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Business plan examples for students.

Ajay Jagtap

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.

how to make a business plan for students

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 to make 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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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  • Teach business planning instead of managing multiple apps

Go beyond business plan examples

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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

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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 to make 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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Top Best business Plans for Students (University and College Students)

  • April 12, 2022

Top Best business plans for Students

Top Best Business Plans for Students (University and College Students): Top Best business plans for Students: What is the top best business plan that any entrepreneur should make and follow? There are some top best business plans that you have to put in place if you want to succeed in your business and this can only be achieved by putting the necessary business plans in place.

What is a Student business plan?

A business plan can be said to be a laid down strategy on how a particular business will be managed. Having a business plan is very important for entrepreneurs who want to start up a very profitable business. This plan will help you to compare, estimate, measure, and scale your available resources with the kind of business you want to run.

Top Best business plans for Students

It is not advisable to just jump up and start a business without having a plan that will guide the affairs of that business. There are some top best business plans that worth taking into considerations when starting up a business. In fact, some of the top best business plans listed here are such that you should never do without.

Who should read this article?

This article/page is strictly for those that are searching for the business ideas for students in the university, lucrative business a student can do, business ideas for students in college, the best business to start near a university, business ideas for high school students, business ideas for students with low investment, business ideas for students without investment…

How to Set Up A business

Before you start up a business, you must set up some plans that will help you to estimate how, when, and where your business will be in the nearest time. Some of the best plans to put in place when planning to start up a business should include the following:

1. Make proper research first:

This is very necessary. This step is essential for those who don’t know which business to venture into and those who want to know the deeper secrets of scaling through in the business which they have chosen already. Before you start any business, make sure you ask some questions about the business. The best key research you should make about a business should include:

  • The environment and kind of people patronize such business.
  • How much profit you can make from the business
  • The required amount to start the business
  • Challenges involved in running such business
  • Top entrepreneurs in that business and how they made it.

2. Plan every step of your business before launching it:

Putting down a good business plan is as good as succeeding in the business. Nothing works better without planning. For your business to run very smoothly, you must put some plans in place. Some of the best plans to put in place should include:

  • The amount of money you will use to start your business.
  • How you will register your business and legalize it
  • When exactly you want your business to kick-off
  • How and where you will get patronizes
  • How you will advertise and grow your business.

When all necessary plans are made effectively, then you can start executing the plans and make them a reality.

3. Keep a satisfying amount of money at hand:

This you should know by now. You need money to start and succeed in your business. Before you start up a business, make sure you keep a satisfying amount of money that will be able to drive you from the beginning of the business to success.

4. Brand your business and register it:

Nothing is as sweet as having a sweet business name that will turn to a brand in the nearest future. If you have arrived at the particular business that you will be running, then it’s time for you to choose and give your business a name.

Business registration: In some countries, it is mandatory that a business must be registered before such a business can start any operation. So if it is the same in your country, then I highly recommend you to register your business and get your operational license and permit from an authorized body.

5. Adopt a Business Structure and choose your business Location:

It is also very nice to run a business in a very unique way. What will help you to beat down your competitors is setting up a business structure that is very different and satisfying than theirs. The next thing you need to do is to assign your business to a particular location where your customers can easily meet you to get your goods and services. You can even create a free business website here

6. Focus more on Promoting Your Business:

This is where your business success is laid. The more your business is promoted, the more it expands. In this post, there are 2 stages to carry out a successful business promotion. The first is at the early stage of your business while the second is at the latter stage of your business.

How to promote and grow your business

Like I said up there, the promotion of your business is where your business success is. The more your business is promoted, the more it expands. Below are the two stages to carry out a successful business promotion. The first is growing your business at a stage while the second is at the latter stage of your business.

Growing your Business At an early stage

1. Study and know your customers better:

Your customers are the pride of your business. The more you study your customers, the more you will serve them better, and the more you will grow your business with them. Understand all your customers and try to cope with them.

2. Provide excellence and satisfying customer service:

This is very important in business. How you treat your customer determines if he or she will return to patronize you. How will you know if your customer’s service is satisfying? You will know this by asking each of your customers how satisfied they are with your good and services.

3. Work hard to keep and maintain existing customers while looking for new ones:

There is a wise saying that “a bird at hand is better than thousands in the sky”. The customer you see now is yours while those you are hoping on are probabilities. Treat your existing customers very well while expecting other customers.

4. Ask for your customer’s recommendations and service rating:

There is nothing bad if you request your customer to make a little contribution of idea on how he or she sees your business and how you can improve it. This will help you to improve your goods and service qualities.

5. Use social media and forums:

Social media platforms are good for businesses. There are millions of people on social media and many of them engage in daily business transactions. Introduce your business to your social media’s fans and friends. Create a convenient way that you can extend your goods or service to them if they demand any.

6. Acknowledge, appreciate, and be friendly with your customers:

When I say “appreciate your customers”, I don’t mean you should start giving your customers your goods for free; NO! That is not what I am talking about. Just acknowledge them, get to know their names and call them by names, and always ask them how their own life, family, and business are doing. This sense of customer’s concerns is highly valuable to some customers.

7. Take note of what works better for your business:

As you carry on your business, keep track of what strategy is working very fine and which is not, and refine your approach as you go. This will help you to adopt a good business strategy.

8. Sell only original and quality goods and services:

Do not care much about profit and then get lured into buying inferior goods. Make sure you buy quality goods and sell them at a moderate price that will still make you profits.

More Promoting business ideas at a grown-up stage

1. Value Your Existing Market:

Growing your business at a grown-up stage is not as difficult as that of the early stage. When you think about how to grow your business, the first thing that probably comes to mind is getting new customers, but the customers you have already are your best alternative for increasing your sales. It’s easier and more cost-effective to get people who are already buying from you to buy more than to find new customers and persuade them to buy from you. So focus on ways to get customers coming back.

2. Ask for Referrals:

Of course, attracting new customers to your business is never a bad approach. But one of the easiest ways to do it is to ask your current customers to help you refer their friends to your business. This is the point where a customer’s friendliness plays a greater role. This might not be totally free. So you can decide to pay the people that refer new customers to you a token commission. Just Affiliate your customers and other marketers.

3. Improve Your Goods and Services:

Your business tactics and services should never remain the same all the time. Learn to improve the quality of your goods and services as your business grows.

4. Extend your business area:

The more geographical location your cover, the better sales you make. If you notice that your business or services are highly demanded, then feel free to extend it. Extend your business to cover more geographical locations. Just spray your business all over. Open branches globally and extend yourself and your business.

5. Meet your competitors:

At least you have grown to a level that you can be noticed. If your business has grown so popular, then it may be of greater value to meet with your competitors. This can open new business opportunities for you as your competitors may want to pay to learn more from you on how you grow your business so fast. This will also help you to stay updated on new developments that come into your business fie

6. Advertise your business on air:

The more you spend money to advertise your business, the more the business grows to give your triple of that which you spent. The best ways to advertise your business at this stage include:

  • Through Facebook ads
  • Through Google Adsense
  • Through radios and TVs
  • Through forums and top websites/blogs etc

7. Give something away:

There is nothing bad if you should give your top customers some takeaway. You can set up a sales goal for your marketers or a purchase goal for your buyers and anyone that meets the goal gets awarded awesomely. You can also achieve through organizing engaging business programs, bonanza, and discounts promos.

8.  Don’t work alone:

As your business grows, the rate of demand on you becomes greater which you may not be able to run it and satisfy your customers by yourself alone. This is where employment comes in. You can employ marketers and services providers to help you extend your business with speed and on time.

9. Move your business online:

Making your business available both online and offline is a very good idea. Making your business available online will aid in globalizing your business. Some of the benefits of bringing your business online include:

  • People can contact you on your website very easily.
  • You can serve a whole range of people at the same time.
  • Provide a delivery service:

This is not mandatory. I just recommend it because it is one of the best ways to provide a very convenient service for your customers. If you can provide this to your customer, then you also have to charge them for it during purchase.

Other ways to grow and promote your business for free

  • Make your customers your marketers by requesting them to refer their friends to your business.
  • Cover more customers need: There are some goods and services that customers may always request from you which you may not sell. If such demand is high, then you should also introduce the goods or services and start offering them.
  • Let your business be seen and heard everywhere.
  • Let your quality goods and services speak for you.
  • Be available all the time to customers and give ears to your customers’ complaints.

How to Expand Your Business Globally

  • Consult global business experts: These are the set of people that will coach you well on how to start your expansion process and make it work.
  • Make sure your business foundation is firm and ready to serve a larger number of consumers
  • Weigh your financial status before taking a step in expanding your business globally.
  • Do geographical studies: you must Understand Language Barriers and Cultural Challenges, believes, etc. Also, get to understand what sells better at a particular location. This is why I recommended you Consult global business experts.
  • Get your global service providers ready.
  • Share your profit: Don’t be too stingy. Reward your team when they meet or exceed expectations

What you should take away.

I bet you, there is no other top best business plan guide that will be very satisfying like this. If you followed this top best business plan guide very well, then you will accept it with me that running your business with my top best business plan will be a 99.99% success guarantee.

Ruining a business is very simple but you need to have some top best business plan in place before kicking off. Let your business plan be a skeleton of your business from its starting point to a point it will yield so many profits.

If you found this top best business plan guide very helpful, THEN we plead with you to recommend us to the world by sharing this with your friends all over the internet. Please feel free to ask any question, make any contribution, suggestion, complaint or request using the comment box below ↓

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Business Plan: What It Is + How to Write One

Discover what a business plan includes and how writing one can foster your business’s development.

[Featured image] Woman showing a business plan to a man at a desk

What is a business plan? 

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

In your research into business plans, you may come across different formats, and you might be wondering which kind will work best for your purposes. 

Let’s define two main types of business plans , the traditional business pla n and the lean start-up business plan . Both types can serve as the basis for developing a thriving business, as well as exploring a competitive market analysis, brand strategy , and content strategy in more depth. There are some significant differences to keep in mind [ 1 ]: 

The traditional business plan is a long document that explores each component in depth. You can build a traditional business plan to secure funding from lenders or investors. 

The lean start-up business plan focuses on the key elements of a business’s development and is shorter than the traditional format. If you don’t plan to seek funding, the lean start-up plan can serve mainly as a document for making business decisions and carrying out tasks. 

Now that you have a clear business plan definition , continue reading to begin writing a detailed plan that will guide your journey as an entrepreneur.  

How to write a business plan 

In the sections below, you’ll build the following components of your business plan:

Executive summary

Business description 

Products and services 

Competitor analysis 

Marketing plan and sales strategies 

Brand strategy

Financial planning

Explore each section to bring fresh inspiration to the surface and reveal new possibilities for developing your business. You may choose to adapt the sections, skip over some, or go deeper into others, depending on which format you’re using. Consider your first draft a foundation for your efforts and one that you can revise, as needed, to account for changes in any area of your business.  

Read more: What Is a Marketing Plan? And How to Create One

1. Executive summary 

This is a short section that introduces the business plan as a whole to the people who will be reading it, including investors, lenders, or other members of your team. Start with a sentence or two about your business, your goals for developing it, and why it will be successful. If you are seeking funding, summarize the basics of the financial plan. 

2. Business description 

Use this section to provide detailed information about your company and how it will operate in the marketplace. 

Mission statement: What drives your desire to start a business? What purpose are you serving? What do you hope to achieve for your business, the team, your customers? 

Revenue streams: From what sources will your business generate revenue? Examples include product sales, service fees, subscriptions, rental fees, license fees, and more. 

Leadership: Describe the leaders in your business, their roles and responsibilities, and your vision for building teams to perform various functions, such as graphic design, product development, or sales.  

Legal structure: If you’ve incorporated your business or registered it with your state as a legal entity such as an S-corp or LLC, include the legal structure here and the rationale behind this choice. 

3. Competitor analysis 

This section will include an assessment of potential competitors, their offers, and marketing and sales efforts. For each competitor, explore the following: 

Value proposition: What outcome or experience does this brand promise?

Products and services: How does each one solve customer pain points and fulfill desires? What are the price points? 

Marketing: Which channels do competitors use to promote? What kind of content does this brand publish on these channels? What messaging does this brand use to communicate value to customers?  

Sales: What sales process or buyer’s journey does this brand lead customers through?

Read more: What Is Competitor Analysis? And How to Conduct One

4. Products and services

Use this section to describe everything your business offers to its target market . For every product and service, list the following: 

The value proposition or promise to customers, in terms of how they will experience it

How the product serves customers, addresses their pain points, satisfies their desires, and improves their lives

The features or outcomes that make the product better than those of competitors

Your price points and how these compare to competitors

5. Marketing plan and sales strategies 

In this section, you’ll draw from thorough market research to describe your target market and how you will reach them. 

Who are your ideal customers?   

How can you describe this segment according to their demographics (age, ethnicity, income, location, etc.) and psychographics (beliefs, values, aspirations, lifestyle, etc.)? 

What are their daily lives like? 

What problems and challenges do they experience? 

What words, phrases, ideas, and concepts do consumers in your target market use to describe these problems when posting on social media or engaging with your competitors?  

What messaging will present your products as the best on the market? How will you differentiate messaging from competitors? 

On what marketing channels will you position your products and services?

How will you design a customer journey that delivers a positive experience at every touchpoint and leads customers to a purchase decision?

Read more: Market Analysis: What It Is and How to Conduct One   

6. Brand strategy 

In this section, you will describe your business’s design, personality, values, voice, and other details that go into delivering a consistent brand experience. 

What are the values that define your brand?

What visual elements give your brand a distinctive look and feel?

How will your marketing messaging reflect a distinctive brand voice, including the tone, diction, and sentence-level stylistic choices? 

How will your brand look and sound throughout the customer journey? 

Define your brand positioning statement. What will inspire your audience to choose your brand over others? What experiences and outcomes will your audience associate with your brand? 

Read more: What Is a Brand Strategy? And How to Create One

7. Financial planning  

In this section, you will explore your business’s financial future. If you are writing a traditional business plan to seek funding, this section is critical for demonstrating to lenders or investors that you have a strategy for turning your business ideas into profit. For a lean start-up business plan, this section can provide a useful exercise for planning how you will invest resources and generate revenue [ 2 ].  

Use any past financials and other sections of this business plan, such as your price points or sales strategies, to begin your financial planning. 

How many individual products or service packages do you plan to sell over a specific time period?

List your business expenses, such as subscribing to software or other services, hiring contractors or employees, purchasing physical supplies or equipment, etc.

What is your break-even point, or the amount you have to sell to cover all expenses?

Create a sales forecast for the next three to five years: (No. of units to sell X price for each unit) – (cost per unit X No. of units) = sales forecast

Quantify how much capital you have on hand.

When writing a traditional business plan to secure funding, you may choose to append supporting documents, such as licenses, permits, patents, letters of reference, resumes, product blueprints, brand guidelines, the industry awards you’ve received, and media mentions and appearances.

Business plan key takeaways and best practices

Remember: Creating a business plan is crucial when starting a business. You can use this document to guide your decisions and actions and even seek funding from lenders and investors. 

Keep these best practices in mind:

Your business plan should evolve as your business grows. Return to it periodically, such as every quarter or year, to update individual sections or explore new directions your business can take.

Make sure everyone on your team has a copy of the business plan and welcome their input as they perform their roles. 

Ask fellow entrepreneurs for feedback on your business plan and look for opportunities to strengthen it, from conducting more market and competitor research to implementing new strategies for success. 

Start your business with Coursera 

Ready to start your business? Watch this video on the lean approach from the Entrepreneurship Specialization : 

Article sources

1. US Small Business Administration. “ Write Your Business Plan , https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan." Accessed April 19, 2022.

2. Inc. " How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan ,   https://www.inc.com/guides/business-plan-financial-section.html." Accessed April 14, 2022.

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Write your business plan

Business plans help you run your business.

A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through the key elements of your business.

Business plans can help you get funding or bring on new business partners. Investors want to feel confident they’ll see a return on their investment. Your business plan is the tool you’ll use to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.

Pick a business plan format that works for you

There’s no right or wrong way to write a business plan. What’s important is that your plan meets your needs.

Most business plans fall into one of two common categories: traditional or lean startup.

Traditional business plans are more common, use a standard structure, and encourage you to go into detail in each section. They tend to require more work upfront and can be dozens of pages long.

Lean startup business plans are less common but still use a standard structure. They focus on summarizing only the most important points of the key elements of your plan. They can take as little as one hour to make and are typically only one page.

Traditional business plan

write traditional plan

Lean startup plan

A lean business plan is quicker but high-level

Traditional business plan format

You might prefer a traditional business plan format if you’re very detail-oriented, want a comprehensive plan, or plan to request financing from traditional sources.

