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Conducting Market Research

Crafting a business plan, reviewing funding options, understanding legal requirements, implementing marketing strategies, how much does it cost to start a business, what should i do before starting a business, what types of funding are available to start a business, do you need to write a business plan, the bottom line.

  • Small Business
  • How to Start a Business

How to Start a Business: A Comprehensive Guide and Essential Steps

Building an Effective Business Launch Plan

business plan basic structure

Starting a business in the United States involves a number of different steps, spanning legal considerations, market research, creating a business plan, securing funding, and developing a marketing strategy. It also entails decisions around a business's location, structure, name, taxation, and registration.

This article covers the key steps involved in starting a business as well as important aspects of the process for entrepreneurs to consider.

Key Takeaways

  • Entrepreneurs seeking to develop their own business should start by conducting market research to understand their industry space, competition, and target customers. 
  • The next step is to write a comprehensive business plan, outlining the company’s structure, vision, and strategy. Potential funders and partners may want to review the business plan in advance of signing any agreements. 
  • Securing funding is crucial in launching a business. Funding can come in the form of grants, loans, venture capital, or crowdfunded money; entrepreneurs may also opt to self-fund instead of or in combination with any of these avenues.
  • Choosing a location and business structure can have many implications for legal aspects of business ownership, such as taxation, registration, and permitting, so it’s important to fully understand the regulations and requirements for the jurisdiction in which the business will operate. 
  • Another key aspect of launching a new business is having a strategic marketing plan that addresses the specifics of the business, industry, and target market.

Before starting a business, entrepreneurs should conduct market research to determine their target audience, competition, and market trends. 

The Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends researching demographic data around potential customers to understand a given consumer base and reduce business risk. It also breaks down common market considerations as follows:

  • Demand: Do people want or need this product or service?
  • Market size: How many people might be interested?
  • Economic indicators: These include income, employment rate, and spending habits of potential customers
  • Location: Where are the target market and the business located?
  • Market saturation: How competitive is the business space, and how many similar offerings exist?
  • Pricing: What might a customer be willing to pay?

Market research should also include an analysis of the competition (including their strengths and weaknesses compared to those of the proposed business), market opportunities and barriers to entry, industry trends, and competitors' market share .

There are various methods for conducting market research, and the usefulness of different sources and methodologies will depend on the nature of the industry and potential business. Data can come from a variety of sources, from statistical agencies, economic and financial institutions, and industry sources, as well as direct consumer research through focus groups, interviews, surveys, or questionnaires.

A comprehensive business plan is like a blueprint for a business. It will help lay the foundation for business development and can assist in decision-making, day-to-day operations, and growth. 

Potential investors or business partners may want to review and assess a business plan in advance of agreeing to work together. Financial institutions often request business plans as part of an application for a loan or other forms of capital. 

Business plans will differ according to the needs and nature of the company and only need to include what makes sense for the business in question. As such, they can vary in length and structure depending on their intended purpose. 

Business plans can generally be divided into two formats: traditional business plans and lean startup business plans. The latter is typically more useful for businesses that will need to adjust their planning quickly and frequently, as they are shorter and provide a higher-level overview of the company.

The process of funding a business can be as unique as the business itself; that is, it will depend on the needs and vision of the business and the current financial situation of the business owner. 

The first step in seeking funding is to calculate how much it will cost to start the business. Estimate startup costs by identifying a list of expenses and putting a number to each of them through research and requesting quotes. The SBA has a startup costs calculator for small businesses that includes common types of business expenses. 

From there, an entrepreneur will need to determine how to secure the required funding. Common funding methods include:

  • Self-funding , also known as bootstrapping  
  • Seeking funding from investors, also known as venture capital  
  • Raising money by crowdfunding
  • Securing a business loan
  • Winning a business grant

Each method will hold advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation of the business. It’s important to consider the obligations associated with any avenue of funding. For example, investors generally provide funding in exchange for a degree of ownership or control in the company, whereas self-funding may allow business owners to maintain complete control (albeit while taking on all of the risk). 

The availability of funding sources is another potential consideration. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be paid back, but as a result, they are a highly competitive form of business funding. The federal government also does not provide grants for the purposes of starting or growing a business, although private organizations may. On the other hand, the SBA guarantees several categories of loans to support small business owners in accessing capital that may not be available through traditional lenders.

Whichever funding method (or methods) an entrepreneur decides to pursue, it’s essential to evaluate in detail how the funding will be used and lay out a future financial plan for the business, including sales projections and loan repayments, as applicable.  

Legally, businesses operating in the United States are subject to regulations and requirements under many jurisdictions, across local, county, state, and federal levels. Legal business requirements are often tied to the location and structure of the business, which then determine obligations around taxation, business IDs, registration, and permits.

Choosing a Business Location

The location—that is, the neighbourhood, city, and state—in which a business operates will have an impact on many different aspects of running the business, such as the applicable taxes, zoning laws (for brick-and-mortar, or physical locations), and regulations.

A business needs to be registered in a certain location; this location then determines the taxes, licenses, and permits required. Other factors to consider when choosing a location might include:

  • Human factors: Such as the target audience for your business, and preferences of business owners and partners around convenience, knowledge of the area, and commuting distance
  • Regulations and restrictions: Concerning applicable jurisdictions or government agencies, including zoning laws  
  • Regionally-specific expenses: Such as average salaries (including required minimum wages), property or rental prices, insurance rates, utilities, and government fees and licensing  
  • The tax and financial environment: Including income tax, sales tax, corporate tax, and property tax, or the availability of tax credits, incentives, or loan programs

Picking a Business Structure

The structure of a business should reflect the desired number of owners, liability characteristics, and tax status. Because these have legal and tax compliance implications, it’s important to fully understand and choose a business structure carefully and, if necessary, consult a business counselor, lawyer, and/or accountant.

Common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship : An unincorporated business that has just one owner who pays personal income tax on profits
  • Partnership : Options include a limited partnership or a limited liability partnership
  • Limited liability company (LLC) : A business structure that protects its owners from personal responsibility for its debts or liabilities
  • Corporation : Options include a C corp , S corp , B corp , closed corporation , or nonprofit

Getting a Tax ID Number

A tax ID number is like a social security number for a business. Whether or not a state and/or federal tax ID number is required for any given business will depend on the nature of the business as well as the location in which the business is registered.

If a business is required to pay state taxes (such as income taxes and employment taxes), a state tax ID will be necessary. The process and requirements around state tax IDs vary by state and can be found on individual states’ official websites. In some situations, state tax IDs can also be used for other purposes, such as protecting sole proprietors against identity theft. 

A federal tax ID, also known as an employer identification number (EIN) , is required if a business:

  • Operates as a corporation or partnership 
  • Pays federal taxes
  • Wants to open a business bank account
  • Applies for federal business licenses and permits
  • Files employment, excise, alcohol, tobacco, or firearms tax returns

There are further situations in which a business might need a federal tax ID number, specific to income taxation, certain types of pension plans, and working with certain types of organizations. Business owners can check with the IRS about whether they need an EIN.

Registering a Business

Registration of a business will depend on its location and business structure, and can look quite different depending on the nature and size of the business. 

For example, small businesses may not require any steps beyond registering their business name with local and state governments, and business owners whose business name is their own legal name might not need to register at all. However, registration can include personal liability protection as well as legal and tax benefits, so it can be beneficial even if it’s not strictly required. 

Most LLCs, corporations, partnerships, and nonprofits are required to register at the state level and will require a registered agent to file on their behalf. Determining which state to register with can depend on factors such as:

  • Whether the business has a physical presence in the state
  • If the business often conducts in-person client meetings in the state
  • If a large portion of business revenue comes from the state
  • Whether the business has employees working in the state

If a business operates in more than one state, it may need to file for foreign qualification in other states in which it conducts business. In this case, the business would register in the state in which it was formed (this would be considered the “domestic” state), and file for foreign qualification in any additional states.

Some businesses may decide to register with the federal government if they are seeking tax-exempt status or trademark protection, but federal registration is not required for many businesses. 

Overall registration requirements, costs, and documentation will vary depending on the governing jurisdictions and business structure.

Obtaining Permits

Filing for the applicable government licenses and permits will depend on the industry and nature of the business, and might include submitting an application to a federal agency, state, county, and/or city. The SBA lists federally regulated business activities alongside the corresponding license-issuing agency, while state, county, and city regulations can be found on the official government websites for each region.

Every business should have a marketing plan that outlines an overall strategy and the day-to-day tactics used to execute it. A successful marketing plan will lay out tactics for how to connect with customers and convince them to buy what the company is selling. 

Marketing plans will vary according to the specifics of the industry, target market, and business, but they should aim to include descriptions of and strategies around the following:

  • A target customer: Including market size, demographics, traits, and relevant trends 
  • Unique value propositions or business differentiators: Essentially, an overview of the company’s competitive advantage with regards to employees, certifications, or offerings 
  • A sales and marketing plan: Including methods, channels, and a customer’s journey through interacting with the business
  • Goals: Should cover different aspects of the marketing and sales strategy, such as social media follower growth, PR opportunities, or sales targets
  • An execution plan: Should detail tactics and break down higher-level goals into specific actions
  • A budget: Detailing how much different marketing projects and activities will cost

The startup costs for any given business will vary greatly depending on the industry, business activity, and product or service offering. The estimated cost can be calculated by first identifying a list of expenses, and then researching and requesting quotes for each one. Use the SBA’s startup costs calculator for common types of expenses associated with starting a small business.

Entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business should fully research and understand all the legal and funding considerations involved, conduct market research, and create marketing and business plans. They will also need to secure any necessary permits, licenses, funding, and business bank accounts.

