Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:

  • Product goals and deadlines for each month
  • Monthly financials for the first two years
  • Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
  • Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years

Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.

While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.

For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .

Business Plan Steps

The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Description of business
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Description of organizational management
  • Description of product or services
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Funding details (or request for funding)
  • Financial projections

If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.

Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.

Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.

In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the vision and mission of the company?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?

See our  roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.

Step 2: Description of Business

The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:

  • What business are we in?
  • What does our business do?

Step 3: Market Analysis

In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:

  • Who is our customer? 
  • What does that customer value?

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:

  • Who is the competition? 
  • What do they do best? 
  • What is our unique value proposition?

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

  • What is the product or service?
  • How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?

Step 7: Marketing Plan

In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:

  • Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
  • What channels will you use to reach your target market?
  • What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
  • If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Step 8: Sales Plan

Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts. 

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the sales strategy?
  • What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
  • What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
  • What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
  • What are the metrics of success?

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
  • How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
  • What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?

Step 10: Financial Projections

Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years. 

While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:

  • How and when will the company first generate a profit?
  • How will the company maintain profit thereafter?

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.

For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy. 

If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.

Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .

  • Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. 
  • Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision. 
  • Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
  • Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
  • Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
  • Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
  • Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
  • Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
  • Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting. 
  • Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.

Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates . 

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.

While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:

  • Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
  • List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
  • Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
  • Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
  • Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.). 
  • Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
  • Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
  • Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.

See our wide variety of  startup business plan templates for more options.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.

In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.

  • Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
  • Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
  • Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
  • Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
  • Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”

Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.

Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.

“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”

Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.

Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships. 

Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.

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What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

contents of typical business plan

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

Key Takeaways

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

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Types of Business Plans

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

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

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

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

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

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

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

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

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

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

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

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contents of typical business plan

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What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

AJ Beltis

Published: June 07, 2023

In an era where more than 20% of small enterprises fail in their first year, having a clear, defined, and well-thought-out business plan is a crucial first step for setting up a business for long-term success.

Business plan graphic with business owner, lightbulb, and pens to symbolize coming up with ideas and writing a business plan.

Business plans are a required tool for all entrepreneurs, business owners, business acquirers, and even business school students. But … what exactly is a business plan?

businessplan_0

In this post, we'll explain what a business plan is, the reasons why you'd need one, identify different types of business plans, and what you should include in yours.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them. It outlines a company's go-to-market plan, financial projections, market research, business purpose, and mission statement. Key staff who are responsible for achieving the goals may also be included in the business plan along with a timeline.

The business plan is an undeniably critical component to getting any company off the ground. It's key to securing financing, documenting your business model, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.

What is a business plan used for?

The purpose of a business plan is three-fold: It summarizes the organization’s strategy in order to execute it long term, secures financing from investors, and helps forecast future business demands.

Business Plan Template [ Download Now ]

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Working on your business plan? Try using our Business Plan Template . Pre-filled with the sections a great business plan needs, the template will give aspiring entrepreneurs a feel for what a business plan is, what should be in it, and how it can be used to establish and grow a business from the ground up.

Purposes of a Business Plan

Chances are, someone drafting a business plan will be doing so for one or more of the following reasons:

1. Securing financing from investors.

Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital. This document is an entrepreneur's way of showing potential investors or lenders how their capital will be put to work and how it will help the business thrive.

All banks, investors, and venture capital firms will want to see a business plan before handing over their money, and investors typically expect a 10% ROI or more from the capital they invest in a business.

Therefore, these investors need to know if — and when — they'll be making their money back (and then some). Additionally, they'll want to read about the process and strategy for how the business will reach those financial goals, which is where the context provided by sales, marketing, and operations plans come into play.

2. Documenting a company's strategy and goals.

A business plan should leave no stone unturned.

Business plans can span dozens or even hundreds of pages, affording their drafters the opportunity to explain what a business' goals are and how the business will achieve them.

To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies — from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.

These explanations should ultimately lead to a business' break-even point supported by a sales forecast and financial projections, with the business plan writer being able to speak to the why behind anything outlined in the plan.

contents of typical business plan

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Fill out the form to access your free business plan., 3. legitimizing a business idea..

Everyone's got a great idea for a company — until they put pen to paper and realize that it's not exactly feasible.

A business plan is an aspiring entrepreneur's way to prove that a business idea is actually worth pursuing.

As entrepreneurs document their go-to-market process, capital needs, and expected return on investment, entrepreneurs likely come across a few hiccups that will make them second guess their strategies and metrics — and that's exactly what the business plan is for.

It ensures an entrepreneur's ducks are in a row before bringing their business idea to the world and reassures the readers that whoever wrote the plan is serious about the idea, having put hours into thinking of the business idea, fleshing out growth tactics, and calculating financial projections.

4. Getting an A in your business class.

Speaking from personal experience, there's a chance you're here to get business plan ideas for your Business 101 class project.

If that's the case, might we suggest checking out this post on How to Write a Business Plan — providing a section-by-section guide on creating your plan?

What does a business plan need to include?

  • Business Plan Subtitle
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • The Business Opportunity
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Target Market
  • Marketing Plan
  • Financial Summary
  • Funding Requirements

1. Business Plan Subtitle

Every great business plan starts with a captivating title and subtitle. You’ll want to make it clear that the document is, in fact, a business plan, but the subtitle can help tell the story of your business in just a short sentence.

2. Executive Summary

Although this is the last part of the business plan that you’ll write, it’s the first section (and maybe the only section) that stakeholders will read. The executive summary of a business plan sets the stage for the rest of the document. It includes your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.

3. Company Description

This brief part of your business plan will detail your business name, years in operation, key offerings, and positioning statement. You might even add core values or a short history of the company. The company description’s role in a business plan is to introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way.

4. The Business Opportunity

The business opportunity should convince investors that your organization meets the needs of the market in a way that no other company can. This section explains the specific problem your business solves within the marketplace and how it solves them. It will include your value proposition as well as some high-level information about your target market.

businessplan_9

5. Competitive Analysis

Just about every industry has more than one player in the market. Even if your business owns the majority of the market share in your industry or your business concept is the first of its kind, you still have competition. In the competitive analysis section, you’ll take an objective look at the industry landscape to determine where your business fits. A SWOT analysis is an organized way to format this section.

6. Target Market

Who are the core customers of your business and why? The target market portion of your business plan outlines this in detail. The target market should explain the demographics, psychographics, behavioristics, and geographics of the ideal customer.

7. Marketing Plan

Marketing is expansive, and it’ll be tempting to cover every type of marketing possible, but a brief overview of how you’ll market your unique value proposition to your target audience, followed by a tactical plan will suffice.

Think broadly and narrow down from there: Will you focus on a slow-and-steady play where you make an upfront investment in organic customer acquisition? Or will you generate lots of quick customers using a pay-to-play advertising strategy? This kind of information should guide the marketing plan section of your business plan.

8. Financial Summary

Money doesn’t grow on trees and even the most digital, sustainable businesses have expenses. Outlining a financial summary of where your business is currently and where you’d like it to be in the future will substantiate this section. Consider including any monetary information that will give potential investors a glimpse into the financial health of your business. Assets, liabilities, expenses, debt, investments, revenue, and more are all useful adds here.

So, you’ve outlined some great goals, the business opportunity is valid, and the industry is ready for what you have to offer. Who’s responsible for turning all this high-level talk into results? The "team" section of your business plan answers that question by providing an overview of the roles responsible for each goal. Don’t worry if you don’t have every team member on board yet, knowing what roles to hire for is helpful as you seek funding from investors.

10. Funding Requirements

Remember that one of the goals of a business plan is to secure funding from investors, so you’ll need to include funding requirements you’d like them to fulfill. The amount your business needs, for what reasons, and for how long will meet the requirement for this section.

Types of Business Plans

  • Startup Business Plan
  • Feasibility Business Plan
  • Internal Business Plan
  • Strategic Business Plan
  • Business Acquisition Plan
  • Business Repositioning Plan
  • Expansion or Growth Business Plan

There’s no one size fits all business plan as there are several types of businesses in the market today. From startups with just one founder to historic household names that need to stay competitive, every type of business needs a business plan that’s tailored to its needs. Below are a few of the most common types of business plans.

For even more examples, check out these sample business plans to help you write your own .

1. Startup Business Plan

businessplan_7

As one of the most common types of business plans, a startup business plan is for new business ideas. This plan lays the foundation for the eventual success of a business.

The biggest challenge with the startup business plan is that it’s written completely from scratch. Startup business plans often reference existing industry data. They also explain unique business strategies and go-to-market plans.

Because startup business plans expand on an original idea, the contents will vary by the top priority goals.

For example, say a startup is looking for funding. If capital is a priority, this business plan might focus more on financial projections than marketing or company culture.

2. Feasibility Business Plan

businessplan_4

This type of business plan focuses on a single essential aspect of the business — the product or service. It may be part of a startup business plan or a standalone plan for an existing organization. This comprehensive plan may include:

  • A detailed product description
  • Market analysis
  • Technology needs
  • Production needs
  • Financial sources
  • Production operations

According to CBInsights research, 35% of startups fail because of a lack of market need. Another 10% fail because of mistimed products.

Some businesses will complete a feasibility study to explore ideas and narrow product plans to the best choice. They conduct these studies before completing the feasibility business plan. Then the feasibility plan centers on that one product or service.

3. Internal Business Plan

businessplan_5

Internal business plans help leaders communicate company goals, strategy, and performance. This helps the business align and work toward objectives more effectively.

Besides the typical elements in a startup business plan, an internal business plan may also include:

  • Department-specific budgets
  • Target demographic analysis
  • Market size and share of voice analysis
  • Action plans
  • Sustainability plans

Most external-facing business plans focus on raising capital and support for a business. But an internal business plan helps keep the business mission consistent in the face of change.

4. Strategic Business Plan

businessplan_8

Strategic business plans focus on long-term objectives for your business. They usually cover the first three to five years of operations. This is different from the typical startup business plan which focuses on the first one to three years. The audience for this plan is also primarily internal stakeholders.

These types of business plans may include:

  • Relevant data and analysis
  • Assessments of company resources
  • Vision and mission statements

It's important to remember that, while many businesses create a strategic plan before launching, some business owners just jump in. So, this business plan can add value by outlining how your business plans to reach specific goals. This type of planning can also help a business anticipate future challenges.

5. Business Acquisition Plan

businessplan_3

Investors use business plans to acquire existing businesses, too — not just new businesses.

A business acquisition plan may include costs, schedules, or management requirements. This data will come from an acquisition strategy.

A business plan for an existing company will explain:

  • How an acquisition will change its operating model
  • What will stay the same under new ownership
  • Why things will change or stay the same
  • Acquisition planning documentation
  • Timelines for acquisition

Additionally, the business plan should speak to the current state of the business and why it's up for sale.

For example, if someone is purchasing a failing business, the business plan should explain why the business is being purchased. It should also include:

  • What the new owner will do to turn the business around
  • Historic business metrics
  • Sales projections after the acquisition
  • Justification for those projections

6. Business Repositioning Plan

businessplan_6 (1)

When a business wants to avoid acquisition, reposition its brand, or try something new, CEOs or owners will develop a business repositioning plan.

This plan will:

  • Acknowledge the current state of the company.
  • State a vision for the future of the company.
  • Explain why the business needs to reposition itself.
  • Outline a process for how the company will adjust.

Companies planning for a business reposition often do so — proactively or retroactively — due to a shift in market trends and customer needs.

For example, shoe brand AllBirds plans to refocus its brand on core customers and shift its go-to-market strategy. These decisions are a reaction to lackluster sales following product changes and other missteps.

7. Expansion or Growth Business Plan

When your business is ready to expand, a growth business plan creates a useful structure for reaching specific targets.

For example, a successful business expanding into another location can use a growth business plan. This is because it may also mean the business needs to focus on a new target market or generate more capital.

