BUSINESS STRATEGIES

9 business strategy examples (and why you need one ASAP)

  • Amanda Bellucco Chatham
  • Dec 14, 2023

business strategy examples

Most successful businesses start with a good idea. In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had the idea to make computers small enough to fit into people's homes and offices. Enter Apple, now the largest tech company in the world. 

But good ideas alone aren’t the catalyst to success—behind the scenes, a business strategy is at work. And a business strategy is something you need in order to complete the big picture and define how you plan to grow, operate and thrive.

In this post, we’ll define what we mean by business strategy, outline why it’s important and provide some tangible business strategy examples.

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What is a business strategy?

A business strategy is a plan of action that keeps you focused on several things. Different from a business plan—which dictates how your business will be run from day to day—a business strategy tends to focus more on how, exactly, you will reach certain goals, milestones or achievements in running your business. 

You need a strategy when you want to start a business , as well as when you’re planning to grow or change an existing business. Your strategy defines your business goals and provides a framework for all of the moving pieces your venture needs to operate successfully.  

A business strategy typically includes the following elements:

Core product or service : What you're selling, your business idea or your service.

Target customer : A clear profile of who your business serves, including the problem that your product or service solves for them.

Competitive assessment : A summary of the competitive landscape including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis). 

Financial plan : A financial projection that includes planned revenue, expenses and cash flow. 

Pricing approach : Your preliminary pricing for products and services offered, or your pricing approach (e.g., flat fee, hourly, fee-for-service, etc.).

Marketing and sales plan : An outline of how you plan to market your products and business, including a rough budget for paid media, details on how to make a website  and anything related to business promotion. It should also define some sales strategies focused on language meant to promote and differentiate your brand.

Staffing and hiring : An org chart that defines roles and hiring needs. Include any resources and personnel you have on hand (e.g. Is it just you? Is it a partnership?).

Growth objectives : A business growth  plan that incorporates your current goals, plus where you'd like the business to be in the next one, two or five years (e.g., markets, number of customers, revenue projections, etc.).

Pro tip : A business strategy and business plan go hand in hand in shaping the goals, objectives and achievements of your business. Looking for a business plan  instead? Check out our simple, customizable and free-to-download template.

8 key elements of a business strategy

3 types of business strategies

Any successful business starts with a roadmap that outlines how goals will be achieved. However, not all strategies are created equal. Let's take a look at three types of business strategies that can drive your business toward sustainable growth:

Corporate-level business strategy : This high-level strategy includes the company's vision, mission and key decisions. This might involve business choices, acquisitions or divestments, and resource allocation, for example.

Business-level strategy : A business-level strategy determines how a company competes in a market, considering product mix, customer segments, pricing, marketing and distribution. It aims to deliver value to customers and outperform competitors.

Function-level business strategy : A functional strategy focuses on the operational aspects of a business, like production, marketing, finance and human resources (HR). It supports corporate and business-level strategies by maximizing resource productivity.

Why a business strategy is important

Starting any type of business isn't for the faint of heart. There are many predictable and unpredictable factors to prepare for at every stage of growth. That’s why you need a business strategy to keep you on track.

As far as benefits go, a business strategy:

Helps you navigate market complexities : It provides a roadmap for staying ahead of the competition, plus external factors like supply chain issues and global events that may impact the market.

Provides insight into your customers' needs : When you know their pain points, you can align your strategy with real-world preferences and demands. 

Helps you anticipate small business challenges : Knowing about potential opportunities and issues will help you adapt to market changes—and be more resilient overall. 

Makes long-term success much more likely : A thoughtful plan takes the guesswork out of things like hiring, investing, growth and innovation.

9 business strategy examples

So, what does a business strategy look like? We’ve outlined nine examples below to inspire you as you iron out the blueprint for your business’s success.

Customer experience 

Cross-selling and upselling

Customer retention programs

Cost leadership

Differentiation

Acquisition

Social responsibility

01. Customer experience 

Companies like Zappos, Starbucks and Amazon are known for their exceptional customer experiences. They prioritize customer satisfaction, make doing business with them easy and (in the case of Starbucks) turn something as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee on your way to work into an immersive and satisfying sensory experience. 

Customer experience, as a business strategy, is beneficial for any small business owner . It creates loyal repeat customers who tend to become brand advocates, recommending your business, products and brand to their network of friends and family. 

02. Cross-selling and upselling

Focusing on selling more products to existing and new customers is a strategy that, if successful, has a direct and immediate impact on your cash flow, revenue and profitability. There are many ways to do this, including cross-selling and upselling  to shoppers as they browse your website, bundling similar products and using loyalty programs to entice past customers to return. 

Old Navy is a master of motivating return sales. Their Super Cash program awards shoppers $10 for every $25 spent on their website or in stores. The coupons become active at a later date, which encourages shoppers to hang onto them and return to shop again in the future.

Your rewards program doesn’t have to be elaborate, either. Wix merchant Jule Dancewear  offers customers five reward points for every $1 spent in the shop, with bonus points awarded for following the brand on Instagram or celebrating a birthday. Customers can then redeem their points for a certain dollar amount or percentage off a future purchase. 

jule dancewear homepage

03. Customer retention programs

Creating more customer loyalty is a viable and lucrative business strategy. It’s often more cost-effective to focus on retaining customers than constantly finding new ones. In fact, most brands have a 60-70% chance  of selling to an existing customer, but only a 5-20% chance of closing a sale with a new one.

Loyalty comes in many forms—e.g., retail loyalty programs that reward shoppers with coupons and discounts, or points systems like airline miles on credit cards. You build loyalty by being trustworthy, communicating clearly and creating high-quality products. Consistency is also key to building ongoing relationships. 

Perhaps no one does this better than Amazon with their Amazon Prime program. Customers buy into the program for a monthly or annual fee and are guaranteed fast, free shipping from Amazon sellers who opt into the program. Returns are also easy and Prime members get lots of other benefits, including a huge catalog of movie and TV shows, exclusive sales events and unlimited photo storage.

04. Cost leadership

Cost leadership is a strategy where a company offers the lowest prices in a niche or market. Companies like Walmart and IKEA are famous examples. They've mastered this strategy by offering products at prices lower than their competitors, while still maintaining profitability. 

This strategy isn't for everyone. Walmart's size gives it more leverage over suppliers (and wholesale pricing) versus a local mom-and-pop store. But even if you manage a smaller business, you can make a cost leadership strategy work by keeping costs low, creating your own products and being (incredibly) vigilant about your business costs. This is a strategy that takes a lot of planning and monitoring, so it’s important to do your research before jumping in.

05. Innovation

Innovation tends to be connected to categories like technology, pharmaceutical and business services industries. It's a business strategy that focuses on creating cutting-edge products or services that are either brand new (e.g., in 2007, Apple’s iPhone was the first smartphone introduced to a huge market of people who didn’t know they needed it) or best-in-class products or services in an existing market. 

Innovation, as a business strategy, isn’t limited to products or services. It can apply to a business approach—in other words, the way you offer your product or service. A perfect example of this is the rise of meal kit delivery services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. These companies provide “meal kits'' with fresh ingredients delivered as a subscription service to their customers (e.g., three meals per week). Or, take a look at Wix merchant Napa Wild , which offers weekly subscription shipments of fresh produce to areas surrounding Napa County, California. Their produce boxes are available in three different sizes to suit different households.

Some companies, like Tovala, include technology with their delivery service. Tovala’s smart oven works by scanning a barcode on the pre-made meal so that the cooking time and temperature are automatically set in the oven. When the meal is complete, the customer is notified via the Tovala app.

Napa Wild produce subscription box

06. Differentiation

Differentiation is about making your business stand out compared with your competitors. You do this by providing something uniquely special about your product design, features or quality. You can also differentiate yourself by creating a unique and meaningful brand story. When done well, differentiation gives you a lot of flexibility around pricing and approach—including the types of products and services you offer. An effective differentiation strategy helps your customers identify with your brand. They are either Coke drinkers or Pepsi drinkers, for example.

Or, take Starbucks as an example. Lots of places sell coffee, but Starbucks has taken coffee to an entirely new level with uniquely crafted (and premium-priced) drinks that are as much about lifestyle and identity as they are about getting your daily caffeine fix. 

07. Acquisition

Acquisition is a business strategy that involves purchasing another company (or companies) to fuel growth, expand market share or be more competitive. Acquisition can be a game-changer for your business, allowing you to quickly tap into new markets, acquire valuable assets and eliminate competition. 

Companies like Meta (formerly named Facebook) have effectively used acquisition as a strategy to maintain their dominance in the social media space. By acquiring platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp, Meta expanded its user base. It also diversified its offerings, ensuring it remains relevant even when other platforms like MySpace and Friendster have flamed out over time.

Acquisition as a primary strategy isn’t for the faint of heart. You need a deep understanding of each of your target company's operations, culture, financial health and customer base. Integrating two companies can also be complex and stressful. There are often issues with merging technologies, company cultures and aligning operations. Thus, conduct thorough due diligence before making an acquisition or you could end up turning a beloved global brand into a classic example of what not to do when acquiring a legacy company.

08. Social responsibility

Social responsibility is important to all consumers, but particularly Millennial and Gen Z consumers  who often evaluate companies and products based on environmental impact and sustainability. Social responsibility helps businesses differentiate themselves because it fosters community, protects the environment and ensures you’re prioritizing ethical practices throughout your operations.

In fact, according to a Deloitte survey, a quarter of consumers  are willing to pay more  for sustainable products and packaging, or for products or services from suppliers that respect human rights and ethical working conditions.

Two examples stand out here—Patagonia and TOMS Shoes. Both companies built their brands around social responsibility. Patagonia pledges 1% of its sales to environmental causes and is well-known by its loyal customers for being sustainable and supporting the lifestyle it promotes (loving the outdoors). Meanwhile, TOMS Shoes has a "One for One" model, donating a pair of shoes for every pair sold.

Patagonia screenshot

Value is subjective, but it can be a guiding light that helps new customers find you and inspires existing customers to return time after time. With a value-based strategy, the goal is to present something that is not just different but also has significant worth or meaning (or both) to your target audience. 

Apple doesn't just sell technology; they sell an entire ecosystem. Apple products resonate with customers because Apple is as much about a lifestyle as it is about a device or feature. Their products, while technologically advanced, are aesthetically pleasing, easy to use and integrate seamlessly with each other. 

Remember, offering unique value isn't about being different just for the sake of it. It's about understanding what your customers truly desire and creating something that fills that need in a way that no one else can. This could manifest as unparalleled quality. It could be a novel feature, or it can focus on exceptional customer service. Think about the companies you love that do this well—Disney, Trader Joe’s, Lululemon, Ben & Jerry’s and Ikea. A company that promises value and then delivers on it attracts new customers. It fosters loyalty and even advocacy. 

Dig deeper : Want more information on how to start or grow your business? Check out our essential guide on how to run a business , which includes 10 steps for business success.

Related Posts

What it takes to be a successful small business owner in 2024

How to start a business in 14 steps: a guide for 2024

The essential guide on how to run a business

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Business Strategy Definition, Examples, Types & 10-Step Guide

Published: 13 December, 2023

Social Share:

Stefan F.Dieffenbacher

Digital Strategy

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Table of Contents

In the ever-evolving business environment shaped by digital dynamics, business strategy stands as a guiding force. Whether for start-ups or established companies, a well-defined business strategy is indispensable for ensuring long-term success. At Digital Leadership, we deeply grasp its pivotal role in laying the groundwork for effective digital transformation strategy and innovation strategy .

We foster creativity, ensuring seamless alignment of technology adoption with business goals , and driving purposeful and impactful transformations. We go beyond conventional approaches by integrating Jobs to be Done into your business strategy , focusing on customers’ fundamental needs and motivations to establish meaningful and lasting connections.

What is Business Strategy?

Business strategy refers to a comprehensive plan or a series of actions meticulously crafted to achieve specific business goals and objectives. It entails a systematic approach aimed at gaining a competitive edge, responding to market dynamics, and attaining sustainable success within a particular industry or market. This strategic framework encompasses several crucial elements, such as defining the organization’s vision, mission, and values, assessing internal strengths and weaknesses, and Identifying external opportunities and threats.

The Business Model Canvas (BMC) plays a pivotal role in business strategy, offering a visual and comprehensive framework that outlines the key components of a business model. Its importance lies in its ability to succinctly capture and communicate the fundamental aspects of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value. The BMC consists of nine building blocks, including customer segments , value propositions , distribution channels , customer relationships , revenue streams , key resources , key activities , key partnerships , and cost structure . By utilizing the BMC, businesses gain clarity on their core operations, customer interactions, and revenue generation methods. You can download it now.

Business Model Canvas Template

Your download is now available!

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The UNITE Business Model Canvas

An effective business strategy demands an in-depth understanding of the market, competition, and internal capabilities. It involves strategic decision-making regarding resource allocation, target market identification, and the development of a distinctive value proposition to differentiate the organization from its competitors. Importantly, business strategy is not a one-time endeavor but an ongoing process that adapts to changes in the business environment.

What is Strategy in Business? How Does It Differ From Tactics?

Strategy is a deliberate and well-defined plan that outlines how an organization intends to achieve its goals and objectives, considering the allocation of resources, competitive advantages, and potential challenges. It serves as a roadmap for decision-making and actions to ensure the organization’s success and effectiveness in a dynamic environment.

Strategy and tactics are distinct concepts in the realm of business and planning:

In business, a strategy is the overarching blueprint that outlines an organization’s long-term goals and the broad approaches to achieving them. It is the high-level plan conceived by top leadership to provide direction and set the trajectory for success. Strategic decisions involve critical choices about markets, products, and positioning, impacting the entire organization. A robust strategy serves as a guiding force, providing stability and a framework for decision-making, ensuring that every action aligns with the overall mission.

While strategy sets the grand vision, tactics are the nitty-gritty manoeuvres designed for the immediate implementation of the broader strategy. Tactics are the specific actions, steps, and procedures undertaken by mid-level and front-line managers to execute the strategic plan. Unlike the more enduring nature of strategy, tactics are flexible and adaptable, responding to the dynamic and ever-changing business landscape. They deal with the specifics, answering the question of “how” the strategic goals will be achieved in the short term, making them the hands-on tools for day-to-day operations.

Importance of Business Strategy

A business strategy establishes a unified vision and direction for the entire organization. Clarity in goals and alignment with the company’s mission is crucial for every individual within the company. The strategy plays a pivotal role in providing this overarching vision, ensuring that individuals stay focused and committed to their company’s objectives.

Why is Strategy Important in Business?

Strategy is essential in business for its role as a guiding roadmap. It aligns everyone with shared objectives, prevents deviations from the mission, and enhances internal performance. A well-crafted strategy is crucial for identifying market opportunities and trends, staying competitive, fostering innovation, and creating a comprehensive organizational vision. In essence, strategy is vital for ensuring alignment, efficiency, and adaptability in the dynamic business landscape.

Value Creation for Customers

A successful business strategy centres on understanding value creation . It involves the difference between customer willingness to pay (WTP) and the price of goods or services . The strategy aims to widen these gaps for customers, the firm, suppliers, and employees. By increasing customer delight, firm margin, supplier surplus, and employee satisfaction, businesses create value for all stakeholders. Engaging stakeholders and developing employees are crucial components of a sustainable strategy.

Value Creation Model

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The UNITE Value Creation framework

Enhancing customer satisfaction and boosting customer delight.

A well-crafted business strategy , deeply rooted in customer-centric principles, becomes the driving force behind tailored products and services that meet specific customer needs. This strategic approach optimizes every customer touchpoint, ensuring consistent and delightful experiences. By fostering a dynamic and adaptable response to changing customer preferences , business strategy enables organizations to stay ahead in a competitive landscape. Moreover, the continuous improvement cycle embedded in strategic planning allows businesses to identify and address pain points , creating a brand experience that goes beyond meeting expectations—it consistently exceeds them, fostering enduring relationships with satisfied and delighted customers.

Internal Business Performance Guide

Internally, a strategic business framework acts as a guiding force for optimal performance. It aligns teams, resources, and processes, fostering a collaborative environment where every individual works cohesively toward common objectives. This alignment enhances operational efficiency and overall effectiveness.

Identify Opportunities and Trends in the Future

Strategic thinking also includes proactive opportunity identification , allowing businesses to capitalize on emerging trends and innovative possibilities for sustained growth. It involves not only addressing current challenges but also anticipating future trends and opportunities. By incorporating this foresight into the business strategy, organizations position themselves as industry leaders, always staying one step ahead in a dynamic business landscape. This proactive approach extends to not just mitigating risks but also actively identifying and capitalizing on emerging opportunities.

Create a Competitive Advantage

Business strategy acts as the cornerstone for businesses aiming to carve out unique positions in the market. Through strategic differentiation, organizations can identify and leverage their strengths while addressing weaknesses, positioning themselves uniquely against competitors. Integrating innovation and foresight into the strategic business framework, empowers businesses to stay at the forefront, consistently delivering value that sets them apart, thereby establishing a sustainable and resilient competitive advantage.

Create a Whole organisational vision

A successful business strategy extends its impact beyond individual initiatives; it encompasses the entire organization. It nurtures a shared vision that aligns everyone toward a common purpose. This cohesive vision not only enhances internal cohesion but also provides a roadmap for sustained growth and success.

