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Business Plan Examples for Students

Ajay Jagtap

  • December 29, 2023

26 Min Read

business plan example for students

Do you know what’s the most common mistake students and rookie entrepreneurs make while preparing their first business plan?

Of course, it’s the first business plan we’re talking about; there’ll definitely be a few. However, overcomplicating things and failing to consider a business plan example still remains the most common one.

That’s why we decided to come up with a solution. We’ve curated this list of top business plan examples for students to help you get going.

So whether you need a business plan for a college project, start a side hustle, or win a business competition, these examples are just what you need to create business plans that stand out.

Ready to dive in? Let’s start by understanding the key elements of a business plan example:

Key Elements of a Business Plan Example

Business planning is not as complicated of a process as people think it is; they’re just overcomplicating things. (Don’t think so?)

Let’s simplify the key elements that make up a comprehensive business plan; you’ll understand it better that way.

Executive Summary:

Company overview:, market analysis:, products and services:, sales and marketing strategies:, operations plan:, management team:, financial plan:.

That’s pretty much it about the key elements of a business plan example. Next, let’s explore the best business plan examples for students.

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Top Business Plan Examples for Students

Now that you already know about the components of a business plan template, let’s review some of the best business plan examples for students.

1. Startup Business Plan Example

Upmetrics’ startup business plan example is the ideal solution for students planning to start up or participate in a business plan competition. This business plan template follows the SBA-approved business planning format used by thousands of successful entrepreneurs.

Whether your startup is about a new-age AI-based application, an online shopping site, or traditional IT consulting—this sample business plan is just what you need.

Unlike any traditional small business plan, this example of a startup business plan is lean and agile in approach, focuses on innovation, and emphasizes market validation.

startup business template

2. Lean Business Plan Example

Since you’re transitioning from a student to an entrepreneur, you may not have enough time to spend on creating a detailed business plan. That’s where this lean business plan template can help.

It’s a condensed version of a traditional plan summarizing all its sections with a primary focus on covering only the critical aspects of the business.

This template is best for startups or businesses uncertain about business planning and student-turned-entrepreneurs with limited time and resources to prepare a business plan.

the lean canvas template

3. SBA Business Plan Example

Following an SBA-recommended business plan format is key to securing bank loans and business grants. Since it can be time-consuming to find a template that follows a similar outline as the SBA, this SBA-approved business plan example is the way to get started.

This SBA business plan template has nine primary sections, that include executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization, product description, marketing, funding request, and financial projections.

SBA business plan examples ensure you stay on track and don’t deviate from your funding needs.

4. One-Page Business Plan Example

As you may have already guessed, a one-page business plan is a one-page version of a traditional business plan. Since it’s a condensed version of a business plan, drafting it can be quite easy and quick compared to a lean or traditional plan.

Employees, partners, and vendors often use one-page business plans as a quick overview of your company and banks and investors as a summary of your operations.

While it may not be the ideal choice for entrepreneurs seeking investment or bank loans, students with side hustles and idea-stage startups can consider this option.

one page business template

5. HBS Sample Business Plan

Harvard Business School’s new venture competition selected this sample business plan as a finalist in 2011.

This is a business plan of App Success, a collaborative web-based platform that connects low-income high school seniors with college students from top universities; this business will enable them to collaborate on college selection, college applications, and financial aid applications.

This example can be a great reference for those planning to start a mobile or web-based solution.

hbs sample business plan

6. Kean University Sample Business Plan

Kean University organizes a business plan competition every year for its students where students prepare and present business plans to compete, and this is one of the sample business plans the University provides to participants to understand the format.

It’s a business plan of Blue Water Boatworks, Inc., a boat detailing and cleaning company specializing in servicing recreational fiberglass and aluminum watercraft.

This example can be a great reference for those planning to start a business related to housekeeping, cleaning, or maintenance.

kean university sample business plan

7. UVM Sample Business Plan

If you are looking for a strategic business plan for a food business, the University of Vermont’s Fancy Foods Business Plan can be a guiding resource for you.

Despite the fact that it can be a good reference for detailed planning, it was written in 1998, so any statistics and numbers may not seem relevant to today’s market landscape. Make sure you keep that in mind.

You may closely follow this example as a reference if planning to start a food truck, restaurant, or any other business that serves food.

uvm sample business plan

That was the list of best sample business plans for students. However, there’s more to talk about. You now have a business plan example, but what about pitching to investors? Let’s explore free pitch deck examples for students.

Free Pitch Deck Example for Students

Pitching to investors as a first-time founder can be exciting but also overwhelming at times. Worry not; we’ve got a solution—investor pitch templates. We’ve prepared a set of 8 investor pitch templates and examples for students and entrepreneurs to help create winning business pitches.

Whether you need a pitch to find an opportunity, ask for subject matter knowledge, or a problem-solving pitch, these investor pitch examples have got you covered. Download now.

How to write a winning plan for a business plan competition?

Creating a business plan is no different than creating one for a real business. Similar to how entrepreneurs prepare and present business plans to investors, Students in business plan competitions pitch to judges.

In short, the business planning process remains exactly the same. Let’s discuss how you can write a winning plan to help you win a business plan competition.

  • Select a compelling business idea : everything starts with a compelling idea. Make sure you have a viable business idea to compete in the competition.
  • Refer to winning business plan examples : Once you are sure about your business concept, refer to business plan examples from previous winners and how they planned the sections of their plan.
  • Market Research & Industry Analysis : After referring to business plan examples, conduct industry research and market analysis to make your statistical and financial numbers accurate and realistic.
  • Understand business model and revenue streams : Since you are preparing a business plan for a company that doesn’t exist, be sure about the business model and how the business will generate profit.
  • Use AI business plan generator : Using an AI business plan generator like Upmetrics can be incredibly helpful in speeding up the business planning process. With industry-specific business plan templates and AI assistance to write your plan, you can write the first draft of your plan in literally no time.
  • Presentation and visuals : Prepare visuals and graphs to make your business plan visually appealing and numbers digestible. You may not need to prepare these visuals if you use business plan software manually.
  • Proofread and edit : Grammatical errors are the last thing judges want to see in a business plan. Make sure you proofread and edit your draft thoroughly before submitting it.

Easy as that, that’s the way to write a perfect business plan that can lead you to victory in any business plan competition on planet Earth. Let’s have a look at a real-life business and financial plan example.

ai business plan software for students CTA

Business and Financial Plan Example for Students

Having learned about business planning for students, let’s quickly discuss a coffee shop sample business plan and financial statements prepared using Upmetrics.

1. Executive Summary

The Cooper’s Cup will be a new cafe in Phoenix, Arizona. The 1,500 square foot café will be located in the newly constructed Market Square Plaza on the northeast corner of 135th Street and Mission Street. The anchor tenant, the Price Chopper grocery store, has already taken occupancy, and the excellent location brings more than 10,000 shoppers weekly.

The Cooper’s Cup, aptly named for the aromatic brown liquid that will fill the cup, fills the void of original cafes in the market and stands out from its corporate peers with its fast food concepts and prompt services. The Cooper’s Cup is the alternative to fast food/commercial/coffee shops and offers a much calmer, civilized gourmet coffee experience.

There are no televisions in the cafe, the background music is subtle, and work from local artists will hang on the walls. The restaurant is well-appointed, with overstuffed leather chairs and sofas in a library-like setting. The cafe is reminiscent of times gone by – yet is cutting edge technologically with WIFI and state-of-the-art espresso machines.

The Cooper’s Cup measures its financial success in terms of increased market share and earnings. This is a tremendous opportunity with a total local market of $54 million! The keys to success will be offering quality gourmet coffees, taking advantage of its small size, and relying on an outstanding barista staff.

To achieve these goals, the cafe will present some of the area’s finest gourmet beans from local distributors. Because of its small size, the restaurant can enjoy larger margins through lower overhead. The cafe will hand-select baristas and offer salaries comparable to the chains. The baristas will be trained to cross-sell and sell higher-margin products.

The primary objectives of the business plan for Cooper’s Cup are below:

  • To increase revenues by $36,000 or 5% in Year 2 and $73,000 or 10% by Year 3
  • Achieve a profit margin of 5.2% in Year 2 and 6.90% by Year 3
  • Be the Cafe of Choice in the Phoenix area and the recipient of the Best Coffeehouse Award.

Guiding Principles

The Cooper’s Cup is committed to values such as excellence, passion, quality, integrity, and leadership, allowing them to navigate challenges and provide for future opportunities. These core beliefs start with their commitment to their products and their employees. Cooper’s Cup rewards excellence and cherishes loyalty. The cafe will work with its employees to build strong businesses and a secure future.

Mission statement

The Cooper’s Cup is committed to its products and employees, which they believe is the recipe for market success.

Key to success

The Cooper’s Cup stands out from the competition. Below are their Keys to Success:

  • Great Products : providing exemplary products at market prices – will make customers want to return again and again.
  • Hire Quality Baristas : Pay employees rates similar to the larger chains with opportunities for long-term careers and opportunities for advancement with long-term plans to open a second facility.
  • Convert Customers to Connoisseurs : Only 40% of the nation’s coffee drinkers consume premium ground and whole bean coffee – this will aid in the continued growth.

Financial Summary

financial summary

2. Business Overview

The Cooper’s Cup will be a coffee house/cafe located in Phoenix, Arizona. The cozy cafe will be located in the newly completed Market Square Plaza in the Arizona City area. The cafe will serve gourmet coffee, espresso, drip coffee, lattes, and smoothies. The simple pastry offerings may vary with seasonality, but the primary line will be muffins, bread, cookies, scones, and rolls. All pastries will be supplied daily by a local bakery.

The cafe will be owned and operated by Owen Jones, a veteran restaurateur with several years of experience running and managing chain restaurants. The cafe will be open for business Monday – Thursday 7-10, Fridays and Saturdays, 7-11, and closed Sundays.


The Cooper’s Cup will be formed as an S-Corporation owned by Mr. Doe.

Start-Up Summary

The Cooper’s Cup will have seating for 40 patrons. The rent is $2,075 a month, with a three-five-year lease available. The site comprises 1500 square feet of leased space consisting of a dining room, a coffee bar, two restrooms, and a storage room in the back.

This storefront needs to be plumbed and wired appropriately to be used as a restaurant. Painting, new floors, and countertops are also needed. A custom coffee bar needs to be built. With materials bought on sale and volunteer labor, the cost to renovate will be $71,725.

The coffeehouse equipment will consist of two commercial espresso machines, air pots and urns, a commercial blender, a commercial brewer, top-loading coffee bins, barista syrups, cold drink dispenser, frothing equipment, a commercial refrigerator, microwave, and stainless steel prep bar.

The cost of the equipment is $38,275. The furniture will consist of leather couches and chairs (purchased at auction), coffee tables, bookcases, and window treatments. The artwork will come from local artists and be sold on a consignment basis. The books were secured via donations. The total cost to furnish is $14,000. Other startup expenses will be dishes, furniture, rent deposit, and marketing.

Location and Facilities

location and facilities

The new coffeehouse is located in the highly desirable Phoenix, Arizona, area at the northeastern intersection of 135th Street and Mission Street in the Newmarket Square Plaza. The property is situated in an excellent location, with an easy 6-minute drive time to I-435 and 69 Highway. 

The property is 95% leased with Price Chopper as the Anchor Tenant. Other tenants include LifeSpring Med Spa, Jane’s Canines (Pet Store & Boarding), Pride Cleaners Kahn Dental, and Swim U. 

Price Chopper brings more than 10,000 shoppers per week to the center. The location comprises a population of 9,420 within a one-mile radius, 61,102 within a 2-mile radius, and 149,550 within a 5-mile radius – with a median household income of $120,856. Sprint / Nextel’s corporate office is within 2 miles of the site.


3. Market Analysis

Phoenix, Arizona, is an award-winning place to live and work and is considered the leading business community in the Midwest. National publications and organizations recognize Phoenix for its business environment and livability. Here’s a sampling: 6th Place, America’s Best Places to Live Money, Top 50 Cities to Live and Play, National Geographic Adventure, 3rd Hottest Town in the U.S., Money, Among 20 Best Places to Live & Work Employment Review, One of only 72 Sterling Tree Cities in the U.S., National Arbor Day Foundation, Top 10 best Locations to Raise a Family, Southern Business and Development, 1st Place, Kid Friendly Report Card, Population Connection, 2nd Best City in America to Live Business Development Outlook.

