550+ Free business plan examples
Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 free real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries to guide you through writing your own plan. If you're looking for an intuitive tool that walks you through the plan writing process, we recommend LivePlan . It includes many of these same SBA-approved business plan examples and is especially useful when applying for a bank loan or outside investment.
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Accounting, Insurance & Compliance Business Plans
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Children & Pets Business Plans
- Children's Education & Recreation
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Cleaning, Repairs & Maintenance Business Plans
- Auto Detail & Repair
- Cleaning Products
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Clothing & Fashion Brand Business Plans
- Clothing & Fashion Design
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Construction, Architecture & Engineering Business Plans
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Consulting, Advertising & Marketing Business Plans
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Education Business Plans
- Education Consulting
- Education Products
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Entertainment & Recreation Business Plans
- Film & Television
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Events Business Plans
- Event Planning
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Farm & Agriculture Business Plans
- Agriculture Consulting
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Finance & Investing Business Plans
- Financial Planning
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Fine Art & Crafts Business Plans
Fitness & Beauty Business Plans
- Salon & Spa
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Food & Beverage Business Plans
- Bar & Brewery
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Hotel & Lodging Business Plans
- Bed and Breakfast
Finish your plan faster with step-by-step guidance, financial wizards, and a proven format.
IT, Staffing & Customer Service Business Plans
- Administrative Services
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Manufacturing & Wholesale Business Plans
- Cleaning & Cosmetics Manufacturing
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Medical & Health Business Plans
- Dental Practice
- Health Administration
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Nonprofit Business Plans
- Co-op Nonprofit
- Food & Housing Nonprofit
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Real Estate & Rentals Business Plans
- Equipment Rental
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Retail & Ecommerce Business Plans
- Car Dealership
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Technology Business Plans
- Apps & Software
- Communication Technology
Transportation, Travel & Logistics Business Plans
- Airline, Taxi & Shuttle
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Example business plan format
Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:
The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.
Your executive summary should include a summary of the problem you are solving, a description of your product or service, an overview of your target market, a brief description of your team, a summary of your financials, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).
Products & services
The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.
This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.
Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.
Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.
To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you're business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.
Marketing & sales
The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.
The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.
Milestones & metrics
The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.
A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.
You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.
Company & team
Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.
Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.
Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.
The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.
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. 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 in any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual.
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 format 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.
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.
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.
Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's 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, forecast, review, and refine based on your 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 more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.
It's faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.
Download a free sample business plan template
Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2023.
This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.
How to use an example business plan to help you write your own
How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.
Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company
You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.
For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.
Use a business plan example as a guide
Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.
One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.
You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.
If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template , or get started right away with LivePlan .
Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document
Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.
Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool
Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.
If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.
Prepare to pitch your business
If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.
Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.
With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples. Or for a modern pitch solution that helps you create a business plan and pitch deck side-by-side, you may want to check out LivePlan . It will help you build everything needed for outside investment and to better manage your business.
Get LivePlan in your classroom
Are you an educator looking for real-world business plan examples for your students? With LivePlan, you give your students access to industry-best business plans and help them set goals and track metrics with spreadsheet-free financial forecasts. All of this within a single tool that includes additional instructional resources that work seamlessly alongside your current classroom setup.
With LivePlan, it's not just a classroom project. It's your students planning for their futures. Click here to learn more about business planning for students .
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Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan
By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021
A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice.
Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.
A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:
- Product goals and deadlines for each month
- Monthly financials for the first two years
- Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
- Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years
Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.
While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.
For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .
Business Plan Steps
The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:
- Executive summary
- Description of business
- Market analysis
- Competitive analysis
- Description of organizational management
- Description of product or services
- Marketing plan
- Sales strategy
- Funding details (or request for funding)
- Financial projections
If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.
Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.
Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?
Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.
How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business
In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.
Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:
Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?
There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.
The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans
A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.
In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.
How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step
Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.
Step 1: Executive Summary
The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:
- What is the vision and mission of the company?
- What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?
See our roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.
Step 2: Description of Business
The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:
- What business are we in?
- What does our business do?
Step 3: Market Analysis
In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:
- Who is our customer?
- What does that customer value?
Step 4: Competitive Analysis
In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:
- Who is the competition?
- What do they do best?
- What is our unique value proposition?
Step 5: Description of Organizational Management
In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.
Step 6: Description of Products or Services
In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.
Questions to answer in this section are as follows:
- What is the product or service?
- How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?
Step 7: Marketing Plan
In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:
- Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
- What channels will you use to reach your target market?
- What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
- If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
- How will you measure success?
Step 8: Sales Plan
Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts.
Start by answering the following questions:
- What is the sales strategy?
- What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
- What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
- What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
- What are the metrics of success?
Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)
This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:
- How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
- How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
- What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?
Step 10: Financial Projections
Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years.
While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:
- How and when will the company first generate a profit?
- How will the company maintain profit thereafter?
Business Plan Template
Download Business Plan Template
Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet
This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.
For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy.
If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.
How to Write a Simple Business Plan
A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.
Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .
- Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company.
- Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision.
- Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
- Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
- Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
- Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
- Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
- Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
- Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting.
- Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.
Simple Business Plan Template
Download Simple Business Plan Template
Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Smartsheet
Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.
Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates .
How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup
A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.
While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:
- Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
- List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
- Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
- Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
- Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.).
- Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
- Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
- Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.
Lean Business Plan Template for Startups
Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups
Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF
Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.
See our wide variety of startup business plan templates for more options.
How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan
A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.
In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.
Download free financial templates to support your business plan.
Tips for Writing a Business Plan
Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.
- Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
- Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
- Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
- Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
- Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”
Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.
Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.
“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”
Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”
Resources for Writing a Business Plan
While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.
Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.
How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business
A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships.
Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.
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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step
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1. Write an executive summary
2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. add additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.
A business plan is a document that outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them. A strong, detailed plan will provide a road map for the business’s next three to five years, and you can share it with potential investors, lenders or other important partners.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your business plan.
» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .
This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services offered, and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.
Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.
» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps
Next up is your company description, which should contain information like:
Your business’s registered name.
Address of your business location .
Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.
Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.
Lastly, it should cover the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.
» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan
The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out exactly what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the long term.
If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain why you have a clear need for the funds, how the financing will help your business grow, and how you plan to achieve your growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity presented and how the loan or investment will grow your company.
For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch the new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.
In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.
You should include the following:
An explanation of how your product or service works.
The pricing model for your product or service.
The typical customers you serve.
Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.
Your sales strategy.
Your distribution strategy.
You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.
Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.
Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.
» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing
If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.
You may also include metrics such as:
Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.
Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.
Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.
This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.
» NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:
The best business checking accounts .
The best business credit cards .
The best accounting software .
This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.
Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.
Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.
List any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere, such as resumes of key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts and personal and business credit history. If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.
Here are some tips to help your business plan stand out:
Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business loan at a local bank, the loan officer likely knows your market pretty well. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of loan approval.
Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors, taking their mind off your business and putting it on the mistakes you made. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.
Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. You can search for a mentor or find a local SCORE chapter for more guidance.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.
On a similar note...
The 7 Best Business Plan Examples
So you want to start a business . Kudos! You’re doing big things.
One of the first steps to building a strong foundation for your new venture is to write a rock-solid business plan . When done right, your business plan can pave your path to success, all while helping you to smoothly cruise through any obstacles that may come up.
Plus, a good business plan can help you secure critical partnerships and funding that you might need in your early stages.
If you’re unsure how to write one, a great place to start is to learn from the pros. In this article, we’ll look at companies that built incredible business plans.
Take notes on the structure, format, and details. Hopefully you’ll leave with plenty of inspiration to write your own.
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7-part template for business plan examples
We’ll look at a business plan that is structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick review of those parts:
- Executive summary: A quick overview of your business and the contents of your business plan.
- Company description: More info about your company, its goals and mission, and why you started it in the first place.
- Market analysis: Research about the market and industry your business will operate in, including a competitive analysis about the companies you’ll be up against.
- Products and services: A detailed description of what you’ll be selling to your customers.
- Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market.
- Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background.
- Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even long-term) financial goals and the costs to run the business. If you’re looking for funding, here’s the place to discuss your request and needs.
7 business plan examples (section by section)
In this section, you’ll find hypothetical and real-world examples of each aspect of a business plan to show you how the whole thing comes together.
- Executive summary
Your executive summary offers a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. You’ll want to include a brief description of your company, market research, competitor analysis, and financial information.
In ThoughtCo’s sample business plan for a fictional company called Acme Management Technology, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:
- Company description
You might go more in-depth with your company description and include the following sections:
- Nature of the business. Mention the general category of business you fall under. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of your products?
- Background information. Talk about your past experiences and skills, and how you’ve combined them to fill in the market.
- Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your company —as a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC, or other business type.
- Industry. Which business sector do you operate in? The answer might be technology, merchandising, or another industry.
- Team. Whether you’re the sole full-time employee of your business or you have contractors to support your daily workflow, this is your chance to put them under the spotlight.
You can also repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business. Hair extensions brand Luxy Hair has a blurb on its About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan.
- Market analysis
Market analysis comprises research on product supply and demand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. You might do a SWOT analysis to learn where you stand and identify market gaps that you could exploit to establish your footing. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis we did for a hypothetical ecommerce business:
You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component for your business plan. This will show you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to gain an edge over the competition.
- Products and services
This part of your business plan describes your product or service, how it will be priced, and the ways it will compete against similar offerings in the market. Don’t go into too much detail here —a few lines are enough to introduce your item to the reader.
- Marketing plan
Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. As such, it’s essential to build a marketing plan that highlights the promotion and customer acquisition strategies you’re planning to adopt.
Most marketing plans focus on the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. However, it’s easier when you break it down by the different marketing channels . Mention how you intend to promote your business using blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing.
Here’s an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website:
Logistics and operations
This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, production, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.
The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit, and other financial metrics. You’ll want to include all the numbers and concrete data to project your current and projected financial state. For example, the financial statement for ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy includes forecasted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.
It then goes deeper into the financials, citing:
- Funding needs
- Project cash-flow statement
- Project profit-and-loss statement
- Projected balance sheet
You can use Shopify’s financial plan template to create your own income statement, cash-flow statement, and balance sheet.
Types of business plan (and what to write for each)
A one-page business plan is a pared down version of a standard business plan that’s easy for potential investors and partners to understand. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized.
- Logistics and operations plan
A startup business plan is meant to secure outside funding for a new business. Typically, there’s a big focus on the financials, as well as other sections that help determine the viability of your business idea —market analysis, for example. Shopify has a great business plan template for startups that include all the below points.
- Market research: in depth
- Financials: in depth
Your internal business plan acts as the enforcer of your company’s vision. It reminds your team of the long-term objective and keeps them strategically aligned toward the same goal.
- Market research
A feasibility business plan is essentially a feasibility study that helps you evaluate whether your product or idea is worthy of a full business plan.
Mix and match to make a killer business plan
The good news is: there’s no single right way to write a business plan. If you’re feeling unsure about how to craft yours, pull bits and pieces that you like from other examples, and leave out the parts that don’t apply or make sense for you.
The important thing is to clearly communicate your reason for starting the company, what’s needed to operate it, and how you plan to make it work in the long run.
When you can convince others that you have a killer game plan, you’ve nailed it.
Want to learn more?
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15+ Business Plan Examples to Win Your Next Round of Funding
By Jennifer Gaskin , Jun 09, 2021
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” according to words of wisdom dubiously attributed to Benjamin Franklin. While there’s no solid evidence that Franklin actually coined this phrase, the sentiment rings true for any business.
Not having a solid plan makes it unlikely you’ll achieve the goals you seek, whether the goals are getting your to-do list done or launching a successful organization.
In the early stages of a company, that means developing things like pitch decks, business plans, one-sheeters and more. With Venngage’s Business Plan Builder , you can easily organize your business plan into a visually appealing format that can help you win over investors, lenders or partners.
Learn more about how to create a business plan so you can hit the ground running after reading through this list for inspirational examples of business plans.
START CREATING FOR FREE
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Simple business plan example, startup business plan example, small business plan example, nonprofit business plan example, strategic business plan example, market analysis business plan example, sales business plan example, organization and management business plan example, marketing and sales strategy business plan example, apple business plan example, airbnb business plan example, sequoia capital business plan example.
While your business plan should be supported by thorough and exhaustive research into your market and competitors, the resulting document does not have to be overwhelming for the reader. In fact, if you can boil your business plan down to a few key pages, all the better.
CREATE THIS PLAN TEMPLATE
The simple, bold visual aesthetic of this business plan template pairs well with the straightforward approach to the content and various elements of the business plan itself.
Use Venngage’s My Brand Kit to automatically add your brand colors and fonts to your business plan with just a few clicks.
Return to Table of Contents
An essential startup business plan should include a clear and compelling value proposition, market analysis, competitive analysis, target audience identification, financial projections, and a well-defined marketing and operational strategy.
For a typical startup, the need to appear disruptive in the industry is important. After all, if you’re not offering anything truly new, why would an investor turn their attention toward your organization. That means establishing a problem and the ways in which you solve it right away.
CREATE THIS PRESENTATION TEMPLATE
Whether it’s a full-scale business plan or, in this case, a pitch deck, the ideal way for a startup to make a splash with its plans is to be bold. This successful business plan example is memorable and aspirational.
In the Venngage editor, you can upload images of your business. Add these images to your plans and reports to make them uniquely your own.
All businesses start out small at first, but that doesn’t mean their communications have to be small. One of the best ways to get investors, lenders and talent on board is to show that you’ve done your due diligence.
In this small business plan example, the content is spread over many pages, which is useful in making lengthy, in-depth research feel less like a chore than packing everyone on as few pages as possible.
Organizations that set out to solve problems rather than earning profits also benefit from creating compelling business plans that stir an emotional response in potential donors, benefactors, potential staff members or even media.
CREATE THIS REPORT TEMPLATE
Simplicity is the goal for nonprofits when it comes to business plans, particularly in their early days. Explain the crisis at hand and exactly how your organization will make a difference, which will help donors visualize how their money will be used to help.
Business plans are also helpful for companies that have been around for a while. Whether they’re considering new products to launch or looking for new opportunities, companies can approach business plans from the strategy side of the equation as well.
Strategic business plans or strategy infographics should be highly focused on a single area or problem to be solved rather than taking a holistic approach to the entire business. Expanding scope too much can make a strategy seem too difficult to implement.
Easily share your business plan with Venngage’s multiple download options, including PNG, PNG HD, and as an interactive PDF.
One-page business plan example
For organizations with a simple business model, often a one-page business plan is all that’s needed. This is possible in any industry, but the most common are traditional ones like retail, where few complex concepts need to be explained.
This one-page strategic business plan example could be easily replicated for an organization that offers goods or services across multiple channels or one with three core business areas. It’s a good business plan example for companies whose plans can be easily boiled down to a few bullet points per area.
Especially when entering a saturated market, understanding the landscape and players is crucial to understanding how your organization can fit it—and stand out. That’s why centering your business plan around a market analysis is often a good idea.
In this example, the majority of the content and about half the pages are focused on the market analysis, including competitors, trends, pricing, demographics and more. This successful business plan example ensures the artwork and style used perfectly matches the company’s aesthetic, which further reinforces its position in the market.
You can find more memorable business plan templates to customize in the Venngage editor. Browse Venngage’s business plan templates to find plans that work for you and start editing.
Company description business plan example
Depending on the market, focusing on your company story and what makes you different can drive your narrative home with potential investors. By focusing your business plan on a company description, you center yourself and your organization in the minds of your audience.
This abbreviated plan is a good business plan example. It uses most of the content to tell the organization’s story. In addition to background about the company, potential investors or clients can see how this design firm’s process is different from their rivals.
With Venngage Business , you can collaborate with team members in real-time to create a business plan that will be effective when presenting to investors.
Five-year business plan example
For most startups or young companies, showing potential investors or partners exactly how and when the company will become profitable is a key aspect of presenting a business plan. Whether it’s woven into a larger presentation or stands alone, you should be sure to include your five-year business plan so investors know you’re looking far beyond the present.
CREATE THIS PROPOSAL TEMPLATE
With Venngage’s Business Plan Builder , you can customize a schedule like this to quickly illustrate for investors or partners what your revenue targets are for the first three to five years your company is in operation.
