaints
  • American Home Shield claims
  • Mutual of Omaha member complaints
  • Choice Home Warranty cancellation
  • How to cancel American Home Shield
  • USAA’s spending on care
  • Anthem Medicare Advantage third-party ratings
  • Aetna third-party ratings
  • Alternatives to 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty
  • Cigna Medicare Part D service area
  • Kaiser Permanente Medicare Advantage service area
  • Aetna’s spending on care
  • CarePlus Medicare Advantage service area
  • AARP customer service
  • A closer look at SoLo Funds star rating
  • Wellabe’s spending on care
  • How to shop for no-credit-check loans
  • Mutual of Omaha’s spending on care
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  • Wellcare Medicare Part D service area
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IMAGES

  1. Small-Business Planning for 2021

    business plan for 2021

  2. A Simple Business Plan Template for Entrepreneurs 2021

    business plan for 2021

  3. How To Write A Business Plan In 2021 (STEP BY STEP)

    business plan for 2021

  4. Business Plan For 2021

    business plan for 2021

  5. 4 Tips to Effectively Business Plan for 2021

    business plan for 2021

  6. Business plan for 2021 template

    business plan for 2021

VIDEO

  1. Safe Shop New Business Plan 2021

  2. Business Plan Video 2021

  3. Annual Report 2020/21

  4. oil mill business

  5. Safe Shop New Business Plan 2021

  6. HEALTH AWARENESS PROGRAM AND BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY || Mr Pintu Chaurasiya || TIGER AWPL

COMMENTS

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

    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 ...

  2. How to Create a Business Plan: Examples & Free Template

    Tips on Writing a Business Plan. 1. Be clear and concise: Keep your language simple and straightforward. Avoid jargon and overly technical terms. A clear and concise business plan is easier for investors and stakeholders to understand and demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively. 2.

  3. Write your business plan

    A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You'll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It's a way to think through the key elements of your business. Business plans can help you get funding or bring on new business partners.

  4. How to Write a Simple 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 ...

  7. Free Business Plan Template for Small Businesses (2024)

    A lean business plan format is a shortened version of your more detailed business plan. It's helpful when modifying your plan for a specific audience, like investors or new hires. Also known as a one-page business plan, it includes only the most important, need-to-know information, such as: Company description; Suppliers; Key members of your team

  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. 7 Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own (2024)

    7 business plan examples: section by section. The business plan examples in this article follow this template: Executive summary. An introductory overview of your business. Company description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists. Market analysis.

  10. How to Write a Business Plan (A Step by Step Guide)

    8. Write a financial projection. 9. Write an appendix. Don't get down to business without a plan, hire a business plan writer on Fiverr today. Hire an expert. 1. Write an executive summary. The executive summary is a short overview of your business and your plans.

  11. Business Plan Template for Startups & Small Businesses

    Growthink's business plan template is the result of 25+ years of research into the business plans that help entrepreneurs and small business owners attract potential investors, raise investment capital, and build successful companies. Using our business plan template, you will be able to write a proper business plan for your new or growing ...

  12. Business Plan Templates: 26 FREE Samples

    A business plan is a document that helps small business owners determine the viability of their business idea. Combining market research and financial analysis, a professional business plan helps startup CEOs and potential investors determine if the company can compete in the target market. Typically, a good business plan consists of the following:

  13. 5 Best Business Plan Software in 2022

    Six-month plan: $18 per month, billed every six months. Pay-as-you-go plan: $20 per month, billed once every month. 2. GoSmallBiz. Best for multiple business management tools in one platform. Next ...

  14. Free editable and printable business plan templates

    801 templates. Create a blank Business Plan. Dark Blue And Green Modern Business Plan Cover Page. Document by shadow.diamond. Green Professional Strategic Business Plan Executive Summary. Document by Antler. Blue White Simple Business Plan Cover Page. Document by Magic Power.