This type of plan usually covers the next year or two of growth. It often references current sales, revenue, and successes. It may also include:

  • SWOT analysis
  • Growth opportunity studies
  • Financial goals and plans
  • Marketing plans
  • Capability planning

These types of business plans will vary by business, but they can help businesses quickly rally around new priorities to drive growth.

Getting Started With Your Business Plan

At the end of the day, a business plan is simply an explanation of a business idea and why it will be successful. The more detail and thought you put into it, the more successful your plan — and the business it outlines — will be.

When writing your business plan, you’ll benefit from extensive research, feedback from your team or board of directors, and a solid template to organize your thoughts. If you need one of these, download HubSpot's Free Business Plan Template below to get started.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

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What is a business plan?

1. write an executive summary, 2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. summarize how your company operates, 10. add any additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

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

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness

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

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

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

This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your business offers and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.

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

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

Next up is your company description. This should contain basic information like:

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

Lastly, write a little about the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.

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

contents of typical business plan

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

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

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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

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

Here are some tips to write a detailed, convincing business plan:

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

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

Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.

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Contents of a Business Plan: Everything You Need to Know

The contents of a business plan consist of a detailed description of what, when, why, where, and how the business's operations will be accomplished. 3 min read updated on January 01, 2024

Overview of a Business Plan

A business plan includes the cost of organizing the business, the anticipated sources of revenue, how the products and services are customer oriented, and anticipated profit margins. Business plans serve two main purposes. First, they are a guide business owners use to streamline management and planning/organization of the business. Second, they show potential venture capitalists, bankers, and other lenders a comprehensive plan to encourage them to invest in the business.

Sublevels of a business plan include:

  • Marketing plan
  • Financial plan
  • Human resource plan
  • Production plan

Elements of a Business Plan

A well-written business plan will include the following:

  • Cover letter

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Mission statement
  • Company background
  • Products and services
  • Competitive analysis

Marketing/Realization

  • Location/Production/Administrative
  • Management and international organization
  • Risk analysis
  • Financial planning

Summary/Conclusion

Cover Letter

The business plan's cover letter has the same purpose as a cover letter for a resume. The point is to engage prospective investors using the cover letter so they'll look at the entire plan. The cover letter should include the recipient's address, the date, and your address. Begin the cover letter with "Dear" followed by the person's name.

In the body of the cover letter, let the recipient know you're submitting a business plan with a short one-sentence description of the business and what the recipient can expect when reading the plan. In the next paragraph, indicate that you look forward to hearing from them and provide a phone number they can call at their convenience.

Thank them for their time. Sign off. Include your name in typewritten form along with your signature.

Keep this page short and to the point. Include your business logo, business name, if there is a founder, and the name. Add "Business Plan," an image (optional), and the date.

The table of contents is a roadmap to help the recipient peruse the list and easily find each section. Some people may choose to read sections one after the other while others may choose to skip around. Include every section and subsection that may be of interest to a potential investor.

This is an important section. Because you're targeting executives, the overview of your business should be top-quality information to entice them to read the complete plan. The focus should be a summary of the main facets of your business plan.

Mission Statement

This section is a short statement about your business's goal and what you plan to create through the enterprise.

Company Background

This is a short statement including the date the business was developed, its founders, stages of development, the date it was incorporated, and, for existing businesses, the level of success.

Also, include the key figures in the business and the ownership and legal structure.

Products and Services

Under this section, provide a detailed description of your customer needs, benefits to customers, marketing services, and advantages and disadvantages of any competitor services or products.

Marketing Plan

This will include an overview of the market in general with an emphasis on purchase incentives, market analysis, and customer structure. It will also include the position your business holds in the market using information from target customer groups, canvassed market segments, and sale channels.

Competitive Analysis

Provide information about your main competitors' names, locations, market positions, weaknesses, strengths, and target markets.

This section covers details about product range, services, and pricing strategies. Sales targets for the next five years should also be included.

Location/Production/Administration

Include the location of the business and the advantages and disadvantages of its location. The production should discuss in-house and/or outsourced production and material costs. The administration portion will discuss the office infrastructure, such as accounting and technical support.

Management and International Organization

This section could work written as an organizational chart outlining member functions and responsibilities, special skills, and salaries.

Risk Analysis

Provide information on anticipated internal risks such as marketing, production, management, and financing. External risks would include information on ecological, economic, social, and legal areas.

Financial Planning

Lay out your plan for short- and long-term financial planning.

This is a final wrap up of the business plan that binds the everything together.

If you need help with outlining the contents of a business plan, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

Hire the top business lawyers and save up to 60% on legal fees

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How to Write a Business Plan Complete Guide

Business Plan Template

Free Business Plan Template

Paresh Balar

  • March 18, 2024

24 Min Read

how to write a business plan

Welcome to the journey of entrepreneurship . You are here because you have a great business idea and want to know how to write a business plan to convert that idea into reality.

Before you start writing your business plan, let’s understand What is a business plan? Why do you need one in the first place? And What should you include in your business plan?

Table of Contents

  • What is a business plan?
  • What to include in your business plan?

Business Plan Cover Page

Business plan outline, things to consider before writing a business plan.

  • Why do you need a business plan?

Let’s get started with an important question.

What is a Business Plan?

In simple words, a business plan is a document that outlines your business goals and details how you plan to achieve those goals. It is a living document that will prove to you and the rest of the world that your idea is not just a dream but can be a viable reality.

Also, it will help investors learn about your business, and vision, and convince them that your business idea is worth investing in. Your business plan will provide concrete evidence that your business idea is sound and has every chance of success.

Your business plan is the backbone of your business.

What Should You Include in Your Business Plan?

Every business idea and plan is unique in its terms. You should include all the details that explain your business idea in the best possible way. However, there are a few elements that every entrepreneur should include in their business plan.

The following is a full guide for creating a comprehensive business plan. We’ll first list out the sections that must be included in the business plan and in the later part, we’ll explain what should be added to each section:

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Overview
  • Problem Analysis
  • Products & Services
  • Product Features
  • Market Overview
  • Market Size
  • Target Customers
  • Customer Needs
  • Direct Competitors
  • Indirect Competitors

Competitive Advantages

Swot analysis.

  • Promotions Plan
  • Distribution Plan
  • Key Operational Processes

Management Team

  • Management Team Gaps
  • Board Members
  • Revenue Model
  • Financial Highlights
  • Funding Requirements
  • Use of Funds
  • Exit Strategy
  • Appendix – Supporting Documentation

Now you are ready to write your business plan, let’s understand in detail how you can write your business plan and what you should include in each element of the business plan.

business plan cover page

The business plan cover page is the first and most important part of the business plan because it will create the first impact and will set the platform for how investors or readers will engage with your business plan.

Just by looking at the business plan cover page, an investor or reader can get a quick idea about the purpose of your business idea and business plan.

However, many entrepreneurs do not pay enough attention to the cover page, which is their biggest mistake.

business plan table of contents

In any document, the business plan table of contents provides a quick overview and works as navigation to navigate across the document. The same does for a business plan as well.

A table of contents is important to provide a quick overview of the sections that you have included in your business plan and help readers to navigate to the section that interests them the most. If investors are excited about a particular part of the business plan first, they will find the table of contents extremely useful in finding the relevant sections within the business plan.

Usually, the table of contents needs to be added at the start of the document and just after the business plan cover page.

Here’s a Quick Overview of Each Key Chapter:

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section of your business plan. However, the executive summary is always written at last as it is a brief introduction to your business plan and a summary of your entire business plan document.

A good executive summary should answer the following basic questions:

  • What are you trying to achieve with your business idea?
  • Why is your business idea important? and
  • How are you going to achieve your business goals?

Generally, a good executive summary should include the following details:

  • A brief description of the problems you will be solving
  • Summary of your business goals & vision
  • Products or services you are going to offer
  • A solid description of the market you are targeting
  • A quick look at your competition and your competitive advantages
  • A basic financial projection of your revenue, expenses, and profits
  • Your funding requirements (if any) and how you will be using that funds.

It does seem like lots of details are required to write a good executive summary but at the same time, it is important to get it right because if your summary does not clearly explain how you will solve a customer problem and make a profit, then investors or readers might not find it worth reading.

Most of the investors just read the executive summary and decide if they should read the rest of the business plan or not. So make your efforts count in this part of the business plan.

In short, write your executive summary in such a way that readers would want to turn the page and keep on reading.

Always remember, that a good executive summary should not be more than one or two pages long. However, in some cases, it can be longer if there is an absolute requirement.

2. Company Overview

The company overview section provides a brief history of your company if it already exists. However, if you are starting a new business, here you will need to write about yourself, your achievements, and how you will set up and form your business as a company.

Here you need to answer questions such as how and when your company was formed, what type of legal entity you are, and what are your achievements to date. Your past journey and achievements are the best sign of your possible future success, so make sure to include all the important milestones you or your company have achieved to date.

As a startup, your company overview can be very much short, so focus on your personal history, achievements, and the journey that led you to start your business in the first place. Sharing your original idea is important because it shows how you think and how you were able to craft your idea into a business.

Even if you are just starting, your educational background, professional experience, achievements, and the details of your best business idea can give potential investors a vision of what you are trying to achieve.

Have a look at this company overview example

  • Starbucks company profile
  • Puma company page

3. Problem Analysis

You have started the business because you have identified the unique problem that customers are facing and in this section, you just need to explain that problem.

The problem statement section can be explained with three simple questions.

  • Whom does the problem affect?
  • What are the causes of the problem?
  • Why is it important to fix it?

When you write your problem statement, just describe how bigger the problem is and why it is most important to fix it. Also, there might be multiple problems you will be solving, but always try to focus on the main problem because you don’t win on the number of problems you solve; you win on how well you solve a specific problem .

While writing the business plan, most entrepreneurs focus on the solution they are going to offer, and in that process, they forget to explain the actual importance of the problem. Remember the more accurately you will explain the problem, the more valuable the solution will be.

Remember to keep the problem statement as simple as possible and should be self-explanatory. Also, it is good to include the key statistics that explain the severity of the problem.

After you explain the problem, it is also important to describe the world once a particular problem will be solved and that will set the stage to introduce the solution you are proposing.

4. The Solution

Business Plan Solution Section

The solution section is also called the product & services section . In this section, you will need to define your best-proposed solution to the problem you explained in the previous problem analysis section.

Your solution details should be as simple as possible. It is not recommended to use too many technical or industry details while writing about your product details. Keep in mind your readers will not have the same education or technical background as you.

The length of this section will depend on the nature of your business. for example, if your business is product-focused and the product is relatively new in the market, then you should write more about the product, its design, its features, etc. However, if your business is relatively common like selling bicycles or restaurant business and you are planning to compete with better pricing or customer service then you probably don’t need to write more about products.

If your product is hard to explain it’s a good idea to include a picture. Also, if you are planning to expand your business and will come with new products or services in the future, then you can mention those details here as well.

Your product or service pricing should be mentioned here in this section. Apply the right pricing strategy to set the best pricing for your product or services. Also, if you have any product patents, copyrights, licenses, etc then add those details here in this section.

In short, your solution section should answer the following common questions:

  • Your products or services are currently under development or already available?
  • If not available, what will be the timeline for delivering products and services to the market?
  • How are your products or services different from the competition?
  • How will you get your products? Are you the manufacturer or do you purchase products from suppliers or wholesalers?

When you write this product and services section, think of your reader as a person who knows little to nothing about your business. so make it as simple as possible.

5. Market Analysis

Before you start your business, it is essential to check if there is a viable market available for the products or services you are planning to offer, and that makes market research the most critical and key to success for any business.

In simple words, market analysis is studying the industry your business will operate in, the size of the industry, and its trend & direction (growing, stable, or in decline).