The lifeblood of any company is the sales team. These are the energetic folks who bring in new business, develop leads and turn prospects into customers. Focusing your energy on creating a sales business plan would prove to investors that you understand what will make your company money.
In this example sales business plan, several facets of ideal buyers are detailed. These include a perfect customer profile that helps to convey to your audience that customer relationships will be at the heart of your operation.
You can include business infographics in your plan to visualize your goals. And with Venngage’s gallery of images and icons, you can customize the template to better reflect your business ethos.
Company mergers and shakeups are also major reasons for organizations to require strong business planning. Creating new departments, deciding which staff to retain and charting a course forward can be even more complex than starting a business from scratch.
This organization and management business plan focuses on how the company can optimize operations through a few key organizational projects.
Executive summary for business plan example
Executive summaries give your business plan a strong human touch, and they set the tone for what’s to follow. That could mean having your executive leadership team write a personal note or singling out some huge achievements of which you’re particularly proud in a business plan infographic .
In this executive summary for a business plan, a brief note is accompanied by a few notable achievements that signal the organization and leadership team’s authority in the industry.
Marketing and sales are two sides of the same coin, and clever companies know how they play off each other. That’s why centering your business plan around your marketing and sales strategy can pay dividends when it comes time to find investors and potential partners.
This marketing and sales business plan example is the picture of a sleek, modern aesthetic, which is appropriate across many industries and will speak volumes to numbers-obsesses sales and marketing leaders.
Do business plans really help? Well, here’s some math for you; in 1981, Apple had just gone public and was in the midst of marketing an absolute flop , the Apple III computer. The company’s market cap, or total estimated market value, could hit $3 trillion this year.
Did this Apple business plan make the difference? No, it’s not possible to attribute the success of Apple entirely to this business plan from July 1981, but this ancient artifact goes to show that even the most groundbreaking companies need to take an honest stock of their situation.
Apple’s 1981 business plan example pdf covers everything from the market landscape for computing to the products that founder Steve Jobs expects to roll out over the next few years, and the advanced analysis contained in the document shows how strategic Jobs and other Apple executives were in those early days.
Inviting strangers to stay in your house for the weekend seemed like a crazy concept before Airbnb became one of the world’s biggest companies. Like all disruptive startups, Airbnb had to create a robust, active system from nothing.
As this Airbnb business plan pitch deck example shows, for companies that are introducing entirely new concepts, it’s helpful not to get too into the weeds. Explain the problem simply and boil down the essence of your solution into a few words; in this case, “A web platform where users can rent out their space” perfectly sums up this popular company.
Sequoia Capital is one of the most successful venture capital firms in the world, backing startups that now have a combined stock market value of more than $1 trillion, according to a Forbes analysis .
For young companies and startups that want to play in the big leagues, tailoring your pitch to something that would appeal to a company like Sequoia Capital is a good idea. That’s why the company has a standard business plan format it recommends .
Using Sequoia Capital’s business plan example means being simple and clear with your content, like the above deck. Note how no slide contains much copy, and even when all slides appear on the screen at once, the text is legible.
In summary: Use Venngage to design business plans that will impress investors
Not every business plan, pitch deck or one-sheeter will net you billions in investment dollars, but every entrepreneur should be adept at crafting impressive, authoritative and informative business plans.
Whether you use one of the inspirational templates shared here or you want to go old school and mimic Apple’s 1981 business plan, using Venngage’s Business Plan Builder helps you bring your company’s vision to life.
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What Is a Business Plan?
Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, elements of a business plan, special considerations.
- Business Plan FAQs
Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How To Write One
Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Investopedia / Ryan Oakley
A business plan is a document that defines in detail a company's objectives and how it plans to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written road map for the firm from marketing , financial, and operational standpoints. Both startups and established companies use business plans.
A business plan is an important document aimed at a company's external and internal audiences. For instance, a business plan is used to attract investment before a company has established a proven track record. It can also help to secure lending from financial institutions.
Furthermore, a business plan can serve to keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and on target for meeting established goals.
Although they're especially useful for new businesses, every company should have a business plan. Ideally, the plan is reviewed and updated periodically to reflect goals that have been met or have changed. Sometimes, a new business plan is created for an established business that has decided to move in a new direction.
- A business plan is a document describing a company's core business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
- Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
- A business plan can also be used as an internal guide to keep an executive team focused on and working toward short- and long-term objectives.
- Businesses may create a lengthier traditional business plan or a shorter lean startup business plan.
- Good business plans should include an executive summary and sections on products and services, marketing strategy and analysis, financial planning, and a budget.
Want Funding? You Need a Business Plan
A business plan is a fundamental document that any new business should have in place prior to beginning operations. Indeed, banks and venture capital firms often require a viable business plan before considering whether they'll provide capital to new businesses.
Operating without a business plan usually is not a good idea. In fact, very few companies are able to last very long without one. There are benefits to creating (and sticking to) a good business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and working through potential obstacles to success.
A good business plan should outline all the projected costs and possible pitfalls of each decision a company makes. Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they can have the same basic elements, such as an executive summary of the business and detailed descriptions of its operations, products and services, and financial projections. A plan also states how the business intends to achieve its goals.
While it's a good idea to give as much detail as possible, it's also important that a plan be concise to keep a reader's attention to the end.
A well-considered and well-written business plan can be of enormous value to a company. While there are templates that you can use to write a business plan, try to avoid producing a generic result. The plan should include an overview and, if possible, details of the industry of which the business will be a part. It should explain how the business will distinguish itself from its competitors.
Start with the essential structure: an executive summary, company description, market analysis, product or service description, marketing strategy, financial projections, and appendix (which include documents and data that support the main sections). These sections or elements of a business plan are outlined below.
When you write your business plan, you don’t have to strictly follow a particular business plan outline or template. Use only those sections that make the most sense for your particular business and its needs.
Traditional business plans use some combination of the sections below. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making. Regardless, try to keep the main body of your plan to around 15-25 pages.
The length of a business plan varies greatly from business to business. Consider fitting the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Then, other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and included as appendices.
As mentioned above, no two business plans are the same. Nonetheless, they tend to have the same elements. Below are some of the common and key parts of a business plan.
- Executive summary: This section outlines the company and includes the mission statement along with any information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and location.
- Products and services: Here, the company can outline the products and services it will offer, and may also include pricing, product lifespan, and benefits to the consumer. Other factors that may go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
- Market analysis: A firm needs a good handle on its industry as well as its target market. This section of the plan will detail a company's competition and how the company fits in the industry, along with its relative strengths and weaknesses. It will also describe the expected consumer demand for a company's products or services and how easy or difficult it may be to grab market share from incumbents.
- Marketing strategy: This section describes how the company will attract and keep its customer base and how it intends to reach the consumer. A clear distribution channel must be outlined. The section also spells out advertising and marketing campaign plans and the types of media those campaigns will use.
- Financial planning: This section should include a company's financial planning and projections. Financial statements, balance sheets, and other financial information may be included for established businesses. New businesses will include targets and estimates for the first few years plus a description of potential investors.
- Budget: Every company needs to have a budget in place. This section should include costs related to staffing, development, manufacturing, marketing, and any other expenses related to the business.
Unique Business Plans Help
The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its singularity and potential for success.
Types of Business Plans
Business plans help companies identify their objectives and remain on track to meet goals. They can help companies start, manage themselves, and grow once up and running. They also act as a means to attract lenders and investors.
Although there is no right or wrong business plan, they can fall into two different categories—traditional or lean startup. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the most common. It contains a lot of detail in each section. These tend to be longer than the lean startup plan and require more work.
Lean startup business plans, on the other hand, use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans aren't as common in the business world because they're short—as short as one page—and lack detail. If a company uses this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or lender requests it.
A complete business plan must include a set of financial projections for the business. These forward-looking financial statements are often called pro-forma financial statements or simply the " pro-formas ." They include an overall budget, current and projected financing needs, a market analysis, and the company's marketing strategy.
Other Considerations for a Business Plan
A major reason for a business plan is to give owners a clear picture of objectives, goals, resources, potential costs, and drawbacks of certain business decisions. A business plan should help them modify their structures before implementing their ideas. It also allows owners to project the type of financing required to get their businesses up and running.
If there are any especially interesting aspects of the business, they should be highlighted and used to attract financing, if needed. For example, Tesla Motors' electric car business essentially began only as a business plan.
Importantly, a business plan shouldn't be a static document. As a business grows and changes, so too should the business plan. An annual review of the company and its plan allows an entrepreneur or group of owners to update the plan, based on successes, setbacks, and other new information. It provides an opportunity to size up the plan's ability to help the company grow.
Think of the business plan as a living document that evolves with your business.
A business plan is a document created by a company that describes the company's goals, operations, industry standing, marketing objectives, and financial projections. The information it contains can be a helpful guide in running the company. What's more, it can be a valuable tool to attract investors and obtain financing from financial institutions.
Why Do Business Plans Fail?
Even if you have a good business plan, your company can still fail, especially if you do not stick to the plan! Having strong leadership with a focus on the plan is always a good strategy. Even when following the plan, if you had poor assumptions going into your projections, you can be caught with cash flow shortages and out-of-control budgets. Markets and the economy can also change. Without flexibility built into your business plan, you may be unable to pivot to a new course as needed.
What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?
The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers a quick explanation of its business. The company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide since it's just getting started.
Sections can include: a value proposition, a company's major activities and advantages, resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital, a list of partnerships, customer segments, and revenue sources.
Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."
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- What Is Commercialization, Plus the Product Roll-Out Process 33 of 46
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Sample Business Plan
Learn the Essential Elements of a Full Business Plan
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The following business plan for the fictional firm of "Acme Management Technology" (AMT) is an example of what a completed business plan might look like. This example is provided as part of the instructions and detailed descriptions included in the Components of a Business Plan.
Sample Business Plan for Acme Management Technology
1.0 executive summary.
By focusing on its strengths, its key customers , and the company's underlying core values, Acme Management Technology will increase sales to more than $10 million in three years, while also improving the gross margin on sales and cash management and working capital .
This business plan leads the way by renewing our vision and strategic focus of adding value to our target market segments—the small business and high-end home office users in our local market. It also provides a step-by-step plan for improving our sales, gross margin, and profitability.
This plan includes this summary, and chapters on the company, products & services, market focus, action plans & forecasts, management team, and financial plan.
- Sales increased to more than $10 million by the third year.
- Bring gross margin back up to above 25% and maintain that level.
- Sell $2 million of service, support, and training by 2022.
- Improve inventory turnover to six turns next year, seven in 2021, and eight in 2022.
AMT is built on the assumption that the management of information technology for business is like legal advice, accounting, graphic arts, and other bodies of knowledge, in that it is not inherently a do-it-yourself prospect. Smart business people who aren't computer hobbyists need to find quality vendors of reliable hardware, software, service, and support and they need to use these quality vendors as they use their other professional service suppliers—as trusted allies.
AMT is such a vendor. It serves its clients as a trusted ally, providing them with the loyalty of a business partner and the economics of an outside vendor. We make sure that our clients have what they need in order to run their businesses at peak performance levels, with maximum efficiency and reliability.
Many of our information applications are mission-critical, so we assure our clients that we'll be there when they need us.
1.3 Keys to Success
- Differentiate from box-pushing, price-oriented businesses by offering and delivering service and support—and charging for it accordingly.
- Increase gross margin to more than 25%.
- Increase our non-hardware sales to 20% of the total sales by the third year.
2.0 Company Summary
AMT is a 10-year-old computer reseller with sales of $7 million per year, declining margins, and market pressure. It has a good reputation, excellent people, and a steady position in the local market, but has been having difficulty maintaining healthy financials.
2.1 Company Ownership
AMT is a privately-held C corporation owned in majority by its founder and president, Ralph Jones. There are six part owners, including four investors and two past employees. The largest of these (in percent of ownership) are Frank Dudley, our attorney, and Paul Karots, our public relations consultant. Neither owns more than 15%, but both are active participants in management decisions.
2.2 Company History
AMT has been caught in the vise grip of margin squeezes that have affected computer resellers worldwide. Although the chart titled "Past Financial Performance" shows that we've had healthy growth in sales, it also indicates declining gross margin and declining profits .
The more detailed numbers in Table 2.2 include other indicators of some concern: As can be seen in the chart, the gross margin percentage has been declining steadily, and nventory turnover is getting steadily worse as well.
All of these concerns are part of the general trend affecting computer resellers. The margin squeeze is happening throughout the computer industry, worldwide.
Balance Sheet: 2018
- Accounts receivable—$395,107
- Other Short-term Assets—$25,000
- Total Short-term Assets—$1,126,551
- Capital Assets—$350,000
- Accumulated Depreciation—$50,000
- Total Long-term Assets—$300,000
- Total Assets—$1,426,551
Debt and Equity
- Accounts Payable—$223,897
- Short-term Notes—$90,000
- Other ST Liabilities—$15,000
- Subtotal Short-term Liabilities—$328,897
- Long-term Liabilities—$284,862
- Total Liabilities—$613,759
- Paid in Capital—$500,000
- Retained Earnings—$238,140
- Earnings (over three years)—$437,411, $366,761, $74,652
- Total Equity—$812,792
- Total Debt and Equity—$1,426,551
Other Inputs: 2017
- Payment days—30
- Sales on credit—$3,445,688
- Receivables turnover—8.72%
2.4 Company Locations and Facilities
We have one location—a 7,000 square-foot brick & mortar facility located in a suburban shopping center conveniently close to the downtown area. Along with sales, it includes a training area, service department, offices, and showroom area.
3.0 Products and Services
AMT sells personal computer technology for small business including personal computer hardware, peripherals, networks, software, support, service, and training.
Ultimately, we are selling information technology . We sell reliability and confidence. We sell the assurance to small business people that their business will not suffer any information technology disasters or critical downtimes.
AMT serves its clients as a trusted ally, providing them with the loyalty of a business partner and the economics of an outside vendor. We make sure that our clients have what they need to run their businesses at peak performance levels, with maximum efficiency and reliability. Since many of our information applications are mission-critical, we give our clients the confidence that we'll be there when they need us.
3.1 Product and Service Description
In personal computers , we support three main lines:
- The Super Home is our smallest and least expensive, initially positioned by its manufacturer as a home computer. We use it mainly as an inexpensive workstation for small business installations. Its specifications include: (add relevant information)
- The Power User is our main up-scale line and our most important system for high-end home and small business main workstations, because of (add relevant information) Its key strengths are: (add relevant information) Its specifications include: (add relevant information)
- The Business Special is an intermediate system, used to fill the gap in positioning. Its specifications include: (add information)
In peripherals , accessories and other hardware, we carry a complete line of necessary items from cables to forms to mousepads to... (add relevant information)
In service and support , we offer a range of walk-in or depot service, maintenance contracts, and on-site guarantees. We haven't had much success in selling service contracts. Our networking capabilities include... (add relevant information)
In software , we sell a complete line of... (add relevant information)
In training , we offer... (add relevant information)
3.2 Competitive Comparison
The only way we can hope to differentiate effectively is to brand the vision of the company as a trusted information technology ally to our clients. We will not be able to compete in any effective way with the chains using boxes or products as appliances. We need to offer a real alliance that feels personal.
The benefits we sell include many intangibles: confidence, reliability, knowing that somebody will be there to answer questions and help at critical times.
These are complex products that require serious knowledge and experience to use, which we have, while our competitors sell only the products themselves.
Unfortunately, we cannot sell the products at a higher price simply because we offer services; the market has shown that it will not support that concept. We must also sell the service and charge for it separately.
3.3 Sales Literature
Copies of our brochure and advertisements are attached as appendices. Of course, one of our first tasks will be to change the messaging of our literature to make sure we are selling the company, rather than the product.
Our costs are part of the margin squeeze. As price competition increases, the squeeze between the manufacturer's price into channels and the end-users ultimate buying price continues.