10 Key Components of Business Strategy

Developing an effective business strategy involves considering multiple components. 

1- Vision and Business Objectives

In business strategy , the component that lays the very foundation is a compelling vision and precisely defined business objectives. They not only provide direction but also serve as the bedrock for effective decision-making and resource allocation, ensuring that every aspect of the business aligns seamlessly with the overarching strategy. In essence, a well-crafted vision and business objectives are integral components, shaping the very essence of strategic initiatives.

The SWOT analysis emerges as a pivotal component of business strategy . It goes beyond a mere examination of internal strengths and weaknesses or external opportunities and threats; it forms the bedrock for strategic planning . At Digital Leadership, we understand the significance of conducting a SWOT analysis as an indispensable element of business strategy. This comprehensive evaluation becomes the compass, guiding organizations to capitalize on their strengths while tactfully addressing weaknesses. Thus, SWOT analysis stands as an essential cornerstone, providing the strategic clarity needed to navigate the competitive business terrain effectively.

By incorporating The UNITE SWOT Framework into business strategy, organizations gain a comprehensive understanding of their internal landscape and external environment, paving the way for more informed, innovative, and adaptive strategic planning.

SWOT Analaysis Template

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The SWOT / TOWS Analysis Framework

3- core values and resource allocation.

Aligning business strategy with core values ensures ethical decision-making. Strategic resource allocation ensures that resources are deployed efficiently to achieve business objectives.

4- Tactics and Operational Delivery

Effective tactics translate business strategy into action. A well-defined operational plan ensures that day-to-day activities contribute to overarching strategic goals .

5- Measurement and Analysis

Continuous measurement and analysis of key performance indicators (KPIs) help organizations track progress and make data-driven adjustments to their strategy. In business strategy , the relentless pursuit of success demands a vigilant eye on performance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Measuring progress against predefined KPIs serves as a compass, providing real-time insights into the effectiveness of strategic initiatives. This data-driven approach enables organizations to gauge the impact of their actions, identify areas of success, and pinpoint areas that may require strategic recalibration.

6- Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management involves the end-to-end oversight of the processes and activities that transform raw materials into final products or services and deliver them to customers. In the realm of business strategy , an efficiently managed supply chain contributes to the seamless execution of strategic initiatives.

7- Integrating Technologies

Strategic integration of cutting-edge technologies, such as AI, IoT, and blockchain, is vital for keeping organizations at the forefront of innovation. This involves leveraging technology to enhance various aspects of business processes. By incorporating emerging technologies into the fabric of the business strategy , organizations can respond effectively to changing market dynamics, customer expectations, and industry trends.

8- Business Process Management

Efficient business processes are integral to successful strategy execution , BPM guides organizations in optimizing their processes for maximum efficiency, ensuring seamless alignment with strategic objectives. As organizations navigate the complex landscape of business strategy , BPM serves as a foundational element, ensuring that operational activities are not only efficient but also in harmony with the broader vision and objectives set forth in the strategic plan.

9- Business Intelligence and Analytics

Informed decision-making relies on accurate data. Incorporating business intelligence and analytics into the business strategy ensures that decisions are data-driven and aligned with organizational goals, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

10- Competitive Analysis

Understanding the competitive landscape is vital for informed decision-making, it assists organizations in conducting comprehensive competitive analyses and provides valuable insights to inform strategic choices and maintain a competitive edge.

Business Strategy Development in 10 Strategic Steps

How to Develop your Business Strategy - Business Strategy Development

Creating a business strategy is a meticulous process that requires careful consideration. Develop a business strategy   through the following ten strategic steps:

Step (1): Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Embarking on the business strategy journey begins with a thorough SWOT analysis, delving into the intricacies of internal strengths and weaknesses, coupled with external opportunities and threats. This foundational step serves as a compass for businesses, providing a nuanced understanding of their current position in the market landscape. In this comprehensive analysis, internal strengths are scrutinized to leverage and optimize, weaknesses are identified for targeted improvements, opportunities are explored for strategic expansion, and threats are assessed for proactive mitigation.

Step (2): Identify your Business Purpose

Moving forward in the strategic roadmap, it is imperative to distinctly define the purpose that drives the organization’s existence. This step involves a meticulous examination of the company’s mission, vision, and values to articulate a clear and concise business intention and purpose. By aligning the business strategy with the overarching mission and business purpose , businesses can foster coherence, ensuring that every strategic move resonates with the core values that define the organizational identity. This alignment not only serves as a guiding force for decision-making but also establishes a strong foundation for sustainable growth and impact in the marketplace.

TheUNITE Business Intention Model guides organizations to distinctly define the driving force behind their existence. In a meticulous examination encompassing mission, vision, and values, the UNITE model ensures the articulation of a clear and concise business intention and purpose and it establishes a robust foundation for sustainable growth and impact in the marketplace.

Business Purpose - Business Intentions

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The UNITE Business Intentions

Step (3): setting up business goals.

In the intricate landscape of business strategy development , the third step involves the meticulous process of setting up clear and measurable business goals , the significance of well-defined goals provide a structured roadmap. By articulating specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives, businesses can ensure that their strategic efforts are purposeful and directed. Through this strategic clarity, organizations can align their resources, efforts, and initiatives with a unified vision, fostering a cohesive and results-oriented approach.

Step (4): Defining Your Competitive Advantage

Defining competitive advantage emerges as a linchpin in the framework of business strateg y, this step holds paramount importance in the strategic narrative, serving as a compass for organizations navigating the competitive terrain. By identifying and leveraging a distinctive competitive advantage, businesses create a unique value proposition that sets them apart. This strategic differentiation becomes a guiding force, steering organizations towards long-term success in a dynamic market.

Step (5): Opportunity Identification in the Market

As organizations embark on the business strategy journey, opportunity Identification emerges as a pivotal and forward-looking endeavour. In this nuanced phase of business strategy development , the focus shifts to the external landscape, where astute organizations keenly observe, analyze, and capitalize on emerging opportunities. By conducting a comprehensive scan of the market, businesses position themselves as agile players ready to navigate the currents of change. It empowers organizations to strategically align resources and capabilities to harness them effectively. In a dynamic business environment, seizing the right opportunities becomes a transformative catalyst for sustained growth and resilience.

Step (6): Build your Team

In the intricate tapestry of business strategy development , building your team stands as a critical pillar defining the success trajectory. At this juncture, the focus transcends individual capabilities to the collective strength of a cohesive and synergistic team. The significance of aligning team dynamics with strategic objectives, fostering collaboration, and harnessing diverse talents. As organizations navigate the complex strategic landscape, a well-built team becomes the driving force, propelling the strategic vision into actionable reality.

Step (7): Enhance Value Creation for Customers, Suppliers, and Employees

In business strategy enhancing value creation for customers, suppliers, and employees, takes centre stage as a transformative act beyond customer-centric approaches, business strategy framework extends its embrace to suppliers and employees, recognizing them as integral stakeholders in the strategic equation. This step signifies more than a transactional give-and-take; it embodies a commitment to fostering lasting relationships and mutual growth from customer delight to supplier partnerships and employee satisfaction, our approach ensures a harmonized symphony of value that resonates through every facet of the organization.

Step (8): Develop your Business Strategy Execution Framework

Developing your business strategy execution framework emerges as the meticulously composed score that transforms strategy into tangible action to execute your  Successful Business Strategy.  It becomes crucial to establish a clear roadmap for turning your strategy into actionable steps and determining the daily activities of the entire team.

The UNITE Strategy Execution Model holds immense importance in guiding organizations through the transformation of strategic plans into actionable steps, ensuring a seamless alignment of daily activities with the overarching business strategy .

Innovation Strategy Execution Framework

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The UNITE Pirate Metrics Funnel (AAARRR)

The Strategic Planning Process guides you through the stages of creating a successful Business Strategy . Utilizing a Business Model Canvas can help you visualize the various components of your operations more effectively.

eXtended Business Model Canvas

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11 Types of Business Strategy with Real-life Business Strategy Examples

When formulating your Business Strategy, it’s valuable to consider the various shapes it can take. Each strategy is viable in its own right, and the direction you choose will be influenced by your Business Purpose and Objectives, as well as the resources available to you.

1) Cost Leadership Business Strategy

Cost Leadership is a strategic approach where a company aims to be the lowest-cost producer in its industry. This strategy involves achieving a competitive advantage by offering products or services at the lowest possible cost. Key elements include economies of scale, operational efficiency, stringent cost control, and often, a pricing strategy that undercuts competitors.

Example: Walmart business strategy

It exemplifies this strategy by leveraging large-scale operations and efficient supply chain management to provide products at lower prices than competitors. While effective, maintaining cost leadership requires a continuous emphasis on efficiency, cost control, and market share growth. However, companies pursuing this strategy must be cautious of potential imitation and should balance cost-saving measures with innovation to stay competitive.

2) Focused Business Strategy

A Focused Business Strategy, also known as a niche or segmentation strategy, involves targeting a specific segment of the market rather than trying to appeal to the entire market. This strategy is effective when a company identifies a particular market segment with unique needs and preferences.

Examples: Tesla Business Strategy

It employs a focused strategy by concentrating on the electric vehicle market. Instead of catering to the broad automobile market, Tesla targets consumers seeking high-performance electric vehicles. Focused strategies allow companies to tailor their products or services to meet the distinct demands of a niche market, often resulting in higher customer loyalty and less competition. However, it requires a deep understanding of the chosen segment and the ability to provide superior value to customers within that niche.

3) Differentiation Business Strategy

A Differentiation Business Strategy involves offering unique and distinctive products or services that stand out from competitors in the market. Apple, a prominent example, excels in differentiation through its innovative product designs, user-friendly interfaces, and ecosystem integration.

Examples: Apple Business Strategy

Apple’s strategy focuses on creating premium, high-quality products that provide a unique user experience, setting them apart from competitors. Differentiation strategies often lead to higher product prices, but they also cultivate brand loyalty and perceived value among customers. Successful differentiation requires continuous innovation, investment in research and development, and a keen understanding of customer preferences. Companies employing this strategy strive to build a strong brand image that becomes synonymous with quality and innovation in the minds of consumers.

let’s categorize Apple’s strategy into two types of Differentiation Business Strategy: Broad Differentiation and Focused Differentiation .

  • Apple’s Approach: Apple adopts a broad differentiation strategy by offering a wide range of unique and distinctive products to a large consumer market.
  • Diverse product line, including iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Apple Watch, and more.
  • Emphasis on innovative design, cutting-edge technology, and user-friendly interfaces across all product categories.
  • Premium pricing is justified by perceived quality, innovation, and the Apple brand.
  • Apple’s Approach: Within its broad product line, Apple also employs a focused differentiation strategy by tailoring certain products to specific market segments.
  • Examples include specialized products like the Mac Pro for professional users and the iPad Pro for creative professionals.
  • Customization and features geared towards the unique needs of specific user groups.
  • Premium pricing for specialized products, targeting customers willing to pay for enhanced capabilities.

4) Sustainable Business Strategy

Sustainable Business Strategies centre around environmentally conscious practices, social responsibility, and long-term viability. Companies adopting sustainable strategies aim to minimize their environmental impact while contributing positively to society.

Examples of business Strategies

  • Tesla Business Strategy: Tesla exemplifies a sustainable business strategy with its commitment to electric vehicles, renewable energy solutions, and reducing carbon footprints. By prioritizing sustainability, Tesla not only aligns with growing environmental concerns but also attracts a consumer base increasingly valuing eco-friendly practices. Sustainable strategies extend beyond environmental aspects, encompassing ethical labour practices, community engagement, and transparent governance.
  • Coca-Cola Business Strategy: Coca-Cola implements an Environmental Sustainability Strategy to reduce its carbon footprint and water usage, emphasizing responsible sourcing and recycling initiatives.
  • IKEA Business Strategy: IKEA adopts an Eco-Friendly Business Approach by promoting sustainable sourcing of materials and designing products with a focus on longevity and recyclability.

These companies demonstrate a commitment to addressing global challenges, such as climate change and resource depletion, by integrating sustainable practices into their core business strategies. Sustainable strategies not only contribute to corporate social responsibility but also resonate with environmentally conscious consumers, fostering a positive brand image.

5) E-commerce Business Strateg y

Ecommerce Business Strategies revolve around effective online retailing, leveraging digital platforms, and optimizing customer experiences. Amazon, a prime example of a successful e-commerce strategy, employs an omnichannel retailing approach. This involves seamlessly integrating online and offline channels, providing customers with a cohesive shopping experience.

Example of a business strategy: Amazon Business Strategy

Amazon’s vast product selection, efficient logistics, and customer-centric focus contribute to its dominance in the ecommerce sector. The company strategically leverages technology, such as AI algorithms for personalized recommendations, to enhance user engagement. By prioritizing convenience, diverse product offerings, and customer satisfaction, Amazon exemplifies how ecommerce strategies can lead to market leadership and sustained growth in the digital era.

6) Competitive Business Strateg y

Competitive Business Strategies are essential for organizations seeking to gain a market advantage and outperform rivals.

Example of business strategy: Nike business strategy

Nike, adopts a differentiation strategy by focusing on innovation, branding, and product design. Nike’s marketing and product development efforts create a distinct brand image and a perceived higher value, justifying premium pricing. These examples showcase how varied competitive strategies align with business goals, enabling companies to thrive in diverse market landscapes.

7) Design Thinking in Business Strategy

Design Thinking in Business Strategy involves placing a strong emphasis on user experience, innovation, and customer-centric solutions.

Design Thinking business strategy examples:

  • Zara business strategy : It adopts an Agile and Customer-Centric Approach in its fashion retail strategy, responding quickly to market trends and customer preferences.
  • Starbucks business strategy : it differentiates itself through an Experience-focused Store Design, creating inviting and personalized environments that enhance the overall customer experience.

Design Thinking goes beyond aesthetics; it shapes the entire product or service journey, ensuring that businesses resonate with their target audience and remain adaptable to evolving market needs. These real-life examples showcase the transformative power of design thinking in crafting successful business strategies.

8) Data Driven Business Strategy

Data-Driven Business Strategies harness the power of information to optimize decision-making and enhance customer experiences.

Data Driven Business Strategy Examples

  • Netflix Business Strategy: Its Personalized Content Recommendation Strategy, utilizes data analytics to suggest tailored content, engaging users and increasing satisfaction.
  • McDonald Business Strategy : It adopts a Data-Enhanced Customer Experience strategy, leveraging customer data to personalize offerings and improve service efficiency.

These business strategy examples illustrate the transformative impact of data-driven approaches, emphasizing the importance of leveraging insights for strategic decision-making and creating a more personalized and responsive customer journey. In today’s digital landscape, businesses that harness the potential of data gain a competitive edge by staying attuned to customer preferences and market trends.

9) Technology Business Strategy

Technology Business Strategies exemplified by Google and YouTube showcase innovative approaches to digital market dominance. Google business strategy includes pioneering search algorithms, cloud services, and diverse digital products. And youtube’s business strategy focuses on Digital Platform Expansion, continually evolving as a video-sharing giant and expanding its reach. These strategies highlight the importance of diversification, continuous innovation, and a commitment to technological advancement. In the fast-paced tech industry, adapting and expanding digital capabilities ensure long-term relevance and sustained growth, marking these companies as trailblazers in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

10) Business Turnaround Strategy

Business Turnaround Strategies, as exemplified by IBM and Microsoft, underscore the importance of adaptability and strategic redirection in the face of challenges. IBM business strategy is a Successful Business Transformation strategy that stands as a testament to its ability to reinvent itself, transitioning from traditional hardware and services to a focus on emerging technologies like cloud computing and artificial intelligence. On the other hand, Microsoft’s Corporate Business Strategy showcases the company’s resilience in navigating market shifts and leveraging its strengths in software and cloud services. These examples highlight the significance of strategic agility, innovation, and a proactive approach in revitalizing businesses for sustained success.

11) Retail Business Strategy

Retail Business Strategies encompass a diverse range of approaches tailored to the dynamic consumer landscape. Emphasizing customer experience, streamlined operations, and omnichannel engagement, successful retail strategies strive to meet evolving market demands. These strategies often include personalized customer interactions, inventory optimization, and seamless online and offline integration. Retail giants continually refine their approaches, with a focus on adaptability, innovation, and leveraging technology to enhance the shopping experience. The retail sector’s strategies evolve to align with shifting consumer behaviors, making agility and customer-centricity key elements in sustaining competitiveness.

Digital Business Strategy

Digital business strategy is a comprehensive approach that organizations adopt to leverage digital technologies for transformative outcomes. In the digital era, businesses recognize the need to go beyond traditional models and embrace digitalization to stay competitive. This strategy involves integrating digital technologies into all aspects of a business, from operations and customer interactions to product/service delivery. Key components often include data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and innovative digital platforms.

The goal is to enhance efficiency, customer experience, and overall organizational performance. Companies implementing a digital business strategy position themselves to navigate the digital landscape, respond to market changes swiftly and unlock new opportunities for growth. It’s a proactive approach that embraces digital transformation as a fundamental driver of success in the modern business landscape.