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

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

  16. 5 Best Business Plan Software and Tools 2023

    5 Best Business Plan Software and Tools in 2023 for Your Small Business. Entrepreneurs who write formal business plans are 16% more likely to achieve success than entrepreneurs who don't. 1 This software can help. Data as of 3/13/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

  17. Creating a Post-Covid Business Plan

    Summary. To plan for a post-pandemic world, businesses must understand what your stakeholders' behaviors will look like after the pandemic. Some behaviors will return to their pre-crisis state ...

  18. Seven Sections Your Business Plan Should Have

    Pro Tip: In the opening statement, explain the business in one or two sentences. Once you have completed your business plan, write the Executive Summary last. 2. Company Overview. List the goods ...

  19. How to Build Your Business Plan for 2021

    Building a 2021 business plan—amidst so many unknowns—is challenging but not impossible. Below, we'll show you a step-by-step guide to creating your own business plan. Following it will help ensure you're prepared for whatever the future throws at you. Here's the process we'll follow: Outline your current situation; Determine your goals

  20. Free Business Plan Template

    Having a template for a business plan lets you focus on the main aspects of your business operation, making it full and detailed for your investors. And PandaDoc will help a lot with this task, while such features as eSignature will help with making this small business plan template a real and verified source of the information. This free ...

  21. What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Essentials Explained

    Having a solid business plan can help you grow up to 30% faster and according to our own 2021 Small Business research working on a business plan increases confidence regarding business health—even in the midst of ... This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail ...

  22. How to Write a Business Plan Outline in 9 Steps

    This section of your business plan outline is crucial for showing potential investors what makes your products and services unique and valuable. Clearly describe what your business offers, emphasizing your unique selling propositions (USPs) and the benefits and features that set you apart from the competition. Talk about the product life cycle ...

  23. How To Shore Up Your 2021 Business Plan

    The more you take care of your team, the more loyal and hardworking they are likely to be. 3. Stay conservative. When it comes to budget, this may not be the time to take risks. While many ...

  24. A business plan for 2021

    In the mid-2020 we faced a V-shaped recovery, that is noted, to drive to excel pre-pandemic GDP levels by the end of this year - setting the stage for strong post-recovery growth in 2021. The economists from Morgan Stanley point out that now we are entering a new phase that is on track to deliver 6.4% GDP growth in the coming year.

  25. Writing an Effective One-Page Business Plan: What You Need ...

    Even a one-page business plan can help you address key questions early in the planning process. That's right—we said one page. In many cases, there's no need for a supermassive document that takes ages to create. In this article, we walk you through what a good business plan needs—and what a business plan one-pager should contain.

  26. It's time to get serious and make a business plan

    What is a business plan? A business plan is a document that outlines your company's objectives and goals—and your path to achieving them. That may sound daunting, but knowing what to include is half the battle. Why do you need a business plan? It may seem like a tedious process, but writing a business plan forces you to think through the ...

  27. How to Start a Business: Steps to Start Up a Business

    Oct 04, 2021 — 8 min read ; Cashier Training Tips To Implement During Onboarding Sep 04, 2018 — 5 min read ; All Set! Thank you for participating in #ShopSmall ... A business plan is where you plan out your business's future objectives and how you will achieve them. Think of it as your guide for success and any potential roadblocks you ...

  28. How to Find the Right Electronic Medical Records Software

    Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here. Brought to you by. Let's Make Tea Breaks Happen! Apply for a Pure Leaf Tea Break Grant. The Pure Leaf Tea Break Grants Program for small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofits is now open! Apply for a chance to fund ideas that foster healthier ...

  29. How Much Do I Need to Retire?

    This means that if you currently earn $60,000 per year, you should plan to spend between $42,000 to $48,000 annually once you retire. This isn't a set rule for everyone, and you may need to even ...

  30. Best Business Savings Account of 2024

    Best business money market account: First Internet Bank Business Money Market Savings (3.46%-5.48% APY).