Startup capital can come in the form of loans, grants, crowdfunding, venture capital, or self-funding. Note that the federal government does not provide grant funding for the purposes of starting a business, although private sources do.

Business plans are comprehensive documents that lay out the most important information about a business. They’re important references for the growth, development, and decision-making processes of a business, and financial institutions as well as potential investors and partners generally request to review them in advance of agreeing to provide funding or work together.

Starting a business is no easy feat, but research and preparation can help smooth the way. Having a firm understanding of the target market, competition, industry, business goals, business structure, funding requirements, tax and operating regulations, and marketing strategy, and conducting research and consulting experts where necessary, are all things that entrepreneurs can do to set themselves up for success.

Small Business Administration. " Market Research and Competitive Analysis ."

Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

Small Business Administration. " Loans ."

Small Business Administration. " Fund Your Business ."

Small Business Administration. " Pick Your Business Location ."

Small Business Administration. " Choose a Business Structure ."

Internal Revenue Service. " Do You Need an EIN? "

Small Business Administration. " Get Federal and State Tax ID Numbers ."

Small Business Administration. " Register Your Business ."

Small Business Administration. " Apply for Licenses and Permits ."

Small Business Administration. " Marketing and Sales ."

Small Business Administration. " Grants ."

business plan basic structure

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How to Write a Company Overview for a Business Plan

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Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

When you start a company, you ideally want it to grow. If you’re seeking business funding to scale your business or an initial investment to get your business off the ground, you’re going to need a business plan . Putting together a business plan can be an intimidating process that involves a lot of steps and writing — but breaking it down piece by piece can help you accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task.

One small piece of your business plan is the company overview, so let’s take a look at what that is, exactly, check out some company overview examples and go over how to make a company overview of your very own.

What is a company overview?

A company overview provides the reader of your business plan with basic background information about your company so they have an understanding of what you do, who the management team is and what customers your business serves.

The company description is the second piece of a business plan, falling right after the executive summary. Similar to the executive summary, your company overview will be short and succinct. Your reader needs to have a grasp on what your business does and who your customers are, even if they have limited time.

Why do I need a company overview?

The company overview is the part of your business plan that gives the basics and background of your business. It’s the foundation on which you will build the rest of your business plan.

If you’re looking to appeal to investors or potential clients, you need a reader to make an informed decision about your company. Before they can do that, they must know what your company does and who your customer is. Lenders in particular need a reason to keep reading, since they see tons of business plans regularly. The company overview provides those answers, and it will help you get a better sense of your business so you can firm up things like your marketing plan.

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What should i include in a company overview.

The exact elements that you need in your company overview will depend upon what details of your business are important, but there are some foundational elements that will be included in every company overview.

Once you’ve covered the basics, you can include any other minor details that will benefit a reader who will need to make an informed decision about your business.

Basic company information

Consider the company overview like an introduction for your business. In the opening paragraph of your company overview, you’ll want to include basic company information. That includes:

Your company name: This should be the official name of your business, exactly as it is written when you registered your business with the state.

Business structure: Your reader will want to know what business entity your company comes in: sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership or corporation.

Location(s): Share where your business is headquartered and other locations the business owns.

Ownership and management team

Break down who owns your business and how each owner is involved with the business. What shares of the company belong to whom? If you have a highly involved management team, share their names and key roles with the company as well.

Company history

Part of what makes your company unique is its history. And, even startups have some history. Don’t put too much focus on this section, but do add some personality and interesting details if possible, especially if they relate to your company culture.

Mission statement

Your company’s mission statement should be included in the company overview. If you don’t yet have a company mission statement, that’s okay. Think of a mission statement as the purpose of your company.

If you don’t have one, you can create one with your team. Or you can simply replace the mission statement with a problem statement. Your business idea should exist to solve a problem or pain point faced by your customers. Share what that problem is and what your business does to solve it. That’s essentially your mission statement.

Product/service and customer

This section of the company overview is where you can share the nitty-gritty details of your business. Talk about what product or service you provide and to whom you provide it. You can share some numbers here, but in general, save the numbers for later in your business plan.

The company overview should give the reader a general understanding of your business, your product or service, and your customer. If they’re interested to know more, they’ll reach out to you for a meeting or take the time to read the rest of your business plan. Keep it simple and straightforward here.

Future goals

While concrete details and facts about your business are important to whoever is reading your company overview, it’s also important to share your dreams and your vision. If you’re writing a business plan for a business that’s already in place, it’s very likely you’re looking for business financing to scale or solve a business problem. If you’re just starting out, though, then it’s likely you’re hoping to find startup funding.

The section on your future business goals should include a brief description of your growth goals for your business. Where you are now tells the reader a lot, but they also want to know where you plan to go.

A company overview is comprised of many small parts. Each part shares just a little bit more about your company with your reader.

business plan basic structure

Tips for writing a company overview

While a company overview is simply the details of your company written out, it might not be easy to write. Break it down into small steps and use these tips to make putting together your company overview just a little bit easier.

Start with the elevator pitch

If your business is already in operation, then you likely have an elevator pitch. Your company overview can start off with your elevator pitch.

The first paragraph of your company overview should include just a few sentences that explain your business and what you do. The shorter and clearer this is, the more likely your reader will understand and keep reading.

Stick to the basics

It’s tempting to pile on all the details when you’re writing a company overview. Remember, many of the details of your company, including the numbers, will be included in later sections of your business plan.

Your company overview should include only the most basic details about your company that the reader needs to know.

Be passionate

When you share the history, mission statement, and vision for the future of your company, it’s okay to show your passion. You wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t love what you do.

Your excitement for your business could spark interest for the reader and keep them engaged with your company overview and business plan.

Keep it succinct

When you’re passionate about something, it’s easy to get carried away. Remember that you’ve got plenty of space for details in your business plan. The company overview should be just the most basic information someone needs to understand your business.

It’s OK if your first draft of your company overview is long. Simply go through and edit it to be shorter, removing unnecessary details and words each time you read through it. Clear, concise descriptions are more likely to be read and to keep the reader reading to other sections of your business plan.

Have structure

Your company overview is just one piece of a multi-tiered business plan. Creating a clear structure for your business plan makes it easier to read. The same is true for your company overview.

Your business plan should have chapters, one of which is the company overview. Then, you can further break down the content for easy skimming and reading by adding sub-chapters. You can denote these breaks in content with bold headers.

While you can break down each section of the company overview with bold headers based on the above suggestions, you can also interweave some information together, such as the company structure and leadership structure. Each section should be only a few sentences long.

Write it later

If you’re struggling to write your company overview, come back to it. Write the rest of your business plan first and then write your company overview.

While this might seem like the opposite way of doing things, knowing what will be contained in the rest of your business plan can help you to focus in on the very most essential details in the company overview and to leave everything else out.

Get a test reader

If you’re struggling to edit down your company overview, get a test reader. Ideally, you’ll want to ask someone who doesn’t know a lot about your business. They’ll help you understand whether or not you’ve clearly communicated your message.

Proofreading is the final step in editing something you’ve written. This type of editing looks for typos, misspellings and grammatical errors that have been missed. Many of these small errors can be difficult to spot in our own writing, so be sure to ask someone who hasn’t seen multiple drafts of your company overview.

Company overview examples

If you don’t want to shell out for business planning software, but would still like some company overview examples to get you started, there are many places online you can look to for help getting started, like the Small Business Administration and SCORE.

Many successful companies also have some version of their company overview made public as their company profile page online. There are some variations from the company overview steps we’ve listed above, of course, but you can use the language and style of these company overview examples for inspiration:

Starbucks company profile .

Puma company page .

TaskRabbit About page .

Peloton company page .

Nestlé About page .

If you’re still feeling stuck, or want more company overview examples, try searching the websites of your favorite companies for more information. You might be surprised what you find — the Nestlé page, for example, has more information about their strategy and business principles.

On a similar note...

Simple Business Plan Templates

By Joe Weller | April 2, 2020

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In this article, we’ve compiled a variety of simple business plan templates, all of which are free to download in PDF, Word, and Excel formats.

On this page, you’ll find a one-page business plan template , a simple business plan for startups , a small-business plan template , a business plan outline , and more. We also include a business plan sample and the main components of a business plan to help get you started.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

This simple business plan template lays out each element of a traditional business plan to assist you as you build your own, and it provides space to add financing information for startups seeking funding. You can use and customize this simple business plan template to fit the needs for organizations of any size.

One-Page Business Plan Template

business plan basic structure

Download One-Page Business Plan Template

Excel | Word | PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this one-page business plan to document your key ideas in an organized manner. The template can help you create a high-level view of your business plan, and it provides easy scannability for stakeholders. You can use this one-page plan as a reference to build a more detailed blueprint for your business. 

For additional single page plans, take a look at " One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."

Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan Template

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

Download Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan Template

Use this fill-in-the-blank business plan template to guide you as you build your business plan. Each section comes pre-filled with sample content, with space to add customized verbiage relevant to your product or service.

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

Simple Business Plan for Startup

Start-Up Business Plan Template

‌ Download Startup Business Plan Template — Word

This business plan template is designed with a startup business in mind and contains the essential elements needed to convey key product or service details to investors and stakeholders. Keep all your information organized with this template, which provides space to include an executive summary, a company overview, competitive analysis, a marketing strategy, financial data, and more. For additional resources, visit " Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples ."

Simple Small-Business Plan Template

Small Business Plan Template

Download Simple Small-Business Plan Template

This template walks you through each component of a small-business plan, including the company background, the introduction of the management team, market analysis, product or service offerings, a financial plan, and more. This template also comes with a built-in table of contents to keep your plan in order, and it can be customized to fit your requirements.

