Given the outline of a business plan, which parts do you think ought to be given priority (i.e., presented with greater detail)? Which parts do you think are not as important, and can even be dispensed with? Explain you answer.
Given the outline of a business plan, which parts do you think ought to be given priority ( i.e., presented with greater detail)? Which parts do you think are not as important, and can even be dispensed with? Explain you answer.
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- What did you learn about some of the real benefits and limitations of planning by watching this video? arrow_forward Management is considered a continuing activity made up of basic management functions which are Planning, Organizing, Directing, and Controlling. The managers have to perform all these functions in order to achieve the desired organizational goals. Now, assume you have your own business it can be restaurant, airlines, etc. identify a project that would benefit the said business, state the plans, how you will organize, direct and control the execution. arrow_forward One manager states, “When a new system is proposed, I want a written report, not an oral presentation, which is like a sales pitch. I only want to see the facts about costs, benefits, and schedules.” Do you agree with that point of view? include enough details. arrow_forward
- give example of: executive summary sales and marketing plan operation plan financial aspect appendix for business plan implementation hope it can also serve as template for me arrow_forward How to respond to this in 100 words? The SWOT matrix is an extension of the SWOT analysis as it relates to the alternative characteristics relevant to the internal strengths and weakness within the organization. The SWOT matrix strengths and weaknesses are created and listed on the left side vertically, while the opportunity and threats is across the top. The significance of the SWOT matrix is not confusing the external opportunities with the possible course of actions. "The SW/OT matrix is a systematic means of developing strategic alternatives available to the organization, but it also requires brainstorming and creative skills as well” (Parnell, 2017, p. 229). The SWOT matrix is a valuable tool that managers can use while leveraging strengths and weaknesses within an organization. There are also four classifications that can appear from the SWOT matrix which drives multiple strengths or weaknesses, in conjunction with opportunities or threats. However, emphasis should be geared… arrow_forward Action Plan. For this section, please set (theoretical) goals and outline how you are going to achieve them and who is going to be responsible for completing each task. This is typically done on a one year scale but you can use two or five year plans to differentiate about any one watch company or you can use Apple Watch please use a Gantt charts discussed. The action plan will be its own section in the business plan arrow_forward
- Effective planning is a crucial element in achieving success, whether in personal endeavors or professional projects. It involves the systematic organization of tasks, allocation of resources, and establishment of timelines to ensure that goals are met efficiently. Through planning, individuals and teams can identify potential challenges, devise strategies to overcome them, and set realistic expectations. This process not only enhances productivity but also minimizes the risk of unexpected obstacles derailing progress. Additionally, planning fosters better communication and collaboration among team members, as everyone is on the same page regarding objectives and timelines. In essence, a well-thought-out plan serves as a roadmap, guiding individuals and teams towards their desired outcomes. Question: How does effective planning contribute to better communication and collaboration within a team? arrow_forward Please no written by hand and no emage There is a staged project in this course culminating in developing a strategic plan. This assignment is the second of four assignments toward that strategic plan. Before responding to this question, please review assigned reading in the textbook as well as the video links for External Scanning and Analysis and Resources to Capabilities to Competencies (located in this module). Evaluate the external environment and the internal environment of the organization you picked in Assignment: Mission and Vision Statements. Also explain how your organization manages its resources and converts them to capabilities. You may use the SWOT Analysis Worksheet in this module to help you organize your analysis. Submit this as a Word document or a PDF. arrow_forward Joy Pechum, CEO of California Anesthesiology Group (CAG), was sitting in her ofﬁce, preparing the agenda for the meeting of the board of directors to be held next Sunday. She thought about what to offer the board as an explanation for why she would spend $20,000 to deploy standardized project management methodology. At that moment the phone rang. She picked it up and heard the voice of Patrick, her VP of finance. He began, “Joy, I have a vendor invoice here. It shows that Dr. Squirrel had bought a computerized patient management system, costing $250,000. Its deployment would cost us another $250,000, i.e., a total of half a million dollars! All I want to know is whether you have approved it.” “No, I have not,” answered Joy hanging up angrily, trying to visualize the face of Dr. Squirrel, a big gun in the company, both as an anesthesiology expert and shareholder owner, when she tells the board about this purchase. OUR UNIQUE PRACTICE CAG is a for-proﬁt company of 200+ medical doctors… arrow_forward
- Planning is a fundamental process that helps individuals and organizations chart their course, set goals, and allocate resources effectively. Whether it's personal life, business ventures, or even large-scale projects, a well-thought-out plan is often the key to success. It involves assessing the current situation, defining objectives, identifying potential obstacles, and devising a strategy to achieve desired outcomes. Question: How do you prioritize tasks and make sure your planning process remains adaptable in the face of unforeseen challenges? arrow_forward How to respond to this in 100 words? A SWOT matrix is a strategic planning tool that is used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organization or a project (Parnell, 2017). It is a visual representation that consists of four quadrants, with each quadrant focusing on one aspect of the SWOT analysis. Strengths generally refer to the internal capabilities and resources that an organization possesses (Parnell, 2017)). These can include factors such as a strong brand image, a skilled workforce, advanced technology, or efficient processes (Puyt et al., 2020). Weaknesses, however, highlight the internal limitations and areas of improvement (Parnell, 2017). These can be areas where the organization lacks expertise, has limited financial resources, or is facing challenges such as high employee turnover (Puyt et al., 2020). Opportunities and threats are external factors that the organization has little or no control over, as they are external controls (Parnell,… arrow_forward Effective planning is a crucial component of achieving both personal and professional goals. It involves setting clear objectives, outlining the necessary steps to reach those objectives, and allocating resources efficiently. A well-thought-out plan provides a roadmap for success, helping individuals and organizations navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and stay focused on their priorities. Whether it's creating a project plan, organizing daily tasks, or outlining long-term career aspirations, planning enhances productivity and minimizes the likelihood of unexpected obstacles derailing progress. In essence, planning is the foundation upon which successful execution is built. Now, considering the importance of planning, what strategies do you find most effective in ensuring your plans are not only comprehensive but also adaptable to unforeseen circumstances? arrow_forward
