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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 .

What is a business plan?

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. summarize how your company operates, 10. add any additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

A business plan outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them over the next three to five years. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan that will offer a strong, detailed road map for your business.

Bizee

A business plan is a document that explains what your business does, how it makes money and who its customers are. Internally, writing a business plan should help you clarify your vision and organize your operations. Externally, you can share it with potential lenders and investors to show them you’re on the right track.

Business plans are living documents; it’s OK for them to change over time. Startups may update their business plans often as they figure out who their customers are and what products and services fit them best. Mature companies might only revisit their business plan every few years. Regardless of your business’s age, brush up this document before you apply for a business loan .

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

This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your business offers 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. This should contain basic 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, write a little about 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 concept of business plan

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

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

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

» MORE: How to write a successful business plan for a loan

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.

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.

Include details about your sales and distribution strategies, including the costs involved in selling each product .

» 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.

Accounting software may be able to generate these reports for you. It may also help you calculate 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.

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.

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

Before the end of your business plan, summarize how your business is structured and outline each team’s responsibilities. This will help your readers understand who performs each of the functions you’ve described above — making and selling your products or services — and how much each of those functions cost.

If any of your employees have exceptional skills, you may want to include their resumes to help explain the competitive advantage they give you.

Finally, attach any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere. That might include:

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

Details of your personal and business credit history, if you’re seeking financing.

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?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

Here are some tips to write a detailed, convincing business plan:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business bank loan or professional investment, someone will be reading your business plan closely. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of approval.

Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors. 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. 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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What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Planning Essentials Explained

Posted february 21, 2022 by kody wirth.

the concept of business plan

What is a business plan? It’s the roadmap for your business. The outline of your goals, objectives, and the steps you’ll take to get there. It describes the structure of your organization, how it operates, as well as the financial expectations and actual performance. 

A business plan can help you explore ideas, successfully start a business, manage operations, and pursue growth. In short, a business plan is a lot of different things. It’s more than just a stack of paper and can be one of your most effective tools as a business owner. 

Let’s explore the basics of business planning, the structure of a traditional plan, your planning options, and how you can use your plan to succeed. 

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that explains how your business operates. It summarizes your business structure, objectives, milestones, and financial performance. Again, it’s a guide that helps you, and anyone else, better understand how your business will succeed.  

Why do you need a business plan?

The primary purpose of a business plan is to help you understand the direction of your business and the steps it will take to get there. Having a solid business plan can help you grow up to 30% faster and according to our own 2021 Small Business research working on a business plan increases confidence regarding business health—even in the midst of a crisis. 

These benefits are directly connected to how writing a business plan makes you more informed and better prepares you for entrepreneurship. It helps you reduce risk and avoid pursuing potentially poor ideas. You’ll also be able to more easily uncover your business’s potential. By regularly returning to your plan you can understand what parts of your strategy are working and those that are not.

That just scratches the surface for why having a plan is valuable. Check out our full write-up for fifteen more reasons why you need a business plan .  

What can you do with your plan?

So what can you do with a business plan once you’ve created it? It can be all too easy to write a plan and just let it be. Here are just a few ways you can leverage your plan to benefit your business.

Test an idea

Writing a plan isn’t just for those that are ready to start a business. It’s just as valuable for those that have an idea and want to determine if it’s actually possible or not. By writing a plan to explore the validity of an idea, you are working through the process of understanding what it would take to be successful. 

The market and competitive research alone can tell you a lot about your idea. Is the marketplace too crowded? Is the solution you have in mind not really needed? Add in the exploration of milestones, potential expenses, and the sales needed to attain profitability and you can paint a pretty clear picture of the potential of your business.

Document your strategy and goals

For those starting or managing a business understanding where you’re going and how you’re going to get there are vital. Writing your plan helps you do that. It ensures that you are considering all aspects of your business, know what milestones you need to hit, and can effectively make adjustments if that doesn’t happen. 

With a plan in place, you’ll have an idea of where you want your business to go as well as how you’ve performed in the past. This alone better prepares you to take on challenges, review what you’ve done before, and make the right adjustments.

