Transition to growth mode

with LivePlan Get 40% off now

Tool graphics

0 results have been found for “”

 Return to blog home

What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Planning Essentials Explained

Posted february 21, 2022 by kody wirth.

definition of business plan wikipedia

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 .

Like this post? Share with a friend!

Kody Wirth

Posted in Business Plan Writing

Join over 1 million entrepreneurs who found success with liveplan, like this content sign up to receive more.

Subscribe for tips and guidance to help you grow a better, smarter business.

You're all set!

Exciting business insights and growth strategies will be coming your way each month.

We care about your privacy. See our privacy policy .

Masterplans.com

Business Plan Development

Masterplans experts will help you create business plans for investor funding, bank/SBA lending and strategic direction

Investor Materials

A professionally designed pitch deck, lean plan, and cash burn overview will assist you in securing Pre-Seed and Seed Round funding

Immigration Business Plans

A USCIS-compliant business plan serves as the foundation for your E-2, L-1A, EB-5 or E-2 visa application

Customized consulting tailored to your startup's unique challenges and goals

Our team-based approach supports your project with personal communication and technical expertise.

Pricing that is competitive and scalable for early-stage business services regardless of industry or stage.

Client testimonials from just a few of the 18,000+ entrepreneurs we've worked with over the last 20 years

Free tools, research, and templates to help with business plans & pitch decks

What Is A Business Plan (& Do I Really Need One?)

Picture of Masterplans Staff

The term "business plan" is a familiar one, often bandied about in entrepreneurial circles. Yet, despite its ubiquity, it's remarkable how much mystery and confusion can surround this essential business tool.

What exactly is a business plan? What purpose does it serve? How is it structured? This article aims to lift the veil, demystifying the business plan and revealing its multifaceted nature.

Business Plan Definition

A business plan is a document that describes a company's objectives and its marketing, financial, and operational strategies for achieving them. It's more than a mere document; it's a structured communication tool designed to articulate the vision of the business, allowing stakeholders to easily find the information they seek.

The business plan is a tangible reflection of the strategic planning that has gone into the business's future. While the plan is a static document, the planning is a dynamic process, capturing the strategic thinking and decision-making that shape the business's direction.

Purposes of a Business Plan

1. attracting funding opportunities.

A well-crafted business plan illustrates the company's potential for growth and profitability. It outlines the company's vision, mission, and strategies, providing a clear roadmap for success. A potential investor, whether venture capitalists or angel investors, can see how capital will be utilized, fostering trust and confidence in the business venture. A bank or financial institution can assess your company's ability to meet debt service obligations and compliance with strict financial accounting to meet underwriting requirements.

2. Aligning Organizational Objectives

A business plan acts as a unifying document that aligns the team with the company's goals and strategies. It ensures that everyone is on the same page, working towards common objectives. This alignment fosters collaboration and efficiency, driving the business towards its targets.

3. Validating the Business Concept

Before launching, a business plan helps in validating the feasibility of the business idea. It's a rigorous process that tests the concept against real-world scenarios, ensuring that the idea is not only innovative but also practical and sustainable. This validation builds credibility and prepares the business for the challenges ahead. For an existing business, a business plan can help address a possible merger and acquisition (M&A), rolling out a new business product or location, or expanding the target market.

4. Facilitating Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Whether it's securing a visa for international operations or meeting other regulatory requirements, a business plan can be an essential tool. It provides the necessary information in a structured format, demonstrating compliance with legal and regulatory standards. This can streamline processes and prevent potential legal hurdles.

5. Articulating and Formalizing the Business Vision

The business plan is more than a set of numbers and projections; it's the embodiment of the business vision. It communicates the essence of the business to stakeholders, turning abstract ideas into a concrete operational plan. It's a vital tool for leadership to articulate and formalize the vision, setting the stage for strategic execution.

Identifying the Right Type of Business Plan

Once you understand who your business plan is for and what specific needs it must address, you can identify the type of plan that best suits your situation. Business plans can be categorized into two main types: traditional and lean, each serveing its own unique purpose.

Traditional Business Plan

The Traditional Business Plan is a detailed and comprehensive document, often used by a new business, especially those seeking significant funding. It provides a complete picture of the company's vision, strategies, and operations. A traditional business plan leaves no stone unturned, offering a robust tool that communicates the business's entire vision and plan to stakeholders.

Lean Business Plan

In contrast, the Lean Business Plan is an abbreviated structure that still emphasizes the key elements of a Traditional Business Plan, but in less detail. It's suitable for early-stage startups, small businesses, or situations where agility and speed are essential. The Lean Business Plan focuses on the essentials, providing a quick overview without overwhelming details. It's a flexible and adaptable tool that can evolve with the business. One of the primary distinctions between it and a Traditional Business Plan is that a Lean Business Plan does not typically include financial planning, or if it does, it's a simple financial forecast or cash burn.

Components of a Business Plan

There are many places online where you can buy a business plan template. Often, those documents are just an outline of the sections of the business plan and what is included in each. If that's what you're looking for, here's a good business plan outline:

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is the first section read but often the last written, as it encapsulates the entire plan. If the company has a mission statement, it's typically included here. When used for funding, it includes the ask or uses of funds, and for investment, it may contain an investor proposition. It's a concise overview that sets the tone, summarizing each section that follows.

Company Overview

The Company Overview is the foundation of the business, articulating how it operates, generates revenue, and delivers unique value to its customers. This section defines products and/or service the business sells, as well as the company’s business model and unique value proposition. It covers key partners, pricing strategy, revenue model, and other essential business activities. 

Market Analysis Summary

The Market Analysis is the business intelligence portion of the plan. It comprises an industry analysis, market segments, target customers, competitive analysis, competitive advantage. This section provides insights into the market landscape, identifying opportunities, challenges, and how the business positions itself uniquely within the industry.

Strategy & Implementation Summary

Here, the business plan should outline the short-term and long-term objectives, marketing strategy and sales approach. It's a roadmap that details how the business will achieve its goals, including tactical steps, timelines, and resources. In a business plan for investors, the inclusion of an exit strategy can provide a vision for the future, considering various potential outcomes.

Management Summary

The Management Summary offers profiles of key personnel, their qualifications, roles, and plans to fill talent gaps. It's a snapshot of the leadership team, providing assurance that the right people are in place to execute the business plan successfully.