The market analysis consists of main three parts:

  • Market Overview: This is a general overview of the industry. In this part, you will need to describe the current position of the industry, market trends, and where it is heading. Also, you can write about your knowledge and experience in the industry.
  • Target Market: In this part, you will need to be more specific about the segment of the market that will use your products or services. Not everyone from the industry will use your product or services, so it is important to find the right audience for your product. (For example, if you are starting a veg restaurant in the town, then all the people from town will not visit your restaurant. The only people who prefer and eat veg food will be your target customers).
  • Market Size: Market size is all about finding how many potential customers are there for your product or service. Here you will need to show some statistics about the size of the industry (e.g., total U.S. sales in the last year) and its growth rate over the last few years.

The main objective of the market analysis is to identify the opportunities and risks associated with the business. It will also help you to understand how you should prepare your marketing strategy , where you should invest in terms of marketing efforts, and avoid making the wrong decisions.

With market analysis, you can identify the market entry barrier, and market needs, and estimate the market attractiveness from a financial standpoint.

6. Customer Analysis

Once you complete your market analysis, it’s time to identify the customers and needs of customers who are going to use your product or services, and this process is called customer analysis . Customer analysis is a key element of any successful marketing plan, as well as your overall business plan.

Customer analysis is critical for any business to succeed because if you do not know who is going to your offerings, and what your customers want, no business can succeed.

Now that you know customer analysis is that important, it is time to learn how you can perform strong customer analysis.

Customer analysis consists of main three parts:

  • Demographics: Age, Sex, Ethnicity, Income, Family, Occupation, etc.
  • Geographic: Location (Neighbourhood, Region, Urban/Rural, Online)
  • Psychographic: Lifestyle, Personality, etc
  • Interests: Hobbies, Activities, etc
  • Growth: Size of the target customers and whether they are growing, shrinking, or stable.

It’s up to you what is the best way to get this information for your business. However, some practical methods include customer surveys, existing customer data analysis, social media listening, or talking with your customer support team.

  • Identify your customer’s needs: Once you identify who your customers are, it’s important to understand their needs as well, and the answer to this question should be your offering.
  • Explain how your product or services will meet those needs: Now that you know your target customers and what they need, it’s time to explain your products or services’ benefits. In this part, list out the key features of your products or services that will fulfill customers’ needs, explain the benefits of your offerings, and the outcome customers can expect by using your products or services.

Keep in mind, that a strong customer analysis must answer these three key questions:

  • Who are your customers?
  • What do they need?
  • How do your products or services meet those needs?

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7. Competitive Analysis

Business Plan Competitive Analysis Section

Competitive analysis is all about finding your competitors, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, products and services, pricing, social media presence, marketing & sales strategy, etc.

Your competitors can be categorized into two classes:

  • Direct Competitors: Direct competitors are the ones who provide the same solution as you do. For example, if you operate an Italian restaurant, other restaurants that serve Italian food will be your direct competitors. In this section of your business plan, outline who your direct competitors are, and add their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Indirect Competitors: Indirect competitors are the ones who do not provide the same solution as you do. However, solve the same customer problem as you do. For example, if you operate an Italian restaurant, a Mexican or Spanish restaurant would be an indirect competitor. In this section of your business plan, outline who your indirect competitors are, and add their strengths and weaknesses.

Once you identify who your competitors are, it’s time to explain how different and superior you are compared to them and that will be the competitive advantage section of your business plan .

competitive advantages

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Her strengths and weaknesses are subjective to your business which you can control and change like business location, pricing, uniqueness, etc. While opportunities and threats are external that are running outside your business, in the larger market. However, you can take advantage of opportunities and defend your business against potential threats, but you can’t change them.

It is always best if the business owners perform a SWOT analysis themselves. This task is not something that you should assign to someone else. A precise SWOT analysis will allow you to measure your strengths and weaknesses against the opportunities and threats in your business environment.

Once your SWOT analysis is ready, it will help you to form a strategy to achieve your business goals.

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8. Marketing Plan

Now that you have explained your products or services and identified who is going to use those products or services, it is time to let your customers know about your products or services. And for this, you will have to plan strategy, and that planning you will need to explain in this section.

Your marketing plan can be divided into the following sections:

  • Pricing: Explain your product or service pricing here in this section. Mainly, discuss how you finalized your pricing and how your pricing is better than the competition. Also, discuss if it’s low-cost or premium offerings and how your pricing supports it. This will ensure investors also that you have finalized your pricing with proper research.
  • Promotional Plan: In this section, talk about your marketing activities and strategies that you will execute to attract your customers. It is always great to have some unique selling propositions (USP). However, Unique selling propositions should be short and self-explanatory. For example, Domino’s Pizza’s USP is “We deliver hot, fresh pizza in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free.” Also, discuss your other marketing or promotional activities that may include discount offers for early customers, media or online advertisements, product launches or social events, radio newspaper or magazine ads, affiliate or referral programs, etc. In this section, you can also write about your customer relation and support team and how they will work to retain your existing customers.
  • Distribution Plan: The main purpose of your marketing plan is that customers to buy your products or services. So it is important to explain how they can buy your products or services. Your distribution plan will include all details about your distribution channel, sales channel & strategy, and payment policies.

Once you complete writing your marketing plan , make sure your marketing plan answers these key questions.

  • What will be the pricing of your offerings?
  • How will you reach out to your target customers?
  • How will you retain your customers to buy from you repeatedly?
  • How and from where customers can buy your products and services?

Your marketing plan can be 7-8 pages long. However, while writing your business plan, make sure you do not go into details and try to keep it as simple as possible. You can separately write your marketing plan for internal purposes.?

9. Operations Plan

Your operation plan will explain how you will manufacture your product and run your business. It can include a lot of details depending on your business. For example, if you are in the production business, you will want to include all the information about how you will get raw materials, and equipment, build your products and ship them.

However, it is not recommended to include all these details while writing the operations section of your business plan . You should include only major details that you think will give you a competitive advantage or are important for your readers.

An operations plan is useful for internal purposes as it will help your team to understand their roles to achieve your business goals. However, it will help investors also to learn how you will run your business to make your business succeed.

Business Plan Management Team Section

The management team should be the easiest section of your business plan because, in this section, you will need to write about yourself and your core team members who will run the business.

Always remember, that businesses’ success will depend on the team who is running them. So you must write this section carefully and convince your readers or investors that you are the best person to execute and run this business.

Many investors believe it is not the business that succeeds, it is the team that makes the business successful. In fact, in some cases, investors have funded start-ups mainly based on the team who will run the business.

The ultimate guide to starting a business

In this section, list out important details of core team members like name, position in the company, contact information, qualifications, past experiences, achievements, etc.

You can also mention any management gaps present in your organization and when you are planning to fill those gaps. You can also mention if there is an advisory team or board of members who might not work in your organization but will advise you from outside.

10. Financial Plan

Business Plan Finance Section

The financial section of the business plan is the most important component of the business plan. Whatever you will write in the business plan will be conceptual until you do not add some numbers to support it.

Have a financial plan if you want to secure outside funding from investors or bank loans from financial institutes. Even if you do not need funds, it is always helpful to have a financial forecast to achieve your business goals and make your business successful. Financial forecasting will give you a clear idea of whether your business is viable or not.

Your financial plan will include the following sections.

  • Revenue Model: The main purpose of this section is to explain the different revenue streams of your business. Do you sell products?  Do you provide services? Do you provide third-party advertisements? Or do you sell all of the above? It is equally important to update this revenue model section, once you start generating revenue. Use the revenue model as a living document to improve your plans. Focus on revenue streams that work best, while changing your approach to those that aren’t doing well.
  • Financial Highlights: Include financial reports like cash flow, balance sheet, profit & loss, projected revenue, expenses, etc.
  • Funds Needed: This section is required if you are looking for funds to run your business operations. Before you directly request funds, it is good to explain your current financial situation, how much you have already invested, and how much funds you already have secured. Once you explain your current financial position, it is time to explain what type of funding you are looking for. What are your preferred options to secure funds? It is important to update this section once you secure funding.
  • Use of Funds: Once you explain how many funds you are looking for, it’s time to explain how you will use those funds. You will use it to hire new talents, expand your operations, pay your existing debts, or buy new equipment. If you are going to use funds for multiple things, mention each and also mention how much funds you are going to spend for each thing. Investors or financial institutes usually approve funds if they have a clear idea about how you are going to use your money.
  • Exit Strategy: If you are looking for equity funding, it is important to have an exit strategy. A common exit strategy includes selling your company to a larger firm (acquisitions), selling or diluting your ownership, initial public offering (IPO), etc. If you have such plans, provide a detailed explanation of them in this section.

With upmetrics, business financial forecasting is easy and fun. Once you add your data, the system will generate all required reports automatically. Later you can embed those reports into your business plan. learn more about the upmetrics financial planning feature .

11. Supporting Documentation (Appendix)

Adding supporting documents is not a mandatory section in your business plan. However, it is important to add the documents which you think can convince investors that your business will succeed.

These documents can include achievements, product patents, awards, financial statements, resumes of key team members, legal agreements, product or organization pictures, etc. These documents can help readers understand your story clearly and concisely.

Once you write your business plan, it is equally important to update your business plan as your business grows. Keep in mind, that a business plan is not just a document but it is a roadmap of your business.

Now before you start the actual writing of your business plan and learn what to include in each section of the business plan, there are some key concepts that you must keep in mind and rules that you should follow during the entire business planning process .

Key things to remember while creating business plan

1. Keep it short

Don’t you want your business plan to be read by your investors? Remember, many investors do not like to read a long business plan.

In this competitive time, no one has time to go through a 100-page long document. A typical 20-25 pages should be fine for any standard business plan. A well-written business plan ensures to communicate your message to your potential investors effectively.

However, if your business idea is a completely new kind of business or even a new industry, it may need quite a bit of writing to get the message across.

Your business plan writing purpose will decide how long your business plan should be . If you are writing your business plan to seek millions of funding, then you might need a lengthy and detailed business plan. A short business plan would work if you are looking to expand your business.

2. Be realistic and creative

Do not consider your business idea as your baby. Be realistic and honest with yourself while writing your business plan, and always try to add facts and realistic details of your business idea.

Also, your business plan should grab your reader’s attention quickly. Be creative while designing your business plan cover page and writing any important details in your business plan.

When it comes to the formatting of the business plan, make sure to use bullet points, images, and charts. Also, highlight the key points or metrics that you want readers to focus on. It helps bring your idea to life. Plus, it will keep your readers focused on reading.

3. You should be able to change it as the business grows

Most businesses start with a business plan, and once written, it’s never revisited. Never make that mistake. Your business plan should be treated as a working document that should be developed as your business grows.

For example, you might want to update your business plan as per the changing trends for a new round of funding or you might want to update it to counter unexpected problems like the COVID crisis. In a nutshell, keep your plan alive!

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

Some entrepreneurs have achieved tremendous success without writing a business plan with their past experiences, less competition, or maybe by luck.

But the fact is, that many entrepreneurs have failed as well. It is just that we learn more about success stories only.

So, does writing a business plan guarantee success? Of course Not.

But, the business plan is your companion on your entrepreneurship journey. It will help you and your team understand the problems and the competition you will encounter in your journey. It will keep you and your entire team in sync and on the right path to achieving your business goals and success.

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About the Author

contents of typical business plan

Paresh Balar is the co-founder of Upmetrics, the #1 business planning software. His ultimate goal with Upmetrics is to revolutionize how entrepreneurs create, manage, and execute their business plans. He loves sharing his thoughts on business and financial planning and its challenges through his blog posts. Read more

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What is a Business Plan? Definition and Resources

Clipboard with paper, calculator, compass, and other similar tools laid out on a table. Represents the basics of what is a business plan.

9 min. read

Updated March 4, 2024

If you’ve ever jotted down a business idea on a napkin with a few tasks you need to accomplish, you’ve written a business plan — or at least the very basic components of one.

The origin of formal business plans is murky. But they certainly go back centuries. And when you consider that 20% of new businesses fail in year 1 , and half fail within 5 years, the importance of thorough planning and research should be clear.