Our margins are declining steadily for our hardware lines. We generally buy at... (add relevant information) Our margins are thus being squeezed from 25% from five years ago to closer to 13 to 15% at present. A similar trend shows for our main-line peripherals, with prices for printers and monitors declining steadily. We are also starting to see that same trend with software...(add relevant information)
To hold costs down as much as possible, we concentrate our purchasing with Hauser, which offers 30-day net terms and overnight shipping from the warehouse in Dayton. We need to continue to make sure our volume gives us negotiating strength.
In accessories and add-ons, we can still get decent margins of 25 to 40%.
For software, margins are: (add relevant information)
For years, we have supported both Windows and Macintosh technology for CPUs, although we've switched vendors many times for the Windows (and previously DOS) lines. We are also supporting Novell, Banyon, and Microsoft networking, Xbase database software, and Claris application products.
3.6 Future Products and Services
We must remain on top of emerging technologies because this is our bread and butter. For networking, we need to provide better knowledge of cross-platform technologies. We are also under pressure to improve our understanding of the direct-connect Internet and related communications. Finally, although we have a good command of desktop publishing, we are concerned about improving integrated fax, copier, printer, and voicemail technology into the computer system.
4.0 Market Analysis Summary
AMT focuses on local markets, small business, and home office, with a special focus on the high-end home office and the five-to-20 unit small business office.
4.1 Market Segmentation
The segmentation allows some room for estimates and nonspecific definitions. We focus on a small-medium level of small business, and it's hard to locate data to make an exact classification. Our target companies are large enough to require the kind of high-quality information technology management we offer but too small to have a separate computer management staff (such as an MIS department). We say that our target market has 10 to 50 employees, and requires five to 20 connect workstations in a local area network, however, the definition is flexible.
Defining the high-end home office is even more difficult. We generally know the characteristics of our target market, but we can't find easy classifications that fit into available demographics. The high-end home office business is a business, not a hobby. It generates enough money to merit the owner's paying real attention to the quality of information technology management, meaning that both budget and productivity concerns warrant working with our level of quality service and support. We can assume that we aren't talking about home offices used only part-time by people who work elsewhere during the day and that our target market home office needs powerful technology and sufficient links between computing, telecommunications, and video assets.
4.2 Industry Analysis
We are part of the computer reselling business, which includes several kinds of businesses:
- Computer dealers : storefront computer resellers, usually less than 5,000 square feet, often focused on a few main brands of hardware, usually offering only a minimum of software and variable amounts of service and support. Many are old-fashioned (1980s-style) computer stores that offer relatively few reasons for buyers to shop with them. Their service and support are not usually very good, and their prices are normally higher than those at larger stores.
- Chain stores and computer superstores : these include major chains such as CompUSA, Best Buy, Future Shop, etc. They almost always have a footprint of over 10,000 square feet of space, usually offer decent walk-in service, and are often warehouse-like locations where people go to find products in boxes with very aggressive pricing, but little support.
- Mail order/Online retailers : the market is served increasingly by mail order and online retailers that offer aggressive pricing of a boxed product. For the purely price-driven buyer, who buys boxes and expects no service, these are very good options.
- Others : there are many other channels through which people buy their computers, however, most are variations of the three main types above.
4.2.1 Industry Participants
- The national chains are a growing presence: CompUSA, Best Buy, and others. They benefit from national advertising, economies of scale, volume buying, and a general trend toward name-brand loyalty for buying in the channels as well as for products.
- Local computer stores are threatened. These tend to be small businesses, owned by people who started them because they liked computers. They are under-capitalized and under-managed. Margins are squeezed as they compete against chains, in a competition based on price more than on service and support.
4.2.2 Distribution Patterns
Small business buyers are accustomed to buying from vendors who visit their offices. They expect the copy machine vendors, office products vendors, and office furniture vendors, as well as the local graphic artists, freelance writers, or whomever, to visit their office to make their sales.
There is usually a lot of leakage in ad-hoc purchasing through local chain stores and mail order. Often the administrators try to discourage this but are only partially successful.
Unfortunately, our home office target buyers don't expect to buy from us. Many of them turn immediately to the superstores (office equipment, office supplies, and electronics) and mail order to look for the best price, without realizing that there is a better option for them at only a little bit more.
4.2.3 Competition and Buying Patterns
The small business buyers understand the concept of service and support and are much more likely to pay for it when the offering is clearly stated.
There is no doubt that we face stiffer competition from box pushers than from other service providers. We need to effectively compete against the idea that businesses should buy computers as plug-in appliances that don't need ongoing service, support, and training.
Our focus group sessions indicated that our target home office buyers think about the price but would buy based on quality service if the offering were properly presented. They think about the price because that's all they ever see. We have very good indications that many would rather pay 10 to 20% more for a relationship with a long-term vendor providing back-up and quality service and support, however, they end up in the box-pusher channels because they aren't aware of the alternatives.
Availability is also very important. The home office buyers tend to want immediate, local solutions to problems.
4.2.4 Main Competitors
- We have Store 1 and Store 2 already within the valley, and Store 3 is expected by the end of next year. If our strategy works, we will have differentiated ourselves sufficiently to avoid competition against these stores.
- Strengths: national image, high volume, aggressive pricing, economies of scale.
- Weaknesses: lack of product, service and support knowledge, lack of personal attention.
Other local computer stores:
- Store 4 and Store 5 are both in the downtown area. They are both competing against the chains in an attempt to match prices. When asked, the owners will complain that margins are squeezed by the chains and customers buy based on price only. They say they tried offering services and that buyers didn't care, instead preferring lower prices. We think the problem is that they didn't really offer good service, and also that they didn't differentiate from the chains.
4.3 Market Analysis
The home offices in Tintown are an important growing market segment. Nationally, there are approximately 30 million home offices, and the number is growing at 10% per year. Our estimate in this plan for the home offices in our market service area is based on an analysis published four months ago in the local newspaper.
There are several types of home offices. For the focus of our plan, the most important are those that are real businesses offices from which people earn their primary income. These are likely to be people in professional services such as graphic artists, writers, and consultants, some accountants—and the occasional lawyer, doctor, or dentist. We will not be focusing on the market segment that includes part-time home offices with people who are employed during the day but work at home at night, people who work at home to provide themselves with a part-time income, or people who maintain home offices relating to their hobbies.
Small business within our market includes virtually any business with a retail, office, professional, or industrial location outside of the home, and fewer than 30 employees. We estimate there are 45,000 such businesses in our market area.
The 30-employee cutoff is arbitrary. We find that the larger companies turn to other vendors, but we can sell to departments of larger companies, and we shouldn't give up such leads when we get them.
Market Analysis . . . (numbers and percentages)
5.0 Strategy and Implementation Summary
- Emphasize service and support.
We must differentiate ourselves from the box pushers. We need to establish our business offering as a clear and viable alternative to the price-only kind of buying for our target market.
- Build a relationship-oriented business.
Build long-term relationships with clients, not single-transaction deals with customers. Become their computer department, not just a vendor. Make them understand the value of the relationship.
- Focus on target markets.
We need to focus our offerings on small business as the key market segment we should own. This means the five to 20 unit system, connected by a local area network, in a company with five to 50 employees. Our values—training, installation, service, support, knowledge—are more clearly differentiated in this segment.
As a corollary, the high end of the home office market is also appropriate. We do not want to compete for buyers who go to chain stores or buy from mail-order outlets, but we definitely want to be able to sell individual systems to the smart home office buyers who want a reliable, full-service vendor.
- Differentiate and fulfill the promise.
We can't just market and sell service and support; we must deliver as well. We need to make sure we have the knowledge-intensive business and service-intensive business we claim to have.
5.1 Marketing Strategy
The marketing strategy is the core of the main strategy:
- Emphasize service and support
- Build a relationship business
- Focus on small business and high-end home office as key target markets
5.1.2 Pricing Strategy
We must charge appropriately for the high-end, high-quality service and support we offer. Our revenue structure has to match our cost structure, so the salaries we pay to assure good service and support must be balanced by the revenue we charge.
We cannot build the service and support revenue into the price of products. The market can't bear the higher prices, and the buyer feels ill-used when they see the same product priced lower at the chains. Despite the logic behind it, the market doesn't support this concept.
Therefore, we must make sure that we deliver and charge for service and support. Training, service, installation, networking support—all of this must be readily available and priced to sell and deliver revenue.
5.1.3 Promotion Strategy
We depend on newspaper advertising as our main outlet to reach new buyers. As we change strategies, however, we need to change the way we promote ourselves:
We'll be developing our core positioning message: "24 Hour On-Site Service—365 Days a Year With No Extra Charges" to differentiate our service from the competition. We will be using local newspaper advertising, radio, and cable TV to launch the initial campaign.
- Sales Brochure
Our collaterals have to sell the store and visiting the store, not the specific book or discount pricing.
- Direct Mail
We must radically improve our direct mail efforts, reaching our established customers with training, support services, upgrades, and seminars.
- Local Media
It's time to work more closely with the local media . We could offer the local radio station a regular talk show on technology for small business, as one example. We could also reach out to local news outlets to let them know we have experts who are able to address issues relating to technology for small business/home offices should the need arise.
5.2 Sales Strategy
- We need to sell the company, not the product. We sell AMT, not Apple, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, or Compaq, or any of our software brand names.
- We have to sell our service and support. The hardware is like the razor, and the support, service, software services, training, and seminars are the razor blades. We need to serve our customers with what they need.
The Yearly Total Sales chart summarizes our ambitious sales forecast. We expect sales to increase from $5.3 million last year to more than $7 million next year and to more than $10 million in the last year of this plan.
5.2.1 Sales Forecast
The important elements of the sales forecast are shown in the Total Sales by Month in Year 1 table. The non-hardware sales increase to about $2 million total in the third year.
Sales Forecast … (numbers and percentages)
5.2.2 Startup Summary
- 93% of startup costs will go to assets.
- The building will be purchased with a down payment of $8,000 on a 20-year mortgage. The espresso machine will cost $4,500 (straight-line depreciation, three years).
- Startup costs will be financed through a combination of owner investment, short-term loans, and long-term borrowing. The startup chart shows the distribution of financing.
Other miscellaneous expenses include:
- Marketing/advertising consultancy fees of $1,000 for our company logo and assistance in designing our grand-opening ads and brochures.
- Legal fees for corporate organization filings: $300.
- Retail merchandising/designing consultancy fees of $3,500 for store layout and fixture purchasing.
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300+ Business Plan Examples
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If you’d like an interactive, fill-in-the-blanks template that also automatically completes your financial projections, we recommend Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan .
This is particularly true if you’re looking for funding from a bank (traditional loan, line of credit, SBA loan, etc.), angel investors or venture capitalists .
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1. Why is utilizing an example business plan a good idea?
Sample business plans can help you quickly and easily write a business plan for your own business. Business plans are an important tool for any business, but they can be challenging to create. Sample business plan will help you understand business plan format , how to utilize a business plan template , and more.
Business plan examples may even help you with the different sections of a plan, including market analysis, company description, cash flow statements/business financial statements, and more. Business plans can also show you how a quality plan in your exact business plan category is organized and shows you the appropriate business communications style to use when writing your business plan.
2. Who would benefit from using an example business plan?
Any entrepreneur or business owner who has never written a business plan before can benefit from an example or sample plan. New business owners often start with business plan templates , which are helpful but are sometimes more useful after reviewing other full business plans.
A good sample plan can be a step-by-step guide as you work on your business planning and business idea. Once you have a sense for the flow, specs, and details, etc. that business plans have, utilizing a business plan template will help you pull everything together, helping you create a plan investors and other stakeholders will value. A solid plan will also help you if you need a bank loan, which may require a startup business plan.
3. How do you get started with a sample business plan and maximize its benefit?
First you should read the business plan thoroughly. Study both the type of information provided in key sections like the executive summary, target market analysis, summary, etc., as well as the format and style of the plan. As you read, you may find yourself thinking through things such as improving or evaluating your business planning process, your business idea, or reconsidering who you want to write your business plan for. This is OK and part of the process. In fact, when you start writing a business plan for the first time, it will be much easier because you’ve gone through this process.
After this initial read, outline your business plan and copy in from the sample plan sections that apply to your business. For instance, if the sample plan included public relations in their marketing and sales plan, and you will also use this tactic, you can copy it into your plan and edit it as appropriate. Finally, answer the other questions answered in the sample plan in ways that reflect your unique business.
Writing a business plan can seem daunting. Starting your business plan writing process by reviewing a plan that’s already been created can remove a lot of mental and emotional barriers while helping you craft the best plan you can.
4. When should you not use a sample business plan?
If your business is unlike any other, using a sample business plan will not be as effective. In this situation, writing a business plan from scratch utilizing a business plan template is probably your best path forward.
As an example, Facebook’s early business plan was unlike others since it was paving a new path and way of doing business. But, groundbreaking new businesses like Facebook are not the norm, and the vast majority of companies will benefit from utilizing sample business plans.
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The business plan example below is for Shoutmouth, a company that enjoyed much success in the early 2000’s and which was able to raise funding. While the plan’s premise (social networking) is not as unique now as it was then, the format and structure of this business plan still holds.
I. Executive Summary
Launched in late February 2007, Shoutmouth.com is the most comprehensive music news website on the Internet .
Music is one of the most searched and accessed interests on the Internet. Top music artists like Akon receive over 3 million searches each month. In addition, over 500 music artists each receive over 25,000 searches a month.
However, music fans are largely unsatisfied when it comes to the news and information they seek on the artists they love. This is because most music websites (e.g., RollingStone.com, MTV.com, Billboard.com, etc.) cover only the top eight to ten music stories each day – the stories with mass appeal. This type of generic coverage does not satisfy the needs of serious music fans. Music fans generally listen to many different artists and genres of music. By publishing over 100 music stories each day, Shoutmouth enables these fans to read news on all their favorite artists.
In addition to publishing comprehensive music news on over 1200 music artists, Shoutmouth is a social network that allows fans to meet and communicate with other fans about music, and allows them to:
- Create personal profiles
- Interact with other members
- Provide comments on news stories and music videos
- Submit news stories and videos
- Recommend new music artists to add to the community
- Receive customized news and email alerts on their favorite artists
Shoutmouth is uniquely qualified to succeed due to the following reasons:
- Entrepreneurial track record : Shoutmouth’s CEO and team have helped launch numerous successful ventures.
- Affiliate marketing track record : Online affiliate marketing expertise has been cited as one of MySpace’s key success factors. Over the past two years, Shoutmouth’s founders have run one of the most successful online affiliate marketing programs, having sold products to over 500,000 music customers online.
- Key milestones completed : Shoutmouth’s founders have invested $500,000 to-date to staff the company (we currently have an 11-person full-time team), build the core technology, and launch the site. We have succeeded in gaining initial customer traction with 50,000 unique visitors in March, 100,000 unique visitors in April, and 200,000 unique visitors in May 2007.
Unique Investment Metrics
The Shoutmouth investment opportunity is very exciting due to the metrics of the business.
To begin, over the past two years, over twenty social networks have been acquired. The value in these networks is their relationships with large numbers of customers, which allow acquirers to effectively sell to this audience.
The sales price of these social networks has ranged from $25 to $137 per member. Shoutmouth has the ability to enroll members at less than $1 each, thus providing an extraordinary return on marketing expenditures. In fact, during an April 2007 test, we were able to sign-up 2,000 members to artist-specific Shoutmouth newsletters at a cost of only 43 cents per member.
While we are building Shoutmouth to last, potential acquirers include many types of companies that seek relationships with music fans such as music media/publishing (e.g., MTV, Rolling Stone), ticketing (e.g., Ticketmaster, LiveNation) and digital music sales firms (e.g., iTunes, The Orchard).
Financial Strategy, Needs and Exit Strategy
While Shoutmouth’s technological, marketing and operational infrastructure has been developed, we currently require $3 million to execute on our marketing and technology plan over the next 24 months until we hit profitability.
Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to become a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.
Topline projections over the next three years are as follows:
II. Shoutmouth Overview
What is Shoutmouth?
Shoutmouth is an operating company of The Kisco Group Inc. (TKG). Since 2003, TKG has capitalized on web-based marketing opportunities via launching targeted websites and generating web-based leads. TKG revenues in 2005 exceeded $1.3 million and grew to $3.5 million in 2006. Shoutmouth is currently the sole focus of TKG; all other TKG business units have been divested.