Business Growth Strategy

Business Growth Strategy refers to the deliberate and proactive planning and actions taken by organizations to expand and increase their market share, revenue, and overall scale. This strategy is crucial for organizations aiming to progress and thrive in competitive markets. Business growth can take various forms, such as expanding product lines, entering new markets, acquiring other businesses, or diversifying operations. It involves identifying opportunities for expansion, assessing potential risks, and developing a comprehensive plan to achieve sustainable growth. Successful business growth strategies align with the organization’s overall objectives and market conditions, ensuring that expansion efforts contribute positively to the company’s long-term success. Implementation often requires a combination of innovation, strategic partnerships, and operational excellence to capitalize on opportunities and navigate challenges effectively.

Corporate Strategy vs Business Strategy: What’s the Difference?

Corporate strategy and business strategy are distinct yet interconnected concepts that guide an organization’s overall direction and decision-making. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between the two:

Corporate Strategy:

  • Scope: Corporate strategy involves decisions at the highest level of an organization, addressing its overall mission, vision, and goals.
  • Focus: It is concerned with how the organization as a whole will achieve success and sustain its position in the market.
  • Decision-Making: Corporate strategy decisions often involve choices regarding diversification, mergers and acquisitions, resource allocation, and portfolio management.
  • Time Horizon: Corporate strategy tends to have a longer time horizon and looks at the organization’s position in the industry over an extended period.

Business Strategy:

  • Scope: Business strategy is more specific, focusing on a particular business unit, product line, or market segment within the organization.
  • Focus: It is concerned with how a specific part of the organization will compete effectively in its market and achieve its objectives.
  • Decision-Making: Business strategy decisions involve choices related to product development, market positioning, pricing, and competitive advantage.
  • Time Horizon: Business strategy often operates within a shorter time frame, addressing challenges and opportunities in the near to medium term.

In essence, corporate strategy sets the overall direction of the entire organization, while business strategy zooms in on how individual business units or segments will achieve success within that broader framework. Together, they ensure alignment between the organization’s overarching goals and the specific actions taken at different levels.

What is Business Level Strategy

Business-level strategy pertains to the intentional and strategic actions undertaken by companies to attain a competitive advantage within their designated market segments. This strategy entails crucial decisions regarding resource allocation, product differentiation, and the creation of distinctive value for customers. Through the successful implementation of a clearly defined business-level strategy, companies can establish a unique market position, allure customers, and foster sustainable growth.

Strategies in organizations operate at three distinct levels: Corporate, Business, and Functional.

  • Corporate Level : This is the highest level, where top management establishes the strategic plans, including the mission and vision statements. Corporate-level strategies profoundly influence the long-term performance of the organization, guiding decisions related to growth, acquisitions, diversification, and investments.
  • Business Level : Business level strategies align with the corporate vision but focus on a specific business or market segment. At this level, the broader vision and objectives are translated into tangible strategies that outline how a business will compete in its specific market.
  • Functional Level : Functional level strategies address how various departments such as Marketing, HR, or R&D can support the defined business and corporate strategies. These strategies ensure alignment and coordination across different functions within the organization.

It’s common for a company to have multiple strategies at each level, reflecting the diverse needs of each layer. While managing multiple strategies introduces the risk of conflicting priorities, effective management can mitigate these risks.

Integrating Digital Transformation Strategy with Innovation Strategy in Your Business Strategy

Integrating Digital Transformation Strategy with Innovation Strategy is a dynamic approach that propels organizations to the forefront of the rapidly evolving business landscape. This synergy harnesses the power of technological advancements and creative ideation to drive comprehensive organizational change .

  • Digital transformation acts as the enabler, ensuring that technological innovations are seamlessly integrated into various facets of the business.
  • Innovation strategy fosters a culture of creativity, encouraging novel ideas and solutions to meet evolving market demands.

By strategically aligning these two pillars within the broader context of business strategy, organizations not only adapt to the digital era but also position themselves as pioneers, capable of continuous innovation to stay ahead of the competition. This interconnected strategy promotes agility, resilience, and a forward-looking mindset, essential elements for sustainable success in today’s dynamic business environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

1- what is a strategy.

A strategy is a meticulously devised plan that outlines the approach an organization takes to achieve its long-term goals. It involves a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach to decision-making.

2- What does strategic mean in business?

In business, being strategic encompasses making decisions that contribute not only to immediate success but also to the long-term sustainability and competitive advantage of the organization. It involves foresight and a proactive mindset.

3- Who is responsible for business strategy?

Business strategy is a collaborative effort led by senior leadership. However, the responsibility extends to experts specializing in strategic planning , such as the professionals at Digital Leadership. These experts play a pivotal role in crafting effective and innovative strategies tailored to the unique needs of organizations, ensuring a holistic and forward-looking approach.

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What Is Business Strategy & Why Is It Important?

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  • 20 Oct 2022

Every business leader wants their organization to succeed. Turning a profit and satisfying stakeholders are worthy objectives but aren’t feasible without an effective business strategy.

To attain success, leaders must hone their skills and set clear business goals by crafting a strategy that creates value for the firm, customers, suppliers, and employees. Here's an overview of business strategy and why it's essential to your company’s success.

Access your free e-book today.

What’s a Business Strategy?

Business strategy is the strategic initiatives a company pursues to create value for the organization and its stakeholders and gain a competitive advantage in the market. This strategy is crucial to a company's success and is needed before any goods or services are produced or delivered.

According to Harvard Business School Online's Business Strategy course, an effective strategy is built around three key questions:

  • How can my business create value for customers?
  • How can my business create value for employees?
  • How can my business create value by collaborating with suppliers?

Many promising business initiatives don’t come to fruition because the company failed to build its strategy around value creation. Creativity is important in business , but a company won't last without prioritizing value.

The Importance of Business Strategy

A business strategy is foundational to a company's success. It helps leaders set organizational goals and gives companies a competitive edge. It determines various business factors, including:

  • Price: How to price goods and services based on customer satisfaction and cost of raw materials
  • Suppliers: Whether to source materials sustainably and from which suppliers
  • Employee recruitment: How to attract and maintain talent
  • Resource allocation: How to allocate resources effectively

Without a clear business strategy, a company can't create value and is unlikely to succeed.

Creating Value

To craft a successful business strategy, it's necessary to obtain a thorough understanding of value creation. In the online course Business Strategy , Harvard Business School Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee explains that, at its core, value represents a difference. For example, the difference between a customer's willingness to pay for a good or service and its price represents the value the business has created for the customer. This difference can be visualized with a tool known as the value stick.

The value stick has four components, representing the value a strategy can bring different stakeholders.

The value stick framework

  • Willingness to pay (WTP) : The maximum amount a customer is willing to pay for a company's goods or services
  • Price : The actual price of the goods or services
  • Cost : The cost of the raw materials required to produce the goods or services
  • Willingness to sell (WTS) : The lowest amount suppliers are willing to receive for raw materials, or the minimum employees are willing to earn for their work

The difference between each component represents the value created for each stakeholder. A business strategy seeks to widen these gaps, increasing the value created by the firm’s endeavors.

Increasing Customer Delight

The difference between a customer's WTP and the price is known as customer delight . An effective business strategy creates value for customers by raising their WTP or decreasing the price of the company’s goods or services. The larger the difference between the two, the more value is created for customers.

A company might focus on increasing WTP with its marketing strategy. Effective market research can help a company set its pricing strategy by determining target customers' WTP and finding ways to increase it. For example, a business might differentiate itself and increase customer loyalty by incorporating sustainability into its business strategy. By aligning its values with its target audiences', an organization can effectively raise consumers' WTP.

Increasing Firm Margin

The value created for the firm is the difference between the price of an item and its cost to produce. This difference is known as the firm’s margin and represents the strategy's financial success. One metric used to quantify this margin is return on invested capital (ROIC) . This metric compares a business's operating income with the capital necessary to generate it. The formula for ROIC is:

Return on Invested Capital = Net Operating Cost After Tax (NOCAT) / Invested Capital (IC)

ROIC tells investors how successful a company is at turning its investments into profit. By raising WTP, a company can risk increasing prices, thereby increasing firm margin. Business leaders can also increase this metric by decreasing their costs. For example, sustainability initiatives—in addition to raising WTP—can lower production costs by using fewer or more sustainable resources. By focusing on the triple bottom line , a firm can simultaneously increase customer delight and margin.

Increasing Supplier Surplus & Employee Satisfaction

By decreasing suppliers' WTS, or increasing costs, a company can create value for suppliers—or supplier surplus . Since increasing costs isn't sustainable, an effective business strategy seeks to create value for suppliers by decreasing WTS. How a company accomplishes this varies. For example, a brick-and-mortar company might partner with vendors to showcase its products in exchange for a discount. Suppliers may also be willing to offer a discount in exchange for a long-term contract.

In addition to supplier WTS, companies are also responsible for creating value for another key stakeholder: its employees. The difference between employee compensation and the minimum they're willing to receive is employee satisfaction . There are several ways companies can increase this difference, including:

  • Increasing compensation: While most companies hesitate to raise salaries, some have found success in doing so. For example, Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, increased his company's minimum wage to $80,000 per year and enjoyed substantial growth and publicity as a result.
  • Increasing benefits: Companies can also decrease WTS by making working conditions more desirable to prospective employees. Some offer remote or hybrid working opportunities to give employees more flexibility. Several have also started offering four-day work weeks , often experiencing increased productivity as a result.

There are several ways to increase supplier surplus and employee satisfaction without hurting the company's bottom line. Unfortunately, most managers only devote seven percent of their time to developing employees and engaging stakeholders. Yet, a successful strategy creates value for every stakeholder—both internal and external.

Business Strategy | Simplify Strategy to Make the Greatest Business Impact | Learn More

Strategy Implementation

Crafting a business strategy is just the first step in the process. Implementation takes a strategy from formulation to execution . Successful implementation includes the following steps :

  • Establish clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Set expectations and ensure employees are aware of their roles and responsibilities
  • Delegate work and allocate resources effectively
  • Put the plan into action and continuously monitor its progress
  • Adjust your plan as necessary
  • Ensure your team has what they need to succeed and agrees on the desired outcome
  • Evaluate the results of the plan

Throughout the process, it's important to remember to adjust your plan throughout its execution but to avoid second-guessing your decisions. Striking this balance is challenging, but crucial to a business strategy's success.

How to Formulate a Successful Business Strategy | Access Your Free E-Book | Download Now

Learn More About Creating a Successful Business Strategy

Business strategy constantly evolves with changing consumer expectations and market conditions. For this reason, business leaders should continuously educate themselves on creating and executing an effective strategy.

One of the best ways to stay up-to-date on best practices is to take an online course, such as HBS Online's Business Strategy program. The course will provide guidance on creating a value-driven strategy for your business.

Do you want to learn how to craft an effective business strategy and create value for your company's stakeholders? Explore our online course Business Strategy , or other strategy courses , to develop your strategic planning skills. To determine which strategy course is right for you, download our free flowchart .

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How to make a business plan

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Table of Contents

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

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

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

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

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

What is a business plan?

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

Products or services

Target market

Competitors

Marketing and sales strategies

Financial plan

Management team

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

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

Business plan vs. business model canvas

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

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

Key partnerships

Key activities

Key propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

Key resources

Cost structure

Revenue streams

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

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

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

Why is a business plan important?

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

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

Helps to define the business goals and objectives

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

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

Guides decision-making

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

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

Attracts investors and secures funding

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

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

Identifies potential challenges and risks

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

Is there enough demand for my product or service?

Will I have enough capital to start my business?

Is the market oversaturated with too many competitors?

What will happen if my marketing strategy is ineffective?

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

Provides a basis for measuring success

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

Are we where we want to be at this point?

Did we achieve our goals?

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

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

How to make a business plan step by step

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

1. Create an executive summary

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

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

2. Write your company description

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

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

3. Conduct a market analysis

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

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

What does the current market look like?

Who are your competitors?

What are they offering?

What will give you a competitive advantage?

Who is your target market?

What are they looking for and why?

How will your product or service satisfy a need?

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

4. Describe your products and services

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

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

5. Design a marketing and sales strategy

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

Pricing strategy

Advertising and promotional tactics

Sales channels

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

6. Determine budget and financial projections

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

Some details to include in this section are:

Startup costs

Revenue projections

Profit and loss statement

Funding you have received or plan to receive

Strategy for raising funds

7. Set the organization and management structure

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

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

8. Make an action plan

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

Types of business plans

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

Startup business plan

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

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

Strategic business plan

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

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

Operational business plan

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

Organizational structure

Staffing plan

Production plan

Quality control

Inventory management

Supply chain

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

Growth-business plan

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

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

One-page business plan

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

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

Best practices for how to make a good business plan

Here are some additional tips for creating a business plan:

Use a template

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

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

Be practical

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

Be specific

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

Be thorough with your research

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

Get input from others

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

Review and revise regularly

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

Create a winning business plan to chart your path to success

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

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

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

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How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started.

What Do You Need A Business Plan For?

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

1. Secure Funds

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

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

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

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

2. Monitor Business Growth

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

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

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

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

3. Measure Business Success

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

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

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

4. Document Your Marketing Strategies

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Infographic

How to Write a Business Plan Step-by-Step

1. create your executive summary.

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

Executive Summary of the business plan

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

A good executive summary should do the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Add Your Company Overview

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

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

Your company overview should contain the following:

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

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

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

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

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

It describes what your business does

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

  • Mission Statement

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

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

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

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

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

Business Objectives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Market Analysis

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

Market Analysis for Online Business

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

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

  • Market Research

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

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

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

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

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

How to Quantify Your Target Market

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

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

What Does a Good Market Analysis Entail?

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

Market Analysis Steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

Competitive Analysis

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

Four Steps to Create a Competitive Marketing Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Perform Competitive Analysis

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

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

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

Direct vs Indirect Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Factors that Differentiate Your Business from the Competition

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

1. Cost Leadership

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

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

2. Product Differentiation

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

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

3. Market Segmentation

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

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

4. Define Your Business and Management Structure

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

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

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

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

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

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

Management Team

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

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

Create Management Team For Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Key Questions to Answer When Structuring Your Management Team

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

Additional Tips for Writing the Management Structure Section

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organizational Chart

Organizational chart Infographic

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

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

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

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

5. Describe Your Product and Service Offering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Avoid Technical Descriptions and Industry Buzzwords

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Long or Short Products or Services Section

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Describe Your Relationships with Vendors or Suppliers

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

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

5. Your Primary Goal Is to Convince Your Readers

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

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

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

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

Key Questions to Answer When Writing your Products and Services Section

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

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

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

6. Show and Explain Your Marketing and Sales Plan

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

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

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

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

Outline Your Business’ Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

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

Target Market and Target Audience

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

Target Market Vs Target Audience

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

Creating a Smart Marketing and Sales Plan

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

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

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

Your Positioning Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic Rules to Follow When Pricing Your Offering

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

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

Pricing Strategy

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

Pricing strategy influences the price of offering

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

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

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

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

Advertising

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

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

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

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

Public Relations

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

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

Content Marketing

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

The Benefits of Content Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social Media

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

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

Most popular social media platforms

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

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

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

Choosing the right social media platform

Strategic Alliances

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

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

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

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

Steps Involved in Creating a Marketing and Sales Plan

1. Focus on Your Target Market

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

2. Evaluate Your Competition

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

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

These questions can help you know your competition.

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

3. Consider Your Brand

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

4. Focus on Benefits

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

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

5. Focus on Differentiation

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

Key Questions to Answer When Writing Your Marketing and Sales Plan

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

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

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

7. Clearly Show Your Funding Request

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funding Request: Debt or Equity?

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

Case for Equity

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

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

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

Case for Debt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Detail Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use Graphs and Charts

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

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

Address the Risk Factors and Show Realistic Financial Projections

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Sales Forecast

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

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

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

Benefits of Sales Forecasting

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

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

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

Factors that affect sales forecasting

2. Personnel Plan

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

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

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

True HR Cost Infographic

3. Income Statement

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

The income statement section

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

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

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

4. Cash Flow Statement

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

Cash Flow Statement Example

5. Balance Sheet

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

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

Balance sheet Formula

6. Exit Strategy

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

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

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

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

Exit Strategy Section of Business Plan Infographic

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

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

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

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

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

9. Add an Appendix to Your Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips and Strategies for Writing a Convincing Business Plan

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

1. Know Your Audience

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

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

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

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

2. Get Inspiration from People

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

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

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

3. Avoid Being Over Optimistic

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

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

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

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

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

4. Keep it Simple and Short

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

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

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

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

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

5. Make an Outline and Follow Through

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Ask a Professional to Proofread

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

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

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

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

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

1. hubspot's one-page business plan.

HubSpot's One Page Business Plan

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

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

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

2. Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

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

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

3. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

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

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

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

4. Business Plan by My Own Business Institute

The Business Profile

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

The comprehensive template consists of a whopping 15 sections.

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

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

5. Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

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

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

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

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

6. Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

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

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

7. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

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

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

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

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

The $100 Startup's One Page Business Plan

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

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

9. PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invoiceberry Templates Business Concept

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

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

Alternatives to the Traditional Business Plan

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

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

Business Model Canvas (BMC)

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

Business Model Canvas (BMC) Infographic

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

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

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

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

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

Lean Canvas

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

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

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

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

Startup Pitch Deck

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

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

Startup Pitch Deck Presentation

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

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

Airbnb Pitch Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan FAQ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exlore Further

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

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

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

A successful business strategy dictates the allocation of resources and outlines how a company will achieve its strategic goals. Whether the organization is focused on developing new products or marketing an existing service to an under-served demographic, having a solid strategy will help an organization realize its long-term goals. Typically, a strategy will be informed by core business objectives and keep key performance indicators (KPIs) in mind. It’s also essential to understand an organization’s market position, as the following business strategy examples will show.