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What Is a Business Plan?
Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.
Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.
- A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
- Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
- For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
- There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.
Investopedia / Ryan Oakley
Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.
Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."
Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.
There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.
Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.
While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.
While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.
Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.
The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.
These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:
- Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
- Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
- Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
- Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
- Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.
The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.
2 Types of Business Plans
Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.
- Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
- Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.
Why Do Business Plans Fail?
A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.
How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.
What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?
The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.
Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.
A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.
Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."
U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."
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- Which Type of Organization Is Best For Your Business? 5 of 46
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Outlining A Business Plan
This comprehensive business plan template includes nine exercises to help you build an effective business plan step by step. A business plan is a written document that outlines your business's goals and how you plan to achieve them. Typically, a business plan serves as a roadmap for your business's future and is essential for attracting investors and lenders.
What is a business plan?
A formal business plan is a document that outlines a company's purpose and goals with a detailed strategy to achieve them. A business plan also includes thorough analyses that communicate the macroeconomic context including threats, opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses to consider when approaching how to build a business and ensure its success.
Components of an effective business plan
Key components of an effective business plan include an executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management structure, service or product line, marketing and sales strategy, funding request, and financial projections.
Below are details of what you should include in each of these ten sections:
Executive summary: The executive summary is a brief overview of your business plan, providing a snapshot of your company and outlining your goals and strategies. It's designed to grab the reader's attention and convince them to read the rest of your plan.
Company description: This section provides detailed information about your business, including the nature of your business, the market needs you're addressing, and how your products or services meet these needs. It also includes information about your business's legal structure.
Market analysis: In the market analysis section, you present your research about your industry, your target market, and your competition. It includes details about market size, customer demographics, buying patterns, and the competitive landscape.
Organization and management structure: This section outlines your business's organizational structure and introduces the owners and key team members. It typically includes an organizational chart and details about the ownership structure.
Service or product line: Here, you describe what you're selling or what service you're providing. You detail the benefits of your products or services, how they meet customer needs, and any intellectual property rights, such as patents, copyrights, or trademarks.
Funding request: If you're seeking funding, this section details how much you need, what you will use it for, and the terms you would like. It's designed to convince lenders or investors that investing in your business is a wise choice.
Financial projections: The financial projections section provides an outlook of your business's financial future. It includes forecasted income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and a capital expenditure budget. This section is crucial for demonstrating the financial viability of your business to investors and lenders.
How to write an impressive executive summary for your business plan
Your executive summary is the first section your audience will read, so its important to spend time ensuring it is clear, concise, easy to read and understand, and compelling.
Here’s a step-by-step process for writing a great executive summary:
Begin by brainstorming key values of your business. Use sticky notes to jot down ideas about your mission, vision, product/service, target market, and unique selling proposition.
Next, organize your thoughts. Arrange your sticky notes in a logical order that tells a compelling story about your business. Prioritize your ideas from most to least important, writing the most important values first.
Draft your executive summary. Start writing in the text box provided in the template. Try to keep it concise and compelling. Draft your executive summary in the provided text box, using the key points from the mind map as a guide. Remember to keep it concise and powerful.
