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Start » startup, how to write a startup business plan.

As a startup, you'll need to know how to write a business plan in order to attract investors. Here are some templates and examples to help you get started.

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If you're starting a new business or executing a new plan within your company, you’ll want to have a business plan. It’s a formal document that outlines your company, your project, funding options and your means of execution. There are many resources available to help you write your business plan, including countless templates you can follow depending on your goals. Below we’ve outlined some examples, including a sample plan.

[Read: How to Write a Business Plan During a Pandemic ]

Business plan template examples

While business plans can be general, it’s helpful to gear yours toward your industry. Here are five business plan templates for specific industries or situations:

  • For first-time entrepreneurs: The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) .
  • For getting your ideas down: $100 Startup .
  • For law firms: Cilo .
  • For established businesses: SCORE .
  • For additional industries: LawDepot .

Sample business plan

A one-page business plan briefly states your opportunity and timeline. It’s often used as an introduction to your longer, more robust plan. Here is a brief overview of a business plan and the nine elements that should be included.

1. The business opportunity

At the top of your plan, state the endeavor you're looking to pursue. Are you a new startup or an existing company looking to grow? Describe your challenges and how you plan to work through them. This section should be a one- or two-sentence elevator pitch of your business opportunity.

[Read: How to Refine Your Business Plan for Every Stage of Your Business ]

2. Your company description

When writing your company description, assume the reader knows nothing about your company. Briefly define who you are, identifying your values and why your company is necessary right now.

Outline your timeline for launching your business or project. Timelines are always subject to change, so make sure you account for alternative scenarios and setbacks.

3. Your talent description

In this section, you’ll want to introduce your team and demonstrate why they are the right fit for your business. Talk about their relevant skills, experience and background, getting as specific as possible. Providing their track record will reassure potential investors that your business is backed by reliable professionals.

4. The industry analysis

While writing your plan, it’s important to recognize your industry's outlook and your potential within it. This will also help you identify your competitors and analyze their offerings in comparison to yours, so you can focus on how you might stand out among them. This analysis is a great way to show investors that you’ve done your research and understand how you fit into your market.

[Read: Pivoting During the Pandemic? 16 Tools That Will Help Your Business Adapt ]

5. Your target audience

In this section, you will identify your target audience, defining their demographic, location and other specific traits. Additionally, explain how your audience will benefit from your company or project, or how you will solve common problems they share.

6. The timeline

Outline your timeline for launching your business or project. Timelines are always subject to change, so make sure you account for alternative scenarios and setbacks. For your one-page business plan, talk about your general timeline, its phases and why it’s a realistic goal.

7. Your marketing plan

How will you get the word out about your new business or project? Identify the avenues you and your company will choose to explore and how you plan to meet your target audience there. For example, consider your social media efforts, digital marketing and other methods that you seek to execute.

8. The financial summary

Clearly define your cost structure and revenue streams, describing your sales methods and post-launch goals, as well as how you will achieve them. Be sure to include both your long- and short-term financial goals and benchmarks.

[Read: Smart Strategies for Presenting Your Business Plan ]

9. Your funding requirements

One of the primary reasons you write a business plan is to help obtain funding. In this section, talk about the amount of funding you'll need from investors and where that funding will go. You should also be clear about how you plan to pay back your investors through your financial plan.

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

1. Write an executive summary

2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. add additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

A business plan is a document that outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them. A strong, detailed plan will provide a road map for the business’s next three to five years, and you can share it with potential investors, lenders or other important partners.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your business plan.

» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .

startup business plan how to

This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services offered, and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.

Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.

» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps

Next up is your company description, which should contain information like:

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.

Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.

Lastly, it should cover the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.

» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan

The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out exactly what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the long term.

If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain why you have a clear need for the funds, how the financing will help your business grow, and how you plan to achieve your growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity presented and how the loan or investment will grow your company.

For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch the new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.

In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

Your sales strategy.

Your distribution strategy.

You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.

Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.

Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.

» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing

If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.

You may also include metrics such as:

Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.

Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.

Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.

This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.

» NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.

Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.

Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.

List any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere, such as resumes of key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts and personal and business credit history. If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

How Much Do You Need?

Here are some tips to help your business plan stand out:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business loan at a local bank, the loan officer likely knows your market pretty well. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of loan approval.

Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors, taking their mind off your business and putting it on the mistakes you made. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.

Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. You can search for a mentor or find a local SCORE chapter for more guidance.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.

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Conducting Market Research

Crafting a business plan, reviewing funding options, understanding legal requirements, implementing marketing strategies, how much does it cost to start a business, what should i do before starting a business, what types of funding are available to start a business, do you need to write a business plan, the bottom line.

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  • How to Start a Business

How to Start a Business: A Comprehensive Guide and Essential Steps

Building an effective business launch plan

startup business plan how to

Starting a business in the United States involves a number of different steps, spanning legal considerations, market research, creating a business plan, securing funding, and developing a marketing strategy. It also entails decisions around a business’s location, structure, name, taxation, and registration.

This article covers the key steps involved in starting a business, as well as important aspects of the process for entrepreneurs to consider.

Key Takeaways

  • Entrepreneurs seeking to develop their own business should start by conducting market research to understand their industry space and competition, and to target customers.
  • The next step is to write a comprehensive business plan, outlining the company’s structure, vision, and strategy. Potential funders and partners may want to review the business plan in advance of signing any agreements.
  • Securing funding is crucial in launching a business. Funding can come in the form of grants, loans, venture capital, or crowdfunded money; entrepreneurs may also opt to self-fund instead of or in combination with any of these avenues.
  • Choosing a location and business structure can have many implications for legal aspects of business ownership, such as taxation, registration, and permitting, so it’s important to fully understand the regulations and requirements for the jurisdiction in which the business will operate. 
  • Another key aspect of launching a new business is having a strategic marketing plan that addresses the specifics of the business, industry, and target market.

Before starting a business, entrepreneurs should conduct market research to determine their target audience, competition, and market trends. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends researching demographic data around potential customers to understand a given consumer base and reduce business risk. It also breaks down common market considerations as follows:

  • Demand : Do people want or need this product or service?
  • Market size : How many people might be interested?
  • Economic indicators : These include income, employment rate, and spending habits of potential customers.
  • Location : Where are the target market and the business located?
  • Market saturation : How competitive is the business space, and how many similar offerings exist?
  • Pricing : What might a customer be willing to pay?

Market research should also include an analysis of the competition (including their strengths and weaknesses compared to those of the proposed business), market opportunities and barriers to entry, industry trends, and competitors’ market share .

There are various methods for conducting market research, and the usefulness of different sources and methodologies will depend on the nature of the industry and potential business. Data can come from a variety of sources: statistical agencies, economic and financial institutions, and industry sources, as well as direct consumer research through focus groups, interviews, surveys, or questionnaires.

A comprehensive business plan is like a blueprint for a business. It will help lay the foundation for business development and can assist in decision making, day-to-day operations, and growth. 

Potential investors or business partners may want to review and assess a business plan in advance of agreeing to work together. Financial institutions often request business plans as part of an application for a loan or other forms of capital. 

Business plans will differ according to the needs and nature of the company and only need to include what makes sense for the business in question. As such, they can vary in length and structure depending on their intended purpose. 

Business plans can generally be divided into two formats: traditional business plans and lean startup business plans. The latter is typically more useful for businesses that will need to adjust their planning quickly and frequently, as they are shorter and provide a higher-level overview of the company.

The process of funding a business can be as unique as the business itself—that is, it will depend on the needs and vision of the business and the current financial situation of the business owner. 

The first step in seeking funding is to calculate how much it will cost to start the business. Estimate startup costs by identifying a list of expenses and putting a number to each of them through research and requesting quotes. The SBA has a startup costs calculator for small businesses that includes common types of business expenses. 

From there, an entrepreneur will need to determine how to secure the required funding. Common funding methods include:

  • Self-funding , also known as bootstrapping  
  • Seeking funding from investors, also known as venture capital  
  • Raising money by crowdfunding
  • Securing a business loan
  • Winning a business grant

Each method will hold advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation of the business. It’s important to consider the obligations associated with any avenue of funding. For example, investors generally provide funding in exchange for a degree of ownership or control in the company, whereas self-funding may allow business owners to maintain complete control (albeit while taking on all of the risk). 

The availability of funding sources is another potential consideration. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be paid back—however, as a result, they are a highly competitive form of business funding. The federal government also does not provide grants for the purposes of starting or growing a business, although private organizations may. On the other hand, the SBA guarantees several categories of loans to support small business owners in accessing capital that may not be available through traditional lenders.

Whichever funding method (or methods) an entrepreneur decides to pursue, it’s essential to evaluate in detail how the funding will be used and lay out a future financial plan for the business, including sales projections and loan repayments , as applicable.  

Legally, businesses operating in the U.S. are subject to regulations and requirements under many jurisdictions, across local, county, state, and federal levels. Legal business requirements are often tied to the location and structure of the business, which then determine obligations around taxation, business IDs, registration, and permits.

Choosing a Business Location

The location—that is, the neighborhood, city, and state—in which a business operates will have an impact on many different aspects of running the business, such as the applicable taxes, zoning laws (for brick-and-mortar, or physical locations), and regulations.

A business needs to be registered in a certain location; this location then determines the taxes, licenses, and permits required. Other factors to consider when choosing a location might include:

  • Human factors : Such as the target audience for your business, and preferences of business owners and partners around convenience, knowledge of the area, and commuting distance
  • Regulations and restrictions : Concerning applicable jurisdictions or government agencies, including zoning laws
  • Regionally specific expenses : Such as average salaries (including required minimum wages), property or rental prices, insurance rates, utilities, and government fees and licensing
  • The tax and financial environment : Including income tax, sales tax, corporate tax, and property tax, or the availability of tax credits, incentives, or loan programs

Picking a Business Structure

The structure of a business should reflect the desired number of owners, liability characteristics, and tax status. Because these have legal and tax compliance implications, it’s important to fully understand and choose a business structure carefully and, if necessary, consult a business counselor, lawyer, and/or accountant.

Common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship : An unincorporated business that has just one owner, who pays personal income tax on profits
  • Partnership : Options include a limited partnership (LP) or a limited liability partnership (LLP)
  • Limited liability company (LLC) : A business structure that protects its owners from personal responsibility for its debts or liabilities
  • Corporation : Options include a C corp , S corp , B corp , closed corporation , or nonprofit

Getting a Tax ID Number

A tax ID number is like a Social Security number for a business. Whether or not a state and/or federal tax ID number is required for any given business will depend on the nature of the business, as well as the location in which the business is registered.

If a business is required to pay state taxes (such as income taxes and employment taxes), then a state tax ID will be necessary. The process and requirements around state tax IDs vary by state and can be found on individual states’ official websites. In some situations, state tax IDs can also be used for other purposes, such as protecting sole proprietors against identity theft.

A federal tax ID, also known as an employer identification number (EIN) , is required if a business:

  • Operates as a corporation or partnership
  • Pays federal taxes
  • Wants to open a business bank account
  • Applies for federal business licenses and permits
  • Files employment, excise, alcohol, tobacco, or firearms tax returns

There are further situations in which a business might need a federal tax ID number, specific to income taxation, certain types of pension plans, and working with certain types of organizations. Business owners can check with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about whether they need an EIN.

Registering a Business

Registration of a business will depend on its location and business structure, and can look quite different depending on the nature and size of the business. 

For example, small businesses may not require any steps beyond registering their business name with local and state governments, and business owners whose business name is their own legal name might not need to register at all. However, registration can include personal liability protection as well as legal and tax benefits, so it can be beneficial even if it’s not strictly required. 

Most LLCs, corporations, partnerships, and nonprofits are required to register at the state level and will require a registered agent to file on their behalf. Determining which state to register with can depend on factors such as:

  • Whether the business has a physical presence in the state
  • If the business often conducts in-person client meetings in the state
  • If a large portion of business revenue comes from the state
  • Whether the business has employees working in the state

If a business operates in more than one state, it may need to file for foreign qualification in other states in which it conducts business. In this case, the business would register in the state in which it was formed (this would be considered the domestic state), and file for foreign qualification in any additional states.

Some businesses may decide to register with the federal government if they are seeking tax-exempt status or trademark protection, but federal registration is not required for many businesses.

Overall registration requirements, costs, and documentation will vary depending on the governing jurisdictions and business structure.

Obtaining Permits

Filing for the applicable government licenses and permits will depend on the industry and nature of the business, and might include submitting an application to a federal agency, state, county, and/or city. The SBA lists federally regulated business activities alongside the corresponding license-issuing agency, while state, county, and city regulations can be found on the official government websites for each region.

Every business should have a marketing plan that outlines an overall strategy and the day-to-day tactics used to execute it. A successful marketing plan will lay out tactics for how to connect with customers and convince them to buy what the company is selling. 

Marketing plans will vary according to the specifics of the industry , target market, and business, but they should aim to include descriptions of and strategies around the following:

  • A target customer : Including market size, demographics, traits, and relevant trends
  • Unique value propositions or business differentiators : Essentially, an overview of the company’s competitive advantage with regard to employees, certifications, or offerings
  • A sales and marketing plan : Including methods, channels, and a customer’s journey through interacting with the business
  • Goals : Should cover different aspects of the marketing and sales strategy, such as social media follower growth, public relations opportunities, or sales targets
  • An execution plan : Should detail tactics and break down higher-level goals into specific actions
  • A budget : Detailing how much different marketing projects and activities will cost

The startup costs for any given business will vary greatly depending on the industry, business activity, and product or service offering. Home-based online businesses will usually cost less than those that require an office setting to meet with customers. The estimated cost can be calculated by first identifying a list of expenses and then researching and requesting quotes for each one. Use the SBA’s startup costs calculator for common types of expenses associated with starting a small business.

Entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business should fully research and understand all the legal and funding considerations involved, conduct market research, and create marketing and business plans. They will also need to secure any necessary permits, licenses, funding, and business bank accounts.

Startup capital can come in the form of loans, grants, crowdfunding, venture capital, or self-funding. Note that the federal government does not provide grant funding for the purposes of starting a business, although private sources do.

Business plans are comprehensive documents that lay out the most important information about a business. They are important references for the growth, development, and decision-making processes of a business, and financial institutions as well as potential investors and partners generally request to review them in advance of agreeing to provide funding or work together.

Starting a business is no easy feat, but research and preparation can help smooth the way. Having a firm understanding of the target market, competition, industry, business goals, business structure, funding requirements, tax and operating regulations, and marketing strategy, and conducting research and consulting experts where necessary, are all things that entrepreneurs can do to set themselves up for success.

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Market Research and Competitive Analysis .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Write Your Business Plan .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Loans .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Fund Your Business .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Pick Your Business Location .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Choose a Business Structure .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Get Federal and State Tax ID Numbers .”

Internal Revenue Service. “ Do You Need an EIN? ”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Register Your Business .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Apply for Licenses and Permits .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Marketing and Sales .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Grants .”

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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

Kickstart your business plan writing with one of our free business plan templates or recommended tools.

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Free business plan template

Download a free SBA-approved business plan template built for small businesses and startups.

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One-page plan template

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Explore over 500 real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries.

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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.

startup business plan how to

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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Blog Feature Updates

Startup Business Plans 101: Your Path to Success

By Jay Nair , Jul 24, 2023

startup business plan how to

It’s time — you’ve got a promising idea and you’re now prepared to invest the necessary effort to turn it into reality. Startup business plans are vital hack tools that will guide you through your entrepreneurial journey and a business venture with clarity and purpose.

Though vital, business planning doesn’t have to be a chore. Business plans for lean startups and solopreneurs can simply outline the business concept, sales proposition, target customers and sketch out a plan of action to bring the product or service to market. These plans will serve as strategic documents outlining your company’s vision, mission statements, business objectives, target market, financial forecasts and growth strategies.

To simplify the creation of a robust business plan as an entrepreneur, you can harness the power of a business plan maker . This invaluable tool streamlines the process and ensures a polished and well-organized presentation.  Startup business plan templates provide pre-designed frameworks that can be customized to suit your specific industry needs, saving valuable time and effort while preserving the essential structure of a comprehensive business plan.

Ready to begin? Let’s go!

startup business plan how to

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:

  • Laying the foundation of your startup business plan
  • Business plan executive summary
  • Writing your business description
  • Marketing & sales strategies
  • Startup operational plans
  • Financial plans – forecasting and projections
  • Team and management
  • Appendix and supporting documents

FAQs on startup business plans

  • Use Venngage to create your startup business plan

Preparation and research: 6 steps to laying the foundation of your startup business plan

  • What problem does your product or service solve? 
  • Who are your target customers? 
  • What differentiates your offering from existing solutions in the market? 

This self-reflection will help you establish a clear direction for your startup.

  • Next, conduct market research to gather valuable insights about your target market , including demographics, preferences, and purchasing behavior . This data will enable you to tailor your product or service to meet the specific needs of your customers. Identify trends, industry growth projections, and any potential barriers or challenges you may encounter.
  • Competitive analysis is another critical aspect of preparation and research. Study your competitors to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies. Analyze their pricing, marketing tactics, customer experience, and product/service features. This analysis will allow you to identify gaps in the market and position your startup to offer a unique value proposition .
  • Financial research is equally important during this phase. Calculate the costs associated with starting and operating your business , including overhead expenses, production costs, marketing expenses, and employee salaries. Assess potential revenue streams and estimate your expected sales. This financial analysis will help you determine the feasibility of your business idea and outline a realistic financial plan.
  • Additionally, gather information about legal and regulatory requirements that apply to your industry and location . Understand the necessary permits, licenses, and certifications you need to operate legally. Complying with these regulations from the outset will prevent potential setbacks or legal issues in the future.
  • Finally, organize your findings and insights into a coherent business plan. Create your business plan outline , list your business plan goals, strategies, target market, competitive analysis, marketing plan, financial projections and any other relevant information. This compilation will serve as a roadmap for your startup, guiding your decisions and actions moving forward.

You’ve just encountered a wealth of information and are well on your way to becoming a seasoned business owner! This can sometimes feel overwhelming. But don’t worry, take a moment to breathe deeply and remember how far you’ve come. You’ve got this!

To help you condense and organize your essential points, I have brilliant one-page samples of business plan layouts and templates that will capture everything in a concise format.

startup business plan how to

Knowing when to use a one-page business plan versus a more comprehensive plan depends on various factors. A one-page business plan is ideal for providing a quick overview, saving time, and internal planning. However, it may not suffice for detailed information, complex business models, or meeting external stakeholders’ expectations.

Ultimately, consider the purpose, audience, and complexity of your business when deciding whether to utilize a one-page business plan or opt for a more detailed approach.

Executive Summary: Your Startup’s Elevator Pitch

First impressions are crucial, and a concise yet comprehensive executive summary is your chance to grab potential investors’ attention.

To create a compelling elevator pitch, consider the following key elements:

Problem Statement : Clearly articulate the problem or pain point that your startup addresses. Emphasize the significance of the problem and the potential market size

Solution : Concisely describe your innovative solution or product that solves the identified problem. Highlight its unique features or benefits that differentiate it from existing alternatives.