Development of Shoutmouth began in August 2006 and the site officially launched on February 21, 2007. Shoutmouth (located at www.shoutmouth.com) is the most comprehensive music news community on the Internet. The website covers 1,200 popular bands and music artists and offers more than 100 new music articles each day. In addition to providing news, Shoutmouth is a web community. That is, Shoutmouth members can actively participate on the site, by doing things such as commenting on news stories and submitting their own stories.
The Market Size and Need for Shoutmouth
The music market is clearly vast. According to IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide, global music sales were $33.5 billion in 2005, with the U.S. accounting for $12.3 billion of that amount. Importantly, digitally music sales are seeing substantial growth, with IFPI reporting sales of $400 million in 2004, $1.1 billion in 2005 and $2 billion in 2006.
Online, music is the one of the most frequently searched and accessed interests. For example, according to Wordtracker, the music artist Eminem received over 1.7 million web searches in December 2006, while band Green Day received 534,000 searches.
To put these figures in perspective, top celebrities in other entertainment fields receive but a fraction of this search volume. For example, December 2006 search volumes for select sports stars and actors were as follows: Kobe Bryant, 122K; Tiger Woods, 88K; Cameron Diaz, 332K; and Tom Cruise, 82K.
Conversely, 225 music artists received over 100,000 searches in December 2006, and over 500 music artists received over 25,000 searches.
This data is corroborated by Nielsen BuzzMetrics which plots the most popular topics bloggers are posting about. The chart to the right plots September 25, 2006 to March 25, 2007 and shows how music dominates other entertainment sectors online.
When searching for music artists online, fans, which are primarily between the ages of 13 and 35, are looking for news, pictures, lyrics, videos and audio files. In addition, fans enjoy publicly voicing their opinions about music and interacting with other fans.
There is currently no website besides Shoutmouth that provides comprehensive music news. Currently, to get the latest news on their favorite artists, fans must visit the official websites or fan websites of each of the artists they like . Even then, it is unlikely that the fan will get all the news that has occurred. To solve this problem, Shoutmouth scours the web and uncovers news from thousands of web sites.
What Shoutmouth Does and Will Offer
As of May 2007, the site covers the 1,200 most popular music artists (popularity primarily based on the number of web searches over the past 12 months for each artist).
Shoutmouth currently offers members the ability to:
- Read over 500 new music articles each week
- Read special features such as album reviews, interviews, new album release dates, top quotes of the week and other special reports
- Watch and rate music videos
- Listen to select music audio clips
- Comment on news stories and music videos
- Submit news stories that they see/hear of elsewhere
- Suggest new music artists to add to the site
- View articles by music artist or by genre (current genres include Rock, Pop, Rap, R&B, Country, and Electronic)
- Create a user profile that includes their favorite music artists, Shoutmouth friends, news stories submitted to Shoutmouth, and comments made. Members have the ability to find other members based on their favorite artists and via our search functions.
- Receive customized news and email alerts. Members can customize their “My News” page to include only artists they specify. Likewise, they can choose to receive email alerts whenever there is a new story on one of their favorite artists.
While establishing itself as the premier music news community, Shoutmouth will embark on the more aggressive goal of becoming the premier music community online . To accomplish this, Shoutmouth will begin to offer additional content (more videos, audio, pictures, lyrics, etc.) and additional functionality (music compatibility testing (e.g., if you like this, you’ll like this), voting capabilities, member-to-member messaging, etc.). We have already begun mapping out our content and technology growths plans to achieve this goal upon financing.
Importantly, Shoutmouth expects to be able to add massive amounts of relevant content (e.g., lyrics, reviews, pictures, video files, audio files, etc.) via member submissions and moderation. This is the same way that YouTube has been able to quickly add millions of videos and Wikipedia has been able to add millions of articles. Importantly, since established music websites (e.g., MTV, RollingStone.com, Billboard.com, etc.) are not community based, they would have to hire thousands of staff members to rival the content that Shoutmouth will have.
How We Get and Publish Our News
Currently, news stories that appear on Shoutmouth are gathered from numerous online sources. Shoutmouth’s staff writers find these stories by using RSS and News feeds that cover thousands of websites. In addition, Shoutmouth community members have the ability to submit stories they find elsewhere.
Typical stories include factual information plus the insight of the author. Shoutmouth editors ensure that all stories are properly classified by artist and genre, and that duplicate articles are filtered out.
Over the past three months, Shoutmouth has developed a solid infrastructure, which we consider a core competitive advantage, that that allows us to provide comprehensive music news . This infrastructure includes:
- Setting up hundreds of RSS feeds based on comprehensive research regarding sites from which to receive feeds
- Training our editorial team regarding identifying a story and weeding out duplicates
- Assigning music artists among our five-person editorial team to better manage work flow and avoid duplicate articles
We are working on a system to ensure that member-submitted articles are automatically routed to the appropriate member of Shoutmouth’s editorial team to improve our efficiencies further.
Shoutmouth’s Goal to Break News First
The majority (approximately 90%) of Shoutmouth’s articles are currently developed by our in-house editorial team, while the balance is submitted by members. In addition, virtually all of our articles are based on information gleaned from other websites. As such, we are generally not the first to publish news; however we are the first and only site to publish all the news in one easily-accessible place. The one current exception is news which is published on bands’ official MySpace pages; Shoutmouth generally publishes articles on this news 24 to 48 hours before it is reported by other news or music sites (due to our efficiencies in finding news).
Shoutmouth realizes that it will gain a key competitive advantage, and will generate significant market buzz, if it is able to report on music news stories before other media sources . To accomplish this, we have begun contacting publicity departments at record labels to gain direct access to music news. We expect these contacts to enable us to gain immediate and sometimes exclusive access to news which will help further establish Shoutmouth as the canonical source for music news. We also plan to more aggressively solicit member submissions of new, buzzworthy news events and will consider offering rewards for unique substantiated news (much the way paparazzi are compensated).
III. Competition in the Online Music Market
This section of the business plan provides an overview of the competitive landscape, discusses both indirect and direct competitors and then details Shoutmouth’s competitive advantages.
Because consumer demand for music on the Internet is so great, there are a vast number of music websites. In summary, we consider most sectors of the online music market (which are discussed below) to be indirect competitors and potentially partners, rather than direct competitors, because none of them focus on music news.
The reason we believe that no one focuses on music news is that it is very difficult to do. Because news is very important to music fans, most music websites offer news. However, they primarily get their news from organizations such as CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press and BBC. These large organizations only write about the music stories that have mass appeal, which traditionally amounts to 8-10 music news stories per day. However, since music fans are often zealots when it comes to their favorite artists, they are not merely interested in cover stories. For instance, a U2 fan cares about any U2 news, particularly news that a non-U2 fan might consider insignificant.
In fact, because Shoutmouth is the sole one-stop shop for getting comprehensive music news, there might be an opportunity to license our content to other music websites.
Sectors of the Online Music Market
Shoutmouth specifically comPs in the community-based music news market. While players in this market represent direct competitors, Shoutmouth faces indirect competitors in the following markets:
- Community-Based Sites
- Community-Based News Sites
- Community-Based Music Sites
- Traditional Music Websites
- Official Artist and Fan Sites
Each of these markets is described below.
A. Community-Based Sites
Community-based sites, also known as social networking sites, are websites in which members can create profiles, leave comments throughout the site, and communicate with other members among other features.
A June 2006 report by Piper Jaffray entitled “Silk Road: Social Networking is Here to Stay” effectively sums up the power and longevity of social networking:
“We believe social networking sites have become a permanent part of the fabric of web applications and are rapidly becoming one of the most popular activities online, potentially impacting how other popular services such as email, IM, and maybe even search are accessed.
As a clear indication of the growth rate and scale of social networking, consider this: MySpace monthly page views have now surpassed MSN or AOL in the U.S. and are nearly 75% of the size of Yahoo!. Social networking has filled a gap that was left by all the existing portals and web services and it is fulfilling a very important and basic function for millions of users: allowing them to express themselves and connect with their friends, with the two functions tightly integrated.
The leading sites such as MySpace (News Corp), Facebook, and others are amassing significant power in the new landscape of the Internet and the existing Internet companies are likely to have to work with these newcomers as they may yield material control on the flow of traffic to other applications.”
Social networking sites such as MySpace.com, Facebook.com, Tagged.com, and TagWorld.com have educated consumers regarding the value of these sites and how to use them. Their success has spurred genre-specific social networks such as community-based/social networking news sites and music sites, which are discussed below.
Shoutmouth doesn’t view established social networking sites as competitors since these sites have a general focus. That is, members talk about all aspects of life, from dating to music to movies, etc. Conversely, Shoutmouth is solely focused on music.
B. Community-Based News Sites
Community-based news sites are sites in which members decide what’s newsworthy and what’s not. For instance, on Digg.com, the most prominent community-based news site, members “Digg” stories that they feel are most newsworthy. The stories that the community feels are most important rise to Digg’s homepage, while less important stories get little attention.
Digg’s one million members can submit stories, “digg” stories, and comment on stories. Digg focuses on general news with a slant towards technology, gaming and unique/sensational news. While Digg does have a Music area within its Entertainment section, this receives little focus. In fact, at the time of the writing of this plan, Digg’s music home page only includes one article submitted within the past 48 hours. Furthermore, Digg doesn’t pare down the music category into sub-categories such as Rock and individual music artists. Conversely, these sub-categories are the entire focus of Shoutmouth.
Other sites that are similar to Digg include Newsvine.com, Spotback.com and Gabbr.com. Of most relevance is the Digg-like site for music, Noisetap.com, which was launched by Ticketmaster in January 2007.
Like Digg, Noisetap.com allows members to submit and vote for music stories. Noisetap.com is organized by music genre and not by music artist. This most likely will not satisfy the needs of many music fans since they don’t have the ability to find news on the specific artists they care most about. Likewise, without a full-time staff actively researching and publishing news stories at the artist-level, Noisetap.com will never be able to offer the comprehensive news that Shoutmouth does.
While Shoutmouth is currently similar to community-based news sites in that members can submit stories and comment on the news they find most interesting, no established player in the market provides a comprehensive focus on music. In addition, Shoutmouth sees these sites as marketing partners as we have and will continue to submit our stories on them to increase our readership.
C. Community-Based Music Sites
There are many community-based music websites, although none focuses on music news such as Shoutmouth. Conversely, these sites generally give members the ability to create and listen to song play lists. The community acts to help individual members find new music and new friends based on similarities in their music tastes. Prominent sites in this genre include Last.fm, Finetune, Pandora, RadioBlogClub, MyStrands, iLike and iJigg.
Last.fm is the most prominent community-based music site and is a good model with which to compare Shoutmouth. Likewise, we will benchmark our performance against Last.fm as we reach of goal of becoming the premier music news community and focus on becoming the premier music community.
According to Alexa, Last.fm is the 359th most visited site on the Internet. While Last.fm focuses on allowing members to create customized Internet stations based on their music tastes, the site has much additional content and social networking features. For instance, for each artist, Last.fm includes pictures, a bio, concert dates, discography, fans on Last.fm, and similar artists. Fans are also able to create journals and communicate with other fans. Key features that Last.fm doesn’t currently focus on include news and video.
D. Traditional Music Websites
Traditional music websites such as MTV.com, RollingStone.com, Billboard.com, NME.com, AOL Music, and Yahoo! Music tend to have many features such as news, reviews, pictures, videos and audio. While these sites are generally very well done and extremely popular, they are under-serving visitors in two core areas: music news and community .
These sites’ lack of music news stems from the difficulty in creating this news, specifically that it requires filtering through thousands of articles and websites to find relevant stories. Likewise, as discussed, these firms might wish to license our news content in the future.
Regarding community , none of the top music sites are thriving communities. Rather, either these sites offer no community features or they recently began offering select features (e.g., submitting reviews or commenting on articles). Even when available, the community features on these sites are afterthoughts and are not engrained within the core fabric of the sites.
While they haven’t been able to transform their current sites into communities, top music websites clearly understand the power of online music communities and have an appetite for them. For example, in January 2007, MTV invested in social networking website TagWorld. MTV also acquired RateMyProfessors.com and Quizilla.com (teen social network) in January 2007 and October 2006 respectively.
As mentioned previously, our vision is to build and incorporate additional technologies, and use our “army” of members to publish vast amounts of music content on Shoutmouth, in order to fully satisfy music fans and leapfrog traditional music sites in terms of their music content.
E. Official Artist and Fan Sites
Shoutmouth com’s with official music artist websites and fan websites. These sites often include news about the specific artist as well as pictures, videos and other relevant information.
On one hand, official music artist and fan websites are direct competitors to Shoutmouth. This is because some of these sites offer comprehensive news on the specific artist they cover. In addition, many offer forums, discussion boards or other ways to communicate with other fans.
However, two factors separate Shoutmouth from these types of sites: 1) breadth and 2) sophistication.
- Breadth : Most music fans love more than one artist. As such, in order to get the news they want, they would have to visit/join multiple fan or artist websites rather than getting all of their news from Shoutmouth.
- Sophistication : While some official music artist websites are technologically sophisticated, offering forums, networking and other worthwhile features, the majority of artist and fan websites have limited usability, functionality and networking ability. In fact, this deficiency has lead to the success of MusicToday, which provides front and back-end technology to power artist websites.
Specifically, MusicToday offers web design and hosting, develops sophisticated online stores, builds online fan clubs and offers web ticketing among other services to select top music artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Christina Aguilera, Kenny Chesney, Britney Spears and Usher. While offering sophisticated tools for select music artist websites, MusicToday offers little to no music news nor advanced social networking functions. For instance, the official Dave Matthews Band website offers less than one news story per month.
F. Direct Competitors: Community-Based Music News Sites
Shoutmouth’s direct competitors are other music news websites that have social or community features that allow users to join the site, submit articles, comment on articles, create public profiles and/or communicate with other members. Shoutmouth has identified one significant player who offers this service, AbsolutePunk.net.
AbsolutePunk.net has done a good job of building a user base (the site claims 125,000+ registered members and nearly 500,000 un-registered members). In addition, the user base is very active — the average story on their site receives approximately 20 comments. AbsolutePunk.net offers music news, reviews, pictures and interviews among other features.
On the negative side, AbsolutePunk.net’s articles are generally posted by one staff writer (as opposed to Shoutmouth’s five writers), most articles are simply one sentence posts rather than full articles, and no attempt seems to have been made to cover all news stories. In addition, the site only covers the punk music genre. Although “punk” is broadly defined on the site, the site doesn’t cater to genres such as R&B, rap and country among others, failing to satisfy the broader market.
AbsolutePunk.net is owned by Indieclick, a Los Angeles-based media company. According to the AbsolutePunk.net website, the site:
- Has developed a loyal (72% return rate) reader base
- 5,182,147 Posts
- 163,535 Threads
- 126,448 Members
- 1,711 Artist Profiles
- 20,774 Multimedia Files
- Approx 76,000 visits per day.
- Approx 276,000 pageviews per day.
Shoutmouth’s Competitive Advantage
In addition to being the first to fill the untapped market void for comprehensive music news, Shoutmouth’s competitive advantage in the market primarily includes the following:
Online Marketing Sophistication
Content Development Experience and Expertise
Shoutmouth’s team, primarily team members DL and PF, has operated an affiliate marketing business focusing on music for the past four years. Affiliate marketing is defined as a system of revenue sharing between one site (the affiliate) which features an ad or content designed to drive traffic to another site (the merchant). The affiliate receives a fee based on traffic to the merchant which converts to sales.
Our affiliate business has focused on connecting music fans, primarily aged 13 to 30, with music offers such as iPods and ringtones. Over the past two years, we have successful sold affiliated offers to over 500,000 customers. We have become a significant online advertiser, receiving Google’s “over 1 million leads” award, and are recognized as a major player among the top affiliate networks.
It is important to note that affiliate marketing success has been credited with part of MySpace’s success. This is because effective affiliate marketers understand how to drive and convert on Internet traffic.
Shoutmouth will employ its affiliate marketing techniques to drive traffic to Shoutmouth.com and enroll members. We will utilize technologies and proprietary techniques that allow us to monitor multiple metrics such as the cost per visitor, cost per member sign-up, etc., so that we can set and maintain profitable metrics.