But just what is a business plan? And what’s required to move from a series of ideas to a formal plan? Here we’ll answer that question and explain why you need one to be a successful business owner.

  • What is a business plan?

Definition: Business plan is a description of a company's strategies, goals, and plans for achieving them.

A business plan lays out a strategic roadmap for any new or growing business.

Any entrepreneur with a great idea for a business needs to conduct market research , analyze their competitors , validate their idea by talking to potential customers, and define their unique value proposition .

The business plan captures that opportunity you see for your company: it describes your product or service and business model , and the target market you’ll serve. 

It also includes details on how you’ll execute your plan: how you’ll price and market your solution and your financial projections .

Reasons for writing a business plan

If you’re asking yourself, ‘Do I really need to write a business plan?’ consider this fact: 

Companies that commit to planning grow 30% faster than those that don’t.

Creating a business plan is crucial for businesses of any size or stage. 

If you plan to raise funds for your business through a traditional bank loan or SBA loan , none of them will want to move forward without seeing your business plan. Venture capital firms may or may not ask for one, but you’ll still need to do thorough planning to create a pitch that makes them want to invest.

But it’s more than just a means of getting your business funded . The plan is also your roadmap to identify and address potential risks. 

It’s not a one-time document. Your business plan is a living guide to ensure your business stays on course.

Related: 14 of the top reasons why you need a business plan

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What research shows about business plans

Numerous studies have established that planning improves business performance:

  • 71% of fast-growing companies have business plans that include budgets, sales goals, and marketing and sales strategies.
  • Companies that clearly define their value proposition are more successful than those that can’t.
  • Companies or startups with a business plan are more likely to get funding than those without one.
  • Starting the business planning process before investing in marketing reduces the likelihood of business failure.

The planning process significantly impacts business growth for existing companies and startups alike.

Read More: Research-backed reasons why writing a business plan matters

When should you write a business plan?

No two business plans are alike. 

Yet there are similar questions for anyone considering writing a plan to answer. One basic but important question is when to start writing it.

A Harvard Business Review study found that the ideal time to write a business plan is between 6 and 12 months after deciding to start a business. 

But the reality can be more nuanced – it depends on the stage a business is in, or the type of business plan being written.

Ideal times to write a business plan include:

  • When you have an idea for a business
  • When you’re starting a business
  • When you’re preparing to buy (or sell)
  • When you’re trying to get funding
  • When business conditions change
  • When you’re growing or scaling your business

Read More: The best times to write or update your business plan

How often should you update your business plan?

As is often the case, how often a business plan should be updated depends on your circumstances.

A business plan isn’t a homework assignment to complete and forget about. At the same time, no one wants to get so bogged down in the details that they lose sight of day-to-day goals. 

But it should cover new opportunities and threats that a business owner surfaces, and incorporate feedback they get from customers. So it can’t be a static document.

For an entrepreneur at the ideation stage, writing and checking back on their business plan will help them determine if they can turn that idea into a profitable business .

And for owners of up-and-running businesses, updating the plan (or rewriting it) will help them respond to market shifts they wouldn’t be prepared for otherwise. 

It also lets them compare their forecasts and budgets to actual financial results. This invaluable process surfaces where a business might be out-performing expectations and where weak performance may require a prompt strategy change. 

The planning process is what uncovers those insights.

Related Reading: 10 prompts to help you write a business plan with AI

  • How long should your business plan be?

Thinking about a business plan strictly in terms of page length can risk overlooking more important factors, like the level of detail or clarity in the plan. 

Not all of the plan consists of writing – there are also financial tables, graphs, and product illustrations to include.

But there are a few general rules to consider about a plan’s length:

  • Your business plan shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to skim.
  • Business plans for internal use (not for a bank loan or outside investment) can be as short as 5 to 10 pages.

A good practice is to write your business plan to match the expectations of your audience. 

If you’re walking into a bank looking for a loan, your plan should match the formal, professional style that a loan officer would expect . But if you’re writing it for stakeholders on your own team—shorter and less formal (even just a few pages) could be the better way to go.

The length of your plan may also depend on the stage your business is in. 

For instance, a startup plan won’t have nearly as much financial information to include as a plan written for an established company will.

Read More: How long should your business plan be?  

What information is included in a business plan?

The contents of a plan business plan will vary depending on the industry the business is in. 

After all, someone opening a new restaurant will have different customers, inventory needs, and marketing tactics to consider than someone bringing a new medical device to the market. 

But there are some common elements that most business plans include:

  • Executive summary: An overview of the business operation, strategy, and goals. The executive summary should be written last, despite being the first thing anyone will read.
  • Products and services: A description of the solution that a business is bringing to the market, emphasizing how it solves the problem customers are facing.
  • Market analysis: An examination of the demographic and psychographic attributes of likely customers, resulting in the profile of an ideal customer for the business.
  • Competitive analysis: Documenting the competitors a business will face in the market, and their strengths and weaknesses relative to those competitors.
  • Marketing and sales plan: Summarizing a business’s tactics to position their product or service favorably in the market, attract customers, and generate revenue.
  • Operational plan: Detailing the requirements to run the business day-to-day, including staffing, equipment, inventory, and facility needs.
  • Organization and management structure: A listing of the departments and position breakdown of the business, as well as descriptions of the backgrounds and qualifications of the leadership team.
  • Key milestones: Laying out the key dates that a business is projected to reach certain milestones , such as revenue, break-even, or customer acquisition goals.
  • Financial plan: Balance sheets, cash flow forecast , and sales and expense forecasts with forward-looking financial projections, listing assumptions and potential risks that could affect the accuracy of the plan.
  • Appendix: All of the supporting information that doesn’t fit into specific sections of the business plan, such as data and charts.

Read More: Use this business plan outline to organize your plan

  • Different types of business plans

A business plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all document. There are numerous ways to create an effective business plan that fits entrepreneurs’ or established business owners’ needs. 

Here are a few of the most common types of business plans for small businesses:

  • One-page plan : Outlining all of the most important information about a business into an adaptable one-page plan.
  • Growth plan : An ongoing business management plan that ensures business tactics and strategies are aligned as a business scales up.
  • Internal plan : A shorter version of a full business plan to be shared with internal stakeholders – ideal for established companies considering strategic shifts.

Business plan vs. operational plan vs. strategic plan

  • What questions are you trying to answer? 
  • Are you trying to lay out a plan for the actual running of your business?
  • Is your focus on how you will meet short or long-term goals? 

Since your objective will ultimately inform your plan, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish before you start writing.

While a business plan provides the foundation for a business, other types of plans support this guiding document.

An operational plan sets short-term goals for the business by laying out where it plans to focus energy and investments and when it plans to hit key milestones.

Then there is the strategic plan , which examines longer-range opportunities for the business, and how to meet those larger goals over time.

Read More: How to use a business plan for strategic development and operations

  • Business plan vs. business model

If a business plan describes the tactics an entrepreneur will use to succeed in the market, then the business model represents how they will make money. 

The difference may seem subtle, but it’s important. 

Think of a business plan as the roadmap for how to exploit market opportunities and reach a state of sustainable growth. By contrast, the business model lays out how a business will operate and what it will look like once it has reached that growth phase.

Learn More: The differences between a business model and business plan

  • Moving from idea to business plan

Now that you understand what a business plan is, the next step is to start writing your business plan . 

If you’re stuck, start with a one-page business plan and check out our collection of over 550 business plan examples for inspiration. They’re broken out over dozens of industries—you can even copy and paste sections into your plan and rewrite them with information specific to your business.

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

Content Author: Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.

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Table of Contents

  • Reasons to write a business plan
  • Business planning research
  • When to write a business plan
  • When to update a business plan
  • Information to include
  • Business vs. operational vs. strategic plans

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What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Planning Essentials Explained

Posted february 21, 2022 by kody wirth.

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

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

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

What is a business plan?

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

Why do you need a business plan?

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

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

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

What can you do with your plan?

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

Test an idea

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

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

Document your strategy and goals

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

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

Pursue funding

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

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

Better manage your business

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

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

What should your business plan include?

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

Executive summary

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

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

Products & Services

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

Market analysis

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

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

Marketing & sales

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

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

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

Organization & management

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

Financial projections

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

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

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

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

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

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix. We recommend only starting with this business plan format if you plan to immediately pursue funding and already have a solid handle on your business information. 

Business model canvas

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

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

One-page business plan

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

By starting with a one-page plan, you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan. This plan type is useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Now, the option that we here at LivePlan recommend is the Lean Plan . This is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance.

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

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

Try the LivePlan Method for Lean Business Planning

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

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

It features step-by-step guidance that ensures you cover everything necessary while reducing the time spent on formatting and presenting. You’ll also gain access to financial forecasting tools that propel you through the process. Finally, it will transform your plan into a management tool that will help you easily compare your forecasts to your actual results. 

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

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Kody Wirth

Posted in Business Plan Writing

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How to Write a Business Plan

Last Updated: February 16, 2024, 12:05 pm by  TRUiC Team

Writing a business plan can be an intimidating endeavor. Whether you’ve decided to start a business , or you already have a business and need to write a business plan to apply for a loan or to pitch to investors , we cover the process in-depth.

Recommended: Our business plan generator walks you through topics like marketing and financial projections so that your business is prepared to succeed.

Man writing a business plan.

What Is a Business Plan?

The traditional business plan is typically a 20 to 40-page formal document that describes what your business does, what your objectives are, and how you plan to achieve them.

It lays out your plans for operating, marketing, and managing your business, along with your goals and financial projections.

There are many different types of business plans, depending on the stage of your venture and the purpose of your business plan. In the earliest stages of your business idea, you may want to start small with a three-sentence business plan , or perhaps by sketching out a lean canvas or business model canvas .

Once your business idea has been developed, you’ll be ready to begin writing your business plan .

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

Writing a business plan requires you to think through all of the key elements of your business. This gives you insights into the challenges you’ll face and the strengths you bring.

A business plan is also often requested by lenders or investors when you are ready to seek financing.

While many companies do not need a formal business plan unless they are planning on seeking investors or applying for a business loan , writing a business plan has extensive benefits.

The process of writing your business plan allows you to take an in-depth look at your industry , market , and competitive position . It helps you set goals , determine your keys to success , and plan your strategies . It also allows you to explore your financial projections and manage cash. So, even if you do not need a formal business plan, the process of planning may still reap huge rewards.

Your Audience

You need to think carefully about who is going to read your business plan.

Although you might begin writing a business plan only to convince yourself, there are a number of stakeholders who may end up reading your business plan.

Your plan might be read by your:

  • Partners or potential partners
  • Board of directors
  • Senior management team
  • Current employees
  • Employment candidates

Outside the organization , the following stakeholders may want to read your business plan before they decide to do business with you:

  • Distributors
  • And independent contractors

Think about your primary audience when you are writing your business plan. What are the aspects that are most important to them? This is where you will want to put the majority of your focus.

For example, lenders will be most interested in your financial projections — your cash flow statement and balance sheet.

Investors might be most interested in your business model, the uniqueness of your product or service, and your competitive advantage.

Partners, your senior management team, and current employees might be most interested in your strategic plans- your vision, your operational plan, and your organizational plan.

Find Sample Business Plans in Your Industry

One great resource you should check out before sitting down to write your business plan are sample business plans in your industry.

Not only will you have the opportunity to gain insights on your industry and your competitors, you also might be able to find troves of industry and market research that will make conducting your own analysis of the industry and market much easier.

To find example business plans in your industry, try searching the web for “ your industry business plan example.”

Writing Your Business Plan

Once you have spent some time looking at sample business plans in your industry, it is now time to start writing your business plan . An easy place to begin is by outlining the major sections you will need in your plan.

What you need to include in your business plan will depend on the type of business you are creating, your business model, and who your intended audience is.