Target Market : Define your ideal customer segment and outline the market potential. Demonstrate a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs, preferences, and behavior.

Competitive Advantage : Showcase the competitive edge that sets your startup apart from competitors. This could include intellectual property, strategic partnerships, cost advantages, or disruptive technology.

Business Model : Briefly explain how your startup generates revenue and sustains profitability. Outline your monetization strategy, pricing model, and any recurring revenue streams .

Traction and Milestones : Highlight any significant achievements or milestones reached by your startup. This could include customer acquisitions, partnerships, product development progress, or market validation.

Team : Showcase the expertise and qualifications of your founding team or business partners. Highlight key members and their relevant experiences demonstrating their ability to execute the business plan.

I can sense your eagerness to dive right in! To expedite your progress, I’m excited to present you with a collection of meticulously crafted executive summary templates. These templates have been thoughtfully designed and structured by Venngage designers, ensuring seamless integration into your thorough business plan. All you need to do is infuse them with your brilliant startup ideas, and you’ll be well on your way to success!

startup business plan how to

Now, remember that there’s still a ton of work to be done. Let’s take a moment to regroup and ensure we’re on the right track. Before diving into the process of writing your business plan , it’s imperative to gather a wealth of essential information. Conducting comprehensive research is key, and it should encompass the following aspects:

How to assess your target audience

To gain comprehensive insights into your potential user base, creating a user persona report is invaluable. This persona guide report will help you develop a detailed understanding of various user profiles, enabling you to tailor your products or services to meet their specific needs and preferences.

startup business plan how to

Understanding Your Market and Competition

Analyze your market and any trends relevant to your startup. Research your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and identify what differentiates your offering from the competition.

startup business plan how to

Developing a Unique Value Proposition

A business Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is a concise statement that communicates the unique advantage a product or service offers over competitors, addressing a specific problem or need. It highlights the distinctive value and benefits customers can expect, helping businesses attract and retain customers by differentiating themselves in the market.

Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the cornerstone of your startup, defining what sets you apart from your competitors. A strong UVP focuses on the specific benefits and solutions your startup offers to customers.

startup business plan how to

Company Description: Painting the Picture

Your company description allows you to showcase your startup’s unique features and provide more in-depth details about your business. This section should include:

The Purpose of the Company Description

Clarify the purpose of your business, your goals and how your startup is uniquely positioned to achieve them.

Essential Information to Include

Include details such as your company’s legal structure, location and a brief history of any founders or key personnel.

Showcase Your Company’s Unique Features

Emphasize the unique aspects of your startup, explaining how these features translate into a competitive advantage.

Allow me to provide you with a dash of inspiration to ignite the momentum for your startup business plan:

startup business plan how to

When it comes to showcasing your company’s unique features, keep in mind that it is essential to emphasize and highlight the distinctive aspects of your startup . Clearly articulate how these features set your company apart from competitors and translate into a tangible competitive advantage . 

Whether it’s through cutting-edge technology, innovative business models, exceptional customer service, or a combination of factors, conveying the value and impact of these unique features is crucial. By effectively communicating the benefits they bring to customers, investors, and partners, you can demonstrate the significance of your offerings and differentiate yourself in the market.

Product/Service Line: What You’re Bringing to the Table

This section highlights the finer details of your product or service offerings:

Detailing Your Product/Service Offerings

Provide a thorough description of your products/services, highlighting key features and their intended use.

startup business plan how to

Highlighting Features, Benefits, and Solutions

Demonstrate how your startup’s offerings solve specific problems or address customer needs through an analysis of product features and associated benefits.

startup business plan how to

Defining Your Pricing and Revenue Model

Outline your startup’s pricing strategy and how it aligns with the overall business model. Detail any plans for scaling or expanding your revenue sources in the future.

startup business plan how to

Presenting Your Market Research Findings

Share insights from your market research, including target customer demographics, market size, and growth potential.

startup business plan how to

Identifying Market Trends and Opportunities

Discuss current trends, emerging opportunities, and how your startup will capitalize on these developments.

startup business plan how to

Marketing and Sales Strategies: Spreading the Word

Developing a robust marketing and sales strategy plan aligns with your overall business strategy and ensures steady growth. Marketing planning will be an essential part of your journey once you’ve got your business plan tight-knit! Also, creating a marketing strategy can be the most fun part of your business plan!

Developing a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy & Plan

  • Outline Specific Marketing Goals : Clearly define your marketing objectives, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales . Set measurable targets to track progress.
  • Identify Target Audience : Conduct thorough market research to identify your ideal customer profiles. Understand their demographics, behaviors, preferences, and pain points. Tailor your marketing messages to resonate with their needs.
  • Select Effective Marketing Channels : Consider both digital and traditional channels that align with your target audience and marketing goals. This may include online advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email campaigns, print media, events, or partnerships.
  • Craft Compelling Messages : Develop persuasive and consistent messaging that highlights the unique value proposition of your products or services. Clearly communicate how your offerings solve customer problems or improve their lives.

startup business plan how to

5 Tips for Effective Sales Techniques and Growth Strategies + free templates

  • Define Your Sales Strategy : Outline the approach and tactics your sales team will use to reach and convert customers. This may involve direct sales, channel partnerships, online sales, or a combination of strategies. Specify your sales process, including lead generation, qualification, nurturing, and closing.
  • Expand Your Customer Base : Identify opportunities to expand your customer reach. Consider targeting new customer segments, entering new geographic markets, or exploring untapped market niches. Develop strategies to attract and engage these potential customers.
  • Penetrate New Markets : Assess the feasibility of expanding into new markets or verticals. Market research will help you understand the dynamics, competition, and customer needs in these markets. Adapt your marketing and sales strategies accordingly to effectively penetrate and capture market share.
  • Innovate Products/Services : Continuously evaluate and enhance your product or service offerings to meet evolving customer demands. Identify areas for innovation or improvement and develop a roadmap for launching new features, versions, or complementary offerings.
  • Perform a SWOT analysis : By conducting a sales SWOT analysis , you will gather valuable insights to enhance your department’s performance. This analysis involves evaluating your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, enabling you to identify areas for improvement and capitalize on advantageous factors in the market.

Here’s a hack to get you organized – Get right into it with the help of these growth strategy templates and strategic planning templates :

startup business plan how to

Operational Plan: How Your Startup Will Run

Define an efficient and scalable operational plan, keeping in mind the following points:

Defining an Efficient and Scalable Plan

Outline the day-to-day operations, including processes, timelines, and necessary resources.

Legal Considerations for Your Startup Business

Identify any legal requirements or considerations, such as licenses, permits, or regulations that may apply to your startup.

Key Elements of Supply Chain Management and Logistics

Discuss supply chain and logistical aspects relevant to your business. Include details on how you plan to manage and scale these processes.

Here’s a kickstart on how you can structure your operating plans:

startup business plan how to

Financial Projections: Crunching the Numbers

A startup’s financial projections are vital in securing investor buy-in. This section should address:

The Importance of Financial Forecasting and Budgeting

Explain the significance of accurate financial forecasting, budgeting, and the assumptions made in your projections.

Identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Highlight the KPIs used to gauge your business’s financial health and growth trajectory.

Outlining Funding Requirements

Detail the amount and type of funding your startup requires , including how the funds will be allocated and how this investment positions the company for growth.

startup business plan how to

Team and Management Structure: Building Your Dream Team

Your startup’s success depends on the people behind it. This section should cover:

Tips for Building the Right Team

Share your strategy for assembling a skilled team that supports your startup’s vision and growth trajectory.

Founders’ Background and Roles

Provide an overview of the founders’ backgrounds, their roles within the company, and how their skills contribute to the startup’s success.

Organizational Structure and Key Management Personnel

Outline your startup’s organizational structure, including any key management personnel who play a pivotal role in day-to-day operations.

Appendices and Supporting Documents: Backing Up Your Plan

Include any other relevant supporting documents, such as:

  • Research data, market analysis, or competitor analyses.
  • Financial statements, budgeting or forecasting data, and other financial documentation.
  • Legal documents, agreements or contracts, and any patent or trademark information.

Finally, remember to review and update your business plan regularly as the industry, market, and competitive landscape evolve!

1. Why is a business plan essential for a startup?

A startup business plan is crucial for a startup because it provides a framework for strategic decision-making, facilitates financial planning, helps assess risks, aligns teams, communicates your vision, and ensures effective resource allocation. 

2. What should a startup business plan include?

A startup business plan should include:

  • Vision and Direction : Set clear goals and objectives, and outline strategies to achieve them. With a well-defined plan, you will stay focused, make informed decisions, and ensure alignment with your vision.
  • Market Analysis : A business plan necessitates thorough market research to understand your target market, identify competition, and assess product/service demand. These insights enable you to tailor offerings, meet customer needs, and gain a competitive edge.
  • Financial Planning : By constructing a financial roadmap through projected statements such as income, cash flow, and balance sheets, a business plan unveils the expected revenues, expenses, and profitability. This comprehensive planning not only anticipates challenges and sets realistic goals but also serves as a magnet for attracting investors and securing funding.
  • Risk Assessment : Devise strategies for risk mitigation and contingency planning. By proactively doing this, you can significantly enhance the likelihood of success by anticipating and effectively addressing potential obstacles.
  • Communication and Team Alignment : From fostering effective communication with both internal and external stakeholders to aligning team members and showcasing your startup’s unique value proposition, a business plan plays a crucial role. It enables you to articulate target market insights, competitive advantages, and growth strategies to potential investors, partners, and employees.
  • Resource Allocation : A business plan helps you identify the resources required to launch and operate your startup successfully. It includes an assessment of your human resources, technology needs, infrastructure requirements, and other key resources. By understanding your resource needs, you can allocate them effectively, ensuring that you have the necessary assets to execute your business strategy.
  • Adaptability and Flexibility : Your business plan should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and adapt to new circumstances. Startups operate in dynamic environments, and a well-designed plan allows you to monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, and make adjustments as needed. This agility enables you to seize new opportunities and navigate challenges effectively.

3. What is the ideal length for a startup business plan?

The optimal length for a startup business plan typically depends on the specific requirements and intended audience, but a concise and focused plan of around 20 to 30 pages is often recommended.

4. How to write a good startup business plan?

To write a good and effective startup plan, include an executive summary, company description, market analysis, detailed products/services description and a clear marketing and sales strategy. Also incorporate a comprehensive financial plan, outline your organizational structure, and demonstrates your team’s expertise and capabilities. Your plan should be well-researched, concise, and compelling, with a focus on your company’s unique value proposition and market opportunity, making it attractive to investors and stakeholders.

Utilizing Venngage templates & other tools for success

A visually appealing and professional business plan needn’t be a daunting task. Leverage tools like Venngage Business Plan Maker for effective templates that cater to various industries and streamline the process. 

  • Leveraging Venngage for Visually Appealing and Professional Business Plans

Venngage offers a range of templates designed specifically for business plans, allowing you to craft a polished and visually engaging plan without any design experience. Simply choose a template, customize it to suit your startup’s branding, and populate it with your content.

  • Exploring Additional Resources and Tools for Entrepreneurs. In addition to Venngage, several other resources and tools can assist entrepreneurs in crafting the perfect business plan. Examples include:
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) – Offers guidance on writing business plans and provides templates and resources for each section.
  • SCORE – A nonprofit organization providing mentorship, workshops, and other resources for entrepreneurs.
  • Industry-specific resources – Research relevant professional organizations, industry publications, and blogs to stay up to date on industry trends and insights.

Embarking on the entrepreneurial path may present formidable challenges, yet it offers abundant rewards in various aspects. Embrace the art of continuous learning, delving not only into the essence of your business idea but also immersing yourself in the vast world that surrounds it. Cultivate a genuine passion for understanding every facet of your enterprise, for it is through this journey of exploration that you will uncover invaluable insights and experience the true fulfillment of entrepreneurship.

startup business plan how to

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Create a Startup Business Plan in Easy Steps

Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images

In addition to creating a business plan to use for getting startup financing, there are other good reasons to create a plan. Use a business plan template to look at all the areas of your most standard businesses. The template will help you make sure all areas are covered, so your startup goes more smoothly.

Small business expert Amanda McCormick suggests looking at five key assumptions to make sure you are ready to start and they will help you be more confident of success.

Probably the most important thing you can do with your business plan is to use it to build your startup business. Small business expert Susan Ward suggests creating goals for each section of your business plan and making an action plan to achieve each one of those goals.

Begin with a General Description of Your Business

The first step is to write a general description of your business. This exercise helps you distill your vision and will focus many other portions of your startup plan.

Type of Business

Describe what type of business you are starting, retail, manufacturing, industrial, construction, or some other type of services. Describe what the business will produce or sell.

Legal Organization

Discuss how the business will be organized. Corporations are legal entities that keep the business and personal liability separated. A limited liability company (LLC) is another way to separate business interests from personal. Other forms include the sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporations, and C corporations. The structure you choose will have legal and tax implications so, be sure you research and choose carefully. You may wish to talk to an accountant as you learn about which form your company will take.

Business Location

Describe the facility you will use for your business, including an address and information about the area. Include the square footage and a layout of the business, if this is available. If your business is in your home, describe the space you will use. Discuss whether this location will be purchased or rented and the terms for purchase or rental.

Licenses and Permits

Include information on local ordinances that pertain to your business, as well as licenses and permits you have obtained or need to obtain.

Management and Employees

Describe the owners and management of the business, along with the expected number and types of employees who will be working in the business. This will be a very brief description; you'll be doing a more detailed management plan in a later section. 

Specific Plan for Your Products or Services

  • A general description of each product
  • The pricing structure of this product and whether you will have different prices for various markets
  • Whether you will produce this product or purchase from a wholesaler to resell to your customers

If you are providing services, describe these services in detail, including:

  • A general description of each type of service and how it will be performed
  • Pricing for the various services you will be providing

Create Your Marketing Plan 

Create a description of your target market. This description should include:

  • A description of your "ideal" customer in terms of this person or company's characteristics, attitudes, and buying behaviors. This description should be as complete as possible.
  • A discussion of the information about the "population" to whom you will be selling, in terms of numbers and demographics (characteristics), like age, sex, education level, income level, and other important information
  • A description of the buying behaviors of your target market

Describe the Competition for Your Products or Services

Create a description of the competition for your products or services within your target market, including:

  • Numbers of competitors
  • Characteristics of your top three competitors
  • Unique points of difference between you and your competitors
  • The ways in which you will emphasize the difference between your products/services and those of your competitors, in terms of delivery, customer service, product differentiation, or other characteristics

Design a Business Marketing Strategy

The next step is creating a strategy for marketing and promoting your company's products or services to this market. Here are some items this marketing and promotion plan should include:

  • The top three ways in which you will initially inform your target market about the existence of your products and services.
  • The types of paid advertising you will use to promote your products and services.
  • The ways in which you will use publicity to promote your products and services.
  • The personal selling methods you will use to promote your products and services.
  • The types of materials (brochures, flyers, web site)you will use to promote your new products and services.

Along with your marketing and promotion strategies, you will need to create a budget for all of these activities, for the first three years of your business.

Necessary Financial Statements for Business Startup

The most important step in the process of creating your business plan is the creation of your financial documents. This section will also take the most time and effort. Here is the information you need to include in your financial plan:

Startup Costs Worksheet

This financial statement should include all of the equipment, supplies, and other items you will need to purchase for the startup, as well as fees and licenses, deposits, initial expenditures for advisers, and costs for creating your business structure.

Beginning Balance Sheet

You will need to prepare a startup balance sheet , showing assets, liabilities, and owner's equity as of the date of the startup.

Month-by-Month Budget for 1st Year

Include a detailed statement (sometimes called a "cash flow statement")showing month-by-month sales and collections, along with all monthly business expenses.

Pro Forma Income Projections

You will need to prepare a pro forma (projected) income statement (P&L) for the first three years of operations, showing income and expenses, along with pre-tax income, tax liability, and after-tax income for each of these years.

Break-Even Analysis

If you are selling products, you should create a break-even analysis , showing the point at which you expect to break even on product sales.

Sources and Uses of Funds

Many lenders request that you include this statement , itemizing all of your financial needs for the business, along with your personal investment in the business, and the financing expected from your lender or investor.

Personal Financial Information

If you take your business plan to a lender or investor, you will also be asked to provide personal financial information. Preparing this information for inclusion in your business plan will help you gain the trust of these individuals. Here is what you should bring with you to all owners for the last three years.

  • Tax returns for the past three years
  • A recent credit report, showing credit score
  • A personal financial statement -- you can use the  SBA personal financial statement (PDF) template as a guide
  • A resume or curriculum vitae

Finally, you will need to create a management plan (who's running this company), an operating plan (how is it being run), and an executive summary.

Create a Management Plan

Create a description of the management of your business, including:

Owners and Directors

Describe the backgrounds and qualifications of the individuals who will own the company and make top-level decisions. This may include your Board of Directors if you are incorporating.

Managers and Employees

Describe the key management positions you will require; if you have any of these key positions filled, discuss the qualifications of the people who will fill them. Include an organization chart, showing the top positions and the types of employees who will be working in your organization.

Business Advisors

Include information about the key advisers for your business, including consultants, your CPA or financial advisor, attorney, insurance agent, and banker. If you have not selected some of these individuals, discuss the qualifications you will be looking for to fill these positions.

Create an Operating Plan

 Create a plan for operations for your business, including:

Day-to-day Operations

Describe how your business will operate on a daily basis. What production process will be used? What will you do to market and sell products and services? What hours will you be open?

Accounting and Financial Operations

Describe how your accounting, billing and collections, and other financial operations will be conducted.

Computer and Technology

Include a discussion of the computer and technological systems in your business. Will you operate a website? If so, who will maintain it? What computer hardware and the software will be used? What will your phone system look like? What office equipment will you need?

Create an Executive Summary 

The last step in preparing your business plan is to create an Executive Summary. This document summarizes the business plan information and is placed at the beginning of the document.

Your Executive Summary is important! It may be the only part of your business plan that a lender sees, so make it excellent.

The Executive Summary should be interesting to your reader and provide basic information about the business. In particular, the Executive Summary is intended to summarize your financial needs for startup or purchase. Here are the points you should emphasize in your Executive Summary:

  • Company information , including the company name, when it was founded or purchased when it will open for business, and the location and legal form of organization.
  • A one-sentence description of the products and services of the business.
  • Several sentences that discuss the purpose of the business , its mission/vision, and other information to interest your reader in the business.
  • A general description of your target market, your competitive position, and your unique differences from your competition.
  • A discussion of your specific financing needs , including your own investment in the business, startup/purchase funding, and needs for operating capital during startup.
  • A discussion of your own investment in the business and your expectations of when the business will break even or make a profit.

Now that you have completed writing your startup business plan, one more important task is ahead. 