Another venture that Shoutmouth team members, primarily PK and DL, launched was the development of over 3,000 niche websites. To create the content for these websites, we employed a virtual work force of over 90 researchers in India and 30 writers and editors in the US.
This experience taught us how to manage a large workforce, train writers to improve content quality and motivate a large group of people. These skill sets will be critical in allowing Shoutmouth to grow the content of the site, as developed by both staff and members, while maintaining quality standards.
IV. Marketing Plan
Shoutmouth’s marketing plan includes the following:
Online Advertising : Shoutmouth will initiate pay-per-click advertising campaigns on Google and Yahoo! in order to inexpensively drive traffic to the site. Specifically, Shoutmouth believes it can drive qualified traffic to the site for 20 cents per visitor and achieve a 20% member conversion rate, thus generating members at a cost of $1.00 per member.
Keys to Shoutmouth’s success in achieving this metric include:
- Conducting thorough keyword research and advertising on appropriate keywords and keyword groups
- Creating advertising text that maximizes click through rates
- Creating landing pages that maximize conversions while maintaining the highest Google AdWords quality score possible
- Closely monitoring conversions to quickly stop and/or modify unprofitable campaigns
- Getting individuals to enter their email address to join the newsletter is much easier than getting them to join a site where they have to create a username, select a password, etc. As such, step one will be to get visitors to sign up for artist-specific newsletters.
- Once on the newsletter distribution list, members will constantly receive messages (embedded in their daily newsletter) regarding the benefits of participating more on Shoutmouth.
- Active Shoutmouth Membership: the constant reminders regarding Shoutmouth’s value proposition in the daily newsletters will influence members to participate more actively on the site (e.g., customize their profile, visit the site more often, etc.).
Invite-A-Friend : Shoutmouth is in the process of creating an aggressive invite-a-friend/member referral program. In doing so, we are following the lead of social movie community, Flixster, which grew to 5 million members within 10 months. It did this by encouraging members, during their initial registration process, to upload and send an invitation to multiple contacts in their email address books. The technology to develop this process is fairly complex and we expect to be completed with and to rollout this program in June 2007.
Direct Email Marketing : Shoutmouth will directly contact bloggers and prominent music fans we find online to tell them about Shoutmouth, encourage them to join, and encourage them to write about Shoutmouth on their blogs and online journals.
Creating/Distributing Buzzworthy/Viral Content : Shoutmouth plans to have several buzzworthy/viral articles (i.e., content that people would want to email to their friends since it is funny, interesting, etc.) on the site each day. With a single click, visitors will be able to send these articles to social bookmarking sites such as Digg.com or Fark.com, where these articles could receive widespread attention. In addition to our traditional news stories, Shoutmouth will also periodically create special reports/features in order to satisfy our members and visitors and to try to get widespread exposure.
An example of the power of such buzzworthy content, Shoutmouth has already succeeded in having two stories accepted by Fark and Digg, which have brought in over 50,000 unique visitors.
Super Fans/Street Team Development : Shoutmouth also plans to recruit “super fans.” Super fans are individuals who are passionate about a certain music artist/band and actively contribute articles and/or comments on Shoutmouth. We will recruit these fans, reward them with status (e.g., adding a gold Shoutmouth headphones image to their profile page) and encourage them to more aggressively promote the site by:
- Submitting more news to Shoutmouth
- Commenting on more articles on Shoutmouth
- Growing the Shoutmouth community around their favorite artist(s) by actively recruiting new members to join the site (such as actively posting Shoutmouth-related comments on their MySpace pages, on other music forums, etc.)
Public Relations : Upon financing, Shoutmouth will hire a public relations firm to help us get mentions in media sources ranging from magazines, newspapers, radio, television and blogs. To date, we have developed and issued press releases via Billboard Publicity Wire which have been syndicated throughout the web. An effective PR firm will enable Shoutmouth to quickly reach a wide audience.
Widgets : Shoutmouth will create artist-specific and genre-specific music news widgets. For example, our U2 widget (see example on right) would include all of the recent U2 articles published on Shoutmouth. The widget can easily be placed on MySpace pages, blogs, etc. Each story title in the widget links to the full article on Shoutmouth.
Shoutmouth has great expectations for our widget. To begin, no such widget currently exists as there is no one place to get comprehensive news for specific music artists. Secondly, each time someone places a Shoutmouth widget on their blog or social networking page, it will effectively market Shoutmouth to a wide audience at zero cost to us.
V. Technology/Site Development Plan
This section provides a brief roadmap of the initial and future functionality of Shoutmouth.
Initial Site Functionality
The initial Shoutmouth website will include the following features:
- Ability to submit and comment on news stories
- Ability to suggest new music artists to add to the site
- Ability to create user profiles
- Ability to receive customized news and email alerts
- Articles categorized by artist and core genre (e.g., Rock, Rap, Pop, etc.)
- Music artist sections which includes News, Bio and Fans
Future Site Functionality
Shoutmouth will use news and basic functionality as the platform though which we will build a thriving music community. After initial launch, the Shoutmouth technology team will work on incorporating additional features such as:
- Ability to message other members via the site (e.g., members will have an Inbox on the site)
- Event calendars: members will receive online calendars. With the click of a button, the member will be able to add tour dates of their favorite artists/bands to their calendar.
- Articles also categorized by sub-genre (e.g., Alternative Rock, West Coast Rap, etc.)
- Music artist sections to also include videos, audio files, photo galleries, reviews and event calendars to which members can upload files and vote on top content.
- Forums and member blogs
- Music compatibility testing (suggestions on song/artists members might like)
- Trivia quizzes
- Music playlists
VI. Financial Plan
During the first six months, Shoutmouth will not generate any revenues as it will not sell advertising space nor offer products for sale. This decision has been made to spur the growth of the Shoutmouth community. By initially positioning Shoutmouth more as a non-profit, for-the-people-by-the-people venture, members will be more prone to promote the site and invite their friends than if the site looks too commercial.
Starting in September 2007, Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies (such as the Snocap music widget) evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to be a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.
Funding To Date
To date, Shoutmouth’s founders have invested $500,000 in Shoutmouth, with which we have accomplished the following:
- Built the site’s core technology
- Hired and trained our core staff (we currently maintain an 11-person full-time team)
- Populated the website with content (over 10,000 articles and 1,200 artist bios)
- Generated brand awareness among music fans, including driving 50,000 unique visitors in March, 100,000 unique visitors in April, and 200,000 unique visitors in May 2007.
Funding Requirements/Use of Funds
Shoutmouth is currently seeking $3 million to provide funding for the next 24 months. At this point, the site will be profitable and can grow organically, or additional capital may be sought to more aggressively expand our member base.
The capital will be used as follows:
- Execution of Marketing plan : in order for Shoutmouth to grow its visitor and member base, we need to invest dollars in online advertising and public relations. With regards to online advertising, we are confident that we can enroll members at a cost of $1 per member, which is a fraction of the value of the members to an acquirer (minimum $25 per member), thus providing a significant return on our marketing investments.
- Execution of Technology plan : in order to build a thriving community, Shoutmouth needs to offer its visitors a “stickier” website and enhanced features. We currently maintain a vast “wish list” of features, such as members uploading and rating pictures and videos, trivia quizzes, and member-to-member messaging, that will significantly improve the site’s functionality and value proposition.
- Staffing : In order to reach our goals, we will have to hire additional technical and operations personnel.
Below is an overview of Shoutmouth’s Financial Projections for the next three years. Please see the Appendix for the full financial projections and key assumptions.
Exit Strategy / Valuation Metric
Shoutmouth’s most likely exit strategy is to be acquired by a traditional music website or property (e.g., Viacom/MTV, Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone), an entertainment/media conglomerate (e.g., Yahoo!, IAC/InterActiveCorp, NBC), or a large social networking site (e.g., News Corp/MySpace).
This strategy is supported by the significant M&A activity in the social networking market, which includes the following transactions over the past 24 months:
Regarding valuation, below are the estimated valuations of social networking companies on a per member basis upon exit:
- Del.icio.us: $50 – $100 per member
- MySpace: $25 per member
- Xing (business social network): $137 per member at IPO in 10/06
- Flickr: $56 – $130 per member
- Grouper: $130 per member
Based on this data, not only are social networking sites a promising investment, but sites that can acquire members for less than $25 each (a conservative valuation estimate based on the figures above), should earn a solid return on investment. As discussed above, Shoutmouth’s goal is to acquire members for no more than $1 each.
In addition, per the membership projections above, Shoutmouth’s valuation at the end of 2009, at a $25 valuation per member, is expected to be $239 million. A more conservative, using a 24.4 time EBITDA multiple (the average multiple of tech M&A deals in 2006 according to The M&A Advisor), yields a $121 million valuation in 2009.
Shoutmouth’s founding team includes entrepreneurs and managers with a track record of success and a history of successfully working together.
DL, Co-Founder and CEO
D has a history of successfully launching and growing businesses of all sizes. As president and co-founder of an entrepreneurial services firm., D has personally assisted in the launch and development of over 100 ventures.
Over the past three years, D founded and has managed The Kisco Group which includes an affiliate marketing division (2006 revenues exceeded $3 million), a search engine optimization business which includes a network of 3,000 websites (2006 revenues exceeded $500,000) and an e-commerce business (which includes TopPayingKeywords.com and ShowerHeadsEtc.com).
D earned his Bachelors degree from the University of South Carolina.
PK, Co-Founder and Vice President of Operations
For the past two years, P has managed The Kisco Group’s search engine optimization business where he hired, trained and managed nearly 100 employees and a dozen outside firms. During this time, P has honed his management skills with regards to content development, marketing and operations.
P has had a passion for music since childhood and has been a semi-professional drummer for the past 15 years.
P earned his Bachelors of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Clemson University.
PF, Co-Founder and Vice President of Technology
For the past year, P has managed The Kisco Group’s affiliate marketing business. In addition to setting up and managing widespread marketing campaigns, P has developed sophisticated analytic techniques to precisely analyze web traffic in order to optimize profitability.
Since August 2006, P has shifted his efforts and leveraged his technology skills in developing the Shoutmouth website. P has been instrumental in selecting the Content Management Platform upon which Shoutmouth is built, and finding and managing the technology team.
P earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College.
AB, Marketing Manager
A’s background in music includes being a singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer. He has also worked on the marketing side of music, having marketed Veritas Records through the development and distribution of promotional materials.
A’s career also includes psychological research and administration, having served as a Research Assistant with the Interpersonal Perception And Communication Laboratory in Cambridge, MA.
A earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Ohio State University.
M, Lead Technology Developer
M is an experienced web programmer with expertise in web design, application development and database development among others.
M’s work experience includes serving as a Senior Developer at Spheres. M has also engaged in multiple, long term freelance projects including serving as a Database Developer Consultant with The Penn Group and a Web Developer Consultant with Volution Media Group and Allied Online Consulting Group.
M earned his Bachelors degree in Computer Science with a minor in Cognitive Science from Rutgers University.
Content Development Team
Shoutmouth’s writing team, managed by PK, includes the following members:
- JS, Editorial Manager: former content manager and copywriter for Scholastic Inc. and Promotions.com.
- TZ: former music intern (Virgin Records and WRRV) and author of the blog, The Tom Z Show .
- ML: former assistant editor for Adventure Publishing; author of the blog Certified Gangsta ; and former editor-in-chief of Fordham University’s newspaper The Paper .
- SB: former staff writer for Paste Magazine , The Clarion Ledger , and Nightclub and Bar Magazine among others.
- CSJ: former editorial intern for Rolling Stone and Editorial Assistant for Psychology Today .
Outsourced Technology Team
Shoutmouth works very closely with 2skies, a technology firm based in Australia with staff in Australia and the United States. 2skies is run by JDN, one of the co-founding developers of XE, the platform upon which Shoutmouth is built.
XE is an extensible, Open Source web application framework written in PHP and licensed under the GNU General Public License. XE delivers the requisite infrastructure and tools to create custom web applications that include fully dynamic multi-platform Content Management Solutions (CMS).
VIII. Appendix: Shoutmouth Financial Projections 3-Year Income Statement
3-Year Balance Sheet
As of December 31
3-Year Cash Flow Statement
Small Business Trends
How to write a business plan step-by-step in 2023 (+ examples and free template).
This is the ultimate guide to creating a comprehensive and effective plan for your new venture. In today’s dynamic business landscape, having a well-crafted business plan is an important first step to securing funding, attracting partners, and navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship.
This guide has been designed to help you create a winning plan that stands out in the ever-evolving marketplace. U sing real-world examples and a free downloadable template, it will walk you through each step of the process.
Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or launching your very first startup, the guide will give you the insights, tools, and confidence you need to create a solid foundation for your business.
Table of Contents
What is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a strategic document that outlines an organization’s goals, objectives, and the steps required to achieve them. It serves as a roadmap as you start a business , guiding the company’s direction and growth while identifying potential obstacles and opportunities.
Typically, a business plan covers areas such as market analysis, financial projections, marketing strategies, and organizational structure. It not only helps in securing funding from investors and lenders but also provides clarity and focus to the management team.
A well-crafted business plan is a very important part of your business startup checklist because it fosters informed decision-making and long-term success.
Why You Should Write a Business Plan
Understanding the importance of a business plan in today’s competitive environment is crucial for entrepreneurs and business owners. Here are five compelling reasons to write a business plan in 2023:
- Attract Investors and Secure Funding : A well-written business plan demonstrates your venture’s potential and profitability, making it easier to attract investors and secure the necessary funding for growth and development. It provides a detailed overview of your business model, target market, financial projections, and growth strategies, instilling confidence in potential investors and lenders that your company is a worthy investment.
- Clarify Business Objectives and Strategies : Crafting a business plan forces you to think critically about your goals and the strategies you’ll employ to achieve them, providing a clear roadmap for success. This process helps you refine your vision and prioritize the most critical objectives, ensuring that your efforts are focused on achieving the desired results.
- Identify Potential Risks and Opportunities : Analyzing the market, competition, and industry trends within your business plan helps identify potential risks and uncover untapped opportunities for growth and expansion. This insight enables you to develop proactive strategies to mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities, positioning your business for long-term success.
- Improve Decision-Making : A business plan serves as a reference point so you can make informed decisions that align with your company’s overall objectives and long-term vision. By consistently referring to your plan and adjusting it as needed, you can ensure that your business remains on track and adapts to changes in the market, industry, or internal operations.
- Foster Team Alignment and Communication : A shared business plan helps ensure that all team members are on the same page, promoting clear communication, collaboration, and a unified approach to achieving the company’s goals. By involving your team in the planning process and regularly reviewing the plan together, you can foster a sense of ownership, commitment, and accountability that drives success.
What are the Different Types of Business Plans?
In today’s fast-paced business world, having a well-structured roadmap is more important than ever. A traditional business plan provides a comprehensive overview of your company’s goals and strategies, helping you make informed decisions and achieve long-term success. There are various types of business plans, each designed to suit different needs and purposes. Let’s explore the main types:
- Startup Business Plan: Tailored for new ventures, a startup business plan outlines the company’s mission, objectives, target market, competition, marketing strategies, and financial projections. It helps entrepreneurs clarify their vision, secure funding from investors, and create a roadmap for their business’s future. Additionally, this plan identifies potential challenges and opportunities, which are crucial for making informed decisions and adapting to changing market conditions.
- Internal Business Plan: This type of plan is intended for internal use, focusing on strategies, milestones, deadlines, and resource allocation. It serves as a management tool for guiding the company’s growth, evaluating its progress, and ensuring that all departments are aligned with the overall vision. The internal business plan also helps identify areas of improvement, fosters collaboration among team members, and provides a reference point for measuring performance.
- Strategic Business Plan: A strategic business plan outlines long-term goals and the steps to achieve them, providing a clear roadmap for the company’s direction. It typically includes a SWOT analysis, market research, and competitive analysis. This plan allows businesses to align their resources with their objectives, anticipate changes in the market, and develop contingency plans. By focusing on the big picture, a strategic business plan fosters long-term success and stability.