Phoenix is at the core of one of the most dynamic local markets in the U.S. It offers easy access to the Arizona City region’s amenities, and, as part of the Arizona City metropolitan area, it is within the most centrally located major market in the nation. I-35, I-435, I-635, and U.S. Highway 69 all pass through Phoenix, and no point in the city is more than 3.5 miles from a freeway. The city maintains an excellent arterial street network and plans to construct additional lane-miles as the area grows. Three airports serve the region. Arizona City International Airport (MCI) is just 25 interstate highway miles north of Phoenix. Johnson County Executive Airport—the second busiest in Arizona—provides complete services for private business jets and general aviation. New Century AirCenter, just 12 miles southwest of the city, offers available aviation services and accommodates cargo or passenger jets of any size.

Phoenix supplies some of the most highly educated workers in the nation, with 97% of Phoenix adults over age 25 holding at least a high school diploma. Johnson County, where Phoenix is located, ranks first among the country’s 231 counties with populations greater than 250,000. The county ranks sixth in the percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree and 16th with a graduate or professional degree.

The Phoenix area has a population of 175,265, based on the 2010 census. The median household income is $77,881, and the median age is 37.9. (2010 U.S. Census)

Industry Analysis

The U.S. coffee shop industry includes about 20,000 stores with a combined annual revenue of about $10 billion. Major companies include Caribou Coffee, International Coffee & Tea (The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf), Peet’s Coffee, and Starbucks. The industry is concentrated: the top 50 companies generate more than 70 percent of sales. Coffee shops are part of the specialty eatery industry, including retail outlets specializing in bagels, donuts, frozen yogurt, and ice cream products. (First Research)

Competitive Landscape

Consumer taste and personal income drive demand. The profitability of individual companies depends on the ability to secure prime locations, drive store traffic, and deliver high-quality products. Large companies have advantages in purchasing, finance, and marketing. Small companies can compete effectively by offering specialized products, serving a local market, or providing superior customer service. Specialty eateries, which include coffee shops, are labor-intensive: average annual revenue per worker is about $50,000. Coffee shops compete with convenience stores, gas stations, quick service, fast food restaurants, gourmet food shops, and donut shops. (First Research)

Market Size

The U.S. coffee shop industry includes about 20,000 stores with a combined annual revenue of about $10 billion. Major companies include Caribou Coffee, International Coffee & Tea (The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf), Pet’s Coffee, and Starbucks. The industry is concentrated: the top 50 companies generate more than 70 percent of sales. (First Research)

Target Market and Segment Strategy

Most adult coffee drinkers said their lifelong habits began during their teenage years. 54% said they began drinking coffee between 13 and 19. Another 22% reported their coffee cravings started between 20 and 24. This means that 76% of adult coffee drinkers began drinking coffee by the time they were 24. So, despite a large amount of marketing and advertising directed at the younger age groups, savvy coffee shop owners will remember to cater some of their offerings to the adult and senior market. (National Coffee Drinking Study).

The Cooper’s Cup will offer a unique experience for coffee enthusiasts by providing a quiet, cozy, yet sophisticated cafe and a sense of refinement and peace in an otherwise hectic and fast-paced world. While other coffee shops cater to convenience with drive-throughs or loud music venues late into the night, the Cooper’s Cup will stand apart from its competitors with its quiet yet soothing ambiance, capturing a truly unique (and much-needed) market niche.

  • Unique products (specialized roasts, local ingredients, locally-themed or named drinks, custom drinks by the star barista, etc.)
  • Games, puzzles, mind benders, and other activities that encourage customers to linger over their coffee
  • Hosting or sponsoring local events (entertainment, readings, book clubs, etc.)
  • Using technology to creatively compete in marketing with big chains — services like FourSquare, Yelp, and Google Places can increase visibility in the local market.
  • Delivering amazing service from knowledgeable baristas — spend lots of time training staff and utilizing online services like the American Coffee & Barista School.
  • Selling coffee-related items (and tracking down any co-marketing opportunities with a local community college or another student-related group in the area)

4. Products and Services

Product/services descriptions.

The Cooper’s Cup’s primary offering is gourmet roasted coffees with mocha, carmelicious, white mocha, candy bar latte, and brewed coffee. Complementing the coffee will be a smoothie line including wild berry, strawberry, peach, mango, and lemonade. Rounding out the simple menu line will be pastries obtained from an outside supplier, freshly made and delivered daily. The pastry offerings may vary with seasonality, but the primary line will be muffins, bread, cookies, scones, and rolls.


Product/Service Sourcing

The Cooper’s Cup has negotiated supplier agreements with several local food-service wholesalers and coffee wholesalers in the Phoenix area that have a reputation for quality and reliability:

  • Mean Beans Coffee Roasters
  • Phoenix Brewers
  • Healthy Harvest Bread Co.
  • Mary’s Organics

If one of the abovementioned specialty suppliers cannot meet their needs, the following national suppliers can provide all the food-service products they require. In addition, the following wholesalers will supply the cafe with general restaurant supplies:

  • Lawrence Food Products Corp.
  • Gerry Food Supply Inc.

Future Products/Services

Young families, which comprise Phoenix’s third largest market share, are often overlooked in the coffee market. Coffeehouses traditionally have not been considered ‘kid’ friendly. To overcome this hurdle, Cooper’s Cup has long-term plans (5 years) to open a 2nd coffee shop: A combination indoor play area/coffee bar. This concept allows parents and caregivers to meet and relax with other adults while the children can enjoy the indoor playground amenities.

Additional future services will include in-store sales for home purchases and an online store.

The website will have the option to purchase a prepaid gift card program – Prepaid gift cards provide immediate cash, reduce credit card transaction charges, and draw new customers to the business.

5. Sales and Marketing Strategies

Swot analysis.


Unique Selling Proposition

The Cooper’s Cup stands out from a crowded sea of coffee chains and franchises. What sets it apart from the competition is primarily its smaller, cozier size combined with premium coffees served by knowledgeable baristas, providing so much energy and enthusiasm for its products.

Market Strategy and Positioning

The Cooper’s Cup utilizes a focus strategy on its Market. By specifically targeting three primary segments, they can cater specifically to their needs.

Senior Market (age 45+)

The Cooper’s Cup will target this Market simply by its well-selected location. Although this demographic group could readily drive downtown, they prefer a local cafe to unwind and relax and historically become some of the most loyal patrons.

Newly Hired Employees

The cafe will attract regular customers (weekly or more) – particularly the newly employed (first job) by providing free WIFI services and providing interesting games in the customer area.

Young Families

The third targeted Market, younger families, often find that coffeehouse is not ‘kid’ friendly. The company has long-term plans to create a combination coffee shop/play area so that parents and caregivers can meet with other adults while the children can enjoy the bounce houses, slides, and indoor playground equipment.

Pricing Strategy

The Cooper’s Cup primarily utilizes competition-based pricing. The cafe does not utilize coupons and discounts (other than opening promotions) because they believe that the most valuable customer demographic of daily coffee consumers is not influenced by discount programs or coupons.

Promotion and Advertising Strategy

  • Online Advertising – The Cooper’s Cup will advertise regularly on popular social media sites like Facebook. Compared to traditional print advertising, this is a cost-effective tactic that will allow them to reach prospects in a highly targeted way (e.g., based on criteria such as age, gender, geography, etc.).
  • Website – Cooper’s Cup will develop a simple Web site, which will provide basic information about the business, the menu, and links to their presence on the aforementioned social media channels.
  • Radio Advertising – During the first six months of operation and the busy holiday shopping season, the business will advertise on local radio stations.

Sales Strategy

The Cooper’s Cup will use the following methods to increase sales revenue (as recommended by Andrew Hetzel on Better Coffee, Better Business):

  • The menu will focus on the most profitable products sold. The cafe will always draw customer attention to the best products.
  • As warranted, the cafe will raise prices to bolster its brand image. Prices communicate the perceived value of a product, so if set too low, the customers might assume that the beverages are inferior compared to the competition.
  • Monitor flavoring inventory – Excess flavoring inventory ties up capital and valuable backroom space for storage. The cafe will utilize 4-6 varieties, including sugar-free offerings.
  • Control waste and theft – audit sales and inventory reports to evaluate ingredient waste due to inefficient preparation, returned drinks, and employee consumption. Retail locations can easily waste 20% or more of their daily sales in these three key categories, which is a substantial and unnecessary loss.
  • Monitor and evaluate hours of operation.
  • Run employee sales contests – The baristas are the salespeople and have great influence over the customer ordering process. All baristas will have some form of sales and customer service training to make each transaction active rather than passive. Sales contests will emphasize high-margin items or cross-selling.

6. Operations Plan

Staffing and training.

An ongoing training and education program will ensure that each staff member learns and implements Cooper’s Cup’s exacting service and operational procedures standards. Staff meetings will reinforce service standards and principles. The Cafe will have detailed work descriptions and training programs for each position, from entry-level employees to the ongoing development of managers and owners. New employees will undergo an extensive training program. This ensures that each guest receives a quality experience from all employees, regardless of how long they have been employed. The Cafe embraces the concept of promoting from within. Excellence in one function typically leads to excellence in another. Regular staff evaluations and training will ensure motivation and address critical issues.

Inventory controls

The founder will be responsible for hiring and training managers who, in turn, will ensure that the day-to-day operations will comply with the standards set by Restaurant policy. Weekly management meetings will provide a forum to review and discuss financial and operational performance. Critical decisions related to purchasing, human resources, marketing, capital expenditures, and customer service will also be addressed.

Purchasing cost controls

Food preparation personnel will follow standardized recipes developed by the founders to control food costs and ensure consistency. The coffee shop will offer an innovative menu with nutritious food and beverages while achieving the most significant margin yield.

Customer Service

The hospitality business recognizes the client’s support experience is the critical driver to replicate business. The direction will Offer a superior degree of Professionalism by hiring individuals who deliver the ideal attitude to work and teaching them the skills required to accommodate guests. The restaurant will keep high levels of consumer satisfaction with talented, educated, and well-trained workers who understand and implement the fundamentals of fantastic service. Ongoing training will be provided to enable staff to perform their jobs with confidence and ability. Employees are well-spoken, well-versed, and trained to provide friendly, prompt, and professional service to each customer. This practice teaches employees who, by producing an exceptional customer experience, can optimize sales and raise their reimbursement. The team will have the knowledge and service required to create excellent daily service for every customer.

Technology & Software

While the quality of the cuisine and dining experience contributes significantly to a restaurant’s profitability, attention to business and financial details can transform small changes into significant returns. Critical sales, cost of sales, labor, inventory, marketing, and overhead metrics are monitored daily. Trends are evaluated, and constructive actions will be taken where improvement is needed. The management team will have access to the restaurant’s transactions and reports available in its real-time POS (point of sale) and accounting systems. Trends will be evaluated, and corrective action will be implemented as required.

7. Organization Structure

The Cooper’s Cup is formed as an S-Corporation wholly owned by John Doe.

Management Team

The Cooper’s Cup will be owned 100% by John Doe. Mr. Doe, a graduate of Arizona State University, has an undergraduate degree in business administration. During high school, he worked as a waiter in a local hospital coffee shop that purchased its beans from a local roaster. In addition to being an avid coffee drinker, this job allowed him to learn about the business first-hand. In college, Doe worked in a campus coffeehouse for four years, eventually becoming an assistant manager. Following graduation, Doe secured a business development position for a regional restaurant chain, which provided additional first-hand exposure to the food and beverage industry—especially the steps involved in establishing new locations.

Management Team Gaps

The Cooper’s Cup will rely on its POS (Point of Sale) system to generate daily accounting and cost activity reports. Mr. Doe will supply these to an outside bookkeeper for the preparation of annual income taxes.

Personnel Plan

Initially, the cafe will hire 1 manager, 5 baristas, and 2 part-time servers. In Year 2, the cafe plans to hire 1 additional full-time barista.

8. Financial Plan

Important assumptions.

  • The sales forecast is conservative and assumes a 5% increase in Year 2 and a 10% in Year 3.
  • The analysis accounts for economic seasonality – wherein some month’s revenues peak (such as holidays ) and wane in slower months.
  • The analysis assumes the owner will not withdraw any salary till the 3rd year; at any time it is assumed that the owner’s withdrawal is available at his discretion.
  • Sales are cash basis – nonaccrual accounting
  • Moderate ramp-up in staff over the 5 years forecast
  • Barista’s salary in the forecast is $36,000 in 2023.
  • In general, most cafes have an 85% gross profit margin
  • In general, most cafes have a 3% net profit margin

Projected Balance Sheet

balance sheet

Projected Cash-Flow Statement

cash flow

Projected Profit & Loss Statement

profit and loss

Break Even Analysis


Write Your Business Plan With Upmetrics

Whether you need a business plan to compete in a competition, win investors, or gain a competitive advantage in the market landscape, Upmetrics can help you get started.

Upmetrics is an AI business plan software that comes with AI assistance, financial forecasting features, and 400+ sample business plans so that you can prepare a business plan in no time.

So what are you waiting for? Try Upmetrics and create your business plan in a snap.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write a business plan for a college project.