Read, review, and revise. Make sure your business plan is 100% perfect. 

startup business plan how to

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Business Plan Templates


A well-written business plan can help you identify your goals, map out strategies to achieve them, and measure progress along the way. And while some proponents of the ' no plan ' business plan argue that businesses can survive without a business plan — research shows that having a solid plan can help fuel growth and improve business performance, especially if you're a startup.

What's a Startup Business Plan?

Before diving into the specifics, let’s revisit the basics of a startup business plan. Briefly, a business plan is a written document outlining your strategies and ideas for launching, growing, managing, and (later on) exiting your business venture. 

Business plans are by no means set in stone. In fact, your plan will likely evolve as the market changes and as you learn more about your customers. A typical business plan will include your financial projections, marketing strategies, timelines, products and services, management plans, competitive analysis, and more.

Why Does it Matter?

Studies show that both new and existing businesses can benefit from a business plan , as planning drastically improves business performance and efficiency. Also, companies with business plans tend to grow at least 30% faster than those that don't have any sort of planning in place. 

Additionally, 71% of fast-growing companies attribute their growth to having defined their budgets, sales goals, and business strategies early on. And to really drive the point home, yet another study revealed that companies that had a growth rate in sales of over 92% year-over-year all had business plans to inform their next steps. 

Briefly put, business plans help you focus on your business goals and keep your team and investors informed regarding the future of your company. Putting things on paper enables you to set realistic goals and actionable steps for reaching them. For example, if you're developing a new product, you'll need to know exactly how much it will cost and whether you need additional funding. 

Who Will Want to Read It?

No, sorry, the "About Us" section on your website or social media page is not enough. You'll need a well-written, comprehensive business plan to get your startup off the ground — and that means you should be prepared to share it with potential investors, partners, and lenders.

Your potential investors or partners will want to know exactly what they're investing in and how their money will help your company reach its goals. By having a comprehensive business plan in place, you can show potential investors and partners that you have done your homework and are serious about taking your business venture to the next level. Plus, it gives them a glimpse into what kind of returns they can expect from financing your business or partnering with you.

The Starting Point

Creating a business plan can be a daunting task. That’s why we created the Startup Business Plan Template – an easy-to-use editable template that provides guidance on writing a high-quality business plan (or checking what you already have so far). Here's what the kit contains:

  • Guidelines for Writing a rockstar business plan
  • The nine components your business plan needs
  • Editable fields for easy creation
  • A business plan gut checklist
  • How to make the template work for you.

Get access to the templates now

Built to scale with hubspot for startups.

It takes some time to put together a startup pitch deck that works, but once you’ve nailed your presentation, you can reuse it for multiple pitches with just a few tweaks to update any data or statistics. HubSpot for Startups helps you track marketing and sales data to make this process easier. New investors can rest easy knowing you’ve got the support of HubSpot’s powerful CRM at your fingertips.

Amazon Web Services

From Airbnb to Zocdoc, the world’s top startups build on Amazon Web Services. But they didn’t do it alone. So whether you need help solving a technical challenge, hiring the right engineers, or finalizing a fundraising round, we have all the resources you need to get started. There’s a reason more startups build on AWS than any other provider: we’re here to help you succeed, from inception to IPO.

To learn more about AWS, visit aws.amazon.com .

Get the biz plan template!

How To Write A Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

A step-by-step guide on writing a business plan to catch an investor's attention & serve as a guiding star for your business..

July 13th, 2022    |    By: The Startups Team     |    Tags: Planning , Model , Pitch Deck

A comprehensive, step-by-step guide - complete with real examples - on writing business plans with just the right amount of panache to catch an investor's attention and serve as a guiding star for your business.

Introduction to Business Plans

So you've got a killer startup idea. Now you need to write a business plan that is equally killer.

You fire up your computer, open a Google doc, and stare at the blank page for several minutes before it suddenly dawns on you that,  Hm…maybe I have no idea how to write a business plan from scratch after all.

Don't let it get you down. After all, why would you know anything about business planning? For that very reason we have  4 amazing business plan samples  to share with you as inspiration.

How to write a business plan

For most founders,  writing a business plan  feels like the startup equivalent of homework. It's the thing you know you have to do, but nobody actually wants to do.

Here's the good news: writing a business plan doesn't have to be this daunting, cumbersome chore.

Once you understand the fundamental questions that your business plan should answer for your readers and how to position everything in a way that compels your them to take action, writing a business plan becomes way more approachable.

Before you set fingers to the keyboard to turn your business idea into written documentation of your organizational structure and business goals, we're going to walk you through the most important things to keep in mind (like company description, financials, and market analysis, etc.) and to help you tackle the writing process confidently — with plenty of real life business plan examples along the way to get you writing a business plan to be proud of!

Keep It Short and Simple.

There's this old-school idea that business plans need to be ultra-dense, complex documents the size of a doorstop because that's how you convey how serious you are about your company.

Not so much.

Complexity and length for complexity and length's sake is almost never a good idea, especially when it comes to writing a business plan. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1. Investors Are Short On Time

If your chief goal is using your business plan to secure funding, then it means you intend on getting it in front of an investor. And if there's one thing investors are, it's busy. So keep this in mind throughout writing a business plan.

Investors wade through hundreds of business plans a year. There's no version of you presenting an 80-page business plan to an investor and they enthusiastically dive in and take hours out of their day to pour over the thing front to back.

Instead, they're looking for you to get your point across as quickly and clearly as possible so they can skim your business plan and get to the most salient parts to determine whether or not they think your opportunity is worth pursuing (or at the very least initiating further discussions).

You should be able to refine all of the key value points that investors look for to 15-20 pages (not including appendices where you will detail your financials). If you find yourself writing beyond that, then it's probably a case of either over explaining, repeating information, or including irrelevant details in your business plan (you don't need to devote 10 pages to how you're going to set up your website, for example).

Bottom line: always be on the lookout for opportunities to “trim the fat" while writing a business plan (and pay special attention to the executive summary section below), and you'll be more likely to secure funding.

2. Know Your Audience

If you fill your business plan with buzzwords, industry-specific jargon or acronyms, and long complicated sentences, it might make sense to a handful of people familiar with your niche and those with superhuman attention spans (not many), but it alienates the vast majority of readers who aren't experts in your particular industry. And if no one can understand so much as your company overview, they won't make it through the rest of your business plan.

Your best bet here is to use simple, straightforward language that's easily understood by anyone — from the most savvy of investor to your Great Aunt Bertha who still uses a landline.

How To Format Your Business Plan

You might be a prodigy in quantum mechanics, but if you show up to your interview rocking cargo shorts and lime green Crocs, you can probably guess what the hiring manager is going to notice first.

In the same way,  how  you present your business plan to your readers equally as important as what you present to them. So don't go over the top with an extensive executive summary, or get lazy with endless bullet points on your marketing strategy.

If your business plan is laden with inconsistent margins, multiple font types and sizes, missing headings and page numbers, and lacks a table of contents, it's going to create a far less digestible reading experience (and totally take away from your amazing idea and hours of work writing a business plan!)

While there's no one  right  way to format your business plan, the idea here is to ensure that it presents professionally. Here's some easy formatting tips to help you do just that.

If your margins are too narrow, it makes the page look super cluttered and more difficult to read.

A good rule of thumb is sticking to standard one-inch margins all around.

Your business plan is made up of several key sections, like chapters in a book.

Whenever you begin a section (“Traction” for example) you'll want to signify it using a header so that your reader immediately knows what to expect from the content that follows.

This also helps break up your content and keep everything nice and organized in your business plan.


Subheadings are mini versions of headings meant to break up content within each individual section and capture the attention of your readers to keep them moving down the page.

In fact, we're using sub-headers right now in this section for that very purpose!

Limit your business plan to two typefaces (one for headings and one for body copy and subheadings, for example) that you can find in a standard text editor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Only pick fonts that are easy to read and contain both capital and lowercase letters.

Avoid script-style or jarring fonts that distract from the actual content. Modern, sans-serif fonts like Helvetica, Arial, and Proxima Nova are a good way to go.

Keep your body copy between 11 and 12-point font size to ensure readability (some fonts are more squint-inducing than others).

You can offset your headings from your body copy by simply upping the font size and by bolding your subheadings.

Sometimes it's better to show instead of just tell.

Assume that your readers are going to skim your plan rather than read it word-for-word and treat it as an opportunity to grab their attention with color graphics, tables, and charts (especially with financial forecasts), as well as product images, if applicable.

This will also help your reader better visualize what your business model is all about.

Need some help with this?

Our  business planning wizard  comes pre-loaded with a modular business plan template that you can complete in any order and makes it ridiculously easy to generate everything you need from your value proposition, mission statement, financial projections, competitive advantage, sales strategy, market research, target market, financial statements, marketing strategy, in a way that clearly communicates your business idea.

Refine Your Business Plans. Then Refine Them Some More.

Your business isn't static, so why should your business plan be?

Your business strategy is always evolving, and so are good business plans. This means that the early versions of your business plans probably won't (and shouldn't be) your last. The details of even even the best business plans are only as good as their last update.

As your business progresses and your ideas about it shift, it's important revisit your business plan from time to time to make sure it reflects those changes, keeping everything as accurate and up-to-date as possible. What good is market analysis if the market has shifted and you have an entirely different set of potential customers? And what good would the business model be if you've recently pivoted? A revised business plan is a solid business plan. It doesn't ensure business success, but it certainly helps to support it.

This rule especially holds true when you go about your market research and learn something that goes against your initial assumptions, impacting everything from your sales strategy to your financial projections.

At the same time, before you begin shopping your business plan around to potential investors or bankers, it's imperative to get a second pair of eyes on it after you've put the final period on your first draft.

After you run your spell check, have someone with strong “English teacher skills” run a fine-tooth comb over your plan for any spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors you may have glossed over. An updated, detailed business plan (without errors!) should be constantly in your business goals.

More than that, your trusty business plan critic can also give you valuable feedback on how it reads from a stylistic perspective. While different investors prefer different styles, the key here is to remain consistent with your audience and business.

Writing Your Business Plan: A Section-By-Section Breakdown

We devoted an entire article carefully breaking down the  key components of a business plan  which takes a comprehensive look of what each section entails and why.

If you haven't already, you should check that out, as it will act as the perfect companion piece to what we're about to dive into in a moment.

For our purposes here, we're going to look at a few real world business plan examples (as well as one of our own self-penned “dummy” plans) to give you an inside look at how to position key information on a section-by-section basis.

1. Executive Summary

Quick overview.

After your Title Page — which includes your company name, slogan (if applicable), and contact information — and your Table of Contents, the Executive Summary will be the first section of actual content about your business.

The primary goal of your Executive Summary is to provide your readers with a high level overview of your business plan as a whole by summarizing the most important aspects in a few short sentences. Think of your Executive Summary as a kind of “teaser” for your business concept and the information to follow — information which you will explain in greater detail throughout your plan. This isn't the place for your a deep dive on your competitive advantages, or cash flow statement. It is an appropriate place to share your mission statement and value proposition.

Executive Summary Example

Here's an example of an Executive Summary taken from a sample business plan written by the Startups.com team for a fictional company called Culina. Here, we'll see how the Executive Summary offers brief overviews of the  Product ,  Market Opportunity ,  Traction , and  Next Steps .

Culina Tech specializes in home automation and IoT technology products designed to create the ultimate smart kitchen for modern homeowners.

Our flagship product, the Culina Smart Plug, enables users to make any kitchen appliance or cooking device intelligent. Compatible with all existing brands that plug into standard two or three-prong wall outlets, Culina creates an entire network of Wi-Fi-connected kitchen devices that can be controlled and monitored remotely right from your smartphone.

The majority of US households now spend roughly 35% of their energy consumption on appliances, electronics, and lighting.  With the ability to set energy usage caps on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, Culina helps homeowners stay within their monthly utility budget through more efficient use of the dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, stove, and other common kitchen appliances.

Additionally, 50.8% of house fires are caused in the kitchen — more than any other room in the home — translating to over $5 billion in property damage costs per year.  Culina provides the preventative intelligence necessary to dramatically reduce kitchen-related disasters and their associated costs and risk of personal harm.

Our team has already completed the product development and design phase, and we are now ready to begin mass manufacturing. We've also gained a major foothold among consumers and investors alike, with 10,000 pre-ordered units sold and $5 million in investment capital secured to date.

We're currently seeking a $15M Series B capital investment that will give us the financial flexibility to ramp up hardware manufacturing, improve software UX and UI, expand our sales and marketing efforts, and fulfill pre-orders in time for the 2018 holiday season.

2. Company Synopsis

Your Company Synopsis section answers two critically important questions for your readers: What painful  PROBLEM  are you solving for your customers? And what is your elegant  SOLUTION  to that problem? The combination of these two components form your value proposition.

Company Synopsis Example

Let's look at a real-life company description example from  HolliBlu * — a mobile app that connects healthcare facilities with local skilled nurses — to see how they successfully address both of these key aspects.  *Note: Full disclosure; Our team worked directly with this company on their business plan via Fundable.

Business plan: Company synopsis example

Notice how we get a crystal clear understanding of why the company exists to begin with when they set up the  problem  — that traditional nurse recruitment methods are costly, inconvenient, and time-consuming, creating significant barriers to providing quality nursing to patients in need.

Once we understand the painful problem that HolliBlu's customers face, we're then directly told how their  solution  links back directly to that problem — by creating an entire community of qualified nurses and directly connecting them with local employers more cost-effectively and more efficiently than traditional methods.

3. Market Overview

Your Market Overview provides color around the industry that you will be competing in as it relates to your product/service.

This will include statistics about industry size, [growth](https://www.startups.com/library/expert-advice/the-case-for-growing-slowly) rate, trends, and overall outlook. If this part of your business plan can be summed up in one word, it's  research .

The idea is to gather as much raw data as you can to make the case for your readers that:

This is a market big enough to get excited about.

You can capture a big enough share of this market to get excited about.

Target Market Overview Example

Here's an example from HolliBlu's business plan:

Business plan: Market overview example

HolliBlu's Market Overview hits all of the marks — clearly laying out the industry size ($74.8 billion), the Total Addressable Market or TAM (3 million registered nurses), industry growth rate (581,500 new RN jobs through 2018; $355 billion by 2020), and industry trends (movement toward federally-mandated compliance with nurse/patient ratios, companies offering sign-on bonuses to secure qualified nurses, increasing popularity of home-based healthcare).

4. Product (How it Works)

Where your Company Synopsis is meant to shed light on why the company exists by demonstrating the problem you're setting out to solve and then bolstering that with an impactful solution, your Product or How it Works section allows you to get into the nitty gritty of how it actually delivers that value, and any competitive advantage it provides you.

Product (How it Works) Example

In the below example from our team's Culina sample plan, we've divided the section up using subheadings to call attention to product's  key features  and how it actually works from a user perspective.

This approach is particularly effective if your product or service has several unique features that you want to highlight.

Business plan: Product overview

5. Revenue Model

Quite simply, your Revenue Model gives your readers a framework for how you plan on making money. It identifies which revenue channels you're leveraging, how you're pricing your product or service, and why.

Revenue Model Example

Let's take a look at another real world business plan example with brewpub startup  Magic Waters Brewpub .*

It can be easy to get hung up on the financial aspect here, especially if you haven't fully developed your product yet. And that's okay. *Note: Full disclosure; Our team worked directly with this company on their business plan via Fundable.

The thing to remember is that investors will want to see that you've at least made some basic assumptions about your monetization strategy.

Business plan: Revenue model

6. Operating Model

Your Operating Model quite simply refers to how your company actually runs itself. It's the detailed breakdown of the processes, technologies, and physical requirements (assets) that allow you to deliver the value to your customers that your product or service promises.

Operating Model Example

Let's say you were opening up a local coffee shop, for example. Your Operating Model might detail the following:

Information about your facility (location, indoor and outdoor space features, lease amount, utility costs, etc.)

The equipment you need to purchase (coffee and espresso machines, appliances, shelving and storage, etc.) and their respective costs.

The inventory you plan to order regularly (product, supplies, etc.), how you plan to order it (an online supplier) and how often it gets delivered (Mon-Fri).

Your staffing requirements (including how many part or full time employees you'll need, at what wages, their job descriptions, etc.)

In addition, you can also use your Operating Model to lay out the ways you intend to manage the costs and efficiencies associated with your business, including:

The  Critical Costs  that make or break your business. In the case of our coffee shop example, you might say something like,

“We're estimating the marketing cost to acquire a customer is going to be $25.  Our average sale is $45.  So long as we can keep our customer acquisition costs below $25 we will have enough margin to grow with.”

Cost Maturation & Milestones  that show how your Critical Costs might fluctuate over time.

“If we sell 50 coffees a day, our average unit cost will be $8 on a sale of $10.  At that point we're barely breaking even. However as we scale up to 200 coffees a day, our unit costs drop significantly to $4, creating a 100% increase in net income.”

Investment Costs  that highlight strategic uses of capital that will have a big Return on Investment (ROI) later.

“We're investing $100,000 into a revolutionary new coffee brewing system that will allow us to brew twice the amount our current output with the same amount of space and staff.”

Operating Efficiencies  explaining your capability of delivering your product or service in the most cost effective manner possible while maintaining the highest standards of quality.

“By using energy efficient Ecoboilers, we're able to keep our water hot while minimizing the amount of energy required. Our machines also feature an energy saving mode. Both of these allow us to dramatically cut energy costs.”

7. Competitive Analysis

Like the Market Overview section, you want to show your readers that you've done your homework and have a crazy high level of awareness about your current competitors or any potential competitors that may crop up down the line for your given business model.

When writing your Competitive Analysis, your overview should cover  who  your closest competitors are, the chief  strengths  they bring to the table, and their biggest  weaknesses .

You'll want to identify at least 3 competitors — either direct, indirect, or a combination of the two. It's an extremely important aspect of the business planning process.

Competition Analysis Example

Here's an example of how HolliBlu lays out their Competitive Analysis section for just one of their competitors, implementing each of the criteria noted above:

Business plan: Competion analysis example

8. Customer Definition

Your Customer Definition section allows you to note which customer segment(s) you're going after, what characteristics and habits each customer segment embodies, how each segment uniquely benefits from your product or service, and how all of this ties together to create the ideal portrait of an actual paying customer, and how you'll cultivate and manage customer relationships.

Customer Definition Example

Business plan: Customer definition

HolliBlu's Customer Definition section is effective for several reasons. Let's deconstruct their first target market segment, hospitals.

What's particularly successful here is that we are explained why hospitals are optimal buyers.

They accomplish this by harkening back to the central problem at the core of the opportunity (when hospitals can't supply enough staff to meet patient demands, they have to resort on costly staffing agencies).

On top of that, we are also told how  big  of an opportunity going after this customer segment represents (5,534 hospitals in the US).

This template is followed for each of the company's 3 core customer segments. This provides consistency, but more than that, it emphasizes how diligent research reinforces their assumptions about who their customers are and why they'd open their wallets. Keep all of this in mind when you are write your own business plan.