Lean Business Plan Template

Lean Business Plan Template

Download Lean Business Plan Template

This lean business plan template is a stripped-down version of a traditional business plan that provides only the most essential aspects. Briefly outline your company and industry overview, along with the problem you are solving, as well as your unique value proposition, target market, and key performance metrics. There is also room to list out a timeline of key activities.

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Download Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Word  | PDF

Use this simple business plan outline as a basis to create your own business plan. This template contains 11 sections, including a title page and a table of contents, which details what each section should cover in a traditional business plan. Simplify or expand this outline to create the foundation for a business plan that fits your business needs.

Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Download Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Excel | Smartsheet

This template doubles as a project plan and timeline to track progress as you develop your business plan. This business planning template enables you to break down your work into phases and provides room to add key tasks and dates for each activity. Easily fill in the cells according to the start and end dates to create a visual timeline, as well as to ensure your plan stays on track.

Simple Business Plan Rubric Template

business plan basic structure

Download Simple Business Plan Rubric

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

Once you complete your business plan, use this business plan rubric template to assess and score each component of your plan. This rubric helps you identify elements of your plan that meet or exceed requirements and pinpoint areas where you need to improve or further elaborate. This template is an invaluable tool to ensure your business plan clearly defines your goals, objectives, and plan of action in order to gain buy-in from potential investors, stakeholders, and partners.

Basic Business Plan Sample

Basic Business Plan Sample

Download Basic Business Plan Sample

This business plan sample serves as an example of a basic business plan that contains all the traditional components. The sample provides a model of what a business plan might look like for a fictional food truck business. Reference this sample as you develop your own business plan.

For additional resources to help support your business planning efforts, check out “ Free Strategic Planning Templates .”

Main Components of a Business Plan

The elements you include in your business plan will depend on your product or service offerings, as well as the size and needs of your business. 

Below are the components of a standard business plan and details you should include in each section:

  • Company name and contact information
  • Website address
  • The name of the company or individual viewing the presentation
  • Table of Contents
  • Company background and purpose
  • Mission and vision statement
  • Management team introduction
  • Core product and service offerings
  • Target customers and segments
  • Marketing plan
  • Competitive analysis
  • Unique value proposition
  • Financial plan (and requirements, if applicable)
  • Business and industry overview
  • Historical timeline of your business
  • Offerings and the problem they solve
  • Current alternatives
  • Competitive advantage
  • Market size
  • Target market segment(s)
  • Projected volume and value of sales compared to competitors
  • Differentiation from competitors
  • Pricing strategy
  • Marketing channels
  • Promotional plan
  • Distribution methods
  • Legal structure of your business
  • Names of founders, owners, advisors, etc.
  • Management team’s roles, relevant experience, and compensation plan
  • Staffing requirements and training plans
  • Physical location(s) of your business
  • Additional physical requirements (e.g., warehouse, specialized equipment, facilities, etc.)
  • Production workflow
  • Raw materials and sourcing methods
  • Projected income statement
  • Projected cash flow statement
  • Projected balance sheet
  • Break-even analysis
  • Charts and graphs
  • Market research and competitive analysis
  • Information about your industry
  • Information about your offerings
  • Samples of marketing materials
  • Other supporting materials

Tips for Creating a Business Plan

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of putting together a business plan. Below, you’ll find top tips to help simplify the process as you develop your own plan. 

  • Use a business plan template (you can choose from the variety above), or refer to the previous section to create a standard outline for your plan.
  • Modify your outline to reflect the requirements of your specific business. If you use a standard business plan outline, remove sections that aren’t relevant to you or aren’t necessary to run your business.
  • Gather all the information you currently have about your business first, and then use that information to fill out each section in your plan outline.
  • Use your resources and conduct additional research to fill in the remaining gaps. (Note: It isn’t necessary to fill out your plan in order, but the executive summary needs to be completed last, as it summarizes the key points in your plan.)
  • Ensure your plan clearly communicates the relationship between your marketing, sales, and financial objectives.
  • Provide details in your plan that illustrate your strategic plan of action, looking forward three to five years.
  • Revisit your plan regularly as strategies and objectives evolve.
  • What product or service are we offering?
  • Who is the product or service for?
  • What problem does our product or service offering solve?
  • How will we get the product or service to our target customers?
  • Why is our product or service better than the alternatives?
  • How can we outperform our competitors?
  • What is our unique value proposition?
  • When will things get done, and who is responsible for doing them?
  • If you need to obtain funding, how will you use the funding?
  • When are payments due, and when do payments come in?
  • What is the ultimate purpose of your business?
  • When do you expect to be profitable?

To identify which type of business plan you should write, and for more helpful tips, take a look at our guide to writing a simple business plan .

Benefits of Using a Business Plan Template

Creating a business plan can be very time-consuming, especially if you aren’t sure where to begin. Finding the right template for your business needs can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. 

Using a business plan template — instead of creating your plan from scratch — can benefit you in the following ways:

  • Enables you to immediately write down your thoughts and ideas in an organized manner
  • Provides structure to help outline your plan
  • Saves time and valuable resources
  • Helps ensure you don’t miss essential details

Limitations of a Business Plan Template

A business plan template can be convenient, but it has its drawbacks — especially if you use a template that doesn’t fit the specific needs of your business.

Below are some limitations of using a business plan template:

  • Each business is unique and needs a business plan that reflects that. A template may not fit your needs.
  • A template may restrict collaboration with other team members on different aspects of the plan’s development (sales, marketing, and accounting teams).
  • Multiple files containing different versions of the plan may be stored in more than one place.
  • You still have to manually create charts and graphs to add to the plan to support your strategy.
  • Updates to the plan, spreadsheets, and supporting documents have to be made in multiple places (all documents may not update in real time as changes are made).

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  • 11.4 The Business Plan
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Entrepreneurship Today
  • 1.2 Entrepreneurial Vision and Goals
  • 1.3 The Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • Review Questions
  • Discussion Questions
  • Case Questions
  • Suggested Resources
  • 2.1 Overview of the Entrepreneurial Journey
  • 2.2 The Process of Becoming an Entrepreneur
  • 2.3 Entrepreneurial Pathways
  • 2.4 Frameworks to Inform Your Entrepreneurial Path
  • 3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
  • 3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
  • 3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
  • 4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation
  • 4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ
  • 4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions
  • 5.1 Entrepreneurial Opportunity
  • 5.2 Researching Potential Business Opportunities
  • 5.3 Competitive Analysis
  • 6.1 Problem Solving to Find Entrepreneurial Solutions
  • 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
  • 6.3 Design Thinking
  • 6.4 Lean Processes
  • 7.1 Clarifying Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
  • 7.2 Sharing Your Entrepreneurial Story
  • 7.3 Developing Pitches for Various Audiences and Goals
  • 7.4 Protecting Your Idea and Polishing the Pitch through Feedback
  • 7.5 Reality Check: Contests and Competitions
  • 8.1 Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Marketing Mix
  • 8.2 Market Research, Market Opportunity Recognition, and Target Market
  • 8.3 Marketing Techniques and Tools for Entrepreneurs
  • 8.4 Entrepreneurial Branding
  • 8.5 Marketing Strategy and the Marketing Plan
  • 8.6 Sales and Customer Service
  • 9.1 Overview of Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting Strategies
  • 9.2 Special Funding Strategies
  • 9.3 Accounting Basics for Entrepreneurs
  • 9.4 Developing Startup Financial Statements and Projections
  • 10.1 Launching the Imperfect Business: Lean Startup
  • 10.2 Why Early Failure Can Lead to Success Later
  • 10.3 The Challenging Truth about Business Ownership
  • 10.4 Managing, Following, and Adjusting the Initial Plan
  • 10.5 Growth: Signs, Pains, and Cautions
  • 11.1 Avoiding the “Field of Dreams” Approach
  • 11.2 Designing the Business Model
  • 11.3 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
  • 12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
  • 12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
  • 12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
  • 13.1 Business Structures: Overview of Legal and Tax Considerations
  • 13.2 Corporations
  • 13.3 Partnerships and Joint Ventures
  • 13.4 Limited Liability Companies
  • 13.5 Sole Proprietorships
  • 13.6 Additional Considerations: Capital Acquisition, Business Domicile, and Technology
  • 13.7 Mitigating and Managing Risks
  • 14.1 Types of Resources
  • 14.2 Using the PEST Framework to Assess Resource Needs
  • 14.3 Managing Resources over the Venture Life Cycle
  • 15.1 Launching Your Venture
  • 15.2 Making Difficult Business Decisions in Response to Challenges
  • 15.3 Seeking Help or Support
  • 15.4 Now What? Serving as a Mentor, Consultant, or Champion
  • 15.5 Reflections: Documenting the Journey
  • A | Suggested Resources

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the different purposes of a business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a brief business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a full business plan

Unlike the brief or lean formats introduced so far, the business plan is a formal document used for the long-range planning of a company’s operation. It typically includes background information, financial information, and a summary of the business. Investors nearly always request a formal business plan because it is an integral part of their evaluation of whether to invest in a company. Although nothing in business is permanent, a business plan typically has components that are more “set in stone” than a business model canvas , which is more commonly used as a first step in the planning process and throughout the early stages of a nascent business. A business plan is likely to describe the business and industry, market strategies, sales potential, and competitive analysis, as well as the company’s long-term goals and objectives. An in-depth formal business plan would follow at later stages after various iterations to business model canvases. The business plan usually projects financial data over a three-year period and is typically required by banks or other investors to secure funding. The business plan is a roadmap for the company to follow over multiple years.