Financial Projections

This section includes standard financial statements like the profit & loss statement (P&L), the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement. It offers a detailed financial blueprint, illustrating the company’s revenue drivers and unit assumptions, income statement, a break-even analysis, and a sensitivity analysis to examine how changes in variables affect outcomes. For businesses with complex structures, framing the revenue in terms of market share can offer additional insight into the viability and feasibility of the financial projections.

The Appendices often include year 1 and year 2 monthly financial statements, intellectual property like patents and trademarks, construction blueprints, and other essential documentation. It's a repository for supporting information that adds depth and context to the main sections of the plan.

Do I Need a Business Plan?

The question "Do I need a business plan?" is one that many entrepreneurs and business leaders grapple with. The answer, however, is not as straightforward as it might seem. While not every business requires a traditional business plan, the strategic planning process is essential for all. 

In some cases, a traditional business plan is required. Applying for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan , obtaining a entrepreneurship visa , or meeting specific investor requirements may mandate a comprehensive business plan.

However a traditional business plan isn’t always necessary. For example, in early-stage investor funding, particularly in industries like SaaS, a lean business plan accompanied by a pitch deck presentation will often suffice. The focus here is on agility and essential information rather than exhaustive detail.

Every Business Needs Business Planning

Unlike the traditional business plan, which may or may not be required depending on the situation, business planning as a process is indispensable for every business, regardless of size or stage.

Business planning is a dynamic, continuous process. It's not confined to a single document but evolves with the business, adapting to changes, challenges, and opportunities. Effective strategic planning ensures internal alignment with both long-term vision and short-term objectives. It's a holistic approach that guides business goal-setting decision-making, resource allocation, and strategic direction. It often serves as the basis for a fully developed marketing plan.

Every business, from a small startup to a large corporation, benefits from strategic planning. It's a practice that fosters growth, innovation, and resilience, providing a roadmap for success.

Not every business needs a traditional business plan as a document, but all businesses need to engage in business planning as a process. While the traditional business plan serves specific purposes and audiences, business planning is a universal practice that guides and grows the business.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders must assess their specific needs, recognizing that the traditional business plan is just one tool among many. The true value of the business plan lies in continuous planning, adapting, and aligning with the unique vision and goals of the business.

How to Write a Management Summary for Your Business Plan

How to Write a Management Summary for Your Business Plan

Picture of Ben Worsley

Entrepreneurs are often celebrated for their uncanny ability to understand others – their customers, the market, and the ever-evolving global...

Understanding Venture Debt vs Venture Capital

Understanding Venture Debt vs Venture Capital

Despite growth in sectors like artificial intelligence, venture capital funding has seen better days. After peaking at $347.5 billion in 2021, there...

Going Beyond Writing: The Multifaceted Role of Business Plan Consultants

Going Beyond Writing: The Multifaceted Role of Business Plan Consultants

Most people think of a professional business plan company primarily as a "business plan writer." However, here at Masterplans, we choose to approach...

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 ]

businessplan_2

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.

definition of business plan wikipedia

Free Business Plan Template

The essential document for starting a business -- custom built for your needs.

  • Outline your idea.
  • Pitch to investors.
  • Secure funding.
  • Get to work!

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Free Business Plan [Template]

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.

businessplan_1

Don't forget to share this post!

Related articles.

24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

19 Best Sample Business Plans & Examples to Help You Write Your Own

19 Best Sample Business Plans & Examples to Help You Write Your Own

Maximizing Your Social Media Strategy: The Top Aggregator Tools to Use

Maximizing Your Social Media Strategy: The Top Aggregator Tools to Use

The Content Aggregator Guide for 2023

The Content Aggregator Guide for 2023

7 Gantt Chart Examples You'll Want to Copy [+ 5 Steps to Make One]

7 Gantt Chart Examples You'll Want to Copy [+ 5 Steps to Make One]

The 8 Best Free Flowchart Templates [+ Examples]

The 8 Best Free Flowchart Templates [+ Examples]

16 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

16 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

The 25 Best Google Chrome Extensions for SEO

The 25 Best Google Chrome Extensions for SEO

Professional Invoice Design: 28 Samples & Templates to Inspire You

Professional Invoice Design: 28 Samples & Templates to Inspire You

2 Essential Templates For Starting Your Business

Marketing software that helps you drive revenue, save time and resources, and measure and optimize your investments — all on one easy-to-use platform

  • Starting a Business
  • Growing a Business
  • Business News
  • Science & Technology
  • Money & Finance
  • Subscribers For Subscribers
  • ELN Write for Entrepreneur
  • Store Entrepreneur Store
  • Spotlight Spotlight
  • United States
  • Asia Pacific
  • Middle East
  • South Africa

Copyright © 2024 Entrepreneur Media, LLC All rights reserved. Entrepreneur® and its related marks are registered trademarks of Entrepreneur Media LLC

Business Plan

By Entrepreneur Staff

Business Plan Definition:

A written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement

A business plan is also a road map that provides directions so a business can plan its future and helps it avoid bumps in the road. The time you spend making your business plan thorough and accurate, and keeping it up-to-date, is an investment that pays big dividends in the long term.

Your business plan should conform to generally accepted guidelines regarding form and content. Each section should include specific elements and address relevant questions that the people who read your plan will most likely ask. Generally, a business plan has the following components:

Title Page and Contents A business plan should be presented in a binder with a cover listing the name of the business, the name(s) of the principal(s), address, phone number, e-mail and website addresses, and the date. You don't have to spend a lot of money on a fancy binder or cover. Your readers want a plan that looks professional, is easy to read and is well-put-together.

Include the same information on the title page. If you have a logo, you can use it, too. A table of contents follows the executive summary or statement of purpose, so that readers can quickly find the information or financial data they need.

Executive Summary The executive summary, or statement of purpose, succinctly encapsulates your reason for writing the business plan. It tells the reader what you want and why, right up front. Are you looking for a $10,000 loan to remodel and refurbish your factory? A loan of $25,000 to expand your product line or buy new equipment? How will you repay your loan, and over what term? Would you like to find a partner to whom you'd sell 25 percent of the business? What's in it for him or her? The questions that pertain to your situation should be addressed here clearly and succinctly.