Review and refine your executive summary. Read through it and make any necessary revisions. Ask trusted colleagues, friends, or family members for feedback.
Step-by-step guide to using a business plan template
Here’s a guided overview of this template’s exercises to develop your business plan:
1. Create an executive summary
In the first section on the template, you'll draft a brief summary of your business idea, mission, and vision. This should be a concise, powerful overview that captures the essence of your business and its strategic direction. Refer to the steps above.
2. Write your company description
In this section, you'll provide a detailed description of your company. This should include its legal structure, location, and the product or service it offers. Use sticky notes to jot down the key points you want to include in your company description.
Arrange your sticky notes in a logical order that provides a clear and comprehensive picture of your business. Draft your company description using the provided text box. Be detailed and specific. Review and refine your company description as needed.
3. Describe your business' organizational and management structure
Use the provided chart to visualize your organizational structure. Then, assign ownership over the core pillars of your business and write a description of the owners’ roles and their stakes.
Describe your management team and write a brief profile of each member. Then, add a detailed description of your staffing plans. For each department or role, think about the resources you have available for hiring. Do you plan to use a recruitment agency? Will you advertise the positions yourself? Are there specific job boards or networks you plan to use?
4. Perform a Market Analysis
In this section, you'll provide a detailed analysis of your target market. This should include information about your industry, target customers, competitors, and market trends. A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or a business.
5. Describe your service or product line
Detail your service or product and its features. Explain how it benefits your target audience, including the product lifecycle and intellectual property rights.
6. Outline your marketing and sales strategy
In this section, outline your approach to market positioning, promotion, sales process, and customer retention using the following frameworks:
A Market Positioning Map helps entrepreneurs identify market gaps, understand their competitive advantage, and strategize product differentiation.
A Promotion Strategy outlines the tactics a business uses to reach its target audience, such as advertising or social media.
A Sales Strategy Process is the step-by-step approach a business takes to sell its product, from lead generation to closing the sale.
7. Develop Your Funding Request
A funding request is a formal appeal made by a business or entrepreneur seeking financial resources from investors, financial institutions, or grant bodies. This request typically outlines the amount of money needed, the purpose for which it will be used, and the means of repayment or return on investment for investors. For a business or an entrepreneur, strategically tackling funding requests is crucial for maximizing Return on Investment (ROI) and facilitating business growth.
Create a visual representation of how your funding will be used. This could be a pie chart, bar graph, or other visual that clearly shows the allocation of funds.
8. Include Financial Projections
Financial projections are estimates of a company's future financial performance, typically covering aspects such as revenue, expenses, cash flow, and profitability over a specified future period. Create a set of financial projections that show your expected revenue, costs, and profitability over the next three to five years.
Preparing accurate and realistic financial projections aids in strategic planning by providing a roadmap for the company's growth, helping to identify potential risks and opportunities. These projections are also an essential part of funding requests, as investors and lenders rely on them to evaluate the financial viability and potential return on investment of the business.
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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:
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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.
How Much Do You Need?
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...
- Business Planning
Writing a business plan
Atom Content Marketing Ltd
1 January 2020
- More like this Less like this
Your business plan outlines what your business does and what you are trying to achieve. It explains what the market opportunity is, what makes your business special and how you will make it a success.
Writing a business plan helps you:
- check that your idea makes sense;
- plan your sales, marketing and business operations;
- identify problems and how to overcome them;
- set out your objectives and the financial return you expect;
- work out what financing you need;
- convince other people to back your business.
Why write a business plan?
How to write your business plan
Business and products
Market and competition
Marketing and sales
Management and personnel
1. Why write a business plan?
Writing the plan helps you think about what you are doing.
- The plan sets out your strategy and action plan over the next one to three years, or sometimes longer.
- As part of the process you set concrete objectives and plan how you will achieve them.
- Writing the plan helps you focus and develop ideas. Priorities are identified. Non-priorities are dropped, saving precious time.
- Putting the plan in writing makes it easier to spot any gaps where you have more to do.
- Once written, the plan is a benchmark for the performance of the business.
- By involving your employees in the complete planning process, you continue to build up a successful, committed team.
You may need a plan to explain your business to other people
- A business plan is essential if you are raising finance from a bank or outside investors.
- A good plan can help you attract new senior management, or business partners such as distributors and agents.
- You should tailor your plan to the target audience. For example, you may want the plan to 'sell' the business to your bank manager or investors.
- Ask the intended recipient if there are any specific issues they want the plan to address or a template you should follow.
2. How to write your business plan
Base the plan on detailed information where possible. But do not include all the detail in the plan. Leave the detail for operational or marketing plans.