- Feasibility Business Plan: This plan is designed to assess the viability of a business idea, examining factors such as market demand, competition, and financial projections. It is often used to decide whether or not to pursue a particular venture. By conducting a thorough feasibility analysis, entrepreneurs can avoid investing time and resources into an unviable business concept. This plan also helps refine the business idea, identify potential obstacles, and determine the necessary resources for success.
- Growth Business Plan: Also known as an expansion plan, a growth business plan focuses on strategies for scaling up an existing business. It includes market analysis, new product or service offerings, and financial projections to support expansion plans. This type of plan is essential for businesses looking to enter new markets, increase their customer base, or launch new products or services. By outlining clear growth strategies, the plan helps ensure that expansion efforts are well-coordinated and sustainable.
- Operational Business Plan: This type of plan outlines the company’s day-to-day operations, detailing the processes, procedures, and organizational structure. It is an essential tool for managing resources, streamlining workflows, and ensuring smooth operations. The operational business plan also helps identify inefficiencies, implement best practices, and establish a strong foundation for future growth. By providing a clear understanding of daily operations, this plan enables businesses to optimize their resources and enhance productivity.
- Lean Business Plan: A lean business plan is a simplified, agile version of a traditional plan, focusing on key elements such as value proposition, customer segments, revenue streams, and cost structure. It is perfect for startups looking for a flexible, adaptable planning approach. The lean business plan allows for rapid iteration and continuous improvement, enabling businesses to pivot and adapt to changing market conditions. This streamlined approach is particularly beneficial for businesses in fast-paced or uncertain industries.
- One-Page Business Plan: As the name suggests, a one-page business plan is a concise summary of your company’s key objectives, strategies, and milestones. It serves as a quick reference guide and is ideal for pitching to potential investors or partners. This plan helps keep teams focused on essential goals and priorities, fosters clear communication, and provides a snapshot of the company’s progress. While not as comprehensive as other plans, a one-page business plan is an effective tool for maintaining clarity and direction.
- Nonprofit Business Plan: Specifically designed for nonprofit organizations, this plan outlines the mission, goals, target audience, fundraising strategies, and budget allocation. It helps secure grants and donations while ensuring the organization stays on track with its objectives. The nonprofit business plan also helps attract volunteers, board members, and community support. By demonstrating the organization’s impact and plans for the future, this plan is essential for maintaining transparency, accountability, and long-term sustainability within the nonprofit sector.
- Franchise Business Plan: For entrepreneurs seeking to open a franchise, this type of plan focuses on the franchisor’s requirements, as well as the franchisee’s goals, strategies, and financial projections. It is crucial for securing a franchise agreement and ensuring the business’s success within the franchise system. This plan outlines the franchisee’s commitment to brand standards, marketing efforts, and operational procedures, while also addressing local market conditions and opportunities. By creating a solid franchise business plan, entrepreneurs can demonstrate their ability to effectively manage and grow their franchise, increasing the likelihood of a successful partnership with the franchisor.
How to Write a Business Plan
Embarking on the journey of creating a successful business requires a solid foundation, and a well-crafted business plan is the cornerstone. Here is the process of writing a comprehensive business plan and the main parts of a winning business plan . From setting objectives to conducting market research, this guide will have everything you need.
The executive summary is a brief overview of your entire business plan, highlighting the most critical points. It should be concise and engaging because it is often the first thing investors read. Include your business’s mission statement, key products or services, target market, and financial highlights.
Example: EcoTech is a technology company specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable products designed to reduce energy consumption and minimize waste. Our mission is to create innovative solutions that contribute to a cleaner, greener environment.
Our target market includes environmentally conscious consumers and businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. We project a 200% increase in revenue within the first three years of operation.
Overview and Business Objectives
This section outlines your company’s goals and the strategies you’ll employ to achieve them. Be specific and set measurable, time-bound objectives.
Example: EcoTech’s primary objective is to become a market leader in sustainable technology products within the next five years. Our key objectives include:
- Introducing three new products within the first two years of operation.
- Achieving annual revenue growth of 30%.
- Expanding our customer base to over 10,000 clients by the end of the third year.
Provide a detailed description of your company, including its history, mission, vision, and unique selling proposition. Explain what sets you apart from the competition.
Example: Founded in 2023, EcoTech is committed to developing cutting-edge sustainable technology products that benefit both the environment and our customers. Our unique combination of innovative solutions and eco-friendly design sets us apart from the competition. We envision a future where technology and sustainability go hand in hand, leading to a greener planet.
Define Your Target Market
Identify your ideal customers by describing their demographics, psychographics, and pain points. This information will help you know your target market and develop targeted marketing strategies.
Example: Our target market comprises environmentally conscious consumers and businesses looking for innovative solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. Our ideal customers are those who prioritize sustainability and are willing to invest in eco-friendly products.
To conduct market research and perform a comprehensive market analysis, you’ll need to examine industry trends, customer needs, and competitor strengths and weaknesses. This information will help you identify opportunities and potential risks.
Example: The market for eco-friendly technology products has experienced significant growth in recent years, with an estimated annual growth rate of 10%. As consumers become increasingly aware of environmental issues, the demand for sustainable solutions continues to rise.
Our research indicates a gap in the market for high-quality, innovative eco-friendly technology products that cater to both individual and business clients.
A SWOT analysis is a strategic evaluation tool that helps identify your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Including a SWOT analysis in your business plan allows you to recognize areas where you excel and those that need improvement. It also helps uncover opportunities for growth and potential risks, enabling you to make informed decisions and develop effective strategies.
- Innovative and eco-friendly product offerings.
- Strong commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.
- Skilled and experienced team with expertise in technology and sustainability.
- Limited brand recognition compared to established competitors.
- Reliance on third-party manufacturers for product development.
- Growing consumer interest in sustainable products.
- Partnerships with environmentally-focused organizations and influencers.
- Expansion into international markets.
- Intense competition from established technology companies.
- Regulatory changes could impact the sustainable technology market.
In this section, you’ll analyze your competitors in-depth, examining their products, services, market positioning, and pricing strategies. Understanding your competition allows you to identify gaps in the market and tailor your offerings to outperform them.
By conducting a thorough competitive analysis, you can gain insights into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to develop strategies to differentiate your business and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Example: Key competitors include:
GreenTech: A well-known brand offering eco-friendly technology products, but with a narrower focus on energy-saving devices.
EarthSolutions: A direct competitor specializing in sustainable technology, but with a limited product range and higher prices.
By offering a diverse product portfolio, competitive pricing, and continuous innovation, we believe we can capture a significant share of the growing sustainable technology market.
Organization and Management Team
Provide an overview of your company’s organizational structure, including key roles and responsibilities. Introduce your management team, highlighting their expertise and experience to demonstrate that your team is capable of executing the business plan successfully.
Showcasing your team’s background, skills, and accomplishments instills confidence in investors and other stakeholders, proving that your business has the leadership and talent necessary to achieve its objectives and manage growth effectively.
Example: EcoTech’s organizational structure comprises the following key roles: CEO, CTO, CFO, Sales Director, Marketing Director, and R&D Manager. Our management team has extensive experience in technology, sustainability, and business development, ensuring that we are well-equipped to execute our business plan successfully.
Products and Services Offered
Describe the products or services your business offers, focusing on their unique features and benefits. Explain how your offerings solve customer pain points and why they will choose your products or services over the competition.
This section should emphasize the value you provide to customers, demonstrating that your business has a deep understanding of customer needs and is well-positioned to deliver innovative solutions that address those needs and set your company apart from competitors.
Example: EcoTech offers a range of eco-friendly technology products, including energy-efficient lighting solutions, solar chargers, and smart home devices that optimize energy usage. Our products are designed to help customers reduce energy consumption, minimize waste, and contribute to a cleaner environment.
Marketing and Sales Strategy
A well-structured marketing plan is vital for reaching your target audience and driving sales. Outline your marketing channels, advertising campaigns, promotional activities, and sales strategies. Explain how these tactics will help you attract customers, generate leads, and achieve your revenue goals.
By detailing your marketing and sales approach, you show potential investors and partners that your business has a clear plan to build brand awareness, engage with customers, and drive sales growth.
Example: Our marketing strategy includes digital advertising, content marketing, social media promotion, and influencer partnerships. We will also attend trade shows and conferences to showcase our products and connect with potential clients. Our sales strategy involves both direct sales and partnerships with retail stores, as well as online sales through our website and e-commerce platforms.
Logistics and Operations Plan
This section details the day-to-day operations of your business, including supply chain management, inventory control, production processes, and quality control measures. Demonstrating a clear understanding of your operations will assure investors that your business is well-prepared to handle challenges and growth.
An effective logistics and operations plan also highlights your company’s commitment to efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction, emphasizing that your business has the systems and processes in place to ensure operational excellence.
Example: EcoTech partners with reliable third-party manufacturers to produce our eco-friendly technology products. Our operations involve maintaining strong relationships with suppliers, ensuring quality control, and managing inventory.
We also prioritize efficient distribution through various channels, including online platforms and retail partners, to deliver products to our customers in a timely manner.
Financial Projections Plan
Provide a comprehensive financial forecast, including projected revenue, expenses, and profits for the next three to five years. Use realistic assumptions and support your projections with data from your market analysis and industry research.
By presenting detailed and well-supported financial projections, you demonstrate to investors and lenders that your business has the potential to generate significant returns, manage expenses effectively, and achieve long-term financial success.
Example: Over the next three years, we expect to see significant growth in revenue, driven by new product launches and market expansion. Our financial projections include:
- Year 1: $1.5 million in revenue, with a net profit of $200,000.
- Year 2: $3 million in revenue, with a net profit of $500,000.
- Year 3: $4.5 million in revenue, with a net profit of $1 million.
These projections are based on realistic market analysis, growth rates, and product pricing.
The income statement , also known as the profit and loss statement, provides a summary of your company’s revenues and expenses over a specified period. It helps you track your business’s financial performance and identify trends, ensuring you stay on track to achieve your financial goals.
Regularly reviewing and analyzing your income statement allows you to monitor the health of your business, evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies, and make data-driven decisions to optimize profitability and growth.
Example: The income statement for EcoTech’s first year of operation is as follows:
- Revenue: $1,500,000
- Cost of Goods Sold: $800,000
- Gross Profit: $700,000
- Operating Expenses: $450,000
- Net Income: $250,000
This statement highlights our company’s profitability and overall financial health during the first year of operation.
Cash Flow Statement
A cash flow statement is a crucial part of a financial business plan that shows the inflows and outflows of cash within your business. It helps you monitor your company’s liquidity, ensuring you have enough cash on hand to cover operating expenses, pay debts, and invest in growth opportunities.
By including a cash flow statement in your business plan, you demonstrate your ability to manage your company’s finances effectively.
Example: The cash flow statement for EcoTech’s first year of operation is as follows:
- Depreciation: $10,000
- Changes in Working Capital: -$50,000
- Net Cash from Operating Activities: $210,000
- Capital Expenditures: -$100,000
- Net Cash from Investing Activities: -$100,000
- Proceeds from Loans: $150,000
- Loan Repayments: -$50,000
- Net Cash from Financing Activities: $100,000
- Net Increase in Cash: $210,000
This statement demonstrates EcoTech’s ability to generate positive cash flow from operations, maintain sufficient liquidity, and invest in growth opportunities.
Tips on Writing a Business Plan
1. Be clear and concise: Keep your language simple and straightforward. Avoid jargon and overly technical terms. A clear and concise business plan is easier for investors and stakeholders to understand and demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively.
2. Conduct thorough research: Before writing your business plan, gather as much information as possible about your industry, competitors, and target market. Use reliable sources and industry reports to inform your analysis and make data-driven decisions.
3. Set realistic goals: Your business plan should outline achievable objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Setting realistic goals demonstrates your understanding of the market and increases the likelihood of success.
4. Focus on your unique selling proposition (USP): Clearly articulate what sets your business apart from the competition. Emphasize your USP throughout your business plan to showcase your company’s value and potential for success.
5. Be flexible and adaptable: A business plan is a living document that should evolve as your business grows and changes. Be prepared to update and revise your plan as you gather new information and learn from your experiences.
6. Use visuals to enhance understanding: Include charts, graphs, and other visuals to help convey complex data and ideas. Visuals can make your business plan more engaging and easier to digest, especially for those who prefer visual learning.
7. Seek feedback from trusted sources: Share your business plan with mentors, industry experts, or colleagues and ask for their feedback. Their insights can help you identify areas for improvement and strengthen your plan before presenting it to potential investors or partners.
FREE Business Plan Template
To help you get started on your business plan, we have created a template that includes all the essential components discussed in the “How to Write a Business Plan” section. This easy-to-use template will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you don’t miss any critical details.
The template is divided into the following sections:
- Mission statement
- Business Overview
- Key products or services
- Target market
- Financial highlights
- Company goals
- Strategies to achieve goals
- Measurable, time-bound objectives
- Company History
- Mission and vision
- Unique selling proposition
- Pain points
- Industry trends
- Customer needs
- Competitor strengths and weaknesses
- Competitor products and services
- Market positioning
- Pricing strategies
- Organizational structure
- Key roles and responsibilities
- Management team backgrounds
- Product or service features
- Competitive advantages
- Marketing channels
- Advertising campaigns
- Promotional activities
- Sales strategies
- Supply chain management
- Inventory control
- Production processes
- Quality control measures
- Projected revenue
- Cash inflows
- Cash outflows
- Net cash flow
Using Business Plan Software
Creating a comprehensive business plan can be intimidating, but business plan software can streamline the process and help you produce a professional document. These tools offer a number of benefits, including guided step-by-step instructions, financial projections, and industry-specific templates. Here are the top 5 business plan software options available to help you craft a great business plan.
LivePlan is a popular choice for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features. It offers over 500 sample plans, financial forecasting tools, and the ability to track your progress against key performance indicators. With LivePlan, you can create visually appealing, professional business plans that will impress investors and stakeholders.
Upmetrics provides a simple and intuitive platform for creating a well-structured business plan. It features customizable templates, financial forecasting tools, and collaboration capabilities, allowing you to work with team members and advisors. Upmetrics also offers a library of resources to guide you through the business planning process.
Bizplan is designed to simplify the business planning process with a drag-and-drop builder and modular sections. It offers financial forecasting tools, progress tracking, and a visually appealing interface. With Bizplan, you can create a business plan that is both easy to understand and visually engaging.
Enloop is a robust business plan software that automatically generates a tailored plan based on your inputs. It provides industry-specific templates, financial forecasting, and a unique performance score that updates as you make changes to your plan. Enloop also offers a free version, making it accessible for businesses on a budget.
5. Tarkenton GoSmallBiz
Developed by NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, GoSmallBiz is tailored for small businesses and startups. It features a guided business plan builder, customizable templates, and financial projection tools. GoSmallBiz also offers additional resources, such as CRM tools and legal document templates, to support your business beyond the planning stage.
Business Plan FAQs
What is a good business plan.
A good business plan is a well-researched, clear, and concise document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies, target market, competitive advantages, and financial projections. It should be adaptable to change and provide a roadmap for achieving success.
What are the 3 main purposes of a business plan?
The three main purposes of a business plan are to guide the company’s strategy, attract investment, and evaluate performance against objectives. Here’s a closer look at each of these:
A business plan serves as a roadmap for the organization, outlining its mission, vision, goals, and the strategies to achieve them. By establishing these aspects, the business plan provides direction for all activities and decisions within the company.
- It outlines the company’s purpose and core values to ensure that all activities align with its mission and vision.
- It provides an in-depth analysis of the market, including trends, customer needs, and competition, helping the company tailor its products and services to meet market demands.
- It defines the company’s marketing and sales strategies, guiding how the company will attract and retain customers.
- It describes the company’s organizational structure and management team, outlining roles and responsibilities to ensure effective operation and leadership.
- It sets measurable, time-bound objectives, allowing the company to plan its activities effectively and make strategic decisions to achieve these goals.
For new or growing businesses, attracting investment is often a primary goal. A business plan serves as a tool to persuade potential investors that the company is a viable and profitable venture.
- It provides a comprehensive overview of the company and its business model, demonstrating its uniqueness and potential for success.