9. Customer Acquisition

Now that you've defined who your customers are for your readers, your Customer Acquisition section will tell them what marketing and sales strategy and tactics you plan to leverage to actually reach the target market (or target markets) and ultimately convert them into paying customers.

marketing Strategy Example

Business plan: Customer acquisition

Similar to the exercise you will go through with your Revenue Model, in addition to identifying  which  channels you're pursuing, you'll also want to detail all of relevant costs associated with your customer acquisition channels.

Let's say you spent $100 on your marketing plan to acquire 100 customers during 2018. To get your CAC, you simply divide the number of customers acquired by your spend, giving you a $1.00 CAC.

10. Traction

This one's huge. Traction tells investors one important thing: that you're business has momentum. It's evidence that you're making forward progress and hitting milestones. That things are happening. It's one of the most critical components of a successful business plan.

Why is this so important? Financial projections are great and all, but if you can prove to investors that your company's got legs before they've even put a dime into it, then it will get them thinking about all the great things you'll be able to accomplish when they do bankroll you.

Traction Example

Business plan: Traction

In our Culina Traction section, we've called attention to several forms of traction, touching on some of the biggest ones that you'll want to consider when writing your own plan.

Have I built or launched my product or service yet?

Have I reached any customers yet?

Have I generated any revenue yet?

Have I forged any strategic industry relationships that will be instrumental in driving growth?

The key takeaway here: the more traction you can show, the more credibility you build with investors. After all, you can't leave it all on market analysis alone.

11. Management Team

Here's what your Management Team section isn't: it's not an exhaustive rundown of each and every position your team members have held over the course of their lives.

Instead, you should tell investors which aspects of your team's experience and expertise directly translates to the success of  this  company and  this  industry.

In other words, what applicable, relevant background do they bring to the table?

Management Team Example

Business plan: The Team

Let's be real. The vast majority of startup teams probably aren't stacked with Harvard and Stanford grads. But the thing to home in on is how the prior experience listed speaks directly to how it qualifies that team member's current position.

The word of the day here is relevancy. If it's not relevant, you probably don't need to include it in your typical business plan.

12. Funding

Funding overview.

The ask! This is where you come out and, you guessed it,  ask  your investors point blank how much money you need to move your business forward, what specific milestones their investment will allow you to reach, how you'll allocate the capital you secure, and what the investor will get in exchange for their investment.

You can also include information about your  exit strategy  (IPO, acquisition, merger?).

Funding Example

Business plan: Funding

While we've preached against redundancy in your business plan, an exception to the rule is using the Funding section to offer up a very brief recap that essentially says, “here are the biggest reasons you should invest in my company and why it will ultimately benefit you.”

13. Financials

Spreadsheets and numbers and charts, oh my! Yes, it's everybody's “favorite” business plan section: Financials.

Your Financials section will come last and contain all of the forecasted numbers that say to investors that this is a sound investment. This will include things like your sales forecast, expense budget, and break-even analysis. A lot of this will be assumptions, or estimates.

The key here is keeping those estimates as realistic as humanly possible by breaking your figures into components and looking at each one individually.

Financials Example

Business Financials

The balance sheet above illustrates the business' estimated net worth over a three-year period by summarizing its assets (tangible objects owned by the company), liabilities (debt owed to a creditor of the company), and shareholders' equity (source of financing used to fund the assets).

In plain words, the balance sheet is basically a snapshot of your business' financial status by laying out what you own and owe, helping investors determine the level of risk involved and giving them a good understanding of the financial health of the business.

If you're looking to up your game from those outdated Excel-style spreadsheets,  our business planning software  will help you create clean, sleek, modern financial reports the modern way. Plus, it's as easy to use as it is attractive to look at. You might even find yourself enjoying financial projections, building a cash flow statement, and business planning overall.

You've Got This!

You've committed to writing your business plan and now you've got some tricks of the trade to help you out along the way. Whether you're applying for a business loan or seeking investors, your well-crafted business plan will act as your Holy Grail in helping take your business goals to the next plateau.

This is a ton of work. It's not a few hours and a free business plan template. It's not just a business plan software. We've been there before. Writing your [business plan](https://www.startups.com/library/expert-advice/top-4-business-plan-examples) is just one small step in startup journey. There's a whole long road ahead of you filled with a marketing plan, investor outreach, chasing venture capitalists, actually getting funded, and growing your business into a successful company.

And guess what? We've got helpful information on all of it — and all at your disposal! We hope this guides you confidently on how to write a business plan worth bragging about.

About the Author

The startups team.

Startups is the world's largest startup platform, helping over 1 million startup companies find customers , funding , mentors , and world-class education .

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Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples

By Joe Weller | May 6, 2020

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In this article, we’ve rounded up a variety of the top, professionally designed startup business plan templates, all of which are free to download in PDF, Word, and Excel formats.

Included on this page, you’ll find a one-page startup business plan template , a business plan outline template for startups , a startup business planning template with a timeline , and a sample startup business plan .

Startup Business Plan Template

startup business plan how to

Download Startup Business Plan Template - Word

Word | Smartsheet

This startup business plan template contains the essential components you need to convey your business idea and strategy to investors and stakeholders, but you can customize this template to fit your needs. The template provides room to include an executive summary, a financial overview, a marketing strategy, details on product or service offerings, and more.

One-Page Startup Business Plan Template

One Page Business Plan For Start Up Template

Download One-Page Startup Business Plan Template

Excel | Word | PDF

This one-page business plan is ideal for startup companies that want to document and organize key business concepts. The template offers an easy-to-scan layout that’s ideal for investors and stakeholders. Use this plan to create a high-level view of your business idea and as a reference as you flesh out a more detailed roadmap for your business.

For additional resources, visit " Free One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."

Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Template for Startups

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

Download Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan Template for Startups

This comprehensive fill-in-the-blank business plan template is designed to guide entrepreneurs through the process of building a startup business plan. This template comes with a customizable cover page and table of contents, and each section includes sample content that you can modify to fit the needs of your business. For more fill-in business templates, read our  "Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates"  article.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

This Lean business plan template takes a traditional business plan outline and extracts the most essential elements. Use this template to outline your company and industry overview, convey the problem you are solving, identify customer segments, highlight key performance metrics, and list a timeline of key activities.

Business Plan Outline Template for Startups

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Download Business Plan Outline Template for Startups

You can use this business plan outline as a basis to create your own business plan. This template contains all the elements of a traditional business plan, including a title page, a table of contents, and information on what to include in each section. Simplify or expand this outline based on the size and needs of your startup business.

Startup Business Planning Template with Timeline

Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Download Startup Business Planning Template with Timeline

Excel | Smartsheet

As you create your business plan, this business planning template doubles as a schedule and timeline to track the progress of key activities. This template enables you to break down your plan into phases and provides space to include key tasks and dates for each task. For a visual timeline, shade in the cells according to each task’s start and end dates. The timeline ensures that your plan stays on track.

Business Plan Rubric Template for Startups

startup business plan how to

Download Business Plan Rubric Template for Startups

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

If you’re starting a business and want to keep all your ducks in a row, use this rubric to evaluate and score each aspect of your startup business plan. You can tailor this template to the needs of your specific business, and can also highlight areas of your plan that require improvement or expansion. Use this template as a tool to make sure your plan is clear, articulate, and organized. A sharp, insightful, well thought-out plan will definitely get the attention of potential investors and partners.

For additional resources to help support your business planning efforts, check out “Free Startup Plan, Budget, and Cost Templates.”

What’s the Best Business Plan Template for Startups?

The template you choose for your startup business depends on a number of factors, including the size and specific needs of your company. Moreover, as your business grows and your objectives change, you will need to adjust your plan (and possibly your choice of template) accordingly. 

Some entrepreneurs find it useful to use a Lean business plan template design in order to jot down a business concept and see if it’s feasible before pursuing it further. Typically one to three pages, a Lean business plan template encourages you to highlight core ideas and strategic activities and remain focused on key points.

Other entrepreneurs prefer a template with a more traditional business plan design, which allows you to go into greater detail and ensure you include every detail. A traditional plan can range from 10 to 100 pages and cover both the high-level and granular particulars of your overall concept, objectives, and strategy.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the following section outlines the minimum that your business plan template should include in order to gain buy-in from potential investors.

What to Include in a Startup Business Plan

Whether you choose to use a template to develop your startup business plan or decide to write one from scratch, you need to include the following elements:

  • An overview of your company and the industry in which it operates
  • The problem you are solving and the proposed solution
  • A description of your product or service offerings, including key features
  • The existing alternatives that customers use and your competitive advantage
  • The target customer segments and the channels you will use to reach them
  • The cost structure and revenue streams associated with your business
  • A financial plan, including sales and revenue projections (ideally 3-5 years)
  • If applicable, the financial requirements to get your business running, including how you will source and allocate funds

Each of the following sections provides an example of a business plan that you can use for reference as you develop your own.

One-Page Lean Business Plan Example

This Lean business plan example displays a visually appealing and scannable one-page illustration of a business plan. It conveys the key strategies you need to meet your main objectives. Each element of this concise plan provides stakeholders and potential investors with links to resources that support and expand upon the plan’s details, and it can also serve as an investor pitch deck.

One Page Business Plan Example

Startup Business Plan Sample

This business plan sample contains all the aspects of a standard business plan. Using a fictional food truck business as the basis for a startup business plan, this sample will give you all the ideas you need to make your plan outstanding.

Basic Business Plan Sample

Download Startup Business Plan Sample - PDF

When the time comes that you need more space to lay out your goals and strategies, choose from our variety of  free simple business plan templates . You can learn how to write a successful simple business plan  here . 

Visit this  free non-profit business plan template roundup  or of you are looking for a business plan template by file type, visit our pages dedicated specifically to  Microsoft Excel ,  Microsoft Word , and  Adobe PDF  business plan templates. Read our articles offering  free 30-60-90-day business plan templates  to find more tailored options.

Top 10 Tips to Create a Startup Business Plan

Putting together a business plan can be overwhelming and time consuming, especially if you aren’t sure where to begin. Below, we share tips you can use to help simplify the process of developing a startup business plan of your own. 

  • Use a business plan template, or begin with a business plan outline that provides all the elements of a standard plan to get your ideas down on paper in a structured manner. (You can choose from the selection of templates above.)  
  • Remove sections from your outline that aren’t relevant or that aren’t necessary to launch and operate your business.
  • Compile the data you have gathered on your business and industry, including research on your target market and product or service offerings, details on the competitive landscape, and a financial plan that anticipates the next three to five years. Use that information to fill in the sections of your plan outline. 
  • Get input and feedback from team members (e.g., finance, marketing, sales) and subject matter experts to ensure that the information you’ve included in the plan is accurate.
  • Make certain that the objectives of your plan align with marketing, sales, and financial goals to ensure that all team members are moving in the same direction.
  • Although this section of the plan comes first, write the executive summary last to provide an overview of the key points in your business plan.
  • Prepare a pitch deck for potential clients, partners, or investors with whom you plan to meet in order to share vital information about your business, including what sets you apart and the direction you are headed. 
  • Who are the founders and management executives, and what relevant experience do they bring to the table?
  • What is the problem you are solving, and how is your solution better than what currently exists? 
  • What’s the size of the market, and how much market share do you plan to capture?
  • What are the trends in your market, and how are you applying them to your business?
  • Who are your direct competitors, and what is your competitive advantage?
  • What are the key features of your product or service that set it apart from alternative offerings, and what features do you plan to add in the future?
  • What are the potential risks associated with your business, and how do you plan to address them?
  • How much money do you need to get your business running, and how do you plan to source it?
  • With the money you source, how do you plan to use it to scale your business?
  • What are the key performance metrics associated with your business, and how will you know when you’re successful?
  • Revisit and modify your plan on a regular basis as your goals and strategies evolve.
  • Use a work collaboration tool that keeps key information across teams in one place, allows you to track plan progress, and captures updates in real time.

Successfully Implement Your Startup Business Plan 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.

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Simple business plan template for startup founders

startup business plan how to

Most new businesses that fail do so for one of two reasons: (1) lack of market need and/or (2) no more cash.

These two reasons account for more than 70% of new businesses not making it. However, both causes can often be avoided if founders invest upfront time in developing a carefully researched business plan.

A simple business plan template provides a proven framework to start from, concisely helps structure ideas, and shows potential investors what an organized and professional team looks like — one that can bring this business idea to market.

This article will share our custom-developed, simple business plan template, cover what should be included, and more.

Get the template

What is a simple business plan template?

A business plan is a written document outlining how a company intends to achieve its primary objectives — obtaining a particular market share, growing revenue, or reaching the next round of funding.

Download Excel template

While companies of all stages and sizes use business plans, they are beneficial for startups, as they can be the key to attaining funding.

A business plan template is a customizable document that provides all the crucial and necessary elements of a great business plan, allowing company leaders to start from a solid and established foundation rather than from scratch.

A simple business plan template typically includes:

  • table of contents
  • executive summary
  • company description
  • analysis of the target market
  • description of the management team
  • details of the product or service
  • financial forecasts
  • funding requirements
  • appendices such as legal documents, permits, patents, and licenses

Business plans can quickly become huge, cumbersome documents, requiring a significant time investment from the creator. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends business plans be between 30 and 50 pages long.

While there is some benefit to spending this time developing a comprehensive business plan, agility is often more critical in the startup business world. That’s the main reason why simple business plan templates exist.

Simple business plan templates typically follow a structure outlining goals, teams, and financials.

  • Company description : What does the business do? What problems does it solve?
  • Team : Who is involved? What key hires have been made? What expertise do they bring to the table? Why are they the right team to get the job done?
  • Industry and competitive analysis: Who are the company’s competitors? What are they doing well and not so well? What opportunities exist to differentiate and be successful in this industry?
  • Target market: Who are the customers being targeted? What are their interests? What are their everyday challenges and goals?
  • Timeline : What are the critical dates for tasks/goals?
  • Marketing plan : How will the plan attract new customers?
  • Financial plan : What do current revenue streams, cash on hand, revenue structure, required funding or funding already received, etc., look like.

Why use a simple business plan template?

We highly recommend founders use a simple business plan template, mainly for the speed and agility they offer.

Creating a business plan takes time and effort, no matter how many times it’s been done. Even a simple, one-page business plan designed for small businesses requires a fair bit of research.

Each section of the business needs to be analyzed. First, it’s essential to understand the market conditions and have a step-by-step plan. Then finally, it’s necessary to determine the plan’s structure.

Templates are even more crucial for first-time startup founders. 

It’s understandable not to be super-confident in the first (or 2nd or 3rd) business plan writing process. A proven framework will help all — even seasoned veterans, ensure they:

  • Don’t miss any critical elements.
  • Structure ideas neatly and concisely.
  • Foster a sense of professionalism, improving the confidence of potential investors

What are some examples of simple business plan templates?

These sample business plan templates serve as a great jumping-off point. Use them as inspiration. Take note of the similarities across the different examples.

1. One-page business plan template

A one-page business plan template is perfect for creating a plan to bring to the next startup pitch. But of course, supplementing the template with appendices for financial reports like balance sheets or income statements is important.

Summarizing the entire business into a single page is a great exercise. It ensures a robust and concise knowledge of each area of operation, creating more confidence to discuss each point with potential investors.

A breakdown how to create a simple business plan template in five steps

( Image Source )

2. Simple business plan template in Excel

While Excel does not have all the bells and whistles, it’s still a popular and widely-used platform — one that many founders choose to use to create simple business plans. This template can be used for any type of business, though it’s built for early-stage startups to plan out the first few months in business.

Notice how the template breaks overall costs down into smaller, more detailed items. This is useful to understand better the costs associated with starting a new business. Noting when those costs are owed also helps business owners monitor cash flow.

Simple business plan template in an Excel spreadsheet

3. Startup business plan template

Here’s another excellent example of a business plan template built for startups.

What’s great about this template is rather than providing simple headers for each section, it includes questions and prompts to help guide the necessary information.

A simple business plan template with prompt questions

4. Lean business plan template

Lean business is a style of startup operation that focuses on minimizing waste, moving fast, and keeping costs low. It’s a popular methodology for companies wanting to get off the ground quickly and build revenue without raising significant funding.

This business plan template supports startups based on the lean concept, allowing for a simple, single-page business plan with minimal time investment.

A table detailing how to fill out a lean, simple business plan template

monday.com’s simple business plan template

Most free business plan templates come in PDF, Google Docs, or Microsoft Word formats. Unfortunately, while these are popular formats and tools, they don’t tend to be particularly collaborative.

Have a distributed team? The monday.com simple business plan template will be your best friend.

A screenshot of a simple business plan template from monday.com

Customize it to include all the fields necessary for a stellar business plan plus any additional ones unique to your business. But the most significant benefit of the template is the platform it’s built on .

The monday.com Work OS means building apps and workflows is simple. Customizing fields and columns to fit what the company is already doing, not the other way around. For example, once a business plan has been created using the monday.com simple template, it’s super-easy to set up a collaborative board to manage the marketing plan , assign tasks and due dates to employees and freelancers, and turn that business plan into reality.

A main table view of the monday.com simple business plan template

Simple business plan template tips & tricks

Here are a few tips to make the most of this template and create a business plan that works.

1. Use simple, approachable language.

The goal is for people to read the business plan, right? Using everyday language over complex jargon and corporate terminology is an excellent place to start. Then, ensuring anyone who comes across the plan will have no issue understanding its meaning.

2. Write the executive summary last.

The executive summary is a short section that summarizes every aspect of the business plan. So, first, write the entire plan. THEN write the executive summary.

3. Supplement the business plan with supporting documents

While simple business plans are fast and effective, they leave out a lot of information by nature. Consider supplementing the plan with appendices such as financial statements , data sets, and market analyses.

4. Be conservative with financial estimates.

Where possible, financial projections should be based on real-life data. But even with the most accurate and up-to-date information out there, there’s always room for interpretation. So it’s best to give a range where possible, and if not, stay conservative with financial estimates.

5. Include thorough research and analysis

Invest the time early on and capture accurate, comprehensive data to support all claims. Interview customers and prospects to get a realistic picture of the target audience. Consider hiring a professional firm to provide a market research report.

FAQs about simple business plan templates

How do i write a simple business plan.

Simple business plans can be as little as one page with concise writing. Include information for each of these sections:

  • Company description : What does the company do and sell? What problems does it solve?
  • Team : Who works for the company, and what value do they provide?
  • Industry : What competitors or other options exist?
  • Target market : What does the ideal customer look like?
  • Marketing strategy and plan : What is the plan to bring in new customers?
  • Financial plan : What do the revenue streams look like?

What are the 7 parts of a business plan?

A 7-part business plan starts with the executive summary, moves on to describe the company, and finishes with financials.

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Organization and management team
  • Products and services
  • Market analysis
  • Strategy and implementation timeline
  • Financial plan and projections

What are common mistakes in a business plan?