The summary or statement should be no more than half a page in length and should touch on the following key elements:

  • Business concept describes the business, its product, the market it serves and the business' competitive advantage.
  • Financial features include financial highlights, such as sales and profits.
  • Financial requirements state how much capital is needed for startup or expansion, how it will be used and what collateral is available.
  • Current business position furnishes relevant information about the company, its legal form of operation, when it was founded, the principal owners and key personnel.
  • Major achievements points out anything noteworthy, such as patents, prototypes, important contracts regarding product development, or results from test marketing that have been conducted.

Description of the Business The business description usually begins with a short explanation of the industry. When describing the industry, discuss what's going on now as well as the outlook for the future. Do the necessary research so you can provide information on all the various markets within the industry, including references to new products or developments that could benefit or hinder your business. Base your observations on reliable data and be sure to footnote and cite your sources of information when necessary. Remember that bankers and investors want to know hard facts--they won't risk money on assumptions or conjecture.

When describing your business, say which sector it falls into (wholesale, retail, food service, manufacturing, hospitality and so on), and whether the business is new or established. Then say whether the business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, C or Sub chapter S corporation. Next, list the business' principals and state what they bring to the business. Continue with information on who the business' customers are, how big the market is, and how the product or service is distributed and marketed.

Description of the Product or Service The business description can be a few paragraphs to a few pages in length, depending on the complexity of your plan. If your plan isn't too complicated, keep your business description short, describing the industry in one paragraph, the product in another, and the business and its success factors in two or three more paragraphs.

When you describe your product or service, make sure your reader has a clear idea of what you're talking about. Explain how people use your product or service and talk about what makes your product or service different from others available in the market. Be specific about what sets your business apart from those of your competitors.

Then explain how your business will gain a competitive edge and why your business will be profitable. Describe the factors you think will make it successful. If your business plan will be used as a financing proposal, explain why the additional equity or debt will make your business more profitable. Give hard facts, such as "new equipment will create an income stream of $10,000 per year" and briefly describe how.

Other information to address here is a description of the experience of the other key people in the business. Whoever reads your business plan will want to know what suppliers or experts you've spoken to about your business and their response to your idea. They may even ask you to clarify your choice of location or reasons for selling this particular product.

Market Analysis A thorough market analysis will help you define your prospects as well as help you establish pricing, distribution, and promotional strategies that will allow your company to be successful vis-à-vis your competition, both in the short and long term.

Begin your market analysis by defining the market in terms of size, demographics, structure, growth prospects, trends, and sales potential. Next, determine how often your product or service will be purchased by your target market. Then figure out the potential annual purchase. Then figure out what percentage of this annual sum you either have or can attain. Keep in mind that no one gets 100 percent market share, and that a something as small as 25 percent is considered a dominant share. Your market share will be a benchmark that tells you how well you're doing in light of your market-planning projections.

You'll also have to describe your positioning strategy. How you differentiate your product or service from that of your competitors and then determine which market niche to fill is called "positioning." Positioning helps establish your product or service's identity within the eyes of the purchaser. A positioning statement for a business plan doesn't have to be long or elaborate, but it does need to point out who your target market is, how you'll reach them, what they're really buying from you, who your competitors are, and what your USP (unique selling proposition) is.

How you price your product or service is perhaps your most important marketing decision. It's also one of the most difficult to make for most small business owners, because there are no instant formulas. Many methods of establishing prices are available to you, but these are among the most common.

  • Cost-plus pricing is used mainly by manufacturers to assure that all costs, both fixed and variable, are covered and the desired profit percentage is attained.
  • Demand pricing is used by companies that sell their products through a variety of sources at differing prices based on demand.
  • Competitive pricing is used by companies that are entering a market where there's already an established price and it's difficult to differentiate one product from another.
  • Markup pricing is used mainly by retailers and is calculated by adding your desired profit to the cost of the product.

You'll also have to determine distribution, which includes the entire process of moving the product from the factory to the end user. Make sure to analyze your competitors' distribution channels before deciding whether to use the same type of channel or an alternative that may provide you with a strategic advantage.

Finally, your promotion strategy should include all the ways you communicate with your markets to make them aware of your products or services. To be successful, your promotion strategy should address advertising, packaging, public relations, sales promotions and personal sales.

Competitive Analysis The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine:

  • the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market.
  • strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage.
  • barriers that can be developed to prevent competition from entering your market.
  • any weaknesses that can be exploited in the product development cycle.

The first step in a competitor analysis is to identify both direct and indirect competition for your business, both now and in the future. Once you've grouped your competitors, start analyzing their marketing strategies and identifying their vulnerable areas by examining their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you determine your distinct competitive advantage.

Whoever reads your business plan should be very clear on who your target market is, what your market niche is, exactly how you'll stand apart from your competitors, and why you'll be successful doing so.

Operations and Management The operations and management component of your plan is designed to describe how the business functions on a continuing basis. The operations plan highlights the logistics of the organization, such as the responsibilities of the management team, the tasks assigned to each division within the company, and capital and expense requirements related to the operations of the business.

Financial Components of Your Business Plan After defining the product, market and operations, the next area to turn your attention to are the three financial statements that form the backbone of your business plan: the income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet.

The income statement is a simple and straightforward report on the business' cash-generating ability. It is a scorecard on the financial performance of your business that reflects when sales are made and when expenses are incurred. It draws information from the various financial models developed earlier such as revenue, expenses, capital (in the form of depreciation), and cost of goods. By combining these elements, the income statement illustrates just how much your company makes or loses during the year by subtracting cost of goods and expenses from revenue to arrive at a net result, which is either a profit or loss. In addition to the income statements, include a note analyzing the results. The analysis should be very short, emphasizing the key points of the income statement. Your CPA can help you craft this.

The cash flow statement is one of the most critical information tools for your business, since it shows how much cash you'll need to meet obligations, when you'll require it and where it will come from. The result is the profit or loss at the end of each month and year. The cash flow statement carries both profits and losses over to the next month to also show the cumulative amount. Running a loss on your cash flow statement is a major red flag that indicates not having enough cash to meet expenses-something that demands immediate attention and action.

The cash flow statement should be prepared on a monthly basis during the first year, on a quarterly basis for the second year, and annually for the third year. The following 17 items are listed in the order they need to appear on your cash flow statement. As with the income statement, you'll need to analyze the cash flow statement in a short summary in the business plan. Once again, the analysis doesn't have to be long and should cover highlights only. Ask your CPA for help.