Common business plan sections include:

  • Executive Summary — a high-level overview of your business or business idea
  • Venture Overview — a description of your company, vision, mission, and goals
  • Product or Service Description — a detailed description of your product or service
  • Industry and Market Analysis — an analysis of the industry and market you compete in
  • Marketing Plan — your overall strategy and specific plans to capture market share
  • Organizational Plan — the legal form of the business and the key players
  • Operational Plan — how you will operate the business and your key resources
  • Goals, Milestones, and Risks — short and long-term goals, milestones, and risks
  • Financial Statements — Financial statements or the projected financials of your business

Not every type of venture will require every one of these sections to be included in their business plans. However, most business plans will at least include an executive summary, venture overview, a description of the products and services, and some form of financial projections.

Executive Summary

As suggested in its name, an executive summary is a summary of the key points in your business plan . This is your first chance to convey to readers the what, why, who, and how of your business or business idea.

Although there is no set structure for an executive summary, a good executive summary should summarize :

  • The problem you are solving
  • Your solution
  • Your target market
  • Any competitive advantages
  • The team you’ll build
  • Goals and objectives
  • An overview of your financials or financial forecast

If you are writing your business plan for the purpose of acquiring funding , you will also need to discuss the amount of funding required, the purpose of the funds, as well as how your investors will get paid back.

The executive summary should be clear and concise . Ideally, this section should be one to two pages and typically follows either a synopsis or story approach, depending on the intended audience.

In the synopsis approach, you would provide a brief summary of each of the key sections of your business plan. In the story approach, your executive summary reads like a narrative, allowing you to tell the “story” of your business or idea.

With either approach to writing the executive summary, the information you want to convey remains the same. The executive summary needs to provide an overall picture of your current business or business idea.

The executive summary should include:

  • A brief description of you and your venture,
  • The problem your product or service is solving,
  • Some information on your target market, including size, potential, & competition, and
  • The solution you are offering.

The executive summary should also include:

  • A statement of where you are now,
  • A statement of your objectives and future plans,
  • A list of what you see as keys to your success, and (if you are seeking investors)
  • Any relevant financial information such as start-up costs, funding required, and how you will use investor funding.

Although the executive summary is the first section in the business plan, because it is a summary of the rest of your business plan, it is often written last.

Venture Overview

The venture overview is a top-level depiction of your company.

It contains the:

Description of the Venture

  • Vision Statement
  • Mission Statement
  • Goals & Objectives
  • Keys to Your Success

The first part of your venture overview is a description of your venture.

The description of your venture should include what you do (a brief description of your products or services), the value you provide to customers, your current operating status or a brief history of the venture, and a short description of the industry or niche in which you compete.

How to Write a Vision Statement

After describing your venture, a vision statement is a very simple, 5 to 10 word sentence or tagline that expresses the fundamental goals of your firm. Good vision statements reflect your company’s long term passion and purpose, often in a way that evokes emotion.

Take a look at the vision statements below for some inspiration:

Disney —  To make people happy. Oxfam —  A world without poverty. Stanford —  To become the Harvard of the West. Marriott —  To be the #1 hospitality company in the world. Microsoft —  A computer on every desk and in every home; all running Microsoft software.

How to Write a Mission Statement

After having crafted your vision statement, you should also create a mission statement. A mission statement explains your company's goals in terms of what you do for your customers. A good mission statement should tell your reader what your company does, who you do it for, and why you do what you do.

Check out these excellent examples of compelling mission statements:

Patagonia —  “Our Reason For Being: Build the best products, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Trader Joes —  “Our mission is to give our customers the best food and beverage values that they can find anywhere and to provide them with the information required to make informed buying decisions. We provide these with a dedication to the highest quality of customer satisfaction delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, fun, individual pride, and company spirit.” Facebook —  "Founded in 2004, Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them."

Goals and Objectives

In this section of the business plan, break down your most important short-term and long-term goals and objectives.

Aim for five to seven of your most important short and long term goals.

This subsection of your venture description should be kept short. You will come back to your goals at the end of your business plan.

However, your key short-term and long-term goals should be highlighted early on in your business plan as well. The rest of your business plan will act as evidence of how you plan on achieving your goals.

Keys to Success

Your keys to success are your insights into what it takes to be successful in your industry, market, or niche.

Your keys to success can include several of the most important milestones that you will need to accomplish in order to achieve your goals.

These may include providing high quality products and services, your ability to attract customers or users and gain market share, or even your ability to develop the technology to deliver your products or services.

Your keys to success may also include the major milestones that you will need to reach along the way in order to achieve your vision. You will come back to your milestones and objectives at the end of your business plan.

Product or Service Description

The product or service description section is where you will go into detail in describing your products or services.

Not only will you describe your product in more detail, you should also discuss the uniqueness of your product, and what gives you an advantage over your competitors.

These are the three main parts of the Product (or Service) Description:

Description of Products or Services

Uniqueness of product, competitive advantage.

In this subsection of your business plan, describe the products or services you will provide, why they are a fit in the market, and how you will compete with similar products and services.

Begin by clearly describing the products or services you will provide. Make sure to explain the features and characteristics of your products and services. Your product or service description does not have to be highly technical. Rather, in addition to describing the features, focus on highlighting the advantages and benefits associated with your products or services.

Also, let your reader know why your product or service is needed. How does your product or service differ from those offered by your competitors? How does it better fill your customers wants and needs?

This is where you tell your reader why your solution is unique. Is it different from everything else out there? How is it different? Why would potential users choose your product or service over your competitors? In order to stand out, you need to distinguish yourself in some way.

To describe your product or service’s uniqueness, you may want to come up with a unique value proposition (or unique selling point). A value proposition is a short description of what you do, who you do it for, and how this benefits them.

A value proposition is similar to a mission statement. However, it differs in that a mission statement is written from the perspective of the company, while a value proposition is written from the perspective of the customer.

Your value proposition should be the center of your customer messaging. It should be front and center on your website, in your marketing materials, and in your advertising.

Here a few examples of great value propositions:

Dollar Shave Club —  A Great Shave for a Few Bucks a Month. No Commitment. No Fees. No B.S. Unbounce —  Build, Publish, & A/B Test Landing Pages Without IT Freshbooks —  Small Business Accounting Software Built for You, the Non-Accountant Skype —  Skype Keeps the World Talking, for Free. Share, Message, and Call - Now with Group Video on Mobile and Tablet Too.

What makes you better than competitors?

Does your competitive advantage come from superior products and services, customer service, technical support, logistics, price? What are the factors that give you an advantage over your competitors?

Clearly defining your competitive advantage is important.

Your competitive advantage is not just some abstract concept. It is at the core of how you deliver value to your customers. Your competitive advantage lays the foundation for your business model and should be a key component of your strategic plans.

Common areas where businesses find competitive advantages include:

  • Intellectual Property
  • Resources/Capital
  • Economies of Scale
  • Knowledge/Experience
  • Connections and Network
  • Customer Service
  • Technical Support
  • Customization
  • Brand Recognition/Loyalty

Industry and Market Analyses

The industry and market analysis is the “big picture” view of your industry and market.

Conducting an industry and market analysis is going to take a good deal of research. You will likely need to research your industry, your competitors, and your customers. But do not rush through this section of your business plan.

A good understanding of your industry and market is critical to your success. By understanding the forces at play within your industry, you will be better able to find additional ways to create value that will allow you to succeed in the current and anticipated competitive environment.

Conducting an industry and market analysis can be intimidating, especially if you do not know what to look for or how to find the information you need. In the next section, we will discuss what should be included in your industry analysis. Then, we will tell you where to begin looking.

Industry Analysis

The industry analysis is a big picture analysis of the industry you will compete in. What does your overall industry look like today? There are a number of insights that will help you assess the attractiveness of your idea and form a big picture view of the industry and segment you are considering competing in.

Key insights to be alert for include:

  • The dominant economic features of the industry
  • The industry’s driving forces
  • The industry’s competitive environment
  • The competitive position of major players and key competitors
  • Key industry success factors

To arrive at meaningful insights from your industry analysis, try to find answers to the following questions:

  • What primary products or services are provided by your industry?
  • What is the size and trajectory of the industry?
  • What was the annual growth rate of the industry over the past year? Three years? Five years? Ten years?
  • What is the forecasted annual growth rate over the next three years? Five years? Ten years?
  • What is the average profitability of firms in your industry?
  • What trends are affecting your industry?
  • Who are the major customer segments served by your industry?
  • Who are the major players in your industry?
  • Who will be your key competitors in your industry?
  • What key factors determine success or failure?

Industry Research

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, you will need to know where to begin your search. There are a number of great free resources to begin looking for industry research. However, the first step is to determine the industry you are in.

While by this point, you should have some idea of the industry you are in, it is not always so clear. You could try an internet search to see what information you can find on your industry, but you will also want to find the NAICS code. You can do a NAICS Code Lookup and find the NAICS Code for LLC that matches your industry.

Here, you use the NAICS identification tool to drill-down through a list of industries to find the appropriate NAICS code for your business.

Once you know your industry, you can begin collecting more information about the industry trends and trajectory.

www.Bizstats.com provides free industry statistics including industry averages for income statement revenues and expenses, balance sheets, and key financial ratios. This is very helpful in making financial forecasts and setting benchmarks.

The US Census Bureau also provides several tools to help you conduct industry research:

  • The Economic Census provides information on employer businesses, including data sorted by industry, state, region, and more.
  • Statistics of US Businesses (SUSB) provides additional data on US businesses by enterprise size and industry. Both of these tools may help in conducting your industry analysis.

Target Market Analysis

Once you have a better understanding of the industry, you can begin to narrow down to your target market. In this section of the business plan you describe who your target market is and what you know about them.

What is a target market? Your target market is the specific group of customers to whom your product is intended. And no, it is not everyone. Although many new venture founders would like to sell their product or service to everyone, you should focus your efforts on your most likely customers.

Narrowing your target market requires understanding the three types of markets for your products or services. Your venture’s market can be narrowed down into three categories, the TAM, the SAM, and the SOM.

The total available market (TAM) is the total market for your products and services. Everyone in the universe who might be your customer.

The serviceable available market (SAM) is the subset of the total market that you can actually reach. Although anyone in your universe might be your customer, you are limited in your ability to reach them all.

The share of market (SOM) is the subset of the serviceable available market that you will actually reach. These are your most likely customers. Your target market.

Target markets can be segmented in many different ways. The idea is to narrow down to your most likely customers. This is where your focus should be.

Ways you can segment the market include:

  • Demographic (e.g., age, gender, family size, education, income)
  • Geographic (e.g., country, state, region, city, neighborhood)
  • Psychographic (e.g., benefits sought, personality, social class, lifestyle)
  • Behavioral (e.g., benefits sought, usage, attitude, loyalty)

Once you understand who your target market segments are, you will be able to start determining how you can reach them. To do this, consider:

  • Where does your target market get information to make purchasing decisions?
  • What is it they are looking for when considering buying this product/service?
  • What will your target market pay attention to?

Market Research

To determine your target market and conduct a market analysis, you will most likely have to do market research.

Market research is the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data related to your target market and target customer to support strategic decision making.

There are two types of market research : secondary market research, and primary market research.

Secondary market research is the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data that has already been collected for other purposes. Secondary market research may include the collection of data from a number of sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, consumer agencies, and for-profit organizations.

Primary market research is the collection of new information to gain a further understanding of the problem at hand. Primary market research involves you collecting the data or hiring a market research firm to collect data for you. This is you going out and actually collecting the opinions of your potential customers.

Common methods of primary market research include customer observation, focus groups, customer surveys, and customer interviews .

Because primary market research typically takes more time to complete and may incur significant costs , secondary market research is often conducted before conducting primary market research. This allows you to gather enough insights that you can narrow your primary market research to those more likely to be your customers.