As mentioned earlier in the article, business planning for a college project or competition is no different than for a real business. You can write your business plan using these step-by-step instructions.

  • Select a compelling business idea
  • Refer to business plan examples
  • Prepare a business plan outline
  • Create a company description section
  • Conduct market research and industry analysis
  • Describe your product and services
  • Outline sales and marketing strategies
  • Create an operations plan
  • Introduce management team
  • Prepare financial projections
  • Summarize your plan with an executive summary

What is a business plan for students?

A business plan is a necessary business document that highlights its purpose,  business goals, product/service offerings, go-to marketing strategies, operations and financial plan, key people involved in the business operations, and other necessary details.

As a student, consider a business plan example as a document that helps you better understand business and industry dynamics and learn how a business operates inside out.

What is a business plan competition for students?

Business plan competitions are competitions mostly organized by universities for students passionate about entrepreneurship and the business world. These competitions offer students a platform to showcase their entrepreneurial skills while also providing opportunities for mentorship and networking.

How can I increase my chances of winning a business plan competition?

There cannot be a straightforward answer to this question, but there’s surely a method that can increase your chances of winning a competition—Using AI-powered business plan software.

Why? An AI tool will make you 10X more productive while writing a business plan and preparing financial forecasts. So you can spend more time researching the market and brainstorming business ideas.

Where can I find more business plan examples for students?

Upmetrics’ library of 400+ business plan examples could be an incredible source for students to find more industry-specific business plan examples. There are examples for almost every small business category, including real estate, retail, entertainment and media, food & beverages, and more.

About the Author

how do you write a business plan for students

Ajay is a SaaS writer and personal finance blogger who has been active in the space for over three years, writing about startups, business planning, budgeting, credit cards, and other topics related to personal finance. If not writing, he’s probably having a power nap. Read more

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How to write a simple business plan for students.

Business Plan

A business plan always has the same structure. Of course, if you plan to sell coffee, not to produce it, you will skip the “production” part, but other than that – you can’t skip anything.

Writing a business plan as a student , as a part of your college or university project, the best thing you can do is just to go into too many details. You have to save the structure, but you can describe your competitors in one abstract, not in five pages, with numbers and poll data.

Basic Business Plan Structure

Mostly, students are asked to make a marketing analysis and marketing plan more professionally than other parts, so we give more details about them.

Description of your business

Here is a brief overview of the experience of the entrepreneur, the date of creation of the company, the field of business, goals, and objectives of the work, available base, and resources.

Market analysis

List of competitors and their offers, estimation of demand, options of promotion and sale.

  • Evaluation of the market. It is necessary to estimate the capacity of the market, the population, the number of potential customers. It is difficult to do this without complete marketing research. Therefore, you should look for the results of this assessment for your region. As a last resort, you can predict the estimated demand.
  • Competitors. Make a list of your competitors who are already working in this market. Not only direct competitors that offer similar products and services but also those companies that produce alternative services should be considered. If you do not have a specialized tea boutique in your city, this does not mean that the market is free from competitors: you have to fight for customers with those department stores and supermarkets that also sell different types of tea.

Production plan

List of products (services provided) and their volumes, technological processes, necessary equipment and materials, cost calculation.

  • Business processes. Write down the list of equipment, tools, raw materials, and materials needed to create your chosen range of products and services. Calculate the optimum production volumes your equipment can handle. Specify which employees and what kind of downloads you will need.
  • Products. List the products, services, and work that you will offer your customers. Costs for the organization of business processes will allow you to find out the cost and to make a price list.
  • Start-up investment. Calculate how much money it will take to start a project. Sum up the cost of all assets, fixed assets, repairs, materials, and other expenses that will be required to start production.

Organizational plan

List of necessary staff, organization of work, distribution of functions and tasks in the team, involvement of third-party organizations and specialists, personnel costs — calendar of activities for launching the project.

Marketing plan

Advertising channels and costs, ways to promote a company and its products (services), estimated marketing impact – sales volume, number of customers, and transactions.

  • Promotion channels. Newspaper ads, radio and TV commercials, online advertising, creating your own site and group on social networks, advertising in local publics and forums, participating in trade shows .
  • Target audience. Who to focus on when organizing sales. Who your client is by age, gender, occupation, income level. Where to find them and how to reach.
  • Promotion cost. How much will it cost to find and engage? How often you will have to run ads, what are the appropriate options to choose?

Financial indicators

This is where the financial side of your business is reflected, namely: future costs (product purchases, rentals, hiring, etc.), revenue, net profit, profitability, and return on the project.

Risk assessment

A list of major issues that a company may face, their potential consequences, and a plan of measures to minimize them.

Project summary

The most important part is a compact presentation of the contents of the entire document on several pages, it is important here to place the accents correctly, taking into account the addressee and the purpose of preparing the business plan.

Even though it is only a business plan for students, not the one you would present to a real investor, try to make it look realistic.


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See in 90 seconds how LivePlan simplifies

financials for students: Watch

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Provide real–world business plan examples for your students, inspire confidence in future entrepreneurs and easily create your class syllabus using industry–best business plans., liveplan gives students access to actual business plans so they can practice business planning in and outside of the classroom., it's not just a classroom project. it's your students planning for their futures..

Teach by example

Teach by example

LivePlan's examples of actual business plans show students how they can identify opportunities, meet challenges, and plan their path to profits. Just like real-world entrepreneurs.

No spreadsheets necessary

No spreadsheets necessary

With all–in–one spreadsheet–free forecasting and pitching tools–students can use LivePlan to build a realistic business plan with accurate projections and compelling pitches. Analyze scenarios. Track progress. Set goals. All in LivePlan.

Works seamlessly with your classroom setup

Works seamlessly with your classroom setup

With LivePlan you can simplify syllabus creation. LivePlan can also be used alongside classroom tools such as Blackboard and Canvas. LivePlan's optional instructional resources can enhance your syllabus with materials that introduce lean planning principles, growth metrics, financial forecasting, and more.

Instructors looking for a great tool to help students develop business plans need to look at Live Plan. The step–by–step process walks students through the entire process from Pitch to Financials. As the Instructor you can also have online access to their plan and provide feedback and comments as the plan develops.

Mike Allen

Mike Allen Business Instructor, North Idaho College, Coeur d'Alene, ID

Bring out the best in every student

LivePlan's business plan examples help students turn ideas into top–notch business plans for class projects and startups. The tools, features, and instructional content allow you to focus on bringing out the best in your students for every plan and project.

Before using LivePlan, my students were intimidated by the business planning process. LivePlan breaks it down into manageable steps and takes the mystery out of developing a business plan.

Amy Schulz

Amy Schulz NACCE Vice President of Education, Membership and Associate Faculty, Feather River College, Quincy, CA

I used LivePlan to develop a business plan for a class project. Turns out, the project became part of a business plan competition where I placed second out of over 200 entries.

Sheila Austin

Sheila Austin Student

LivePlan provides your students with the tools to

Know the competition

Know the competition

No business operates in a vacuum. LivePlan incorporates real–world industry data, so students can better understand competitors, plan businesses around industry realities, and confidently execute data–driven strategies.

Build business dreams together

Build business dreams together

From sharing feedback and engaging in discussions, to simultaneously working on different parts of the plan, students can easily collaborate in groups using LivePlan.

Create a plan that fits their needs

Create a plan that fits their needs

Whether small or big, LivePlan can build out the right–sized business plan for your classroom projects. In LivePlan, students can develop a simple lean plan that focuses their ideas, or create a full business plan with all the details and steps necessary to persuade investors, attract partners, and turn their idea into a profitable reality.

Save time

With so much happening in the classroom, you need a tool that works with you, not one that makes you do extra work. Used by educators, consultants, entrepreneurs, and students all around the world, LivePlan has been regularly improved and streamlined so it's easy to use.

Develop confidence in their plan and themselves

Develop confidence in their plan and themselves

It's one thing to plan a business. It's another thing to know how to talk about a business plan. Students can develop talking points and practice their pitch in LivePlan so they can discuss their enterprise with confidence and authority.

With LivePlan your students exceed expectations

With LivePlan, students create business plans that:

  • Guide them from concept to actionable plan
  • Build the confidence necessary to be entrepreneurs
  • Combine pitching, forecasting, and collaboration

LivePlan streamlines projects for educators

LivePlan eases project management in the classroom, so instructors can:

  • Pinpoint feedback and suggest improvements
  • Monitor project progress
  • Teach business planning instead of managing multiple apps

Go beyond business plan examples

LivePlan easily integrates into business courses, includes all materials and curriculum to support classroom business projects, and comes with free phone, email, and chat technical support.

The students very much appreciate the guidance the LivePlan program offers. I love the ability to act as a contributor to their plans. The help resources are phenomenal and easy to navigate.

John Shaw

John Shaw Assistant Professor of Management, Davis College of Business – Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL

See how LivePlan can upgrade your student's education

Fill out the form below and we'll contact you shortly with information on academic pricing and how to start your evaluation.

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Teachers and students love LivePlan

LivePlan really facilitated communication between students who were in a team on the business plan project. Students could comment on sections of their business plan and collaborate on what to change in their plan without having to meet face–to–face.

Amy V

Amy Valente Assistant Professor of Business, Cayuga Community College, Auburn, New York

LivePlan helped us easily set up the business plan for our startup during our MBA. As soon as the other students saw it, they also wanted LivePlan. The time we saved on planning we could use for operational tasks. It was the ideal solution for us.


The product we produced by using Live Plan was exceptional, far exceeded our expectations, and came out so much better than we could have ever done on our own.

Ms. Bay

This product is a game-changer. It allows the non–MBA founder to unleash their potential through strategic planning and beautiful design. Highly recommended.

Answers Neuroscience

Answers Neuroscience

LivePlan is simply awesome.

Amit Agrawal

Amit Agrawal

Business Plan Template for Students

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Thinking of starting your own business as a student? We've got you covered! ClickUp's Business Plan Template for Students is the ultimate tool to help you turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

With this template, you can:

  • Develop a strategic and detailed plan for your business idea
  • Outline your objectives, marketing strategies, and financial projections
  • Structure your organizational hierarchy for effective management
  • Impress potential investors and stakeholders with a professional and well-thought-out plan
  • Stay organized and focused on your goals throughout the entire business development process

Don't let your student status hold you back from achieving your business goals. Get started with ClickUp's Business Plan Template for Students today and pave the way for your future success!

Business Plan Template for Students Benefits

When students use the Business Plan Template, they gain a competitive edge and set themselves up for success by:

  • Structuring their business ideas and goals in a comprehensive and organized manner
  • Presenting a professional and well-thought-out plan to potential investors or stakeholders
  • Creating a clear roadmap for their business, ensuring they stay on track and achieve their objectives
  • Developing a solid understanding of key business components like marketing strategies and financial projections
  • Gaining valuable experience in business planning and management, setting them up for future entrepreneurial endeavors.

Main Elements of Students Business Plan Template

When it comes to creating a solid business plan, ClickUp's Business Plan Template for Students has got you covered. Here are the main elements you'll find in this template:

  • Custom Statuses: Track the progress of your business plan with statuses like Complete, In Progress, Needs Revision, and To Do, ensuring that every step is accounted for and easily manageable.
  • Custom Fields: Utilize custom fields such as Reference, Approved, and Section to add important details to your business plan, keeping everything organized and accessible in one place.
  • Custom Views: Explore different views like Topics, Status, Timeline, Business Plan, and Getting Started Guide, enabling you to visualize your plan in various formats and dive deep into specific areas of your business plan.
  • Collaboration: Collaborate seamlessly with your team by assigning tasks, leaving comments, and attaching files directly within ClickUp, streamlining the entire business planning process.
  • Integrations: Integrate with other tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Slack to streamline your workflow and ensure all relevant documents and communication are easily accessible.

With ClickUp's Business Plan Template for Students, you'll have all the tools you need to create a comprehensive, well-structured business plan that will impress potential investors and set you on the path to success.

How To Use Business Plan Template for Students

Creating a business plan as a student can be a daunting task, but with the help of ClickUp's Business Plan Template, you can break it down into manageable steps. Follow these six steps to create a comprehensive business plan that sets you up for success:

1. Define your business idea

Start by clearly defining your business idea. What product or service will you offer? Who is your target audience? What makes your business unique? Use the Docs feature in ClickUp to brainstorm and outline your business concept.

2. Conduct market research

Next, conduct thorough market research to understand your industry, competitors, and target market. Analyze market trends, customer preferences, and potential demand for your product or service. Use the Table view in ClickUp to organize and analyze your research data.

3. Outline your business structure

Determine the legal structure of your business and outline its organizational structure. Will you operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation? Define the roles and responsibilities of key team members and any necessary partnerships. Utilize the Board view in ClickUp to visualize and assign tasks related to your business structure.