The last financial statement you'll need is a balance sheet. Unlike the previous financial statements, the balance sheet is generated annually for the business plan and is, more or less, a summary of all the preceding financial information broken down into three areas: assets, liabilities and equity.

Balance sheets are used to calculate the net worth of a business or individual by measuring assets against liabilities. If your business plan is for an existing business, the balance sheet from your last reporting period should be included. If the business plan is for a new business, try to project what your assets and liabilities will be over the course of the business plan to determine what equity you may accumulate in the business. To obtain financing for a new business, you'll need to include a personal financial statement or balance sheet.

In the business plan, you'll need to create an analysis for the balance sheet just as you need to do for the income and cash flow statements. The analysis of the balance sheet should be kept short and cover key points.

Supporting Documents In this section, include any other documents that are of interest to your reader, such as your resume; contracts with suppliers, customers, or clients, letters of reference, letters of intent, copy of your lease and any other legal documents, tax returns for the previous three years, and anything else relevant to your business plan.

Some people think you don't need a business plan unless you're trying to borrow money. Of course, it's true that you do need a good plan if you intend to approach a lender--whether a banker, a venture capitalist or any number of other sources--for startup capital. But a business plan is more than a pitch for financing; it's a guide to help you define and meet your business goals.

Just as you wouldn't start off on a cross-country drive without a road map, you should not embark on your new business without a business plan to guide you. A business plan won't automatically make you a success, but it will help you avoid some common causes of business failure, such as under-capitalization or lack of an adequate market.

As you research and prepare your business plan, you'll find weak spots in your business idea that you'll be able to repair. You'll also discover areas with potential you may not have thought about before--and ways to profit from them. Only by putting together a business plan can you decide whether your great idea is really worth your time and investment.

More from Business Plans

Financial projections.

Estimates of the future financial performance of a business

Financial Statement

A written report of the financial condition of a firm. Financial statements include the balance sheet, income statement, statement of changes in net worth and statement of cash flow.

Executive Summary

A nontechnical summary statement at the beginning of a business plan that's designed to encapsulate your reason for writing the plan

Latest Articles

Sam bankman-fried sentenced to 25 years in prison for multibillion-dollar crypto fraud.

Southern District of New York Judge Lewis Kaplan said that the loss amount to the victims of Bankman-Fried's crimes surpassed $550 million.

Save $240 on a Lifetime Subscription That Provides More Than 1,500 Book Summaries

With Headway Premium, you can gain knowledge at a rapid rate.

This Mom Started a Side Hustle After a 'Shocking' Realization in the Toy Aisle. Her Product Was in Macy's Within the Year — Seeing Nearly $350,000 in Sales.

Elenor Mak, now founder of Jilly Bing, didn't plan to start a business — but the search for a doll that looked like her daughter inspired her to do just that.

comscore

wisebusinessplans logo

  • Customer Reviews
  • Net 30 Account
  • Wise Services
  • Steps & Timeline
  • Work at a Glance
  • Market Research at a Glance
  • Business Plan Writing Services
  • Bank Business Plan
  • Investor Business Plan
  • Franchise Business Plan
  • Cannabis Business Plan
  • Strategic Business Plan
  • Corporate Business Plan
  • Merge and Acquisition Business Plan (M&A)
  • Private Placement Memorandums (PPM)
  • Sample Business Plans
  • Professional Feasibility Study
  • PowerPoint Presentations
  • Pitch Deck Presentation Services
  • Business Plan Printing
  • Market Research
  • L-1 Business Plan
  • E-2 Business Plan
  • EB-5 Business Plan
  • EB-5 Regional Centers
  • Immigration Attorneys
  • Nonprofit Business Plan
  • Exit Business Planning
  • Business Planning
  • Business Formation
  • Business License
  • Business Website
  • Business Branding
  • Business Bank Account
  • Digital Marketing
  • Business Funding Resources
  • Small Business Loans
  • Venture Capital
  • Net 30 Apply

Wise Business plans logo

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Business Credit Cards
  • Talk to Us 1-800-496-1056

A Business Plan is a Roadmap for a Business to Achieve its Goals

What is a business plan? Definition, Purpose, and Types

In the world of business, a well-thought-out plan is often the key to success. This plan, known as a business plan, is a comprehensive document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies , and financial projections. Whether you’re starting a new business or looking to expand an existing one, a business plan is an essential tool.

As a business plan writer and consultant , I’ve crafted over 15,000 plans for a diverse range of businesses. In this article, I’ll be sharing my wealth of experience about what a business plan is, its purpose, and the step-by-step process of creating one. By the end, you’ll have a thorough understanding of how to develop a robust business plan that can drive your business to success.

What is a business plan?

Purposes of a business plan, what are the essential components of a business plan, executive summary, business description or overview, product and price, competitive analysis, target market, marketing plan, financial plan, funding requirements, types of business plan, lean startup business plans, traditional business plans, how often should a business plan be reviewed and revised, what are the key elements of a lean startup business plan.

  • What are some of the reasons why business plans don't succeed?

A business plan is a roadmap for your business. It outlines your goals, strategies, and how you plan to achieve them. It’s a living document that you can update as your business grows and changes.

Looking for someone to write a business plan?

Find professional business plan writers for your business success.

These are the following purpose of business plan:

  • Attract investors and lenders: If you’re seeking funding for your business , a business plan is a must-have. Investors and lenders want to see that you have a clear plan for how you’ll use their money to grow your business and generate revenue.
  • Get organized and stay on track: Writing a business plan forces you to think through all aspects of your business, from your target market to your marketing strategy. This can help you identify any potential challenges and opportunities early on, so you can develop a plan to address them.
  • Make better decisions: A business plan can help you make better decisions about your business by providing you with a framework to evaluate different options. For example, if you’re considering launching a new product, your business plan can help you assess the potential market demand, costs, and profitability.

The Essential Components of a Business Plan

The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan, even though it’s the last one you’ll write. It’s the first section that potential investors or lenders will read, and it may be the only one they read. The executive summary sets the stage for the rest of the document by introducing your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.

The business description section of your business plan should introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way. It should include your business name, years in operation, key offerings, positioning statement, and core values (if applicable). You may also want to include a short history of your company.