To begin conducting secondary market research, consider these sources:

Think with Google provides a number of free tools and resources to help you find and understand your target market. From tools like Find My Audience and an Insights Library to a wealth of information on customer trends and the consumer journey, Think with Google is a valuable tool in conducting your market analysis.

City Town Info provides free statistics on people and places, colleges and universities, and jobs and careers. You can search for data on more than 20,000 U.S. communities at the city and state levels.

Google Trends is another useful tool for conducting market research. Google Trends allows you to explore what people are searching on the internet. You can examine trending topics, see trends by year, or search your own topic to discover interest over time, by region, or by related queries.

Social Mention allows you to conduct a real-time social media search for topics across more than 100 social media platforms. Social Mention provides you with information on the sentiment behind topic mentions, top keywords, top hashtags, and the social media platforms where these topics are being discussed.

Needless to say, there are several other great sources for both industry and market research. The key is to get creative to find the data and information to both guide your strategy as well as justify your business opportunity.

Competitive Analysis

Once you understand your industry and market, you should also include an analysis of your major competitors.

Your competitors may include anyone offering alternatives to your solution that people are using now to solve the same problem.

You will want to understand and explain who your competitors are along with their market share , price, major competitive advantages and disadvantages, and what makes your product unique from theirs.

Start by identifying the major competitors within your industry. You should focus on your closest competitors. Those that compete with you directly.

Next, for each competitor, describe their strategies, their strengths, and their weaknesses. In doing so, try to answer the following questions:

  • What are their primary products and or services?
  • Who are their target customers?
  • What differentiates your product or service from theirs?
  • What is their pricing strategy?
  • What is their marketing strategy?
  • What is their main message or value proposition?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are their competitive advantages?

You should complete a competitive analysis for your top three to five competitors. Doing so will allow you to gain a much better perspective on the competitive landscape and may provide insight into how you can distinguish yourself from your competitors and even how you can take advantage of areas where your competitors fall short.

Marketing Plan

The marketing plan depicts the overall strategy your venture pursues to capture market share.

The marketing plan describes all aspects of marketing for your venture, including the product, price, place, and promotion . This includes a big picture view of your marketing strategy, your planned marketing mix, as well as your pricing strategy, sales strategy, and advertising strategy.

The marketing plan should be well informed by your industry and market analysis. By now, you have a plethora of knowledge about who your target customer is, the problem and pain points that you are alleviating for them, and how your competitors are positioned. All of this knowledge allows you to hone your marketing plan to reach your target market with the right message in the channels they turn to for information.

Marketing Strategy

The first section of your marketing plan is your marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy refers to your overall strategy of how you will market your product. How will you get your message out to your potential customers?

Your marketing strategy should consider the four essential elements of marketing:

The 4 Ps of Marketing:

The product is everything the customer gets, whether it be a physical product, a service, or an experience.

It is what you deliver. This includes the product or service itself, along with its branding, packaging, labeling, and even benefits.

The price is what you charge. What the customer gives you. Your business plan should discuss your pricing strategy and where this fits in your marketing mix.

Are you competing on price and thus offer low pricing? Or are you focusing on value at a medium price point? Or maybe you are positioned as a luxury label or item, and compete at a high price point? Why did you choose this strategy? Does it fit with your target market and within your marketing mix?

Location refers to where your customers find you, or where you find them.

While much of today’s marketing is done online, location is still as important as ever. Once you understand the place, you will have a much better idea on how to deploy your marketing mix. Where do your ideal customers get their information? Where do they shop? What forms of social media do they use?

Promotion is how you tell customers about your products and services.

Simply put, promotion is how you raise awareness of your products, services, or brand. Promotion strategies may include public relations, content creation and curation, marketing, and advertising.

But, keep in mind, your promotional strategies should be focused on one thing: your target customer and the strategies and messaging that works for them.

Your Marketing Mix

Your marketing mix is how you allocate resources to the marketing channels that you plan to pursue. In this section of your marketing plan, you will describe the marketing messaging and channels that you plan to use, and why these are appropriate for your target market.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing, or content marketing, is a form of marketing designed to draw traffic to your website by providing valuable content to your target market. This is often achieved by posting useful web content, content, videos, and blogs.

The idea behind inbound marketing is pretty simple- by providing knowledge and information on your products, services, and other information that is valuable to your customers, you generate more leads and, hopefully, more sales.

Social Media Marketing

With over 3.5 billion people around the world using social media, social media marketing is another powerful tool to reach potential customers.

Social media marketing has many advantages, including allowing you to get your message in front of your specified target audience at little to no cost.

Although there is an overabundance of social media channels to choose from. Focus on the ones that your target market uses to get their information.

For instance, if your target market is middle age or older people, you may want to focus on platforms that are more popular with these demographics such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. However, if your target market is teen agers and young adults, you are more likely to find them on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

The Power of Video Marketing

Do not forget to discuss the use of video marketing in your marketing mix.

In both inbound and social media marketing, video has begun to play an increasingly important role. Video marketing can be employed in inbound marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing to serve a variety of purposes. The most common uses of video marketing include explainer videos, presentation videos, testimonial videos, sales videos, and video ads.

Not only can video marketing be used in a variety of methods and contexts, it is a highly consumed type of advertising. In fact, in 2020, 96% of consumers watched an explainer video to find out more about a product or service. Video works. And marketers believe this too. 92% of marketers who utilize video marketing say that it is a key part of their marketing strategy.

Email Marketing

Depending on the type of venture your company is, email marketing may also be an important element in your marketing mix. A good email marketing strategy balances gaining new customers with keeping your existing customers engaged with your company.

Although you do not want to overdo it, and a lot of email marketing seems “spammy”, email marketing can be very effective in the right form. Welcome notes, confirmation emails, informational emails, newsletters, digital magazines, promotional emails, and seasonal and birthday campaigns are just a few of the many types of email marketing.

Referral Marketing

Another common type of marketing in a company's marketing mix is referral or recommendation marketing. Referral or recommendation marketing can take many forms. Referral marketing might include good old organic word-of-mouth marketing wherein you ask customers for referrals, or even a formal system for rewarding customers who refer new clients.

Pricing Strategy

The Marketing Plan section of the business plan should also describe your pricing strategy. How are you going to price your products and services?

There are a number of ways you can approach pricing:

Markup Pricing —  Markup pricing is pricing based on your costs, plus a predetermined markup. The amount you mark up your product or service is usually expressed as a percentage, known as the gross margin. Markup pricing is most often found in high volume manufacturing industries where manufacturers must cover the cost of the products they are making.

Competitive Pricing —  Competitive pricing is pricing based on your competitors prices for similar products or services. Competitive pricing is most often seen in products or services where there are numerous competitors or substitutes.

Value Pricing —  Value pricing is pricing based on the value or perceived value that you deliver to your customers. In value-based pricing, you set the prices of your products and services in line with what the customer believes your product or service is worth. Value-based pricing is most often seen in higher value products and services, those that cater to self-image, or those that are niche or unique.

Penetration Pricing —  Penetration pricing is setting a low initial price, and then raising it as demand increases. Penetration pricing is designed to capture market share. It is a strategy often used by a new business or in launching new products and services. The idea is to set the price low enough to draw customers from your competition.

Price skimming —  Price skimming pricing is setting a high initial price and then reducing this price as the market evolves. Price skimming is most often used on new or trendy products and services. As initial demand slows and alternatives or competitors emerge, the high initial pricing must then be lowered to stay competitive in the market.

Sales Strategy

A sales strategy is how you plan on selling your products or services to your target market. This includes your sales channels (where will your product or service be available for sale) as well as how you will sell your product or service.

Your sales strategy depends on your business model and the nature of your business. If your business involves retailing, food services, or personal services where your customers come to you to make a purchase, your sales strategy may be quite simple (or even unnecessary to income). However, if your business involves personal selling, you may need a more thought-out sales strategy.

Some questions to ask to determine and document your sales strategy in your business plan:

  • Will your products or services be available on your website?
  • On a third-party website?
  • In retail locations?
  • In your own stores?
  • In other retail stores?
  • Directly to consumers? (Business to Consumer or B2C)
  • To businesses? (Business to Business or B2B)
  • Cold calling?
  • Networking?
  • Inside salespeople?
  • Outside sales representatives?
  • Sales through strategic partners?

Advertising Strategy

An advertising strategy is how you plan to use sponsored, non-personal messaging to reach and inform potential customers of your product, service, or brand.

Your advertising plan should describe the mediums you are going to advertise in , who you are targeting advertising in these mediums, your advertising message(s), and your advertising budget. A good advertising plan is also measurable, so be sure to consider how you are going to measure the effect of your advertising strategy to see if it is working.

Advertising Mediums

The most common advertising mediums typically fall into the categories of traditional advertising and digital advertising.

Traditional advertising includes print advertising such as newspapers, magazines, flyers, direct mail, and even billboards, as well as radio and tv advertising.

Digital advertising includes email advertising, search engine advertising, website advertising, social media advertising, influencer advertising, among many, many more.

The secret to finding the right advertising strategy and advertising mediums for your business is knowing where to find your most likely customers. Where is your target market, and where do they go to get their information?

Organizational Plan

The organizational (or management) plan describes:

  • The legal form of the business
  • Its organizational structure
  • The background and roles of the leadership team
  • Key personnel that are already in place or you will need to fill.

Organizational Type and Structure

The first part of your organizational plan describes your organizational type and structure . Who owns your company? And what is its legal business structure?

There are four primary types of organizational structures:

Sole Proprietorships

Partnerships.

  • Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

Corporations

Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships are informal business structures , while LLCs and Corporations are more formal business structures .

The best type of structure for your business will depend on your business’s particular characteristics and needs. A partnership structure may be the best choice for some businesses, while an LLC or a corporation might work better for others.

Sole proprietorships are an informal type of business structure. While many businesses start out as sole proprietorships because they are an informal business structure the owner is liable for 100% of the business's liabilities and risks. Thus sole proprietorships are typically not the preferred ownership structure for small businesses.

Similar to a sole proprietorship, a partnership is also an informal type of business structure. While a sole proprietorship involves only one owner, a partnership is a business structure with two or more partners where there is still no legal distinction between the owners of a partnership and their business.

An LLC is a formal business structure that distinguishes the owners from the business itself.

LLCs offer the personal liability protection of a corporation with the pass-through taxation of a sole proprietorship or partnership.

It is the simplest way of structuring your business to protect your personal assets in the event your business is sued.

LLCs can be owned by one or more people, who are known as LLC “members.” An LLC with one owner is known as a single-member LLC, and an LLC with more than one owner is a multi-member LLC.

LLCs require operating agreements . Operating agreements are legal documents that outline the ownership and member duties of your LLC. This agreement allows you to set out the financial and working relations among business owners ("members") and between members and managers.

Recommended: Learn how to form an LLC in your state using our free guides.

A corporation is a legal business entity that is owned by shareholders, run by a board of directors, and created through registration with the state.

Corporations offer limited liability and tax benefits but are required to follow more complex operating procedures than their counterpart, the limited liability company (LLC).

Ownership and Executive Team

Now it’s time to sell the single most important element in your business plan. You!

This subsection of your business plan tells readers who is in your ownership and executive team and outlines the accomplishments of your team.

You should include a short profile on each member of your ownership and executive team that will play a role in company decision making.

Who is on your ownership and executive team? What roles will each perform? What knowledge, experience, and accomplishments do you and your team bring to the table? What roles do you still need to fill, and how and when do you plan on filling them?

It is well known that many investors consider the experience and ability of the ownership and management team to be just as important as the idea itself. Do not pass over this opportunity to highlight how your knowledge, experience, and accomplishments set you up to succeed.

Also, remember that when you are writing your descriptions of your ownership team, talk about your accomplishments- as opposed to experience. Accomplishments signify that you have a track record and can get things done.

Key Personnel

This section of the business plan highlights the key personnel associated with the business . This may include members of the management team outside of the owners and executive management, the board of directors, and any outside advisors.