4. Develop a marketing strategy

Create a comprehensive marketing strategy to promote your business and attract customers. Identify your unique selling propositions, target marketing channels, and budget for marketing activities. Use the Calendar view in ClickUp to plan and schedule your marketing campaigns.

5. Create a financial plan

Develop a financial plan that includes projected revenue, expenses, and profit margins. Determine your startup costs, pricing strategy, and sales projections. Use custom fields in ClickUp to track and calculate financial data accurately.

6. Set goals and milestones

Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your business. Break them down into smaller milestones and create a timeline to track your progress. Utilize the Goals feature in ClickUp to set and monitor your business goals.

By following these six steps and utilizing ClickUp's Business Plan Template, you can create a comprehensive and well-structured business plan that will guide you towards success in your entrepreneurial journey.

Get Started with ClickUp’s Business Plan Template for Students

Students who are aspiring entrepreneurs or learning about business management can use the ClickUp Business Plan Template to develop a comprehensive and structured plan for their business idea.

First, hit "Add Template" to sign up for ClickUp and add the template to your Workspace. Make sure you designate which Space or location in your Workspace you'd like this template applied.

Next, invite relevant members or guests to your Workspace to start collaborating.

Now you can take advantage of the full potential of this template to create a solid business plan:

  • Use the Topics View to organize your plan into different sections such as Executive Summary, Market Analysis, Marketing Strategy, Financial Projections, etc.
  • The Status View will help you track the progress of each section, with statuses like Complete, In Progress, Needs Revision, and To Do.
  • The Timeline View will allow you to set deadlines and milestones for each section, ensuring you stay on track.
  • The Business Plan View will give you an overview of the entire plan, allowing you to see how each section fits together.
  • The Getting Started Guide View will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to use the template effectively.

Customize your business plan further by utilizing the three custom fields: Reference, Approved, and Section. These fields will help you keep track of external resources, approval status, and the specific section each task belongs to.

Monitor and analyze your progress using the various views and custom fields to ensure your business plan is comprehensive and well-structured.

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

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Steps

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

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

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

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

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

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

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

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

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

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

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

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

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

Step 1: Executive Summary

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

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

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

Step 2: Description of Business

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

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

Step 3: Market Analysis

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

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

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

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

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

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

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

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

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

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

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

Step 7: Marketing Plan

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

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

Step 8: Sales Plan

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

Start by answering the following questions:

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

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

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

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

Step 10: Financial Projections

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

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

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

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

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

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

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

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

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

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

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

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

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

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

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

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

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

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

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

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

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

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Write a Business Plan

Define and organize your business's growth by writing a business plan.

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How to Write the Perfect Business Plan

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Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - January 8, 2018

how do you write a business plan for students

Are you planning to start a business or do you already own one ?

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If the answer is yes, then you need a business plan .

This seems like an extremely daunting task, but if you understand your business, it won’t be hard at all. It’s simply a matter of organizing the information in a clear, concise manner.

The following article discusses how to write the perfect business plan, including the types of business plans most commonly used, top 10 do’s and don’ts, what goes into a business plan, the structure of your business, marketing and sales, your organizational and operational plan and much more.

What is a Business Plan?

What is a Business Plan

To help you write the perfect business plan, we’ll provide you with an exact outline of everything you’ll need to include, so even if you think you’re too young, you’ll have no problem starting out.

The reason many business owners first decide to put together a business plan is that they simply have to. If you want to apply for a business loan, attract investors, or obtain any necessary licensing, business plans are a prerequisite.

Even if you don’t need financing or licensing, however, it’s still a good idea to have a well-thought-out business plan. If you need to hire any key employees, a strong business plan will help attract strong talent. Whenever you need to deal with professionals, such as a consultant or an accountant, your business plan gives them invaluable insight.

Finally, it’s a good idea to put a business plan together for your own sake . As you put the business plan together, you’ll have the chance to really conceptualize and evaluate your strategy. You’ll build proof that your idea makes both financial and logistic sense. Once you start working to get your business off of the ground, a strong business plan guides and helps you stay on-track.

Types of Business Plans

Business plans come in all shapes and sizes, but you can generally whittle them down to three key versions.

Shortened Business Plan

This is an easily digestible, much shorter version of your normal business plan. Typically, it will be between three and five pages. You should include your executive summary, financials, and any information pertinent to the person/s to whom you are presenting the plan. A shortened business plan is usually made with a specific purpose or recipient in mind, so it will be easy to figure out exactly what is and isn’t important enough to make the cut.

In-depth Business Plan

Your standard business plan, and the one we will be teaching you to write . Again, these come in handy when seeking to fund your business, attract employees or work with professionals, or simply to act as a guide.

Operational Business Plan

Unlike the other two business plans we have discussed, an operational business plan is meant for internal use only. This will not be distributed to anybody except for employees or professionals working on your company’s behalf. An operational business plan focuses on the company’s overarching goals, mission, and vision so that all department stay aligned. Your Marketing and Sales, Operational Plan, and Financial sections will be key here.

What Language Should I Use?

What Language Should I Use

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts

Before we dive into our business plan outline and describe each section, let’s go over some general do’s and don’ts you’ll want to keep in mind as you write your business plan:

Do: Provide Examples

Do Provide Examples

Don’t: Overload the Reader

An in-depth business plan will contain lots of useful information and will likely end up being much more than ten pages. Because it’s so long by nature, you need to make sure to only include the most useful information in each section. Format everything carefully and correctly. Don’t use language that confuses or intimidates readers outside of your industry. The easier it is for the reader to absorb everything you’re presenting them, the more effective your business plan is.

Do: Proper Research

Do Proper Research

Don’t: Leave Any Stone Uncovered

Somebody who reads your business plan shouldn’t have any major questions left unanswered. Include complete information about what you are aiming to do, how you are going to do it, how much money is needed, etc. Use our full outline below to ensure everything is covered.

Do: Be Honest

Do Be Honest

Don’t: Hustle Just to ‘Get it Done’

Writing a business plan isn’t a task you’re completing and checking off your to-do list. Everything must be accurate, thoughtful, and well-articulated. Keep in mind: this will guide you as you operate your business and is the key to obtaining financing and/or pitching your business.

Do: Make it a Living Document

Do Make It a Living Document

Don’t: Focus Solely on Your Product

You might think your business revolves around your particular product/s or service/s, but there’s so much more to it than that. Your business plan talks about how the actual business is run, so you might want to leave the technical specifications and granular details for another time.

Do: Show Your Passion

In the end, your business plan and your business are about you. While it’s important to maintain a professional tone, don’t be afraid to let your enthusiasm about your business seep through every page.

Don’t: Write Alone

Do Show Your Passion

How to Write a Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan

  • Keep it concise.
  • Know your audience.
  • Perfect your executive summary.
  • Focus and refine constantly.
  • Gather and check all of your data.
  • Be confident, but don’t go overboard.
  • Be as clear and in-depth as possible.
  • Enhance with graphics.
  • Share and gather feedback from trusted advisors.

What Goes into a Business Plan?

When writing your business plan, you will need to put in a lot of time and research. Luckily, we’re here to walk you through all of that. A winning business plan contains the below sections, and you can use our sidebar to navigate to each of these:

  • Introduction

Executive Summary

  • Information About Your Business
  • Industry Analysis

Marketing and Sales

  • Operational Plan

Your Business Plan Introduction


Cover Letter

A cover letter is essential whenever you are presenting the business plan to somebody for a specific reason and should be tailored to each individual. Like any other letter, it should include names, dates, and a cordial greeting. In the first paragraph, explain exactly why you are presenting the business plan to the recipient. Take one or two paragraphs to discuss your business (an even more condensed executive summary, as we will cover in the next section). Finally, let the reader know you appreciate their consideration and would be happy to address any questions or concerns. Include any necessary contact information below your name and signature.

Your title page should be clean and simple. Here’s what to include in it:

  • The title of the document (i.e. Business Plan, Business Proposal, Summary Business Plan).
  • The name of your company.
  • A sub-heading, if necessary (i.e. ‘Presented to ABC Investing Company’).
  • Who the business plan was prepared by.
  • The name of any other owners or key partners.
  • Basic contact information.

Table of Contents

A table of contents is essential to make your business plan transparent and easy to navigate. It is unlikely that a serious potential partner or investor will read through your plan once and toss it aside, so you want to make it easy for them to return and pick up where they left off or revisit any key bits of information. If you are providing a digital copy, include clickable links to each section for the reader’s benefit.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is exactly what it sounds like – a brief summary that describes the essence of what your business is and what it aims to do. Here’s how to write a winning executive summary:

  • Begin with a single sentence that sums your business up. This is otherwise known as your value proposition.
  • Describe what niche or problem your business fills or solves.
  • Explain exactly how your business solves this problem in a way that the rest of the competition does not or cannot.
  • A very brief (one or two sentences) summary of any other information from the following sections that would be critical to your business’ success.

Your Business / Company

Information About Your Business

Structure of Your Business

First and foremost, you’ll need to discuss the legal structure of your business:

  • Sole-proprietorship: simple to set-up, but the owner is fully liable for any debts or obligations.
  • Partnership: a general partnership is also simple to set-up, but all partners would be liable. Limited partnerships, or LPs, are a bit more complicated.
  • Corporation: a corporation is owned by stockholders, so it is unlikely you will either want or need to structure as one. There are two types of corporations, which vary in terms of shareholder limitations and tax liabilities: S corporations and C corporations.
  • Limited liability corporation (LLC): an LLC is generally the best of both worlds for small businesses. The owner’s’ liability is limited, and taxation is that of a partnership, which provides better flexibility over a corporation.

Once the legal structure is determined, you’ll need to break down the ownership of the business. Are you the sole owner? Do you have business partners? Has anybody purchased a share of the business in exchange for funding? Provide a brief introduction to any key executives or owners, outlining what strengths they have and how they will impact the business.

Finally, include a brief history (if any) of your business, and any pertinent location details.

Business Vision, Mission, and Values

This is one of the most important sections of your business plan. Here, you need to impart your passion for the business and really describe what you’re trying to achieve.

Business Vision

Your vision statement is all about the company’s goals. It serves as a template for exactly what you’re trying to achieve, both short-term and long-term. Don’t hold back when it comes to your vision: if your goal is to eventually dominate the Northeastern coffee shop scene, say that. A vision statement is your chance to think big.

Where a vision statement thinks big, a mission statement is more practical. Your mission statement should discuss your company’s purpose. Why does it even exist in the first place? This mission statement will act to provide organizational direction and help you achieve your vision.

The values are all about how you plan to operate your business in relation to the stakeholders. This includes investors, customers, and members of the local community. How do you plan to treat them? What are you doing to make their lives and the world they live in better?

Analyzing the Industry

Analyzing the Industry

Market Size

Here, you’ll describe exactly how large the market is. You should be able to find national figures with relatively little research. If you’re not serving a national or international market, discuss how large the population you plan to serve is. Extrapolating from the national information, how big do you expect your actual market size to be?

In addition, you should discuss any important trends. Is your market growing or retracting? If your market is growing, discuss how you project to fit into that growth and seize your market share. If your market is shrinking, discuss why you think entering the marketplace is worthwhile, and whether or not you project growth in the future.

Industry Focus and Trends

Industry Analysis

First, you’ll want to talk about the industry in general. This includes looping back to the market size and discussing whether it is growing, stagnant, or shrinking. Are there any overarching trends or cycles that will affect your business?

This is also a good opportunity to discuss pricing. What type of money does your average customer spend in your industry? What price point are you aiming for, and why is that a good strategy? If you aren’t competing on price, what reasons do you have to believe that somebody will be willing to spend more on your business?

Below, we will discuss two valuable business models you can and should use to discuss your industry further.

PEST Analysis

PEST Analysis

  • Political: what impact could the government have on your business. Is there any pending legislation that could change how you operate? Would tax changes or tariffs cause a financial strain?
  • Economic: would an economic downturn cause sales to tumble, or is your business relatively immune to economic factors? Furthermore, what do current economic trends (inflation, consumer demand, etc.) say about your short-term potential?
  • Social: are there any relevant social or cultural trends that are shaping the industry? Is there a distinct seasonality to your business? Consider, for example, the impact of the Christmas season to retailers in the United States.
  • Technological: how has technology shaped your industry over the past decade? Take a look at the future and make an educated guess on where the industry is headed, and how you’ll fit into that future.

Sometimes PEST is lengthened to PESTLE to include any legal or environmental factors as well. If you believe either will have a significant impact on your business, make sure to include it as well.