In this section, the company should describe its products or services , including pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other relevant information could include production and manufacturing processes, patents, and proprietary technology.

Every industry has competitors, even if your business is the first of its kind or has the majority of the market share. In the competitive analysis section of your business plan, you’ll objectively assess the industry landscape to understand your business’s competitive position. A SWOT analysis is a structured way to organize this section.

Your target market section explains the core customers of your business and why they are your ideal customers. It should include demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic information about your target market.

Marketing plan describes how the company will attract and retain customers, including any planned advertising and marketing campaigns . It also describes how the company will distribute its products or services to consumers.

After outlining your goals, validating your business opportunity, and assessing the industry landscape, the team section of your business plan identifies who will be responsible for achieving your goals. Even if you don’t have your full team in place yet, investors will be impressed by your clear understanding of the roles that need to be filled.

In the financial plan section,established businesses should provide financial statements , balance sheets , and other financial data. New businesses should provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years, and may also request funding.

Since one goal of a business plan is to secure funding from investors , you should include the amount of funding you need, why you need it, and how long you need it for.

  • Tip: Use bullet points and numbered lists to make your plan easy to read and scannable.

Access specialized business plan writing service now!

Business plans can come in many different formats, but they are often divided into two main types: traditional and lean startup. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) says that the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

Lean startup business plans are short (as short as one page) and focus on the most important elements. They are easy to create, but companies may need to provide more information if requested by investors or lenders.

Traditional business plans are longer and more detailed than lean startup business plans, which makes them more time-consuming to create but more persuasive to potential investors. Lean startup business plans are shorter and less detailed, but companies should be prepared to provide more information if requested.

Need Guidance with Your Business Plan?

Access 14 free business plan samples!

A business plan should be reviewed and revised at least annually, or more often if the business is experiencing significant changes. This is because the business landscape is constantly changing, and your business plan needs to reflect those changes in order to remain relevant and effective.

Here are some specific situations in which you should review and revise your business plan:

  • You have launched a new product or service line.
  • You have entered a new market.
  • You have experienced significant changes in your customer base or competitive landscape.
  • You have made changes to your management team or organizational structure.
  • You have raised new funding.

A lean startup business plan is a short and simple way for a company to explain its business, especially if it is new and does not have a lot of information yet. It can include sections on the company’s value proposition, major activities and advantages, resources, partnerships, customer segments, and revenue sources.

What are some of the reasons why business plans don't succeed?

Reasons why Business Plans Dont Success

  • Unrealistic assumptions: Business plans are often based on assumptions about the market, the competition, and the company’s own capabilities. If these assumptions are unrealistic, the plan is doomed to fail.
  • Lack of focus: A good business plan should be focused on a specific goal and how the company will achieve it. If the plan is too broad or tries to do too much, it is unlikely to be successful.
  • Poor execution: Even the best business plan is useless if it is not executed properly. This means having the right team in place, the necessary resources, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Unforeseen challenges:  Every business faces challenges that could not be predicted or planned for. These challenges can be anything from a natural disaster to a new competitor to a change in government regulations.

What are the benefits of having a business plan?

  • It helps you to clarify your business goals and strategies.
  • It can help you to attract investors and lenders.
  • It can serve as a roadmap for your business as it grows and changes.
  • It can help you to make better business decisions.

How to write a business plan?

There are many different ways to write a business plan, but most follow the same basic structure. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  • Executive summary.
  • Company description.
  • Management and organization description.
  • Financial projections.

How to write a business plan step by step?

Start with an executive summary, then describe your business, analyze the market, outline your products or services, detail your marketing and sales strategies, introduce your team, and provide financial projections.

Why do I need a business plan for my startup?

A business plan helps define your startup’s direction, attract investors, secure funding, and make informed decisions crucial for success.

What are the key components of a business plan?

Key components include an executive summary, business description, market analysis, products or services, marketing and sales strategy, management and team, financial projections, and funding requirements.

Can a business plan help secure funding for my business?

Yes, a well-crafted business plan demonstrates your business’s viability, the use of investment, and potential returns, making it a valuable tool for attracting investors and lenders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Quick Links

Made in USA

  • Investor Business Plans
  • M&A Business Plan
  • Private Placement
  • Feasibility Study
  • Hire a Business Plan Writer
  • Business Valuation Calculator
  • Business Plan Examples
  • Real Estate Business Plan
  • Business Plan Template
  • Business Plan Pricing Guide
  • Business Plan Makeover
  • SBA Loans, Bank Funding & Business Credit
  • Finding & Qualifying for Business Grants
  • Leadership for the New Manager
  • Content Marketing for Beginners
  • All About Crowdfunding
  • EB-5 Regional Centers, A Step-By-Step Guide
  • Logo Designer
  • Landing Page
  • PPC Advertising

Wise Business Plan New Logo White

  • Business Entity
  • Business Licensing
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Business Phone
  • Business Address
  • E-1 Visa Business Plan
  • EB1-A Visa Business Plan
  • EB1-C Visa Business Plan
  • EB2-NIW Business Plan
  • H1B Visa Business Plan
  • O1 Visa Business Plan
  • Business Brokers
  • Merger & Acquisition Advisors
  • Franchisors

Proud Sponsor of

  • 1-800-496-1056

US flag

  • (613) 800-0227

Canada flag

  • +44 (1549) 409190

UK flag

  • +61 (2) 72510077

Australia flag

Result-oriented employee work management - A pathway to get a Productive workforce.

close

Business Plan

What is a business plan.

A business plan is a written document that details how a company—usually a startup —defines its goals and strategies for achieving them. A business plan lays out a written course for the organization from a marketing, financial, and operational perspective.

Business plans are crucial papers that are used by both the company’s external and internal audiences. A business plan serves three purposes: it describes the organization’s strategy in order to carry it out over time, it secures funding from investors, and it aids in forecasting future company demands.

The work you put into creating a complete and precise business plan, as well as keeping it up to date, is an investment that will pay off well in the long run.

In terms of structure and content, your business plan should adhere to widely accepted guidelines. Each part should contain specific elements and answer pertinent questions that readers of your plan are likely to have. A business strategy typically includes the following elements:

  • Title Page and Content 
  • Description of Business
  • Description of the product/service 
  • Market Analysis 
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Operations Management 
  • Financial Components of your Business Plan
  • Supporting Documents

Also, See: Change Management

Related Glossary

We are here to help you find a solution that suits your business need.