Keep the plan short
- Focus on what the reader needs to know.
- Cut out any waffle.
- Make sure there are no spelling mistakes.
- Detailed business plans are often quickly shelved, because they are difficult to use on an ongoing basis.
Include any detailed information you need in an appendix
For example, you might want:
- detailed financial forecasts and assumptions;
- market research data that backs up what you say;
- CVs of key personnel (essential if you are seeking outside funding);
- product literature or technical specifications.
Base your business plan on reality, or it may be counterproductive
- Over-optimistic forecasts can lead to increased overheads followed by a cash flow crisis and drastic cost-cutting.
- Be realistic, even if you are selling the business to a third party. Financiers, business partners and employees will see through over-optimistic plans that ignore weaknesses or threats. Management credibility can be damaged.
Make the plan professional
- Put a cover on it.
- Include a contents page, with page and section numbering.
- Start with an executive summary. This summarises the key points, starting with the purpose of the business plan.
- Use charts, if helpful.
Even if the plan is for internal use only, write it as if it were aimed at an outsider
- Include company or product literature as an appendix.
- Give details about the history and current status of the business.
Review the plan
- Read through the plan from your target reader's point of view. For example, try to imagine the impression the plan will make on your bank manager.
- Check the plan is realistic. Make sure it includes the evidence to back up what you say (perhaps in an appendix) or that you can provide evidence if needed.
- Make sure you assess the risks. What might go wrong (eg if your main supplier closes down or you lose a key customer) and what would you do about it?
- Concentrate on the executive summary. People often make provisional judgements based on this. Only then do they read the rest of the plan to confirm their decision.
- Show the plan to friends and expert advisers for comments. Which parts did they not understand or find unconvincing?
3. Business and products
Explain the history of the business.
- When did it start trading and what progress has it made to date?
- If the business is a new start-up, what is your personal background in the industry and what have you done so far towards launching the business?
- Who owned the business originally?
- What is the current ownership structure?
Describe what your product or service is, avoiding technical jargon if possible
- In general, what makes your product or service different?
- What benefits does it offer? What are its disadvantages and how will you address these?
- What changes and improvements are you planning?
Explain any key features of the industry
- For example, any special regulations, whether the industry is dominated by a few large companies or any major changes in technology.
4. Market and competition
Describe the market in which you sell.
- Highlight the segments of the market in which you compete. What are the key characteristics of customers in each segment and what influences their purchases?
- How large is each market segment? What is your market share?
- What are the important trends, such as market growth or changing tastes? Explain the reasons behind the trend.
- What is the outlook for each important market segment?
Describe the nature and distribution of existing customers
- Do they fit the profile of the chosen market segment? If not, why not?
- Is there a heavy concentration of sales around one or two large customers?
- If you are a new start-up, have you got any committed customers yet and who are your best prospects?
Outline the main competition
- What are the competing products or services? Who supplies them?
- What are their advantages and disadvantages compared to you? For example, price, quality, distribution.
- Why will customers buy your product or service instead? How will your competitors react to losing business and how you will respond?
- Never openly criticise or underestimate competitors.
5. Marketing and sales
Where do you position your product or service in the market place.
- Is it high quality and high price?
- Is it marketed as a specialist product due to a particular feature?
- What unique benefits do you offer customers? For example, product reliability or customer service.
- Which of these benefits are you going to concentrate on?
What is your pricing policy?
- Explain how price-sensitive your customers are.
- Look at each product or market segment in turn. Identify where you make your profits and where it may be possible to increase margins or sales. Set your pricing accordingly.
How do you promote your product or service?
- Each market segment will have one or two promotional methods that work best. For example, direct marketing, advertising or PR.
- If you are considering using a new method, start on a small scale. A failed investment in marketing can be costly.
What channels do you use to reach your end customer?
- For example, do you sell directly to the customer, or through retailers or agents? Do you sell online?
- Compare your current channels with the alternatives. Note the distribution channels used by your competitors.
- Look at the positive and negative trends in your chosen distribution channels.
How do you do your selling?
- Look at the cost-efficiency of each of your selling methods. For example, telesales, a direct sales force, through an agent or over the internet.
- Include all the hidden costs, such as management time.
- Explain how long it takes to make sales (and to get paid for them), what the average sales value is and how likely customers are to give repeat orders.
6. Management and personnel
Set out the structure and key skills of the management team and the staff.
- Clarify how you cover the key areas of production, sales, marketing, finance and administration.
- Address any areas of deficiency, and your plans to cover this weakness.
- Explain your recruitment and training plan, including timescales and costs.