Some entrepreneurs prefer to use the canvas process instead of the business plan, whereas others use a shorter version of the business plan, submitting it to investors after several iterations. There are also entrepreneurs who use the business plan earlier in the entrepreneurial process, either preceding or concurrently with a canvas. For instance, Chris Guillebeau has a one-page business plan template in his book The $100 Startup . 48 His version is basically an extension of a napkin sketch without the detail of a full business plan. As you progress, you can also consider a brief business plan (about two pages)—if you want to support a rapid business launch—and/or a standard business plan.

As with many aspects of entrepreneurship, there are no clear hard and fast rules to achieving entrepreneurial success. You may encounter different people who want different things (canvas, summary, full business plan), and you also have flexibility in following whatever tool works best for you. Like the canvas, the various versions of the business plan are tools that will aid you in your entrepreneurial endeavor.

Business Plan Overview

Most business plans have several distinct sections ( Figure 11.16 ). The business plan can range from a few pages to twenty-five pages or more, depending on the purpose and the intended audience. For our discussion, we’ll describe a brief business plan and a standard business plan. If you are able to successfully design a business model canvas, then you will have the structure for developing a clear business plan that you can submit for financial consideration.

Business plan that includes an executive summary, business description, market strategies, marketing plan, competitive analysis, operations and management plan, financial analysis, and design and development plan.

Both types of business plans aim at providing a picture and roadmap to follow from conception to creation. If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept.

The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, dealing with the proverbial devil in the details. Developing a full business plan will assist those of you who need a more detailed and structured roadmap, or those of you with little to no background in business. The business planning process includes the business model, a feasibility analysis, and a full business plan, which we will discuss later in this section. Next, we explore how a business plan can meet several different needs.

Purposes of a Business Plan

A business plan can serve many different purposes—some internal, others external. As we discussed previously, you can use a business plan as an internal early planning device, an extension of a napkin sketch, and as a follow-up to one of the canvas tools. A business plan can be an organizational roadmap , that is, an internal planning tool and working plan that you can apply to your business in order to reach your desired goals over the course of several years. The business plan should be written by the owners of the venture, since it forces a firsthand examination of the business operations and allows them to focus on areas that need improvement.

Refer to the business venture throughout the document. Generally speaking, a business plan should not be written in the first person.

A major external purpose for the business plan is as an investment tool that outlines financial projections, becoming a document designed to attract investors. In many instances, a business plan can complement a formal investor’s pitch. In this context, the business plan is a presentation plan, intended for an outside audience that may or may not be familiar with your industry, your business, and your competitors.

You can also use your business plan as a contingency plan by outlining some “what-if” scenarios and exploring how you might respond if these scenarios unfold. Pretty Young Professional launched in November 2010 as an online resource to guide an emerging generation of female leaders. The site focused on recent female college graduates and current students searching for professional roles and those in their first professional roles. It was founded by four friends who were coworkers at the global consultancy firm McKinsey. But after positions and equity were decided among them, fundamental differences of opinion about the direction of the business emerged between two factions, according to the cofounder and former CEO Kathryn Minshew . “I think, naively, we assumed that if we kicked the can down the road on some of those things, we’d be able to sort them out,” Minshew said. Minshew went on to found a different professional site, The Muse , and took much of the editorial team of Pretty Young Professional with her. 49 Whereas greater planning potentially could have prevented the early demise of Pretty Young Professional, a change in planning led to overnight success for Joshua Esnard and The Cut Buddy team. Esnard invented and patented the plastic hair template that he was selling online out of his Fort Lauderdale garage while working a full-time job at Broward College and running a side business. Esnard had hundreds of boxes of Cut Buddies sitting in his home when he changed his marketing plan to enlist companies specializing in making videos go viral. It worked so well that a promotional video for the product garnered 8 million views in hours. The Cut Buddy sold over 4,000 products in a few hours when Esnard only had hundreds remaining. Demand greatly exceeded his supply, so Esnard had to scramble to increase manufacturing and offered customers two-for-one deals to make up for delays. This led to selling 55,000 units, generating $700,000 in sales in 2017. 50 After appearing on Shark Tank and landing a deal with Daymond John that gave the “shark” a 20-percent equity stake in return for $300,000, The Cut Buddy has added new distribution channels to include retail sales along with online commerce. Changing one aspect of a business plan—the marketing plan—yielded success for The Cut Buddy.

Link to Learning

Watch this video of Cut Buddy’s founder, Joshua Esnard, telling his company’s story to learn more.

If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept. This version is used to interest potential investors, employees, and other stakeholders, and will include a financial summary “box,” but it must have a disclaimer, and the founder/entrepreneur may need to have the people who receive it sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) . The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, providing supporting details, and would be required by financial institutions and others as they formally become stakeholders in the venture. Both are aimed at providing a picture and roadmap to go from conception to creation.

Types of Business Plans

The brief business plan is similar to an extended executive summary from the full business plan. This concise document provides a broad overview of your entrepreneurial concept, your team members, how and why you will execute on your plans, and why you are the ones to do so. You can think of a brief business plan as a scene setter or—since we began this chapter with a film reference—as a trailer to the full movie. The brief business plan is the commercial equivalent to a trailer for Field of Dreams , whereas the full plan is the full-length movie equivalent.

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

As the name implies, the brief business plan or executive summary summarizes key elements of the entire business plan, such as the business concept, financial features, and current business position. The executive summary version of the business plan is your opportunity to broadly articulate the overall concept and vision of the company for yourself, for prospective investors, and for current and future employees.

A typical executive summary is generally no longer than a page, but because the brief business plan is essentially an extended executive summary, the executive summary section is vital. This is the “ask” to an investor. You should begin by clearly stating what you are asking for in the summary.

In the business concept phase, you’ll describe the business, its product, and its markets. Describe the customer segment it serves and why your company will hold a competitive advantage. This section may align roughly with the customer segments and value-proposition segments of a canvas.

Next, highlight the important financial features, including sales, profits, cash flows, and return on investment. Like the financial portion of a feasibility analysis, the financial analysis component of a business plan may typically include items like a twelve-month profit and loss projection, a three- or four-year profit and loss projection, a cash-flow projection, a projected balance sheet, and a breakeven calculation. You can explore a feasibility study and financial projections in more depth in the formal business plan. Here, you want to focus on the big picture of your numbers and what they mean.

The current business position section can furnish relevant information about you and your team members and the company at large. This is your opportunity to tell the story of how you formed the company, to describe its legal status (form of operation), and to list the principal players. In one part of the extended executive summary, you can cover your reasons for starting the business: Here is an opportunity to clearly define the needs you think you can meet and perhaps get into the pains and gains of customers. You also can provide a summary of the overall strategic direction in which you intend to take the company. Describe the company’s mission, vision, goals and objectives, overall business model, and value proposition.

Rice University’s Student Business Plan Competition, one of the largest and overall best-regarded graduate school business-plan competitions (see Telling Your Entrepreneurial Story and Pitching the Idea ), requires an executive summary of up to five pages to apply. 51 , 52 Its suggested sections are shown in Table 11.2 .

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

Fill out a canvas of your choosing for a well-known startup: Uber, Netflix, Dropbox, Etsy, Airbnb, Bird/Lime, Warby Parker, or any of the companies featured throughout this chapter or one of your choice. Then create a brief business plan for that business. See if you can find a version of the company’s actual executive summary, business plan, or canvas. Compare and contrast your vision with what the company has articulated.

  • These companies are well established but is there a component of what you charted that you would advise the company to change to ensure future viability?
  • Map out a contingency plan for a “what-if” scenario if one key aspect of the company or the environment it operates in were drastically is altered?

Full Business Plan

Even full business plans can vary in length, scale, and scope. Rice University sets a ten-page cap on business plans submitted for the full competition. The IndUS Entrepreneurs , one of the largest global networks of entrepreneurs, also holds business plan competitions for students through its Tie Young Entrepreneurs program. In contrast, business plans submitted for that competition can usually be up to twenty-five pages. These are just two examples. Some components may differ slightly; common elements are typically found in a formal business plan outline. The next section will provide sample components of a full business plan for a fictional business.

Executive Summary

The executive summary should provide an overview of your business with key points and issues. Because the summary is intended to summarize the entire document, it is most helpful to write this section last, even though it comes first in sequence. The writing in this section should be especially concise. Readers should be able to understand your needs and capabilities at first glance. The section should tell the reader what you want and your “ask” should be explicitly stated in the summary.

Describe your business, its product or service, and the intended customers. Explain what will be sold, who it will be sold to, and what competitive advantages the business has. Table 11.3 shows a sample executive summary for the fictional company La Vida Lola.

Business Description

This section describes the industry, your product, and the business and success factors. It should provide a current outlook as well as future trends and developments. You also should address your company’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives. Summarize your overall strategic direction, your reasons for starting the business, a description of your products and services, your business model, and your company’s value proposition. Consider including the Standard Industrial Classification/North American Industry Classification System (SIC/NAICS) code to specify the industry and insure correct identification. The industry extends beyond where the business is located and operates, and should include national and global dynamics. Table 11.4 shows a sample business description for La Vida Lola.

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

Here you should define your market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends, and sales potential. You’ll want to include your TAM and forecast the SAM . (Both these terms are discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis .) This is a place to address market segmentation strategies by geography, customer attributes, or product orientation. Describe your positioning relative to your competitors’ in terms of pricing, distribution, promotion plan, and sales potential. Table 11.5 shows an example industry analysis and market strategy for La Vida Lola.