When you write your business plan, you don’t have to stick to the exact business plan outline. Instead, use the sections that make the most sense for your business and your needs. Traditional business plans use some combination of these nine sections.

Executive summary

Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful. Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company’s leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to ask for financing.

Company description

Use your company description to provide detailed information about your company. Go into detail about the problems your business solves. Be specific, and list out the consumers, organization, or businesses your company plans to serve.

Explain the competitive advantages that will make your business a success. Are there experts on your team? Have you found the perfect location for your store? Your company description is the place to boast about your strengths.

Market analysis

You'll need a good understanding of your industry outlook and target market. Competitive research will show you what other businesses are doing and what their strengths are. In your market research, look for trends and themes. What do successful competitors do? Why does it work? Can you do it better? Now's the time to answer these questions.

Organization and management

Tell your reader how your company will be structured and who will run it.

Describe the  legal structure  of your business. State whether you have or intend to incorporate your business as a C or an S corporation, form a general or limited partnership, or if you're a sole proprietor or limited liability company (LLC).

Use an organizational chart to lay out who's in charge of what in your company. Show how each person's unique experience will contribute to the success of your venture. Consider including resumes and CVs of key members of your team.

Service or product line

Describe what you sell or what service you offer. Explain how it benefits your customers and what the product lifecycle looks like. Share your plans for intellectual property, like copyright or patent filings. If you're doing  research and development  for your service or product, explain it in detail.

Marketing and sales

There's no single way to approach a marketing strategy. Your strategy should evolve and change to fit your unique needs.

Your goal in this section is to describe how you'll attract and retain customers. You'll also describe how a sale will actually happen. You'll refer to this section later when you make financial projections, so make sure to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales strategies.

Funding request

If you're asking for funding, this is where you'll outline your funding requirements. Your goal is to clearly explain how much funding you’ll need over the next five years and what you'll use it for.

Specify whether you want debt or equity, the terms you'd like applied, and the length of time your request will cover. Give a detailed description of how you'll use your funds. Specify if you need funds to buy equipment or materials, pay salaries, or cover specific bills until revenue increases. Always include a description of your future strategic financial plans, like paying off debt or selling your business.

Financial projections

Supplement your funding request with financial projections. Your goal is to convince the reader that your business is stable and will be a financial success.

If your business is already established, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the last three to five years. If you have other collateral you could put against a loan, make sure to list it now.

Provide a prospective financial outlook for the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and capital expenditure budgets. For the first year, be even more specific and use quarterly — or even monthly — projections. Make sure to clearly explain your projections, and match them to your funding requests.

This is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business.  

Use your appendix to provide supporting documents or other materials were specially requested. Common items to include are credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts.

Example traditional business plans

Before you write your business plan, read the following example business plans written by fictional business owners. Rebecca owns a consulting firm, and Andrew owns a toy company.

Lean startup format

You might prefer a lean startup format if you want to explain or start your business quickly, your business is relatively simple, or you plan to regularly change and refine your business plan.

Lean startup formats are charts that use only a handful of elements to describe your company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. They’re useful for visualizing tradeoffs and fundamental facts about your company.

There are different ways to develop a lean startup template. You can search the web to find free templates to build your business plan. We discuss nine components of a model business plan here:

Key partnerships

Note the other businesses or services you’ll work with to run your business. Think about suppliers, manufacturers, subcontractors, and similar strategic partners.

Key activities

List the ways your business will gain a competitive advantage. Highlight things like selling direct to consumers, or using technology to tap into the sharing economy.

Key resources

List any resource you’ll leverage to create value for your customer. Your most important assets could include staff, capital, or intellectual property. Don’t forget to leverage business resources that might be available to  women ,  veterans ,  Native Americans , and  HUBZone businesses .

Value proposition

Make a clear and compelling statement about the unique value your company brings to the market.

Customer relationships

Describe how customers will interact with your business. Is it automated or personal? In person or online? Think through the customer experience from start to finish.

Customer segments

Be specific when you name your target market. Your business won’t be for everybody, so it’s important to have a clear sense of whom your business will serve.

List the most important ways you’ll talk to your customers. Most businesses use a mix of channels and optimize them over time.

Cost structure

Will your company focus on reducing cost or maximizing value? Define your strategy, then list the most significant costs you’ll face pursuing it.

Revenue streams

Explain how your company will actually make money. Some examples are direct sales, memberships fees, and selling advertising space. If your company has multiple revenue streams, list them all.

Example lean business plan

Before you write your business plan, read this example business plan written by a fictional business owner, Andrew, who owns a toy company.

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Blog Business

How to Create a Business Plan to Win Over Investors (7+ Business Plan Templates)

By Midori Nediger , Jul 11, 2023

Business Plan Blog Header

A compelling business plan is essential to every new and growing business.

It’s the primary document that prospective investors use to evaluate the potential of a business, going hand in hand with a business pitch deck .

For a business plan, you need to organize a lot of information into a single, easy-to-read document. More than that, your business plan’s design should be engaging, inspire confidence in your stakeholders and motivate them to back your company and its vision. 

Gone are the days when designing a business plan from scratch was a time-consuming and challenging task. Today, business plan templates offer a convenient solution by providing pre-designed layouts that simplify the process.

In this blog, I’m going to break it down for you. I’ll share the six things you need to know to put together a compelling, engaging business plan. Ready to get started now? Venngage’s online Business Plan Maker  lets anyone create a winning business plan quickly and easily.

Just so you know, some of our business plan templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee.  Sign-up  is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.

Click to jump ahead:

  • How to format your business plan

Startup business plan templates

Simple business plan templates.

  • How to write your business plan
  • How to design an engaging executive summary
  • How to use charts and graphs to present data
  • How to communicate growth strategies in your business plan
  • How to present financial data in your business plan

1. How to format your business plan

To format your business plan:

  • Start with a clear title page.
  • Include an executive summary.
  • Provide a company description.
  • Conduct a market analysis.
  • Describe your product or service offering.
  • Outline your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Include organizational structure and management information.

A typical business plan is an in-depth document and covers every facet of your business (present and future). Creating a traditional business plan makes sense when you have a clear growth plan for the next three to five years, are in need of major funding, or want to attract long-term partners.  

A professional business plan typically has the following sections: 

  • Table of Contents
  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Organization and management
  • Service or product line
  • Marketing and sales
  • Funding request
  • Financial projections
  • An appendix

A business plan can span a dozen or more pages because it presents the big picture, as complete as possible, to reassure others to invest in you. Investment can mean a few different things – usually financial, but also as partners or employees. 

The sections that can take a lot of research and add to the bulk of your business plan are your market analysis, marketing and sales plans, and financial projections. 

These are the sections that demonstrate your business acumen, your long-term vision, and your accountability. Whereas, sections like the executive summary are meant to grab attention, inspire and get people excited about your business. 

Start with a business plan template

To get started on your business plan, save yourself some time and use a template.

Most business plan templates will include things like a cover page, table of contents and the main sections you need. It will also have pre-formatted pages with placeholder text and charts that you can swap out. 

Green Simple Business Plan Template

It takes time to do market research, present growth plans, put together financial projections, analyze your customer base, create competitor breakdowns…the list goes on.

The last thing you want to do is spend precious time formatting the resulting document. 

Save time by building your business plan from an existing business plan template, and customize it with your own content.

With a clean, consistent structure and clear headings, this template is the perfect starting point:

business plan template

Then you’re free to customize the template with helpful visual elements like charts, tables, and diagrams, that will make your pitch deck impossible to resist.

A Venngage business plan template is designed to help you communicate visually  and explain complex ideas easily. The right business plan template for you depends on the length and detail of your business plan, your brand and style, and the different sections you want to cover.

If your small business doesn’t have a dedicated design team, but you still need to learn how to write a business plan to present to investors–build off of a pre-designed business plan template:

Simple Business Plan TemplateSimple Business Plan Template

There are just a handful of our business plan templates that can be customized in the Venngage editor. Browse more business plan templates,  choose one that’s best for you and start editing right away.

Structuring your startup business plan involves organizing it into sections such as executive summary, company description, market analysis, product/service offering, marketing and sales strategy, financial projections, and operational plan.

Here are some business plan template examples:

startup business plan template

Short Business Plan Template

short business plan template

Number your pages and include a table of contents

A table of contents is crucial to help readers navigate your document and quickly find specific sections that are of interest to them.

It’s a good idea to include page numbers, main section headings, and section subheadings here for easy reference.

business plan template

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that your business plan design feels clean and professional and doesn’t distract from your content. You want your information, not your formatting, to be the focus!

2. How to write your business plan 

Crafting a solid business plan is vital for the success of your venture. It serves as a roadmap that outlines your objectives, strategies, and financial projections. Here are three tips for writing your business plan to ensure it’s easy to read, appears professional and is memorable.

Use bulleted lists, bold text, and a clear type hierarchy for ‘skimmability’

Business plans need to be understandable at a glance to attract funding . Investors are looking for information that will help them understand your business quickly and without much effort.

Take a look at this snippet of the business plan template from above:

business plan

What stands out to you?

To me, the large green headers pop out first, making it easy to scan through the sections to find what I want to focus on.

This is because there’s a defined type hierarchy, giving more visual weight to the headers over the body text.

business plan

Next, the unique selling points of this business–superior quality products, unique glass carving and brass inlays, and excellent service–jump out. Because they’re presented in an indented list , they’re easier to see at a glance, which will likely make them more memorable.

Finally, I’m drawn to the bolded stats–“top 30% of the industry” and “4 out of 5 households spent money on renovation”.

Key statistics like these can go a long way towards convincing your investors that you’re worth their time and money. If you’re going to include them within larger paragraphs, make sure they stand out by increasing their font weight.

To sum up: make your report skimmable. Draw attention to important takeaways with indented lists, bolded text, and a clear type hierarchy.

Consider using a one-column or two-column grid

business plan

If your business plan contains only text, stick with a single-column layout that reinforces the linear flow of the document. If your business plan includes some supporting data in the form of charts and tables, use a two-column layout to juxtapose text with its corresponding data.

Maintain page margins that set text at a readable line length

When we read long passages of text, the ease at which we read depends on how the text flows on the page. Something called line length (the number of characters in a horizontal line of text) plays a huge role in readability, and is something you should consider when formatting your business plan.

To dictate line length, designers and typesetters play with the width of page margins (the edges of a document that don’t contain any text or images) with the aim of maximizing readability.

It’s generally accepted that the ideal line length sits somewhere between 40 and 90 characters per line. Any longer or shorter and you’ll find that something feels “off” about your document.

business plan

How do you achieve this in your business plan?

If you use a single-column layout, use nice wide margins (1 ½ to 2 inches) to limit your text to less than 90 characters per line.

business plan template

With a two-column layout, you might need to use narrower margins (possibly as little as ½ an inch on either side) to make sure there’s enough space for at least 40 characters per line of text.

business plan template

The last thing to remember about margins and line length–don’t play around with them from page to page. Use consistent margins across your whole document.

3. How to design an executive summary

An executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan. It should be concise and hook your readers. It should reassure stakeholders that your business plan will be a worthwhile read.

How you choose to structure your executive summary is key. You can deliver a lot of excellent information that simply gets lost in a sea of text and paragraphs. Even if someone reads through it entirely, they may have missed something.

To make key information stand out, use vibrant headings, incorporate visuals throughout, and break up the layout of your text.

Executive Summary Business Plan Template

Not every investor looks for the same thing. Some will care more about who you or your executive team are, while another is interested solely in the financials of the business. Identifying each section makes it easy for readers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

You can also list out the key takeaways, briefly explaining them in the executive summary. If your reader finds everything they needed to know in the executive summary, they’ll happily move onto the rest of the business plan.

Executive Summary Blue Business Plan Template

4. Use one feature color to tie your business plan together

Color should be used with restraint in professional documents like business plans. Instead of adding color solely for aesthetic purposes, think of color selection as another tool to highlight information you want your reader to focus on and to tie the document together.

You shouldn’t need more than a single color (ideally one of your brand colors ) to achieve this in a business plan.

In business plan charts, color should be used only to clarify trends and relationships. Use color to emphasize single important data points, differentiate between real and projected values, or group related data:

business plan template

In the rest of your business plan, keep color to a minimum. At most, use it to make headers stand out or to highlight key points in long-form text, diagrams, or tables.

The nice thing about keeping document colors this simple? It’s hard to mess up, and without any complex design work, it creates a sense of cohesion and unity within a document.

4. How to use charts and graphs to present your data

Since your business plan should be backed by solid data, you might want to include some of that data as evidence, in the form of  charts, tables or diagrams . Even simple visuals can communicate better than long paragraphs of text.

I’ll touch on some specific types of charts commonly used in business plans next, but first let’s review a few general chart design tactics.

Use descriptive titles and annotations to spell out chart takeaways

Avoid generic headers whenever possible. Maximize your chart’s value and impact by providing takeaway messages right in the title.

business plan

In the same vein, add direct annotations to data points or trends that support your case.

business plan

Repeating key messages within a chart, in the title, annotations, and captions, may improve viewers understanding and recall of those messages .

Aid understanding of market size and market share with area charts and pie charts

A market potential analysis is a fundamental pillar of your business plan. Market size and market share are two major components of a market potential analysis.

These numbers are typically in the millions and billions (the bigger the better, really), but most people have trouble grasping the meaning of such big numbers . At a surface level we can understand that one billion is one thousand times larger than one million, but we often struggle to comprehend what that really means.

This is the perfect opportunity to add some visual aids to your business plan.

Use bubble charts to represent market size

Bubble charts are useful for showing general proportions among numbers. Check out this one from our redesigned version of AirBnb’s first pitch deck :

business plan

Without having to think about the absolute values of these very large numbers, we can quickly see how they relate to one another.

While bubble charts are good for making quick, general comparisons, they’re less useful when it comes to precise measurements. To help readers make slightly more accurate judgements of proportion:

Use pie or donut charts to represent market share and market composition

Pie and donut charts are the industry standard for showing market share and market composition, since they’re the most widely understood method for representing part-to-whole relationships.

The way Uber breaks down their market with a simple donut chart makes their biggest segment (a key takeaway) really stand out, while the subtler differences between the smaller segments are still evident.

business plan

When you present a market analysis, use pie charts, donut charts, or bubble charts to aid the reader understanding proportions and part-to-whole relationships.

Use histograms and bar charts to represent demographic distributions in market segmentation summaries

Another part of analyzing market potential is about identifying and understanding target customers. This means segmenting customers by geography, interests, demographics…really anything that might affect purchasing behaviour.

Two standard metrics that most businesses include in a market segmentation summary are customer age and gender. These data are easily summarized in a histogram, with bars that represent age group distribution.

business plan template

Bar charts can then be used to contrast the key behaviors and lifestyle choices of the top consumer segments.

business plan template

Histograms and bar charts are standard features of a market segmentation summary. Use them together to identify and present information about top customer segments.

Outline major milestones with a Gantt chart

Stakeholders will want to see that you have a concrete plan in place to help you reach your revenue goals. When formulating your goals, use the SMART principle to provide your stakeholders with a very clear vision of how you intend to achieve them. 

Use a Gantt chart (a sort of modified bar chart) to outline the major milestones and phases of your business strategy. Try to include a multi-year plan, broken down by quarter and by project or department.

business plan

You can create your own Gantt chart with Venngage.

5. How to communicate growth strategies in your business plan

No matter how impressive your product line or services, your business won’t just magically grow. You concrete marketing and sales plans in place, and effectively communicate strategies to your stakeholders.

Start by acknowledging your target market – who are you going after? This is what your marketing and sales efforts will revolve around after all.

Demonstrate an understanding of the competitor landscape. You will always have direct or indirect competition, and showing how your planning accounts for it is key. Then you can talk about actual plans and strategies you wish to implement.

Present your target audience with persona guides

A product may great on its own. But its value is determined when there is a clear and obvious market for it. You can point out shortcomings of your competition, but you also need to show that your target audience exists and how you’re serving them.

A persona guide provides a great deal of context to readers of your business plan. It’s the best way for them to understand who cares about your product or service, how it aligns with their lifestyle and needs, and why your marketing and sales tactics will work.

Business Plan Persona Guide Template

A persona guide needs to be detailed, and share an intimate understanding of your target audience. The more you can divulge, the more reassuring your research and overall business plan will be.

Business Plan Detailed Persona Guide Template

Even if you don’t have a substantial customer base, you can still create an ideal persona guide to show who you’re pursuing.

Business Plan Ideal Persona Guide Template

Highlight competitors and differentiate yourself with a SWOT analysis

Every business plan should include an analysis of the competitive landscape–an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of competitive businesses.