Gantt Chart

Product development process, get started.

Solving Real Business Challenges with a Robust & Impeccable System

Easy to access

No credit card

200+ Companies Onboard with us

Any Query? Reach Out To Us.

Get a visual representation of how we work!

Our sales expert is just one call away to meet your needs.

Have a question? Chat with Us

Solving Real Business Challenges With A Robust & Impeccable System

Copyright © 2022 UBS Company. All rights reserved.

  • Search Search Please fill out this field.

What Is a Business?

Understanding a business, the bottom line, what is a business understanding different types and company sizes.

Read about types of businesses, how to start one, and how to get a business loan

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.

definition of business plan wikipedia

The term business refers to an organization or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial, or professional activities. The purpose of a business is to organize some sort of economic production of goods or services. Businesses can be for-profit entities or non-profit organizations fulfilling a charitable mission or furthering a social cause. Businesses range in scale and scope from sole proprietorships to large, international corporations.

The term business also refers to the efforts and activities undertaken by individuals to produce and sell goods and services for profit.

Key Takeaways

  • A business is defined as an organization or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial, or professional activities.
  • Businesses can be for-profit entities or non-profit organizations.
  • Business types range from limited liability companies to sole proprietorships, corporations, and partnerships.
  • Some businesses run as small operations in a single industry while others are large operations that spread across many industries around the world.
  • Apple and Walmart are two examples of well-known, successful businesses.

Alex Dos Diaz / Investopedia

The term business often refers to an entity that operates for commercial, industrial, or professional reasons. The concept begins with an idea and a name, and extensive market research may be required to determine how feasible it is to turn the idea into a business.

Businesses often require business plans before operations begin. A business plan is a formal document that outlines the company's goals and objectives and lists the strategies and plans to achieve these goals and objectives. Business plans are essential when you want to borrow capital to begin operations.

Determining the legal structure of the business is an important factor to consider, since business owners may need to secure permits and licenses and follow registration requirements to begin legal operations. Corporations are considered to be juridical persons in many countries, meaning that the business can own property, take on debt , and be sued in court.

A good name is often one of the most valuable assets of a business, so it's important that business owners choose their name wisely.

Most businesses operate to generate a profit , commonly called for-profit. However, some businesses that have a goal to advance a certain cause without profit are referred to as not-for-profit or nonprofit. These entities may operate as charities , arts, culture, educational, and recreational enterprises, political and advocacy groups, or social services organizations.

Business activities often include the sale and purchase of goods and services. Business activity can take place anywhere, whether that's in a physical storefront, online, or on the roadside. Anyone who conducts business activity with financial earnings must report this income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) .

A company often defines its business by the industry in which it operates. For example, the real estate business, advertising business, or mattress production business are examples of industries. Business is a term often used to indicate transactions regarding an underlying product or service. For example, ExxonMobil conducts its business by providing oil.

Types of Businesses

There are many ways to organize a business, and there are various legal and tax structures that correspond with each. Businesses are commonly classified and generally structured as:

  • Sole Proprietorship : As the name suggests, a sole proprietorship is owned and operated by a single person. There is no legal separation between the business and the owner, which means the tax and legal liabilities of the business are the responsibility of the owner.
  • Partnership : A partnership is a business relationship between two or more people who together conduct business. Each partner contributes resources and money to the business and shares in the profits and losses of the business. The shared profits and losses are recorded on each partner's tax return.
  • Corporation : A corporation is a business in which a group of people acts as a single entity. Owners are commonly referred to as shareholders who exchange consideration for the corporation's common stock . Incorporating a business releases owners of the financial liability of business obligations. A corporation comes with unfavorable taxation rules for the owners of the business.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) : This is a relatively new business structure and was first available in Wyoming in 1977 and in other states in the 1990s. A limited liability company combines the pass-through taxation benefits of a partnership with the limited liability benefits of a corporation.

Business Sizes

Small businesses.

Small owner-operated companies are called small businesses . Commonly managed by one person or a small group of people with less than 100 employees, these companies include family restaurants, home-based companies, clothing, books, and publishing companies, and small manufacturers. As of 2021, 33.2 million small businesses in the United States with 61.7 million employees were operating.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) uses the number of employees working at a company and its annual revenue to formally define a small business. For 229 industry sectors, from engineering and manufacturing to food service and real estate, the SBA sets sizing standards every five years.

Businesses that meet the standards of the SBA can qualify for loans, grants, and "small business set-asides," contracts where the federal government limits competition to help small businesses compete for and win federal contracts.

Mid-Sized Enterprises

There is no definitive specification in the U.S. to define a mid-sized or medium-sized company. However, when large U.S. cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston evaluate the landscape of operating businesses, a medium-sized company is defined as one with 100 to 249 employees or $10 million to less than $1 billion in annual gross sales .

Large Businesses

Large businesses commonly have 250 or more employees and garner more than $1 billion in gross receipts. They may issue corporate stock to finance operations as a publicly-traded company.

Large enterprises may be based in one country with international operations. They are often organized by departments, such as human resources, finance, marketing, sales, and research and development.

Unlike small and mid-sized enterprises, owned by a person or group of people, large organizations often separate their tax burden from their owners, who usually do not manage their companies but instead, an elected board of directors enacts most business decisions.

Examples of Well-Known Businesses

Apple ( AAPL ) is known for its innovative products, including its personal computers, smart devices, and music and video streaming services. Founded in 1977 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Apple became the first publicly-traded company whose value hit $1 trillion. The company's stock ended the trading day at about $172 on May 23, 2023. Its market cap was almost $2.7 billion.

The company employs more than two million people, including 80,000 individuals who work as direct Apple employees. The remaining jobs include suppliers, manufacturers, and others who are supported through the Apple store . The company reported net sales of $394.33 billion for the 12 months ending Sept. 24, 2022.

Apple's key to success lies in its family of products and its ability to innovate. The company focuses on design and quality—two key elements that were a key part of Jobs' corporate vision. The products that Apple creates and markets can be used under the same operating system, which allows consumers to sync them together, thus lowering corporate costs. Apple's ability to create, develop, and market new products and services also put it ahead of its competition.