Typical business plan mistakes include:

  • not being research-driven
  • unrealistic financial estimates
  • providing too much information
  • not using data to back up claims
  • not offering an analysis of the competitive landscape
  • only outlining vague goals and priorities

startup business plan how to

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An Effective Business Plan Can Plot the Course for Small Business Success

December is National Write a Business Plan Month. The SBA encourages you to mark the occasion by learning how to put together an efficient, high-quality plan that will increase your chances of small business success in the year ahead.

You wouldn’t try to find a new destination without mapping the route first. By the same logic, you don’t want to start a business without a plan to guide your path. A business plan can help you navigate all the roadblocks that come with getting your business up and running.

Which Type of Business Plan Should You Choose?

While some business plans may be more effective than others, there’s technically no wrong way to write one. Every business is different, and the type of plan you choose should ultimately boil down to your unique needs and goals. The two most common types of business plans are traditional and lean startup.

A traditional business plan might be right for you if:

  • You’re detail-oriented.
  • You want a comprehensive plan.
  • You plan to request financing from traditional sources.

A traditional business plan is a great way to show you’ve done your homework, which is why it’s the preferred method of many lenders and investors. While a traditional plan may take more time to write, the extra effort is worth it in the long run. The more thorough you are, the better you’ll be able to answer questions about what your company is, how it will stack up to competitors, and why it will be a financial success. You don’t have to stick to a set structure, but the following nine sections should be included in a traditional business plan: executive summary and company description; market analysis; organization and management structure; service or product line description; marketing and sales strategy; and funding requests and financial projections.

A lean startup plan  might be right for you if:

  • You want to explain or start your business quickly.
  • Your business is relatively simple.
  • You plan to regularly change and refine your business plan.

The lean startup format is ideal for entrepreneurs who want to keep things high-level and adaptable. At their core, lean startup plans focus on only the most important details — making them a viable streamlined alternative. Lean startup business plans can take as little as an hour to write and are typically only one page. By sticking to the following basics, expressed through visual tradeoffs and fundamental facts, you leave a lot of room to fill in the blanks later: partnerships, activities, and resources; value propositions; customer experience, target market, and channels; and cost structure and potential revenue streams.

Regardless of which route you choose, the SBA is here to help. Our  Business Planning Guide is easy to use and contains templates you can follow. Our  “How to Write a Business Plan” course, offered through the SBA Learning Center, will show you how to plan, outline, and develop your own business plan. Of course, if you prefer a more hands-on option, an  SBA resource partner is standing by. Learn more at sba.gov . 

About the author

U.s. small business administration.

How To Write a Startup Business Plan

This course will teach why a business plan is crucial for startup success and what investors want to see when evaluating one. We will take you through all the steps of writing a business plan and show you why it isn’t just a piece of paper you show investors, but the very DNA of your business.

startup business plan how to

Table of contents

  • The Business Plan is The Backbone Of Your Company
  • When You're Done Reading
  • What is a Business Plan
  • Here's What to Put in Your Startup Business Plan
  • Useful Tools for Business Planning
  • Convincing Yourself and Stakeholders
  • What are the Main Concerns of Your Investors and Partners?

The Business Plan Is The Backbone Of Your Company

If you’re interested in entrepreneurship or dreaming of starting your own business, you’ve probably also heard about the importance of a Business plan. Maybe you’ve even downloaded one of the endless numbers of templates you can find online. And perhaps you’re already exhausted from just thinking about climbing the Business Planning mountain. If you don’t exactly know where to begin, writing a Business plan can seem like a daunting task. But don’t lose faith! With the right knowledge and tools, It’s actually not that hard.

Writing a business plan as a startup doesn’t have to be a 30-page task. Luckily, more and more investors want to see short, precise, and to-the-point business plans that won’t take them forever to chew through.

This doesn’t mean that your business plan isn’t a vital document for your business. And it doesn’t mean that it’s not a big task either. It just means it’s doable, even without a business degree. 

When You're Done Reading, You'll Know

  • Why you should write a business plan
  • What you will gain from planning your business
  • What elements to include in your business plan..... And everything in-between 🧠

So, What Is A Business Plan? 🧐

The business plan is the backbone of your company. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not “just” a document you need to present to your bank or to potential investors. It’s essentially the creation of your business on a piece of paper. While a piece of paper isn’t an actual business, it is a great way to prepare, control, and grow your idea into an actual profitable business.

A great Business plan will help grow a business up to 34% faster. It also gives you a sense of direction, making it 16% more likely to reach profitability. A Business plan is also a tool to raise the money you need for your idea by showing investors you know how to make your business succeed. 

Don't spend endless amounts of precious time writing a long, formal, perfect document. Instead, think of your business plan as a short(er), sharp, work-in-progress description of your business strategy. Continually reevaluate and update it, and use it as a tool to gain a more extensive understanding of your business and the mission you're trying to accomplish.

Are you looking for a digital template for your startup business plan? We've made one. And it's fully guided and filled with examples from real-life business plans too!  Sign up for Cuttles  and start your planning today. We have a freemium edition so that it won't cost you a penny!

Why Should You Write A Business Plan?

We're going to take a wild guess and say that the entrepreneur inside you would probably instead jump straight to building your  product than write a business plan. Right? It's in human nature to want to skip what is complex, demanding, and tedious. It's universal that people don't want to do homework or their taxes, and business planning sure feels a lot like a mixture of the two. 

But to add some perspective, writing your business plan is an essential part of building your business. And we recommend that you get started as soon as possible while your idea and your motivation are fresh!

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t cut corners on this one:

No pain, no money gain

The sad truth is that you'll need a business plan if you want to raise seed money for your idea.   Actually, you'll need one every time you are raising funds. We know we just said that the business plan is not just a document for investors. That is very true. But if you plan to go out and pitch your startup to investors, you will have to show them that you have a good handle on making your business succeed, and the tool for that is a business plan. It's an essential requirement that almost any investor worth their salt needs to see to access if your idea and plan are valid.

... If you would like to learn about where and how to get startup money, this is the article for you!

🧬 You’re building the DNA of your business 

Writing your business plan forces you to think about every detail of your business. It will ultimately make you smarter about the market, your customers, and your competition. It will also help you make important decisions, overcome critical challenges, and minimize the risks that inevitably come with building a startup.

Writing is technically thinking. When you put all the different pieces down on paper, you'll be able to see your company from a birds-perspective, clue all the fragmented pieces together, and see the bigger picture. You'll be able to detect if your master plan makes sense or if you need to make some changes before you hit a wall. 

Remember, most startups fail.  Almost 90% doesn't hit the three-years-of-operation mark. What's crazy is that 50% of startup failure is related to poor planning, so if you're serious about your project, you need to find a way to do business planning. Having a solid plan is key to making your business a success.

Set goals, achieve milestones, prioritize and strategize

Building a business is all about setting goals and reaching them. To do that, you need to strategize, prioritize, and work hard, of course. While a business plan won’t do the hard work for you, it will help you know where to focus your resources and energy.

No need to be book-smart

Okay, we’re pretty sure that you understand the value of business planning now. Let’s move on to actually writing the thing. We’re not going to lie. It will take time to write the first edition of your business plan. The most important things to remember are to keep your business plan short, to the point, and always, always, always have your audience in mind.

Steer clear of technical terms that no one understands. It’s time to make yourself understandable, professional, and to convince and intrigue your team as well as external stakeholders. 

What Sections Do I Need In My Business Plan?

There is a reason why so many entrepreneurs don't prioritize business planning – it's a tedious and challenging task. But don't lose faith. Focus on one section at a time, and before you know it, you'll cross the finish line. We promise!If you would like to give it a go on your own, here are the 11 sections you should include in your business plan:

Your concept

What is the main idea of your business? You want to get people to read your whole business plan. That’s why you should start with:

  • A catchy introduction
  • Your mission and vision statements

The opportunity

Next, it’s all about describing the opportunity you’ve seen. It’s important that you focus on the outside for now and don’t spend a whole lot of time focusing on your company. We’ll save that for later. The opportunity should include:

  • The problem you’ve seen in the market
  • The smart solution to that problem
  • Your company’s unique value proposition
  • The market you want to enter

Your product

Now’s the time to present what your company actually wants to do. Go crazy! The product description includes:

  • The product you want to build
  • Your pricing strategy
  • Distribution channels to get your product from desk to customers

The business model

How are you going to make money and what do you need to do to succeed? In the business model, include these things:

  • The key resources you need to make things work
  • The key activities you’ll need to carry out to make your business work
  • The partnerships you’ll need to establish
  • A description of your cost structure
  • A presentation of your revenue streams and how you’ll ultimately make some cash
  • Your competitors

Time to get to know who you’re up against. This section should present:

  • Your competitive advantages

Your customers

Who’s going to buy your product? This section of your business plan should provide a detailed description of the customers you want to reach and how. Include:

  • Who your customers are
  • The different segments you can divide them into
  • The value you bring to the people you serve

Your marketing plan

How are people going to know about you? This section is all about how to reach your audience. Write about these things:

  • Cover the basics with a SWOT analysis
  • The marketing channels you’ll use to reach your customers
  • How you’ll build a strong customer relationship
  • The brand position you want your business to have

It’s time to break down the road ahead. Describe the steps you need to take to make all of this happen. Include things such as:

  • Key milestones you want to reach
  • Key actions you need to take

Risks and challenges

The better you are at predicting, avoiding, and planning for the things that can go wrong, and the challenges ahead the more likely you will succeed in the game of entrepreneurship. It's a considerable strength to spend time to reflect on what can go wrong and show stakeholders that you're aware.

Introduce your team

Your team is probably your most important asset. It’s the people who will drive your idea to where it needs to be and the people who will convince investors to bet on you. Present your team and the reasons why it's the right constellation to accomplish the mission at hand. 

What’s your closing statement? End your business plan on a high note by presenting the winning argument that’ll ultimately convince people that your idea and your business is destined for success.

And just a friendly reminder. It's not writing a business plan that'll get you ahead. It's going through the actual planning process and doing the work. Combine that with  these steps to start a startup , and you will have a business by the end of it. 

Useful Tools & Resources for Business Planning


Planning Your Business Is The Same As Convincing Yourself And Your Stakeholders

In the end, the goal of your business plan is to convince - to show that your startup idea is equitable and thereby convincing yourself and others to invest time and money into your business.

Who else should your business plan convince?

Growing your business involves outside stakeholders. From financial investors to partners and employees. We have listed the key agents of your business venture right here:

1. Investors

To evaluate the potential of your business, investors require a solid business plan. They will want to see that you've thought of everything, have a strategy, and that you're going in a smart (yes, that means profitable) direction.

2. Financial sources

You might need capital from banks or financial institutions. To assess the risks of loans, the business plan provides lenders with the right insights to determine that risk.

3. Employees

Acquiring the right employees to help the business prosper takes convincing. Your plan can help employees to understand the goals and how you plan to achieve them.

4. Partnerships

Over time you might find it beneficial to partner with other companies. The business plan will help convince both parties whether joining ranks is the most beneficial move.

What Are The Main Concerns Of Your Investors and Partners? 

We have reduced it to five principles:.

  • To invest in an industry to which they can relate. So, if you are creating a tech-business, this is the area for which you should look for investors as well.
  • To match with a team of people on a personal level. Sometimes it comes down to chemistry. So, if your investors are doubtful about your idea, they might choose to invest based on you, your team, and your professional experience.
  • To find a competitive advantage in the market. It doesn't only matter how big a market you are looking to conquer, but whether you have a competitive advantage in that market.
  • That your business is not just based on dreams but has a valid position in the market. It is key to show investors that your business can attain substantial growth.
  • To show how you plan to cover expenses for your business. This includes the cash flow plan as to how much money you spend and earn.

As your business grows, you may need to refine and change some aspects of your business, such as customer group, product, service, or your target market. When you can identify what challenges your business may be facing, you can adapt to new opportunities.

The bottom Line

If you think business planning is only for business professionals with a five year-degree, you are wrong. Building a business takes work, but anyone can get started with the right tools and mindset to follow their dream. We believe in yours! Ready? Set. Build your business!

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How to Write a Business Plan for a Startup

How to Create a Business Plan for a Startup

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, startups are sprouting like mushrooms after a spring rain.Starting a new business can be an exhilarating endeavor, but it’s important to remember that success often hinges on careful planning. One of the first steps in this process is crafting a well-thought-out business plan.According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 4.3 million business applications filed in 2020, a significant increase compared to previous years. But what sets a successful startup apart from the rest is not just the brilliant idea but the ability to turn that idea into a well-executed plan.

As a seasoned business plan writer, I’ve crafted over 15,000 plans for a diverse range of businesses. In this article, I’ll be sharing my wealth of experience on how to Create an exceptional business plan for your startup.

How to Write a Startup Business Plan, Step by Step

What is a startup business plan, executive summary, business description, product or service offering, marketing and sales strategy, operational plan, management and team, financial plan, risk assessment and mitigation, timeline and milestones, kickstart coffee business plan, executive summary:, market analysis:, marketing strategy:, operational plan:, financial projections:, funding request:, exit strategy:, securing external financing, comprehending your target market, prioritizing strategies with high return on investment (roi), enhancing financial stability, tips for writing a startup business plan, types of business plan, one page business plan, lean business plan.

A startup business plan is a strategic document that outlines a new company’s goals, objectives, and the means to achieve them. It typically includes details on the business concept, target market, financial projections, and operational strategies.

Startup Business Plan Steps

The executive summary serves as the roadmap to your entire business plan. In a concise yet informative manner, it highlights your business concept, mission, and vision. Be sure to encapsulate the unique selling points of your startup.

The executive summary is the first thing potential investors, partners, or even your team will see. It’s your chance to make a great first impression. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), a well-crafted executive summary can significantly increase your chances of securing funding, by up to 16%. This brief overview should be compelling and focused, setting the stage for what follows in the plan.

Executive Summary of a Snack Bar Business Plan

In this section, we delve deeper into your business’s mission and vision. Explain your target market, competition, and your startup’s role in the industry. Use clear language and rich detail to paint a vivid picture of your venture.

Here’s where you delve deeper into your business concept. A survey by CBInsights revealed that 42% of startups failed because they misjudged the market need. Describing the industry and market trends helps ensure your business is addressing a genuine need. In addition, a report by Statista indicates that 34% of startups fail due to poor market understanding. It’s crucial to thoroughly research and describe the industry and market trends you plan to enter.

Business Description

Read more: How to write company overview or description and its  examples

Here, we guide you on conducting thorough market research. Explore your industry’s trends, identify your target audience’s needs, and assess your competitors. A detailed SWOT analysis can be an invaluable tool.

Your business plan should be based on solid market research. According to Forbes, businesses that conduct comprehensive market research are 30% more likely to succeed. This research provides insights that can be highlighted in your SWOT analysis . In fact, a report by Statistic Brain reveals that 47% of startups failed due to insufficient market research and poor market understanding, further emphasizing the importance of comprehensive research.

Market Research

Read more: how to do market research.

Detail your products or services, emphasizing how they meet the needs of your target audience. Highlight the unique features and benefits that set your offerings apart from the competition.

Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of what you’re offering. According to a Price Intelligently study, setting the right price can increase your revenue by 30%. Explaining your pricing strategy in your business plan is crucial for success. Additionally, a report by Entrepreneur states that businesses that correctly price their products or services enjoy 24% higher profits than their competitors. This underlines the importance of meticulous pricing strategies.

Product or Service Offering

Read more: how to write product or service offering section .

Elaborate on your marketing and sales tactics. Discuss your pricing strategy, distribution channels, and promotional efforts. Remember to emphasize the digital marketing techniques that will set you ahead in the online realm.

A great product or service won’t sell itself. According to HubSpot, businesses that blog consistently generate 67% more leads than those who don’t. This statistic highlights the importance of content marketing in your marketing plan. Furthermore, a study by McKinsey & Company found that businesses with effective marketing and sales strategies are 10% more likely to surpass their revenue targets, showcasing the essential role these strategies play.

Marketing Snack Bar Business Plan

Read more: how to write marketing and sales strategy section .

In the operational plan section of your business plan, you should provide a comprehensive overview of how your business will operate on a day-to-day basis. This includes detailing your location and facilities, production processes, inventory management, supplier relationships, staffing and organizational structure, operating hours, technology and information systems, risk management, scalability, costs and budget, as well as timelines and milestones. By addressing these components, you offer a clear and detailed blueprint for how your business will function, ensuring investors and stakeholders understand your operational strategy and its alignment with your overall business goals.

According to a study by Statistic Brain, poor management and inadequate business planning are responsible for 46% of startup failures. Demonstrating a well-structured operational plan in your business plan can mitigate these risks. Additionally, a report by Harvard Business Review indicates that businesses with a robust operational plan are 35% more likely to achieve their goals, further emphasizing the significance of a well-defined plan.

Read more: how to write financial plan section .

To write a winning team section in your business plan, you should include the following essential points:

  • Leadership Team: Introduce your key leadership team members, including their names, roles, and a brief description of their professional backgrounds. Highlight their expertise and how it aligns with your business's goals.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Specify the responsibilities and functions of each leadership team member. Clearly define who is responsible for what within the organization.
  • Biographical Profiles: Provide concise biographical profiles or resumes for top executives, showcasing their relevant qualifications, experiences, and achievements.
  • Advisory Board (if applicable): If you have an advisory board, describe its composition and the expertise each member brings. Explain how the advisory board contributes to strategic decision-making.
  • Organizational Structure: Present an organizational chart to illustrate the hierarchy and reporting relationships within your company.
  • Succession Planning: Discuss your plans for leadership succession and how you intend to ensure continuity in case of key personnel changes.
  • Team Development: Mention your strategies for team development, including training, mentorship programs, and ongoing skill enhancement initiatives.
  • Cultural Values: Describe the cultural values and principles that guide your organization's behavior, fostering a positive work environment and alignment with your mission.
  • Ethical Standards: Highlight your commitment to ethical business practices, including integrity, transparency, and adherence to industry regulations.

In other words, you should focus on the following:

  • Who is on your team?
  • What are their roles and responsibilities?
  • What is their expertise?
  • How does your team work together?
  • What is your organizational structure?
  • How do you ensure succession planning?
  • How do you develop your team?
  • What are your team’s values and ethical standards?
  • How do you create a positive work environment and align your team with your mission?

Management Summary Snack Bar Business Plan

Read more: how to write team and management section .

Introduce your founders and key team members. A report by McKinsey & Company suggests that 25% of startups fail because they don’t have a capable team. Clearly defining roles and responsibilities in your business plan can help mitigate this risk. Furthermore, a study by Inc.com reveals that startups with a strong team are 21% more likely to succeed, highlighting the critical role the team plays in a startup’s success.

In this section, create a comprehensive financial plan for startup business, which includes income statements , balance sheets , and cash flow projections. Visualize the growth trajectory of your startup with a line graph. Start with an overview of your startup costs and funding requirements. A study by Statista indicates that 53% of startups struggle due to a lack of financial resources.

A robust financial plan is essential to secure your business’s sustainability. Additionally, research by the Small Business Administration suggests that businesses that closely manage their finances are 36% more likely to thrive in the long run, demonstrating the importance of a well-thought-out financial plan.