Here, include profiles on each key figure associated with your company, focusing on their accomplishments and the knowledge and skill they bring to the business.

Operational Plan

The operational plan describes how you will operate. The processes, strategies, and resources that you will use to operate your business on a daily basis.

This includes descriptions of production (if you produce a product) or the process you will use to carry out your service. The operational plan may also include, as necessary, descriptions of your logistics and supply chain, physical resources and needs, human resources and needs, technological resources and needs, and timetables for carrying out your plan.

Production Plan or Service Description

The production plan or service description explains how you are going to make and deliver your product(s) or provide your service(s). Although the production plans for products and services may look slightly different, both describe how your company will operate in the day-to-day.

If you are making a product , the production plan is where you will describe the process for making the product. What are your methods of production? What are the steps in your processes? How will you ensure quality? Maintain inventory? Handle Logistics?

If you are providing a service , the production plan is where you can describe the process you go through providing that service. What are your service methods? What will your sales and customer service look like? What is the customer experience like?

Most importantly, which of these might give you an advantage over your competitors? If you have any superior methods, processes, or other advantages, make sure to highlight them in your production plan or service description.

Logistics and Supply Chain

This section of the business plan describes your logistics and where you fall within the supply chain in your industry.

If you produce a product , you should discuss how you source materials, where your materials come from, and who your suppliers are. You will also need to discuss how you handle inventory, how you warehouse, and how you distribute your product(s).

If you are a service business , you may still have to discuss how you source materials used in your service, who your suppliers are, and how you handle inventory.

Physical Resources

In this section of the operational plan, you describe the physical resources that you have and the physical resources that you need to acquire. Think through everything you might need. This will become important when it is time to make financial projections.

  • What facilities, machinery, equipment, and supplies do you require?
  • Do you require raw materials?
  • Who will be your primary suppliers?
  • Secondary suppliers?
  • Do you have back up suppliers and contingency plans if you cannot acquire raw materials?

Technological Resources

You should discuss the technological resources that you are developing, have, or need to create or acquire. Technological resources may include any software, applications, or websites that you have or will need to create, outsource, or purchase.

  • What hardware or machinery will you require?
  • What software or applications will you require?
  • Can you purchase the software and applications you need?
  • Are the software and applications you will need off-the-shelf or specialty?
  • Will you have to create the software and applications you need?
  • Do you need a website?
  • Will you create and maintain your website inside the company or have it created and maintained by someone else?

Human Resources

Here, you describe the people that are a part of your team, and the human resources that you need to add to your team, hire, or outsource. Since you have already described the ownership and management team as well as key personnel, this section is more focused on production level workers and lower management.

  • How much staffing will you need?
  • What skills will your staff require?
  • What will your staffing typically look like?
  • How will you recruit, train, and retain employees?

Goals, Milestone, and Risk

The goals, milestones, and risks section of your business plan is the place to outline your goals, set key milestones, and explore and explain your preparation for the risks you will face.

Goals lay the foundation of where you intend to take your company and how you are going to get there. It is important to ascertain the short and long-term goals for your company.

Your goals should be connected to your mission and vision, your business model, and your strategic plans. They should also reflect your ambition to move the company forward and are often reflected in key performance indicators (KPIs) , such as numbers of users and customers, revenues, expenses, retention, satisfaction, and other indicators of performance.

Here are some questions to help you develop the goals for your company:

  • When do you expect to break even?
  • What do you expect your revenue to be in one year? Three years? Five years?
  • What market share do you expect to capture in the next year? Three years? Five years?
  • Where do you plan to expand from here?
  • What KPIs do you need to achieve or improve?
  • When do you expect to implement major objectives?
  • What level of customer satisfaction do you hope to achieve?

When developing your goals, in addition to defining what your goals are, you also need to consider the how , the when , and the who . First, consider how your goals will get accomplished? What actions need to be taken to achieve your goals? What milestones do you need to accomplish along the way?

Your goals should also include your plan on when you plan on attaining each goal . Not only will your readers be curious about when you plan to achieve your goals, due dates and deadlines make for really powerful motivators.

Finally, you should also determine who is going to be responsible for working toward each goal. In a sole-proprietorship or startup it may be you, the business owner, or your founding team. However, as your organization grows, it will become more and more important to define who is responsible for pushing toward and achieving each goal.

SMART Goals

Your goals should be SMART: S pecific, M easurable, A ttainable, R ealistic, and T imely.

  • Specific —  Your goals should be clear and specific. They should be narrow enough that you can determine the appropriate steps to attain them. In addition to what , in planning your goals, do not forget to be specific about how , when , and who . How will your goals be attained? When do you anticipate achieving them? Who is going to be responsible?
  • Measurable —  Your goals should be measurable. There should be some objective metric or performance indicator by which you can tell if you have met your goals? How are you going to measure your goals? What metrics or performance indicators will you use? How will you know if you achieve your goals?
  • Attainable —  Your goals must also be realistic and attainable. For a goal to be attainable you must be able to achieve it. Do not be afraid to push yourself, but setting unrealistic goals will cast doubt on your entire business plan. Ask yourself, can your goals be accomplished? By you? What will it take to attain them?
  • Relevant —  Your goals also need to be relevant. To be relevant, they should contribute to the mission, vision, and success of your venture. Do your goals align with your company’s values? Are they within the scope of and aligned with your operational plan? Your marketing plan? Are they within the budget?
  • Timely —  Your goals should also be timely and time-bound. Their process and progress should be clearly defined and they should have a starting and ending date. Without a timeframe, there is no sense of urgency, or motivation to get started. Make your goals time-bound. How long do you expect it to take? When do you plan on getting started? When do you anticipate achieving each goal?

Milestones are important events in your venture’s growth that mark significant change or stage of development.

Creating a list of milestones can act as a checklist of what you need to accomplish for your venture to reach its goals. They tell the story of how you are going to get from where you are to where you are going.

Milestones might include major events and accomplishments, such as:

  • Forming an LLC
  • Writing a Business Plan
  • Securing Seed Capital
  • Develop a Prototype
  • Begin Production
  • First Major Sale
  • Reach 10,000 Downloads
  • Achieve 1,000 Paying Customers

It is alright to list a few milestones that you have already completed. Or to leave them in your business plan once you complete them. Accomplished milestones show that you are making traction.

Milestones act as a signal to potential investors and other stakeholders what to expect from your venture and when to expect it. They also signal whether the venture is progressing and growing as expected.

Implementation Timeline

The implementation timeline is where you describe where your company is in its lifespan . You should set a timeline to reach your goals and milestones. This should include a short-term timeframe as well as where you anticipate being in the long term.

This section of the business plan should not be long. A simple chart will do. You can find several free timeline templates online to plug in your milestones and the time frame you expect to achieve them.

You will also want to include a section in your business plan showing that you understand the critical risks that your business may be subject to . The risks you will face in your business include both internal and external risks. These are any areas that expose your venture to any kind of loss- assets, customers, sales, profits, and reputation, among others.

By exploring your assumptions and identifying possible risks in those assumptions, you can show that you have assessed and are prepared to handle risks and threats that may arise. There are several tools available to analyze business risks, including SWOT Analysis and contingency planning .

SWOT Analysis

You may want to conduct a SWOT analysis or even include it in your business plan. A SWOT analysis is an analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

A SWOT analysis can help you understand your industry and market, your venture, and the strategies that you should pursue.

To conduct a SWOT analysis, you will need to assess factors both inside and outside your venture.

Here is how to conduct your own:

  • What does your company do well?
  • What are your company’s advantages?
  • What do you do better than your competitors?
  • What unique or low-cost assets do you have access to?
  • What does your company not do well?
  • What are your company’s disadvantages?
  • What do your competitors do better than you?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • Where can you improve?
  • Where can you grow?
  • How can you turn your strengths into opportunities?
  • How can you turn your weaknesses into opportunities?
  • Do the trends of the industry or market represent a threat?
  • Is the number of competitors growing?
  • Do changes in technology or regulation threaten your success?
  • Do your weaknesses represent a threat?

Contingency Plans

After assessing your risks and your SWOT analysis, you should address any major threats or risks that your venture faces with contingency plans.

Contingency plans are plans to help mitigate these risks by establishing a plan of action should an adverse event happen.

Contingency plans show that you understand the threats and risks to your venture, and you have a plan in place to lessen the damage should these risks emerge. There are various ways to prepare for adverse events. One is through planning- identifying alternatives and determining the best course of action. Another is business insurance.

Business Insurance

Business insurance protects against risk from several sources. The type of business insurance you will need varies greatly depending on the nature of your business.

While there are standard types of coverage like general liability insurance , professional liability insurance , workers’ compensation , insurance for commercial property and commercial auto insurance , there are also insurance policies that cover specific business activities and specialized equipment.

You can bundle most of these into what is called a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) by a trusted insurance provider to get you started doing business.

Financial Statements

Your financial statements should include detailed projections of your income statement , cash flow statement, and balance sheet for the first year. You should also provide quarterly projections for the first three (or preferably five) years as well.

You also will likely need to include some sort of financial statement in your business plan. If you are a new venture, you will supply pro forma financial statements. Pro forma financial statements are simply financial projections.

Financial statements can help you to evaluate the cash needs of your venture, determine whether your venture is feasible and desirable, compare your expected returns with the alternatives, identify milestones and benchmarks, and demonstrate the value of your venture to investors.

Financial Assumptions

Before you begin completing your financial statements, you should first sit down and list the assumptions you will rely on to project your financial statements .

These should include projections concerning your:

  • Initial revenue level per month
  • Your growth and factors affecting growth
  • Your inventory and inventory turnover
  • And your operating expenses.

One of the biggest mistakes new ventures make is in making unrealistic assumptions .

Remember, revenue assumptions are key assumptions in determining whether your business will be viable. However, many entrepreneurs are overly optimistic about their revenue assumptions and tend to underestimate their expenses.

In order to make more accurate financial assumptions, back up your assumptions with data whenever possible. To find data to back up your assumptions, look for things like industry averages, market trends, and comparisons with similar ventures. You should already have a substantial amount of this data from your industry and market research.

Pro Forma Income Statements

The income statement , also known as the profit and loss statement , is a statement that shows the projections of your venture’s income and expenses over a fiscal year. On the income statement, you will detail your revenue and sources of revenue based on the assumptions you have made. You will also detail your anticipated expenses and use these to estimate your net income.

The typical income statement includes:

  • Revenue —  the total amount of sales, or revenue, projected to be brought in by your business.
  • Cost of Goods Sold —  the total direct cost of producing your product or delivering your service.
  • Gross Margin —  the difference between revenue and cost of goods sold.
  • Operating Expenses —  this section of your income statement details all of the expenses associated with operating your business. Common operating expenses might include rent, utilities, office
  • expenses, salary expenses, and marketing and advertising expenses, among others.
  • Total Operating Expenses —  the total of your operating expenses, excluding interest, depreciation, and taxes.
  • Operating Income —  the difference between your gross margin and operating expenses.
  • Interest, Depreciation, and Taxes —  this section of your income statement lists your non-operating expenses- expenses such as interest, depreciation, amortization, and taxes.
  • Net Profit —  the total of how much you actually made. This is calculated by subtracting interest, depreciation, and taxes from your operating income.

Pro Forma Cash Flow Statements

The cash flow statement is a financial statement that shows when and where cash (and cash equivalents) flow in and out of your venture. This tells you how much cash you will have on hand at any single point in time.

  • Cash from Operating —  Cash flowing into and out of your venture from operating, beginning with “cash on hand.” Cash flowing into your venture from operating includes cash from sales, payments from credit sales, investment income, and any other types of cash income related to operations. Cash flowing out of your venture from operations, your expenses, includes costs of raw goods, materials, inventory, salary expenses, office expenses, marketing and advertising expenses, rent, interest, taxes, insurance, or any other expenses that are paid by the venture.
  • Capital Cash Flow —  Cash flow, in or out of the venture, for capital assets such as the purchase or sale of fixed assets.
  • Cash from Financing —  Cash flow from financing includes cash flowing in or out of your venture relating to venture financing activities. Inflows of cash from financing include the investments by founders or owners, any loans taken out during the period, or the issuance of any equity. The outflow of cash from financing may include the payment of the principal of any loans, along with the repurchase of any outstanding equity.