Walmart ( WMT ) is one of the world's largest retailers and operates as a multinational corporation . The company was founded in 1962 by Sam Walton in Arkansas. It has more than 10,500 locations in more than 20 different countries and employs over 2.1 million people.

The company went public in 1970 and trades on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) . Walmart stock traded above $148 with a market cap of $399.79 billion on May 23, 2023. The company earned $611.3 billion in revenue for the full year of 2022, which is an increase of 6.7% from the previous fiscal year .

Walmart's success can be attributed to several factors, including its brand name, pricing, diversification (especially with the addition of its online marketplace), efficient supply chain management , and its financial strength.

How Do You Start a Business?

There are several steps you need to hurdle to start a business . This includes conducting market research, developing a business plan, seeking capital or other forms of funding, choosing a location and business structure, picking the right name, submitting registration paperwork, obtaining tax documents (employer and taxpayer IDs), and pulling permits and licenses. It's also a good idea to set up a bank account with a financial institution to facilitate your everyday banking needs.

How Do You Launch an Online Business?

Starting an online business involves some of the same steps as a traditional business, with a few exceptions.

You still need to do your market research and develop a business plan before anything else. Once that's done, choose a name and structure for your business, then file any paperwork to register your organization.

Rather than finding a physical location, choose a platform and design your website. Before launching your business, you should find a way to build up your target market, whether that's through traditional marketing means or more creative ways like social media.

How Do You Come Up With a Business Name?

Your business name should fit the type of organization you plan to run and it should be catchy—something that people will gravitate toward and remember, not to mention associate with you as well as the products and services you plan to sell. Originality is key. And most importantly, it should be a name that isn't already in use by someone else. Go online and do a business name search to see if it's available or already registered.

How Do You Write a Business Plan?

Business plans are essential to running your business and can help you secure the funding you need to start your operations. You can choose between a traditional or lean plan.

A traditional business plan has a lot of details, including a summary of the company, how it plans to succeed, market information, management, products and services, marketing, and sales projections.

Lean formats are concise with very useful information such as partnership details, outlines of the business activities and customer relationships, cost structures, and revenue streams.

Templates are available online or you can design your own business plan.

How Do You Get a Business Loan?

Necessary funding for a business often comes via a loan. A traditional lender or a government-backed loan, such as those offered through the Small Business Administration are two options. Prospective lenders want to see business details, especially for new start-ups . Make sure you have your business plan ready, including outlines of costs and revenue streams, and ensure you have a good credit score. You may need to put down some collateral to secure the loan if you're approved.

Businesses are the backbone of an economy. They provide products and services that can be purchased by individuals and other companies.

Businesses range in size from small to large and operate in many different industries. Business structures also vary from sole partnerships to major corporations that provide shareholder equity to their owners.

When starting a business, do your research and develop a business plan. This allows you to raise the money you need to start your operation.

U.S. Small Business Administration. " 10 Steps To Start Your Business ."

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. " Corporations ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Choose Your Business Name ."

U.S. Chamber of Commerce. " Choosing the Right Nonprofit Type: Which Is Right for Your Business? "

Internal Revenue Service. " Tax Information for Businesses ."

Internal Revenue Service. " Sole Proprietorships ."

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. " Partnership ."

Wyoming LLC. " The Complete History of the LLC ."

Indeed. " Business Sizes ."

Small Business Administration. " 2022 Small. Business Profile ," Page 1.

Marketplace. " The SBA Is Changing Its Definition of Small Business ."

Small Business Administration. " Types of Contracts ."

OECD. " Enterprises by business size ."

Indeed. " Midsize Companies: What They Are and Why They’re Beneficial ."

CNBC. " Apple Hangs Onto Its Historic $1 Trillion Market Cap ."

Apple. " Two Million U.S. Jobs and Counting ."

Apple. " CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS (Unaudited) ," Page 1.

Apple. " Apple Makes Business Better ."

Walmart. " Company Facts ."

Walmart. " Our Business ."

Walmart. " Walmart revenue up 7.3% globally with broad-based strength across segments ," Page 1.

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

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Loans ."

definition of business plan wikipedia

  • Terms of Service
  • Editorial Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your Privacy Choices

Cambridge Dictionary

  • Cambridge Dictionary +Plus

Meaning of business plan in English

Your browser doesn't support HTML5 audio

  • make time idiom
  • set the agenda idiom
  • slot someone/something in
  • social calendar
  • spread something over something

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

business plan | Business English

Examples of business plan, translations of business plan.

Get a quick, free translation!

{{randomImageQuizHook.quizId}}

Word of the Day

the birds and the bees

the basic facts about sex and how babies are produced

Shoots, blooms and blossom: talking about plants

Shoots, blooms and blossom: talking about plants

definition of business plan wikipedia

Learn more with +Plus

  • Recent and Recommended {{#preferredDictionaries}} {{name}} {{/preferredDictionaries}}
  • Definitions Clear explanations of natural written and spoken English English Learner’s Dictionary Essential British English Essential American English
  • Grammar and thesaurus Usage explanations of natural written and spoken English Grammar Thesaurus
  • Pronunciation British and American pronunciations with audio English Pronunciation
  • English–Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Simplified)–English
  • English–Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Traditional)–English
  • English–Dutch Dutch–English
  • English–French French–English
  • English–German German–English
  • English–Indonesian Indonesian–English
  • English–Italian Italian–English
  • English–Japanese Japanese–English
  • English–Norwegian Norwegian–English
  • English–Polish Polish–English
  • English–Portuguese Portuguese–English
  • English–Spanish Spanish–English
  • English–Swedish Swedish–English
  • Dictionary +Plus Word Lists
  • English    Noun
  • Business    Noun
  • Translations
  • All translations

Add business plan to one of your lists below, or create a new one.

{{message}}

Something went wrong.

There was a problem sending your report.

icon

How Our Essay Service Works

Gain recognition with the help of my essay writer.

Generally, our writers, who will write my essay for me, have the responsibility to show their determination in writing the essay for you, but there is more they can do. They can ease your admission process for higher education and write various personal statements, cover letters, admission write-up, and many more. Brilliant drafts for your business studies course, ranging from market analysis to business proposal, can also be done by them. Be it any kind of a draft- the experts have the potential to dig in deep before writing. Doing ‘my draft’ with the utmost efficiency is what matters to us the most.