Types of business strategy

Over the last decades, researchers and business leaders have identified a handful of so-called “generic strategies” with broad application across the business landscape. These core business strategies are:

  • Broad cost leadership strategy
  • Broad differentiation strategy
  • Focused differentiation strategy
  • Focused cost leadership strategy

But there are dozens of variations on these core concepts, and an organization may choose to enact certain types of strategies at different points. Good business strategies are carefully considered, but that doesn’t mean they’re static. Successful leaders will routinely review a strategy’s key components and update their plans.

For instance, entrepreneurs looking to increase profits might pursue a cost-cutting strategy, while a business hoping to expand would consider a growth strategy. If customer churn or dissatisfaction is a particular issue, a customer retention strategy would be more appropriate.

For economically healthy companies attempting to move into new markets, a diversification strategy—involving new customers or product lines—or a partnership strategy—involving the acquisition of new companies—might be best.

Still, exploring the core generic strategies can provide insight into how some of the world’s most successful corporations have leveraged market research to create phenomenally profitable roadmaps. Some examples of business strategies that embody these foundational theories are explored below.

Broad cost leadership strategy example: Walmart

When Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, started his retail career in the 1940s, he had a simple idea: To find less expensive suppliers than those who served his competition and pass those savings on to the customers in his variety stores. Where many business leaders might attempt to profit directly from such favorable margins, Walton decided to pursue an economy of scale , profiting by attracting more customers rather than charging those customers more. In the more than seven decades since, Walmart has become one of the most famous examples of cost leadership strategy, which undercuts competition by offering goods or services at the lowest possible price.

As the company grew, it was able to take advantage of its ubiquity to demand lower prices from suppliers and sell goods for even less over time. Many of these savings have then been passed on to customers shopping in the stores, resulting in progressively cheaper goods. The retailer’s advertisements underscore this fact, encouraging customers to “Save money. Live Better.”

By the early 2000s, Walmart’s cost leadership strategy had been so successful one-third of Americans were frequent Walmart customers , illustrating how winning the price game can lead to a massively successful bottom line. This has been crucial for the big-box retailer as it increasingly competes with e-commerce giants like Amazon.

Broad differentiation business strategy example: Starbucks

When Starbucks was founded as a small business in 1971, high-end coffee was a niche market in the United States. But Howard Schultz, the company’s founder, believed there was an opportunity to import Italian coffee culture and differentiate his business from competitors like Dunkin Donuts.

To gain a competitive advantage over stores offering cheap coffee in fast food-type settings, Schultz opened a series of cozy cafes that encouraged long visits. Though the items sold at Starbucks were more expensive than those of the competitors, they were highlighted in marketing campaigns as unique and superior quality goods. Starbucks also paid careful attention to its supply chain, ensuring is products were ethically sourced and offering specialty drinks that in some geographic locations could be difficult to find. The company’s early focus on talent management for service employees was a major differentiator, as well.

Over time Starbucks also focused heavily on personalization, encouraging customers to create favorite drinks. Later in the company’s tenure, the company introduced loyalty cards and other advantages for repeat customers to encourage customer retention.

Today, Starbucks stores are ubiquitous across the globe, and the company’s success has made it one of the prime examples of differentiation strategy that undercuts competition by providing a premium product that is significantly more desirable than existing goods.

Focused differentiation strategy example: REI

A focused differentiation strategy—unlike a broad differentiation strategy, which seeks to gain massive market share by providing a premium good—tailors its business plan to a select group of consumers. The outdoor outfitter REI has had significant success in focused differentiation through a series of business decisions and marketing strategies that underscore the values of its target demographic. In REI’s case, product differentiation relies on how the business communicates its core values and provides a unique customer experience.

REI frequently positions itself as an ethical and sustainable outdoor brand: As the company says, it prefers to put “ purpose before profits. ” Since its inception, the company has underscored initiatives like its co-op membership model and sustainability commitments as a way to distinguish itself from competitors catering to more general audiences. Recently, the brand engaged in a relatively risky marketing strategy that reflects its goal of capturing a specific group of loyal customers.

Starting in 2015, REI closed its stores on Black Friday , the most popular shopping day of the year, and encouraged employees to spend the day outdoors. The initiative was accompanied by a social media campaign to bolster the brand’s reach. REI might sell products at a higher cost than its competitors, and operate fewer than 200 stores, but its business model is based on the idea that a loyal group of customers will find its messages and products relevant enough to pay a premium for goods they could easily find somewhere else.

Focused cost leadership strategy example: Dollar General

Where Walmart’s cost leadership strategy relied on becoming ubiquitous and operating at massive scales, the discount chain Dollar General has captured price-conscious consumers in more specific markets. Rather than trying to enter an entirely new market, the company focused on providing low-cost goods to rural consumers. Its strategy has been to open small stores in areas where big-box stores might not be and offer a complementary pricing strategy that attracts budget-conscious consumers.

This strategy has allowed Dollar General to grow into a smart and efficient operation with a strong target market and relatively low overhead. Typically, the chain leases its stores and keeps them small and bare bones, saving money on real estate and extensive labor costs. Stores also typically stock a smaller number of products targeted to its specific customer base, cutting costs and allowing it precise control of its supply chain process. By spending less to open stores, allocating fewer resources to advertising, and targeting regional cost-conscious customers, the chain expanded successfully into a niche market.

The importance of agility in business strategy

As the previous effective business strategies illustrate, strategic planning is crucial for an organization working to achieve its business goals. A strong sense of where the company should be heading makes decision-making easier, and can guide operations across all business units, from the organization’s corporate-level strategy to its product development plans. At their most effective, business strategies can be utilized on a functional level, meaning every department from finance to human resources is guided by the business’ broader goals.

But not all successful businesses strategies will conform precisely to the four generic models outlined above. Often, a company will combine aspects of one or more strategies, or pivot as markets and technologies change . This has been particularly true for startups, which often serve a diverse set of stakeholders and may base their value proposition on new technologies. Still, as the above examples show, the optimization of a business’ operations relies on thinking critically about how its disparate parts can work together to achieve a singular goal.

Business strategy and IBM

Emerging technology and social forces are creating new customer experiences that result in changing expectations and demands and disrupt business models. IBM Consulting’s professional services for business help organizations navigate an increasingly dynamic, complex and competitive world by aligning transformation with business strategy to create competitive advantage and a clear focus on business impact.

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How To Write A Strategic Plan That Gets Results + Examples

business strategy example in business plan

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the thought of writing a strategic plan for your business? Do you want to create a plan that will help you move your team forward with inspired alignment and disciplined execution? You're not alone.

Gone are the days of rigid, 5- or 10-year planning cycles that do not leave room for flexibility and innovation. To stay ahead of the curve, you need a dynamic and execution-ready strategic plan that can guide your business through the ever-evolving landscape.

At Cascade, we understand that writing a strategic plan can be dreadful, especially in today's unpredictable environment. That's why we've developed a simple model that can help you create a clear, actionable plan to achieve your organization's goals. With our tested and proven strategic planning template , you can write a strategic plan that is both adaptable and effective .

Whether you're a seasoned strategy professional or a fresh strategy planner, this guide will walk you through the process step-by-step on how to write a strategic plan. By the end, you'll have a comprehensive, easy-to-follow strategic plan that will help you align your organization on the path to success.

Free Template Download our free Strategic Planning Template Download this template

Follow this guide step-by-step or skip to the part you’re most interested in: 

  • Pre-Planning Phase: Build The Foundation

Cascade Model For Strategic Planning: What You Need To Know

  • Key Elements of a Strategic Plan

How To Write A Strategic Plan In 6 Simple Steps

3 strategic plan examples to get you started, how to achieve organizational alignment with your strategic plan.

  • Quick Overview of Key Steps In Writing A Strategic Plan

Create An Execution-Ready Strategic Plan With Cascade 🚀

*Editor’s note: This article is part of our ‘How to create a Strategy’ collection. At the end of this article, you’ll find a link to each piece within this collection so you can dig deeper into each element of an effective strategic plan and more related resources to master strategy execution.

Pre-Planning Phase: Build The Foundation 

Before we dive into writing a strategic plan, it's essential to know the basics you should cover before the planning phase. The pre-planning phase is where you'll begin to gather the data and strategic insights necessary to create an effective strategic plan.

1. Run a strategic planning workshop

The first step is to run a strategic planning workshop with your team. Get your team in the room, get their data, and gather their insights. By running this workshop, you'll foster collaboration and bring fresh perspectives to the table. And that’s not all. 

The process of co-creating and collaborating to put that plan together with stakeholders is one of the most critical factors in strategy execution . According to McKinsey’s research , initiatives in which employees contribute to development are 3.4 times more likely to be successful. They feel like the plan is a result of their efforts, and they feel ownership of it, so they're more likely to execute it. 

💡 Tip: Use strategy frameworks to structure your strategy development sessions, such as GAP analysis , SWOT analysis , Porter’s Five Forces , Ansoff matrix , McKinsey 7S model , or GE matrix . You can even apply the risk matrix that will help you align and decide on key strategic priorities.

2. Choose your strategic planning model

Before creating your strategic plan, you need to decide which structure you will use. There are hundreds of ways to structure a strategic plan. You’ve likely heard of famous strategic models such as OKRs and the Balanced Scorecard .

But beyond the well-known ones, there's also a myriad of other strategic planning models ranging from the extremely simple to the absurdly complex.

Many strategic models work reasonably well on paper, but in reality, they don't show you how to write a strategic plan that fits your organization's needs.

Here are some common weaknesses most popular strategic models have:

  • They're too complicated. People get lost in terminology rather than focus on execution.
  • They don’t scale. They work well for small organizations but fail when you try to extend them across multiple teams.
  • They're too rigid. They force people to add layers for the sake of adding layers.
  • They're neither tangible nor measurable. They’re great at stating outcomes but lousy at helping you measure success.
  • They're not adaptable. As we saw in the last years, the business environment can change quickly. Your model needs to be able to work in your current situation and adapt to changing economic landscapes.

Our goal in this article is to give you a simpler, more effective way to write a strategic plan. This is a tested and proven strategic planning model that has been refined over years of working with +20,000 teams around the world. We call it the Cascade Strategy Model.

This approach has proven to be more effective than any other model we have tried when it comes to executing and implementing the strategy .

It’s easy to use and it works for small businesses, fast-growing startups, as well as multinationals trying to figure out how to write a fail-proof strategic plan.

We’ve created a simple diagram below to illustrate what a strategic plan following the Cascade Model will look like when it's completed:

The Cascade Model for strategic planning and execution

Rather than a traditional roadmap , imagine your strategy as a flowchart. Each row is a mandatory step before moving on to the next.

We call our platform  Cascade for a reason: strategy must cascade throughout an organization along with values, focus areas, and objectives.

Above all, the Cascade Model is intended to be execution-ready —in other words, it has been proven to deliver success far beyond strategic planning. It adds to a successful strategic management process.Key elements of a Strategic Plan

Key Elements Of A Strategic Plan

The key elements of a strategic plan include: 

  • Vision : Where do you want to get to? 
  • Values : How will you behave on the journey? 
  • Focus Areas : What are going to be your strategic priorities? 
  • Strategic objectives : What do you want to achieve? 
  • Actions and projects : How are you going to achieve the objectives? 
  • KPIs : How will you measure success?

In this part of the article, we will give you an overview of each element within the Cascade Model. You can follow this step-by-step process in a spreadsheet , or sign up to get instant access to a free Cascade strategic planning template and follow along as we cover the key elements of an effective strategic plan.

Your vision statement is your organization's anchor - it defines where you want to get to and is the executive summary of your organization's purpose. Without it, your strategic plan is like a boat without a rudder, at the mercy of strong winds and currents like Covid and global supply chain disruptions.

A good vision statement can help funnel your strategy towards long-term goals that matter the most to your organization, and everything you write in your plan from this point on will help you get closer to achieving your vision.

Trying to do too much at once is a surefire way to sink your strategic plan. By creating a clear and inspiring vision statement , you can avoid this trap and provide guidance and inspiration for your team. A great vision statement might even help attract talent and investment into your organization.

For example, a bike manufacturing company might have a vision statement like, “To be the premier bike manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest.” This statement clearly articulates the organization's goals and is a powerful motivator for the team.

In short, don't start your strategic plan without a clear vision statement. It will keep your organization focused and help you navigate toward success.

📚 Recommended read: How to Write a Vision Statement (With Examples, Tips, and Formulas)

Values are the enablers of your vision statement —they represent how your organization will behave as you work towards your strategic goals. Unfortunately, many companies throw around meaningless words just for the purpose of PR, leading to a loss of credibility.

To avoid this, make sure to integrate your organization’s core values into everyday operations and interactions. In today's highly-competitive world, it's crucial to remain steadfast in your values and cultivate an organizational culture that's transparent and trustworthy.

Companies with the best company cultures consistently outperform competitors and their average market by up to 115.6%, as reported by Glassdoor . 

For example, a bike manufacturing company might have core values like:

  • Accountability

These values reflect the organization's desire to become the leading bike manufacturer, while still being accountable to employees, customers, and shareholders.

👉 Here’s how to add vision and values to your strategic plan in Cascade: 

After you sign up and invite your team members to collaborate on the plan, navigate to Plans and Teams > Teams page, and add the vision, mission and values. This will help you to ensure that the company’s vision, mission statement, and values are always at top of mind for everyone.

📚When you're ready to start creating some company values, check out our guide, How To Create Company Values .

3. Focus Areas

Your focus areas are the strategic priorities that will keep your team on track and working toward the company’s mission and vision. They represent the high-level areas that you need to focus on to achieve desired business outcomes.

In fact, companies with clearly defined priorities are more likely to achieve their objectives. According to a case study by the Harvard Business Review , teams that focus on a small number of key initiatives are more likely to succeed than those that try to do too much. 

That’s also something that we usually recommend to our customers when they set up their strategic plan in Cascade. Rather than spreading your resources too thin over multiple focus areas, prioritize three to five. 

Following our manufacturing example above, some good focus areas include:

  • Aggressive growth
  • Producing the nation's best bikes
  • Becoming a modern manufacturer
  • Becoming a top place to work

Your focus areas should be tighter in scope than your vision statement, but broader than specific goals, time frames, or metrics. 

By defining your focus areas, you'll give your teams a guardrail to work within, which can help inspire innovation and creative problem-solving. 

With a clear set of focus areas, your team will be better able to prioritize their work and stay focused on the most important things, which will ultimately lead to better business results.

👉Here’s how you can set focus areas in Cascade: 

In Cascade, you can add focus areas while creating or importing an existing strategic plan from a spreadsheet. With Cascade’s Focus Area deep-dive functionality , you will be able to: 

  • Review the health of your focus areas in one place.
  • Get a breakdown by plans, budgets, resources, and people behind each strategic priority. 
  • See something at-risk? Drill down into each piece of work regardless of how many plans it's a part of.

add focus areas in cascade strategy execution platform

📚 Recommended read: Strategic Focus Areas: How to create them + Examples

4. Strategic Objectives

The importance of setting clear and specific objectives for your strategic plan cannot be overstated. 

Strategic objectives are the specific and measurable outcomes you want to achieve . While they should align with your focus areas, they should be more detailed and have a clear deadline. 

According to the 2022 State of High Performing Teams report , there is a strong correlation between goals and success not only at the individual and team level but also at the organizational level. Here’s what they found: 

  • Employees who are unaware of their company's goals are over three times more likely to work at a company that is experiencing a decline in revenue than employees who are aware of the goals. 
  • Companies with shrinking revenues are almost twice as likely to have employees with unclear work expectations. 

Jumping straight into actions without defining clear objectives is a common mistake that can lead to missed opportunities or misalignment between strategy and execution.

To avoid this pitfall, we recommend you add between three and six objectives to each focus area .

It's here that we need to start being a bit more specific for the first time in your strategic planning process . Let's take a look at an example of a well-written strategic objective:

  • Continue top-line growth that outpaces the industry by 31st Dec 2023.

This is too specific to be a focus area. While it's still very high level, it indicates what the company wants to accomplish and includes a clear deadline. Both these aspects are critical to a good strategic objective.

Your strategic objectives are the heart and soul of your plan, and you need to ensure they are well-crafted. So, take the time to create well-planned objectives that will help you achieve your vision and lead your organization to success. 

👉Here’s how you can set objectives in Cascade: 

Adding objectives in Cascade is intuitive, straightforward, and accessible from almost anywhere in the workspace. With one click, you’ll open the objective sidebar and fill out the details. These can include a timeline, the objective’s owner, collaborators, and how your objective will be measured (success criteria).

📚 Recommended read: What are Strategic Objectives? How to write them + Examples

5. Actions and projects

Once you’ve defined your strategic objectives, the next step is to identify the specific strategic initiatives or projects that will help you achieve those objectives . They are short-term goals or actionable steps you or your team members will take to accomplish objectives. They should leverage the company’s resources and core competencies. 