Financial Highlights Snack Bar Business Plan

Acknowledge potential risks and challenges your startup might face. Provide strategies for mitigating these risks, demonstrating your preparedness.

Every business has its risks, and acknowledging them demonstrates that you’ve thought through potential challenges. According to a report by Score, poor risk management is responsible for 21% of small business failures. Addressing risks in your plan can help mitigate these threats. Additionally, research by Forbes states that businesses that actively identify and manage risks are 33% more likely to achieve their objectives, emphasizing the significance of risk assessment and mitigation.

Establish key milestones and performance metrics. These serve as indicators of your startup’s progress. A well-structured table can make these details easily digestible.

A roadmap can inspire confidence. A study by the University of Virginia found that setting clear goals increases the likelihood of success by 90%. Milestones provide a clear path to success and are critical for investor confidence. Furthermore, a report by Startup Genome reveals that businesses that set and achieve milestones are 3.5 times more likely to secure investment, demonstrating the positive impact of milestones on a startup’s journey.

Startup business plan examples

These are the following essential points of kickstart coffee business plan.

Kickstart Coffee is a neighborhood coffee shop aimed at providing a cozy atmosphere and high-quality coffee to residents and workers in the downtown area. We will offer a diverse menu of coffee beverages, pastries, and light snacks. Our goal is to become the go-to coffee spot for locals seeking a welcoming environment and premium coffee.

  • Target Market: Urban professionals and students in the downtown area seeking a relaxed and productive environment.
  • Competitive Analysis: Kickstart Coffee competes with nearby chain coffee shops, differentiating by offering unique, locally sourced coffee blends and a warm, rustic ambiance.
  • Branding: Create a cozy, community-centric image through social media, local partnerships, and neighborhood events.
  • Pricing: Competitive pricing with loyalty programs and student discounts.
  • Promotion: Regularly update the [Your Coffee Haven] website and social media platforms, and participate in local events and promotions.
  • Location: Secure a high-traffic location in downtown with proximity to office buildings and schools.
  • Suppliers: Establish relationships with local coffee roasters and bakeries for fresh, quality products.
  • Staffing: Hire experienced baristas and service staff focused on exceptional customer experience.
  • Start-up costs: $100,000
  • Monthly expenses: $15,000
  • Projected revenue in the first year: $300,000

Kickstart Coffee is seeking $150,000 in funding to cover initial start-up costs and operational expenses in the first year.

The long-term goal of kickstart coffee is to establish a loyal customer base and expand to multiple locations in the region. If opportunities for acquisition or franchising arise, kickstart coffee will consider these options.

Free: Business Plan Examples

Do you need help creating a business plan? Check out these 14 free, proven business plan examples from different industries to help you write your own.

Why do you need a small startup business plan?

Creating a concise business plan for a small startup is a critical initial step in establishing a company. Not only does it assist in honing your business objectives, but it also serves as a tool for soliciting feedback from potential partners and ensures your team remains aligned.

What’s most advantageous about commencing with a small venture is the flexibility it offers. You can adjust your direction at any point. If you require assistance in crafting or refining your small startup business plan, you can utilize this entrepreneur’s guide to initiate the process.

Assuming you have developed a product and are poised to take the next step, what’s your blueprint? To begin with, you must formulate a strategic framework. Are you aware of the financial outlay required and the sources from which this funding should be secured? What about marketing approaches for attracting your initial customer base?

Furthermore, you’ll need methods for retaining these customers and encouraging their repeat business, ultimately increasing their spending.

Should you seek financial backing from lenders or investors, a well-structured startup business plan becomes indispensable. Lenders want assurance that they are investing in a sustainable and progressive enterprise.

A well-organized plan demonstrates your commitment to your venture’s mission and delineates specific objectives for benefitting your clientele. Additionally, an exit strategy holds significant importance. Formulating a plan for contingencies underscores your preparedness for unforeseen circumstances, providing investors with insight into the potential value of their investments and granting both customers and you peace of mind.

An essential facet of your business plan is conducting a thorough market analysis. This involves assessing your industry, identifying your target audience, and understanding your competitors.

It is imperative to scrutinize any market trends or competitor dynamics that might influence your business. Be prepared to make necessary adjustments to your business plan based on these insights.

In the business realm, ROI is of paramount importance. Any business that fails to generate more cash than it consumes is at risk of failure.

With a startup business plan firmly in place, the strategies with the most promising ROI become evident. This enables you to discern which initiatives to tackle first and how to effectively prioritize the remainder of your tasks.

Business plans are not crystal balls, but they can provide valuable insights into your financial well-being. Planning for expenses is indispensable for maintaining operational stability and swiftly addressing emerging issues.

Cash flow projections offer a glimpse into the feasibility of your goals and highlight potential challenges that require correction before they become insurmountable.

  • Keep it simple and concise: Your business plan should be easy to read and understand, even for people who are not familiar with your industry. Avoid using jargon and technical language, and focus on the key points.
  • Do your research: Make sure you have a good understanding of your target market, your competitors, and the industry as a whole. This will help you to write a more realistic and persuasive business plan.
  • Be realistic: When setting financial projections and goals, be realistic about what you can achieve. It is better to underestimate than to overestimate.
  • Be specific: When describing your products or services, your marketing strategy, and your financial plan, be as specific as possible. This will help potential investors to understand your business and to see why it is a good investment.
  • Get feedback: Once you have drafted your business plan, ask trusted advisors and mentors to review it and give you feedback. This will help you to identify any areas that need improvement.
  • One page business plans
  • Start-ups business plans
  • Strategic business plans
  • Feasibility business plans
  • Internal business plans
  • Lean business plans

Starting a business from scratch? You’ll need a business plan template. Here are some basic and specific templates to help you create a successful plan.

Check out our 45 Plus collection of various business templates.

In the ever-evolving landscape of startups, a well-crafted business plan is your blueprint for success. It’s not just about the brilliance of your idea but also the meticulous planning and execution. From the executive summary to financial projections, each element plays a vital role in ensuring your startup’s sustainability and attracting potential investors. Remember, success often hinges on careful planning, and a solid business plan is your key to unlocking the full potential of your entrepreneurial journey. So, embrace the challenge, follow these steps, and let your startup story be one of innovation, growth, and accomplishment.

A business plan for a startup should outline the business concept, strategies, and financial projections, serving as a roadmap for success and a tool for attracting investors.

Here are 10 steps for small businesses to establish an effective strategic planning process:

  • Assemble the right team.
  • Collect necessary data.
  • Anticipate the need for preparation.
  • Foster a conducive environment.
  • Develop your plan.
  • Prioritize growth and value.
  • Structure your approach around strategic objectives and a feasible plan.
  • Introduce gamification elements.
  • Execute relentlessly.
  • Think of strategic planning as a process and not an event.

For a small business to thrive, it needs four key elements on its side: a strong product, a receptive market, adequate finances, and a skilled team. Whether you’re a startup seeking investment or aiming for independent success, these fundamental components are essential for any business.

A robust business plan consists of five key components. These include an executive summary, market analysis, business description, financial projections, and a detailed marketing and sales strategy. Together, these elements provide a comprehensive roadmap for the business’s mission and success.

Embarking on a business venture may appear daunting, but adhering to these steps ensures your path to success:

Create a comprehensive business plan. Secure the necessary funding. Assemble a proficient team. Navigate the essential legal processes. Set up a suitable location. Formulate a strategic marketing plan. Cultivate a loyal customer base. Prepare for adaptation and growth.

No, a business plan is vital even if you’re not seeking external funding. It acts as a crucial tool for internal planning, goal-setting, and decision-making, ensuring your business remains on a strategic path towards success.

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How to Write a Business Plan

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startup business plan how to

Before you start up your business, you first have to have a solid foundation of what your business really does and what it’s supposed to do in order for it to be significant enough to be a success. Unfortunately, we see most people jump into the startup waters without this essential foundation in place. Not only does a well- written business plan get you ahead of the game, it is essential if you’re looking for startup funds. The very first question any investor or lender will ask is: “Do you have a business plan?”

Don’t get caught off guard. It seems a bit daunting putting a business plan together. We’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ve broken down each section of the business plan in manageable chunks. Remember you’re not trying to look into a crystal ball for your startup’s future…your goal in the business plan is to show the plan of action of how to get to success, what that success looks like, and who will help you get there.

After this, you should be well on your way to creating a successful business plan.

Having a solid startup business plan can be one of the best weapons that an entrepreneur has in his or her arsenal to fully flesh out what you really have in mind for your business and make it clear to those investors and gain that well-deserved funding for your startup!

But what should you put in your startup business plan? What is a business plan? Are there any examples of business plans that I can see? Absolutely.

There are a variety of different sources that follow similar outlines for a startup business plan from The  US Small Business Administration ,  Entrepreneur magazine and  Forbes magazine .

Investors are used to getting accessible and specific information, and they want everything to be laid out there and consistent, which is what your startup business plan will exactly do.

Here are the elements of a business plan:

1. The Cover Page

startup business plan how to

Although this seems obvious, having a cover page that clearly shows the name of your startup business can give potential investors an idea of what your business is before you even pitch it to them.

Your cover page should also include important contact information so that they can easily reach you.

Here at Startup Jungle, we have created hundreds of business plan templates that are fill-in-the-blanks, making it even easier to get your business off the ground. Simply email [email protected], let us know what business you’re starting, and we’ll send you the details.

2. The Executive Summary

startup business plan how to

What is the executive summary of a business plan? This is your pitch.

Your executive summary is one of the most (if not the most) important section of your startup business plan. This is a brief section that says what your business idea is, why they should invest in it and why it would be successful.

This section determines if you are getting funding for your startup or not because if the investors don’t like your Executive Summary, they won’t look into your business plan further and your idea might be rejected.

So make sure when writing up your startup business plan, focus on making the executive summary clearly explain all the key points of your business idea.

3. Company Overview

startup business plan how to

This is where you give a profile of your startup business. It should answer things like where the business is located, when it was formed, what your business sells or intends to sell, what kind of market your business serves or intends to serve with your products or services.

This is an overview of what your business is. It’s like an extended pitch right after you wowed the investors with your executive summary and helps understand and fill-in the gaps of what goals your business is aiming for.

4. Industry Analysis

startup business plan how to

This section of your startup business plan should cover statistical things like what kind of industry your business is in and what kind of money does it make as well as what sort of competition you have.

This should also outline what kind of target market your business is focusing on and how your products and services answer the needs of your target market that could attract more potential customers into it.

Having a solid background of what kind of market your startup business is trying to serve will let investors get a bigger idea of what potential financial growth your business could turn into.

5. Customer Analysis

startup business plan how to

This section of your startup business plan gets more in-depth into identifying the customers your business’ products and services sells or intends to sell to.

Having a business and products is one thing, but what’s the reason for having all of that if you don’t even know what your business is for and who those products were made for?

Be as specific as you can when outlining who your target customers are. That way, your potential investors could get a clearer view of what you’re aiming for.

6. Competitive Analysis

startup business plan how to

In this section of your startup business, you give an outline of the specific competitors you have within your target market.

List things such as their strengths and weaknesses and follow-up with what kind of strategies your business does or will do in order for you to gain a distinct edge from the rest of them.

You should also point out what your business can make the most use of within the process of developing your products so that you can set up walls to stop other competition from entering your target market.

It pays to know one’s rivals, but it also pays to not have more of them. Keep an eye out on who might be trying to get into your game and find ways to stop the competition altogether before they became a threat to your business

7. Marketing Plan

startup business plan how to

No startup business would make any sort of significant profit if they don’t have a solid marketing strategy!

This section should focus on what your plan of action is to attract your target market, as they are the raft that keeps your business afloat.

There are plenty of ways to create a marketing strategy.  Yours should be something that tries to break the mold. Make it a unique one just for your business that could set yourself apart from the rest.

8. Operations & Management Team

startup business plan how to

This part of your startup business plan describes the operations that your management handles on a day-to-day basis.

Focus on highlighting the well-oiled machine that runs your whole operation such as your management team and their responsibilities. Include its various divisions and their assigned tasks as well as a clear rundown of the capital and expenses required to keep your operation afloat.

9. Financial Plan

startup business plan how to

Usually, this section is brought down to almost the very end of your startup business plan. However, that doesn’t make it any less important than your executive summary or marketing plan.

This section holds statistical information shown as charts, graphs, and tables regarding the financial projections your business has currently made.  This section also includes the expenses that it keeps up with to keep its operation running.

It also shows what you intend to make as your business grows and moves forward.

A successful business is a financially stable one. It’s important that investors see that you have a well laid out projection

10. Exit Plan

This may seem odd, but the very last part of your startup business plan describes how you plan to leave your business.

But don’t get confused! Every good business should always have an at the ready exit strategy as early as its own founding.

One of the reasons why an exit strategy is important is because potential investors will want to know what your long-term plans are for the business once you have a reached a certain level of success.

There are plenty of exit strategies available, but choosing one isn’t a simple task.

Take the time to research your options.  Review your startup business plan to narrow down what exit strategy suits your business’ interests better.

11. Appendix

startup business plan how to

A completely optional section of your startup business plan, but is recommended for further convenience of your investors.

Although you should consider this, it is not a part of the main body of your business plan.

The information outlined here you will not want everyone to see. These should be mainly for people (such as your investors) who would need a quick reference to your plans.


Building a business sure isn’t easy. Having a solid business plan will definitely lighten the load on what direction you want your startup business to go in!

There are still plenty of sources out there to help you write a business plan even further. So take the time to research and refine your business plan even more!

And there you have it! This brief rundown should be all you need to know to get yourself started on your startup business plan.

Like this article? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. Remember, if you need help with your business plan and how to write a business plan, we can help you with our business plan templates. Simply email [email protected] and we’ll send you the details. Good Luck!

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How To Create A Winning Business Plan For Your Startup

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When it comes to starting a business, having a solid business plan is absolutely crucial.  Consider this as a conversation between you and your business’s future. You’d need to start by clearly defining what your startup offers – this is your product or service. It needs to answer the question, “What problem are you solving for your customers?”

Next, delve into market analysis. Understand who your competitors are and pinpoint your target customers. Once you have that, think about your business strategy and the sales and marketing plans you’ll employ to achieve your goals.

It’s crucial not to forget the operational aspect – how will your business function on a day-to-day basis? And lastly, the financial projections. They can be a little tricky, but they’re the crux of the plan, demonstrating the financial viability of your startup.

We have got a helpful guide that’ll dive deep into all the essential elements you need to craft a top-notch business plan, tailored specifically for your unique startup. A solid business plan will help you make smarter decisions, catch the eye of potential investors, and give yourself an edge over your competitors in the market.

Why Business Plan Is Important For A Startup

importance of business plan

Just as you wouldn’t venture into unknown territory without a compass, initiating a startup without a business plan can lead to wandering aimlessly, wasting precious resources, or even getting lost in the market’s vast wilderness. Here are some reasons why a business plan is crucial for a startup.

Your Guide To Decision-Making

Entrepreneurship involves constant decision-making and crisis management. The luxury of pondering the possible ramifications of every choice isn’t always an option for a fledgling business. This is where a well-thought-out business plan proves its worth. Setting out your strategies, goals, and expected outcomes in advance, can guide you in making smart decisions, reducing the likelihood of costly mistakes. It’s like your startup’s crystal ball, helping you predict and navigate future challenges.

Smoothing Out The Road Ahead

Compiling a business plan requires you to dig deep, ask tough questions, and seek out insightful, well-researched answers. It’s about creating a realistic vision of your startup’s future, and it’s the process that matters. Even if you never look at the document again, the act of writing it down helps to refine your vision and identify potential gaps in your plan.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

There’s a sobering statistic that approximately half of all small businesses don’t reach their fifth birthday. Many of these failures result from issues that a well-structured business plan can help to avoid.

According to data from  CB Insights , common reasons businesses fail include a lack of market need, cash flow problems, inadequate team structure, intense competition, and pricing errors. An effective business plan can help you avoid these pitfalls by foreseeing issues like cash flow forecasts, market analysis, and pricing strategy before they become problems. 

Proving Business Viability

Passion is an excellent motivator when launching a startup. However, passion alone does not guarantee success. Your plan plays a crucial role in demonstrating your startup’s potential by outlining exactly how your vision translates into a profitable business.

For instance, the market research section of your plan can provide deep insights into your customers, competitors, and industry. This information can be pivotal in shaping strategies for marketing, product development, and scaling your business.

A Roadmap For Growth

Business plans play a crucial role in setting objectives and creating benchmarks. Without a business plan, goals can become arbitrary, losing their relevance over time. A well-documented plan keeps you accountable, aligns your team with your vision, and provides insights into the effectiveness of your strategies.

Facilitating Communication And Collaboration

A business plan isn’t just a guide for you, but also for your team. Whether you have a staff of two or two hundred, everyone needs to understand your business’s goals and how you plan to reach them. Your business plan can serve as a communication tool, spelling out the next steps when you’re unavailable for direct guidance. It aligns everyone with your vision, fostering a sense of shared purpose and commitment to the objectives outlined.

Navigating The Business Landscape

Running a successful business is about more than just managing what’s happening within your company’s four walls. It’s also about understanding the larger market environment. Crafting a business plan encourages you to study your competition, identify trends and preferences among consumers, anticipate potential disruptions, and garner insights that might not be apparent at first glance. Armed with this information, you’re better equipped to anticipate and respond to changes in your industry.

Leveraging External Support

Startups often depend on a range of external service providers for expertise in areas like accounting, marketing, and legal matters. Your business plan can serve as a reference point for these professionals, helping them understand your business better and align their services with your needs. By sharing relevant sections of your business plan, you can ensure everyone is on the same page, enhancing the effectiveness of their support.

Securing Investment

Here’s a fact to consider: you are 2.5 times more likely to secure funding if you have a business plan. Investors, banks, and potential partners want to know that their investment is in capable hands and that your business has a promising future. A well-crafted business plan is your opportunity to demonstrate this, making it a must-have document if you’re seeking external financing.

Mitigating Risks

All entrepreneurial ventures involve some level of risk, but a well-designed business plan can significantly mitigate these dangers. By considering revenue and expense projections, operational plans, and the competitive landscape, you’ll be equipped with a risk management tool that can guide your decision-making and limit the chances of unpleasant surprises.

Some Facts About A Successful Business Plan

  • According to the  Small Business Administration , a successful business plan typically includes an executive summary, market analysis, competitive analysis, description of products and services offered, management overview, financial projections, and funding requirements.
  • A  Harvard Business School survey  found that entrepreneurs who have written a business plan are 16% more likely to achieve success than those that have not.
  • One  study  found that companies with a business plan grow 30% stronger than those without a plan.

Business Plan Formats

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are common formats that cater to different needs and objectives. Understanding these formats will help you choose the most suitable one for your venture and tailor it to your specific needs.