Student Feedback on Our Paper Writers

definition of business plan wikipedia

definition of business plan wikipedia

We do not tolerate any form of plagiarism and use modern software to detect any form of it

Customer Reviews

(415) 520-5258

Finished Papers

icon

Sophia Melo Gomes

Customer Reviews

definition of business plan wikipedia

IMAGES

  1. What is a Business Plan? Discover What the Purpose of a Business Plan

    definition of business plan wikipedia

  2. Creating a Business Plan: Why it Matters and Where to Start

    definition of business plan wikipedia

  3. What is Business Plan? definition, formats, elements and importance

    definition of business plan wikipedia

  4. Business plan definition

    definition of business plan wikipedia

  5. business-plan

    definition of business plan wikipedia

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

    definition of business plan wikipedia

VIDEO

  1. What_is_Business_Plan_Presentation____Types_of_Business_Plan_Presentation___meaning_of_Business_Plan

  2. What is Business Plan Presentation || Types of Business Plan Presentation

  3. What is Business Plan Presentation || Types of Business Plan Presentation

  4. What is Business Plan Presentation || Types of Business Plan Presentation

  5. What is Business Plan Presentation || Types of Business Plan Presentation

  6. Qu'est -Ce Qu'Un Business Plan ?

COMMENTS

  1. Business plan

    Clawback. v. t. e. A business plan is a formal written document containing the goals of a business, the methods for attaining those goals, and the time-frame for the achievement of the goals. It also describes the nature of the business, background information on the organization, the organization's financial projections, and the strategies it ...

  2. Business plan

    Business plan. A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons they are attainable, and plans for reaching them. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals. Category: Business.

  3. 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 ...

  4. 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 ...

  5. Integrated business planning

    Integrated business planning (IBP) is a process for translating desired business outcomes into financial and operational resource requirements, with the overarching objective of maximizing profit and / or cash flow, while cutting down risk.The business outcomes, on which IBP processes focus, can be expressed in terms of the achievement of the following types of targets:

  6. What Is A Business Plan (& Do I Really Need One?)

    A business plan acts as a unifying document that aligns the team with the company's goals and strategies. It ensures that everyone is on the same page, working towards common objectives. This alignment fosters collaboration and efficiency, driving the business towards its targets. 3. Validating the Business Concept.

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

    If capital is a priority, this business plan might focus more on financial projections than marketing or company culture. 2. Feasibility Business Plan. 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 ...

  8. Business continuity planning

    Business continuity planning life cycle. Business continuity may be defined as "the capability of an organization to continue the delivery of products or services at pre-defined acceptable levels following a disruptive incident", and business continuity planning (or business continuity and resiliency planning) is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential ...

  9. Business Plan

    Business Plan. A business plan is a written document used to describe a proposed venture or idea. It typically includes the current state of a business, future vision for the business, target market analysis and challenges, sales and marketing strategies, and funding requirements to reach stated goals.

  10. Business Plan

    Business Plan Definition: A written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement

  11. What is a business plan? Definition, Purpose, & Types

    This plan, known as a business plan, is a comprehensive document that outlines a company's goals, strategies, and financial projections. Whether you're starting a new business or looking to expand an existing one, a business plan is an essential tool. As a business plan writer and consultant, I've crafted over 15,000 plans for a diverse ...

  12. What is business plan?

    business plan: A business plan is a document demonstrating the feasibility of a prospective new business and providing a roadmap for its first several years of operation.

  13. Business Plan Definition

    A business plan is a written document that details how a company—usually a startup—defines its goals and strategies for achieving them. A business plan lays out a written course for the organization from a marketing, financial, and operational perspective. Business plans are crucial papers that are used by both the company's external and ...

  14. Business plan

    Business plan. Le plan d'affaires 1, ou plan de développement 2, ou encore business plan 3, est un document officiel qui formalise par écrit les projections de développement d'une entreprise . Découlant du modèle d'entreprise 4, il définit les objectifs à atteindre ainsi que les méthodes et les délais nécessaires pour y parvenir.

  15. Marketing plan

    Marketing plan. A marketing plan is a strategy or outline created to accomplish a marketing team's objectives. A marketing plan is often created together by marketing managers, product marketing managers, product managers, and sales teams. A marketing plan falls under the umbrella of the overall business plan. [1]

  16. What Is a Business? Understanding Different Types and Company Sizes

    Key Takeaways. A business is defined as an organization or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial, or professional activities. Businesses can be for-profit entities or non-profit ...

  17. BUSINESS PLAN definition

    BUSINESS PLAN meaning: 1. a detailed plan describing the future plans of a business 2. a detailed plan describing the…. Learn more.

  18. Definition Of Business Plan Wikipedia

    The writers of PenMyPaper have got a vast knowledge about various academic domains along with years of work experience in the field of academic writing. Thus, be it any kind of write-up, with multiple requirements to write with, the essay writer for me is sure to go beyond your expectations. Some most explored domains by them are: Healthcare. Law.

  19. Business model

    Business model innovation is an iterative and potentially circular process. A business model describes how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value, in economic, social, cultural or other contexts. For a business, it describes the specific way in which it conducts itself, spends, and earns money in a way that generates profit.The process of business model construction and ...

  20. Definition Business Plan Wikipedia

    Megan Sharp. #12 in Global Rating. Critical Thinking Essay on Nursing. 5 Customer reviews. Key takeaways from your paper concluded in one concise summary. Level: College, University, High School, Master's, PHD, Undergraduate. Our team of writers is native English speakers from countries such as the US with higher education degrees and go ...

  21. Business Plan Definition Wikipedia

    Posted in Uncategorized On Jul 03, 2022. ID 6314. Please note. Orders of are accepted for more complex assignment types only (e.g. Dissertation, Thesis, Term paper, etc.). Special conditions are applied to such orders. That is why please kindly choose a proper type of your assignment. ›. Business Plan Definition Wikipedia, Best Persuasive ...

  22. Business process

    A business process, business method or business function is a collection of related, structured activities or tasks performed by people or equipment in which a specific sequence produces a service or product (serves a particular business goal) for a particular customer or customers. Business processes occur at all organizational levels and may or may not be visible to the customers.