Effective projects and actions in your strategic plan should: 

  • Be extremely specific. 
  • Contain a deadline.
  • Have an owner.
  • Align with at least one of your strategic objectives.
  • Provide clarity on how you or your team will achieve the strategic objective.

Let's take a look at an example of a well-written project continuing with our bike manufacturing company using the strategic objective from above:

Strategic objective: Continue top-line growth that outpaces the industry by 31st Dec 2023.

Project: Expand into the fixed gear market by 31st December 2023.

This is more specific than the objective it links to, and it details what you will do to achieve the objective.

Another common problem area for strategic plans is that they never quite get down to the detail of what you're going to do.

It's easier to state "we need to grow our business," but without concrete projects and initiatives, those plans will sit forever within their PowerPoint templates, never to see the light of day after their initial creation.

Actions and projects are where the rubber meets the road. They connect the organizational strategic goals with the actual capabilities of your people and the resources at their disposal. Defining projects is a vital reality check every strategic plan needs.

👉Here’s how you create actions and projects in Cascade: 

From the Objective sidebar, you can choose to add a project or action under your chosen objective. In the following steps, you can assign an owner and timeline to each action or project.

Plus, in Cascade, you can track the progress of each project or action in four different ways. You can do it manually, via milestones, checklists, or automatically by integrating with Jira and 1000+ other available integrations .  

📚 Recommended read: How to create effective projects

Measuring progress towards strategic objectives is essential to effective strategic control and business success. That's where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come in. KPIs are measurable values that track progress toward achieving key business objectives . They keep you on track and help you stay focused on the goals you set for your organization.

To get the most out of your KPIs, make sure you link them to a specific goal or objective. In this way, you'll avoid creating KPIs that don't contribute to your objectives and distract you from focusing on what matters. 

Ideally, you will add both leading and lagging KPIs to each objective so you can get a more balanced view of how well you're progressing. Leading KPIs can indicate future performance while lagging KPIs show how well you’ve done in the past. Both types of KPIs are critical for operational planning and keeping your business on track.

Think of KPIs as a form of signpost in your organization. They provide critical insights that inform business leaders of their organization’s progress toward key business objectives. Plus, they can help you identify opportunities faster and capitalize on flexibility. 

👉Here’s how you can set and track KPIs in Cascade: 

In Cascade , you can add measures while creating your objectives or add them afterward. Open the Objective sidebar and add your chosen measure. 

When you create your Measure, you can choose how to track it. Using Cascade, you can track it manually or automatically. You can automate tracking via 1000+ integrations , including Excel spreadsheets and Google Sheets. In this way, you can save time and ensure that your team has up-to-date information for faster and more confident decision-making.

📚 Recommended reads:

  • 10 Popular KPI Software Tools To Connect & Visualize Your Data (2023 Guide)
  • ‍ How To Track KPIs To Hit Your Business Goals

Corporate Strategic Plan 

Following the steps outlined above, you should end up with a strategic plan that looks something like this:

corporate strategy plan template in cascade

This is a preview of a corporate strategic plan template that is pre-filled with examples. Here you can use the template for free and begin filling it out to align with your organization's needs. Plus, it’s suitable for organizations of all sizes and any industry. 

Once you fill in the template, you can also switch to the timeline view. You’ll get a complete overview of how the different parts of your plan are distributed across the roadmap in a Gantt chart view.

timeline view strategic planning corporate strategy

This template will help you create a structured approach to the strategic planning process, focus on key strategic priorities, and drive accountability to achieve necessary business outcomes. 

👉 Get your free corporate strategic plan template here.

Coca-Cola Strategic Plan 

Need a bit of extra inspiration to start writing your organization’s strategic plan? Check out this strategic plan example, inspired by Coca-Cola’s business plan: 

coca-cola strategy plan template in cascade

This template is pre-filled with Coca-Cola’s examples so you can inspire your strategic success on one of the most iconic brands on the planet. 

👉 Grab your free example of a Coca-Cola strategic plan here.

The Ramsay Health Care expansion strategy

Ramsay Health Care is a multinational healthcare provider with a strong presence in Australia, Europe, and Asia.

Almost all of its growth was organic and strategic. The company founded its headquarters in Sydney, Australia, but in the 21st century, it decided to expand globally through a primary strategy of making brownfield investments and acquisitions in key locations.

Ramsay's strategy was simple yet clever. By becoming a majority shareholder of the biggest local players, the company expanded organically in each region by leveraging and expanding their expertise.

Over the last two decades, Ramsay's global network has grown to 460 locations across 10 countries with over $13 billion in annual revenue.

📚 Recommended read: Strategy study: The Ramsay Health Care Growth Study

✨ Bonus resource: We've created a list of the most popular and free strategic plan templates in our library that will help you build a strategic plan based on the Cascade model explained in this article. You can use these templates to create a plan on a corporate, business unit, or team level.

We highlighted before that other strategic models often fail to scale strategic plans and goals scales across multiple teams and organizational levels. 

In an ideal world, you want to have a maximum of two layers of detail underneath each of your focus areas. This means you'll have a focus area, followed by a layer of objectives. Underneath the objectives, you'll have a layer of actions, projects, and KPIs.

Diagram of the Cascade Model framework showing the structure for focus areas, objectives, KPIs, actions and projects

If you have a single team that’s responsible for the strategy execution, this works well. However, how do you implement a strategy across multiple and cross-functional teams? And why is it important? 

According to LSA research of 410 companies across 8 industries, highly aligned companies grow revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable. And this is what Cascade can help you achieve. 

To achieve achieve organization-wide alignment with your strategic plan and impact the bottom line, there are two ways to approach it in Casade: through contributing objectives or shared objectives .

1. Contributing objectives

This approach involves adding contributing objectives that link to your main strategic objectives, like this:

diagram showing contributing objectives in the cascade model

For each contributing objective, you simply repeat the Objective → Action/Project → KPI structure as follows:

contributing objectives with kpis and actions cascade model

Here's how you can create contributing objectives in Cascade: 

Option A: Create contributing objectives within the same plan 

This means creating multiple contributing objectives within the same strategic plan that contribute to the main objective. 

However, be aware that if you have a lot of layers, your strategic plan can become cluttered, and people might have difficulty understanding how their daily efforts contribute to the strategic plan at the top level. 

For example, the people responsible for managing contributing objectives at the bottom of the plan ( functional / operational level ) will lose visibility on how are their objectives linked to the main focus areas and objectives (at a corporate / business level ). 

This approach is best suited to smaller organizations that only need to add a few layers of objectives to their plan.

Option B: Create contributing objectives from multiple plans linking to the main objective

This approach creates a network of aligned strategic plans within your organization. Each plan contains a set of focus areas and one single layer of objectives, each with its own set of projects, actions, and KPIs. This concept looks like this:

Diagram showing contributing objectives from multiple plans linking to the main objective in Cascade

This example illustrates an objective that is a main objective in the IT strategic plan , but also contributes to the main strategic plan's objective.

For example, let’s say that your main business objective is to improve customer satisfaction by reducing product delivery time by 25% in the next quarter. This objective requires multiple operational teams within your organization to work together to achieve a shared objective. 

Each team will create its own objective in its plan to contribute to the main objective: 

  • Logistics team: Reduce the shipment preparation time by 30%
  • IT team: Implement new technology to reduce manual handling in the warehouse
  • Production team: Increase production output by hour for 5%   

Here’s how this example would look like within Cascade platform:

example of contributing objectives in cascade

Although each contributing objective was originally created in its own plan, you can see how each contributing objective relates to the main strategic objective and its status in real-time.

2. Shared objectives

In Cascade, shared objectives are the same objectives shared across different strategic plans.

For example, you can have an objective that is “Achieve sustainable operations”. This objective can be part of the Corporate Strategy Plan, but also part of the Operations Plan , Supply Chain Plan , Production Plan, etc. In short, this objective becomes a shared objective between multiple teams and strategic plan. 

This approach helps you to:

  • Cascade your business strategy as deep as you want across a near-infinite number of people while maintaining strategic alignment throughout your organization .
  • Create transparency and a much higher level of engagement in the strategy throughout your organization since objective owners are able to identify how their shared efforts contribute to the success of the main business objectives.

The more shared objectives you have across your organization, the more your teams will be aligned with the overarching business strategy. This is what we call " alignment health ”. 

Here’s how you can see the shared objectives in the alignment map and analyze alignment health within Cascade:

Alignment Map and Objective Sidebar in cascade for shared objectives

You get a snapshot of how is your corporate strategic plan aligned with sub-plans from different business units or departments and the status of shared objectives. This helps you quickly identify misaligned initiatives and act before it’s too late.  Plus, cross-functional teams have better visibility of how their efforts contribute to shared objectives. 

So whether you choose contributing objectives or shared objectives, Cascade has the tools and features to help you achieve organization-wide alignment and boost your bottom line.

Quick Overview Of Key Steps In Writing A Strategic Plan

Here’s a quick infographic to help you remember how everything connects and why each element is critical to creating an effective strategic plan:

The Cascade Model Overview cheatsheet

This simple answer to how to write a strategic plan avoids confusing jargon and has elements that the whole organization can both get behind and understand. 

💡Tip: Save this image or bookmark this article for your next strategic planning session.

If you're struggling to write an execution-ready strategic plan, the Cascade model is the solution you've been looking for. With its clear, easy-to-understand terminology, and simple linkages between objectives, projects, and KPIs, you can create a plan that's both scalable and flexible.

But why is a flexible and execution-ready strategic plan so important? It's simple: without a clear and actionable plan, you'll never be able to achieve your business objectives. By using the Cascade Strategic Planning Model, you'll be able to create a plan that's both tangible and measurable, with KPIs that help you track progress towards your goals.

However, the real value of the Cascade framework lies in its flexibility . By creating links between main business objectives and your teams’ objectives, you can easily scale your plan without losing focus. Plus, the model's structure of linked layers means that you can always adjust your strategy in response to new challenges or opportunities and keep everyone on the same page. 

So if you want to achieve results with your strategic plan, start using Cascade today. With its unique combination of flexibility and focus, it's the perfect tool for any organization looking to master strategy execution and succeed in today's fast-paced business world. 

Want to see Cascade in action? Get started for free or book a 1:1 demo with Cascade’s in-house strategy expert.

This article is part one of our mini-series "How to Write a Strategic Plan". This first article will give you a solid strategy model for your plan and get the strategic thinking going.

Think of it as the foundation for your new strategy. Subsequent parts of the series will show you how to create the content for your strategic plan.

Articles in our How to Write a Strategic Plan series

  • How To Write A Strategic Plan: The Cascade Model (This article)
  • How to Write a Good Vision Statement
  • How To Create Company Values
  • Creating Strategic Focus Areas
  • How To Write Strategic Objective
  • How To Create Effective Projects
  • How To Write KPIs + Ultimate Guide To Strategic Planning

More resources on strategic planning and strategy execution: 

  • 6 Steps to Successful Strategy Execution
  • 4-Step Strategy Reporting Process (With Template)
  • Annual Planning: Plan Like a Pro In 5 Steps (+ Template) 
  • 18 Free Strategic Plan Templates (Excel & Cascade) 2023
  • The Right Way To Set Team Goals
  • 23 Best Strategy Tools For Your Organization in 2023

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What is Business Strategy? Definition, Importance, Levels, and Examples

What is Business Strategy? Definition, Importance, Levels, and Examples

Business strategy is the battle plan for a better future. - Patrick Dixon

Scaling up a business without a clear strategy is like captaining a ship without a rudder. The success of any business depends on the strategy that one follows. The business strategy establishes the needs of the business. Business strategy plays an important role for businesses of all sizes and entrepreneurs. It sets the direction of the organization and helps to create goals to aim towards.

What is Business Strategy?

Business strategy is defined as the course of action or set of decisions that support entrepreneurs in achieving certain business goals. It is a master plan that outlines the direction the organization intends to make, the actions it will undertake, and the resources it will give to attain certain competitive benefits and drive sustainable growth. It involves a combination of decisions, actions, and resource allocation that positions an organization in its industry or market.

Why is a Business Strategy important?

Business Strategy plays a crucial role in guiding a firm’s growth, competitiveness, and success. It offers a roadmap for decision-making, resource providing, and adaptation to transforming circumstances, ensuring that the firm stays agile, focused, and well-prepared to achieve its goals successfully. It is carefully planned and flexibly designed with the purpose of:

  • Achieving effectiveness
  • Perceiving and utilizing opportunities
  • Mobilizing resources
  • Securing an advantageous position
  • Meeting the challenges and threats
  • Directing efforts, behavior and
  • Gaining command over the situation

What is the Difference between Business Strategy & Business Plan & Business Model

Business Strategy, Business Plan, and Business Model are three distinct elements that offer various purposes in the world of business. They are vital for the success and sustainability of a business, and they are interconnected, with slight changes which are often confused by several aspiring business strategists , especially during their interviews. Here's a breakdown of the important differences between these:

What is the Difference between Business Strategy & Business Plan & Business Model

Levels of Business Strategy

Effective strategic management consists of coordination and alignment across various levels of strategy to achieve the organization's long-term goals and competitive advantage. Business strategy can be categorized into different levels depending on its scope, focus, and the organizational hierarchy at which it functions.

Levels of Business Strategy

The three primary levels of business strategy are:

  • Corporate level strategy Corporate level strategy is a long-range, action-oriented, integrated, and comprehensive plan, which is formulated by the top management of a company. It is very helpful to ascertain business lines, expansion, growth, takeovers and mergers, diversification , integration, and the latest fields for investment.
  • Business level strategy The strategies that relate to a specific business are known as business-level strategies. It is developed by the general managers, who convert mission and vision into concrete, clear, and result-driven strategies. It acts like a blueprint for the total business.
  • Functional level strategy Developed by the first-line managers or supervisors, the functional level strategy involves decision-making at the operational level concerning functional areas such as marketing, production, human resources, research and development, finance, and so on.

How to Implement a Successful Business Strategy?

A business strategist feels that it is tough to ideate any plan in a few hours. It requires a step-by-step procedure to be associated with completing a SWOT analysis . Here are the top steps that can be considered to build the best business strategies and execute them with precision:

  • Understand the targets One of the clearest challenges for growth is poor targeting. Clear target markets offer an organization the ability to create an integrated sales and marketing approach, where marketing enables sales productivity. Sales and marketing business plan gets executed more efficiently if the targets are fixed in a proper way.
  • Outline the tactics A successful business strategy is made up of several various tactics, including both online and offline options. The goals, target audience, and industry factor into this decision. For instance, if the target audience is young, focusing on social media is more beneficial as this is primarily where this group consumes content. If the industry is product-based (for instance, jewelry designing), then using a more visual platform would better showcase the products. To be most effective, one must choose which methods are right for the business. Once the selection of tactics is done, list them in the plan and determine how they’ll help to reach the goals.
  • Think long term In the scope of constant change, planning the horizons is usually shorter than it can be. However, only thinking quarter to quarter is a trap that may rob organizations of their ability to see around the bend. Best-in-class organizations create processes designed for a series of financial and non-financial metrics to treat strategy as an annual cycle rather than a one-time, static event.
  • Create a timeline Time is precious mainly when it is about the business. Based on the goals and objectives one can set for the business. Creating a timeline that will define what tasks can be completed and when they can be completed. It is highly advisable to allocate extra time for unexpected events that may delay some of the goals.
  • Focus on growth A thriving organization is a growing organization. It is only through growth that the firms can afford to invest in aspects such as technology, the best staff, and the latest tools. The business strategy should identify the segments where an organization will grow and in what proportion.
  • Have a budget plan Creating a budget for the business strategy can inform the efforts by determining what can be done and cannot be. Choosing the most cost-effective options for the business ensures the success of the overall business strategy. This doesn’t have to limit the options. Paid advertising on social media and search engines gives access to manage budgets well.
  • Make fact-based decisions Several executives often complain about a lack of fruitful data, but they consistently find information that is useful in the formation of business strategy. The business has a set of values that guides it. Making fact-based decisions will outline the values and ensure that the people who interact with the business are aware of them. It will also ease the message that reflects on the brand honestly so it can actively demonstrate the values outlined in the mission statement through the interactions with clients.
  • Invest in pre-work Always allocate time to do proper pre-work so that one can be up to date. It is better to conduct proper end-to-end research and prepare relevant information in advance of the business strategy meetings. The goals and needs will change over time. Ideally, it is important to revisit the business plan every annum to make adjustments as needed. Follow industry news and trends that can add to the existing strategy.
  • Execute well and measure results Measuring the effectiveness of the business strategy will inform the current plan and future efforts. Always be sure to track and measure the business so these measurements are effective. Set up a corporate calendar to enhance the productive meetings, and also to form a performance management cycle. One should write the marketing plan with this growth in mind so they can measure it. The execution of strategic planning needs discipline, and it must be taken care of by the senior executives to promote processes that keep the team focused.

Examples of Business Strategy

Hubspot developed and executed a perfect business strategy where it created a market that didn’t even exist – inbound marketing. It created an online resource guide explaining the limitations of interruption marketing and informing about the advantages of inbound marketing. The organizations even offered free courses to help the target audience understand its offering better.