- It presents the company’s financial projections, showing its potential for profitability and return on investment.
- It demonstrates the company’s understanding of the market, including its target customers and competition, convincing investors that the company is capable of gaining a significant market share.
- It showcases the management team’s expertise and experience, instilling confidence in investors that the team is capable of executing the business plan successfully.
A business plan provides a framework for evaluating the company’s performance and progress. By comparing actual results with planned objectives, the company can assess its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.
- It establishes clear, measurable objectives that serve as performance benchmarks.
- It provides a basis for regular performance reviews, allowing the company to monitor its progress and identify areas for improvement.
- It enables the company to assess the effectiveness of its strategies and make adjustments as needed to achieve its objectives.
- It helps the company identify potential risks and challenges, enabling it to develop contingency plans and manage risks effectively.
- It provides a mechanism for evaluating the company’s financial performance, including revenue, expenses, profitability, and cash flow.
Can I write a business plan by myself?
Yes, you can write a business plan by yourself, but it can be helpful to consult with mentors, colleagues, or industry experts to gather feedback and insights. There are also many creative business plan templates and business plan examples available online, including those above. We also have examples for specific industries, including a using food truck business plan , salon business plan , farm business plan , daycare business plan , and restaurant business plan .
Is it possible to create a one-page business plan?
Yes, a one-page business plan is a condensed version that highlights the most essential elements, including the company’s mission, target market, unique selling proposition, and financial goals.
How long should a business plan be?
A typical business plan ranges from 20 to 50 pages, but the length may vary depending on the complexity and needs of the business.
What is a business plan outline?
A business plan outline is a structured framework that organizes the content of a business plan into sections, such as the executive summary, company description, market analysis, and financial projections.
What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?
The five most common business plan mistakes include inadequate research, unrealistic financial projections, lack of focus on the unique selling proposition, poor organization and structure, and failure to update the plan as circumstances change.
What questions should be asked in a business plan?
A business plan should address questions such as: What problem does the business solve? Who is the specific target market ? What is the unique selling proposition? What are the company’s objectives? How will it achieve those objectives?
What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?
A business plan focuses on the overall vision, goals, and tactics of a company, while a strategic plan outlines the specific strategies, action steps, and performance measures necessary to achieve the company’s objectives.
How is business planning for a nonprofit different?
Nonprofit business planning focuses on the organization’s mission, social impact, and resource management, rather than profit generation. The financial section typically includes funding sources, expenses, and projected budgets for programs and operations.
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Anatomy of a Business Plan
Business plans are critical in the early stages of the life of a business, providing guidance to both internal and external stakeholders. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of writing a business plan, including the sections to cover and the necessary considerations to take into account.
By Toptal Research
As a founder, one of the first tasks that you need to tackle is the writing of a comprehensive business plan. In the initial stages, you will be asked repeatedly for your business plan: when attempting to raise money, when hiring a star team member, or when ensuring that your cash reserves will last. It seems that you do not have a proper business until you have written and refined a business plan that predicts your growth 5 years into the future.
Given the importance of business plans, founders need to understand how to best write one and how to use them to their maximum advantage to increase the chances of success. This post will attempt to lay out a guide on how to best answer these questions, helping founders understand if they can complete the task themselves or if they require some additional guidance from expert consultants .
What Is a Business Plan?
Let’s first define what we are doing. A business plan is a document that lays out:
- What your business does
- The short- and long-term goals of the business
- The action plan to achieve these goals
There are two main formats that you can use to write a business plan: a PowerPoint deck or a Word document. Both work well, but make sure that if you use a PowerPoint format, you also have a separate (and shorter) pitch deck. Initially you will share only the pitch deck with potential investors. The full business plan is reserved for those investors that have shown keen interest in your business and with whom you are moving along within the investment process.
Why Is It Important to Write a Business Plan?
There are some influential people in the startup industry that do not attach much value to overt reliance on business plans, vouching for the superiority of the “learning by doing” approach advocated by the Lean Startup method . Even though the lean approach does have significant merits in letting you test out a product’s market viability (through continuous iteration to ensure a better market fit), it does not provide answers to key questions of your business, such as where the business currently stands and where you want to take it.
A business plan will help you with the following aspects of your business:
- It will force you to state in writing what you want your business to be . This is also very useful so you can see what your business is currently NOT and better analyze the current gaps between reality and your goals.
- It will demand that you specifically write how you plan to accomplish your goals in practical terms , such as what competitive advantages the company has, what opportunities you see, and what threats exist.
- It will give your co-founders and team a common compass to guide the ship during the initial uncertain months.
- You will better understand the resources that you require in order to accomplish your goals.
- It will help with your fundraising efforts , through demonstrating to potential investors that you have thought through important aspects of the business. This will provide a concrete document to start fundraising discussions.
Although it is difficult to quantify how important writing a business plan is, a recent study showed that companies with formal business plans increase their chances of reaching positive cash flow by 16%, showing that it does pay to plan.
What Should Be Included in a Business Plan?
Once you are convinced that having a business plan is a must, the question arises of what content to include in the plan.
A cursory Google search will return an array of different “Business Plan Templates,” several of which will already be completed with generic content and where a founder just needs to substitute X for Y to make the business plan “acceptable.” It goes without saying that this shortcut should not be attempted. In many cases, it can even deviate the entrepreneur and their startup from what they actually wanted to achieve.
Founders should make the effort to write their own, original content. However, there are some uniform aspects that almost every business plan should contain:
1. Executive Summary
This is the section where you will probably spend most of your time during meetings with investors, team members, co-founders and other related stakeholders. In this section, you should summarize and recount the complete story of your business plan. If done properly, it will ensure that during meetings you will only need to refer to the different subsections if it is necessary to zero in on a specific section. Although, in later or more intensive meetings, it may be required that the whole document is scrutinized in its entirety.
For this reason, the executive summary should be the first section to be outlined when starting to write a business plan, because it will help you to structure the proceeding sections of the plan. In turn, it will be the last section to be completed, as following several edits fleshing out the main document, you can return to the executive summary to finalize it.
All of the critical subsections in the document should be touched upon in the executive summary, and you need to ensure that the content is ambitious, but grounded in reality. Back up any claims made with specific data—for example, “ My Company will provide the best in-market customer experience, as our NPS Score of above 80 already indicates.” Also, make sure that the tone is upbeat. If you do not believe in the positive future of your project yourself, then you will not convince anyone else either!
2. Company Overview
The main goal of this section is to make sure that the reader understands what the company does. It is surprising how many companies have a difficult time explaining what they do. You can find many tips online that you can use to help you to convey what your company does, but as a rule of thumb, try to keep it simple, identify the problem that is being addressed, and present your company’s solution.
After making sure that anyone can understand what your business does, include other relevant information about the company. Such details include: the formal corporate structure, when it was founded, and what milestones you have already achieved. Any examples of traction are great to establish a basis that the company and its founders are able to execute.
3. Market Analysis
In this section, there are two key pieces of information you need to communicate: the main characteristics and trends in your market, and a rough approximation of the market’s size.
When defining and explaining the market, lay out general figures like:
- What is the generally accepted market size (more on this below)?
- What is its annual historic and projected growth rate?
- An interesting data point (for example, “x% of American households have this product” )
- An overview of competitor and customer dynamics
After having defined the market trends, you must then explain your market size in greater detail. Let’s use an example of a hypothetical company selling premium baby products online. Some key questions to answer here would be:
- What is the total annual spending in the US for babies?
- What is the split of sales between online and offline?
- In the market sizing, do you include only premium products sold by specialty stores, or the whole range of products including those products only sold in supermarket retailers that you do not initially plan to sell?
As you see, there are multiple answers to this question. Thankfully, to better understand this issue and how to apply it, you can find a great post by Toptal Finance Expert Alex Graham regarding Total Addressable Market Sizing and how it is applied to WeWork’s specific case.
4. Competitor Analysis
In this section, you must lay out the current competitor landscape. Make sure that it is as comprehensive as possible, taking into account not only current competitors but also potential future competitors. For example, is a foreign company likely to enter your market? Or, is a company in another market close to expanding into your turf? A good example of this was Netflix’s expansion from being only a distributor to entering the business of content generation: Did Disney and HBO prepare for this external threat?
Also, in this analysis, pay attention to and map out indirect competitors and their market dynamics. In the example of the baby eCommerce idea laid out above, the spend in grocery stores and the indirect competitors (like nurseries) in that market would be important to include.
5. Customer Analysis
In the customer analysis section, you need to prove that there are actually real customers that will pay/use/download your service. Use this space to drill down into the psychographics of the customer. Where are they, what real problem do they have that needs to be addressed, and what is their profile? It is very useful to define some specific characteristics, such as gender, age, geographical location, marital status, family, and main consumption patterns.
Even though most of the time entrepreneurs gather this kind of information from secondary sources such as research reports, a strong recommendation is to also go out and conduct primary interviews with potential customers. Prepare a questionnaire, speak to potential customers, and analyze the intelligence gathered. It is surprising how many important perspectives can be obtained from primary research.
6. Go-to-Market Strategy
Up to this point, you will have identified what your company does, its market, the customers, and the competition. Now, you will need to detail how you plan to actually get your product or service to market. This will include, but not be limited to:
- Do you have several products/services to address the market?
- What will your marketing strategy be?
- What marketing channels do you plan to use? Direct sales, online marketing, or below the line?
- What will your pricing be, and why?
Make sure that you show your knowledge of all of the intricacies of your marketing initiatives. In this section, it is very useful to detail any marketing initiatives you have already executed and their results. For example, if one of your marketing channels is going to be online marketing, do a small test beforehand in the channels chosen (Google, Facebook, etc.) and show the initial results.
7. Operations/Technology Strategy
Does your company have any operational or technological advantages relative to competitors? This relates to exploiting your key competencies over your competitors for commercial gain, such as a superior logistics platform.
In this section, it is important to also list and define the main operational areas within your company, even if some of those functions have not yet been developed. This can lay out a roadmap for the future, such as a plan to introduce a dedicated customer service team.
8. Management Team
There are some investors who say they invest “ in the team, not the product ;” this is founded upon the thesis of the key role that a strong and well-rounded team has in making a company become successful.
There are two main aspects to be covered in this section: the actual executive management team and the investor team. In the executive management team, make sure to detail why the team is a great fit for the business in terms of experience and capabilities. It is also important to state what their specific roles are and if they have stock or stock options and under what conditions. Also, any information on their synergies of working together as a team will be very useful for potential investors, as it de-risks future management team dysfunctions.
Finally, if you already have business angels, VC funds, or advisors, list their experience, the relationship they have had with your company, and how they add value beyond the size of their pockets.
9. Financial Plan
In parallel to your business plan, you should also build a detailed financial business plan that shows all the assumptions, drivers, and financial statements of your business for the next 3 to 5 years. This financial business plan should have several scenarios (conservative, base, aggressive) and allow for the quick tweaking of assumptions. The financial statements developed should at a minimum include cash flow, balance sheet, and profit and loss statements, although more ad-hoc analysis such as unit economics P&L can add value.
Both documents, the written business plan and the financial business plan model, will feed into each other and help with different parts of their respective content.
In this section, you need to include the main financial projections that resulted from your financial business plan in a summarized and graphic manner. A good rule of thumb is to include at least the yearly P&L and cash flow statements of the main scenarios expected, but you can go into as much detail as you see fit.
Without a doubt, this section is one of the most technical and knowledge-specific parts of the document. Not many people know how to build detailed financial statements. Therefore, it is useful to consider hiring finance experts with significant know-how to ensure that you build the most suitable financial statements possible for the launch of your business.
10. Financing Requirements/The Ask
After having explained in detail your company, its plans, and the financial projections, now comes a critical part: asking for funding and detailing how much. There are two choices to make in how much information is shown here:
- Limited information: Detail that you are seeking funding, but leave out actual funding amounts, or any kind of valuation markers. The idea is to open up the conversation regarding this topic and then follow up with specifics in person with appropriate counterparts. The benefit of choosing this option is that it allows you to tailor your negotiations towards the appetite of any potential investor that you come across.
- Full disclosure: list the actual amount and the pre-money that you are seeking. The benefits of this is that it shows confidence in that you know exactly what you are looking for, but the downside is that you could either sell yourself short or scare away potential investors.
Although there are different opinions regarding the best approach, the idea is that during the development of the business plan, you will gain an idea of how much funding you need. In turn, with looking at the competition, you will also see comparable valuations, allowing you to triangulate towards a cash amount needed and a targeted valuation. Therefore, in case of doubt, it is preferable to go with full disclosure and accelerate any discussions, avoiding the loss of time (and face) that could occur if you and your potential investor are on completely different pages regarding ticket size and valuation.
Another topic usually included is the use of funds. If you are looking for funding from investors, they will want to know what you will be doing with their money.
Finally, a key component in the fundraising section is the exit strategy. Remember that investors are looking for financial returns, so any information that can be gathered regarding potential exits and valuations is a plus.
How Should a Business Plan Evolve as the Company Matures?
An aspect that is often ignored regarding business plans is what happens once it is written and the founders move on to executing it. As time goes by and a company matures, it is inevitable that some aspects of the business plan will change or develop as new market realities set in. When that happens, what do you do with your original business plan?
Periodically rewriting the business plan from scratch is not the best approach to take, as by doing so, you cannot see what areas have changed and use them as a learning opportunity. However, it does make sense to set up a yearly review of the business plan, which can usually be tied to your annual budget review. Another good practice would be to tie the review to a yearly management offsite where the company plans its next year in terms of goals.
Without a doubt, it is very important to write a well-structured and thought-out business plan. There is no need to add superfluous bells and whistles to it, but it is essential that it covers the core aspects of your business.
Use the plan as your benchmark—as your north star—and, when appropriate, check to see if changing course makes sense. Use the business plan to spark opening conversations and to initiate strong business relationships, whether with team members or potential investors. Finally, use your business plan to bring order to the early life of your company and to allow for structured growth going forward.
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Amazon CEO tells employees to return to the office or their days may be numbered
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy told employees to get on board with the company’s return-to-office plan or to consider employment elsewhere, the company confirmed to CNN, after a report by Insider highlighted Jassy’s remarks from a recent internal event.
Jassy’s message reflects Amazon’s continued pressure on US office staff to comply with a policy requiring them to report to a physical office at least three days a week.
As part of his remarks, which Amazon shared with CNN, Jassy said during the event this month that while employees are entitled to disagree with the company’s decision bringing workers back into the office and to criticize it, they are not entitled to disregard the policy.
He also predicted that for those who could not accept the policy, their prospects for remaining at Amazon appeared grim.
Some people posting to message boards on site likes Reddit and Blind in recent weeks discuss legal rights for employees who say they were hired 12 months earlier as a virtual employee and whether they can be forced to work in an office.
Earlier, Insider reported that a recording of the session depicted Jassy telling recalcitrant employees: “It’s probably not going to work out for you.” Insider also reported that employees at the internal meeting asked Jassy to produce the internal data justifying the policy.
According to the remarks Amazon shared with CNN, Jassy responded by saying that the return-to-office policy was more the result of a judgment call based on an assessment of various factors including business results. He added that Amazon had little data to support a policy of indefinite remote work, and that Amazon had to make judgment calls based on limited data in the past.
Amazon's stock surges as Q2 earnings show profit and sales jump
The remarks also showed that Insider accurately reported Jassy’s predictions regarding employees who do not comply with the return-to-office mandate. (CNN was permitted to paraphrase, but not directly quote from, Jassy’s remarks.)
Separately, the company told CNN that Amazon had all along emphasized that its approach to remote work would evolve along with pandemic conditions.
Earlier this month, Amazon sent some employees an email indicating that the company knew they were not badging into the office as often as required.
Amazon’s signal to workers that it is tracking their attendance comes after hundreds of its corporate employees staged a walkout in May to protest the office policy. At the time, organizers of the walkout said more than 1,000 employees had participated in the event; Amazon disputed that figure, claiming that only 300 were involved. Organizers of the walkout have called the company’s approach a “rigid, one-size-fits-all” mandate.