In terms of visuals, this competitive analysis is typically summarized in a SWOT analysis matrix .

Business Plan SWOT Analysis Template

You can also present the SWOT analysis as a table or a list. The layout is up to you, but you want to focus on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to your competition.

Business Plan SWOT analysis Table Template

While the SWOT analysis framework provides valuable insights, it’s not the entire reflection of your competitive landscape. For example, it doesn’t make it easy to see at a glance the qualities that differentiate your business from your competitors.

To highlight those offerings that set you apart from your competitors, a comparison matrix is more effective. Take a look at these two templates:

Business Plan Competitor Comparison Template

With a direct competitor comparison, it’s easy to present the key differentiators between the existing options for a product or service, and your business.

Alternatively, a “ Magic Quadrant ” can be useful when you’re focused on comparing across two main metrics ( key differentiators ):

business plan

Finally, in a competitive market, there are going to be a lot of players who compete directly or indirectly with you.  A breakdown of them all may not be necessary. Instead, you can point visually to the space that you will address, that has been so far ignored up to now.

To do that, a prioritization chart can be used. By plotting competing businesses on a prioritization chart, you highlight experiences existing competitors focus on, and where your business falls. 

business plan

Use roadmaps to present your marketing and sales plans

To explain any long-term marketing or sales plan, you want visuals. It’s easier to break down strategies you’ll be deploying every month or each quarter, when you can actually show what you’re talking about.

Keep in mind, those reading your business plan may not be marketers or sales executives. Being able to lay out your approach in a way that’s organized, shows how much thought you’ve given to your growth strategies.

You can design a simple roadmap that points to what you’ll be doing throughout the year. The more detailed you can get, the better.

Business Plan Marketing roadmap Template

You can also present your product roadmap , with your marketing roadmap how the business will be growing overall.

Business Plan Product Roadmap Template

You don’t need to use a traditional roadmap layout, either. Experiment with different formats as you may find one easier to work with than another. As long as the time period for different strategies is clear, your roadmap will be easy to understand.

Business Plan Marketing Roadmap Template

6. How to present financial data in your business plan

Presenting financial data isn’t easy. You have to crunch a lot of numbers before you can share projections with confidence. You’ll also need to explain how you arrived at the numbers and prepare for your answers.

Understanding how to organize your information is key to walking potential investors and other stakeholders through your projections.

Use organizational flow charts and summary tables for budget breakdowns and financial summaries

The financials section of your business plan will get a lot of attention from stakeholders. Simple bar charts and pie charts won’t suffice, as they can’t present financial data in very much detail.

If your business has already been operating for some time, stakeholders will expect a detailed report of revenues and expenses. Tables are usually the best choice for this kind of financial summary, as they provide an unbiased view of the numbers and allow stakeholders to look up specific values.

business plan templates

If you’re interested in highlighting a particular trend, however, you may want to include a line chart featuring a smaller snapshot of your financial data:

business plan templates

If you’re just starting your business and you don’t have any detailed revenue data, you can still provide useful information about your budget. Outline higher-level budget allocation with an organizational flow chart .

business plan

Use line or bar graphs to visualize financial trends

You can use different types of graphs to also show how your business has performed thus far. 

You can share results over the course of a year with a line graph. This is effective to show an overall set of trends and growth rates. 

Business Plan Sales Chart Template

You can also compare previous years to highlight how your business has grown.

Your audience should be able to draw conclusions from your data within seconds. If there is simply too much information, or it’s hard to find important information, they will lose interest. 

Business Plan Revenue Projection Template

Looking for a business plan software to help save time and reduce errors? Pick from one of these 7 best business plan software to get started.

A quick summary 

A business plan is the one key document that every young business needs to present their vision to potential investors and other stakeholders.

The quality of a business plan can make or break a young business Here’s a quick recap of what we covered for you to keep in mind:

  • Get started with a template
  • Use a table of contents and numbered pages
  • Use lists, bold headings and aim for skimmability
  • Consider using a one-column or two-column
  • Maintain page margins
  • Use headings to identify the most important information
  • Use one thematic color palette for your design
  • Use descriptive titles and annotations
  • Use area and pie charts to explain market size and market share
  • Use pie/donut charts to visualize marketing share and market composition
  • Use bar charts and histograms to capture demographics data
  • Highlight major milestones with a gantt chart
  • Identify your target audience using persona guides
  • Differentiate yourself with a SWOT analysis/competitor chart
  • Use roadmaps to visualize your marketing and sales plans
  • Use flow charts and summary tables for financial breakdowns
  • Use line or bar graphs for financial trends and projection

You can always reference this post as you work on your business plan. I’ve also included additional blog posts you can reference for specific areas of your business plan.

More Resources for business planning and growth:

Growth Strategy Checklist: Plan Your Business Goals With These 5 Templates

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What is a Marketing Plan and How to Make One?

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How to Communicate Strategy Effectively Using Visuals [Templates]

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30+ Business Report Templates That Every Business Needs

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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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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.

Streamline Your Business Planning Activities with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Discover why over 90% of Fortune 100 companies trust Smartsheet to get work done.

Money Prodigy

23+ Free Entrepreneur Lesson Plans (Projects, Worksheets, etc.)

By: Author Amanda L. Grossman

Posted on Last updated: December 14, 2022

Need free entrepreneurship curriculum, lesson plans, and projects? Here’s entrepreneur lesson plans for high school, middle school, and elementary.

group of tweens working together, text overlay

So, you’re looking for entrepreneur lesson plans to help turn your kids or students into the innovators of tomorrow.

And not just to make them into entrepreneurs, but to benefit your kids and students with the following results of teaching entrepreneurship :

  • Improved academic performance
  • Increased problem-solving and decision-making capabilities
  • Improved interpersonal relationships
  • Higher self-esteem

But, exactly how are you supposed to teach entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurs, among other qualities, need to be able to recognize opportunities in the marketplace. This means finding a need, and figuring out how to solve that need in a profitable way.

This can be as simple as a kidpreneur/kidpreneurship (or kidpreneur-in-the-making) opening a lemonade stand on a smoldering July day near a construction site, and as complicated as creating a machine knob specifically for tea growers in Japan.

And having this ability doesn’t have to result in a person starting their own business; it works equally as well for your child if they work for someone else in the form of more merit raises, one-time bonuses for one-off projects, promotions, leverage in salary negotiations, etc.

In fact, the skill of recognizing an opportunity, and seizing it by writing my own job description resulted in me snagging my first job out of college (worth an awesome $40,000 + benefits to me at the time). More on that in a bit.

What are the other skills a child needs to learn to help them as an entrepreneur?

Psst: you’ll also want to check out my resource list of youth entrepreneurship programs , entrepreneur biographies for kids , kid entrepreneur kits , and full review of the Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox . 

Article Content

How Do You Teach Entrepreneurship?

Teaching entrepreneurship is a bit trickier than, say, teaching algebra. With algebra, the equations come out with the same solutions, every time. But with entrepreneurship?

There are an endless number of variables that go into it, and an endless number of outcomes that can come out of it.

How are you supposed to teach for that?

One of the best ways to teach entrepreneurship is to choose entrepreneurial projects, activities, and lesson plans that aim at nurturing these entrepreneur skills:

  • Ability to identify opportunities
  • Self confidence
  • At least basic knowledge of business finances/financial literacy
  • Knows how to take measured risk
  • Vision and creativity

Elementary School Entrepreneurship Curriculum

Excited to start teaching your elementary school-aged kids about entrepreneurship? Let me share some entrepreneurship lesson plans, resources, and curriculum with you.

Also, check out these 3 kid business plan examples .

1. Venture Lab

Who It’s For : Grades 1-12

Financial Aid : ( Free for non-commercial use ) Curriculum that organizations can purchase to use with students

Length of Program : 90-minute lessons

Location : N/A

Venture Lab offers a curriculum suited for 1st – 12th graders (curriculum is divided into lower elementary, upper elementary, and middle school/high school.) This is a course in a box with all of the lesson plans already completed and is meant to be utilized as part of regular coursework, after school programs, or camps.

Its focus is on teaching girls components of entrepreneurship such as STEAM concepts and design thinking.

2. Money Monsters Start their Own Business

Who It’s For : 4th – 8th grade

Students will read through the Money Monsters Start their Own Business book (PDF provided – 51 pages), and then play a game that has them experience the ups and downs of starting a business.

I love how a Toy Store Income Tracker is included so that each student can track their own earnings and see the numbers for themselves.

Psst: you’ll also want to check out Federal Reserve Bank’s webinar on teaching kids entrepreneurship , which will give you some lesson plan ideas. 

Starting a Business Lesson Plans for Middle School

Do you want to teach your middle school kid (or student) how to start a business, and you need a lesson plan? I’ve actually created a Take Your Child to Work Day printable which will give you lots of ideas for your starting a business lesson plan.

More middle school business lesson plans for how to start a business (all free):

  • Federal Reserve Bank’s Jay Starts a Business (Grades 3-6; comes with teacher’s manual with lesson plans)
  • Free Kid Business Plan Templates
  • Biz Kid’s Crash Course on Entrepreneurship for Middle School
  • EverFI’s Venture Entrepreneurial Expedition (for grades 7-10).
  • Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneurs course
  • Foundation for Economic Education’s Booms and Busts , What is Entrepreneurship? , What is the Entrepreneur’s Role in Creating Value? , etc. (students can earn a Certificate of Achievement)
  • TeenBusiness’s Entrepreneur Lesson Videos series
  • Parade of Entrepreneurs Lesson Plan
  • Lemonade Stand Worksheets , and my best Lemonade Stand Ideas
Psst: Try holding a market day in your class. Here are 22 things for kids to make and sell , 17 boy crafts to sell , and help pricing their products in this market day lesson plan .

Teaching Entrepreneurship to High School Students – Free Entrepreneurship Curriculum

There are some great curriculum and materials out there for teaching entrepreneurship in high school, many of which include entrepreneur worksheets for students.

Psst: you also might want to check out these 5 business books for teens , and 11 business games for students .

1. Alison’s Entrepreneurial Skills Path

Who It’s For : Business students, and people interested in learning about creating a business

Financial Aid : Free

Length of Program : 6 lessons, each between 1 and 3 hours

Alison is a free, online platform with tons of courses, and one of the paths you can go down is an entrepreneurial skills one.

Teachers of the courses include venture capitalists, professors at Harvard, and professional entrepreneurs.

Lessons include:

  • Characteristics of the Successful Entrepreneur
  • Critical Skills for Entrepreneurs
  • Creating an Entrepreneur’s Checklist for Success
  • Entrepreneurship – Creating the Business
  • Key Elements of Entrepreneurial Success
  • Why Entrepreneurs Should Think Big

2. Youth Entrepreneurs

Who It’s For : Students

Financial Aid : Schools pay for this program, with the cost based on how many students get free and reduced lunches

Length of Program : 1 year

With this program, students first focus on economics, then they focus on starting their own businesses.

3. Diamond Challenge Business Curriculum

Who It’s For : Kids and teens

Length of Program : 14 modules

Looking for a video business curriculum with instructional guides? The Diamond Challenge’s program covers the following:

  • What is Entrepreneurship?
  • Opportunity Recognition
  • Opportunity Screening
  • Types of Businesses
  • Building a Business like a Scientist
  • Using a Business Model Canvas

They also offer a Social Curriculum track that’s 6 video modules long, including:

  • What is Social Entrepreneurship?
  • Wicked Problems and Grand Challenges
  • Social Entrepreneurship Processes and Challenges

4. INCubateredu

Who It’s For : 10th and 12th graders

Financial Aid : Free (at schools where it’s available)

Length of Program : 1 year (followed by acceleratoredu for the 2nd year)

Through Uncharted Learning’s program, 10 th to 12 th graders develop their own business, pitch their idea ta a shark-tank style event, and even have a chance at receiving funding.

5. JA BE Entrepreneurial®

Who It’s For : Grades 9-12

Financial Aid : Free for students

Length of Program : 7, 45-minute sessions

Location : Anywhere

Through your child’s school, they can take Junior Achievement’s Entrepreneurial program. The course teaches students how to create a business plan, plus how to start a venture.

Lessons covered include:

  • What’s My Business?
  • Who’s My Customer?
  • What’s My Advantage?
  • Competitive Advantages
  • Ethics are Good for Business
  • The Business Plan

6. JA Company Program Blended Model

Length of Program : 13 classes (2 hours/class), or as a 1-year program with 26 classes (1 hour/class)

Location : Anywhere (online course)

This is an online program that teaches high schoolers how to solve a problem/fill a need in their community through entrepreneurship.

  • Start a Business
  • Vet the Venture
  • Create a Structure
  • Launch the Business!
  • Run the Business

7. The Mint’s Be Your Own Boss

Who It’s For : Teens

Length of Program : 3 lessons

Starting with the Be Your Own Boss Challenge , The Mint takes your teen through the following three lesson:

  • Planning Your Business
  • Money & Your Business
  • The Law & Your Business

8. Wharton High School’s Entrepreneurship

Who It’s For : High School students

Length of Program : 50+ lesson plans

These lesson plans go through the following:

  • Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurial Opportunities
  • Global Markets
  • Business Plans

9. YE$ Youth Entrepreneurship

Who It’s for : high school students

Cost : Free

Location : Anywhere (it’s a PDF)

Here’s a free PDF with tons of entrepreneur lesson plans and research done for educators, that is meant to go along with a 4-H program. You’ll find some nuggets in here, plus, it’s free!

Now let’s take a look at entrepreneurial projects that can teach your kids and teens all about starting a business with hands-on experiences.

10. Build a Business Plan

Who It’s For : Middle School and High School

Location : Anywhere (online)

Check out this plug n’ play business plan creator! You could send your students to this page to work through a business idea of theirs.

Then, at the end, they can print out their business plan!

Questions they’ll need to answer include:

  • Your big idea
  • Who will buy
  • How you’ll spend and make money

Entrepreneur Worksheets for Students

While I would recommend taking on one of the projects below, or one of the hands-on lesson plans from above, there are also entrepreneur worksheets students can use to learn about businesses.

Here’s a few of my favorites (all free):

  • Lemonade Stand Free Printables (here’s my best lemonade stand ideas , too)
  • Lemonade Stand Worksheets
  • Family Guide to Getting a Family Business Going (kid-centered)
  • Small Business Administration’s Lean Startup Business Plan
  • Take your students through the DECA Idea Challenge (you’ll need to pick your own everyday item to challenge students with, as the competition has ended for the year)
  • Take your students through the DECA Entrepreneur of Tomorrow Challenge (again, the competition is over, but the PDF is still available for you to set up your own)
Psst: you might want to check out my review on the Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox .

2 Entrepreneurial Projects – What is an Entrepreneurial Project?

Entrepreneurial projects are a smart way to teach entrepreneurship to kids, because, as with any project, it gives them a chance to dive deeper into a topic that interest them (all under the guise of teaching them how to start and run a business).

Entrepreneur Project #1: Winter Beverage Outdoor Tasting Contest

It’s soooooo easy to sit inside all winter long and slowly accumulate cabin fever (plus a few pounds). That’s why you’ve got to look for fun things to do in the winter.

Well today? We’re going to switch things up. I’ve created a family date night for you ( family winter activities !) that has both an indoor AND an outdoor component.

But don’t worry – with this fun winter activity we’ll keep things toasty throughout.

So, what’s the game plan? Each of your kid(dos) will make (rather,  create ) a warm winter beverage recipe  indoors . Then here’s the twist: you’re going to host a family taste testing contest around your fire pit in the backyard.

Not only will this make a fun family memory, but your kid(dos) will actually walk away with more money knowledge in the process centered around the all-important lesson of how to make a profit!

Psst: Now that’s a money lesson I could have used as a kid, specifically as I’ve gone into biz for myself as an adult.

Host a Winter Beverage Outdoor Taste Testing

Finding fun things to do in the winter doesn’t have to mean you’re freezing your tootsies off. There’s nothing better to keep you warm outdoors in the wintertime than a toasty drink. Well, a toasty drink around a roaring fire.

Here’s how it’s going down:

Step #1: Choose an Event Date

Build the anticipation for your family by choosing a date 1 to 2 weeks out (so that there’s time for you guys to complete the rest of the prep work).

Fill out the invitation on Page 1 of the free printable, and display prominently on your family’s bulletin board/gathering center in the kitchen so everyone knows the date of the big event.

Set the stage for the competition by having your family read their mission out loud. Other cool factors you can add in: make it a Friday or Saturday family date night, under the stars. Let the kids stay up a little past bedtime to complete.

Step #2: Your Kid(dos) Research Hot Drink Ideas to Enter into the Competition

Your kids are the ones entering the competition. They’ll be in the driver seat of actually creating their own recipe from scratch (with some inspiration from below).