Porter’s 5 Forces Analysis

Porter 5 Forces

  • Competition: we will go into this in more detail next, but for this model you should discuss how much competition there is, and how profitable they might be.
  • Threat of new entrants: how easy is it for somebody to enter your industry? For a casino, it would be quite difficult (extensive significant licensing and upfront costs), but for a food truck, it would be quite minimal. The easier it is to enter your industry, the greater the threat is of somebody else entering and stealing your market share.
  • Power of suppliers : if your industry has a low number of suppliers or suppliers that are dominated by much larger companies, you will have a problem sourcing on-budget and on-time. If you aren’t reliant on very specific suppliers, however, or if there is competition among suppliers, you can find yourself in an advantageous position.
  • Power of customers: specifically, do your customers have the ability to drive prices down? If you expect to have a large number of small customers, your price will remain relatively stable. However, if you plan on having a small number of very important customers, they maintain the power to dramatically impact your pricing and profitability.
  • Threat of substitutes: how likely is it that somebody will forego your offering for a comparable substitute. If you’re a restaurant, for example, Amazon’s grocery delivery business would be a substitute, since people may decide to stay home and cook for themselves.


It’s just as important to discuss how your competition is navigating the industry you plan on dominating. With a strong idea of where your competition is positioned and the strategic decisions they are making you will be able to determine where your own business fits in.

To begin, discuss what your competition looks like. Are there many small businesses vying for the same customers or are you competing against a couple of whales? List your most important competitors and summarize them. Discuss their location, products, pricing, market share, and any important strategic decisions they have made. Use this information to create a list of their strengths and weaknesses.

After discussing the competition, it’s time to think about where you fit among them. SWOT Analysis is the perfect model to do just that.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis

Here is what a complete SWOT Analysis looks like:

  • Strengths:  Exactly as it sounds. What do you do best? What do you do that the competition absolutely cannot?
  • Weaknesses:  Be honest. Are there any resources you lack? Any skillsets that are missing? What isn’t as efficient as it could be?
  • Opportunities:  Improving any of your weaknesses is a major opportunity. In addition to that, consider internal or external factors that might change and present a new business opportunity. Finally, are there any complementary products or services that you could consider offering to your customers?
  • Threats:  What potential is there for your business to be damaged? Are there any industry or economic trends? Could your competition change strategies and harm you? Do any obstacles to success stand in your way?

Once you have completed the SWOT analysis, wrap this section up by talking about your own competitive strategy. Given your industry, the competition, and your own SWOT analysis, what decisions are you making to position the company to succeed?

Readers of your business plan definitely need to know how you’ll be marketing and selling your product or service.There are going to be three key elements of your marketing plan.

Customer Segmentation

Customer Segmentation

  • Demographic information – age, gender.
  • Psychographic profile – what do they care about? What motivates them? What do they value? Where do they get their information?
  • Socioeconomic profile – income, lifestyle preference.

Describe your target audience in great detail. The more you know about your customer, the easier it will be to market to them.

Advertising and Promotion Plan

After building a strong customer profile of your target audience, you should know what your customer cares about. Think about how your business fits into that, and strategize how you’re going to market to them. Use their demographic and behavioral information to determine the most appropriate channels to focus on.


Your brand should seep into all aspects of your business – the website, advertisements, and even the tone of communications with customers. Whatever strategies you have for these elements, make sure to lay them out.

Finally, include your company logo and slogan, if they already exist. If not, you should begin to think about them and use the rest of this section as a guide.

Sales Distribution Plan

How exactly do you plan on getting your goods or services into somebody’s hands? Do you plan on hiring a sales staff or will you handle it all yourself initially? Do you plan on doing inbound or outbound sales? What does the sales process look at each step of the marketing funnel?

You’ll also need to think about and discuss pricing. Discuss your pricing strategy and why it’s a good value for your customers. If you are going low or moderately priced, discuss how you can stay profitable and remain differentiated from the competition. If you are a luxury brand, discuss why somebody will be willing to pay more for your business than the competition.

Lastly, consider distribution. Are you going to allow customers to purchase directly from you? Will they have to go through distributors? Do you have any retail partnerships to leverage? These are important decisions that have a profound impact on a business.

Organizational and Operational Plan

Operational Plan

Production Process

Production Process

Here are some ideas of what you’ll need to outline:

  • Raw materials – how much do they cost? Do prices fluctuate? Is supply limited in quantity or how quickly it can be obtained in a pinch?
  • What machines, technologies, etc., do you use for production? What costs are involved in these? Are you renting or do you own them?
  • What is your estimated daily output?
  • How easy is it to scale up or down as necessary? How does this impact the cost per unit?
  • Which methods of quality control do you employ, both pre- and post-production?

Supply Chain Management

If you’re a service business, you might not have any physical inventory, but your employees should be considered as your supply. After all, without them, you won’t be able to provide your services to your customers. What strategies do you have to recruit and retain the best talent possible? Can you scale quickly through recruiting and training, overtime, or an increase in part-time help?

You should also look back at your sales distribution plan and consider the logistics of shipping any physical products. How often will orders be fulfilled? Do you have the ability to rush orders if necessary? How will returns or incorrect shipments be handled in a way that keeps everybody happy?


Here are the components you must include in your business plan’s financial information:

Forecasted Sales

Use all of the marketing data you’ve put together to determine what a reasonable sales forecast looks like. Project your sales for a period of two or three years, going one month at a time. Include seasonality whenever applicable. As you forecast sales, include exactly how much revenue you expect to earn from those sales, and the total direct cost of those sales. You’ll be able to use these figures to determine revenue and gross margin, which you should use to compare to industry and competitive standards.

Projected Expenses

Forecasted Sales

Fixed costs are going to stay the same whether you sell one widget or twenty. For example, rent, electricity, insurance, marketing costs, and payroll (with the exception of commission and bonuses), will mostly stay the same no matter what sales look like.

Variable costs, on the other hand, will vary by each unit sold. This includes the cost of materials, shipping, coupons, taxes, etc. Most of this should already be covered in your forecasted sales report, but make sure that nothing is overlooked.

Make sure to consider that as you scale, some fixed costs may become variable. As sales increase, you may have to hire more employees, or move into a bigger office. Keep this in mind by always referring back to your forecasted sales and estimating your business needs as best you can.

Balance Sheet

Everything comes together on your balance sheet. This includes your projected sales and expenses, but also deals with assets and liabilities.For example, if you take out a loan, you’ll need to include the capital in your assets and the repayments, including interest, in your liabilities. Non-monetary assets, such as the property and machinery must also be included.

You can find a sample balance sheet here .

Cash Flow Statement

Cash Flow Statememt

Month by month, you’ll track exactly how much cash you expect to leave your hands and how much will come in. Keep in mind that not all sales are paid fully right away. Consider how many sales will be paid in full at the time of sale, how many will be paid in 30 days, 60 days, or go completely delinquent.

Once you have your cash flow statement completed, run some quick analysis. Compare your projected expenses each month to the projected cash coming in each month. For any months that project to have a negative cash flow, ensure you have enough money on hand to cover the difference.

You may find two examples of completed cash flow statements here and here .

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Lifetime Value is an estimate of exactly how much each customer you acquire will be worth total. A simple way to calculate this is by determining how many purchases a customer makes before churning, and multiplying it by the average amount of their purchase. In other words, how many purchases will they make before moving on from your business, and how much will those purchases be worth?

Let’s take a look at a real-world example. Let’s assume you’re running an oil change business, and you know your average customer gets three oil changes per year. With premium options and add-ons, your average sale is $38.50. Each customer spends an average of three years with you before churning (perhaps they have moved away or found another service they prefer).

In this example, your expected CLV would be $346.50. You know each average customer will make 3 purchases per year, for 3 years, at $38.50 each. 3 x 3 x $38.50 = $346.50, which is your CLV.

Why is CLV so important? Let’s take a look at unit economics.

Unit Economics

Unit Economics

The formula for cost of acquisition is simple. Divide your total marketing spend by the number of customers you have acquired through all marketing channels. If you spend $25,000 across all marketing channels and acquire 1,000 customers, your average cost per acquisition is $25.00.

Tracking your marketing expenses isn’t the tricky part. Attributing each user to a specific campaign, however, can be. If somebody walks into your store after seeing a TV ad, for example, it can be hard to properly attribute them. Digital campaigns are a bit easier, as there are typically tracking links that make everything easy to calculate. You’ll have to do your due diligence and make your best-educated guesses here, using industry standards whenever necessary and possible.

You should also take the time to break out your unit economics into each marketing channel. This allows you to track which channels are performing well and which ones aren’t. If Facebook is attracting lots of customers but you’re spending so much that your cost of acquisition is higher than expected CLV, you might actually need to stop spending money there.

It’s important to be very clear about exactly how your business has been funded so far. This includes what you have received through investments, series rounds, or personal loans. You will also need to mention any personal funds that you have put into the business, and how much you have saved that you are willing to put into it in the future.

Once you have discussed the funding your business has received, it is appropriate to lay out exactly how much you’ll need. Make sure to also discuss exactly what any loans or investments will be used for and how that spending will be tracked.

Business Plan Resources

Business plan samples.

To reinforce everything we’ve discussed above, let’s take a look at some sample business plans that have already been put together for your review. We’ll discuss some key takeaways from each plan, helping you consider how your business is unique and what you’ll need to emphasize.

Coffee Shop Business Plan

A coffee shop is a nice, simple business to start our samples with. A coffee shop requires a small storefront, and the location is critical. Most people will gladly stop in for a nice cup of coffee but are unlikely to drive miles out of their way for one. Notice that because of this, the sales forecast is relatively stagnant, even after several years.

Click here for the sample business plan.

Restaurant Business Plan

A restaurant business plan will be similar to a coffee shop, but is a little more involved. Start-up costs are higher as it requires a larger storefront and a larger variety of equipment. Variable costs are higher as a quality meal costs much more than a cup of coffee. The sales forecast shows more growth, as people are more willing to travel for a good meal than they are a simple cup of coffee.

Food Truck Business Plan

Let’s consider a third food-based business to really drive home how businesses that appear similar will have important differences. Food trucks have a much different fixed cost structure than a coffee shop or restaurant, as they don’t have a physical location. Seasonality and location will have a huge impact on salespeople won’t want to stand outside for a burrito when it’s cold and snowy outside. With a much smaller staff, a food truck is also more likely to be open for lunch only, or closed a couple days per week.

Startup Business Plan

It’s good to take a look at a general startup business plan to get an idea of how to estimate costs, sales, etc. This sample plan is a take-out pizza joint. Notice that trends are important, as the business plan notes their market is a growing area and they are aiming to fill a niche for low to middle-income families, which comprise the majority of residents in their service area. They use a mixture of studies and geographic data to make conservative estimates, giving potential investors confidence that the business can be profitable if the strategies are successfully executed.

Photography Business Plan

A photography business is a great example of a company that is minimal to the extreme. Mostly, you will be relying on your own skills and experience. Minus initial equipment and the cost of your own time, expenses are minimal. Still, you see that it’s important to have a strong plan in place so that you understand how to position your services and who exactly you’re aiming to serve.

Business Plan Tools

Here are a variety of tools that make both writing a business plan and getting your business off the ground much easier:

If you want to quickly build your idea into a business plan to validate its value or just to get started, LivePlan is perfect. The business planning process is made simple, as you simply need to answer questions and are given plenty of examples, videos, and tutorials along the way. You can even use LivePlan to collaborate with partners or investors, testing ideas on the fly and seeing its impact on your business’ health.

Click here to take a look at LivePlan.

Rocket Lawyer

When you’re starting a business, it’s extremely likely you’ll need quick legal help. You might need advice on licensing, permits, or zoning. Or perhaps you want to discuss how to structure your business as an LLC. Rocket Lawyer can help. You’ll have access to their services for a monthly fee that’s less than a cup of coffee each day. There’s an even option to help incorporate your business by filling out a couple of quick forms.

Click here to take a look at Rocket Lawyer.

Like LivePlan, StratPad offers a cloud-based chance to build your business plan and strategy on the fly. StratPad offers a demo for their services and if you’re looking for funding will even match you up automatically with a financial institution that makes sense for your business. Our suggestion is to take a look at both LivePlan and StratPad and select the one that you like best.

Click here to take a look at StratPad.

If you’re looking for a simple way to create a professional business plan without all the bells and whistles, BizPlan is perfect for you. You’ll be able to create a stylish, professional business plan using intuitive drag-and-drop templates. Financials are easy to create using a user-friendly dashboard.

Click here to take a look at BizPlan.

A typo can derail your business plan and make you look sloppy and unprepared, no matter how much effort you put into it. Grammarly is a world-class spell checker that also checks for many of the most common grammatical error for free. There’s even a browser-based version that you can use no matter where you are. For a fee, you can subscribe to Grammarly Premium, which provides an even more granular check.

Click here to take a look at Grammarly.