Apple Inc. differentiated its Smartphone operating system iOS by making it simple as compared to Android. This differentiated it and built its followership. The organization has been following a similar business strategy for its other products as well.

Wrapping up

Establishing the business strategy keeps the business goals organized and focused, saving valuable time and money. With the increase in the competition, the demand for business strategy is becoming apparent and there is a tremendous increase in the types of business strategies used by the businesses.

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What is a Business Strategy? What are the examples of business strategy?

business strategy example in business plan

What is a business strategy?

A business strategy is a comprehensive plan formulated by an organization to achieve its long-term goals and objectives. It outlines the organization’s direction and guides its decision-making processes on allocating resources, including capital and people, to pursue this strategy. Here are some key aspects of a business strategy:

  • Vision and Mission : It starts with the clear articulation of the company’s vision and mission, which define the overarching purpose and goals of the organization.
  • Competitive Advantage : The strategy aims to establish or maintain a unique position in the market that allows the business to outperform its competitors. This could be through superior products, lower costs, brand strength, or other differentiators.
  • Market Analysis : A thorough market analysis, including customers, competitors, and the overall industry environment, is a critical part of formulating a business strategy. This helps in identifying opportunities and threats in the external environment.
  • Internal Analysis : Understanding the company’s internal strengths and weaknesses is equally important. This includes analyzing the company’s resources, capabilities, processes, and financial position.
  • Strategic Objectives : Strategic objectives are set based on external and internal analyses. The company aims to achieve These specific, measurable goals within a certain timeframe.
  • Tactics and Actions : The strategy also includes the development of specific tactics and actions that will be used to achieve the strategic objectives. This could involve developing new products, entering new markets, improving operations, or other initiatives.
  • Resource Allocation : A crucial part of the strategy is deciding how to allocate the organization’s resources effectively across different initiatives to maximize the chances of achieving the strategic objectives.
  • Performance Monitoring : Finally, a business strategy includes mechanisms for monitoring performance against the strategic objectives and adjusting the plan based on performance and changes in the external environment.

A well-crafted business strategy should guide the entire organization toward achieving its long-term goals while being flexible enough to adapt to changes in the external environment.

How to make a business strategy

Creating a business strategy involves a comprehensive process to define your company’s vision, objectives, and steps to achieve them. Here’s a structured approach to developing a business strategy:

  • Define Your Vision : Start by articulating a clear and compelling vision of what you want your organization to become in the future. This vision will guide the direction of your business strategy.
  • Set Clear Objectives : Establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives that align with your vision. These objectives should clarify what you intend to achieve in the short and long term.
  • Conduct a SWOT Analysis : Analyze your company’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. This will help you understand the internal and external factors impacting your strategy.
  • Understand Your Market and Competition : Conduct market research to gain insights into your industry, customers, and competitors. Understanding the market landscape is crucial for identifying opportunities and threats.
  • Define Your Value Proposition : Clearly articulate your business’s unique value to customers. This involves understanding what sets your products or services apart from competitors.
  • Outline Your Strategic Priorities : Based on your SWOT analysis and market understanding, identify the key areas your business needs to focus on to achieve its objectives. These priorities will guide your actions and resource allocation.
  • Develop Action Plans : For each strategic priority, develop detailed action plans that outline the specific steps, resources, and timelines required to achieve your objectives. This should include defining key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress.
  • Allocate Resources : Determine the resources (financial, human, technological) required to implement your action plans. Ensure that you allocate resources efficiently to maximize impact.
  • Implement and Monitor : Execute your action plans and monitor progress against your objectives and KPIs. This involves tracking performance, analyzing outcomes, and making adjustments as needed.
  • Review and Adapt : Business environments are dynamic, so reviewing your strategy and adapting it regularly is essential. This might involve revising your objectives, strategic priorities, or action plans.

Remember, a successful business strategy is not just about planning but also about execution and adaptability. It requires continuous evaluation and the willingness to adjust to align with your vision and objectives.

MIT Sloan Executive Education’s Applied Business Analytics online program is designed to bridge the gap between the needs of working professionals and the accessibility of analytical models and tools. Take this opportunity to use data to improve decision-making.

What are the levels of business strategy?

Business strategy can be divided into three levels: corporate, business, and functional.

Corporate level strategy

A corporate-level strategy is a long-term plan that a company uses to guide its business decisions and activities. A corporate-level strategy typically focuses on how the company will compete in its overall industry or market.

This can involve decisions about which businesses to operate in, what products or services to offer, and how to allocate resources across the company. Senior executives usually develop corporate-level strategies and are designed to help businesses achieve their overall goals.

When crafting a corporate strategy, businesses must consider their strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats in their industry. By considering all of these factors, companies can develop a plan that will allow them to compete effectively and achieve their desired success.

Corporate Level Strategy: Explained with Examples and Types  

Business level strategy

A business-level strategy is a plan of action to achieve a specific goal. This could be anything from increasing market share to expanding into new markets.

A business-level strategy must be aligned with the company’s overall mission and goals to succeed. It should also consider the company’s strengths and weaknesses and the threats and opportunities present in the marketplace.

Once a business-level strategy has been formulated, it is crucial to implement it in a consistent and disciplined manner. Otherwise, it will simply be another worthless piece of paper gathering dust on a shelf.

Business Level Strategy: Explained with Examples and Types

Functional level strategy

A functional-level strategy is a plan that focuses on how a company will use its resources to achieve its goals in a specific business area.

For example, a company’s marketing functional level strategy might focus on how it will use its marketing budget to reach its target customers. A functional-level strategy is generally created by a company’s top managers and is then implemented by lower-level managers.

While a functional-level strategy is often aligned with the company’s overall business strategy, it can also be adapted to meet the needs of a specific business unit or product line. By taking into account each business unit’s unique resources and objectives, a company can develop a more targeted and practical approach to achieving its goals.

For a company to be successful, all three levels of strategy must be aligned. Otherwise, there will be confusion and conflict between different departments, leading to stagnation or even decline.

By developing a clear and concise business strategy, companies can ensure that all levels of the organization work together towards a common goal.

Functional Level Strategy: Explained with Examples and Types

Examples of business strategy

A business strategy is a plan that outlines how a company will achieve its goals. There are many different business strategies, but some common examples include cost leadership, differentiation, and focus.

Cost leadership

Cost leadership creates a competitive advantage by having the lowest cost of production in their respective industry. This strategy is often used by companies that can produce their goods or services at a lower price than their competitors.

To achieve a cost leadership position, businesses must achieve economies of scale, which refers to producing goods or services at a lower unit cost as production increases.

There are several ways that businesses can achieve economies of scale, such as through vertical integration, investing in new technology, or streamlining their manufacturing process.

Once a business has achieved a cost leadership position, it can maintain it by continuously lowering its costs and/or raising its prices.

What is a Cost leadership strategy | Explained with Examples

Differentiation

A differentiation strategy is where a company seeks to distinguish itself from the competition by offering unique products or services.

This can be done in terms of quality, features, design, or any other aspect that sets the company’s products or services apart from its rivals.

A differentiation strategy aims to make the company’s products or services more attractive to customers and thus gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

While a differentiation strategy can be an effective way to grow a business, it can also be challenging to sustain over the long term due to the constant need to innovate and remain ahead of the competition.

Product differentiation Strategy in marketing with types & examples

A focus strategy involves targeting a specific market niche or segment. Focus Strategy: All you need to know

A focus strategy aims to gain a competitive advantage by catering to the target market’s unique needs. Focus strategies can be either cost-based or differentiation-based.

Focus strategies can effectively build brand loyalty and increase market share, but they can also be tricky to execute. Because focus strategies involve targeting a specific market segment, companies must be careful not to spread themselves too thin or risk losing their competitive advantage.

Each strategy has its benefits and drawbacks, and the best strategy for any given company will depend on its specific goals and situation.

However, all businesses need some strategy to be successful. Without a plan to achieve its goals, a company will likely flounder and ultimately fail.

Innovation focused business strategy of Godrej

How to measure the effectiveness of a business strategy

Measuring the effectiveness of a business strategy involves evaluating how well the strategy has achieved its objectives and contributed to the overall vision and goals of the organization. Here are vital steps and metrics to consider in this process:

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) : Identify specific, quantifiable indicators directly linked to the strategic objectives. KPIs can vary widely depending on the nature of the strategy and the business, including financial metrics, customer satisfaction scores, market share, operational efficiency, and employee engagement levels.
  • Financial Performance : Assess the impact of the strategy on the company’s financial health, including revenue growth, profit margins, return on investment (ROI), and cash flow. These metrics provide a clear picture of the financial viability and success of the strategy.
  • Market Position and Share : Evaluate changes in your market position and share as a result of the strategy. Gains in market share or improvements in positioning against competitors can indicate the effectiveness of market-oriented strategic initiatives.
  • Customer Metrics : Measure customer-related metrics such as customer satisfaction scores, customer retention rates, net promoter scores (NPS), and customer acquisition costs. These metrics can help assess how well the strategy resonates with customers and contributes to loyalty and growth.
  • Operational Efficiency : Look at improvements in operational metrics such as production costs, turnaround times, error rates, and quality indicators. Enhancements in these areas can signal the successful implementation of operational or process-oriented strategies.
  • Employee Engagement and Productivity : Evaluate employee-related metrics, including employee satisfaction, turnover rates, and productivity levels. A successful strategy should also positively impact the workforce, driving engagement and efficiency.
  • Strategic Milestones : Track progress against strategic milestones and timelines. Assessing the completion of critical initiatives and projects on schedule can provide insights into the execution effectiveness of the strategy.
  • Benchmarking : Compare your performance against industry benchmarks or competitors to gauge your strategy’s relative effectiveness. This can provide a broader perspective on how well your plan is performing in the competitive landscape.
  • Feedback Loops : Implement feedback mechanisms from customers, employees, and other stakeholders to gather qualitative insights into the strategy’s impact. Feedback can provide valuable context to the quantitative data and highlight areas for improvement.
  • Adaptability and Resilience : Assess how well the strategy has enabled the organization to adapt to unforeseen challenges or market changes. A strategy’s ability to provide flexibility and resilience can be a critical measure of its long-term effectiveness.

It’s essential to review these metrics and adjust your strategy as needed regularly. Effective measurement is an ongoing process, and insights gained from this evaluation should inform future strategic decisions and adjustments.

IDEO’s Design Thinking Strategy – Making consumers fall in love with your products

How to implement a successful business strategy

Any business owner knows that a successful company requires a well-thought-out strategy. But what goes into a successful business strategy?

Implementing a successful business strategy requires a thoughtful and systematic approach. Here are some steps you might consider:

  • Set Clear Goals: Defining what success looks like is crucial before you start. Your business goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Your strategy should be designed to help you achieve these goals.
  • Conduct a SWOT Analysis: A SWOT analysis helps you understand your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It provides a clear understanding of your current position, which is essential for strategy development.
  • Understand Your Customers: Knowing your customer’s needs and preferences is vital. This understanding will allow you to make strategic decisions that will satisfy your customers and make your business more competitive.
  • Understand Your Competitors: Knowing who your competitors are and what they offer can help you differentiate your products or services and find a competitive advantage.
  • Formulate the Strategy: Based on the knowledge gained from the previous steps, develop a strategy that leverages your strengths, minimizes your weaknesses, capitalizes on opportunities, and mitigates threats. This strategy should address all key areas of your business, such as product development, marketing, sales, operations, and customer service.
  • Communicate the Strategy: Once you have a strategy in place, communicate it clearly and consistently to all stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, and customers. Everyone should understand the direction the business is headed and their role in getting there.
  • Implement the Strategy: This is where the rubber meets the road. Start executing the strategy. Ensure all actions and decisions align with the strategic goals. You might need to change your operations, develop new products, enter new markets, etc.
  • Monitor and Adjust: Implementation is not a one-and-done process. Regularly review the strategy’s progress and effectiveness using key performance indicators (KPIs). If something isn’t working as expected, don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy.
  • Innovation: A successful strategy often includes a focus on innovation. This could mean developing new products or services, or it could involve finding more efficient ways of doing things.
  • Culture and Leadership: A positive culture and strong leadership are crucial for a successful strategy. Leaders should embody the strategy and inspire others to work towards it. Likewise, a culture that encourages collaboration, risk-taking, and continuous learning can accelerate strategy implementation.

Remember, every business is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. It’s important to be flexible and adaptable and continuously learn and refine your strategy based on what’s working and what’s not.

Difference between business strategy and corporate strategy

Business strategy and corporate strategy are two different levels of strategic planning in an organization. They both are essential for organizational success, but they focus on different aspects of the organization.

Corporate Strategy:

This is concerned with the overall scope and direction of the entire organization. It involves making decisions about the organization’s portfolio of businesses (if it is a conglomerate with multiple lines of businesses), the markets it will operate in, and how it will create value across those different businesses.

The focus of the corporate strategy is on capital allocation, mergers and acquisitions, and defining the overall corporate identity. The main goal of corporate strategy is to ensure the organization is diversified and balanced in a way that reduces risks and enhances corporate value. In other words, it looks at “what” businesses the company should be in.

Corporate Level Strategy: Explained with Examples and Types

Business Strategy:

This operates at a lower level and is concerned with how a single business unit competes within its specific market. It outlines how to achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Business strategy involves decisions about product development, customer targeting, marketing, production, distribution, and pricing.

It’s more focused on operational effectiveness and strategic positioning within the market. This strategy primarily responds to the question of “how” the business will succeed in a specific market.

In summary, corporate strategy is more big-picture, determining where and how the organization will compete, whereas business strategy focuses on executing the corporate strategy within specific markets.

business strategy example in business plan

The real challenge in crafting strategy lies in detecting subtle discontinuities that may undermine a business in the future. And for that there is no technique, no program, just a sharp mind in touch with the situation Henry Mintzberg, management thinker and “enfant terrible” of strategic planning theory

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SharpSheets

500+ business plans and financial models

Manufacturing Business Plan PDF Example

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  • May 7, 2024
  • Business Plan

the business plan template for a manufacturing business

Creating a comprehensive business plan is crucial for launching and running a successful manufacturing business. This plan serves as your roadmap, detailing your vision, operational strategies, and financial plan. It helps establish your manufacturing business’s identity, navigate the competitive market, and secure funding for growth.

This article not only breaks down the critical components of a manufacturing business plan, but also provides an example of a business plan to help you craft your own.

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or new to the manufacturing industry, this guide, complete with a business plan example, lays the groundwork for turning your manufacturing business concept into reality. Let’s dive in!

Our manufacturing business plan covers all essential aspects necessary for a comprehensive strategy. It details operations, marketing strategy , market environment, competitors, management team, and financial forecasts.

  • Executive Summary : Provides an overview of the manufacturing company’s business concept, market analysis , management, and financial strategy.
  • Facilities & Equipment: Describes the facility’s capabilities, machinery, and technological advancements.
  • Operations & Supply: Outlines the production processes, supply chain logistics, and inventory management.
  • Key Stats: Offers data on industry size , growth trends, and market positioning.
  • Key Trends: Highlights significant trends impacting the industry, such as automation and localization.
  • Key Competitors : Analyzes primary competitors and differentiates the company from these rivals.
  • SWOT: Analyzes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Marketing Plan : Outlines tactics for attracting new contracts and maintaining client relationships.
  • Timeline : Sets out key milestones from inception through the first year of operations.
  • Management: Information on the management team and their roles within the company.
  • Financial Plan: Projects the company’s financial performance over the next five years, detailing revenue, profits, and anticipated expenses.

the business plan template for a manufacturing business

Manufacturing Business Plan

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Executive Summary

The Executive Summary introduces your manufacturing business plan, offering a concise overview of your manufacturing facility and its products. It should detail your market positioning, the range of products manufactured, the production process, its location, size, and an outline of day-to-day operations.

This section should also explore how your manufacturing business will integrate into the local and broader markets, including the number of direct competitors within the area, identifying who they are, along with your business’s unique selling points that differentiate it from these competitors.

Furthermore, you should include information about the management and co-founding team, detailing their roles and contributions to the business’s success. Additionally, a summary of your financial projections, including revenue and profits over the next five years, should be presented here to provide a clear picture of your business’s financial plan.

Make sure to cover here _ Business Overview _ Market Overview _ Management Team _ Financial Plan

Manufacturing Business Plan exec summary1

Dive deeper into Executive Summary

Business Overview

Facilities & equipment.

Describe your manufacturing facility. Highlight its design, capacity, and technology. Mention the location, emphasizing accessibility to transport routes. Discuss advantages for efficiency and cost management. Detail essential equipment and its capabilities.

Operations & Supply Chain

Detail product range. Outline your operations strategy for efficiency and scalability. Discuss supply chain management. Highlight sourcing of materials, inventory control, and logistics. Emphasize strong partnerships with suppliers and distributors.

Make sure to cover here _ Facilities & Equipment _ Operations & Supplies

business strategy example in business plan

Market Overview

Industry size & growth.

Start by examining the size of the manufacturing industry relevant to your products and its growth potential. This analysis is crucial for understanding the market’s scope and identifying expansion opportunities.

Key Market Trends

Proceed to discuss recent market trends , such as the increasing demand for sustainable manufacturing processes, automation, and advanced materials. For example, highlight the demand for products that utilize eco-friendly materials or energy-efficient production techniques, alongside the rising popularity of smart manufacturing.