There are lots of toasty, kid-friendly drink recipe ideas to get them started:

  • Hot caramel apple cider
  • Vanilla steamer with cinnamon
  • Harry Potter Warm Butterbeer

They’ll get lots of help not only from looking up recipe examples on sites like Pinterest, but also from the worksheet in the free printable (Page 2).

Step #3: Shop for the Ingredients

Once your budding restaurant consultant has determined possible ingredients they’ll need for their signature drink, they’ll need you, Mama Bear, to purchase them.

Take the list your kid(dos) have created and go to the store (solo, or with them) to make the purchases.

Having trouble coming up with a pool of possible ingredients to buy? Use the lists below for inspiration of what to pick up (a few of these ingredients you probably already have at home) and let your kids create what they can from it:

  • Bases : hot cocoa, apple cider, chai tea, milk
  • Flavors : cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, flavor syrups
  • Sweeteners : sugar, brown sugar, caramel
  • Creamers : milk, half & half, almond milk, heavy cream, etc.
  • Top-offs : whipped cream, caramel sauce, orange peels for zesting

Save your store receipt, as your kid(dos) will need this information to price their drinks later on.

Step #4: Your Kid(dos) Tinker + Perfect their Drink

Using the purchased ingredients as well as anything in your home they can find, host a kitchen lab session where your kid(dos) tinker with ingredients and perfect their super-secret, signature recipes (talk about fun things to do in the winter inside!).

They’ll write down the exact portion sizes to each ingredient that they use as they go along, which is important for the next step.

Step #5: Your Kid(dos) Figure Out the Profit Margin of their Signature Drink

Remember, the goal is to create a new drink for this restaurant that not only costs less than $5, but has at least a 60% profit margin for the owner.

Ahem: between you and me, that means their cost needs to come in under $2.00.

So, as your kid tinkers with ingredients, they need to keep price in mind.

Note: this step can seem a bit unwieldy, but is SO important for the whole process. Just know – I’m outlining both how to do this all by hand, as well as giving you shortcuts to online calculators where your kid(dos) will still learn the process by setting up the inputs and thinking through how it all fits together.

Of course, we’re not talking about the cost of the entire ingredient that you’ve purchased. After all, it’s unlikely they’ll use an entire carton of milk to create one drink. We’re talking about the small portion size that they used of the product.

In other words, they’re not going to get the cost of a single drink they’ve created from your grocery store receipt as it is now. They need to do some calculating based on the measurements of each ingredient that goes into each drink.

You need to know how much it costs to create just ONE of your super-secret signature drinks so that you can calculate the profit margin.

What’s a profit margin? It’s the percentage of what you keep as profit from each $1.00. For example, a 20% profit margin means that we earn $0.20 on every dollar. That means that the other 80% or $0.80 are expenses. Remember that Jack, the man from The Yeti Slide, needs a 60% profit margin, or $0.60 on each dollar in profit after expenses are taken out.

Step #1: Write down your ingredients + quantities.

Step #2: Convert each quantity in your recipe to the quantity on the product label.

Divide your ingredients up by dry ones (like cocoa powder), and wet ones (like heavy cream or vanilla extract).

Then use the appropriate table below to convert the amount in your recipe to the amount that’s found on the ingredient’s product label (front of package).

For example, if you used 3 teaspoons of cocoa powder (dry ingredient), then your conversion is to a ½ ounce (the cocoa powder can is in ounces). Or if you used 2 tablespoons of almond milk, you find on the Wet Conversion table that you used 1 fl. Oz. (the almond milk carton is in Fl. Oz.).

Hint: Can’t find the conversion or a little confused? You can plug the exact quantity of your ingredients into  this liquid converter  or  this dry converter calculator  online and convert it into the measurement found on your product label).

Conversion tables:

Dry Conversions

Liquid Conversions:

Step #3: Calculate the cost of each quantity of ingredient used.

Now you need to price each converted quantity of ingredient by figuring out how much each ounce or fluid ounce costs, and then multiplying it by the amount you’ve used.

Hint: A good estimate to use for dashes of spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg is $0.05.

  • Write down the overall price of each ingredient used.
  • Write down the converted amount you used of it.
  • Divide the total amount in the product package by its price to find what each ounce or fluid ounce costs.
  • Then multiply that by the converted amount you used.
  • Write down the cost. Then add all of the individual ingredient costs to get your total expense to create the drink.

Example: I used 1 tablespoon (tbsp.) of heavy cream. One 8 fl. oz. container of heavy cream at the store costs $2.99. That is $0.37/ounce. I look at the conversion chart below, and see that 1 tbsp. converts to ½ ounce. So, I divide $0.37/2 ounces, and see that this ingredient for just one drink costs $0.186 (you can round up to $0.19).

Ingredient Cost:   $2.99 _ Converted Amount Used:  ½ fl. Oz.  Total Product Amount:  8 fl. Oz.   Cost per ounce:  _$0.37/fl. Oz.  Cost of Ingredient Used:  $0.37 X ½ = $0.186 .

Looking for a shortcut?  Here’s a free online tool for pricing out beverages . You’ll need the converted amounts.

Step #4: Calculate Your Profit Margin

Figure out how high your profit margin is if you sell the drink for $5.00.

Profit on Drink: $5.00 –  total drink cost  = _ $ _________.

Profit Per Dollar:  Your answer from above  \  Cost drink is sold for ($5.00)  =  $ Profit

Profit Margin:  $ Profit  X 100 =  Profit Margin%

Step #6: Taste Judging Begins

By now you’ve set the scene for some fun things to do in the winter outdoors – think a crackling bonfire out in the backyard (or in your fire pit. Heck, you can de-hibernate the grill for some winter outdoor cooking/heating), plus a table/flat surface where your kids can place their super-secret signature creations.

Bust out some blankets, cover straw bales with table cloths…you get the idea. (And if you’re in Houston like we are? Well, a hoodie should suffice).

Have your kid(dos) place their drinks on the tasting mat, as well as fill in how much their drink costs and what the profit margin is (all calculations they’ll be guided through on the free printable).

Now they get to take a break, while the parents taste + score each one!

Included in the printable are both a tasting mat as well as a score card with specific criteria, such as inventiveness, taste, and profit margin.

Step #7: Declare the Winners

There are winners in a variety of categories, and then an overall drink that is chosen for The Yeti Slide’s Yeti Roasts:

  • Most Inventive
  • Best Money-Maker
  • Newest Yeti Slide Signature Drink

Looking for fun things to do in the winter? This two-part activity for your child that will leave them understanding profit margins like a pro, plus give your family an awesome family date night under the stars on a winter evening when you might otherwise be watching tv.

What could be better than that? If nothing else, you’ll have created quite the memory.

Entrepreneur Project #2: A System for Your Child to Identify a Need in Your Home + Propose a Solution

We want to encourage your child to come to you with things they see that could use improvement, and ways they could add value or provide a solution for you.

Let’s go through how to do this.

Step #1 : Discuss with your child the idea that people need things + services.

Here’s a conversation outline for you with a few blanks to fill in (where underlined) :

“People need things and services in their lives. They need things to maintain their health, they need things to make life more enjoyable. They need parts to make repairs to their belongings. They need really cool items to buy as gifts for others. They need better systems or processes to make things work more efficiently, which just means taking less time and less money and getting the same (or better) results. All over the world, people need things. In my own life, three needs that I’ve satisfied through purchasing something include  X ,  Y , and  Z . By purchasing them, they made my life easier because  > . Generally, when people need something, they are willing to pay money for the solution. That’s why there are so many companies, all which provide products + solutions for people’s needs.”

Pssst: MAN I wish I could go back 17 years and give myself this talk! Would’ve saved me several adult years of banging my head against the wall trying to understand how to make money.

Step #2 : Task your child with identifying a need around the house/property/car.

What could this look like?

A Few Examples for you + your kiddo :

  • Find a more efficient way to organize the “command center” in your home.
  • Use Google Maps or another program to find a more efficient route for your commute.
  • Organize the wood pile + create newspaper logs that are fireplace-ready.
  • Find a better way to organize/clean/maintain the video game center in your home.
  • Clean out your car (I used to do this for my parents!) + add a car trash can to the back area so that in the future the kids can just use that instead of throwing things on the ground.
  • Introduce a better laundry system for the family’s clothes so that they actually  all  end up in the laundry room, sorted, and ready to be washed.

The possibilities are endless, and specific to what needs your child sees in your family life.

Step #3 : Once they’ve identified a need and come to you with it, you must decide if it’s worth it to you to move forward. Don’t be afraid if, after they’ve told you a need they  think  you have but that you don’t  actually  have, to tell them that it isn’t a current need of yours. Hey, the road to success is paved with failed products! This is excellent feedback so that they start to understand their “customer” and dig deeper. Perhaps they’ll even start to ask YOU what you want from them!

Step #4 : What are both of your expectations for this job so that you know when the job is completed correctly?

Let them tell you what they propose to accomplish and what that would look like.

Then you share what you, as a paying customer, expect in results. Hash this out if need be (just like a real negotiation between a biz and their potential client).

This includes a deadline.

Step #5 : Now you need to ask them for a price.

I know, I know. You might be wondering, “why on earth am I going to let my child choose how much I’m willing to pay them for something they want to do around the house? Isn’t it MY money?”

I totally get that. But remember that the nature of this lesson is to ignite that entrepreneurial spirit in them. Instead of you offering what you’re willing to pay, have them go through the exercise of pricing their efforts. Then the negotiations start.

This sets them up for good negotiation + valuation skills in the future.

Determine the market price you’ll pay, which is where their price (the supplier) and your price (based on how much you need what they’re offering + a dash of several other things) meets. $__________.

Step #6 : Your child completes the work + notifies you.

Step #7 : Using the checklist you both created, provide oversight and see if everything is as it was supposed to be.

Step #8 : Pay the agreed upon rate once everything is up to par. And if they don’t quite complete the project + deliver what they promised, it’s up to you whether you want to make a partial payment, or not pay at all (satisfaction guaranteed could be added to this lesson as well).

If your child makes it through this process, then they will have successfully figured out a “market” need, fulfilled it, and gotten paid from their initiative. This is something that will no doubt shape their futures.

And if they don’t quite succeed? Well the lessons are vast for all entrepreneurs as they traverse through the mistakes, failures, and successes.

It’s really a win-win situation.

Let me show you what I mean, with an example in my own life.

How I Used this Skill Set to Write My Own First Job Offer Worth $40,000 + Benefits

While some of my dorm mates were floundering around trying to find employment, I was busy enjoying my last two months of college before entering the “real world”.

Why is that? Because I had a job waiting for me. And the only reason why I had that job was I spotted a need in a local company, and wrote my way into it.

I had interned for an organization in my small college town, and they ended up building a start-up company set to open its doors sometime around when I was due to graduate. One day I asked them if I could have a full-time job there come June. The director looked at me, and said, “go ahead and write up a job description of what you propose you would do here. Then we’ll see.”

So I went back to my college dorm and worked on a job description. I thought about what the company was trying to achieve, and tied this into what I wanted to do with my life (at least what I thought I wanted to do at the time).

I wish I had saved a copy of the actual job description, but my sharp memory tells me it went something like this:

“Amanda L. Grossman will be the International Marketing & Sales contact at Chesapeake Fields. The International Marketing & Sales Person is responsible for researching new markets around the world where Chesapeake Fields’ products would be well received. Primary responsibilities include understanding these markets, making contact with potential wholesalers and distributors, sending samples, and being the brand ambassador for Chesapeake Fields within these markets.”

With one minor change − they put sales in front of marketing in my job title − I got an offer from them for $40,000 + benefits to do just that. Within the one year I worked there, I ended up negotiating an initial container load of $27,000 worth of our product to a major food retailer in Taiwan.

Unfortunately, my job AND that company went under not long after my first and only year there. But writing my way into a company right out of college based on a need I saw that I could fill? Well that was enough to impress future employers who then hired me.

See how lucrative learning this skill could be for your child? I’d love to hear below what needs (perceived or actual ones) your child comes up with to fulfill.

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Thursday 8th of June 2017

Uh, I totally love this post! My hubby and I are both entrepreneurs and want to instill the same in our children... definitely going to use these tips!!

Friday 9th of June 2017

*Squee*! Thanks, Lauren. I'd love to hear what your kiddos come up with:).

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How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

African American entrepreneur climbing a mountain representative of writing a business plan to outline your entrepreneurial journey.

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated November 30, 2023

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

What’s your biggest business challenge right now?

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: How to collaborate with AI on your business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information you need to cover in a business plan sometimes isn’t quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

If you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template to get you started, download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

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

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

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

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan.

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Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

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Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or a new entrepreneur, a business plan is crucial to the success and growth of your business, but it can feel like an overwhelming task.

A business plan should act as a “compass,” according to Danielle Langton, a business strategist and coach based in Austin, Texas. It can help you maintain focus as you navigate the market, silence internal and external distractions, and secure business financing .

A well-written business plan will also create confidence, clarity, direction and alignment for a business owner and their team. To help you navigate the process, two business advisors share their best tips for writing a business plan.

1. Think big picture

Rather than diving into a 60-page business plan template, start by conceptualizing your business, recommends Oren Shani, a certified business advisor at Accion Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit community development financial institution based in California.

For new businesses, that means thinking about what differentiating value you bring to the market and how to turn that value into revenue, says Shani. For operating businesses, Langton says, it means understanding what worked the previous year and what didn’t.

Once you have this “bird’s-eye view,” you can more easily narrow down your action steps, which will vary based on your business, says Shani. “A lot of businesses find that they don’t need that 60-pager,” he says, noting that some businesses really only need a one-page mini-plan, or “lean plan.”

2. Factor in your lifestyle

Langton’s main advice to her clients is to prioritize the balance between business and their personal lives. Understanding and outlining your priorities outside of the business gives you clarity on how you can spend time with your business, which can ultimately make you a more efficient and effective business owner. “As you are creating a living,” she asks her clients, “are you actually also enjoying the life that it is providing, or are you just so focused on the revenue?”

To create this clarity, she recommends starting with your “nonnegotiables,” or things that you aren’t willing to sacrifice in your daily life to run your business. From there, you can build what your ideal week looks like and work your business schedule around that.

3. Make the time

As for actually sitting down to write your business plan , consider both your schedule and how you work best. For those who prefer to focus on one task at a time, Langton suggests setting aside a week, even blocking the time on your calendar if you’re having trouble making it a priority. Consider a change of scenery to clear any mental blocks or provide extra inspiration.

However, if feeling overwhelmed has kept you from starting in the first place, Shani advises against compartmentalizing. Getting something on paper, even if it’s just a bulleted list to start, is more effective than waiting for a free day with no distractions, he says. Plus, working on your business plan while running your business can provide benefits too, as real-time analysis can enhance your strategy as you go.

Langton adds that perfectionism and business plans don’t go hand in hand, especially for new business owners.

4. Embrace the living business plan

Whether you’re a new business owner or 20-year veteran, a business plan is never truly done, according to both Shani and Langton. As your understanding of your business, the market, and your customer base changes and adapts, so should your business plan.

The lengthiest part of the business plan process is the learning, rather than actually getting it on paper, says Shani. Every time a sale is made or not made, for instance, a business owner should seek to understand why or why not. This will help them identify their customers’ purchasing behaviors and how their customers engage with the business’s brand and products.

For some business owners, a monthly or quarterly cadence to check in, reprioritize and shed the things that aren’t working may make the most sense. Others may find it more useful to revisit their plan when there are new insights or significant changes to the market, such as new regulations, nearby real estate developments or fresh competitors, says Shani.

5. Leverage your busy season

For business owners expecting an upcoming holiday rush , this can be good news for your business plan, in addition to your bottom line. Leaning in during your busy season can be one of the best ways to collect data about your business, and capitalizing on that information at the end of the year can set you up well for the next, says Langton.

Not everything has to be buttoned up by the first of the year, but making observations and mental notes now will set you up to make meaningful updates to your business plan in January, she says.

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How to create a business plan: a step-by-step guide.

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From entrepreneurs with the seed of a great idea to established companies, every business needs a business plan.

But what is a business plan exactly? Is it worth the time and effort to write one?

Let’s take a look at why your organization needs this business roadmap and how it can set you up for long-term success.

What Is a Business Plan?

The easy answer, of course, is right there in the name—it’s a plan for your business. It serves as a guide for how you manage your organization.

Considered a basic business principle for startups, business plans are helpful for all kinds of companies.

For example, a plan for a startup might be a simple one or two-page document, sometimes referred to as a lean plan. It lays out only the essential information, immediate milestones the firm wants to reach and how to secure funding to meet those goals.