Business Plan Templates

Now that we have an idea of everything you need to include in your business plan and which tools you’ll need to get started, it’s time to get started. Here are some websites with sample business plan templates you may use to make writing the perfect business plan a bit easier:

  • Score.org has a variety of business plan and financial statement templates, including ones for both start-ups and established businesses.
  • Microsoft Office’s website has many valuable business plan templates, including a checklist and PowerPoint Presentation templates for pitching your business plan.
  • The S. Small Business Administration allows you to create a business plan with a free account that you can download and distribute as a PDF.
  • Santa Clara University provides a 15-section business plan that can be downloaded one section at a time or all at once.
  • Law Depot offers a business plan template tailored for you. Simply answer some quick questions and your template is instantly ready to download.

How to Write a Business Plan Conclusion

In the end, a business plan is a highly unique and personalized document. A business plan that is right for your business won’t be right for any other business in the world. By closely following the outline and strategies above, however, you’ll have a great base to begin crafting your own perfect business plan.


  • Berry, T. 15 Reasons You Need a Business Plan. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/83818.
  • CBM Group. What Is The Right Tone And Writing Style For A Business Plan? Retrieved from http://www.cbmgroup.co.uk/blog/business-plan-writing/what-is-the-right-tone-and-writing-style-for-a-business-plan.
  • Discover Business. How to Write a Business Plan. Retrieved from https://www.discoverbusiness.us/business-plans/.
  • Fontinelle, A.How To Write A Business Plan. Investopedia. Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/university/business-plan/.
  • Franklin, B. The Three General Types of Business Plans. Business Power Tools. Retrieved from http://www.businesspowertools.com/2016/06/management-2/the-three-general-types-of-business-plans/.
  • Gregory, A. Comprehensive Business Plan Outline for Small Business. The Balance. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/a-comprehensive-business-plan-outline-for-small-business-2951557.
  • Gregory, A. How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis for Your Small Business. The Balance. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/swot-analysis-for-small-business-2951706.
  • Hazlett, M. Basics of Unit Economics. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@markhazlett/basic-of-unit-economics-79f1d6cae085.
  • Investopedia. Porter’s 5 Forces. Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/porter.asp.
  • Johnson, J. How to Write a Cover Letter for a Business Plan. Small Business Chronicle. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/write-cover-letter-business-plan-43209.html.
  • Katz, A. Determining the Best Legal Structure for Your Business. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236450.
  • Kolowich, A. How to Write a Business Plan: A Bookmarkable Guide (With Examples). HubSpot. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-a-business-plan.
  • Lavinsky, D. Marketing Plan Template: Exactly What To Include. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davelavinsky/2013/09/30/marketing-plan-template-exactly-what-to-include/#1ddaeeb43503.
  • My Own Business Institute. Session 2: The Business Plan. Retrieved from https://www.scu.edu/mobi/business-courses/starting-a-business/session-2-the-business-plan/.
  • Parsons, N. How to Write a Business Plan [Updated for 2017]. Bplans. Retrieved from http://articles.bplans.com/how-to-write-a-business-plan/.
  • PESTLE Analysis. What is PESTLE Analysis? A Tool for Business Analysis. Retrieved from http://pestleanalysis.com/what-is-pestle-analysis/,
  • Robbins, S. Why You Must Have a Business Plan. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/74194.
  • Ronick, D. 10 Business Plan Dos and Don’ts. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/articles/201104/business-plan-dos-and-donts.html.
  • Ronick, D. 10 Things A Business Pitch Absolutely Does (And Does Not) Need. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/10-survival-tactics-for-a-successful-business-plan-pitch-2011-4/.
  • Shopify. The Ultimate Guide to Business Plans, Chapter 3: The Company. Retrieved from https://www.shopify.com/guides/businessplan/the-company.
  • Wasserman, E. How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/guides/business-plan-financial-section.html

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How to Make a Business Plan (for Kids)

Last Updated: March 21, 2023 Approved

This article was co-authored by Michael R. Lewis and by wikiHow staff writer, Amber Crain . Michael R. Lewis is a retired corporate executive, entrepreneur, and investment advisor in Texas. He has over 40 years of experience in business and finance, including as a Vice President for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. He has a BBA in Industrial Management from the University of Texas at Austin. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 21 testimonials and 81% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 152,405 times.

There are plenty of kids out there running their own successful businesses.To get started, you’ll need a great idea for a business and a solid business plan. Business plans can get pretty complicated, but they don’t have to be. As long as your business plan includes a few crucial things, you’ll have all that you need to get started!

Developing Your Business Idea

Step 1 Decide to write a business plan.

  • Are you currently busy with school or is it summertime? Think about when the work for your business will be done. [2] X Research source
  • Consider business ideas that are seasonal. For example, if it’s near Christmas, consider ideas that cater to that, like a gift wrapping service or making gift baskets.
  • Are you in the middle of a very hot summer? This might be a perfect time to launch a neighborhood lemonade stand.

Step 3 Decide whether you want to offer a product or a service.

  • Examples of product-driven businesses: baking cookies, building birdhouses, making gift baskets, creating greeting cards, selling candy, making doggie treats.
  • Examples of service-driven businesses: lawn care, car washing, computer repair, pet sitting, babysitting, cleaning houses, dog walking, and teaching computer skills to older people. [4] X Research source

Step 4 Select the idea that best suits your skills.

  • Are you an animal lover? Consider offering pet sitting services.
  • Maybe you’re crafty and enjoy making handmade jewelry or gift baskets. These are great products to sell. [5] X Research source

Step 5 Decide on a name for your business.

  • Make sure your business name is easy to pronounce, as well.
  • Clever and unique business names work well, just remember that the name needs to relate to what your business entails.

Step 6 Write a short paragraph that describes your business idea and goals.

  • List any specific objectives and goals for your business, as well.
  • Write out what you think makes your product/service unique. [7] X Research source

Planning Your Business

Step 1 Figure out if you’ll need employees.

  • If you have a sibling that wants to help out, that would be a good place to start.
  • You will be splitting your profits, so you will need to decide how much and when your employees will be paid.

Step 2 Make a list of any supplies you will need to get started.

  • You could also ask your parents if they’d consider donating some of your future allowance as seed money for your business.
  • If you bring them a solid business plan, they will be more likely to help you.

Step 3 List the ongoing expenses you expect to have.

  • By adding up your ongoing expenses, you will have a pretty good idea of what it will cost to keep your business running. [9] X Research source
  • Another example – if you’re making cookies to sell, you will need to total up how much the ingredients cost and how often you’ll need to buy them.

Step 4 Decide what you will be charging for your product/service.

  • Let’s say that when you add up the cost of the ingredients, it costs you $3.50 to make a dozen chocolate chip cookies. You will want to charge more than that for each dozen in order to make a profit.
  • You should also factor in how much time it takes you to make your product/perform your service. [10] X Research source You can then work out prices based upon how much you want to make. You should also factor in time that you aren't being paid (such as advertising your business or walking to a customer's home).
  • For example, if it takes you a half hour to make the chocolate chip cookies mentioned above and another half hour to sell them, you will need to charge an amount that represents the amount of time you spent preparing them. This additional time is your "wage" for preparing them.
  • You can work out your hourly wage by dividing your pay for a project or product (minus your expenses) by the amount of time spent working.
  • In this case, if you charged $9.50 for the dozen cookies, you would be making $6 for the hour that you spent making and selling them.
  • Subtract your expenses from your revenue to get your profit amount. [11] X Research source

Marketing Your Business

Step 1 Figure out who your customers are.

  • You should also consider your market area. Unless you have a car (or your parents' help), market area is relatively small. This may include only areas that you can safely walk or bike to.
  • These customer types are called customer profiles. Once you have your customer profiles, you will have a better idea of how to market your business to them.
  • Different customer profiles sometimes require entirely different marketing strategies.

Step 2 Figure out if you have any competitors.

  • You can market most effectively once you know these specific details about your competitors.
  • Offering lower prices or providing higher quality products/services are two ways you can compete with them.
  • For example, if you start a lawn care business, you will be competing with established lawn care businesses. You can build a customer base by offering better service and encouraging customer recommendations.

Step 3 Explore your marketing strategy options.

  • Remember to keep your customer profiles in mind when choosing your marketing strategies.
  • For instance, if you’re starting a pet sitting business, you could post flyers at veterinary offices and pet stores, and also hand deliver flyers to people in your neighborhood with pets.

Step 4 Get or make business cards for your company.

Putting Your Business Plan on Paper

Step 1 Create a cover sheet with your business name and description.

  • Write the business name in large letters, or use a large font, and make it bold. It’s the most important thing on the page.
  • The description paragraph can be in a normal size or standard 12 point font.

Step 2 Begin page 2 with the company’s management and history.

  • Owner/Management example: “Kelly’s Doggy Daycare is owned by Kelly Klein. She has several years of experience pet-sitting and truly loves working with and caring for dogs of all kinds.”
  • Business History example: "Kelly noticed that most of her neighbors were dog owners who worked long hours every day. Occasionally, they took vacations and/or experienced family emergencies, which could take them away from their pets for days at a time."
  • "With her love for dogs, Kelly knew she could provide a pet care service that her neighbors would benefit from, and that’s how Kelly’s Doggy Daycare was born."

Step 3 Space down and write 3-4 sentences about your product/service.

  • You don’t need to get incredibly detailed – summarize and highlight the most important information for each.
  • Example for product/service: "Kelly’s Doggy Daycare will provide hands-on pet care for today’s busy pet owner. The business will offer day rates along with in-house extended stay pet sitting. Walking services are included at no charge with every appointment."

Step 4 Space down and write 3-4 sentences about your business objectives.

  • "It’s her mission to put your mind at ease when you have to be away from your pets. Kelly will make sure your pets are loved and cared for in your absence."
  • "An email summary of every pet sitting appointment will always be sent to you via email during your absence or upon your return."

Step 5 Space down and write 3-4 sentences about your marketing information.

  • Example: “Kelly’s Doggy Daycare caters to today’s busy adults. These are business people who work long hours every day and/or travel regularly for work, family vacationers, and anyone who finds themselves in need of last minute pet care."
  • "The business has one competitor, Sam’s Sitting Service, but Kelly offers lower pricing and in-house extended stay care."
  • "She plans to post flyers about the new business in her neighborhood to promote it. She will also be going door-to-door to introduce herself and inform neighbors of her services.”

Step 6 Space down and write 3-4 sentences about your funding needs/profit.

  • Example: "Kelly will need very few supplies to launch the business – a bag of doggie treats, 1 dog leash for a small dog and 1 dog leash for a large dog."
  • "Ongoing expenses will be the replenishment of doggie treats and occasionally dog toys and/or dog blankets. The rate is $5.00 for each hour of pet care provided. The rate for in-house extended care is $25 per day."
  • "Customers will need to provide their own pet food or reimburse Kelly for any food she has to purchase during pet care. Profit for each hour is approximately $3.50 after expenses."
  • "Profit for each day of extended care is approximately $18.50 after expenses."

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About This Article

Michael R. Lewis

To make a business plan for kids, create a cover sheet with the business name in large, bold font and a 5-6 sentence description of the business. Have a logo? Include that, too! Start writing up the company’s management and history on the second page, talking about yourself in 1-2 sentences and how and why you came up with your business in another 2-3 sentences. Then craft 3-4 sentences, each, to describe your product or service, business goals, marketing strategy, and funding needs. To learn more from our Entrepreneur co-author, like how much to charge for your product or service, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Start-Up Resources: Write a Winning Business Plan

Click on each heading to learn more about writing a business plan.

Business Plan Basics

Buerk Center Advisory Board members’ presentations on writing a business plan.

Marc Barros , Entrepreneur, co-founder and former CEO of Contour “Start your company! . . . Did you start your company yet? . . . Seriously, you’re already behind!” Marc emphasizes the business plan as a tool to organize thoughts for a business you’ve already started. View slides

T.A. McCann , Gist T.A. is the founder and CEO of Gist, which was acquired by RIM in 2011. His past experience includes Vulcan Capital and Polaris Venture Partners, where he was an entrepreneur-in-residence. View slides

Writing Resources

Resources for writing a stellar business plan.

How to Write a Great Business Plan Harvard Business Review Thorough article that covers the essential elements that belong in a business plan. A must read for anyone about to write a business plan.

How to Structure a Business Plan Inc. Magazine Magazine Extensive resource that covers everything from idea feasibility to presentation.

How to Write a Great Business Plan Inc. Magazine Advice for small businesses on what it takes to create a solid business plan, including forming an outline, integrating financial specifics, and spelling out your marketing strategy.

Business Plan Basics MIT Excellent slide deck from the MIT Course, The Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans . Covers why you write a plan, what you should cover in it, and who should write it. Content starts on slide 13.

Writing a Business Plan Sequoia Capital Includes elements of sustainable companies and a straightforward business plan outline.

Presentations on marketing your start-up. Who are your customers? What drives them to make a purchase? How do you segment the market? How do you market your business on a shoestring budget?