Analyse the workforce in terms of total numbers and by department
- Compare the efficiency ratios with competitors, or with similar industries. Useful figures might be sales, average salaries, employee retention rates and measures of productivity.
Be realistic about the commitment and motivation of the workforce
- Show how committed you and other members of the management team are. For example, how much you have invested in the business.
- Consider how you would survive the loss of a key worker.
- Note any unusual upward pressure on pay levels.
- Spell out any plans to improve or maintain motivation.
Look at the capacity and efficiency of your operations, and the planned improvements.
What premises does the business have?
- What business premises do you have or need? What are your long-term commitments to property?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the present location? Should the business expand or move?
What production facilities are there and how is production organised?
- How modern is the equipment?
- What is the capacity of the current facilities compared with existing and forecast demand?
- Who are your key suppliers? How do you select and manage them?
What management information systems are in place?
- For example, management accounts, sales, stock control and quality control.
- Are they reliable? Can they deal with any proposed expansion?
- A financier will be very concerned if management information systems are inadequate. Management of a business is always limited by the quality of the information available.
Are your IT systems reliable?
- IT is a key strength (or weakness) of your business. The development of IT systems to help your business is usually an important issue.
What quality or regulatory standards does the business conform to?
- For example, ISO 9000 or CE approval.
8. Financial performance
Your financial forecasts translate what you have said about your business into numbers.
Set out historical financial information for the last three to five years, if available
- Break total sales figures down into component parts. For example, sales of different types of product or to different sorts of customers.
- Show the gross margin for each component of sales. List what costs are included as direct costs for each component.
- Show the movement in the key working capital items of stock, trade debtors and creditors. Use ratios such as stock turnover (in months), debtors period (in days), and creditors period (in days).
- Highlight any major capital expenditure made.
- Provide an up-to-date balance sheet, and a profit and loss account.
- Explain the reasons for movements in profitability, working capital and cash flow. Compare them with industry norms.
Provide forecasts for the next three (or even five) years
- The sophistication of your forecasts should reflect the sophistication of your business. A small business may only need sales, profit and cash flow budgets.
- A more complex asset-based business - or one with complex working capital requirements - will need balance sheet forecasts as well.
- Use the same format as for the historical information, to make comparison easier.
- Clearly state the assumptions behind the forecasts. These should tie in with what you say in the rest of the plan. For example, if the plan says that the market is becoming more competitive, profit margins should probably be falling.
- Be realistic about forecasts in new markets. For example, how much resource can you devote to selling, what success rate can you expect and how long will it take to convince new customers?
- Look at the overall trends of historical and forecast numbers. Are they believable? Do the forecasts allow for the possibility of problems and delays?
- Consider 'what-if' scenarios. For example, consider what will happen to your cash flow if sales are 20% lower than forecast (or 15% higher).
Put detailed financial forecasts in an appendix at the end
Include a detailed list of assumptions. For example:
- the profit margin on each product;
- how long it takes to collect payment from debtors;
- what credit suppliers will offer you;
- what financing you are expecting and the interest rate you will pay.
Use the cash flow forecast to predict any financing requirements
- Add an extra contingency element onto the funding requirement shown in the forecast (perhaps 10-20%). Think about what mid-month peaks might be.
- Identify what types of financing you want. For example, long-term loans or an increased overdraft facility.
- Include the likely interest or dividend costs of any new finance.
- Carry out sensitivity tests on the cash required by changing key items, such as sales or margin. Note the outcomes.
- Explain why the financing is required and what it will be used for.
If necessary, get help
- Small business advisers at banks and business support organisations may help you put together financial forecasts free of charge.
9. SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis helps show that you really understand your business and the key external factors that you need to deal with.
Set out a one-page analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
- Strengths might include brand name, quality of product, or management.
- Weaknesses might be lack of finance, or reliance on just a few customers.
- Opportunities might be increasing demand or a competitor going bust.
- Threats might be a downturn in the economy or a new competitor.
Be honest about your weaknesses and the threats you face
- Spell out mitigating circumstances and the defensive actions you are taking.
Driving your business forward
Identify what makes you better than the competition.
- Think also about what the key ingredients of your future success will be and how you will strengthen your position in the market.
Establish your overall business aims
- Where do you realistically intend to be in three years' time?
Decide on half a dozen key objectives that will make a significant difference
Many businesses think in terms of:
- income - more sales, better margins;
- customers - new customers, higher levels of customer satisfaction;
- products - improving existing products, launching new ones;
- human resources - recruiting new employees, developing new skills.
Set clear targets
- You should know exactly what you want to achieve, by when.
Work out how you will reach these targets
- Look at each aspect of your business in turn and create a step-by-step action plan for it.
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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