For a larger or established company, the plan might be more comprehensive in a traditional format . It typically includes areas such as financial data, a marketing overview and future plans for each department in the organization.

In either case, the intent is to provide a map for your business. You want to answer questions like how the business works, what your goals are and how your team will reach them.

Business plans can be internal or external, meaning it is used as a guide to get your team on the same page or an overview for those with whom you do business or to pitch to those who want to invest in your ideas.

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

As with the plan itself, the need and purpose for one vary between businesses.

Let’s take a look at two scenarios, involving ownership of rental property.

1. Growing Business

Imagine you own and rent a handful of condominium properties. You have plans to acquire more and turn it from a hobby to a full-time pursuit. This means a lot is going on in the early stages of your organization’s development. A business plan breaks down the moving pieces into more manageable portions.

For your growing real estate portfolio, those pieces include acquisition and capital improvement costs. Also important are income projections and growth or financial benchmarks. Plus, many tasks exist with finding a property, securing loans and closing deals.

One of the central uses of most startup business plans is for raising investment funds . A business plan conveys what the new company needs and convinces others to help fund its growth. For banks, lenders or investors, the business plan shows them the who, what and how of the business operations. Then it communicates why the new business is a solid investment.

2. Established Firm

A second scenario involves an already established real estate firm. You own several different types of properties and rent and manage them with an in-house team.

A business plan for an existing company takes on a much different purpose than for the startup.

Even if profitable, your company still needs a pathway to future growth. You need strategies for responding to a changing market or tracking current projects. You also want to establish goals or metrics to define your success.

An established owner might use a business plan to determine what it takes to move into a new market. You might tweak that same plan in response to new competition entering the market.

For firms currently on solid footing, the business plan helps assess where they stand. It can then detail their next steps for achieving further success and how to accomplish more, faster.

Updating Your Plan

After writing a plan, one of the key questions becomes how often do you update it. The answer is—it depends.

There are times when you might need a “one-off” version. For instance, those that are provided to a specific shareholder or future partner.

In other cases, you may develop a plan for the fiscal year 2020. Then that plan will serve as the basis for your 2021 plan, then the 2022 plan and so on.

You should approach your plan as a living, breathing document. Create a master business plan, one kept up to date based on your company’s activity. You can then tailor that plan to a specific request or need without having to recreate it from scratch.

Elements of a Business Plan

Contrary to popular belief, business plans don’t need to be thousand-page documents. The critical factor is that they meet the needs of your business.

Business plans themselves come in various forms. As we noted, startups might use a one-page document to ask for initial funding. A legacy company might use a 10-page analysis to showcase its financial health.

Both could even be for the same audience , such as a financial institution. Or it could be used for customers or suppliers. Whoever it’s directed toward, the narrative of the plan serves the company that is creating it.

Despite a difference in style or purpose, every business plan includes a handful of central elements.

View these as your jumping-off point when writing the first draft of your plan. Hone in on the information that’s important to your organization to create a plan that reflects your company’s needs.

Executive Summary

The one universal aspect for every plan is the inclusion of an executive summary . This is your plan’s introduction to the reader, so be sure it’s well-constructed.

The key to your executive summary is providing meaningful, relevant information in a brief description. Your main points should cover:

  • Why your company’s expertise provides the best solution in your particular field.
  • Why your specific area of focus is a favorable market in which to take part.
  • Why your firm is best positioned to meet the market’s needs in this area.

To stand out, allow your introduction to mirror your firm’s culture and voice. If you produce and sell skateboards, let your passion for those unique boards shine through in the summary. If your organization is a financial services company, your summary should reflect a firm grasp of investment trends and customer needs.

To captivate your audience, both internal and external, start out with a compelling summary.

Company Overview

This second section in a business plan is straightforward and includes the background and history of your organization. Keep your firm’s bio short and to the point. Summarize your location(s), history, significant accomplishments and ownership or legal data.

If your group has a mission statement , include it in this section as well.

Some internal plans often leave out the company bio. Write one anyway. It’s good practice to convey your organization’s story. Plus, if you have it written, it’s ready to go should you ever need to publicly share it.

Product or Service Information

In this section, you’ll detail what your company does. This includes the goods you produce and sell or the services you provide. Make this section effective by capturing the following:

  • How your solution is a benefit to customers.
  • How you produce that solution, such as the lifecycle of product production or philosophy and method behind a service.
  • Is your solution proprietary? Does it feature copyrights or patents?
  • What is your company’s market advantage in what you do?

With product details, it’s best to paint a picture of the marketplace then detail how your business is positioned as a leader in that specific market.

Marketing or Sales Plan

Within your business plan, it’s not necessary to drill down into the finer details of every area. This is most true with your marketing or sales strategy. You don’t have to list every advertising source, but you should convey a grasp of your target demographics and how to reach them. You can include key points such as:

  • How you price your offerings.
  • How you promote and generate interest and sales from new customers.
  • How you will keep those customers.

While product data shows your current market position, marketing data focus on your tactics to keep and grow that market share .

For potential investors to know whether or not to invest, they need to know financial information. While the level of financial detail varies based on the audience’s need, the best financial plans feature the following:

  • Financial forecast—this varies with industry but should include at least a five-year forecast.
  • Income statement.
  • Balance sheet.
  • Cash flow statement.
  • Capital expense expectations.
  • Financials show both the current monetary health of your firm and what your future success may look like.

If you’ve got a lot of good data, don’t hold it back. This is especially true if the plan is to attract investors. The more comprehensive your financial data, the better.

Organizational Team

Your team summary is an extension of your company bio. The goal is to clearly define your company’s hierarchy and the key players at the top. This induces any influential department heads or partnerships you’ve built.

You also want to identify the principles that govern your company’s management style. Company culture is an underrated aspect of today’s business climate. Placing importance on it in your business plan will set yours apart from those that don’t. This is also a good spot to detail any personnel plans or challenges to consider.

Additional Elements

Depending on the purpose of the business plan or its intended audience, there are two other sections worth noting.

In creating a comprehensive plan, you may need to include supporting documentation. The appendix helps organize requested materials or information that did not fit within your primary plan. These inclusions may consist of the following:

  • Contracts or legal documents.
  • References.
  • Permits or licenses.
  • Product specs or images.
  • Organizational charts.
  • Detailed financial reports.

Funding Request

For startups, or even established firms, seeking investment, you’ll want to include a dedicated section that outlines the request . You should specify the type of funding you need, how you’ll apply the funds and over what timeframe. It also helps to include a note on the financial endgame for your organization.

Final Thoughts

Whether for securing funding or getting your established team on the same page, business plans are invaluable for providing a pathway to success.

Develop a plan that best serves your company and its future growth. Keep it up to date and focused on the elements vital to your success, including where you’ve been, where you want to go and how you plan to get there.

A great business plan doesn’t need to be expertly written to be effective. It should, however, be written so you can expertly execute it.

Advance Your Business Expertise

In a degree program at PGS, you’ll expand your knowledge, skills and experiences in practical areas such as developing a business plan. Check out business programs from the associate to master’s level to discover your next step in growing your career and achieving your business goals.

Learn more about our adult programs

Learn more about our graduate programs

how to make a business plan for students

Kacey Spencer

Kacey Spencer (B.S. ’12, MBA ’20) previously served as development coordinator for Cornerstone University’s WCSG Radio. She also served as an enrollment counselor for Cornerstone University’s Professional & Graduate Studies division. She graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s in business management. She enjoys cooking, reading, event planning and being outside in nature.

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School Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

private school business plan

School Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their schools.

If you’re unfamiliar with creating a school business plan, you may think creating one will be a time-consuming and frustrating process. For most entrepreneurs it is, but for you, it won’t be since we’re here to help. We have the experience, resources, and knowledge to help you create a great business plan.

In this article, you will learn some background information on why business planning is important. Then, you will learn how to write a school business plan step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your school as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategies for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start a school or grow your existing school, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your school to improve your chances of success. Your school business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Schools

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for schools are donations and gifts, tuition, personal savings, credit cards, bank loans, and angel investors. When it comes to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to ensure that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for schools.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

How to write a business plan for a school.

If you want to start a school or expand your current one, you need a business plan. The guide below details the necessary information for how to write each essential component of your school business plan.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your executive summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the kind of school you are running and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have a school that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of schools?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan.

  • Give a brief overview of the school industry.
  • Discuss the type of school you are operating.
  • Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers.
  • Provide a snapshot of your marketing strategy. Identify the key members of your team.
  • Offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Overview

In your company overview, you will detail the type of school you are operating.

For example, you might specialize in one of the following types of schools:

  • Private K-12 school : this type of school typically charges tuition, and may be affiliated with a religious organization, or specialize in a particular learning method.
  • Charter school: this type of school offers primary or secondary education for a tuition, and may receive some public funding, and/or donations. These schools require their students to take state-mandated exams.
  • Special subject school: this type of school specializes in teaching a specific subject, such as driving, first-aid, self-defense, fine arts, language, or general tutoring.
  • Preschool: this type of school typically serves children who are aged 3 and 4. These schools prepare young children to enter formal education, and are funded by some combination of tuition, donations, and government grants.

In addition to explaining the type of school you will operate, the company overview needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to questions such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of students served, the number of students accepted into elite formal education institutions, etc.
  • Your legal business Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry or market analysis, you need to provide an overview of the school industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the school industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your marketing strategy, particularly if your analysis identifies market trends.

The third reason is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your school business plan:

  • How big is the school industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential target market for your school? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your school business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: families with elementary-aged children, families with high-school-aged children, families with preschool children.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of school you operate. Clearly, families with high schoolers would respond to different marketing promotions than families with preschoolers, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the potential customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can recognize and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

Finish Your School Business Plan in 1 Day!

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With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other schools.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t directly competing with your product or service. This includes public schools, virtual schools, and families who do homeschooling. You need to mention such competition as well.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their business and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as

  • What types of students do they serve?
  • What type of school are they?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide specialized instruction, either in subject or in method?
  • Will you offer courses or services that your competition doesn’t?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a school business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of school that you documented in your company overview. Then, detail the specific products or services you will be offering. For example, will you provide religious-focused K-8 education, college preparatory courses, or single-subject instruction like driving or fine arts?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your plan, you are presenting the courses and/or extracurricular activities you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the site of your school. Document where your company is situated and mention how the site will impact your success. For example, is your school located in a growing neighborhood, in the city center, or will you operate purely online? Discuss how your site might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your school marketing plan is where you will document how you will drive potential customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertise in local papers, radio stations and/or magazines
  • Reach out to websites
  • Distribute flyers
  • Engage in email marketing
  • Advertise on social media platforms
  • Improve the SEO (search engine optimization) on your website for targeted keywords

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your school, including answering calls, planning and delivering instruction, applying for grants, fundraising, performing administrative tasks, overseeing instructors, handling discipline, scheduling and monitoring extracurricular activities, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to enroll your Xth student, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your school to a new city.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your school’s potential to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing schools. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in running a school or experience with public school administration or who has served on a public school board.  

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.

Income Statement

An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenue and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you enroll 100 or 1,000 students per semester, and/or offer extracurricular activities? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets

Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your school, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a lender writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and ensure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.

When creating your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a school:

  • Cost of equipment and supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Other start-up expenses (if you’re a new business) like legal expenses, permits, computer software, and equipment

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your school location lease or a list of elective courses or extracurricular activities you will offer.  

Writing a business plan for your school is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will understand the school industry, your competition, and your customers. You will develop a marketing strategy and will understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful school.  

School Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my school business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily write your school business plan.

How Do You Start a School?

Starting a school is easy with these 14 steps:

  • Choose the Name for Your School
  • Create Your School Business Plan
  • Choose the Legal Structure for Your School
  • Secure Startup Funding for Your School (If Needed)
  • Secure a Location for Your Business
  • Register Your School with the IRS
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
  • Get Business Insurance for Your School
  • Buy or Lease the Right School Equipment
  • Develop Your School Business Marketing Materials
  • Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your School
  • Open for Business

Learn more about   how to start your own school .

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your School business plan?

OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.   Click here to learn about Growthink’s business plan writing services .

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template For Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs

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

Clifford Chi

Published: August 17, 2023

Free Business Plan Template

how to make a business plan for students

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

Thank you for downloading the offer.

Reading sample business plans is essential when you’re writing your own. As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, you’ll learn how to write one that gets your business off on the right foot, convinces investors to provide funding, and confirms your venture is sustainable for the long term.

sample business plans and examples

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But what does a business plan look like? And how do you write one that is viable and convincing? Let's review the ideal business plan formally, then take a look at business plan templates and samples you can use to inspire your own.

Business Plan Format

Ask any successful sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you they have a unique plan for every single game. The same logic applies to business. If you want to build a thriving company that can pull ahead of the competition, you need to prepare for battle before breaking into a market.

Business plans guide you along the rocky journey of growing a company. Referencing one will keep you on the path toward success. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, you might be wondering, "Where do I start? How should I format this?"

Typically, a business plan is a document that will detail how a company will achieve its goals.

how to make a business plan for students

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

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

Most business plans include the following sections:

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is arguably the most important section of the entire business plan. Essentially, it's the overview or introduction, written in a way to grab readers' attention and guide them through the rest of the business plan. This is important, because a business plan can be dozens or hundreds of pages long.

Most executive summaries include:

  • Mission statement
  • Company history and leadership
  • Competitive advantage overview
  • Financial projections
  • Company goals

Keep in mind you'll cover many of these topics in more detail later on in the business plan. So, keep the executive summary clear and brief, including only the most important takeaways.

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

This example was created with HubSpot’s business plan template:

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example

And the executive summary below tells potential investors a short story that covers all the most important details this business plan will cover in a succinct and interesting way.

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

Image Source

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • Clearly define a problem, and explain how your product solves that problem, and show why the market needs your business.
  • Be sure to highlight your value proposition, market opportunity, and growth potential.
  • Keep it concise and support ideas with data.
  • Customize your summary to your audience. For example, emphasize finances and return on investment for venture capitalists.

Check out our tips for writing an effective executive summary for more guidance.

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market. Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will your product fill that gap?

In this section, you might include:

  • The size of the market
  • Current or potential market share
  • Trends in the industry and consumer behavior
  • Where the gap is
  • What caused the gap
  • How you intend to fill it

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, and SOM analysis and perform market research on your industry. You may also benefit from creating a SWOT analysis to get some of the insights for this section.

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

This example uses critical data to underline the size of the potential market and what part of that market this service hopes to capture.

Business plans examples: Market Opportunity

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

  • Focus on demand and potential for growth.
  • Use market research, surveys, and industry trend data to support your market forecast and projections.
  • Add a review of regulation shifts, tech advances, and consumer behavior changes.
  • Refer to reliable sources.
  • Showcase how your business can make the most of this opportunity.

3. Competitive Landscape

Speaking of market share, you'll need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are. After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you'll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another. Performing a competitive analysis can help you uncover:

  • Industry trends that other brands may not be utilizing
  • Strengths in your competition that may be obstacles to handle
  • Weaknesses in your competition that may help you develop selling points
  • The unique proposition you bring to the market that may resonate with customers

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

The competitive landscape section of the business plan below shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are. It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location, which shows useful experience in this specific industry. This can help build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

  • Complete in-depth research, then emphasize your most important findings.
  • Compare your unique selling proposition (USP) to your direct and indirect competitors.
  • Show a clear and realistic plan for product and brand differentiation.
  • Look for specific advantages and barriers in the competitive landscape. Then, highlight how that information could impact your business.
  • Outline growth opportunities from a competitive perspective.
  • Add customer feedback and insights to support your competitive analysis.

4. Target Audience

This section will describe who your customer segments are in detail. What is the demographic and psychographic information of your audience?

If your immediate answer is "everyone," you'll need to dig deeper. Ask yourself:

  • What demographics will most likely need/buy your product or service?
  • What are the psychographics of this audience? (Desires, triggering events, etc.)
  • Why are your offerings valuable to them?

It can be helpful to build a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear on why you're targeting them.

Target Audience Business Plan Example

The example below uses in-depth research to draw conclusions about audience priorities. It also analyzes how to create the right content for this audience.

Business plans examples: Target Audience

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

  • Include details on the size and growth potential of your target audience.
  • Figure out and refine the pain points for your target audience , then show why your product is a useful solution.
  • Describe your targeted customer acquisition strategy in detail.
  • Share anticipated challenges your business may face in acquiring customers and how you plan to address them.
  • Add case studies, testimonials, and other data to support your target audience ideas.
  • Remember to consider niche audiences and segments of your target audience in your business plan.