Marketing in a Competitive Environment Sharelle Klaus , CEO of DRY Soda Sharelle brings more than a decade of entrepreneurial, financial and technology experience to DRY Soda. Her presentation provides the tools you need to overcome marketing challenges commonly faced by start-ups. View slides

How to Market Consumer Products Presentation Jason Stoffer , Maveron Jason is a principal at Maveron, a local VC firm that is focused solely on consumer businesses. His presentation covers the key elements of a consumer products pitch, as well as the questions you should be able to answer about your product and the market it exists in. View slides

Presentations on the fundamentals of financial projections–What are they? How do you create them? How do you avoid the common pitfalls that drive investors crazy?

SEC Filings and Forms All publicly traded companies must disclose financial information to the SEC. Research companies that have similar cost structure, distribution channels, customers, etc. to help you estimate costs for your start-up.

Financials and Funding for Start-Ups Presentations Alan Dishlip, CFO of Billing Revolution Alan joined Billing Revolution as CFO in 2009, after holding that position at WildTangent Games for five years. He has both operational and venture capital experience and has been involved in helping build and grow early-stage companies for more than 30 years. View slides

Be boundless

© 2024 Foster School of Business, University of Washington | Seattle, WA



For Businesses

For students & teachers, the best pitch lesson to introduce business plans to students.

Kassie Winne

In a classroom in Dallas, Texas, we asked groups of students to identify a problem in their neighborhood and find a creative solution for it. Their empathy and creativity blew me away. They were ready to tackle issues like homelessness, a lack of business attire for low-income areas seeking job mobility, creating healthier and more active communities, replacing toxic products with organic ones, reducing our carbon footprint and more. If these were the types of conversations they were having at ages 10 and 11, I couldn’t wait to see what they could accomplish in the future.

The next step was teaching them how to present their ideas in an engaging, succinct way. We encouraged students to be themselves, put their best foot forward, show their passion for their ideas, and to be prepared to present their ideas for no more than 90 seconds. There was excitement in the air on the day of the presentations. For these students, their business pitches were personal, and that seemed to ignite a fire. I could easily picture these passionate students as our future business and community leaders ready to work together and take on difficult problems with creative solutions.

By introducing business and entrepreneurial learning in the elementary classroom, we can support students in developing the skills we so desperately need in our future leaders and citizens — communication, collaboration, and creative problem-solving skills. This activity is a great way to introduce business plans to students and start cultivating those employability skills they will need to be successful.

Entrepreneurial Expedition: The Pitch Activity

For this pitch activity, students will have the opportunity to collaborate with each other to problem solve. This is meant to be open-ended so that students come up with an idea that they are not only passionate about but also ‘buy in to.’ Meant to be engaging for all types of learners (auditory, visual, reading/writing, kinesthetic) this pitch activity encourages students to be creative, explain their thinking, come up with a visual prototype, and practice their oral language skills.

Step 1 – The Set Up: Tell students today is the day they’re going to solve a problem and they’re then going to convince everyone why it’s a great idea. Pair students into groups of 3-4.

Step 2 – The Problem: Give students 5 minutes to brainstorm a problem they might face each day. Consider a classroom set of brainstorming if students are having a hard time and then allowing groups to select from those problems. EX: they eat breakfast on the way to school and get it all over their clothes, they get sand in their socks during recess, etc.

Step 3 – The Plan: Give students 20 minutes in those same groups to come up with ideas of a solution that would fix their problem. Remind them that this is a brainstorming session so they want to list all ideas and listen to them. They can pick their favorite idea after.

EX: a granola bar that when they unpeel the wrapper, it unwraps into a bowl that collects crumbs, a sock topper that holds their socks up and seals the top so sand doesn’t get in.

After the 20 minutes is up, give students another 5 to discuss which solution makes the most sense to develop a product for. They will need to decide as a group which product they will develop a sales pitch for.

Step 4 – The Design: Students will design their product on a poster. Have them list as many adjectives as they can to describe their product to help in their business pitch once they have completed the design on their prototype.

Step 5 – The Pitch: Once students have finished with their posters, explain that they will be giving the class a business pitch to convince them they have the best product in the class. I suggest sharing this video of 10-year-old Jack and his lemonade stand idea as a good pitch example.

Give students this guideline for a 60-second sales pitch Start with a question.

  • What is the problem?
  • What is the name of the solution you came up with?
  • Why is it a good product?
  • Who are you selling this to and the cost?
  • How much money do you want for this idea?

Completing the Lesson Have students create their business pitch and practice within their pair/group for 10 minutes, then present to the class.

For elementary teachers looking for a free extended learning experience in financial education and business, check out EVERFI’s Vault – Understanding Money lessons to navigate the world of income and careers through online games and quizzes.

For middle school teachers looking to help their students master the basics of business with a youth entrepreneurship curriculum , check out EVERFI’s Venture – Entrepreneurial Expedition.

Real World Learning Matters

EVERFI empowers teachers to bring critical skills education into their classrooms at no cost. Get activated and join 50,000+ educators across North America!

Want to prepare students for career and life success, but short on time?

Busy teachers use EVERFI’s standards-aligned, ready-made digital lessons to teach students to thrive in an ever-changing world.

Explore More Resources

Beyond the glass ceiling - the rise of nfl trailblazers jennifer king and maia chaka.

Learn about two women who persevered against all odds to break barriers as the first females in their NFL coaching and officiating ro ...

How Intuit for Education and EVERFI are Working to Improve Financial Confidence this Tax Se...

Learn more about this real-world tool that provides high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to file taxes.

Money Matters: Cross-Curricular Financial Education webinar

Be inspired with great ideas for how to incorporate critical financial literacy lessons into your daily classroom activities.

How to write a business plan for a student residence?

student residence business plan

Putting together a business plan for a student residence can be daunting - especially if you're creating a business for the first time - but with this comprehensive guide, you'll have the necessary tools to do it confidently.

We will explore why writing one is so important in both starting up and growing an existing student residence, as well as what should go into making an effective plan - from its structure to content - and what tools can be used to streamline the process and avoid errors.

Without further ado, let us begin!

In this guide:

Why write a business plan for a student residence?

  • What information is needed to create a business plan for a student residence?
  • How do I build a financial forecast for a student residence?

The written part of a student residence business plan

  • What tool should I use to write my student residence business plan?

Having a clear understanding of why you want to write a business plan for your student residence will make it simpler for you to grasp the rationale behind its structure and content. So before delving into the plan's actual details, let's take a moment to remind ourselves of the primary reasons why you'd want to create a student residence business plan.

To have a clear roadmap to grow the business

Running a small business is tough! Economic cycles bring growth and recessions, while the business landscape is ever-changing with new technologies, regulations, competitors, and consumer behaviours emerging constantly.

In such a dynamic context, operating a business without a clear roadmap is akin to driving blindfolded: it's risky, to say the least. That's why crafting a business plan for your student residence is vital to establish a successful and sustainable venture.

To create an effective business plan, you'll need to assess your current position (if you're already in business) and define where you want the business to be in the next three to five years.

Once you have a clear destination for your student residence, you'll have to:

  • Identify the necessary resources (human, equipment, and capital) needed to reach your goals,
  • Determine the pace at which the business needs to progress to meet its objectives as scheduled,
  • Recognize and address the potential risks you may encounter along the way.

Engaging in this process regularly proves advantageous for both startups and established companies. It empowers you to make informed decisions about resource allocation, ensuring the long-term success of your business.

To get visibility on future cash flows

If your small student residence runs out of cash: it's game over. That's why we often say "cash is king", and it's crucial to have a clear view of your student residence's future cash flows.

So, how can you achieve this? It's simple - you need to have an up-to-date financial forecast.

The good news is that your student residence business plan already includes a financial forecast (which we'll discuss further in this guide). Your task is to ensure it stays current.

To accomplish this, it's essential to regularly compare your actual financial performance with what was planned in your financial forecast. Based on your business's current trajectory, you can make adjustments to the forecast.

By diligently monitoring your student residence's financial health, you'll be able to spot potential financial issues, like unexpected cash shortfalls, early on and take corrective actions. Moreover, this practice will enable you to recognize and capitalize on growth opportunities, such as excess cash flow enabling you to expand to new locations.

To secure financing

Crafting a comprehensive business plan for your student residence, whether you're starting up or already established, is paramount when you're seeking financing from banks or investors.

Given how fragile small businesses are, financiers will want to ensure that you have a clear roadmap in place as well as command and control of your future cash flows before entertaining the idea of funding you.

For banks, the information in your business plan will be used to assess your borrowing capacity - which is defined as the maximum amount of debt your business can afford alongside your ability to repay the loan. This evaluation helps them decide whether to extend credit to your business and under what terms (interest rate, duration, repayment options, collateral, etc.).

Similarly, investors will thoroughly review your plan to determine if their investment can yield an attractive return. They'll be looking for evidence that your student residence has the potential for healthy growth, profitability, and consistent cash flow generation over time.

Now that you understand the importance of creating a business plan for your student residence, let's delve into the necessary information needed to craft an effective plan.

Information needed to create a business plan for a student residence

You need the right data in order to project sales, investments and costs accurately in the financial forecast of your student residence business plan.

Below, we'll cover three key pieces of information you should gather before drafting your business plan.

Carrying out market research for a student residence

Carrying out market research before writing a business plan for a student residence is essential to ensure that the financial projections are accurate and realistic.

Market research helps you gain insight into your target customer base, competitors, pricing strategies and other key factors which can have an impact on the commercial success of your business.

In particular, it is useful in forecasting revenue as it provides valuable data regarding potential customers’ spending habits and preferences.

You may find that students living in your residence tend to prefer modern, minimalist decor. Additionally, market research could reveal that they might be more likely to pay a premium for convenience or specialized amenities such as a gym or on-site laundry services.

This information can then be used to create more accurate financial projections which will help investors make informed decisions about investing in your student residence.

Developing the sales and marketing plan for a student residence

Budgeting sales and marketing expenses is essential before creating a student residence business plan.

A comprehensive sales and marketing plan should provide an accurate projection of what actions need to be implemented to acquire and retain customers, how many people are needed to carry out these initiatives, and how much needs to be spent on promotions, advertising, and other aspects.

This helps ensure that the right amount of resources is allocated to these activities in order to hit the sales and growth objectives forecasted in your business plan.

The staffing and equipment needs of a student residence

As you embark on starting or expanding your student residence, having a clear plan for recruitment and capital expenditures (investment in equipment and real estate) is essential for ensuring your business's success.

Both the recruitment and investment plans must align with the timing and level of growth projected in your forecast, and they require appropriate funding.

Staffing costs for a student residence might include salaries for a residence director, residence advisors, and custodial staff. Equipment costs might include furniture for common areas, beds and desks for the residence rooms, and kitchen and laundry appliances.

To create a realistic financial forecast, you also need to consider other operating expenses associated with the day-to-day running of your business, such as insurance and bookkeeping.

With all the necessary information at hand, you are ready to begin crafting your business plan and developing your financial forecast.

What goes into your student residence's financial forecast?

The objective of the financial forecast of your student residence's business plan is to show the growth, profitability, funding requirements, and cash generation potential of your business over the next 3 to 5 years.

The four key outputs of a financial forecast for a student residence are:

  • The profit and loss (P&L) statement ,
  • The projected balance sheet ,
  • The cash flow forecast ,
  • And the sources and uses table .

Let's look at each of these in a bit more detail.

The projected P&L statement

Your student residence forecasted P&L statement enables the reader of your business plan to get an idea of how much revenue and profits your business is expected to make in the near future.

forecasted profit and loss statement in a student residence business plan

Ideally, your reader will want to see:

  • Growth above the inflation level
  • Expanding profit margins
  • Positive net profit throughout the plan

Expectations for an established student residence will of course be different than for a startup. Existing businesses which have reached their cruising altitude might have slower growth and higher margins than ventures just being started.

The projected balance sheet of your student residence

Your student residence's forecasted balance sheet enables the reader of your plan to assess your financial structure, working capital, and investment policy.

It is composed of three types of elements: assets, liabilities and equity:

  • Assets: represent what the business owns and uses to produce cash flows. It includes resources such as cash, equipment, and accounts receivable (money owed by clients).
  • Liabilities: represent funds advanced to the business by lenders and other creditors. It includes items such as accounts payable (money owed to suppliers), taxes due and loans.
  • Equity: is the combination of what has been invested by the business owners and the cumulative profits and losses generated by the business to date (which are called retained earnings). Equity is a proxy for the value of the owner's stake in the business.

example of forecasted balance sheet in a student residence business plan

Your student residence's balance sheet will usually be analyzed in conjunction with the other financial statements included in your forecast.