Competitive Analysis

The competitive analysis is a statement of the business strategy as it relates to the competition. You want to be able to identify who are your major competitors and assess what are their market shares, markets served, strategies employed, and expected response to entry? You likely want to conduct a classic SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and complete a competitive-strength grid or competitive matrix. Outline your company’s competitive strengths relative to those of the competition in regard to product, distribution, pricing, promotion, and advertising. What are your company’s competitive advantages and their likely impacts on its success? The key is to construct it properly for the relevant features/benefits (by weight, according to customers) and how the startup compares to incumbents. The competitive matrix should show clearly how and why the startup has a clear (if not currently measurable) competitive advantage. Some common features in the example include price, benefits, quality, type of features, locations, and distribution/sales. Sample templates are shown in Figure 11.17 and Figure 11.18 . A competitive analysis helps you create a marketing strategy that will identify assets or skills that your competitors are lacking so you can plan to fill those gaps, giving you a distinct competitive advantage. When creating a competitor analysis, it is important to focus on the key features and elements that matter to customers, rather than focusing too heavily on the entrepreneur’s idea and desires.

Competitor analysis comparing five different restaurants by price, location, quality, and food type. La Vida Lola sells Latin food of mid to high quality at a variety of locations for between six and 13 dollars. Mix’D Up Burgers sells American food/burgers of low quality at both rotating and Smyrna locations for around ten dollars. Mac the Cheese sells American comfort food of mid quality at rotating locations for between ten and thirteen dollars. The Fry Guy sells American food of high quality in Buckhead for at minimum thirteen dollars. The Blaxican sells soul/Mexican fusion food of high quality in Midtown at high prices.

Operations and Management Plan

In this section, outline how you will manage your company. Describe its organizational structure. Here you can address the form of ownership and, if warranted, include an organizational chart/structure. Highlight the backgrounds, experiences, qualifications, areas of expertise, and roles of members of the management team. This is also the place to mention any other stakeholders, such as a board of directors or advisory board(s), and their relevant relationship to the founder, experience and value to help make the venture successful, and professional service firms providing management support, such as accounting services and legal counsel.

Table 11.6 shows a sample operations and management plan for La Vida Lola.

Marketing Plan

Here you should outline and describe an effective overall marketing strategy for your venture, providing details regarding pricing, promotion, advertising, distribution, media usage, public relations, and a digital presence. Fully describe your sales management plan and the composition of your sales force, along with a comprehensive and detailed budget for the marketing plan. Table 11.7 shows a sample marketing plan for La Vida Lola.

Financial Plan

A financial plan seeks to forecast revenue and expenses; project a financial narrative; and estimate project costs, valuations, and cash flow projections. This section should present an accurate, realistic, and achievable financial plan for your venture (see Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting for detailed discussions about conducting these projections). Include sales forecasts and income projections, pro forma financial statements ( Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team , a breakeven analysis, and a capital budget. Identify your possible sources of financing (discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis ). Figure 11.19 shows a template of cash-flow needs for La Vida Lola.

Cash flow template that tracks income for every day of the week and expenses. Fixed monthly expenses include facility rental, personal loans, insurance, credit cards, Farmer’s Market overheads, planned savings, and other. Variable monthly expenses include food/beverages, utilities (electricity, gas), uniforms, wages, fuel (vehicle), medical expenses, and other. Fixed infrequent expenses included insurance, annual subscriptions, property rates/taxes, union fees, education, and other. Variable infrequent expenses include gifts, holidays, vehicle repairs and registration, durable goods purchase, donations, and other. The difference between total income and total expenses is the income available.

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

Hugh Jackman ( Figure 11.20 ) may best be known for portraying a comic-book superhero who used his mutant abilities to protect the world from villains. But the Wolverine actor is also working to make the planet a better place for real, not through adamantium claws but through social entrepreneurship.

Photo of Hugh Jackman.

A love of java jolted Jackman into action in 2009, when he traveled to Ethiopia with a Christian humanitarian group to shoot a documentary about the impact of fair-trade certification on coffee growers there. He decided to launch a business and follow in the footsteps of the late Paul Newman, another famous actor turned philanthropist via food ventures.

Jackman launched Laughing Man Coffee two years later; he sold the line to Keurig in 2015. One Laughing Man Coffee café in New York continues to operate independently, investing its proceeds into charitable programs that support better housing, health, and educational initiatives within fair-trade farming communities. 55 Although the New York location is the only café, the coffee brand is still distributed, with Keurig donating an undisclosed portion of Laughing Man proceeds to those causes (whereas Jackman donates all his profits). The company initially donated its profits to World Vision, the Christian humanitarian group Jackman accompanied in 2009. In 2017, it created the Laughing Man Foundation to be more active with its money management and distribution.

  • You be the entrepreneur. If you were Jackman, would you have sold the company to Keurig? Why or why not?
  • Would you have started the Laughing Man Foundation?
  • What else can Jackman do to aid fair-trade practices for coffee growers?

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

Founded in 2014, Textbooks for Change uses a cross-compensation model, in which one customer segment pays for a product or service, and the profit from that revenue is used to provide the same product or service to another, underserved segment. Textbooks for Change partners with student organizations to collect used college textbooks, some of which are re-sold while others are donated to students in need at underserved universities across the globe. The organization has reused or recycled 250,000 textbooks, providing 220,000 students with access through seven campus partners in East Africa. This B-corp social enterprise tackles a problem and offers a solution that is directly relevant to college students like yourself. Have you observed a problem on your college campus or other campuses that is not being served properly? Could it result in a social enterprise?

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

A franchisee of East Coast Wings, a chain with dozens of restaurants in the United States, has decided to part ways with the chain. The new store will feature the same basic sports-bar-and-restaurant concept and serve the same basic foods: chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and the like. The new restaurant can’t rely on the same distributors and suppliers. A new business plan is needed.

  • What steps should the new restaurant take to create a new business plan?
  • Should it attempt to serve the same customers? Why or why not?

This New York Times video, “An Unlikely Business Plan,” describes entrepreneurial resurgence in Detroit, Michigan.

  • 48 Chris Guillebeau. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future . New York: Crown Business/Random House, 2012.
  • 49 Jonathan Chan. “What These 4 Startup Case Studies Can Teach You about Failure.” Foundr.com . July 12, 2015. https://foundr.com/4-startup-case-studies-failure/
  • 50 Amy Feldman. “Inventor of the Cut Buddy Paid YouTubers to Spark Sales. He Wasn’t Ready for a Video to Go Viral.” Forbes. February 15, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestreptalks/2017/02/15/inventor-of-the-cut-buddy-paid-youtubers-to-spark-sales-he-wasnt-ready-for-a-video-to-go-viral/#3eb540ce798a
  • 51 Jennifer Post. “National Business Plan Competitions for Entrepreneurs.” Business News Daily . August 30, 2018. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6902-business-plan-competitions-entrepreneurs.html
  • 52 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition . March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf
  • 53 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition. March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf; Based on 2019 RBPC Competition Rules and Format April 4–6, 2019. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2019-RBPC-Competition-Rules%20-Format.pdf
  • 54 Foodstart. http://foodstart.com
  • 55 “Hugh Jackman Journey to Starting a Social Enterprise Coffee Company.” Giving Compass. April 8, 2018. https://givingcompass.org/article/hugh-jackman-journey-to-starting-a-social-enterprise-coffee-company/

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  • Business plans

Develop your business plan

On this page

Why you need a business plan

Download a business plan template.

Whether you've just started out or have been running your business for years, business planning can be the key to your success. Having a business plan:

  • helps you to prioritise – it gives your business direction, defines your objectives, maps out how you'll achieve your goals and helps you to manage possible bumps in the road
  • gives you control over your business – the planning process helps you learn about the different things that could affect your success. If you're already in business, it helps you to step back and look at what's working and what you can improve on
  • helps you seek finance – if you're seeking finance for your business, you'll need to show banks and investors why they should invest in your business.

Use our Business plan template for detailed business planning or seeking finance.

Choose the Lean business plan template to quickly focus your business and set some goals for the year ahead.

Business plan template

Lean business plan template

Our templates step you through the process of developing a business plan with links to extra information if you need it.

If you're developing a detailed business plan, you may want to check our tips below before you start.

1. Determine what your plan is for

Does your business plan have more than one purpose? Will you use it internally, or will you share it externally, for example with potential investors or banks?

Deciding what the purpose is, can help you develop your plan for the right audience. If the plan has been developed for third parties, you will need to determine what they’ll be most interested in.

2. Prepare your finances

If you're looking for finance, lenders and investors will want to know if your finances are in order and your business is in a strong financial position. They'll want to know how much money you currently have, how much money you need and how much you expect to make in the near future. While a bit of extra funding will help you ensure you’re covered for unexpected costs, be realistic and avoid asking for more than you need.

If you're starting out and don't have financial information yet, our business plan template provides resources to help you get your finances ready.

3. Write your summary last

Summarise the main points of your business plan using as few words as possible. You want to get to the point but not overlook important facts. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, but don't overdo it. The summary should include details about your business, market, goals and what makes you different from other businesses.

4. Get help

Don't leave your business plan to the last minute. It takes time, research and careful preparation to develop an effective business plan.

If you aren't confident in completing the plan yourself, consider getting a professional to look over it and provide advice.

There are a number of government services available to help you plan, start or grow your business. These services can provide general advice, workshops, seminars and networking events, and can even match you with a mentor or business coach.

Get expert help from a business adviser in your area .

5. Review your plan regularly

As your business changes, your plan will need to change to ensure your business is still heading in the right direction. Having your plan up-to-date can keep you focused on where you are heading.

It's a good idea to keep a record of each version of your business plan.

6. Protect your plan

Having an understanding with third parties when distributing a plan could be enough protection for some businesses. But if you have innovative business practices, products or services, you may want people to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect your innovations.