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you'll discuss how you'll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. You might consider including information on:

  • The brand positioning vision and how you'll cultivate it
  • The goal targets you aim to achieve
  • The metrics you'll use to measure success
  • The channels and distribution tactics you'll use

It can help to already have a marketing plan built out to help you with this part of your business plan.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler. It offers a comprehensive picture of how it plans to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Business plans examples: Marketing Strategy

Tips for Writing Your Marketing Strategy

  • Include a section about how you believe your brand vision will appeal to customers.
  • Add the budget and resources you'll need to put your plan in place.
  • Outline strategies for specific marketing segments.
  • Connect strategies to earlier sections like target audience and competitive analysis.
  • Review how your marketing strategy will scale with the growth of your business.
  • Cover a range of channels and tactics to highlight your ability to adapt your plan in the face of change.

6. Key Features and Benefits

At some point in your business plan, you'll review the key features and benefits of your products and/or services. Laying these out can give readers an idea of how you're positioning yourself in the market and the messaging you're likely to use . It can even help them gain better insight into your business model.

Key Features and Benefits Business Plan Example

The example below outlines products and services for this business, along with why these qualities will attract the audience.

Business plans examples: Key Features and Benefits

Tips for Writing Your Key Features and Benefits

  • Emphasize why and how your product or service offers value to customers.
  • Use metrics and testimonials to support the ideas in this section.
  • Talk about how your products and services have the potential to scale.
  • Think about including a product roadmap.
  • Focus on customer needs, and how the features and benefits you are sharing meet those needs.
  • Offer proof of concept for your ideas, like case studies or pilot program feedback.
  • Proofread this section carefully, and remove any jargon or complex language.

7. Pricing and Revenue

This is where you'll discuss your cost structure and various revenue streams. Your pricing strategy must be solid enough to turn a profit while staying competitive in the industry. For this reason, you might outline:

  • The specific pricing breakdowns per product or service
  • Why your pricing is higher or lower than your competition's
  • (If higher) Why customers would be willing to pay more
  • (If lower) How you're able to offer your products or services at a lower cost
  • When you expect to break even, what margins do you expect, etc?

Pricing and Revenue Business Plan Example

This business plan example begins with an overview of the business revenue model, then shows proposed pricing for key products.

Business plans examples: Pricing and Revenue

Tips for Writing Your Pricing and Revenue Section

  • Get specific about your pricing strategy. Specifically, how you connect that strategy to customer needs and product value.
  • If you are asking a premium price, share unique features or innovations that justify that price point.
  • Show how you plan to communicate pricing to customers.
  • Create an overview of every revenue stream for your business and how each stream adds to your business model as a whole.
  • Share plans to develop new revenue streams in the future.
  • Show how and whether pricing will vary by customer segment and how pricing aligns with marketing strategies.
  • Restate your value proposition and explain how it aligns with your revenue model.

8. Financials

This section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to figure out funding strategies, investment opportunities, and more. According to Forbes , you'll want to include three main things:

  • Profit/Loss Statement - This answers the question of whether your business is currently profitable.
  • Cash Flow Statement - This details exactly how much cash is incoming and outgoing to give insight into how much cash a business has on hand.
  • Balance Sheet - This outlines assets, liabilities, and equity, which gives insight into how much a business is worth.

While some business plans might include more or less information, these are the key details you'll want to include.

Financials Business Plan Example

This balance sheet example shows the level of detail you will need to include in the financials section of your business plan:

Business plans examples: Financials

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

  • Growth potential is important in this section too. Using your data, create a forecast of financial performance in the next three to five years.
  • Include any data that supports your projections to assure investors of the credibility of your proposal.
  • Add a break-even analysis to show that your business plan is financially practical. This information can also help you pivot quickly as your business grows.
  • Consider adding a section that reviews potential risks and how sensitive your plan is to changes in the market.
  • Triple-check all financial information in your plan for accuracy.
  • Show how any proposed funding needs align with your plans for growth.

As you create your business plan, keep in mind that each of these sections will be formatted differently. Some may be in paragraph format, while others could be charts or graphs.

Business Plan Types

The formats above apply to most types of business plans. That said, the format and structure of your plan will vary by your goals for that plan. So, we’ve added a quick review of different business plan types. For a more detailed overview, check out this post .

1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas.

If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business. You can check out this guide for more detailed business plan inspiration .

2. Feasibility Studies

Feasibility business plans focus on that business's product or service. Feasibility plans are sometimes added to startup business plans. They can also be a new business plan for an already thriving organization.

3. Internal Use

You can use internal business plans to share goals, strategies, or performance updates with stakeholders. Internal business plans are useful for alignment and building support for ambitious goals.

4. Strategic Initiatives

Another business plan that's often for sharing internally is a strategic business plan. This plan covers long-term business objectives that might not have been included in the startup business plan.

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

When a business is moving forward with an acquisition or repositioning, it may need extra structure and support. These types of business plans expand on a company's acquisition or repositioning strategy.

Growth sometimes just happens as a business continues operations. But more often, a business needs to create a structure with specific targets to meet set goals for expansion. This business plan type can help a business focus on short-term growth goals and align resources with those goals.

Sample Business Plan Templates

Now that you know what's included and how to format a business plan, let's review some templates.

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

Download a free, editable one-page business plan template..

The business plan linked above was created here at HubSpot and is perfect for businesses of any size — no matter how many strategies we still have to develop.

Fields such as Company Description, Required Funding, and Implementation Timeline give this one-page business plan a framework for how to build your brand and what tasks to keep track of as you grow. Then, as the business matures, you can expand on your original business plan with a new iteration of the above document.

Why We Like It

This one-page business plan is a fantastic choice for the new business owner who doesn’t have the time or resources to draft a full-blown business plan. It includes all the essential sections in an accessible, bullet-point-friendly format. That way, you can get the broad strokes down before honing in on the details.

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

We also created a business plan template for entrepreneurs.

The template is designed as a guide and checklist for starting your own business. You’ll learn what to include in each section of your business plan and how to do it. There’s also a list for you to check off when you finish each section of your business plan.

Strong game plans help coaches win games and help businesses rocket to the top of their industries. So if you dedicate the time and effort required to write a workable and convincing business plan, you’ll boost your chances of success and even dominance in your market.

This business plan kit is essential for the budding entrepreneur who needs a more extensive document to share with investors and other stakeholders. It not only includes sections for your executive summary, product line, market analysis, marketing plan, and sales plan, but it also offers hands-on guidance for filling out those sections.

3. LiveFlow’s Financial Planning Template with built-in automation

Sample Business Plan: LiveFLow

This free template from LiveFlow aims to make it easy for businesses to create a financial plan and track their progress on a monthly basis. The P&L Budget versus Actual format allows users to track their revenue, cost of sales, operating expenses, operating profit margin, net profit, and more.

The summary dashboard aggregates all of the data put into the financial plan sheet and will automatically update when changes are made. Instead of wasting hours manually importing your data to your spreadsheet, LiveFlow can also help you to automatically connect your accounting and banking data directly to your spreadsheet, so your numbers are always up-to-date.

With the dashboard, you can view your runway, cash balance, burn rate, gross margins, and other metrics. Having a simple way to track everything in one place will make it easier to complete the financials section of your business plan.

This is a fantastic template to track performance and alignment internally and to create a dependable process for documenting financial information across the business. It’s highly versatile and beginner-friendly. It’s especially useful if you don’t have an accountant on the team. (We always recommend you do, but for new businesses, having one might not be possible.)

4. ThoughtCo’s Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: ThoughtCo.

One of the more financially oriented sample business plans in this list, BPlan’s free business plan template dedicates many of its pages to your business’s financial plan and financial statements.

After filling this business plan out, your company will truly understand its financial health and the steps you need to take to maintain or improve it.

We absolutely love this business plan template because of its ease-of-use and hands-on instructions (in addition to its finance-centric components). If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing an entire business plan, consider using this template to help you with the process.

6. Harvard Business Review’s "How to Write a Winning Business Plan"

Most sample business plans teach you what to include in your business plan, but this Harvard Business Review article will take your business plan to the next level — it teaches you the why and how behind writing a business plan.

With the guidance of Stanley Rich and Richard Gumpert, co-authors of " Business Plans That Win: Lessons From the MIT Enterprise Forum ", you'll learn how to write a convincing business plan that emphasizes the market demand for your product or service. You’ll also learn the financial benefits investors can reap from putting money into your venture rather than trying to sell them on how great your product or service is.

This business plan guide focuses less on the individual parts of a business plan, and more on the overarching goal of writing one. For that reason, it’s one of our favorites to supplement any template you choose to use. Harvard Business Review’s guide is instrumental for both new and seasoned business owners.

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know writing a business plan is one of the most challenging first steps to starting a business. Fortunately, with HubSpot's comprehensive guide to starting a business, you'll learn how to map out all the details by understanding what to include in your business plan and why it’s important to include them. The guide also fleshes out an entire sample business plan for you.

If you need further guidance on starting a business, HubSpot's guide can teach you how to make your business legal, choose and register your business name, and fund your business. It will also give small business tax information and includes marketing, sales, and service tips.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of starting a business, in addition to writing your business plan, with a high level of exactitude and detail. So if you’re in the midst of starting your business, this is an excellent guide for you. It also offers other resources you might need, such as market analysis templates.

8. Panda Doc’s Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Panda Doc

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

Once you fill it out, you’ll fully understand your business’ nitty-gritty details and how all of its moving parts should work together to contribute to its success.

This template has two things we love: comprehensiveness and in-depth instructions. Plus, it’s synced with PandaDoc’s e-signature software so that you and other stakeholders can sign it with ease. For that reason, we especially love it for those starting a business with a partner or with a board of directors.

9. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several free business plan templates that can be used to inspire your own plan. Before you get started, you can decide what type of business plan you need — a traditional or lean start-up plan.

Then, you can review the format for both of those plans and view examples of what they might look like.

We love both of the SBA’s templates because of their versatility. You can choose between two options and use the existing content in the templates to flesh out your own plan. Plus, if needed, you can get a free business counselor to help you along the way.

Top Business Plan Examples

Here are some completed business plan samples to get an idea of how to customize a plan for your business. We’ve chosen different types of business plan ideas to expand your imagination. Some are extensive, while others are fairly simple.

Take a look.

1. LiveFlow

business plan example: liveflow

One of the major business expenses is marketing. How you handle your marketing reflects your company’s revenue. We included this business plan to show you how you can ensure your marketing team is aligned with your overall business plan to get results. The plan also shows you how to track even the smallest metrics of your campaigns, like ROI and payback periods instead of just focusing on big metrics like gross and revenue.

Fintech startup, LiveFlow, allows users to sync real-time data from its accounting services, payment platforms, and banks into custom reports. This eliminates the task of pulling reports together manually, saving teams time and helping automate workflows.

When it came to including marketing strategy in its business plan, LiveFlow created a separate marketing profit and loss statement (P&L) to track how well the company was doing with its marketing initiatives. This is a great approach, allowing businesses to focus on where their marketing dollars are making the most impact.

"Using this framework over a traditional marketing plan will help you set a profitable marketing strategy taking things like CAC, LTV, Payback period, and P&L into consideration," explains LiveFlow co-founder, Lasse Kalkar .

Having this information handy will enable you to build out your business plan’s marketing section with confidence. LiveFlow has shared the template here . You can test it for yourself.

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

Sometimes all you need is a solid mission statement and core values to guide you on how to go about everything. You do this by creating a business plan revolving around how to fulfill your statement best. For example, Patagonia is an eco-friendly company, so their plan discusses how to make the best environmentally friendly products without causing harm.

A good mission statement should not only resonate with consumers but should also serve as a core value compass for employees as well.

Outdoor clothing retailer, Patagonia, has one of the most compelling mission statements we’ve seen:

"Together, let’s prioritise purpose over profit and protect this wondrous planet, our only home."

It reels you in from the start, and the environmentally friendly theme continues throughout the rest of the statement.

This mission goes on to explain that they are out to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to protect nature."

Their mission statement is compelling and detailed, with each section outlining how they will accomplish their goal.

4. Vesta Home Automation

business plan example: Vesta executive summary

This is the kind of business plan you need when applying for business funds. It clearly illustrates the expected future of the company and how the business has been coming along over the years.

This executive summary for a smart home device startup is part of a business plan created by students at Mount Royal University . While it lacks some of the sleek visuals of the templates above, its executive summary does a great job of demonstrating how invested they are in the business.

Right away, they mention they’ve invested $200,000 into the company already, which shows investors they have skin in the game and aren’t just looking for someone else to foot the bill.

5. NALB Creative Center

business plan examples: nalb creative center

This fictional business plan for an art supply store includes everything one might need in a business plan: an executive summary, a company summary, a list of services, a market analysis summary, and more. Due to its comprehensiveness, it’s an excellent example to follow if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store and need to get external funding to start your business .

One of its most notable sections is its market analysis summary, which includes an overview of the population growth in the business’ target geographical area, as well as a breakdown of the types of potential customers they expect to welcome at the store. This sort of granular insight is essential for understanding and communicating your business’s growth potential. Plus, it lays a strong foundation for creating relevant and useful buyer personas .

It’s essential to keep this information up-to-date as your market and target buyer changes. For that reason, you should carry out market research as often as possible to ensure that you’re targeting the correct audience and sharing accurate information with your investors.

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

If you’re looking for a SaaS business plan example, look no further than this business plan for a fictional educational software company called Curriculum Companion Suites. Like the business plan for the NALB Creative Center, it includes plenty of information for prospective investors and other key stakeholders in the business.

One of the most notable features of this business plan is the executive summary, which includes an overview of the product, market, and mission. The first two are essential for software companies because the product offering is so often at the forefront of the company’s strategy. Without that information being immediately available to investors and executives, then you risk writing an unfocused business plan.

It’s also essential to front-load your company’s mission if it explains your "Why?" In other words, why do you do what you do, and why should stakeholders care? This is an important section to include if you feel that your mission will drive interest in the business and its offerings.

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

Culina's sample business plan is an excellent example of how to lay out your business plan so that it flows naturally, engages readers, and provides the critical information investors and stakeholders need. You can also use this template as a guide while you're gathering important details. After looking at this sample, you'll have a better understanding of the data and research you need to do for your own business plan.

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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Best Guide on How to Write a Business Plan

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Table of Contents

You can have great business ideas, but there’s more to building a business than just innovative ideas. Every business is set on a solid business plan. A business plan is the steppingstone of a business which gives a comprehensive roadmap to structuring, functioning, and growing a new business. Therefore, knowing how to write a business plan to acquire the necessary funding and bring new investors and business partners on board to generate more profit and return on investment is crucial.

What is a Business Plan – the Introduction

Typically, a business plan is important because it offers detailed information to increase the chances of making a business successful. Knowing how to write a good business plan will help in the following aspects:

  • Market analysis to gather crucial information about factors and conditions affecting the industry.
  • Competitive analysis to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors
  • Customer segmentation to divide customers into multiple groups based on the specific characteristics.
  • Marketing to advertise the business using research reports
  • Logistics and operations plan to plan and execute the production process.
  • Cash flow projection to determine how much money is coming in and out of the business.

Despite being an important business component, many entrepreneurs and business professionals don’t have the skills and expertise to create a good business plan. Below we’ve highlighted some common stressors you will likely encounter when learning how to write a business plan.

  • Setting unrealistic financial projections to impress lenders and investors is one of the common problems of business plans.
  • Not defining the right audience can drain money and increase loss.
  • Over-hyping the business idea without any relevant research and financial planning.
  • Bad research and using outdated information giving discredit the business idea.
  • Hiding weaknesses and probable challenges without enough focus on the competitors
  • Inadequate knowledge about the distribution channels or adding too much information to demonstrate one’s knowledge.
  • Inconsistency about the market-related data or quoting conflicting data or statistics.

These are only a few of the many stressors students learning how to write a business plan endure. That’s why to solve this issue once, and for all, we have prepared this guide on how to write a great business plan without unwarranted stress and anxiety. Let’s start, then.

How to Write a Business Plan Step-by-step?

Step 1: understanding your business.

When an executive or entrepreneur has to secure loans or funding for a business, it’s essential to convince the lender or investor about why the business is worth investing in, what the business will make, how the business will make money, who the business will advertise to, and other discussions that the lenders must know. The only way to you can answer these questions about a business is to determine the following factors:

Defining a business concept and vision:

Every business needs a concept and vision to communicate the purpose of the business’s work. The vision statement should address the business’s greater purpose while combining its core values and production standards into a multifaceted ideal which can be used as a source of direction. Moreover, the business concept and vision statement should reflect specific actions related to the business goal, which should be adjusted once a goal is achieved.

Identifying your target market and competition:

Identifying and understanding a customer is a crucial business element, as not every person is a potential buyer. For a business to thrive and achieve its goal, it should segment the market into groups and determine the target customers and how much they would pay for a product or service.