Two key points of focus will be:

  • Your student residence's liquidity: does your business have sufficient cash and short-term assets to pay what it owes over the next 12 months?
  • And its solvency: does your business have the capacity to repay its debt over the medium-term?

The cash flow forecast

As we've seen earlier in this guide, monitoring future cash flows is the key to success and the only way of ensuring that your student residence has enough cash to operate.

As you can expect showing future cash flows is the main role of the cash flow forecast in your student residence business plan.

example of projected cash flow forecast in a student residence business plan

It is best practice to organise the cash flow statement by nature in order to show the cash impact of the following areas:

  • Cash flow generated from operations: the operating cash flow shows how much cash is generated or consumed by the business's commercial activities
  • Cash flow from investing activities: the investing cash flow shows how much cash is being invested in capital expenditure (equipment, real estate, etc.) either to maintain the business's equipment or to expand its capabilities
  • Cash flow from financing activities: the financing cash flow shows how much cash is raised or distributed to financiers

Looking at the cash flow forecast helps you to make sure that your business has enough cash to keep running, and can help you anticipate potential cash shortfalls.

Your student residence business plan will normally include both yearly and monthly cash flow forecasts so that the readers can view the impact of seasonality on your business cash position and generation.

The initial financing plan

The initial financing plan - also called a sources and uses table - is an important tool when starting a student residence.

It shows where the money needed to set up the business will come from (sources) and how it will be allocated (uses).

initial financing plan in a student residence business plan

Having this table helps understand what costs are involved in setting up the student residence, how the risks are distributed between the shareholders and the lenders, and what will be the starting cash position (which needs to be sufficient to sustain operations until the business breaks even).

Now that the financial forecast of a student residence business plan is understood, let's focus on what goes into the written part of the plan.

The written part of the business plan is where you will explain what your business does and how it operates, what your target market is, whom you compete against, and what strategy you will put in place to seize the commercial opportunity you've identified.

Having this context is key for the reader to form a view on whether or not they believe that your plan is achievable and the numbers in your forecast realistic.

The written part of a student residence business plan is composed of 7 main sections:

  • The executive summary
  • The presentation of the company
  • The products and services
  • The market analysis
  • The strategy
  • The operations
  • The financial plan

Let's go through the content of each section in more detail!

1. The executive summary

The executive summary, the first section of your student residence's business plan, serves as an inviting snapshot of your entire plan, leaving readers eager to know more about your business.

To compose an effective executive summary, start with a concise introduction of your business, covering its name, concept, location, history, and unique aspects. Share insights about the services or products you intend to offer and your target customer base.

Subsequently, provide an overview of your student residence's addressable market, highlighting current trends and potential growth opportunities.

Then, present a summary of critical financial figures, such as projected revenues, profits, and cash flows.

You should then include a summary of your key financial figures such as projected revenues, profits, and cash flows.

Lastly, address any funding needs in the "ask" section of your executive summary.

2. The presentation of the company

As you build your student residence business plan, the second section deserves attention as it delves into the structure and ownership, location, and management team of your company.

In the structure and ownership part, you'll provide valuable insights into the legal structure of the business, the identities of the owners, and their respective investments and ownership stakes. This level of transparency is vital, particularly if you're seeking financing, as it clarifies which legal entity will receive the funds and who holds the reins of the business.

Moving to the location part, you'll offer a comprehensive view of the company's premises and articulate why this specific location is strategic for the business, emphasizing factors like catchment area, accessibility, and nearby amenities.

When describing the location of your student residence, you could emphasize its proximity to popular attractions, restaurants, and other amenities. It may be located near a university or other educational institution, giving it potential to attract students. Additionally, the residence could have easy access to major transportation routes, allowing for convenient commuting to and from the residence. The neighborhood may be considered safe and desirable, which could further attract potential renters.

Lastly, you should introduce your esteemed management team. Provide a thorough explanation of each member's role, background, and extensive experience.

It's equally important to highlight any past successes the management team has achieved and underscore the duration they've been working together. This information will instil trust in potential lenders or investors, showcasing the strength and expertise of your leadership team and their ability to deliver the business plan.

3. The products and services section

The products and services section of your business plan should include a detailed description of what your company offers, who are the target customers, and what distribution channels are part of your go-to-market. 

For example, your student residence might offer a variety of services and products to its customers such as 24-hour security, on-site laundry facilities, and meal plans. 24-hour security provides a sense of safety and assurance to customers, while on-site laundry facilities allow them to take care of laundry without having to leave the premises. Meal plans provide customers with a convenient and cost-effective way to enjoy meals without the hassle of cooking. All of these products and services help make the student residence a comfortable and enjoyable place to live.

4. The market analysis

When presenting your market analysis in your student residence business plan, you should detail the customers' demographics and segmentation, target market, competition, barriers to entry, and any regulations that may apply.

The goal of this section is to help the reader understand how big and attractive your market is, and demonstrate that you have a solid understanding of the industry.

You should start with the demographics and segmentation subsection, which gives an overview of the addressable market for your student residence, the main trends in the marketplace, and introduces the different customer segments and their preferences in terms of purchasing habits and budgets.

The target market section should follow and zoom on the customer segments your student residence is targeting, and explain how your products and services meet the specific needs of these customers.

For example, your target market might include college students who are looking for a safe and affordable place to live while attending university. These students will be looking for a residence that is close to or on campus and that offers amenities such as study rooms, recreational facilities, and social activities. They may also be interested in a residence that provides meal plans and offers flexible lease terms.

Then comes the competition subsection, where you should introduce your main competitors and explain what differentiates you from them.

Finally, you should finish your market analysis by giving an overview of the main regulations applicable to your student residence.

5. The strategy section

When writing the strategy section of a business plan for your student residence, it is essential to include information about your competitive edge, pricing strategy, sales & marketing plan, milestones, and risks and mitigants.

The competitive edge subsection should explain what sets your company apart from its competitors. This part is especially key if you are writing the business plan of a startup, as you have to make a name for yourself in the marketplace against established players.

The pricing strategy subsection should demonstrate how you intend to remain profitable while still offering competitive prices to your customers.

The sales & marketing plan should outline how you intend to reach out and acquire new customers, as well as retain existing ones with loyalty programs or special offers. 

The milestones subsection should outline what your company has achieved to date, and its main objectives for the years to come - along with dates so that everyone involved has clear expectations of when progress can be expected.

The risks and mitigants subsection should list the main risks that jeopardize the execution of your plan and explain what measures you have taken to minimize these. This is essential in order for investors or lenders to feel secure in investing in your venture.

Your student residence could face a variety of different risks. For example, it may be vulnerable to break-ins or theft. Having a large number of students living in the same building could make it an attractive target for criminals. Additionally, your residence might face the risk of damage from environmental factors such as flooding or fire. If these incidents occur, they could cause significant disruption and financial losses.

6. The operations section

The operations of your student residence must be presented in detail in your business plan.

The first thing you should cover in this section is your staffing team, the main roles, and the overall recruitment plan to support the growth expected in your business plan. You should also outline the qualifications and experience necessary to fulfil each role, and how you intend to recruit (using job boards, referrals, or headhunters).

You should then state the operating hours of your student residence - so that the reader can check the adequacy of your staffing levels - and any plans for varying opening times during peak season. Additionally, the plan should include details on how you will handle customer queries outside of normal operating hours.

The next part of this section should focus on the key assets and IP required to operate your business. If you depend on any licenses or trademarks, physical structures (equipment or property) or lease agreements, these should all go in there.

You may have key assets such as a student residence building and the physical infrastructure associated with it. This could include things such as furniture, appliances, and other fixtures. Additionally, the residence may have intellectual property such as a brand name, logo, and/or other copyrighted content. These could be used to create an identity and help differentiate the residence from other student residences.

Finally, you should include a list of suppliers that you plan to work with and a breakdown of their services and main commercial terms (price, payment terms, contract duration, etc.). Investors are always keen to know if there is a particular reason why you have chosen to work with a specific supplier (higher-quality products or past relationships for example).

7. The presentation of the financial plan

The financial plan section is where we will include the financial forecast we discussed earlier in this guide.

Now that you have a clear idea of what goes into a student residence business plan, let's look at some of the tools you can use to create yours efficiently.

What tool should I use to write my student residence's business plan?

In this section, we will be reviewing the two main solutions for creating a student residence business plan:

  • Using specialized online business plan software,
  • Outsourcing the plan to the business plan writer.

Using an online business plan software for your student residence's business plan

Using online business planning software is the most efficient and modern way to create a student residence business plan.

There are several advantages to using specialized software:

  • You can easily create your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you without errors
  • You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan
  • You can access a library of dozens of complete business plan samples and templates for inspiration
  • You get a professional business plan, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank or investors
  • You can easily track your actual financial performance against your financial forecast
  • You can create scenarios to stress test your forecast's main assumptions
  • You can easily update your forecast as time goes by to maintain visibility on future cash flows
  • You have a friendly support team on standby to assist you when you are stuck

If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try The Business Plan Shop for free by signing up here .

Hiring a business plan writer to write your student residence's business plan

Outsourcing your student residence business plan to a business plan writer can also be a viable option.

Business plan writers are skilled in creating error-free business plans and accurate financial forecasts. Moreover, hiring a consultant can save you valuable time, allowing you to focus on day-to-day business operations.

However, it's essential to be aware that hiring business plan writers will be expensive, as you're not only paying for their time but also the software they use and their profit margin.

Based on experience, you should budget at least £1.5k ($2.0k) excluding tax for a comprehensive business plan, and more if you require changes after initial discussions with lenders or investors.

Also, exercise caution when seeking investment. Investors prefer their funds to be directed towards business growth rather than spent on consulting fees. Therefore, the amount you spend on business plan writing services and other consulting services should be insignificant compared to the amount raised.

Keep in mind that one drawback is that you usually don't own the business plan itself; you only receive the output, while the actual document is saved in the consultant's business planning software. This can make it challenging to update the document without retaining the consultant's services.

For these reasons, carefully consider outsourcing your student residence business plan to a business plan writer, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of seeking outside assistance.

Why not create your student residence's business plan using Word or Excel?

I must advise against using Microsoft Excel and Word (or their Google, Apple, or open-source equivalents) to write your student residence business plan. Let me explain why.

Firstly, creating an accurate and error-free financial forecast on Excel (or any spreadsheet) is highly technical and requires a strong grasp of accounting principles and financial modelling skills. It is, therefore, unlikely that anyone will fully trust your numbers unless you have both a degree in finance and accounting and significant financial modelling experience, like us at The Business Plan Shop.

Secondly, relying on spreadsheets is inefficient. While it may have been the only option in the past, technology has advanced significantly, and software can now perform these tasks much faster and with greater accuracy. With the rise of AI, software can even help us detect mistakes in forecasts and analyze the numbers for better decision-making.

And with the rise of AI, software is also becoming smarter at helping us detect mistakes in our forecasts and helping us analyse the numbers to make better decisions.

Moreover, software makes it easier to compare actuals versus forecasts and maintain up-to-date forecasts to keep visibility on future cash flows, as we discussed earlier in this guide. This task is cumbersome when using spreadsheets.

Now, let's talk about the written part of your student residence business plan. While it may be less error-prone, using software can bring tremendous gains in productivity. Word processors, for example, lack instructions and examples for each part of your business plan. They also won't automatically update your numbers when changes occur in your forecast, and they don't handle formatting for you.

Overall, while Word or Excel may seem viable for some entrepreneurs to create a business plan, it's by far becoming an antiquated way of doing things.

  • Using business plan software is a modern and cost-effective way of writing and maintaining business plans.
  • A business plan is not a one-shot exercise as maintaining it current is the only way to keep visibility on your future cash flows.
  • A business plan has 2 main parts: a financial forecast outlining the funding requirements of your student residence and the expected growth, profits and cash flows for the next 3 to 5 years; and a written part which gives the reader the information needed to decide if they believe the forecast is achievable.

We hope that this in-depth guide met your expectations and that you now have a clear understanding of how to write your student residence business plan. Do not hesitate to contact our friendly team if you have questions additional questions we haven't addressed here.

Also on The Business Plan Shop

  • How to write a business plan to secure a bank loan?
  • Key steps to write a business plan?
  • Top mistakes to avoid in your business plan

Do you know entrepreneurs interested in starting or growing a student residence? Share this article with them!

Guillaume Le Brouster

Founder & CEO at The Business Plan Shop Ltd

Guillaume Le Brouster is a seasoned entrepreneur and financier.

Guillaume has been an entrepreneur for more than a decade and has first-hand experience of starting, running, and growing a successful business.

Prior to being a business owner, Guillaume worked in investment banking and private equity, where he spent most of his time creating complex financial forecasts, writing business plans, and analysing financial statements to make financing and investment decisions.

Guillaume holds a Master's Degree in Finance from ESCP Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Business & Management from Paris Dauphine University.

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