It may also be a good idea to include some words in your plan asking the reader not to disclose the details of your plan.

Start writing and developing your marketing strategy.

Find out what you need to register for when starting a business..

Our live chat service is open from 8am - 8pm, Monday to Friday, across Australia (excluding public holidays).

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Basic Business Plan Structure

  • Small Business
  • Running a Business
  • Business Basics
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How to Start a Portable Concrete Pump Company

How to write a business plan for jewelry making, how to make a business plan presentation.

  • What Factors Make the Difference Between a Good Business Plan & an Excellent One?
  • What Is an Executive Summary Business Plan?

Business plans vary in content according to their intended purposes, but the basic format remains the same. It consists of three elements: First, discuss the business model and describe your products and services. Then place the business in its industry and discuss your intended marketplace, including your target customers and how you'll reach them, beating your competition.

Last, relate these plans to the real world, discussing your contingency plans and finishing off with spreadsheets detailing your anticipated sales, costs of doing business and resulting profits. Vary the basic format only to more clearly present the idea. Clarity is the most important quality of a business plan.

The Executive Summary

Written last, the executive summary is an outline of key points in your business plan, explains SmartyCents.com . More marketing-oriented than the basic plan, it's the tool you use to entice people to ask to see your full plan document. Length can vary from one page for a dense abstract to the venture summary style of approximately 10 pages.

Venture summaries are used in marketing your idea to venture investors and others who will respond better to charts, pictures and an evocative approach to describing your business. Keep the presentation free of hyperbole, or your plan will appear more fanciful than realistic.

The Business Model

A description of the business model makes an effective start for your business plan. It can consists of several business plan areas. Begin with an introduction to the industry and your mission statement. Title your first section "Company Description" and include all the pertinent facts, such as your incorporation or other legal business status, licenses, trademarks and patents.

"Business Model" comes next. In this section, describe your products and services, how you intend to make money and why the business is relevant. A description of your management team can be added to this section, if you have an impressive team. If not, the "Management" section is often placed just before the "Financial Projections" section.

Your Marketing Model

"Marketing Model" contains a section titled "Target Market" in which you describe the demographics, psychographics and buying habits of your target market and why your product and service will appeal to it. Next, "Marketing Plan" is a detailed description of your marketing strategy and tactical methods of attracting business.

Finish with your "Competition" section, in which you list your competitors, with a realistic appraisal of their strengths, how your company compares and your strategic and tactical plans for developing and maintaining market share in your competitive niche.

Build-Out Model

In the "Build-Out" section, outline the steps to launching your company, if you're pitching a startup. It's appropriate to include benchmarks and a timeline. Investors also appreciate a discussion of how your costs of development and operations fit into the timeline and when revenues enter the equation.

For a business plan dealing with expansion, this section should detail the road map to your final goal. In an operational business plan, human resources, contract development, corporate change and administrative reorganization can be mapped.

Any Contingency Plans

It's always a good idea to include a section on what you'll do if your plans don't seem to be working out as expected – particularly if you're planning a startup. This is the place to insert a SWOT analysis – a discussion of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing your business goals. It's also another appropriate spot to discuss costs and how you plan to cover them or cut them if revenues or investments don't materialize as hoped.

Financial Projections

The final section contains financial projections, explains Entrepreneur magazine. Standard are sales projections, a personnel plan, a profit and loss statement, a cash flow statement and a balance sheet. If your company is already in operation, include current financials along with the pro forma financials.

  • Entrepreneur:An Introduction to Business Plans
  • SmartyCents.com: How to Write a Business Plan the Right Way

Victoria Duff specializes in entrepreneurial subjects, drawing on her experience as an acclaimed start-up facilitator, venture catalyst and investor relations manager. Since 1995 she has written many articles for e-zines and was a regular columnist for "Digital Coast Reporter" and "Developments Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public administration from the University of California at Berkeley.

Related Articles

How to develop a one-year business plan, how to create a business plan for expansion, the breakdown of a marketing plan, how to write a comprehensive business plan, how do i write a three-year business plan, 6 types of business plans, what are the key elements of a business plan, how to understand a business plan, different parts of a business plan, most popular.

  • 1 How to Develop a One-Year Business Plan
  • 2 How to Create a Business Plan for Expansion
  • 3 The Breakdown of a Marketing Plan
  • 4 How to Write a Comprehensive Business Plan

8. Make your business legal

  • Business structure
  • Register business name
  • Register for a DBA
  • Employer identification number
  • Business partnership agreement
  • Permits and licenses
  • Intellectual property
  • Business taxes
  • Business insurance
  • Business laws
  • UK businesses

How to choose your business structure

Vector of a building represents choosing your business structure.

Types of Business Structures Explained

The choice you make about what type of business structure is appropriate for your company will affect how much you pay in taxes, the level of risk or liability to your personal assets (your house, your savings), and even your ability to raise money from angel investors or venture capitalists.

So, the structure you choose is significant.

This guide will explain the basics of common business structures, but we can’t tell you exactly which structure you should choose—if you need that kind of advice, you should consult a lawyer or an accountant.

On this page

Sole proprietorship

The simplest business structure is the sole proprietorship. If you don’t create a separate legal entity, your business is a sole proprietorship. 

The main advantage of the sole proprietorship is that it’s relatively simple and inexpensive. The disadvantage is that it doesn’t create a legal separation between you and your personal assets and business assets. If you’re sued or your business folds—your personal assets are fair game for creditors and in terms of legal liability.

Who is a sole proprietorship for?

A sole proprietorship is ideal for self-employed individuals like personal trainers offering individual coaching or artists selling unique items on platforms like Etsy.

Key considerations

  • Cost-effective setup: The primary expense is usually the DBA (“doing business as”) registration. Some states may require public notice, like a newspaper ad. Generally, the total cost is below $100.
  • Simplified taxation: Sole proprietorships are “pass-through” tax entities. Profits and losses are reported directly on the owner’s taxes, necessitating only a few additional tax forms if you’re the sole worker.
  • Hiring employees is possible: Being a “sole” proprietor doesn’t restrict hiring. If you employ others, tax processes become slightly more intricate.
  • Limited ways to raise funding: You can’t sell company stock, limiting fundraising avenues.
  • Potential loan difficulties: Banks might hesitate to grant loans to sole proprietorships due to perceived credibility issues.
  • Full personal liability: If the business faces debt or legal issues, your personal assets, including your home, car, and savings, are vulnerable.

Dig deeper:

Should you register as a sole proprietorship?

Explore the pros and cons of incorporating as a sole proprietorship.

How sole proprietorships are taxed

Understand how registering as a sole proprietor impacts your taxes.


Still a relatively simple business structure, a partnership involves two or more individuals sharing ownership of their new business. They’ll contribute to the business in some way and share in profits and losses.

Partnerships are harder to describe because they change so much. State laws govern them, but the Uniform Partnership Act has become the law in most states. That act, however, mainly sets the specific partnership agreement as the real legal core of the partnership so that the legal details can vary widely.

Usually, the income or loss from partnerships passes through to the partners without any partnership tax. The agreements can define different levels of risk, which is why you’ll read about some partnerships with general and limited partners, with different levels of risk for each. Your partnership agreement should clearly define what happens if a partner withdraws, buy and sell arrangements for partners and liquidation arrangements if necessary.

What are the types of partnerships?

  • General partnership: Assumes equal involvement of all parties in profits, liabilities, and duties. Any intentional imbalance should be specified in the partnership agreement.
  • Limited partnership: Suited for partners in an investor role with limited involvement in daily operations. This structure is more complex and less common.
  • Joint venture: Designed for a single project or a limited duration, operating similarly to a general partnership.

Who is a partnership for?

A partnership is similar to an extended sole proprietorship and is ideal for two or more individuals wanting to start a business jointly. 

To make the partnership more effective, you and your partners should have skillsets, connections, or other unique benefits that complement each other. 

For example, a personal trainer and nutritionist building an online fitness program. One entrepreneur has experience building an exercise regiment with clients. The other understands how to create balanced meal and supplement recommendations. 

They have unique but complementary knowledge that, when combined, creates a more valuable product/service.

  • Partnership agreement: While not mandatory, it’s advisable to draft a partnership agreement, ideally reviewed by legal counsel, to clarify roles and responsibilities, ownership, and what will happen if a partner wants to leave the partnership.
  • Tax implications: Partnerships are “pass-through” entities, meaning profits and losses are directly passed to the partners. Refer to the IRS for partnership tax details.
  • Additional costs: Since it’s a good idea to have a lawyer look over your partnership agreement, don’t forget to factor in this added expense.
  • Trust in partnership: Ensure your partner is trustworthy, as partners share responsibility for business decisions and debts. A well-drafted partnership agreement can prevent future conflicts.

How to create a business partnership agreement

Even if you’re not in an official partnership, you should consider drafting a partnership agreement. Doing so will clearly define rights and responsibilities and help you amicably resolve any disputes.

How partnerships are taxed

Understand how registering as a partnership impacts your taxes.

Plan for changes with a buy-sell agreement

What will you do if you or your partner quits, sells their portion of the business, or passes away?

How to find the right business partner

A partnership is more than a legal structure. It’s a relationship between entrepreneurs who share a passion for an idea and bring unique skill sets. So, how do you find the right person to make your partnership thrive?…

Traits to look for in a business partner

What makes a good business partner? If you’re considering someone with the following traits, you likely have a good fit.

How many partners should you have?

What’s the ideal number of business partners? The right mix of people and skillsets can lead to tremendous business growth. But too many may lead to disaster.

What to do when your business partner is your life partner

Should your significant other be your business partner? Learn your legal options and how to find the right ownership fit for your business and relationship.