Pro Forma Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a financial statement that balances a venture's finances at a specific point in time. It describes how much the company is worth. The balance sheet uses the accounting equation: assets = liabilities + equity . In fact, these are the main components of the balance sheet:

  • Assets —  Resources that hold economic value. A business's assets include current assets and fixed assets. Current assets are resources that can be accessed in the short term. These include cash, accounts receivable, inventory, and other currently available resources. Fixed assets are resources that are intended for long-term use but hold economic value. These include land and buildings, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, vehicles, and other fixed resources.
  • Liabilities —  What the business owes. Like assets, a business’s liabilities are also current liabilities and long-term liabilities. Current liabilities are liabilities that are due within 12 months. Current liabilities include accounts payable, loans, and taxes. Long-term liabilities are liabilities that are due after one year. These include long-term loans, notes, and other long-term debts.
  • Equity —  What the owners or shareholders own. Equity is also composed of two parts: Capital and Retained Earnings. Retained earnings is the amount of profit that has been retained by the company over the life of the venture. Capital earnings , then, is what’s left. It is what has been invested. For new ventures, this may be the founder’s or early investors’ initial investments. For larger corporations, this would be the value of their shares of stock.

Break-Even Analysis

The break-even analysis shows you how much you have to sell before you break even. The break-even analysis uses fixed and variable costs in order to determine the sales volume you have to attain to reach a break-even point. This is the point where your sales volume covers both your fixed costs and your variable costs.

The break-even point is most often expressed as a number of units. You can calculate the break-even point by dividing fixed cost by the average profit per unit (average price per unit minus the variable cost).

Break-Even Point = Fixed Costs/ Profit Per Unit (Avg. Price - Avg. Variable Costs)

You can also calculate the break-even point in terms of $ of sales. To calculate the break-even point in $ of sales, you can divide total fixed costs for the period by the contribution margin ratio (net sales minus total variable cost / net sales).

Break-Even Point ($ of Sales) = Fixed Costs / Contribution Margin Ratio Contribution Margin Ratio = (Net Sales - Total Variable Cost) / Net Sales

Startup/Funds Required

If you are writing your business plan for the purpose of seeking funding, you should conclude your business plan by describing the investment opportunity.

With your financial projections in place, you will now be able to determine the amount of startup capital or investment you require.

This is because the funding you need is highly dependent on your profit and loss, cash flow, and break-even point. With well-researched assumptions and the evidence to back them up, you are ready to make the case that your business is worth the investment and will be able to pay it back or reward investors in the future.

In this section of the business plan, you will need to explain the amount of funding you are requesting as well as describe what those funds will be used for. The startup funding request will need to cover all expenses (maybe even your own personal expenses) at least until you reach your break-even point.

Business Plan Appendices (Optional)

If you have additional evidence to support your business idea, your business model, or your ability to achieve your goals and meet your financial objectives, you may want to consider including it as an appendix to your business plan.

Additional / Optional Evidence

Owners’ Resumes —  One thing you may want to consider including in your business plan is the resume for each owner. Investors often invest as much in the startup team as they do in the idea itself. Illustrations of Product —  Another helpful appendix is pictures or illustrations of your product. These are especially helpful for new products or those which are difficult to depict with words. Storyboard of Customer Experience — If your business is a service business, you could also consider including a storyboard depicting your customer’s experience. Customer Survey Results — You can also include any market research that you have conducted in an appendix. Showing that you have solicited feedback from real customers or potential customers provides further credence to your venture and venture idea.

Develop Your Business Idea

Before writing your business plan, it is important to take some time to develop your business idea .

If you are starting a new company, there are likely many details of the venture that have not been fully worked through. If you already have an existing venture, the following tools can also be useful in evaluating your business model:

  • A three-sentence business plan

The Lean Canvas

The business model canvas, three-sentence business plan.

An easy place to start is with a three-sentence business plan . The three-sentence business plan is easy to construct, and consists of three parts:

  • your product or service
  • your market and marketing
  • your revenue model.

Your Product or Service

The first sentence of your business plan clearly yet simply states your business's primary product or service. This includes the what and the where.

Example: “CoffeeMe is an upscale bakery and coffee shop specializing in imported coffees and international delicacies that will be located in downtown Atlanta.”

Your Market(ing)

The second sentence of your three-sentence business plan describes who your target market is and how you will promote to them.

Example: “CoffeeMe’s target market is urban professionals living and working in downtown Atlanta, marketed and promoted through traditional advertising, company partnerships, and social media.”

Your Revenue Model

The third sentence of your three-sentence business plan explains your revenue model. How will you make money?

Example: “CoffeeMe’s revenue model includes one-time retail sales as well as a unique subscription model featuring all-you-can-drink coffee for subscribers.”

Put it all together, and you have your three-sentence business plan:

Example: “CoffeeMe is an upscale bakery and coffee shop specializing in imported coffees and international delicacies that will be located in downtown Atlanta. CoffeeMe’s target market is urban professionals living and working in downtown Atlanta, marketed and promoted through traditional advertising, company partnerships, and social media. Our revenue model includes one-time retail sales as well as a unique subscription model featuring all-you-can-drink coffee for subscribers.”

Another useful tool for developing your business idea is the Lean Canvas . The Lean Canvas takes a problem-solution approach to helping you plan your business, focusing on the problems you are solving for your customers.

The Lean Canvas helps you describe and visualize your problem, solution, customers, value proposition, key performance indicators, and competitive advantage.

The steps to complete the Lean Canvas are:

  • Define your target customers or users
  • List the problems you are solving for them and how they are currently solving those problems today
  • Describe your solution
  • Explain your unique value proposition
  • Describe your revenue streams
  • Depict how you will reach customers
  • Define the key metrics that will tell if you are doing well
  • Detail your cost structure
  • Explain your unfair advantage

The Lean Canvas, created by Ash Maurya, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License: https://leanstack.com/lean-canvas

The Business Model Canvas helps you describe and visualize the key aspects of your venture including your customers, value proposition, infrastructure, and revenue and cost models.

If you have already completed a Lean Canvas, you will already have several of the central parts of the Business Model Canvas complete.

The steps to complete the Business Model Canvas are:

  • Explain your value proposition
  • Describe how you interact with customers
  • List the key activities that you will need to do to deliver on your value proposition
  • List the key assets that you will need to deliver on your value proposition
  • Describe the key partnerships that you will need to put in place to deliver on your value proposition

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  1. Business Plan Table of Contents Template

    contents of typical business plan

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    contents of typical business plan

  3. 40 Professional Table of Contents Templates [2024 Update]

    contents of typical business plan

  4. Elements of a Typical Business Plan

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  5. A Complete Guide On Small Business Plan Examples

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  6. Printable Sample Business Plan Sample Form

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

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

  2. Business Plan

    Here is a basic template that any business can use when developing its business plan: Section 1: Executive Summary. Present the company's mission. Describe the company's product and/or service offerings. Give a summary of the target market and its demographics.

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

    Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It's also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. After completing your plan, you can ...

  4. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks: Product goals and deadlines for each month. Monthly financials for the first two years. Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years. Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years.

  5. How to Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    The exact contents of a business plan will differ plan by plan, but in general, the typical plan should include an executive summary, a business description, a market or competitive analysis, a description of the proposed operational structure, a product description, and a pitch to raise capital if applicable. ...

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

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

  7. What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

    Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital. ... This is different from the typical startup business plan which focuses on the first one to three years. The audience for this plan is also primarily internal stakeholders. These types of business ...

  8. 13 Key Business Plan Components

    10. Traction. Many investors see hundreds of deals every year. If you want to stand a chance of making any sort of meaningful impression, it's important to show them that your business is more than just an idea and that you've already got some irons in the fire. Traction is a huge part of making that case.

  9. How To Write A Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

    1. Investors Are Short On Time. If your chief goal is using your business plan to secure funding, then it means you intend on getting it in front of an investor. And if there's one thing investors are, it's busy. So keep this in mind throughout writing a business plan.

  10. Business Plan: What it Is, How to Write One

    Learn about the best business plan software. 1. Write an executive summary. This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your ...

  11. Business Plan: What It Is + How to Write One

    A business plan is a written document that defines your business goals and the tactics to achieve those goals. A business plan typically explores the competitive landscape of an industry, analyzes a market and different customer segments within it, describes the products and services, lists business strategies for success, and outlines ...

  12. Contents of a Business Plan

    A business plan includes the cost of organizing the business, the anticipated sources of revenue, how the products and services are customer oriented, and anticipated profit margins. Business plans serve two main purposes. First, they are a guide business owners use to streamline management and planning/organization of the business.

  13. Your Complete Guide to Writing a Business Plan: What You Need ...

    7. Goals. The goals portion of your business plan gives readers a better idea of where your business is headed. Try to include a mix of quarterly goals, annual goals, and goals that span five or 10 years. For each goal you share, include a few bullet points explaining: Your timeline for reaching the goal.

  14. How to Write a Business Plan Complete Guide

    A short business plan would work if you are looking to expand your business. 2. Be realistic and creative. Do not consider your business idea as your baby. Be realistic and honest with yourself while writing your business plan, and always try to add facts and realistic details of your business idea.

  15. How To Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    A business plan is a formal document (about 15-25 pages in length) that precisely defines a company's objectives in fine detail. It also describes how the company plans to achieve its goals. All companies — including startups and established institutions — create and use business plans.

  16. What is a Business Plan? Definition + Resources

    What information is included in a business plan? The contents of a plan business plan will vary depending on the industry the business is in. . After all, someone opening a new restaurant will have different customers, inventory needs, and marketing tactics to consider than someone bringing a new medical device to the market.. But there are some common elements that most business plans include:

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

    It's the roadmap for your business. The outline of your goals, objectives, and the steps you'll take to get there. It describes the structure of your organization, how it operates, as well as the financial expectations and actual performance. A business plan can help you explore ideas, successfully start a business, manage operations, and ...

  18. Business Plan

    The traditional business plan is typically a 20 to 40-page formal document that describes what your business does, what your objectives are, and how you plan to achieve them. It lays out your plans for operating, marketing, and managing your business, along with your goals and financial projections. There are many different types of business ...

  19. How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

    Determine how you can best reach potential customers. Evaluate your competition. Your marketing plan must set you apart from your competition, and you can't stand out unless you know your ...

  20. How To Write a Business Plan (With 5 Types and Example)

    A startup business plan typically includes descriptions of the company, the goods and services it plans on selling, an analysis of the markets it plans to compete in and the management structure. 2. Strategic business plans. A strategic business plan focuses on what the company's major goals are and how the entire staff can contribute to these ...

  21. Contents Of A Typical Business Plan

    Contents Of A Typical Business Plan - Charita Davis #18 in Global Rating Min Area (sq ft) 2062 . Finished Papers. 4.9/5. 4078. 266 ... Event Marketing Company Business Plan, Essay Buying House, Cheap Ghostwriting Websites For College, Popular Expository Essay Ghostwriters Websites Usa, Software Resume Business Analyst, Cover Letter Examples For ...

  22. Business Plan: What It Is + How to Write One

    A business plan is a written document that defines your business goals and the tactics to achieve those goals. A business plan typically explores the competitive landscape of an industry, analyzes a market and different customer segments within it, describes the products and services, lists business strategies for success, and outlines ...

  23. Small-business grants you can apply for in April 2024

    Businesses must be majority-owned by a woman and have been in operation for at least two years. Applications are due April 4, 2024. Hello Alice offers $1,000 in "American Dream" grants to ...