Traditional Business Plan

The traditional business plan is the most comprehensive and widely used format. It typically spans multiple pages and contains detailed information about your company’s strategy, objectives, and financial projections. Venture capitalist firms and lenders often require these plans when seeking investment or loans. Key sections in a traditional business plan include:

  • Executive Summary: A brief overview of your company, including its mission, goals, and key selling proposition.
  • Company Description: Details about your company, its history, and its unique selling proposition (USP).
  • Market Analysis: An examination of the industry, market, and competition.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategies: Plans for promoting your products or services and generating sales.
  • Organization and Management: An outline of your company’s organizational structure and management team.
  • Product Line or Services: A description of your products or services and their benefits.
  • Financial Projections: A forecast of your company’s financial performance, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.

Download the Traditional Plan template from  here .

Lean Business Plan

A lean business plan is a condensed version of a traditional plan, focusing on the most critical information. This format is ideal for businesses that need a quick, accessible reference or for those looking to modify existing plans to target a specific market. A lean business plan will cover the same sections as a traditional plan but in a more concise manner.

Nonprofit Business Plan

A nonprofit business plan is tailored for organizations that operate for public or social benefit. This format incorporates all elements found in a traditional business plan, with an additional section highlighting the organization’s intended impact.

This section may describe the social or environmental issues the organization aims to address and how its operations contribute to solving these problems. Donors and grant-makers often request nonprofit business plans to assess the organization’s mission, strategies, and potential impact.

Comparative Analysis Of The Common Business Plan Models

 how to write a business plan:.

business plan stat

Stats Source:  1 , 2

The business plan acts as the blueprint of your venture, outlining its mission, operational strategy, market analysis, financial needs, and more. It gives stakeholders a holistic view of your company, underpinning decisions and attracting potential investors. Let’s explore the key components of a business plan that will serve as the compass guiding your startup toward success.

1. Write An Executive Summary

The executive summary is at the forefront of your business plan, which introduces your plan to the world. It encapsulates everything your plan will detail but at a much higher level. As a pro tip, this summary is often more effective when written last, ensuring you fully grasp your plan.

In the executive summary, you’ll present your organization’s mission statement and the offerings you intend to bring to the market. If your venture is a new startup, including the reasons that inspired you to initiate this journey might be beneficial.

Here is how you can write an executive summary for your business plan.

  • Your executive summary begins with the “Mission” – a clear and concise statement of your company’s purpose. Your mission is not merely what you do; it’s why you do it and how you want to impact your customers and the world.
  • Next is the “Company History and Management” section. Provide a snapshot of your company’s location, the period of operation, and the people at the helm. A brief overview of their experience will also be valuable.
  • A significant part of your executive summary will be the “Products or Services” your company offers. What problems does your product or service solve? How does it add value to the customer’s life? Providing succinct answers to these questions can pique the reader’s interest.
  • In the “Market” section, you summarize the potential of your product or service or Total Addressable Market (TAM). Highlight key insights into the size and nature of your target market, indicating the business growth potential.
  • The “Competitive Advantages” segment allows you to shine a light on what sets you apart from the competition. Make sure to highlight the unique strengths that will make customers choose your company.
  • Finally, you must present your “Financial Projections” and “Startup Financing Requirements.” Provide an estimate of sales for the first few years and a clear outline of what it’ll cost to launch and run your company.

2. Add A Business Description

The business description paints a vivid picture of your venture, its goals, the industry it serves, and your target customers. This section allows you to share the passion behind your venture while detailing your industry, including prevalent trends and formidable competitors. Highlight your team’s industry experience and what sets your venture apart from competitors.

3. Market Research And Strategies

The purpose of the market analysis and strategy component of a business plan is to research and identify a company’s primary target audience and where to find this audience. Factors to cover in this section include:

  • The geographic locations of your target markets
  • The primary pain points experienced by your target customers
  • The most prominent needs of your target market and how your products or services can meet these needs
  • The demographics of your target audience
  • Where your target market spends most of their time, such as particular social media platforms and physical locations
  • This section aims to clearly define your target audience so that you can make strategic estimations about how your product or service might perform with this audience.

4. Marketing And Sales Plan

This part of your business plan covers the specifics of how you plan to market and sell your products and services. This section include:

  • Your anticipated marketing and promotion strategies
  • Pricing plans for your company’s products and services
  • Your strategies for making sales
  • Reasons for your target audience to purchase from your company versus your competition
  • Your organization’s unique selling proposal

5. Management And Organization Description

This section of your business plan explores the details of your business’s management and organization strategy. Introduce your company leaders and their qualifications and responsibilities within your business. You can also include human resources requirements and your company’s legal structure.

6. Products And Services Description

Use this section to further expand on the details of the products and services your company offers that you covered in the executive summary. Include all relevant information about your products and services. This includes how you plan to manufacture or develop them, how long they can last, what needs they may meet, and how much you project it might cost to create them.

7. Competitive Analysis

Add a detailed competitive analysis that clearly outlines a comparison of your organization to your competitors. Outline your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths and how you expect your company might compare to these. Include any advantages or distinctions your competition has in the marketplace. In addition, explore what makes your business different from other companies in the industry and any potential challenges you may face when entering the marketplace, if applicable.

8. Operating Plan

This part of your business plan describes how you plan to operate your company. Include information regarding how and where your company plans to operate, such as shipping logistics or patents for intellectual property. The operating plan also details personnel-related operations, like how many employees you hope to hire in various departments.

9. Financial Projection And Needs

The financial section of your business plan explains how you anticipate bringing in revenue. If you need funding for your business, this section also describes the sources and amounts for that funding. Include your financial statements, an analysis of these statements, and a cash flow projection.

10. Exhibits And Appendices

The last section of your business plan provides any extra information to support further the details outlined in your plan. You can also include exhibits and appendices to support the viability of your business plan and give investors a clear understanding of the research that backs your plan. Common information to put in this section includes:

  • Resumes of company management and other stakeholders
  • Marketing research
  • Proposed or current marketing materials
  • Relevant legal documentation
  • Image Of your product (or demo)

Tips To Create A Small Business Plan

business plan tips

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is paramount when crafting your small business plan. It’s not just about offering a product or service, but understanding who will buy it and why. Start by defining your target market – age, gender, geographic location, income level, occupation, and lifestyle preferences are just a few factors to consider. Once you’ve identified your potential customers, dive deeper. What are their pain points? How can your product or service address these issues? Having this knowledge not only helps you tailor your offerings but also guides your marketing and sales strategies.

Have A Clear Goal

Your business plan must have a clear goal – a specific aim that you intend to achieve. This could be anything from reaching a certain revenue target, expanding to new locations, or securing a specific market share within a given period. Setting clear, measurable goals serves as a roadmap, guiding your actions and decisions. Remember, these goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each goal should directly support your overall business objectives and provide a clear path to success.

Invest Time In Research

A successful business plan is built on solid research. Market trends, competitive landscape, regulatory environment – these are all factors that could affect your business, and thus, must be considered in your business plan. Research can inform product development, pricing, and promotional strategies, as well as identify potential opportunities and threats. Conduct both primary (surveys, interviews) and secondary research (reports, articles) to gather comprehensive information. It’s an investment of time that pays off in the long run by guiding informed decision-making.

Keep It Short And To The Point

While your business plan should be comprehensive, resist the temptation to include every minor detail. Remember, the plan is a tool to communicate your business idea and strategy to stakeholders, including potential investors, partners, or employees. Therefore, it should be concise, focusing on the key aspects such as your product or service, market analysis, business model, marketing and sales strategy, and financial projections. Avoid jargon and keep your language simple and straightforward. It makes the plan easier to read and understand, increasing its effectiveness.

Keep The Tone, Style, And Voice Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to the tone, style, and voice of your business plan. It not only enhances readability but also reflects your brand identity. If your business is a modern tech startup, a casual, conversational tone might work well. For a law firm, a more formal tone would be appropriate. Choose a tone and style that align with your brand, and maintain it throughout the plan. This consistency helps build a strong brand image and makes a positive impression on readers.

Use A Business Plan Software

In the digital age, business plan software can simplify the planning process. These tools come with features like templates, step-by-step guides, and financial forecasting tools, making it easier to create a professional, comprehensive plan. Using such software can save time, increase accuracy, and ensure that your plan covers all essential aspects. Some popular options include LivePlan, Bizplan, and Upmetrics. Before choosing a tool, consider your needs, budget, and the software’s ease of use.

Mistakes To Avoid When Writing A Business Plan

1. not choosing a feasible business idea.

When it comes to selecting a business idea, there’s a fine line between ambitious and unrealistic. Too often, entrepreneurs get so enthralled by their passion project that they lose sight of its practicality in the market. They overlook crucial factors like the demand, the target audience, or the industry’s economic climate. In the business world, a great idea isn’t enough; it also has to be feasible. Validate your idea with market research, seek professional advice, and listen to potential customer feedback before making a commitment.

2. No Clear Exit Strategy

Although it might seem counterintuitive to plan your business’s end before it has even begun, a clear exit strategy is paramount. It guides your decisions, indicates your long-term goals, and reassures investors about the safety of their investment. Whether it’s selling the business, distributing dividends, or opting for an IPO, consider your exit strategy from the get-go.

3. Lack Of A Balanced Team

A start-up’s success isn’t a one-person show; it involves a balanced team with diverse skills and experiences. Without a robust team, you may find yourself overwhelmed, attempting to manage all aspects of the business singlehandedly. When composing your team, look for complementary skill sets. A mix of leadership, financial acumen, marketing prowess, and technical skills ensures a well-rounded, capable team.

4. No Comprehensive Financial Projections

Many startups fall into the trap of undervaluing comprehensive financial projections. The figures you present in your business plan should be accurate, realistic, and include projections for revenue, expenses, and cash flow. This detail is not only vital for you to understand the financial requirements and sustainability of your venture, but it is also crucial for securing funding from investors. Your business plan should include:

  • Balance Sheet: A snapshot of your company’s financial position, including assets, liabilities, and equity.
  • Cash Flow Statement: An overview of cash inflows and outflows, highlighting your ability to generate and manage cash.
  • Profit and Loss (P&L) Statement: A summary of your company’s revenues, expenses, and net income over a specified period.

5. Spelling And Grammar Mistakes

Nothing undermines the credibility of a business plan like spelling and grammar mistakes. They give an impression of carelessness and lack of attention to detail. In the business world, these are attributes that no entrepreneur should embody. Always proofread your plan, use professional editing tools, or seek the help of an editor to ensure impeccable presentation.

6. Not Conducting A Proper Competitive Analysis

Understanding your competition is pivotal in carving your unique place in the market. An improper or superficial competitive analysis can lead to an ill-informed strategy and poor decision-making. Use methods like SWOT analysis to understand your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and use this information to differentiate your offering.

7. A Proper Marketing And Sales Strategy

Without a well-defined marketing and sales strategy, even the most innovative product can get lost in the shuffle. Outline your strategy, detailing the mediums and  channels  you plan to use to reach your target audience. Be sure to include the  estimated costs  of these strategies to ensure alignment with your financial projections.

8. No Incorporating Scalable Business Model

A scalable business model is key to long-term success. It ensures that your business can adapt to increased demand without significantly increasing operational costs. If you neglect this aspect, you may struggle to grow, or worse, become overwhelmed by success.

9. Not Setting Realistic And Measurable Goals

Setting lofty, abstract goals may seem visionary, but in practice, they leave a business adrift. Your business plan should define realistic, measurable, and time-bound objectives. The idea here is to give your team a

10. No Presence Of A Risk Management Plan

All businesses face risks, whether they are financial, operational, strategic, or related to reputation. Ignoring these potential hazards won’t make them go away. On the contrary, it leaves you unprepared (i.e. SVB bank collapse). Incorporate a risk management plan into your business strategy, outlining potential challenges and your proactive steps to mitigate them.

11. Not Updating And Refining Your Business Plan

Remember, a business plan isn’t a static document you write once and forget. As your business evolves, so should your plan. Market dynamics change, customer preferences shift, and new competitors emerge. Regularly updating and refining your business plan ensures that it remains a useful tool for decision-making and a clear roadmap for your business’s future. An outdated plan will not be reflective of your current business status and may lead to misguided decisions.

Avoiding these common mistakes can set you on a successful path, enabling your startup to grow, thrive, and eventually, command a formidable presence in the market. It’s not an easy task, but with these guidelines in mind, you’re better equipped to navigate the challenges ahead.

1. Why Is A Traditional Business Plan Important For A New Business?

You know that feeling when you embark on a road trip without a map? It’s a blend of excitement and anxiety, right? Well, launching a new business without a traditional business plan is pretty much the same. It’s like sailing a ship with no compass or map.

The business plan serves as your guiding star, illuminating your path forward. It outlines your mission, vision, goals, and how you plan to achieve them. It’s your secret recipe for success, the blueprint for your entrepreneurial journey.

2. What Are The Key Elements Of A Traditional Business Plan?

Think of a business plan as a puzzle, made up of several key pieces that come together to create a complete picture. These pieces include the  executive summary  (think of it as your business’s elevator pitch), company description, market analysis (your business battlefield), organization and management structure (the captains of your ship), service or product line (the bread and butter of your venture), marketing and sales strategy (your business megaphone), and financial projections (the treasure you’re after). When these pieces fall into place, you get a clear image of your business’s future.

3. How Can I Make My Business Plan Stand Out?

You know the feeling when you’re trying to bake a cake for the first time? You can follow the recipe to the letter, but it might not turn out as you hoped. The same goes for a business plan. Using a  business plan template  can be helpful, but adding your unique flavor makes all the difference. Personalize it, infuse it with your passion and vision. Use engaging anecdotes to highlight your experiences and lessons learned. It’s like telling a captivating story about your business, leaving everyone eager for the next chapter.

4. How Often Should I Update My Business Plan?

A business plan isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of deal. It’s a living document that evolves with your business. Like a gardener tending to his plants, you need to regularly nurture and adjust your plan.  

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, crafting a comprehensive and effective business plan is crucial for any venture’s success. By outlining your vision, objectives, target market, competitive analysis, organizational structure, and financial projections, you can attract investors and provide a roadmap for growth.

Remember to keep the plan concise, realistic, and adaptable, as it will evolve with your business. Continually reviewing and updating your plan will serve as a dynamic tool, guiding your business toward its ultimate goals and long-term success.

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About the author: Oran Yehiel

Oran Yehiel is the founder of Startup Geek, with an MBA specializing in financial management and a background in Deloitte. As a Certified Public Accountant and Digital Marketing Professional, he writes about venture capital, marketing, entrepreneurship, and more, bringing a wealth of experience to businesses seeking growth and success.

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Eight Steps To Creating A Successful Startup Business Plan

By Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Creating a business plan is one of the first steps toward success as an entrepreneur. A well-crafted business plan can help you secure funding, attract customers and establish your brand. While there’s no single blueprint for creating a perfect business plan, there are some essential steps that all entrepreneurs should follow. This article will walk you through the eight essential steps to creating a successful startup business plan.

Create A Company Overview

When creating a startup business plan, the first step is to develop a company overview. This includes identifying the unique value proposition of your startup, defining the potential market and outlining your competitive advantage. It should also include details about your startup’s organizational structure, any partnerships or investors and financial goals.

Define Your Business, Products And Services

Defining your business, products and services is a crucial step in creating a successful startup business plan. Keep it simple and to the point: What is your company’s purpose? What products or services do you offer? How are you different from your competitors? Once you have clearly defined these elements for yourself, it can be much easier to create specific goals and strategies for success. 

Establish Your Goals And Objectives

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Next, determine specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound ( SMART ) objectives that align with your mission statement and long-term goals. It is also helpful to identify any potential obstacles or challenges in achieving these goals, as well as create action steps to overcome them. 

Detail Your Financial Projections

When it comes to creating a successful startup business plan, financial projections are essential. This includes analyzing your startup’s expenses, projecting revenue and forecasting cash flow. It is important to be realistic and conservative in your estimates, as well as provide justification for any major assumptions.

Investors will also want to see how your startup plans to bring in revenue and reach profitability. A thorough financial plan can give investors confidence in your startup’s ability to succeed financially. It is also important to regularly review and update your financial projections throughout the life of your startup, adjusting based on any changes in the market or within the company itself. 

Describe The Competitive Landscape

It is crucial to understand your competitive landscape. This means identifying both direct and indirect competitors, as well as analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. This information can help guide your own strategy and position in the market.

5 Traps to Avoid as a Startup Founder

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When creating a startup business plan, it is essential to accurately describe how funding will be used. This includes not only giving an overall breakdown of allocated expenses but also providing justification for each expense and explaining how it directly contributes to the success and growth of the startup. Furthermore, it is important to be able to demonstrate flexibility in the allocation of funds, showing that the startup team can respond nimbly to unexpected changes or opportunities.

Finally, potential investors want assurance that their funds will be used judiciously and responsibly, with a clear eye toward profitability and long-term sustainability. In sum, implementing a thorough and well-thought-out funding strategy in a startup business plan can not only secure funding from investors but also set the groundwork for future success.

Explain Your Marketing And Sales Strategy

When creating a startup business plan, it’s important to develop a clear and effective marketing and sales strategy . This means defining your target market, identifying their needs and pain points and positioning your product or service as the solution. It also involves determining how you will reach your target audience through channels such as advertising, public relations and events.

Additionally, having a solid understanding of your competition can help inform your pricing strategy and differentiators. Developing a proactive approach to sales is also crucial—this could include setting sales goals and establishing processes for lead generation and conversion. 

Designate A Management Team And Advisory Board

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When selecting individuals for the management team, look for those who complement each other’s skill sets and have a passion for your product or service. As for the advisory board, aim to bring on industry leaders or successful entrepreneurs who can offer valuable insights and advice. 

Creating a successful startup business plan is no easy feat. However, by following the steps outlined above, you can give your startup the best chance for success. From conducting competitive research to developing a marketing and sales strategy, each step is crucial in creating a solid foundation for your business. By taking the time to create a well-thought-out business plan, you’ll be setting your startup up for long-term success.

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How to Write a Startup Business Plan

Sveta Cherednichenko

The startup environment is fast, and often, entrepreneurs struggle with finding a balance between planning and high pace. Learn how to plan your future business effectively without losing precious time to market.

Most startups fail . The major reason for that is poor market fit and lack of planning.  This harsh reality doesn’t have to stop you from trying, though.  Entrepreneurs continue to develop and test ideas, and investors pay close attention to business plans and hard data rather than merely a vision. 

Business plans are valuable for companies of all sizes, whether you’re planning to launch a small business or a future corporation.

A business plan helps startups to focus on their future growth based on data-based projections and estimates

In this article, you’ll learn how to write a realistic business plan for a startup that will help you to check your product’s feasibility, keep the focus on your business goals and generate more investments for developing your idea. 

What is a startup business plan?

A startup business plan is a document that describes your product or service from the business and financial perspective. Basically, this plan answers the question, “How will your business make money?”.

To do this, a startup business plan must also answer other supporting questions like:

  • What’s my product or service about?
  • How much initial capital do I have to start this business?
  • What profits do I need to make to keep my business operating?
  • What growth do I expect in terms of users, revenue, etc.?
  • What marketing strategy will allow me to achieve my business goals?