Key Competitors

Then, consider the competitive landscape, which includes a range of manufacturers from large-scale enterprises to niche firms. For example, emphasize what makes your business distinctive, whether it’s through advanced technology, superior product quality, or specialization in certain manufacturing niches. This section will help articulate the demand for your products, the competitive environment, and how your business is positioned to thrive within this dynamic market.

Make sure to cover here _ Industry size & growth _ Key competitors _ Key market trends

business strategy example in business plan

Dive deeper into Key competitors

First, conduct a SWOT analysis for your manufacturing business. Highlight Strengths such as advanced production technology and a skilled workforce. Address Weaknesses, including potential supply chain vulnerabilities or high production costs. Identify Opportunities like emerging markets for your products or potential for innovation in production processes. Consider Threats such as global competition or economic downturns that may impact demand for your products.

Marketing Plan

Next, develop a marketing strategy that outlines how to attract and retain customers through targeted advertising, trade shows, digital marketing, and strategic partnerships. Emphasize the importance of showcasing product quality and technological advantages to differentiate your business in the market.

Finally, create a detailed timeline that outlines critical milestones for your manufacturing business’s launch, marketing initiatives, customer acquisition, and expansion goals. Ensure the business progresses with clear direction and purpose, setting specific dates for achieving key operational and sales targets.

Make sure to cover here _ SWOT _ Marketing Plan _ Timeline

Manufacturing Business Plan strategy

Dive deeper into SWOT

Dive deeper into Marketing Plan

The Management section focuses on the manufacturing business’s management and their direct roles in daily operations and strategic direction. This part is crucial for understanding who is responsible for making key decisions and driving the manufacturing business toward its financial and operational goals.

For your manufacturing business plan, list the core team members, their specific responsibilities, and how their expertise supports the business.

Manufacturing Business Plan management

Financial Plan

The Financial Plan section is a comprehensive analysis of your financial projections for revenue, expenses, and profitability. It lays out your manufacturing business’s approach to securing funding, managing cash flow, and achieving breakeven.

This section typically includes detailed forecasts for the first 5 years of operation, highlighting expected revenue, operating costs and capital expenditures.

For your manufacturing business plan, provide a snapshot of your financial statement (profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow statement), as well as your key assumptions (e.g. number of customers and prices, expenses, etc.).

Make sure to cover here _ Profit and Loss _ Cash Flow Statement _ Balance Sheet _ Use of Funds

Manufacturing Business Plan financial plan

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Butcher Shop Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

butcher shop business plan

Butcher Shop Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their butcher shops. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through a butcher shop business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What is a Butcher Shop Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your butcher shop as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan for a Butcher Shop

If you’re looking to start a butcher shop, or grow your existing butcher business, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your butcher shop in order to improve your chances of success. Your business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Butcher shops

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a butcher shop are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, you will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for social media marketing businesses.

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How to write a business plan for a butcher shop.

Below we detail what should be included with each section of your business plan for a butcher shop.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of meat shop you are operating and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have a butcher shop that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of independent butcher shops?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the meat industry. Discuss the type of butcher shop you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target market. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.  

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of butcher shop you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types of butcher businesses:

  • Deli Butcher Shop : this type of meat shop specializes in cutting deli meats in small quantities for single or family size servings.
  • Specialty Butcher Shop: this type of meat shop focuses on cutting specific meats such as wild game animals; their clients are usually hunters or fishermen.
  • Abattoir Butcher: this type of meat shop specializes in cutting meats in wholesale sizes at abattoir/slaughterhouse.

In addition to explaining the type of butcher business you will operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of customers served, number of positive reviews, total weight of fresh meat cuts, etc.
  • Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the meat industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the meat industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your meat shop business plan:

  • How big is the meat and poultry industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your butcher shop? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: individuals, families, deli shops, grocery stores, restaurants and fast food suppliers.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of business you operate. Clearly, a family would respond to different marketing promotions than fast food supplier, for example.

Try to break out your target market in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. Because most butcher shops primarily serve customers living in their same city or town, such demographic information is easy to find on government websites.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other butcher shops.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes delis, supermarkets and grocery stores.

With regards to direct competition, you want to describe the other butcher shops with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be house flippers located very close to your location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

  • What types of customers do they serve?
  • What types of meats do they specialize in?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide a wider variety of meat options?
  • Will you provide special discounts or perks for new or returning customers?
  • Will you provide the highest quality meat?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of meat shop that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific meat products you will be offering. For example, will other food options such as side dishes?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location of your business. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your business located in a busy retail district, or a highly trafficked area? Discuss how your location might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions: The final part of your marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertising in local papers and magazines
  • Reaching out to local websites
  • Social media marketing
  • Local radio advertising

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your meat shop business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your butcher shop, including cutting meats, tracking inventory, and completing orders and sales for customers.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to have X number of customers, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your business to a new city.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your butcher shop’s ability to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in food service management. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in overseeing supermarkets or grocery stores or successfully running their own business.  

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement : an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you only cut meats in small portions or in large quantities for other businesses such as a supermarket? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets : Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your meat shop, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement : Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a meat shop:

  • Location build-out including design fees, construction, etc.
  • Cost of equipment and supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Taxes and permits
  • Legal expenses

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your office location lease or blueprints for your shop.  

Putting together your own business plan for your butcher shop is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will have an expert business plan (download it to PDF to show banks and investors). You will really understand the meat and poultry industry, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful butcher shop.  

Butcher Shop Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my butcher shop business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Butcher Shop Business Plan.

What is the Goal of a Business Plan's Executive Summary?

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of butcher shop you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have a butcher shop that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of butcher shops?

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Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.   Click here to see how Growthink’s professional business plan consulting services can create your business plan for you.

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Business Plan Template

Free Marketing Plan Examples: Real-World Samples & Templates

By Joe Weller | April 27, 2024

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A  marketing plan  is a comprehensive document that outlines a company’s marketing strategy and tactics, and ensures that its marketing goals align with its overall objectives. Effective marketing plans include detailed analysis of the market along with roadmaps for upcoming campaigns. Inside this article, you’ll find the  elements of a marketing plan , 10 real-world examples of marketing plans with commentary from experienced marketing professionals, free marketing plan templates and samples , and a  chart to help you determine which template suits your needs .

Marketing Plan Elements

Typical marketing plans begin with an executive summary and include audience demographics, company objectives, situational analysis of the business, and marketing strategies and tactics. Market research and analysis provide campaign direction, and the budget and timeline offer practical parameters. A marketing plan can provide an overview of all strategies and campaigns to be executed in a certain time frame, or it can focus on a specific product, channel, or strategy. The level of detail and the sections included might vary, depending on the organization’s needs. The nine main elements of a marketing plan are:  

Executive Summary and Mission Statement:  A concise, high-level summary conveys the purpose of your marketing plan, introduces key strategies and research insights, and highlights the most important takeaways for stakeholders. For example, an executive summary might outline your brand’s identity, its place within the competitive landscape, and the major opportunities that upcoming marketing campaigns will target. Longer plans might include a separate mission statement or vision statement to align marketing efforts with your company’s larger goals. Discover more  examples of executive summaries with templates to help you write one effectively.  

Single Slide Executive Summary Example Template

Situational Analysis:  One of the most crucial elements of your marketing plan, a situational analysis is an assessment of the internal and external factors affecting a business’s performance. It should include research-based insights into market trends and dynamics, customer demographics and pain points, and internal resources.  A strong situational analysis often includes a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, which provides a foundation for an effective marketing strategy. Learn more about  how to perform a SWOT analysis .  

Competitive Analysis:  Understanding the competition is key to developing a compelling marketing plan. This analysis should consider recent marketing campaigns from similar brands to identify successful ways to reach a shared target audience. Being aware of the competitive landscape can also help your business develop a unique selling proposition and stand out in the market. The competitive analysis might be included in the larger situational analysis, or it might be a stand-alone section. For example, a marketing plan could include data on how competitors rank on keywords, or it could evaluate the performance of competitors’ recent social media campaigns. One common framework for understanding market dynamics is a Porter’s five forces analysis, which identifies the forces that contribute to industry rivals. Learn how to evaluate the competitive landscape with  free industry analysis templates .  

Porter’s Five Forces Model Example Template

Target Audience: In order to implement marketing strategies that engage consumers and drive conversions, businesses need to know who their audience is, what they want, and how they behave. A marketing plan should define a specific, segmented target audience with demographic, geographical, psychographic, and behavioral data.  This section often includes customer profiles or buyer personas — fictionalized representations of ideal customers or audience segments — which help marketers typify consumer behaviors. These profiles should include media habits and most-used platforms to ensure that your marketing plan selects the right channels for each campaign. Learn how to analyze your target market with  free customer profile templates .  

Simple Customer Profile Presentation Template

Goals and Objectives:  Marketing plans typically include both long-term goals, which provide broad direction for the company’s marketing strategy, and short-term objectives, which focus on more immediate tactics and campaigns. Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) and include corresponding key performance indicators (KPIs).  The goals and objectives in a marketing plan often focus on conversions, market share, brand awareness, or engagement. Clearly defined goals ensure strategically aligned marketing initiatives with measurable results. Take a look at  real-world examples of SMART goals for more insights.  

SMART Goals Worksheet Template with Sample Text

Marketing Strategy:  This section of a marketing plan details the business’s unique value proposition and the channels that will communicate it. A robust marketing strategy addresses the touchpoints in a consumer’s buying cycle and breaks down the 4 Ps (product, price, place, promotion) of the marketing mix. Channels might include digital marketing, advertisements, social media, and influencer partnerships. To develop an overarching marketing strategy, consider using a  marketing strategy template . To learn more about the 4 Ps, read this  product marketing guide .  

Marketing Strategy Example Template

Tactics and Action Plan:  A marketing plan is not an abstract strategy document, but a concrete roadmap for executing specific campaigns with specific tactics. Your plan should detail the messaging for each campaign and the corresponding methods for communication — such as email newsletters, social content, targeted ads, and public relations.  This section provides KPIs and actionable steps such as resource allocation, deliverables, and distribution plans. It might also include the expected outcome for each campaign. To plan individual campaigns, consider using a  marketing project plan template .  

Marketing Project Plan Template

Budget:  Marketing expenses might include the cost of advertising, content creation, website maintenance, or promotional materials; no marketing plan is complete without a budget that breaks down the costs of such initiatives. A clear, comprehensive budget ensures that marketing efforts are financially feasible and resources can be allocated for maximum impact. The budget also enables the marketing team to track the return on investment (ROI) of each campaign. To create a comprehensive budget, try our  free marketing budget templates .    

Marketing Budget Plan Template

Timeline:  Finally, a marketing plan includes a clear schedule for implementing its initiatives and tactics. This timeline details the start and end dates of each campaign, deadlines for deliverables, and key events or milestones. It keeps the marketing team aligned and initiatives on track, ensuring that marketing objectives can be achieved within the set time frame. Organize dates and deadlines with the help of a  marketing timeline template .  

Marketing Timeline Template

Marketing Plan Examples

Real-world marketing plans show how businesses utilize effective planning documents. These 10 examples from various industries exhibit unique strengths and weaknesses. With insightful commentary from marketing experts, these plans offer practical takeaways any marketer can use.  

Delmarva and the Ground for Change This  in-depth marketing plan for a documentary produced by the USDA Northeast Climate Hub includes audience profiles, competitive analysis, and a distribution plan. Along with a detailed breakdown of its digital marketing strategy, it considers how different tactics will affect the viewer’s content journey.   

Delmarva Marketing Plan

John Dinsmore , a marketing consultant and professor at Wright State University, praises this plan for its attractive design and thoughtful, thorough content: “They do a nice job of extrapolating on who the target market is and tying their tactics to achieving specific goals.”  He appreciates the inclusion of a SWOT analysis, but feels it could be done more effectively. “‘Opportunities’ is not a place for business ideas. It’s a place to identify external, positive trends that can help your initiative. In this context, an opportunity could be ‘Rising concern for and awareness of climate issues.’ Similarly, ‘threats’ is not a place to list things that are difficult. It’s for negative external trends such as ‘Increased skepticism over ability to combat climate change.’” 

Dekker Fraser

Dekker Fraser , former Global Marketing Manager at Sony PlayStation, adds that this plan includes a strong focus on collaborations with media and influencers: “Many marketing plans place too much emphasis on target customers and not enough on target collaborators.”  

Minnesota Tourism This  marketing plan by Explore Minnesota , the state’s Department of Tourism, showcases Minnesota’s beauty with vivid imagery. It uses a variety of demographic information to identify priority audience segments and includes well-designed infographics that analyze audience and competition. As a result, the campaigns are clearly targeted at specific audiences and objectives. 

John Rarrick

John Rarrick , Head of Marketing at Movius Corp., admires the strength of the message behind the strategy. “This plan has a very well-developed ‘why,’” he says. “You’ll see that often when the plan is to repair or save something that has undergone a time of great loss — such as a loss of revenue or reputation. The audience personas, goals, tactics, and budget are all detailed and measurable.” 

Minnesota Marketing Plan

Gold Coast Transit District  

Gold Coast Marketing Plan

A  short, high-level marketing plan for Gold Coast Transit highlights key campaigns and includes the most important details, such as timelines, budgets, and tactics. It begins with a bulleted overview of the most important takeaways and takes into account general marketing efforts that don’t fit under a specific campaign umbrella. Fraser notes that this plan includes year-round marketing initiatives, with an effective “emphasis on strong offers, such as youth-free fares.” However, he points out that its brand awareness goals could be more specific. “Instead, use context-specific awareness goals such as ‘When commuting to work, residents first think of Gold Coast Transit’ or ‘When coming home from the library at night, I think of taking the bus,’” he says. “In other words, peg awareness to specific category-entry points.”  

University of Arizona College of Engineering This  marketing, branding, and communications plan for the University of Arizona College of Engineering sets out a long-term vision, high-level goals, and strategies for achieving these goals. It has a section for methodology — including promotional videos and email newsletters — and segments its audience to align with its strategies. This plan “demonstrates a clearly defined audience,” according to Rarrick. That said, not every section of the plan includes the same level of specificity. “The KPIs are vague,” he adds. “I would expect to see something more measurable, rather than ‘increase’ or ‘improve.’” 

Arizona Marketing Plan

Timberland Regional Library This  library's two-year marketing plan sets initiatives in motion with a clear schedule for action. It includes both promotional and production calendars for effective planning, which is especially important for campaigns pegged to external events.  Dinsmore cites this plan’s “professional and elegant graphic design” as a strength. It also offers a roadmap for tackling several marketing campaigns on different timelines. However, he suggests that the plan needs more measurable goals and defined strategies. “There’s no overarching strategy that ties all of these tactics and initiatives together,” he says. “It’s just a laundry list of dates and actions.” 

Library Marketing Plan

Safe Haven Family Shelter Nonprofit organizations need creative marketing strategies to reach their targets and use funds efficiently. With specific objectives and actionable steps, this  marketing plan for Safe Haven Family Shelter delineates high-level goals and details the path to achieving them. It identifies the roles and responsibilities of individual team members to ensure alignment. Rarrick commends this plan for its “clearly defined audience and very clearly defined goals.” The plan showcases the differences between strategic business goals and measurable marketing objectives.  

Safe Haven Marketing Plan

Visit Myrtle Beach This  destination marketing plan by the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce  incorporates detailed information about target markets, audience personas, and key behaviors. It includes an infographic that illuminates the touchpoints in a traveler’s journey and shows the marketing team how each tactic contributes to conversions.  Overall, Dinsmore praises this plan as a “very smart and thoughtful presentation.” It outlines a distinct media mix for each target audience, defines its objectives clearly, and ties these objectives to success metrics. He continues, “I want to thank the Myrtle Beach folks for planning to measure their efforts. Measurement is often anathema to marketing people, but if you’re not measuring, you don’t know how to improve.”  With so much information to cover, the plan would benefit from an executive summary to introduce key takeaways. “The bigger the scope, the harder it is to make everything feel connected, and that’s a bit of an issue with this plan,” Dinsmore adds.  

Myrtle Beach Marketing Plan

Tropical Avocados This  example of a no-frills plan was commissioned by the nonprofit Improving Economies for Stronger Communities (IESC) to help brand and launch tropical avocados in the U.S. market. It shows the importance of making branding decisions backed by market and consumer research. A detailed SWOT analysis and competitive analysis provide essential insights that enable the company to determine the best unique selling proposition.  A key strength of this plan is its detailed research into its audience. Fraser cites its “excellent identification of consumer objections — e.g., concern over how natural the avocado size is — and consumer behavior.” As a result, the brand can adopt effective messaging in its marketing campaigns. As with USDA Northeast Climate Hub’s Delmarva and the Ground for Change documentary, “target collaborators — e.g., food writers, organizations, and chefs — are included in the target audience. Collaborators are often more critical to the marketing plan than the consumers themselves,” Fraser adds.  

Avocados Marketing Plan

Rochelle Community Hospital This  case study of Rochelle Community Hospital in Rochelle, Illinois, shows how a targeted marketing plan can be used to achieve significant results. The report by Legato Healthcare Marketing showcases the importance of reevaluating an existing marketing strategy — in this case, shifting the emphasis from print to digital. External marketing agencies often have more tools at their disposal, particularly if the business has not had a strong digital presence. With targeted ads and website updates, the agency employed tactics with direct metrics in order to track its impact.   