Limited liability company

Should your business fall on hard times, does the idea of being held personally responsible for all losses sound intimidating?

It’s understandable—plenty of would-be entrepreneurs shudder at the thought of the bank seizing their personal assets should the business go south.

A limited liability corporation (or LLC) is, in some ways, the best of both worlds. It allows for the flexibility of a partnership or sole proprietorship but, as the name suggests, limits the liability of those involved, similar to a corporation. An LLC is usually a lot like an S corporation. It offers a combination of some limitations on legal liability and some favorable tax treatment for profits and transfer of assets.

Who is a limited liability corporation for?

An LLC is ideal for those wary of personal liability in business. If you possess significant personal assets or operate in a lawsuit-prone industry—an LLC safeguards your personal finances. 

  • Complexity: While offering more protection, an LLC is harder to establish than a sole proprietorship or partnership.
  • Tax benefits: LLCs maintain “pass-through” tax status, meaning you’re taxed only on your profit share, which is reported on personal taxes. 
  • Single-member LLCs: Most states allow single-person LLCs, making it a potential alternative to sole proprietorships.

How to form a limited liability company

Interested in forming an LLC? Here are the steps you’ll need to take.

How to create an LLC operating agreement

Set the rules for how your LLC will operate, including the management structure, individual responsibilities, ownership percentage, and other important information.

LLC costs and fees explained

Make sure you’re aware of all the costs and fees associated with forming an LLC.

How LLCs are taxed

Understand how registering as an LLC impacts your taxes.


Shareholders, a more complex legal structure, and more intricate tax requirements are all characteristics of a corporation.

Corporations are either the standard C corporation, the small business S corporation, or the benefit corporation or B corp. The C corporation is the classic legal entity of the vast majority of successful companies in the United States.

Corporations can switch from C to S and back again, but not often. The IRS has strict rules for when and how those switches are made. You’ll almost always want to have your CPA, and in some cases, your attorney, guide you through the legal requirements for switching.

Who is a corporation for?

Corporations are best suited for larger, established businesses with multiple employees, plans for rapid scaling, or intentions to trade or attract significant external investments publicly. A corporation might not be the right choice if you’re a small business owner or work with a small team.

Start your plan

What are the types of corporations?

C corporation.

What we typically think of when we refer to corporations, where all shareholders combine funds and are then given stock in the newly formed business. 

A C corp is a separate tax entity, meaning your business can deduct taxes. It also means that earnings can be taxed twice, as they are concerning your business and your personal taxes if you take income as dividends. However, good tax planning can often minimize the impact of double taxation.

Most lawyers would agree (but verify this with your lawyer who is familiar with your unique business) that the C corporation is the structure that provides the best shielding from personal liability for owners, and provides the best non-tax benefits to owners. Many companies with ambitions of raising major investment capital and eventually going public consider the C corporation.

S corporation

An S corp is similar to a traditional C corporation, with one major difference: Profits and losses can be “passed through” to your personal tax return without being taxed separately first.

In practical terms, the owners can take their profits home without first paying the corporation’s separate tax on profits. In most states, an S corporation is owned by a limited number of private owners (25 is a common maximum), and only individuals (not corporations) can hold stock in S corporations.

To become an S corp, you must first set your business up as a corporation within your state and then request S corp status. The IRS instructions for Form 2553 (which you’ll need to file to become an S corp) can help you determine if you qualify.

B corporation

Does your company have a dedicated social mission, a good cause built into its foundation that you’d like to continue furthering as your company grows? If so, you might consider becoming a B corporation, which stands for “benefit corporation.” 

However, the name is a bit misleading; a B corp isn’t an entirely different structure than a regular C corporation. It’s a C corp vetted and approved for B corp status. Some states give tax breaks to B corps, and it’s a great way to stand behind a cause.

So, why would you choose a B corp over a nonprofit? The biggest difference is in ownership—with a nonprofit, no owners or shareholders exist. A B corp, which is still a type of corporation, still has shareholders who own the company. So, a B corp has a social mission but is still a for-profit company (as opposed to a nonprofit) with an end goal of returning profits to the shareholders.

  • Liability: Corporations offer the most protection for personal assets.
  • Capital raising: The ability to sell stock enhances investment potential.
  • Taxation: Corporate taxes are separate (except for S corps), but the structure can lead to double taxation, especially for C corporations.
  • Complexity: Establishing a corporation is more intricate than other business structures, requiring more paperwork and formalities.

How to form a corporation

Follow these ten steps to incorporate as a C, S, or B corporation.

How are corporations taxed?

Understand how registering as a corporation impacts your taxes.

S corporation basics

Should you choose an S corp as the legal structure for your business? Learn the basics and what alternatives are available.

B corporation basics

Should you choose a B corp as the legal structure for your business? Check out this detailed overview of how this business entity functions and the pros and cons you’ll contend with.

A nonprofit is a “not-for-profit” business structure, meaning the business does not exist to generate revenue for shareholders, but rather funnel business revenue into a social mission, cause, or purpose.

Who is a nonprofit for?

Nonprofits cater to those with missions centered on charitable, educational, scientific, or religious purposes. Examples include homeless shelters, conservation groups, arts centers, and educational institutions.

What’s the difference between a nonprofit and a cooperative?

Like a nonprofit, a cooperative is a business with a social mission that doesn’t divide income between shareholders but toward a cause or purpose. However, while some states view nonprofits and cooperatives as the same, a cooperative differs because the members own it, referred to as “user-owners.”

If you plan on organizing your business to be democratically owned, looking into the cooperative business structure might be a good idea to look into the cooperative business structure .

  • Complex setup: Establishing a nonprofit requires steps similar to forming a corporation, including filing articles of incorporation, creating bylaws, and organizing board meetings.
  • Fundraising will be your main priority: Nonprofits generally rely on fundraising and grants to keep a flow of income into their business.

What is a nonprofit corporation and how to start one

Learn the basics of setting up a nonprofit corporation.

How to earn income as a nonprofit corporation

Learn how related and unrelated business activities can generate revenue for a nonprofit corporation.

Making your business legally compliant

Choosing a business structure is the first legal step you’ll take. Your choice will impact your taxes, fundraising, and personal liability. 

Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software (maker of Bplans) reminds small business and startup founders that choosing a business entity or structure is something to take seriously. He says:

“Make sure you know which legal steps you must take to be in business. I’m not an attorney, and I don’t give legal advice. I strongly recommend working with an attorney to review the details of your company’s legal establishment and licensing. The trade-offs involved in incorporation versus partnership versus other structures are significant. Small problems developed at the early stages of a new business can become horrendous problems later on. In this regard, the cost of simple legal advice is almost always worth it. Don’t skimp on legal costs.”

TLDR: Take time, carefully weigh your options, and consult a legal professional.

Once you’ve chosen, check off the remaining legal requirements to start a business. While you can complete most of these in any order, here are a few suggestions.

  • Apply for a federal and state tax ID
  • Obtain licenses and permits
  • Register your business name

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Small Business Trends

How to start a lawn care business.

A lawn care business is an excellent way to become an entrepreneur and be your own boss. Homeowners are multitasking more and more and they need these services. Small businesses always want to make a great first impression with a well-manicured lawn.

This blog will walk you through everything you need to know about how to start a lawn care business, from equipment selection to initial planning and marketing, plus customer retention.

The Basics of a Lawn Care Business

The lawn care industry is doing well. In 2021 alone, it grew by 5.3% and outpaced the overall economy. Lawns usually need ongoing maintenance, and cross-selling opportunities like pest control exist.

business plan basic structure

What is a Lawn Care Business?

A lawn care business does several things, like regular grass cutting. Other services include control and fertilization plus pest and disease control, to name a few. The potential clients include residential homeowners and commercial properties. Recreational facilities, schools, and hospitals can also be clients.

Why Lawn Care Services Are Essential

Lawn care services play a pivotal role in enhancing outdoor spaces’ aesthetic appeal and health. A well-maintained lawn not only boosts the overall visual appeal of a property but also provides various environmental and health benefits. Lawns act as natural filters, capturing dust, smoke particles, and other pollutants to provide cleaner air.

Additionally, they help prevent soil erosion, reduce noise pollution, and even increase a property’s value. Engaging in regular lawn care ensures that these green spaces remain vibrant, healthy, and beneficial for both the environment and the residents of the property.

  • Aesthetic Appeal: A well-maintained lawn beautifies the surroundings and creates a pleasant outdoor environment.
  • Environmental Benefits: Lawns act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, thereby supporting cleaner air.
  • Soil Protection: Healthy grass roots hold the soil together, preventing erosion and runoff, especially during heavy rains.
  • Noise Reduction: Lawns can significantly reduce noise pollution by absorbing and deflecting sounds.
  • Property Value: A beautifully maintained lawn can increase a property’s market value and curb appeal.
  • Recreation and Well-being: Green, well-kept lawns provide spaces for recreational activities and have been shown to reduce stress and promote well-being.
  • Temperature Regulation: Lawns can act as natural coolants, reducing the surrounding temperature and minimizing the heat island effect in urban areas.
  • Habitat for Wildlife: Healthy lawns can provide habitats for various small creatures and support local biodiversity.

Steps to Launch Your Own Lawn Care Business

Following are the steps for how to start a business and offer lawn care services to your community.

Evaluating Your Market: Commercial vs. Residential Lawn Care

how to start a lawn care business

You need to know the differences between serving residential and commercial clients.

  • Residential properties are usually smaller. They are simpler to look after. Commercial clients need more services, including an irrigation system and more frequent visits.
  • The contracts are different, too. Residential clients might only want seasonal or one-time services. Commercial clients are looking for more long-term agreements.