So, a startup business plan is a structured layout of your future business processes, strategy, business structure, and marketing. Creating it isn’t easy, so why do you need it in the first place?

Why do you need a startup business plan?

Founding a business without a plan is like building a house without a blueprint. If you’re lucky and a genius, the house may turn out great. 

benefits of a startup business plan

Although, the probability of it happening is very low: you don’t know what kind of soil you’re building it on, how many floors it’ll have, how much it will cost, and how many people will buy apartments from you. 

So, what other reasons are there apart from predictability? Let’s discuss this.

Higher success rate

The importance of planning for business is proven by studies and data: a plan increases your chances for success by 30%! Why is that? 

A plan gives you a better understanding of your internal processes and allows you to test your ideas. Although a business plan is theoretical, it still uses real concepts and puts your future business in context. 

A plan can be a great starting point for your MVP or a lean startup launch.

More funding

Writing a startup business plan is associated with higher funding. Surely, in the past, companies like Microsoft and Apple started without any plan. For example, Apple had no plan until they needed $250K in financing to build the Apple II inventory.

In the golden age of Silicon Valley, investors were ready to give money to entrepreneurs with disruptive, bold, and innovative ideas. 

Now, everything’s changed. Investors like to see actual plans that bring tangible results rather than blindly trusting entrepreneurs’ visions. So, if you draw up a detailed plan backed by research, you’ll have more chances to get funded and build a successful product. 

Deep understanding of your target market

While writing a business plan for a startup, you’ll think about what factors and market trends can affect your business. These factors include new technologies, current competitors, and potential marketing strategies that work for your business. 

All of this will help you get a deeper understanding of your business, target audience, and your place in the chosen market. 

Focus on effective strategies

A plan that contains all your operations and strategies will help you focus on activities that matter most to your success and generate the most revenue. 

Easier financial planning

Many startups fail after quickly running out of cash because they don’t track it and underestimated their expenses before launch. 

A business plan allows you to focus on what really matters for your ROI and make sure your startup not only stays afloat but also grows at a steady, predictable pace. 

How to write a startup business plan?

A typical startup business plan structure looks like this:

  • An executive summary
  • A description of a company
  • Market research report
  • Detailed product/service description
  • Management and operational structure
  • Marketing and sales strategy
  • Financial strategy

business plan structure

Let’s discuss the key steps to writing a business plan for a startup company. 

Step 1. Write an executive summary

This is an introduction to your plan, and it should contain brief information about your business, its goals, and purpose, and what services or products it will provide. 

The most important characteristic of a good executive summary is clear objectives. You can also describe your vision for your company’s future, as well as your mission and values.

A summary is similar to a pitch: this is the first thing potential investors will read, so you want to keep it short and sweet. I suggest laying it out first but polishing it after the whole business plan is ready.

Step 2. Describe your company

In this section, you need to provide formal information about your company that includes:

  • Your company’s registered name
  • The legal address of your company
  • Names of key people that run the company and their roles, skills, and expertise
  • Your business model

Give information about the structure of your company, including the ownership structure and company hierarchy.

In this section, you can also mention the history of your company, if it has changed over time.

Step 3. Define your business goals

Now it’s time to describe what you plan to accomplish in the near and far future, so make sure you include both short and long-term plans and goals. The goals can differ from expected revenue to the number of employees, users, or offices in different locations. 

This section should justify your request if you’re creating a startup business plan to raise money. Show your investors what you need funding for and how you plan to reach your goals. 

For example, if you’re expanding your team to another location, you can explain how funding will help you fund a new office and expand the team and how you think this will grow your business and sales next year. 

Step 4. Do your target market research

You want to see your company in a market context. For this, you need to perform market research that includes competitor analysis. Look at what similar products already exist in your market, how they generate sales, and what services they provide. 

This will give you an insight into your target market and let you figure out your place in it. 

Investors want to know that there is a market for your product and that it will be a great fit. They also need to see that you’re able to stand the competition and that you can offer the audience something better and different from what already exists.

Along with market and competitor research, you also need to study your target audience. If you already running your company and have clients, describe them and divide them into categories if possible. 

If you don’t have any clients yet, study your competitors and their current customers and develop hypotheses about your ideal customer. Include these parameters into your description:

  • demographic
  • psychographic

Start with broad parameters like:

  • income level

Narrow down each parameter until you get a detailed description of your typical user. You can create user personas based on this research — this will help you later in marketing. 

Step 5. Describe your product or service

In this section, you need to give a detailed description of what you offer. Include this information about your future or current product or service:

  • How your product or service works
  • Your pricing or monetization model
  • What your typical customer looks like
  • Your supply chain and delivering a product or service
  • Your sales strategy
  • Your distribution strategy

Step 6. Outline your company structure

You already mentioned it in your company description section, but now it’s time to give a more detailed description of your company structure. The company structure is all its departments and people responsible for separate business, sales, and marketing processes. 

how to write a startup plan

Show what your company looks like now, the roles and responsibilities of your stakeholders, and how many people are on each team. 

Then, describe how you plan to scale your company as it grows so that you don’t need fundamental restructuring when it happens. 

In this section, you need to clearly state who is responsible for what and who has the final say in key company decisions, especially if you have investors. 

Step 7. Plan your marketing and sales 

It’s common practice to start marketing before the product is even in development, so you need to get your strategy in place. Show your investors that you’ll make sure your target audience finds your product. 

Use your competitor analysis and market research to develop a marketing plan: show what resources you’ll use to get your product in front of the right people. Your marketing plan should cover these topics:

  • Business objectives
  • Marketing priorities
  • Marketing goals and their connection with business objectives
  • Marketing strategy
  • Key marketing activities
  • Risks and dependencies

Be sure to create a strategy for both finding and retaining customers. 

Step 8. Estimate your budget

Now, you need to figure out how much money you’ll need to launch and operate your business. This includes the cost of:

  • Software development
  • Human resources
  • Buying or renting property

Make your estimate as accurate as possible, and if you’re in doubt, always estimate higher — it’s always better to get some extra money as a safety net in case something happens.

Also, estimate a separate budget for your marketing and advertising activities. Many startups make a mistake by only calculating their operating costs, but marketing is a crucial part of business planning. Without it, the whole startup will quickly run out of cash. 

Step 9. Write a financial plan 

This step is different from budgeting. Here, you need to plan your financial growth rather than just figure out how to stay operational. 

If you don’t yet have a business running and you can’t use your historical data, just make projections. Make assumptions about your future growth, and come up with three scenarios: pessimistic, realistic, and optimistic. 

A financial plan should cover 3 to 5 next years with major milestones in consideration, and include both pessimistic and optimistic scenarios

Your financial projections should cover 3 to 5 next years with major milestones in consideration. For example, if you’re planning to open a new office in 2 years, this should be reflected in your financial projections. 

Remember that your company may break even for the first few years or be unprofitable. This is okay, as most of your budget may go to marketing and further growth. Just make sure you’re realistic with your projections and expenses. 

Step 10. Write an appendix

Here, you can add everything that didn’t fit in the previous parts of your document, for example, key people’s resumes, property leases, licenses, permits, legal documents, receipts, credit history, contracts, and bank statements. 

This is it! Your business plan is ready. Now let me give you some tips on making a business plan for a startup that guides you through your business launch and gets you the funding you need. 

Tips for writing an effective business plan

Consider all possibilities.

When developing a business plan, you need to be realistic. Don’t make your plan overly optimistic in order to impress investors. It’s best to consider potential scenarios, risks, constraints, and dependencies. This will prepare you for any circumstances and increase your chances of success.

Proofread your business plan

Grammatical errors, wrong punctuation, and formatting can make a bad impression on investors. That’s why, if your business plan’s main purpose is to raise money, make sure your document looks neat. 

Make your plan flexible

A startup environment is very volatile, so you need to keep your business plan flexible. Be ready to pivot, make changes to your services or adjust your financial plan to real-world circumstances in order to succeed.

Keep it concise

A successful startup business plan includes many details and information about your business, but it still needs to be short and to the point. Keep only the necessary information in your business plan, so it’s clear for your reader, whether it’s you or your investors. 

Startup business plan templates

You can create your business plan yourself from scratch or use special software. Here are some resources that can help you quickly create your business plan documentation:


writing a business plan for a startup company

This is a simple and minimalist business plan software that allows you to create a structured business plan, share it with your co-founders and investors, generate financial reports, and detect issues. It has a 7-day free trial, and the paid plan starts at $19.95 a month.

This is a perfect business planner for startups that offers inspiration from sample business plans and step-by-step instructions. It has templates for creating one-page pitches, financial reports, and business plans. The cost of LivePlan starts at $15 per month.

BizPlan business planner for startups

This service offers you a guided business plan creator, self-guided courses, and masterclasses from experts to help you build an effective business plan. BizPlan is specifically designed for entrepreneurs who seek funding.

Other similar online services for creating business plans for startups are:

  • Business Sorter

Wrapping up

Getting a plan for your business is a great way to increase your chances for success, get focused on what matters most, and generate funds for your future or existing company. 

It may seem daunting at first, especially when you don’t know how your product or service should look to find its place in the market. This is what we can help with. 

Our clients often come to us with just a vision, and we turn it into a fully-fledged working product with defined requirements. To do this, we interview our clients, dive into their business ideas, and perform market research, target audience, and competitor analysis. 

All this is included in our discovery phase. So, if you’d like to build a software product for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help you create your business plan and research and create a prototype to show to your investors or test in real-world conditions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can mobindustry help me with building my business, what is the first step in my business planning with mobindustry, rate the article, related articles, share your project with us, what happens next:.

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How to Write a Startup Business Plan

By Yuvika Iyer , May 28, 2022 - 10 min read

A startup business plan is an outline of your ideas and strategies for what you’ll need to do to start, manage, and even complete your startup’s mission. Creating one might sound simple enough, but because it’s a startup’s roadmap for success, it can be a complex document to create. 

Writing a business plan can make a world of difference for entrepreneurs who desire external funding. It involves determining your target customers, understanding what makes them tick, and figuring out how to reach them through marketing campaigns. 

In this blog post, we’ve explained why you should have a startup business plan, different types of startup business plans, and we’ve included 12 of the most effective tips for writing a startup business plan. If you’re ready to start with now, we have a product launch template to get you started quickly. 

What is a startup business plan?

A startup business plan is a written document that outlines your ideas and strategies for launching, managing, and eventually exiting your new venture. 

A well-constructed business plan can be crucial to the success of any entrepreneurial endeavor . As you prepare your proposal, keep in mind that it will evolve as you learn more about your market.

To start, create an outline of the most important items you'd like feedback on before writing anything down officially.

Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want?
  • Why does my company exist?
  • How will I make money?
  • What are my long-term goals?

A detailed business plan helps you set milestones for measuring success. You can share the plan with investors who may want some reassurance on the viability of their investment in your company.

The best way to create a successful startup business plan is by including everything in an organized and easy-to-read document — marketing strategies, financial projections, team bios, timelines, and more.

What is a lean startup business plan?

A lean startup business plan is a method for developing products that relies on iterative experimentation to reduce uncertainty. 

It has been used by companies such as Google , Amazon, and Facebook in the early stages of their development, and involves testing your idea with real customers early in development.

Lean startups are less likely to fail because they have tested their product or service with live feedback from consumers. Doing this allows them to make changes quickly without wasting resources on something no one wants.

The goal is not to build an extensive business plan but rather a "lean" one that can be changed based on customer feedback and then re-evaluated in regular intervals until it reaches market potential — or fails.

A lean startup business plan is a strategy that focuses on getting a product in front of customers as quickly and cheaply as possible. Use the lean startup business plan to validate your ideas before wasting time and resources.

Why do you need a small startup business plan?

A small startup business plan is one of the most important steps in building a company. Apart from helping you to focus on company goals, it aids in obtaining feedback from potential partners and keeps the team on the same page.

The best thing about starting small? You can change course at any time! If you need help developing or tweaking your small startup business plan, use this guide for entrepreneurs to get started.

You've built a product and you're ready to take the next step, but what's your plan? First, you need a strategy in place. Do you know how much money it will cost, or where exactly that funding should come from? What about marketing strategies for getting customers in the door? 

Mobile image promo promo

You’ll also need to find ways to retain them afterwards so they keep coming back again and again (and spending more).

product launch startup template

Obtain external funding

If you want to get funding from lenders or investors, you need a startup business plan. Lenders want to make sure they're investing in a company that will last and grow.

A well-organized idea shows passion for its purpose and outlines clear goals for helping customers. At the same time, having an exit strategy is also important.

Making a plan for when things don’t pan out as desired lets investors understand how much value there can be while giving customers (and yourself) peace of mind.

Understand your target market

One key piece of your business plan is knowing how to conduct a market analysis. To do this, consider the industry, target market, and competitors. 

Are there any market trends or competitor factors that can affect your business? Review them closely and get ready to make required changes to your business plan.

Prioritize high ROI strategies

In business, ROI is important. Any business that doesn’t generate as much cash as it burns is likely to fail.

With a startup business plan in place, the strategies with the highest ROI become crystal clear. You'll know exactly what to tackle first and how to prioritize the rest of your tasks.

Accelerate financial health

Business plans are not crystal balls, but they can help forecast your financial health. Planning for expenses is vital to keep operations steady and identify problems as soon as possible. 

Cash flow projections can help you see if goals are achievable or highlight upcoming issues that need correction before it's too late.

How to write a small startup business plan

Use this guide for entrepreneurs to develop or tweak a startup business plan. By following this easy six-step process, you'll soon have a clear path to startup success.

1. Clarify the startup vision, mission, and values

The first step to writing a startup business plan is understanding the startup itself.

Once you know what your startup does, ask yourself why. What is the startup's mission? What problem will it help customers solve? The startup's mission statement helps define its reason for existing.

It’s usually expressed in a simple sentence, but can also be written as a short paragraph.

Try to answer these questions: What does your startup do? How will it make money? How quickly do you hope it will grow? Are there any significant milestones or deadlines that need to be met?

2. Outline the executive summary

Now that you have an idea for your startup, its mission, and a vision in mind, it's time to write your startup business plan executive summary.

Keep it simple and precise. Begin by writing a one-sentence startup business plan introduction that showcases the core customer need/pain point and how you propose to solve it.

3. Develop startup goals and milestones

Next, write down the milestones and goals for your startup business plan. This is a crucial step that many entrepreneurs forget when they're starting out.

Do you want to focus on getting new customers? Or attaining a specific revenue number?  Without clear short-term goals, it can be hard to know how to prioritize startup tasks.

4. Write a company description

Answer the two fundamental questions — who are you and what will you do? Then, give an introduction to why you're in business.

Provide a summary of introspective goals, clarifying intangible aspects such as values or cultural philosophies. Make sure to mention:

  • Proposed business structure (limited partnership, sole proprietorship, incorporated company, or a general partnership)
  • Business model
  • Business vision and mission statement
  • Background information of your team members

startup business plan how to

5. Conduct market analysis

Choosing the right market is crucial to your organization’s success. There are different kinds of products and services that a business can offer and each has particular requirements for a successful market fit.

If you choose one that doesn't have a large enough customer base or is not profitable enough, your company may end up struggling for every sale.

Ensure that there is a clear market niche — an ideal audience of customers with a need or a pain point that your business can help solve.

6. Develop startup partnerships and resources

When you're launching a small startup, one of the most important things that your business needs is capital. There are several ways to get going on this front.

When thinking about sources of funding for startups , consider startup grants, startup loans, startup investors, and startup accelerators.

7. Write a startup marketing plan and startup budget

Your startup business plan is almost complete! All that's left is to create a startup marketing plan and budget. Your startup marketing plan will help you define your company’s target audience and brand image.

The startup budget is an integral part of any startup that helps you take the guesswork out of writing expenses.

Examples of startup business plans

Business plans differ based on the nature of the business, target market, competitive advantage, delivery of product/service, scope, and size.

Though the core business plan template remains the same, the content and flow change. Here is an example of an accounting firm's business plan:

Vision statement

At our company, ABC Accounting Services LLC, we work hard to provide the best service and build a strong team. Our vision is for this brand to be recognized as #1 throughout NYC by both smaller businesses and larger corporations.

Our values are reflected in all that we do: integrity (ethical behavior), service (giving top priority to clients' needs), excellence ("doing it right"), teamwork (working together).

Executive summary

ABC Accounting Services LLC is the premier accounting firm in New York City and will handle various financial services. We specialize in audits, bookkeeping, tax preparation/compliance work, and budgeting assistance with high-quality consulting.

Business structure

ABC Accounting Services LLC will be structured as an LLC — a Limited Liability Company in the state of New York. It will provide accounting, bookkeeping, taxation, auditing, and compliance-related services to small, medium, and large enterprises situated in New York City.

Marketing strategy and competitive advantages

Despite the fact that there are many established accounting services firms in our industry, we have a great chance of becoming successful because of the high demand for financial consulting. 

Often, small businesses don't need full-time employees but would rather hire an accounting service provider like us to handle their bookkeeping and tax returns on time every year.

It is best to find a unique niche or carve out your own market in the financial consulting services industry. If you're able to create an identifiable brand identity for your accounting business, then you will likely see less competition from other firms.

Startup milestones

ABC Accounting Services LLC will focus on delivering an exceptional client experience to grow the business and expand market share.

Startup business plan template

Here's a template you can follow when creating your startup business plan:

startup business plan how to

Top tips for writing a startup business plan

The following tips will help you create a compelling startup business plan without getting overwhelmed.

Know your audience

To write an effective business plan, tailor your language and level of detail to match the audience reading it. 

Have a simple and clear goal

If you have a goal of securing funding for your business, it will be an uphill task with lots of work and research.

Simplifying and breaking down bigger goals into smaller, actionable tasks will assist you in getting through them faster.

Spend time researching

Avoid assuming anything about your target audience, product/service, or the market need.

Spending adequate time and effort on research from primary and secondary sources will help you develop an accurate business plan.

Build a startup toolkit

The process of creation becomes easier if you have the right startup tools and software by your side. Pick the right ones that will help you in your journey.

Keep it precise

Short and easy-to-read business plans are best kept within 20 pages. If you have additional documents, consider adding them as appendices or provide a link if available online.

Ensure tonal consistency

Keep the tone consistent by having just one author write your startup business plan. Otherwise, be sure to edit it thoroughly before you finalize it.

Add reference points

All information regarding the market, your competitors, and your customers should reference authoritative data points.

Be ready to pivot

A business plan should be fluid and flexible. Think of it as an evolving document that will continue to change over time.

How to create a business plan with Wrike

A good business plan is a powerful tool and can be a key predictor of future progress, but simply filling in a startup business plan won’t help you achieve success. You need to create action steps with accountability that will help you reach your goals. 

Wrike’s project management software can help your organization deliver successful projects and maximize individual and team productivity, and our product launch template can help you turn your startup business plan goals into actionable steps. 

Start a free trial of Wrike today to see how it can help to simplify work, showcase progress to stakeholders, and achieve startup success.

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