Rochelle Hospital Marketing Plan

Visit Concord This  example from the Concord Tourism Improvement District marketing plan is concise and includes streamlined insights on the audience and market. It details each marketing channel with specific tactics and measurable KPIs.  The overall strategy, according to Fraser, offers “an excellent emphasis on social proof and word-of-mouth marketing,” as well as a “good balance of awareness and activation marketing.” In order to improve, he suggests, “the plan should factor in the following critical quantitative factors to help drive the media strategy: reach, frequency, and the total-addressable market.” 

Concord Marketing Plan

Marketing Plan Templates

Using a template takes the guesswork out of organizing a marketing plan document. These customizable templates include essential elements and options for specific industries or marketing channels, and they range from one-page plans to comprehensive, presentation-ready reports.

Microsoft Word Simple Marketing Plan Template

Simple Marketing Plan Sample

Download the Simple Marketing Plan Example Template for Microsoft Word Download the Blank Simple Marketing Plan Template for Microsoft Word

This example of a simple, customizable plan focuses on key strategies and prioritizes readability. This one-page marketing plan template includes space to summarize marketing strategy and overarching business objectives, along with an action plan to highlight responsibilities and deadlines.

Microsoft Word Annual Marketing Plan Template

Annual Marketing Plan Example

Download the Annual Marketing Plan Example Template for Microsoft Word Download the Blank Annual Marketing Plan Template for Microsoft Word  

This comprehensive marketing plan template includes a number of key sections — such as goals, target market, marketing channels, and performance standards — that can be customized to suit a variety of businesses. In the situational analysis, you can find space for both a 5C (company, collaborators, customers, competitors, climate) analysis and a SWOT analysis. The blank template begins with a table of contents, a business summary, and a mission statement to allow for easy readability. The sample focuses on marketing strategies for one fiscal year, but you can modify this plan for any time period. 

Microsoft Word Small Business Marketing Plan Template

Small Business Marketing Plan Example

Download the Small Business Marketing Plan Example Template for Microsoft Word Download the Blank Small Business Marketing Plan Template for Microsoft Word

A strong marketing plan is essential for small businesses looking to stand out from larger competitors. This small business marketing plan template provides an outline for a detailed marketing strategy, including a unique selling proposition, the 4Ps marketing mix, and marketing channels. It builds its strategy on situational analysis and identification of the business’s core capabilities. Find  more marketing plan templates  for different industries.

Microsoft Word Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template

NonProfit Marketing Plan Example

Download the Nonprofit Marketing Plan Example Template for Microsoft Word Download the Blank Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template for Microsoft Word

This example marketing plan for a nonprofit incorporates information on the funding climate into its situational analysis, as well as a detailed organizational summary. With sections for short- and long-term goals, marketing strategies and channels, and stakeholder profiles, the template is comprehensive and customizable. Find  more nonprofit marketing plan templates here .

Excel Product Marketing Plan Template

Product Marketing Plan Example

Download the Product Marketing Plan Example Template for Excel Download the Blank Product Marketing Plan Template for Excel

When integrating a new product into existing marketing strategies, it’s important to take into account all the elements of the marketing mix. This product marketing plan template is organized by product, price, place, promotion, process, people, and physical evidence. In these sections, you can find space to consider market research, consumer behaviors, and marketing channels.

Excel Social Media Marketing Plan Template

Social Media Marketing Action Plan Example

Download the Social Media Marketing Plan Example Template for Excel Download the Blank Social Media Marketing Plan Template for Excel

For planning specific campaigns, this social media marketing action plan template begins with the campaign goal, highlights important promo dates, and separates actions by platform. It’s useful for executing targeted social media campaigns within a larger marketing strategy. Find  more marketing action plan templates here .

Excel Digital Marketing Plan Template

Digital Marketing Plan Example

Download the Digital Marketing Plan Example Template for Excel Download the Blank Digital Marketing Plan Template for Excel

Focusing on digital marketing channels is an effective way to organize strategies into a streamlined and actionable plan. This strategic digital marketing template highlights important audience behaviors and access channels to ensure messaging reaches consumers. Customizable for a variety of digital marketing projects, the template includes space for keywords, goals, and tasks. Find  more digital marketing plan templates here .

Which Marketing Plan Format Is Right for You?

To choose the right marketing plan format for your needs, consider the plan’s role in your marketing strategy. Do you need a comprehensive plan to provide an overview of tactics that will take place over a long period of time? Or are you looking for a plan to focus on specific channels, campaigns, or product launches? 

Each template in this article offers space to detail market research, strategies, and access channels. The longer plans include more sections for in-depth situational analysis and audience demographics, while the shorter plans focus on the marketing mix and action plan. This chart highlights the key elements of each marketing plan:  

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Examples

Agriculture Business Plan

business strategy example in business plan

It has been raining enough times, and the sun is high up in the sky. It’s almost growing season. Most farmers count off the days and look forward to this time. Despite that, there is another essential thing that you should prepare ahead of time. It has nothing to do about crops, chickens, or cattle and has everything to do with business documents. That said, compose an agriculture business plan before that season kicks off.

10+ Agriculture Business Plan Examples

1. agriculture business plan.

Agriculture Business Plan

  • Google Docs

2. Agriculture Sector Business Plan

Agriculture Sector Business Plan

3. Agriculture Farms Business Plan

Agriculture Farms Business Plan

Size: 767 KB

4. Agriculture Business Marketing Plan

Agriculture Business Marketing Plan

Size: 270 KB

5. Organic Agriculture Business Plan

Organic Agriculture Business Plan

Size: 724 KB

6. Agriculture Business Plan Template

Agriculture Business Plan Template

Size: 604 KB

7. Agriculture Vegetable Business Plan

Agriculture Vegetable Business Plan

Size: 259 KB

8. Value Added Agriculture Business Plan

Value Added Agriculture Business Plan

Size: 812 KB

9. Agency Agriculture Business Plan

Agency Agriculture Business Plan

Size: 656 KB

10. Agriculture Water Management Business Plan

Agriculture Water Management Business Plan

Size: 447 KB

11. Agriculture Management Business Plan

Agriculture Management Business Plan

Size: 501 KB

What Is an Agriculture Business Plan?

An agriculture business plan is a necessary document that farmers write to increase the success rate of their business. This form details both their short-term and long-term  business goals . As well as the methods they will employ to attain their desired results. Most business ventures, especially the new ones, mostly have a business plan at their disposal.

How to Generate a Dependable Agriculture Business Plan

Planning is a process. It involves several steps that require you to brainstorm about a lot of items. The farming business has a lot of factors that can positively and negatively affect its profitability. That said, in composing this plan, you need to think about the essential elements that make up an impressive business plan.

1. Compose Your Mission and Vision Statement

When business professionals make decisions regarding their business, they use their organization’s mission and vision as a guide. This procedure will help them in setting the direction of their business goal setting . These statements will also convey the purpose and the objectives of your business venture to your prospects. In addition, it will also reflect your organization and the staff involved. 

2. Devise a Marketing Strategy

To maximize the gains of your business, you need to devise a marketing strategy . This process will help you spread awareness and reach a wider variety of clients. There are multiple ways to promote your services and organic vegetables and livestock products. If you want to implement the traditional tactics, you can print then post or hand out business flyers and posters. On the other hand, if you opt to employ a digital marketing strategy, you should look into effective social media strategies.

3. Research Your Target Market and Competitors

Running a target market analysis will give you an idea of the current trends of your clients. This activity could help you tailor your business techniques to fit your market’s demands. Another thing is to conduct a competitor SWOT analysis . By doing this, you can gain data that would be useful in strategizing on tactics to make your agriculture business stand out amongst them. 

4. Set Your Price List

Setting your price list for your services and products will include a lot of calculations of the financial costs and other factors that contributed to the process of growing and taking care of your crops and livestock. This task is a critical step because if you make your agricultural products too expensive or too cheap, they can directly impact your farm budget and the health of your business. 

Why is the agriculture business important?

Agriculture business or agribusiness, in short, is essential in maintaining the economy of various countries. It is because it serves as one of the sources of food. Aside from that, it also provides raw materials to people and other businesses. In addition, this business venture also offers employment to several people. The number comprises more of the workers in the rural areas.

What are examples of careers in agriculture?

People who took up the agriculture program have a lot of business and opportunities they can explore. Considering that people in agriculture have several skill sets, they can work on labor jobs, engineering jobs, and selling products. Aside from that, they can work as the operator of agriculture equipment and crop growers. In addition, they can also get a job as an agent that purchases farm products.

What is a farm SWOT analysis?

When you get into the agriculture business, you will need to generate a farm SWOT analysis . This framework will provide you with the details regarding your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and possible threats to your farm. This data will help you in constructing and tailoring your action plan for various circumstances.

You plant seeds and get fully grown crops after nurturing them. The same applies when doing business. You make a business plan ahead of time and get a booming business in return. People with green thumbs like you have a natural talent for growing plants, but you can make your life greener by earning plenty of dollar bills. Craft your agriculture business plan well and be the cream of the crop in the agribusiness.

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COMMENTS

  1. 9 business strategy examples (and why you need one ASAP)

    Corporate-level business strategy: This high-level strategy includes the company's vision, mission and key decisions.This might involve business choices, acquisitions or divestments, and resource allocation, for example. Business-level strategy: A business-level strategy determines how a company competes in a market, considering product mix, customer segments, pricing, marketing and distribution.

  2. 3 Business Strategy Examples to Inspire Your Own

    One of the best ways to learn about business strategy is from real-world examples. Here are three companies that faced numerous challenges but overcame them through value-based business strategies. 1. Best Buy. Best Buy, the multinational electronics retailer, is an excellent example of how a shift in business strategy can lead to rapid growth.

  3. The 7 Best Business Strategy Examples I've Ever Seen

    Tesla - Playing the long game. Airbnb - Forgetting all about scalability. Toyota - Humility can be the best business strategy. HubSpot - Creating an industry then dominating it. Apple - iPhone launch shows tremendous restraint. PayPal - Daring to challenge the status quo. Spotify - Changing the rules of the music industry.

  4. Business Strategy Definition, Examples, Types & 10-Step Guide

    Business strategy refers to a comprehensive plan or a series of actions meticulously crafted to achieve specific business goals and objectives. It entails a systematic approach aimed at gaining a competitive edge, responding to market dynamics, and attaining sustainable success within a particular industry or market.

  5. 10 Business Strategy Examples (And Why It Helps To Have One)

    A business strategy guides top-level executives, as well as departments, about what should and should not be done, according to the organization's core values. It helps everyone stay on the same page and with the same goals. 3. SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

  6. How To Write A Business Strategy: Your Four-Step Guide

    Strategic Planning. Creating a solid business strategy happens in three parts: 1) understanding where you stand strategically as an organization right now; 2) deciding where you want to be in the future; and 3) determining how you'll get there. The steps below cover each of these areas, with steps three and four both being part of the final ...

  7. How to Develop a Business Strategy: 6 Steps

    Related: 4 Business Strategy Skills Every Business Leader Needs. 6 Steps to Develop a Value-Based Business Strategy 1. Define Your Purpose. When approaching business strategy, defining your organization's purpose can be a useful starting point. This is vital in creating customer and employee value, especially if your organization's purpose ...

  8. What Is Business Strategy & Why Is It Important?

    A business strategy is foundational to a company's success. It helps leaders set organizational goals and gives companies a competitive edge. It determines various business factors, including: Price: How to price goods and services based on customer satisfaction and cost of raw materials.

  9. How To Make A Business Plan: Step By Step Guide

    The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include. 1. Create an executive summary. Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

  10. Business Strategy: What It Is, What It Covers, and Examples

    A business strategy is a high-level outline of how a company plans to achieve its goals. Developing a business strategy is a multi-part process that requires research, analysis, and decision-making. It requires an upfront time investment, with the possibility of improving communication and efficiency down the line.

  11. Business Strategy: Examples, Case Studies, And Tools

    A business strategy is a deliberate plan that helps a business to achieve a long-term vision and mission by drafting a business model to execute that business strategy. A business strategy, in most cases, doesn't follow a linear path, and execution will help shape it along the way.

  12. How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

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

  13. Business strategy examples

    Over the last decades, researchers and business leaders have identified a handful of so-called "generic strategies" with broad application across the business landscape. These core business strategies are: Broad cost leadership strategy. Broad differentiation strategy. Focused differentiation strategy. Focused cost leadership strategy.

  14. Business Strategy: Definition, Components, Examples and Guide

    10 Examples of effective business strategies. Below, we'll outline some business strategy examples you can consider when developing your own long-term goals. 1. Technological advantage. Having a technological advantage can lead to more sales, increased productivity, and a competitive edge in your market.

  15. How To Write A Strategic Plan That Gets Results + Examples

    1. Run a strategic planning workshop. The first step is to run a strategic planning workshop with your team. Get your team in the room, get their data, and gather their insights. By running this workshop, you'll foster collaboration and bring fresh perspectives to the table. And that's not all.

  16. What To Include in a Strategic Business Plan (With Template)

    An annual strategic business plan should include 8 key sections. Follow these steps to write an effective annual strategic business plan: State information that defines the company. Perform a SWOT analysis. Identify business goals. Identify key performance indicators. Perform and summarize market research. Outline the business marketing plan.

  17. Strategic Business Plan Template for 2024 Sample

    It's important to project as closely as possible to avoid loss of trust. A "Critical Ratio" is calculated by dividing the time remaining until a job's deadline by the total shop time remaining for said job. A critical ratio above 1.0 is ideal for any business, as that means you're doing well on cost and schedule.

  18. How to Create a Strategic Plan for Your Business in 5 Steps

    Teaches Being a Band. Teaches the Power of Storytelling. Teaches Drumming & Creative Collaboration. Teach Creative Collaboration and Fashion. Critical Leadership Training. Small Habits that Make a Big Impact on Your Life. Rewriting the Rules of Business and Life. Using Humor to Make Your Mark. Think Like a Boss, Live Like a Legend.

  19. What is Business Strategy? Definition, Importance, Levels, and Examples

    Corporate level strategy is a long-range, action-oriented, integrated, and comprehensive plan, which is formulated by the top management of a company. It is very helpful to ascertain business lines, expansion, growth, takeovers and mergers, diversification, integration, and the latest fields for investment.

  20. What is a Business Strategy? What are the examples of business strategy?

    Functional level strategy. A functional-level strategy is a plan that focuses on how a company will use its resources to achieve its goals in a specific business area. For example, a company's marketing functional level strategy might focus on how it will use its marketing budget to reach its target customers.

  21. The Ultimate List of Strategic Planning Templates (2024)

    This flexible marketing strategy template is designed for SaaS-based businesses yet can be tailored to other industries as needed. With Visme's Presenter Studio, you can record your presentation so your audience can view it at their own pace. Human Resource Strategic Planning Template 10. Business Employee Engagement Action Plan

  22. Free Strategic Plan Template and Best Practices

    This strategic business plan template spans 7 pages to get you set up with a solid foundation for your business's strategic plan. The layout starts with an executive summary and continues with a company overview, product description, market analysis, and planned strategies.

  23. Business Strategic Plan

    A business strategic plan requires multiple steps (specifically a process) before it is presented to executives and other stakeholders of the company. Listed below is the strategic planning process: 1. Mission and objectives. The mission statement describes the company's vision or a long-term goal it wants to achieve.

  24. Manufacturing Business Plan PDF Example

    This plan serves as your roadmap, detailing your vision, operational strategies, and financial plan. It helps establish your manufacturing business's identity, navigate the competitive market, and secure funding for growth. This article not only breaks down the critical components of a manufacturing business plan, but also provides an example ...

  25. Butcher Shop Business Plan Template & Guide [Updated 2024]

    What is a Butcher Shop Business Plan? A business plan provides a snapshot of your butcher shop as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans. Why You Need a Business Plan for a Butcher Shop

  26. Free Marketing Plan Examples: Real-World Samples & Templates

    Marketing Strategy: This section of a marketing plan details the business's unique value proposition and the channels that will communicate it. A robust marketing strategy addresses the touchpoints in a consumer's buying cycle and breaks down the 4 Ps (product, price, place, promotion) of the marketing mix.

  27. Agriculture Business Plan

    How to Generate a Dependable Agriculture Business Plan. Planning is a process. It involves several steps that require you to brainstorm about a lot of items. The farming business has a lot of factors that can positively and negatively affect its profitability. That said, in composing this plan, you need to think about the essential elements ...

  28. Revamp your business plan and have your best summer ever

    Although we like to create goals and strategies near the end of the year, coaches Emily Bossert and Melanie Klein write, there's no time like now to benefit from a comprehensive business plan

  29. Exclusive: Tesla retreats from next-generation 'gigacasting

    Tesla has backed away from an ambitious plan for innovations in gigacasting, its pioneering manufacturing process, according to two sources familiar with the matter, in another sign that the ...

  30. Pfizer Announces New Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer

    Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced that Andrew Baum, M.D., will join the company as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Executive Vice President. Dr. Baum will be a member of Pfizer's Executive Leadership Team reporting to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Albert Bourla. He joins Pfizer from Citi, where he served as Head of Global Healthcare, Managing Director Equity Research.