Drafting a Business Plan

how to start a lawn care business

A business plan offers financial projections and background information. These can help you define your objectives and attract investors like banks and potential partners.

Components include:

  • The executive summary.
  • The business description.
  • Marketing strategy and analysis
  • The services and products.
  • A competitive analysis
  • Financial projections.

Business plans can help you get funding and create a marketing roadmap.

Choosing a Business Structure

how to start a lawn care business

You have several common business structures to choose from.

  • The sole proprietor is easy to set up and you have full control over the business. Personal liability is one of the downsides.
  • A partnership has more potential for resources. It can be difficult to transfer ownership with these.
  • A limited liability company has a flexible management structure and pass-through taxation. However, having a few members means tax complications.
  • A Corporation has strong liability protections in place. The con here is complex regulations and legal requirements.

Securing Financing

how to start a lawn care business

Here’s a list of some of the financing options available.


Bootstrapping can entail contributions from family and personal savings used to start a business.

Venture Capital

These companies invest in startups with good potential and ask for equity in exchange. You get access to investors with experience.

These usually have strict credit criteria.

Small Business Administration Loans

These government-backed loans have longer repayment times.


Kickstarter is an example. This is a way to raise funds from a large group of people. Managing the campaigns takes time.

Designing an Effective Lawn Care Website

how to start a lawn care business

Websites are a cost-effective way to get global exposure. A carefully designed site is available 24/7.

An effective website has good branding that uses consistent messaging logos. Research the top landscaping business name ideas and select one that suits your offerings. Then, purchase a domain to match. The user-friendly design should be good for tablets, mobile devices, and desktops. Ensure it’s optimized for SEO, and follow this website startup guide for other tips.

Creating a Unique Brand Identity for Your Lawn Care Company

how to start a lawn care business

Good branding for your company increases exposure.

  • A good logo is simple and clean. Establish clear guidelines on consistency as to where and how it gets used.
  • Colors make a big difference. They need to meet accessibility standards. Using at least one primary color in the logo for any lawn care business is a good idea.
  • Include a mission statement as the driving force behind your branding. It should be concise and clear.

Securing Essential Lawn Care Equipment

how to start a lawn care business

Of course, you need landscaping tools and equipment to get started.

A Lawn Mower and Other Tools

Smaller lawns only need a walk-behind lawn mower unit. Bigger commercial properties might require a riding mower.

Keeping lawns in good shape means having professional edgers and trimmers. A good blower will clean up debris like leaves and grass clippings. Working with bushes and trees means getting a pair of pruning shears. Don’t forget personal safety equipment like glasses and gloves and ear protection.

Buying Or Renting

Lawn care companies must decide whether buying or renting is the best choice. Buying the equipment means you’ll have it whenever you need it. However, there is a significant investment at first.

Renting usually has maintenance included. However, there are no assets to sell later on.

Pricing and Service Packages

how to start a lawn care business

Good lawn care businesses offer basic, standard, and premium packages that give customers a choice.

Legal and Licensing Considerations

how to start a lawn care business

Consider the following:

  • A Business License allows you to operate in your city or county.
  • A Landscaper Contractor License may be required if you plan on doing landscaping work.
  • Some areas will need a Water Use Permit.
  • General Liability Insurance covers your business in the event of property damage or personal injury.

There can be other requirements too, depending on the scope of your business.

Hiring and Training

how to start a lawn care business

Consider hiring extra staff during peak demand seasons in the spring and summer. Be sure to train them in proper safety procedures for equipment.

Social media and industry-specific websites are good recruitment channels to start with.

Developing a Service Menu

how to start a lawn care business

A service list might look like this.

  • Lawn Mowing and Fertilization
  • Weed Control
  • Insect and Pest Control
  • Lawn Aeration

For each of these and others, you should highlight the convenience of the service and your expertise. Explain the benefits of other features like flower bed maintenance and mulching.

Obtaining Licenses and Permits

how to start a lawn care business

Licenses and permits can vary depending on the state you’re in. There are some general ones you should look into like:

A Business License

This allows you to operate in a legal manner in your jurisdiction.

Sales Tax Permit

You might need one to remit and collect sales tax.

Zoning Permits

Your business needs to comply with local zoning requirements.

Look into Lawn Care Business Insurance

how to start a lawn care business

Several categories are under the small business insurance banner, like general liability insurance. This covers your business from third-party claims of damage and bodily injury. If you hire employees, lawn care businesses need Workmen’s Compensation insurance.

Property insurance is important to protect your inventory and equipment.

Building a Client Contract

how to start a lawn care business

Make sure to add in the contract details, like additional charges for special services and the frequency of visits. Be specific about the services, like weed control and mowing.

Implementing a Booking and Scheduling System

how to start a lawn care business

A digital system streamlines appointments and provides real-time updates.

Formulating an Environmentally Friendly Approach

how to start a lawn care business

Remember, environmentally conscious clients are looking for sustainable practices. Reduce the need for chemical treatments and water consumption.

Networking and Building Industry Relationships

how to start a lawn care business

Establishing local connections builds trust. Gaining knowledge from others in the industry helps you to stay updated.

Safety Protocols and Equipment Maintenance

how to start a lawn care business

Detailed records of equipment inspections, repairs, and maintenance are important. Regular safety meetings to review procedures are critical.

Setting Up a Business Bank Account

how to start a lawn care business

Separate personal and business finances for tax purposes. Supply an employee identification number (EIN) for the IRS.

Effective Marketing for Your Lawn Care Business

how to start a lawn care business

So what is marketing for a lawn care service? Effective strategies include both online and offline elements . For example:

  • Advertise in local newspapers.
  • Network at business events.
  • Create a professional website showcasing your services.
  • Google ads and Facebook ads work, too.

Building a Loyal Clientele

how to start a lawn care business

Retaining clients is about effective communication and consistent quality service. Offer seasonal maintenance plans and loyalty programs.

Continuous Learning and Upgrading

how to start a lawn care business

Staying on top of industry trends will help your company to grow. You’ll learn about environmental regulations as well as new techniques and equipment. Consider joining a professional organization.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Lawn Care Business?

Generally, a start-up costs between $1,450 and $2,500.

  • A basic mower goes from $200 to $400. Hand tools like a shovel and rake cost up to $400.
  • Marketing can set you back anywhere from $200-$500 for ads and flyers.

Other costs include business licensing or registration and your vehicle.

What is the Profit Margin for a Successful Lawn Care Business?

A one-man operation can have profit margins of around 15 to 20%. The higher overhead costs and additional labor mean bigger businesses have a lower margin of around 10 to 12%.

What Challenges May a Lawn Care Business Owner Face?

A lawn care company operates in an industry that might seem straightforward on the surface but can be fraught with numerous challenges, including the following:

  • Unpredictable Weather Patterns: Weather affects grass growth pest activity and can delay scheduled jobs.
  • Increased Competition: A surge in new startups and other competitors can make it challenging to secure clients and differentiate services.
  • Fluctuating Fuel Prices: Any rise in fuel costs directly influences the operating costs, especially for companies with heavy machinery and transportation requirements.
  • Labor Issues: Recruiting, training, and retaining skilled workers can be challenging due to the physical nature of the job and its seasonality.
  • Staying Updated: Keeping up with the latest in landscaping techniques, eco-friendly practices, and local regulations requires continuous learning and adaptation.

Tips from Lawn Care Professionals: Ensuring Success in Your Business

Here’s some advice gathered from budding entrepreneurs.

  • Stay updated on different regulations and best practices. Get the information you need from industry publications and conferences.
  • Be willing to adjust your business strategy as the market changes.

FAQ: Starting a Lawn Mowing Business

Is a lawn care service a good business to start.

Yes, starting a landscaping business can provide access to steady income. And you can gradually scale up.

Is Lawn Mowing Business a Good Side Hustle?

This is a good side hustle because there are low start-up costs. Use the post above as a business startup checklist .

Is it Essential to Have a Background in Horticulture to be a Lawn Care Professional?

It’s not an essential qualification but this expertise gives you in-depth knowledge of soils and landscaping.

Which State has the Longest Lawn Mowing Season?

Florida has the longest mowing season. It can extend through most of the year.

How can Seasonal Downtimes be handled in the Lawn Care industry?

Adding on off-season services like snow removal or holiday light installation can help. You might also look into other types of businesses with a year-round model. For example, research how to start a handyman business.

Image: Envato Elements

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i24 News – Negotiations to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia are making significant progress, according to a White…

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives US President Joe Biden at Al Salman Palace upon his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022. Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

i24 News – Negotiations to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia are making significant progress, according to a White House spokesperson, who indicated that a “basic structure” for a future agreement has been established.

During a press briefing, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated, “The parties have outlined a basic structure for where we could move forward.”

He added that, as with any complex agreement, compromises would need to be made, although he did not provide further details.

The Biden administration has been actively promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. This would include the oil-rich monarchy receiving American security assurances in exchange for recognizing Israel. Recent developments suggest that negotiations are intensifying.

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Early on September 19, Azerbaijan's president set in motion a lightning-fast military plan months in the making that would redraw...

This week marked the first public visit of an Israeli minister to Saudi Arabia , while Saudi Arabia sent an official delegation to the West Bank for the first time in over thirty years. The delegation assured Palestinians that Saudi Arabia would continue to support their cause, even in the event of normalization.

An agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia would align with the Abraham Accords, which were brokered in 2020 and established diplomatic relations between Israel and three Arab countries under the previous U.S. President, Donald Trump.

Reports suggest that discussions primarily revolve around the nature and extent of security guarantees that the United States would provide to Saudi Arabia, which is de facto governed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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