A detailed understanding of the market will help you determine where the customers are, what media channels they use, their probable buying habits and how to motivate them to purchase your products and services. Once you have identified the target market, research your competitors and their products and services. Determine why buyers prefer their product or service, what makes them unique, what form of marketing they use to target customers, and how they retain brand loyalty.

Conduct your SWOT analysis:

A SWOT analysis helps to Analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a business. When learning how to write up a business plan, do a SWOT analysis to point out the things a business should immediately notice and highlight the areas of action and consideration. Also, you can see how the business can improve and remunerate the possibilities. The secret to a good SWOT analysis report is being honest. Hence, while analyzing your business plan, you can follow these question checklists to give your investors an honest picture of the business.

  • The best thing about the business
  • More successful department or procedure
  • Tangible assets owned by the business
  • Team’s skills and business reputation
  • Competitive strengths, and how are they different from competitors
  • Skill gaps on the team
  • Process or product needing improvement
  • Areas lacking competitiveness
  • Tangible assets the business lacks
  • Struggles to clear invoices on time and maintain cash flow
  • Challenges with the location


  • Need for new products or services
  • Ways to increase the customer base
  • New possibilities to capitalise
  • Changes in regulations and their impact on the business
  • Ways to improve the effectiveness of PR
  • Market trends posing threats.
  • Competitors
  • Control of the supply chain and its pricing
  • Payment behavior on cash flow
  • Poor PR or negative coverage
  • Technology, environmental change, or regulation posing threats

Collecting details for each of these quadrants of the SWOT analysis makes it easy to create strategies for setting realistic and measurable goals for business growth.


For those who don’t know how to write a business plan, nothing is more intimidating than a blank page. However, anyone can learn how to write a business plan step-by-step with focus and proper planning. Start your business plan with a proper structure, noting the key elements you’ll include in each step. Since structuring is a key element of learning how to write a business plan, we’ve put together an overview to help you develop your plan in an organized manner.

Executive summary:

An executive summary plays a pivotal role in a business plan and highlights the key points from your plan. Yes, squeezing in all the important information from your plan can get stressful, but not impossible. If you don’t know how to write the executive summary of a business plan, here’s what you should remember to include in the executive summary section:

  • Business concept – States what the business does
  • Business goals and vision – Shows what the business wants to do.
  • Product description and differentiation – Highlights your products and services and how they are different from the competitors
  • Target market – Focuses on the buyers
  • Marketing strategy – Highlights the plans for increasing the reach
  • Current financial standing – State current revenue earning
  • Projected financial state – Foresees future revenue generation
  • The ask – The amount of money being asked
  • The team – Professionals involved in the business

Refer to some real-life examples and sample executive summaries to better understand how to write a business plan executive summary.

Company description:

As the name suggests, the company description is the detailed explanation of two fundamental questions: who are you, and what is the plan with your business? Answering these questions will help you determine your business’s purpose, your offerings, how you are different from the others, how things are looking for you and why you deserve a good investment. Here’re some components you should include in the description:

  • Your business structure (sole proprietorship, limited partnership, general partnership, or incorporated company)
  • Your industry
  • Your business model
  • Background information about your business
  • Your business’s vision, value proposition, and mission
  • Business objectives (short and long terms)
  • The team members and their remuneration

Market analysis:

Irrespective of your business type and size, in-depth research and analysis of your target market are mandatory to determine whether you will make or break it in the market. Therefore, research and choose the right market for your product or service to succeed. Gain an overview of your market estimate, business position and the competitive landscape to persuade your investors of the assumptions.

Organisation and management:

Another key aspect of learning how to write a business plan step-by-step is detailing the legal structure of your business plan. The organization and management section should communicate about who is running the business. In case there’s a management team, using organizational charts can be helpful to show the company’s internal structure, roles, responsibilities, and people’s relationships, while stating each person’s contribution to the success of the business.

Product or service line:

Your offerings should be featured in most areas of the business plan. If your business focuses on multiple products, include information about each product or service. In case of limited products, give additional information for every kind. For instance, if your product line is bags, shoes, and other accessories, but you offer bags of different kinds, your business plan should list the types and provide some information on each, the source of the product and the intellectual property you own, stating how things they’ll boost sales.

Marketing and sales strategy:

Your marketing strategies are directly linked to the sales you will likely generate. It should outline the current decisions and future strategies, showing how the ideas fit the customer. Today, social media sites are a huge platform for promoting businesses due to their vast reach. However, if it is not part of your marketing strategy, you should rethink and re-plan. Also, a marketing plan should include four important subjects: price, product, promotion, and place, the four Ps of the marketing mix.

Financial projections:

Even if your idea is a brilliant one and you have invested enough time, effort, and money in it, a business cannot survive without strong financial health. Understandably, a lender or investor will only invest in a business in the foreseeable future. The depth of the financial details will depend on the goals and should include three major financial views: an income statement, a cash-flow statement, and a balance sheet, along with appropriate financial projections and sample numbers.

Funding request (if applicable):

Your numbers are the most vital components of your business plan. Don’t miss mentioning your cash flow, balance, profit, loss, and income statements. Have the projections ready before requesting funding from potential lenders and investors. You can also include break-even analysis and ROI calculations to strengthen your case.


Your potential lenders and investors will certainly want to know how your product differs from the others. Therefore, you need to research relevant data and information explaining relevant data and information related to the market, challenges, competitors, trends and other factors. You should gather information about what they did well and explain how you can do better. For example, if there are different underserved markets, explain with data how you intend to maximize the opportunities for increasing profit.

Another important factor in how to write a good business plan is to conduct a detailed market analysis. Devoting sufficient time to research the market you want to enter is a wise idea. It will help you identify the emerging trends and those attainable. Therefore, the ultimate goal should be to identify an ideal market for business.

Conducting market research and competitive analysis is likely the most time-consuming step of writing a business plan, as you will have to do an in-depth assessment of the marketing environment you want to operate in. Especially when securing an investment or a loan, your plan should demonstrate your understanding of the market, the popular trends and other dynamics.

Writing a business plan should show your understanding of the market, the trends and the competition. Furthermore, it must describe how you plan to reach your target consumers, the pricing strategy, and the marketing activities you’ll use to achieve the intended goal.

Learning how to write a business plan is incomplete if you don’t set realistic financial projections. Creating a financial plan will give you a clear idea of the financial statements and forecasts necessary for setting goals and getting business loans. Writing financial projections can intimidate even the best entrepreneurs. But an individual doesn’t have to be a finance expert to know how to write up financial projections for a business plan. You can start by forecasting sales over a period and the expense budget like marketing expenses, costs, taxes and equipment, and list the future and potential risks likely to impact the financial plan.


Breaking down a large task like a business plan can help you complete them efficiently and use your time and resources wisely. Here’s what you should do to break down the plan into multiple manageable sections:

  • To stay focused on the main direction, you should be thorough with the end goal of your task, which is to give the potential lenders and investors a clear picture of the business and secure a loan or an investment.
  • Once your goal is ready, list the sections you need to prepare for your business plan. Create a list of the necessary points that you need to mention in the plan. For an easier understanding, you can create a visual map to keep track of all the points you need to mention in your plan.
  • Assess your strong factors, review the weaknesses, identify the opportunities, and record threats and their impact on the business. Remember, one of the key benefits of a business plan is to get a broader market landscape. It should help the investors to understand the competition, consumer trends and preferences, so make sure to write the plan with utmost clarity and coherence.
  • Revise and review the entire business plan to ensure consistency and accuracy. Drawing up monetary projections, devising organizational plans, and understanding the market and competitive scenario can reduce risk. Therefore, make sure you review and revise your plan for complete accuracy.


In our next step to learning how to write up a business plan, we will focus on the visual elements and formatting guidelines. One of the common mistakes individuals make while writing a business proposal is not working on the visual appeal. You cannot expect a positive response from a lender or an investor with a shoddy proposal. Besides the aesthetic factors, the plan should communicate the intent clearly and capture attention. Here are some elements you can use to create a visually appealing business plan:

  • Use infographics to illustrate the complicated details and save readers from reading page after page. It should explain the key features of your service or product, present relevant figures, facts, and stats, and list all the services. Furthermore, it should summaries the main ideas, draw comparisons and give directions.
  • Use flow charts to visualize a workflow and simplify the decision-making process while keeping everyone on the same page. Note that your flow chart should focus on one concept at a time so readers aren’t confused. Use suitable icons, colors, and fonts to highlight different types of information and make the document scannable.
  • Outline the timeline to help your potential investors or lenders better understand the following steps and set expectations. Timeline graphics is a great tool for helping clients visualize different segments of the project that otherwise would have been ignored.
  • Also, present your team structure using visuals and an organizational chart to outline the professionals involved with the business according to the hierarchy. Instead of creating a take-it-or-leave-it plan, make sure all the visuals are in place, presenting the key elements of your plan to enhance the clients’ understanding.

Irrespective of what visual elements you choose for your business plan, make sure it accomplishes three primary aspects:

  • Clarify the steps for the business growth
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the finances
  • Educate the potential investors, lenders or bankers about the business structure, purpose, sales and monetary projections and the future of the business.

Therefore, mind the formatting styles. The font style should be consistent in all headings and sub-headings. You can use fonts like Verdana, Arial or Sans Serif to make reading straightforward. As for the font size, 10 to 12 points is the ideal size with one-inch margins to improve the readability of the business plan. Finally, attaching a cover page with your business plan showcasing the logo, tagline, and value proposition is a good idea.

After writing the plan, carefully review it to ensure everything aligns with your business objective. All information should be accurate and complete following the standard formatting and design elements. Your plan should be short and easy to scan. If you have additional files that the readers might find valuable should be added to the appendices. Be sure to include a call to action or follow-up plan to indicate the end of your business proposal.

The last thing you want in your business plan is to have writing errors. Grammar, spelling or punctuation is common writing errors that must be strictly avoided to impress investors and secure funds. If you are unsure how to write and proofread a business proposal plan, you can ask a professional with relevant expertise. S/he can help you learn how to write and proofread a business proposal plan step-by-step, so your information is presented in an easy-to-understand format.


Now that you have completed your business plan, it’s time to get feedback from your trusted sources. Sharing your business plan with trusted advisors or mentors can help you fine-tune it to strengthen it. You will get objective perspectives and work on building relationships with potential investors or lenders. Let’s elaborate more on why seeking feedback on your plan is essential.

Feedback increases the scope for improvement –

You may have all information about the topic there’s to know. Despite so, getting valuable insights from others will help you identify your plan’s potential errors or weaknesses. It will allow you to refine the areas of concern and increase your chances of getting an investment. Feedback also helps determine whether further clarification is required for any of the sections in the plan .

Revising and refining the plan based on feedback –

Making changes following feedback can make a business plan more effective and stronger. With others’ opinions, you see things from a third person’s perspective. That way, you can evaluate things differently and have a realistic view of the strengths and weaknesses of your business to make the venture a success. Ask someone you trust to review your proposal and give constructive suggestions so you can make the necessary changes to boost your chances of success.

A second opinion is useful in getting a second opinion on your plan. You can spot the errors and inconsistencies, or gaps much more efficiently and gain a fresh outlook on how to write a great business plan step by step while meeting the business goals, criteria and expectations. Although refining a plan as per experts’ feedback can be quite a task, doing so will improve credibility and help to gain success.


The entire process of writing a business plan can get overwhelming, even for the best of students. Things only get more stressful when you don’t know how to write a business plan. Fortunately, first-timers can find ample examples of how to write a business plan to start with a task of this significance.

Next, you should recognize and manage the stressors to get through the entire process. One way to stay focused and avoid stress is to break the entire task into multiple measurable bits. Breaking the task into multiple sections will help you track the time used, and you can plan accordingly.

Don’t hesitate to seek support from professionals or mentors. They can guide you throughout the process and give you constructive feedback on the proposal so you can connect the gaps and improve the overall quality by correcting grammar , spelling, punctuation and formatting errors. Additionally, you can align the business objectives, methods and outcomes with the investors’ or lenders’ needs and expectations using suitable data and information.

The entire process of researching and writing a business plan is demanding. No matter how time-consuming and tedious the process gets, always be persistent and keep a positive mindset. You mustn’t get carried away with excessive stress and remain persistent in creating a flawless plan following the fundamental guidelines. You can create a writing and revision checklist to crosscheck the information you have mentioned in the plan to ensure perfection.

The key step to writing a business plan without stress is to follow the writing plan step by step. Here’s what you should do to write a business plan:

  • Create an executive summary
  • Describe the company
  • Conduct market and competitive analysis (SWOT analysis)
  • Outline organisation and management
  • List out the products and services
  • Do customer segmentation
  • Create a marketing, operational and financial plan

Research to gather relevant information and develop your plan based on the available data from different sources. It’s a real struggle when you have no clue about it. Despite the challenges the task is likely to pose, focus on the key advantages of a well-crafted business plan which include the following:

  • Helps in forecasting future steps
  • Required for applying for credit
  • It comes in handy in identifying case flaw issues
  • Useful for allocating resources and understanding the completion of better
  • Secures talent and improves the understanding of the competitors

Then what are you waiting for? Get practicing learning how to write a great business plan.

Frequently Asked Questions by Students

How can i write a business plan without experiencing stress.

The best way to write a business plan without stress is to understand the requirements and guidelines thoroughly. Next, gather relevant information from trustworthy sources and convincingly prepare your plan to secure high investments. Another important aspect of completing a business plan without stress is to start early. With sufficient time, you can research and learn more about business planning before beginning.

What Are Some Effective Strategies for Writing A Stress-free Business Plan?

Here are some non-stress tips for writing a strong business plan:

  • Start with the executive summary
  • Describe your company
  • Show how you are different from others in the market
  • Give details about your business
  • Highlight your products and services
  • Figure out the objective of your business plan
  • Gather data, facts and information to support your projections
  • Edit and proofread based on expert feedback

Are There Any Tips or Techniques to Reduce Stress While Writing a Business Plan?

You can write a business plan without stress when you know how to write a business plan. You must divide the task into several sections and complete them one at a time to avoid confusion. Be sure to seek expert feedback to make the plan strong and bring more investments from potential investors or lenders.

How Can I Simplify the Process of Creating a Business Plan to Minimize Stress?

You can simplify the writing process of your business plan by following these tips.

  • Be thorough with the objective and provide relevant data
  • Stick to the standard structure and develop the mandatory sections of your business plan
  • Be honest and specific with the projections – remove the fluff
  • Divide the task into small bits to complete it faster
  • Get expert feedback and make changes to enhance the quality

What Resources or Tools Can I Use to Make the Business Plan Writing Process Less Stressful?

Here’s a list of tools or resources you can use to ease business plan writing:

· Small Business Association (SBA)

· Enloop

· LivePlan


· StartPad

· Bplans

· TheBizPlanner

· PlanGuru

· IdeaBuddy

· Business Sorter

Jacob Thompson

Jacob Thompson

Hi, my name is Jacob Thompson. I am a PhD in English Literature, I started writing and blogging from a young age, and most of my write-ups are based on real experiences. As far as my blogs are concerned, I write blogs on English writing and Literature writing. I have been working part-time as a writing expert for MyAssignmenthelp.com for 7+years now. Helping students overcome English writing hurdles and get steps closer to their academic goals makes me as happy as playing with my kitty “Alice”. Yes, I am a cat-lover if you are still wondering! 

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A 529 saving plan is well-known for its ability to help parents and students deal with the cost of education. While it was originally set up as a way to pay for the spiraling costs of college, the 529 has been expanded to include K-12 education, trade schools and other qualified programs. In addition, a 529 plan can be used to pay off student loan debt, thanks to 2019’s SECURE Act .

Here’s how you can use a 529 plan to pay off student loans and some smart ways to do so.

How a 529 plan can help you pay down debt

The SECURE Act of 2019 helped expand the flexibility of 529 accounts , especially when it comes to using the money to pay down the costs of college after a student has graduated.

The act allows the beneficiary of a 529 account to pay off up to a lifetime limit of $10,000 in student loans. The money can be withdrawn and paid to the lender, extinguishing the debt. The act also permits a 529 to pay up to $10,000 in student loans for each of a beneficiary’s siblings.

So the act massively expanded the 529’s ability to pay down college costs even after the fact.

But don’t think you’ll be able to double- or triple-dip on these benefits, says Delvin Joyce, certified financial planner and certified financial advisor for Prudential. Some individuals may think that they can use that $10,000 benefit multiple times if they have multiple 529 plans and siblings to spread it around. But no – you’re capped at a lifetime total of $10,000.

And unlike the strict rules governing a 529 plan – such as ensuring that your withdrawals come out only in the calendar year you’re using the money – it’s hard to go wrong here.