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Tech billionaires’ secretive plan to build a California city from scratch
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For years, residents in Solano County heard about a mysterious group buying up thousands of acres of farmland and making millionaires out of property owners. The agricultural land had been owned by the same families for decades — some of it for more than a century.
But the company, Flannery Associates, did not say what its plans were for the land, dotted with towering wind turbines and sheep grazing on pastureland. It paid several times market value and made offers on properties that were not for sale, according to officials familiar with the land purchases.
Then, last week, a survey was sent to residents asking them what they thought about “a new city with tens of thousands of new homes, a large solar energy farm, orchards with over a million new trees, and over ten thousand acres of new parks and open space,” according to a screenshot of the survey shared with the Los Angeles Times.
That’s when it became clear that Flannery Associates had big plans for the rural landscape.
Over a five-year period, the company became the largest landowner in Solano County after purchasing more than 55,000 acres of undeveloped land. The company has paid more than $800 million since 2018, according to court records.
U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, who represents the region, said for years he and other officials were unable to determine who was behind the dizzying land grab. Flannery Associates has purchased land that was restricted to open space and agricultural purposes under a state conservation program.
The company seeks to rezone the land, which would require approval by multiple state and county agencies and wouldn’t be as simple as asking residents to vote on the issue, officials familiar with the process said. But the lack of residential zoning in the area does not seem to be a factor for Flannery Associates.
Since its buying jag began, the company has filed suit in federal court against a group of families the firm purchased property from, seeking $510 million. Flannery Associates claims the families conspired to inflate their property values in a scheme to get more money.
Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) lambasted the company for how it has handled the purchases and for not working with local residents.
“Flannery Associates is using secrecy, bully and mobster tactics to force generational farm families to sell,” Garamendi said during an informational committee hearing on Tuesday that addressed the company’s actions.
For years, residents and politicians speculated that Flannery Associates was backed by foreign investors seeking to spy on Travis Air Force Base. Located in Solano County, the base is one of the busiest military facilities in the nation. Most of the land surrounding the base is now owned by Flannery Associates, according to county documents.
Some of the company’s financial backers were revealed in an article last week by the New York Times , and they include a cadre of tech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
On the eastern end of Solano County, the city of Rio Vista is now surrounded by Flannery Associates land. Mayor Ronald Kott said that, like many Solano County officials, he had not been approached by anyone from the company to discuss plans for the land.
Although he’s now aware of the company’s goals and some of the financial backers, he’s still unsure how his city of 10,000 residents found itself surrounded by land owned by a group of tech billionaires.
“I have more questions than answers,” Kott said. “Our destiny is going to be determined by whatever they’re going to do.”
Flannery Associates has said little since it was formed as a limited liability company in the state of Delaware in 2018. The company’s actions were first reported by ABC7’s San Francisco Bay Area news station, KGO, which said a mysterious company was purchasing large amounts of land.
Flannery Associates is led by Jan Sramek, a former Goldman Sachs investor who found fame and fortune by the time he was 22, according to a 2010 Business Insider article . Sramek previously worked out of Goldman’s offices in London, but his LinkedIn profile now lists Fairfield, Calif., in Solano County as his primary location.
In a self-help book he co-wrote, Sramek says if given the chance to give his younger self a bit of advice, he would quote Ayn Rand: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
He did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
For years, Garamendi and U.S. Rep Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) tried to pierce through the opaque veil that surrounded Flannery Associates. Then, in the last week, representatives of the company attempted to arrange sit-down meetings with the Congress members and the survey was sent out to residents.
The survey said that the issue of a new city might be on next year’s ballot, which was news to Garamendi and Thompson. There have been no efforts made by any groups to get a new measure on the ballot for this project, according to officials. The survey also said the developers would replace the county’s existing aqueduct — calling it “one of the most polluted in California” — generate tax revenue for schools and be entirely funded by private sector money.
Thompson said the company’s actions had raised food and national security concerns. He’s asked the U.S. Air Force, the Treasury Department, the Defense Department and the FBI to investigate the land purchases. Thompson met with representatives from the company, including Sramek, according to KGO .
“And I don’t think they had a clear understanding of the significance of livestock in Solano County,” Thompson said. “And it was my impression that they kind of pooh-poohed the agricultural value of the land.”
Garamendi plans to meet with representatives from Flannery Associates at a later time, according to his office.
Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown is not familiar with Silicon Valley and spent most of her professional career as a schoolteacher. She heard from friends who received the survey and wondered if the company had the best interests of the county’s current residents in mind.
“We’re growing food and helping people. Why would you stop economic growth like that?” she told the Los Angeles Times. “Why would they spend $800 million and not be transparent about it?”
Flannery Associates has purchased more than 140 parcels of land, according to court records and county assessor data. That number is growing every day, officials say.
But in its lawsuit, the company claims that it overpaid and is seeking to claw back some of its money.
Attorneys for Flannery Associates have referenced personal relationships and text messages among neighbors in court documents — neighbors who could be influenced, they argue, by a scheme to drive up asking prices for the land.
The lawsuit has had a chilling effect on some landowners in the Montezuma Hills and Jebson Prairie area of the county. Multiple residents in the area declined to comment about the company for fear of being named in a lawsuit.
Others who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation by the company say they feel as though Flannery Associates will target anyone who speaks out about the company’s aggressive tactics to buy land.
Garamendi called the lawsuit a “heavy-handed, despicable intimidation tactic.” He said that the company managed to purchase all the land without any of the current governmental safeguards in place to flag the issue. He said that, in the future, information about large land sales, and who is buying and selling, would be vital for lawmakers and residents.
Thompson introduced a bill that was inspired by the Flannery Associates land purchases that would provide more effective tools for state agencies to investigate large land sales.
Through a spokesperson, Flannery Associates said members of the company “care deeply about the future of Solano County and California and believe their best days are ahead.”
The company said the project aims to bring “good-paying jobs, affordable housing, clean energy, sustainable infrastructure, open space, and a healthy environment” to Solano County.
“We are excited to start working with residents and elected officials, as well as with Travis Air Force Base, on making that happen,” spokesperson Brian Brokaw said.
The company says it resorted to secrecy while purchasing the land to avoid rampant real estate speculation. But it has not disclosed specific details about the scope of its project. Representatives for Flannery Associates are meeting with community leaders to present their vision, according to Brokaw.
Flannery Associates launched a website this week called California Forever, after its parent company. Along with illustrations and a brief history of California Forever and Flannery Associates, the website promises a conversation with county residents, the formation of a community advisory board and a trio of offices in Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville.
Michael Moritz, venture capitalist and longtime San Francisco resident, is one of the financial backers behind the company. In a 2017 email viewed by the New York Times, Moritz described an opportunity to invest in a new California city. He explained how investors could transform farmland into a bustling metropolis.
Sequoia Heritage, the $15-billion wealth management firm Moritz founded in 2010, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
But in a February New York Times opinion piece , Moritz described some of his frustration with San Francisco and how the city had become “a prize example of how we Democrats have become our own worst enemy.”
He described legislators who deceived voters with tweaks and rule changes to the city’s charter so they could stay in power and drive seismic shifts in the local government.
“The core of the issue, in San Francisco and other cities, is that government is more malleable at the city level than at higher levels of government,” Moritz wrote. “If the U.S. Constitution requires decades and a chisel and hammer to change, San Francisco’s City Charter is like a live Google doc controlled by manipulative copy editors.”
Other financial backers with Flannery Associates include LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm investors Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon; payments company Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison; Emerson Collective founder Laurene Powell Jobs; and entrepreneurs turned investors Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross, a Flannery Associates spokesperson confirmed.
Although those names were not repeated at an agricultural committee hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers were thinking of the financial backers’ actions.
Flannery Associates’ land buys threaten the makeup of eastern Solano County, mainly the land under the California Land Conservation Act, which sets aside properties for agricultural purposes and open space. The penalty for not obeying that policy does not seem to dissuade Flannery Associates, former West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said during the committee hearing.
The act, also known as the Williamson Act, can include a fee for the incompatible structures built on the land. For billionaire property owners, that could just be seen as the price of doing business.
“In some sense,” he said, the conservation program has “been like a flag that says, ‘Buy here.’”
The Flannery Associates project illustrates just how weak current tools are for dealing with a project of this size. Secrecy further hampers state regulators unaware of a buyer’s intent for the land, Cabaldon said.
Brokaw, the Flannery Associates spokesperson, said the company wouldn’t comment on specific issues brought up during the committee hearing but was meeting with county and state leaders to address their concerns.
Officials and landowners worry that much of the infrastructure needed to build a new city is just not present in eastern Solano County. And an influx of development would almost certainly drive out any farmers from the region.
But another scenario that could present itself is Flannery Associates moving ahead with its project only to have it fall apart years later.
“Even if the project is rejected locally ... you can’t reset the clock,” Cabaldon said. “You cannot turn it back and say, ‘OK, no harm, no foul. Let’s just return to the way that this community was two years ago.’ Because the owners will be gone, the family farmers will have left.”
Times staff writers Jessica Garrison and Ryan Fonseca contributed to this report.
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Nathan Solis is a Metro reporter covering breaking news at the Los Angeles Times. He previously worked for Courthouse News Service, where he wrote both breaking news and enterprise stories ranging from criminal justice to homelessness and politics. Before that, Solis was at the Redding Record Searchlight as a multimedia journalist, where he anchored coverage of the destructive 2017 fires in Northern California. Earlier in his career, he worked for Eastsider L.A.
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Drugmaker Mallinckrodt files for second bankruptcy in US
Bottles of prescription painkillers Oxycodone Hydrochloride, 30mg pills, made by Mallinckrodt sit on a counter at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights
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Aug 28 (Reuters) - Drugmaker Mallinckrodt (MNK.A) on Monday filed for its second bankruptcy in three years in the United States, with a restructuring plan that would cut $1 billion from what it owes to victims of the opioid crisis.
The Ireland-based company initiated Chapter 11 proceedings in Delaware after reaching a deal that would hand ownership to its lenders in exchange for a $1.9 billion reduction in debt. The proposed restructuring would wipe out existing equity shares.
The New York Stock Exchange said it has suspended trading in Mallinckrodt's ordinary shares with immediate effect and has commenced proceedings to delist them from the exchange.
Mallinckrodt, which makes both branded and generic drugs, had first filed for bankruptcy in 2020 to address its high debt load, litigation over its marketing of highly addictive generic opioids and disputes over its drug pricing.
As part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy in June 2022, the company, which denied wrongdoing, agreed to pay $1.7 billion to settle about 3,000 lawsuits alleging it used deceptive marketing tactics to boost opioid sales.
Mallinckrodt said in court filings on Monday it believed it had addressed its liquidity problems after the earlier reorganization plan cut $1.5 billion from its debt, but declining sales for its key branded drugs, including its most valuable drug, Acthar Gel, left it unable to manage scheduled payments.
The company's declining liquidity caused it to miss a $200 million payment due under the opioid settlement in June 2023, kickstarting negotiations on a second bankruptcy filing.
Mallinckrodt also disclosed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday that it recently received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia, seeking information about its reporting of suspicious opioid orders to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Mallinckrodt paid $35 million to resolve a similar government probe in 2017, and the new subpoena requests information about the company's tracking and reporting of suspicious opioid orders after the 2017 settlement date.
Mallinckrodt said in the filing it is responding to the subpoena and complying with its obligation to report suspicious sales of controlled substances to the DEA.
The company expects to complete its second bankruptcy in the fourth quarter of 2023 with support of its key stakeholders. If a court approves the restructuring, the company will have more than $450 million in available liquidity, including $250 million in new credit and its existing cash, Mallinckrodt said in a statement.
Mallinckrodt said in court filings it was facing increasing competition for Acthar Gel, as well as setbacks in its attempts to introduce an easy-to-use, self-injector variant. The drug, used to treat multiple sclerosis and infantile spasms, generated $516 million in net sales in 2022, but its sales were down by 20% for the first six months of 2023.
In Mallinckrodt's first bankruptcy, the company agreed to pay $260 million to settle federal and state government lawsuits alleging that the company overcharged Medicaid programs for Acthar.
Unlike the opioid settlement, Mallinckrodt intends to pay the full amount due under the Acthar settlement in its second bankruptcy.
Reporting by Shivani Tanna, Khushi Mandowara in Bengaluru and Dietrich Knauth in New York; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Alexia Garamfalvi, Leslie Adler and Krishna Chandra Eluri
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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A company that counts billionaires Marc Andreessen and Laurene Powell Jobs as investors says it's bought 50,000 acres of land to build a new 'walkable' city in northern California. Here's everything we know about the plans.
- The company that quietly bought 50,000 acres of land to build a new city near San Francisco has revealed its master plan.
- California Forever says it wants to build a "walkable" city with new jobs, surrounded by an agricultural greenbelt.
- The company, founded by a former Goldman Sachs trading prodigy, has attracted billionaire investors.
A company backed by billionaires including Marc Andreessen and Laurene Powell Jobs says it has bought 50,000 acres of land to build a new city in Solano County , northern California. The company, Flannery Associates, has been quiet until now, but its parent company California Forever just launched a new website detailing its master plan.
Where is Solano County?
Solano County sits between Sacramento, San Francisco, and Napa Valley, and has a population of around 450,000 across just over 900 square miles . Its poverty rate is slightly below the US average, while its median household income is about 30% above the national average, per US Census Bureau data.
As well as a large agriculture industry, the county is home to Travis Air Force Base. The county says that it boasts "rolling hillsides, waterfronts, and fertile farmland," making leisure activities like fishing, boating, and skiing popular.
What are California Forever and Flannery Associates?
According to California Forever's website, Jan Sramek , a former Goldman Sachs trading prodigy, moved to California around a decade ago and "fell in love" with Solano County during fishing trips on the California Delta. He had previously lived "in many of the world's most walkable, livable, and sustainable towns and cities," and became interested in whether he could apply what he'd learnt from this to the county, the website says.
California Forever says that "Jan became convinced that with a thoughtful design, the right long-term patient investors, and strong partnerships with all stakeholders, there would be an opportunity to build a remarkable place for Solano residents." Sramek founded California Forever in 2017 and recently bought a family home there.
California Forever says that over the last few years its subsidiary Flannery Associates has purchased more than 50,000 acres in eastern Solano County between Fairfield and Rio Vista, which court documents show it's spent more than $800 million on.
California Forever says it owns about half of the properties in this area.
California Forever says it's surveyed and interviewed about 2,000 residents, who say they want improvements to homeownership, employment opportunities, schools, public safety, infrastructure, and wildfire protection.
What do they plan to do with the site?
"Instead of watching our kids leave, we have the opportunity to build a new community that attracts new employers, creates good paying local jobs, builds homes in walkable neighborhoods, leads in environment stewardship, and fuels a growing tax base to serve the county at large," California Forever says.
The project is focused on creating a "compact community away from prime agricultural lands, surrounded by open space," with "homes, shopping, dining, and schools all within walking distance." California Forever says it wants to promote homeownership with properties of different sizes and prices.
California Forever says that all the properties it owns continue being leased to local farmers and ranchers for agricultural use. It notes that if a project were approved, some land currently used for grazing could be developed but it would still maintain grazing in large portions of eastern Solano County. It says that many local landowners told it that they don't want to sell or develop their properties, which instead would form an "agricultural greenbelt" around the development.
The company says the project could bring new employers to Solano and "independently create thousands of permanent, good-paying local jobs" in industries including construction, energy, and services, such as potentially building a large solar farm that it says would create hundreds of jobs.
California Forever also says that it would help solve regional infrastructure needs, including energy, transportation, water, and wildfire protection.
Why has the whole project been so quiet?
The company says that it's been operating in "stealth mode" because it was the "only way to avoid creating a rush of reckless short-term land speculation" until it had finished acquiring the properties.
"Now that we're no longer limited by confidentiality, we are eager to begin a conversation about the future of Solano County," it says.
Who's invested in the project?
California Forever says that around 97% of its capital comes from US investors, including Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon, John Doerr, Nat Friedman, Daniel Gross, Reid Hoffman, Michael Moritz, Laurene Powell Jobs, and investment firm Andreessen Horowitz. The remaining 3% comes from UK and Irish investors including Patrick and John Collison.