“There’s really no way to screw it up as long as you have extra 529 funds and student loans,” says Joyce.

2 more ways to get even more from your 529 plan

Those looking to maximize the benefits of their 529 plan have a few more ways to do so smartly, however, making the plan an even better pick for education expenses .

Joyce explains how to use student loans to give your 529 extra time to compound.

“If you can access subsidized student loans – loans that don’t accrue interest until after you’ve graduated – then it can make sense to take subsidized loans and then let your 529 plan grow over time during college,” says Joyce.

Then when you graduate, you can pay off the loan with your potentially greater 529 balance. In effect, you’re getting an interest-free loan to grow your 529 investments for four or five years, or potentially longer if you move directly to graduate school after earning a bachelor’s degree.

This approach can also help if you’re dealing with the restrictions on 529 plans , which do not allow you to pay for some relevant costs of attending school such as transportation.

“Incidental costs are not covered by 529 plans,” says Joyce. “It’s an ideal time to take a subsidized student loan and then use the 529 plan later to pay it off.”

And don’t think that because you set up a 529 plan for a specific child or beneficiary that it’s stuck there. You can switch the beneficiary – even to yourself – and pay down student loans.

“For example, if you’re a parent paying into a 529 plan and then the child gets a scholarship, you can change the beneficiary to yourself and then pay off your own student loan,” says Joyce.

SECURE Act 2.0 helps you pay down debt while saving

But things have gotten even a bit better for those using 529 plans, thanks to 2022’s SECURE Act 2.0 . You can convert funds in the account to a Roth IRA, starting in 2024. The act also made it easier for those with student loans to save for retirement while paying down their debt.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of SECURE Act 2.0 for 529 plans is that they can be converted to a Roth IRA , a tax-free retirement account. The conversion is subject to certain conditions:

  • You’re limited to a $35,000 lifetime conversion limit.
  • Conversions in any tax year are limited to that year’s IRA contribution limit .
  • The 529 account must have been open for at least 15 years before a conversion.
  • Any money converted to a Roth IRA cannot exceed contributions and earnings on them in the five years prior to the conversion date.
  • The owner of the Roth IRA must be the same as the 529 plan’s beneficiary.

After being used to pay down debt, any leftover 529 money could then help kickstart a child’s retirement funding , helping give them decades of compounding before they’d need to access the money. Here’s how to convert a 529 plan to a Roth IRA and what to watch out for.

The SECURE ACT 2.0 also helps those with student loans and who may be forgoing saving for retirement because of them.

“The wonderful change with SECURE Act 2.0 is that it allows your employer to treat your student loan as a contribution to a retirement account and then provide a match,” says Joyce.

In effect, when an employee pays down a student loan, the employer is allowed to match it with what they’re contributing as an employer match to their retirement plans such as a 401(k) . That allows and incentivizes new graduates to pay down their loans without sacrificing savings.

This new feature doesn’t kick in until 2024, but it’s one of the most welcome changes and should help those with student loans save for the future while still paying off their debts.

Bottom line

A 529 plan can now do much more than it could even a few years ago, thanks to various changes in laws, and the plan can now help pay down student loans. But those willing to engage in some smart planning can set up their 529 plans to pay off even more.

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« All Events

EnergyTech University Prize 2024

January 5, 2024 @ 8:00 am - april 18, 2024 @ 5:00 pm.

EnergyTech UP logo

Tasking students to create & present a business plan around energy tech. Tasking faculty to elevate energy entrepreneurship at their school.

Register now  for the webinar Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. ET to learn more about the EnergyTech UP 2024 competition and the regional pitch events! Indicate your interest in competing by filling out this  interest form .

Sponsored by the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the American-Made EnergyTech University Prize (EnergyTech UP), where student teams compete for cash prizes for successfully identifying a promising energy technology, assessing its market potential, and creating a business plan for commercialization.

Starting in 2024, EnergyTech UP offers the ability for both students and faculty to compete in their own respective tracks.

Students : Develop and present a business plan that leverages National Laboratory-developed or other emerging energy technologies developed by students, faculty, or industry. Throughout the competition, they receive mentorship and materials to help them succeed, all while competing for part of $400,000+ in cash prizes.

Faculty : Develop and implement educational activities to engage more students in energy technology commercialization and entrepreneurship topics at their institution. While faculty have always been, and remain, welcome and encouraged to mentor a team competing in EnergyTech UP, this new track is designed to incentivize and support faculty directly, with $100,000 in cash prizes available.

About the Prize

This prize is sponsored by DOE’s OTT, as well as several other program offices. EnergyTech UP, in partnership with American-Made Challenges, is designed to be approachable, equitable, and scalable nationwide. Winners are chosen based on the strength of their business proposals. Participating students are provided with a curated list of National Lab technologies that are ready for commercialization and that can be used for their business plan.

Prize Structure for Student Competitors

Student teams compete for more than $400,000 in cash prizes as they explore business opportunities for lab-developed or other high-potential energy technologies, assess commercialization opportunities through market analysis and present a viable business plan to industry judges.

Understanding that energy is often inherently local, competitor teams first present at their designated regional events in February, where regional finalists are identified. Teams that are invited to participate in the regional events receive free access to OTT’s Energy I-Corps curriculum. Finalists are provided exclusive mentorship to help students refine their ideas throughout February and March. Finally, the finalists pitch their complete business plan as part of  Zpryme’s 2024 Energy Thought Summit  in Austin, Texas on April 15, 2024.

how to make a business plan for students

Prize Structure for Faculty Competitors

The faculty track is designed for educators who may benefit from mentorship and resources to create an implementation plan for their blossoming ideas for integrating or expanding energy technology commercialization or entrepreneurship activities at their home institution.

Faculty (or faculty teams) will compete for part of the $100,000 prize pool through three phases of competition. They will develop a proposal to expand energy technology commercialization or entrepreneurship activities at their home institution; receive access to a DOE mentor and DOE resources; and work toward showing how their plans could be integrated into student activities.

how to make a business plan for students

How to Compete

Are you a collegiate student or faculty member interested in transitioning energy technologies to market? The EnergyTech University Prize is for you! Here are next steps you can take to get started:

  • Indicate your interest in competing by filling out this  interest form
  • Sign up to compete on  HeroX , the official competition platform.
  • Read the  official prize rules
  • Oct. 19, 2023 ( recording available here )
  • Nov. 15, 2023
  • Dec. 5, 2023
  • Jan. 23, 2024
  • Learn about DOE National Lab-developed energy technologies to use for this competition on the  OTT Lab Partnering Service .
  • Send questions about EnergyTech UP to  [email protected] .

2024 Important Dates

Please see the  official timeline in HeroX  for the most current schedule of events. All dates are subject to change, including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements.

To see the results of the 2023 competition, visit the now archived 2023 HeroX page:  https://www.herox.com/EnergyTechUP2023 .

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Volume 56 | ISSUE 8: December 1, 2023

Pitt leans in on diversity as other universities deal with outside pressure to make cuts.


While universities in several states are being forced to defend their diversity, equity and inclusion programs, Pitt has been leaning in by strengthening the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; creating diversity offices in units throughout the University and promoting a variety of hiring programs.

The headlines just in the past couple months illustrate the political headwinds higher education faces:

Florida rule would limit talk of ‘social issues’ at public universities . This is part of a larger measure pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that seeks to gut diversity, equity and inclusion programs at colleges and universities.

Okla. senators debating diversity, equity and inclusion programs in higher education

As Texas bans diversity and equity offices at public colleges, Rice University’s inclusion efforts march on

Wisconsin GOP withholds university pay raises in fight over school diversity funding . While writing the budget in June, Republicans slashed the University of Wisconsin funding by $32 million because they estimated that's what the system's 13 campuses put toward DEI efforts over two years.


Pitt’s annual Diversity Forum has taken place each summer since 2016, but this year it is being moved to January to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Clyde Pickett, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, said they heard from faculty and students that it was difficult for them to participate in July.

The event — “Amplifying Our Voices Through Active Listening and Constructive Dialogue” — will take place Jan. 23 and 24, 2024, as part of MLK Social Justice Week. The theme coincides with Pitt’s Year of Dialogue and Discourse.

Questions? Email  [email protected]

“I think from the top down in the University, the message is that we consider (diversity, equity and inclusion) to be important,” said Adam Leibovich, dean of the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences. “And I'm grateful we live in a state where the legislators are not making it impossible for us to do that.”

Chancellor Joan Gabel has repeatedly voiced her support for diversity and equity on campus. “I'm committed to building a campus community where a sense of belonging is strong, accessibility is valued, and equity and diversity are actively promoted,” she told the University Times. “We are leaning into this expectation through the development of the next chapter of the Plan for Pitt so that we can work together to become the community we aspire to be.”

“In looking at our university, there's a clear commitment to the work to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility,” said Clyde Pickett, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.

The diversity landscape became even more complicated this summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court restricted the use of race-based admission practices at universities.

Gabel said at the September Board of Trustees meeting: “We’ve been working as a leadership team on the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding admissions practices in order to ensure that we continue to fulfill our commitment to be a representative and equitable community while being fully compliant with new law.”

While the ruling said colleges cannot directly use race when considering an application, it said they could consider “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life” if it was tied to the “quality of character or unique ability.”

An article in The Hill in September noted that the U.S. Education Department is urging colleges to ramp up their diversity efforts in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. The department  issued a report  outlining ways higher education institutions can promote more diversity in their admission practices, including boosting scholarships and minority recruiting.

Marc Harding, vice provost for enrollment, told a Senate committee earlier this semester that a group with representatives from all of Pitt’s campuses is looking into how to maintain the mission outlined in a provost’s memo after the ruling, which said: “The University of Pittsburgh’s mission is to improve lives through education and knowledge. We believe that all of our students can and should benefit from this mission. And that diversity in all its forms enhances our individual and shared success and improves the educational experience.”

Pickett pointed out that the “team from the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid have long been proactive in establishing relationships with different communities of color in diverse communities, and I think that will bode well for us in the future in terms of the ways in which we've had those lines of communication open.”

Growing diversity leadership

Over the past several years, almost all of Pitt’s schools have added or elevated the role of chief diversity officers.

Just last summer the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences named its first associate dean for equity, faculty recruitment and community engagement, Natasha Tokowicz, and Pitt Business named its first associate dean for inclusion, engagement and international affairs, Paul Harper.

Under previous Dean Kathleen Blee, the Dietrich School had a special adviser to the dean on diversity issues, but new Dean Adam Leibovich thought “elevating that to an associate dean level would allow us to do more and actually make systemwide changes and try to improve the situation a lot more than then we could do with just the special adviser.”

Harper’s newly created role under Dean Gene Anderson is part of the Pitt Business 2030 strategic plan.

“I think that there have been individuals all around the University that have championed this work in different schools and units,” Pickett said. “And I think for me as senior diversity officer for the institution, having those colleagues who are moving the work around and have them have official titles that support this work, I think is very helpful and fruitful in addition to my role.”

Pickett, who also is second vice president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, said one of the things his colleagues discuss is “institutional commitment and sustained commitment for this work.” He said it’s important to look at the ways in which peer institutions in the AAU and ACC have supported diversity work.

“We know … that our (Pitt) community continues to prioritize and amplify that commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” he said, noting they’ve heard that loud and clear from students, faculty and staff.

Pickett said his work at Pitt and with the national association “has underscored that when we're looking to create a community, it's important for our colleagues to see a commitment … to diversity, equity and inclusion, and to see that commitment in action. I think that having an office like ours, having colleagues around the University, says that we are committed to this, and I think that it will bode well for us in the future as we're working to continue to recruit students and for us to continue to attract and retain our colleagues.”

Faculty, staff and students who don't get support and affirmation for their identity and for their scholarship are going to look for places to find that, Pickett said. “I think my role in that is to bring awareness to the importance of the ways in which we champion diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility (at Pitt) and the individuals who do this work.”

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020 and the increased focus on diversity work, Pickett said, “I think those who not only made commitments, but those who executed those will be long remembered. I think that it will certainly bode well for them in terms of students who will come to those organizations, in terms of faculty who will want to come and stay, and in creating an environment where staff can thrive.”

A more diverse community

In addition to adding more diversity and inclusion professionals throughout the University, Pitt has — through different initiatives — increased diversity among students, employees and vendors.

Chancellor Gabel, in welcoming the incoming first-year class this fall, said it was “one of the most diverse groups of students (that’s) ever entered (Pitt) in every way we measure that.” That includes a large number of students who are the first in their family to attend college.

In the past 10 years, the percentage of Black students at Pitt has increased from 6.5 percent of all students to 8.5 percent. The number of Hispanic or Latino students has almost doubled, now making up 6.7 percent this year, and Asian students make up 21.4 percent of enrollment this year.

Faculty also have seen increases in diverse populations: Black representation has increased from 2.9 to 4 percent of faculty; Hispanic/Latino from 2.7 to 3.8 percent; and Asian from 16.5 to 18.2 percent. Staff have seen just slight increases in these populations.

Two hiring initiatives in recent years have not only focused on diverse faculty, but also diversity in scholarship. A multi-year, Latinx cluster-hiring initiative started in 2019 was aimed at attracting more faculty with academic expertise in topics concerning the broad, diverse Latinx community. 

The Race and Social Determinants of Equity, Health and Well-being Cluster Hire and Retention Initiative from the Office of the Provost and Pitt Health Sciences was started in 2021, to significantly increase the number of faculty who are hired, promoted and retained who specialize in race, equity, health and well-being and to improve Pitt’s international, national and local profile and expertise in those area. It welcomed 25 faculty in its first cohort last year and has spawned the Race & … initiative , which has sponsored a lecture series, annual conferences, and summer retreats and other events.

These initiatives fall under John Wallace, whose position as vice provost for faculty diversity & development was created in 2020. Previously those jobs were combined with vice provost of faculty affairs. Lorie Johnson-Osho joined the office as director of faculty diversity and development in 2020 to promote a comprehensive set of programs to support the career and professional development of all Pitt faculty.

Facilities Management also has expanded its  diversity initiatives , including an operating engineer apprenticeship program in collaboration with Hill District community groups. At job sites, the University has made a commitment to bring in more minority- and women-owned businesses, which were awarded 39 percent of the recently completed Chilled Water Plant construction project.

Pickett said, “One of the things that we want to do is continue to make sure that this is an inclusive community for all, and so continuing to respond and be proactive in creating initiatives and listening to concerns when there are possible disruptions to making an inclusive community. We will continue to fortify those efforts.”

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at [email protected] or 724-244-4042.

Have a story idea or news to share?  Share  it with the University Times.

Follow the University Times on  Twitter  and  Facebook.


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  24. Free editable and printable business plan templates

    Skip to start of list. 656 templates. Create a blank Business Plan. B. Beige Elegant Minimal Business Plan Executive Summary Document. Document by BrandCraftery. Navy and Gray Modern Business Plan Cover Document. Document by Banuaa. Startup Business Plan in Dark Green Lime Green Friendly Dynamic Style.

  25. 24 Best Sample Business Plans & Examples to Help You Write Your Own

    8. Panda Doc's Free Business Plan Template. PandaDoc's free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

  26. How To Write a Business Plan

    STEP 5: VISUAL ELEMENTS AND FORMATTING. In our next step to learning how to write up a business plan, we will focus on the visual elements and formatting guidelines. One of the common mistakes individuals make while writing a business proposal is not working on the visual appeal.

  27. How To Use Your 529 Plan To Pay Off Student Loans

    The act allows the beneficiary of a 529 account to pay off up to a lifetime limit of $10,000 in student loans. The money can be withdrawn and paid to the lender, extinguishing the debt. The act ...

  28. New Amazon AI initiative includes scholarships, free AI courses

    Courses for business and nontechnical audiences. Introduction to Generative Artificial Intelligence provides an introduction to generative AI, its applications, and need-to-know concepts, like foundation models.Find it on AWS Educate.; Generative AI Learning Plan for Decision Makers is a three-course series covering how to plan a generative AI project and build a generative AI-ready ...

  29. EnergyTech University Prize 2024

    Starting in 2024, EnergyTech UP offers the ability for both students and faculty to compete in their own respective tracks. Students: Develop and present a business plan that leverages National Laboratory-developed or other emerging energy technologies developed by students, faculty, or industry. Throughout the competition, they receive ...

  30. Pitt leans in on diversity as other universities deal with outside

    By SUSAN JONES While universities in several states are being forced to defend their diversity, equity and inclusion programs, Pitt has been leaning in by strengthening the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; creating diversity offices in units throughout the University and promoting a variety of hiring programs. The headlines just in the past couple months illustrate the political ...