Pursue funding

Even if you do not intend to pursue funding right away, having a business plan will prepare you for it. It will ensure that you have all of the information necessary to submit a loan application and pitch to investors. So, rather than scrambling to gather documentation and write a cohesive plan once it’s relevant, you can instead keep your plan up-to-date and attempt to attain funding. Just add a use of funds report to your financial plan and you’ll be ready to go.

The benefits of having a plan don’t stop there. You can then use your business plan to help you manage the funding you receive. You’ll not only be able to easily track and forecast how you’ll use your funds but easily report on how it’s been used. 

Better manage your business

A solid business plan isn’t meant to be something you do once and forget about. Instead, it should be a useful tool that you can regularly use to analyze performance, make strategic decisions, and anticipate future scenarios. It’s a document that you should regularly update and adjust as you go to better fit the actual state of your business.

Doing so makes it easier to understand what’s working and what’s not. It helps you understand if you’re truly reaching your goals or if you need to make further adjustments. Having your plan in place makes that process quicker, more informative, and leaves you with far more time to actually spend running your business.

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What should your business plan include?

The content and structure of your business plan should include anything that will help you use it effectively. That being said, there are some key elements that you should cover and that investors will expect to see. 

Executive summary

The executive summary is a simple overview of your business and your overall plan. It should serve as a standalone document that provides enough detail for anyone—including yourself, team members, or investors—to fully understand your business strategy. Make sure to cover the problem you’re solving, a description of your product or service, your target market, organizational structure, a financial summary, and any necessary funding requirements.

This will be the first part of your plan but it’s easiest to write it after you’ve created your full plan.

Products & Services

When describing your products or services, you need to start by outlining the problem you’re solving and why what you offer is valuable. This is where you’ll also address current competition in the market and any competitive advantages your products or services bring to the table. Lastly, be sure to outline the steps or milestones that you’ll need to hit to successfully launch your business. If you’ve already hit some initial milestones, like taking pre-orders or early funding, be sure to include it here to further prove the validity of your business. 

Market analysis

A market analysis is a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the current market you’re entering or competing in. It helps you understand the overall state and potential of the industry, who your ideal customers are, the positioning of your competition, and how you intend to position your own business. This helps you better explore the long-term trends of the market, what challenges to expect, and how you will need to initially introduce and even price your products or services.

Check out our full guide for how to conduct a market analysis in just four easy steps .  

Marketing & sales

Here you detail how you intend to reach your target market. This includes your sales activities, general pricing plan, and the beginnings of your marketing strategy. If you have any branding elements, sample marketing campaigns, or messaging available—this is the place to add it. 

Additionally, it may be wise to include a SWOT analysis that demonstrates your business or specific product/service position. This will showcase how you intend to leverage sales and marketing channels to deal with competitive threats and take advantage of any opportunities.

Check out our full write-up to learn how to create a cohesive marketing strategy for your business. 

Organization & management

This section addresses the legal structure of your business, your current team, and any gaps that need to be filled. Depending on your business type and longevity, you’ll also need to include your location, ownership information, and business history. Basically, add any information that helps explain your organizational structure and how you operate. This section is particularly important for pitching to investors but should be included even if attempted funding is not in your immediate future.

Financial projections

Possibly the most important piece of your plan, your financials section is vital for showcasing the viability of your business. It also helps you establish a baseline to measure against and makes it easier to make ongoing strategic decisions as your business grows. This may seem complex on the surface, but it can be far easier than you think. 

Focus on building solid forecasts, keep your categories simple, and lean on assumptions. You can always return to this section to add more details and refine your financial statements as you operate. 

Here are the statements you should include in your financial plan:

  • Sales and revenue projections
  • Profit and loss statement
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheet

The appendix is where you add additional detail, documentation, or extended notes that support the other sections of your plan. Don’t worry about adding this section at first and only add documentation that you think will be beneficial for anyone reading your plan.

Types of business plans explained

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. So, to get the most out of your plan, it’s best to find a format that suits your needs. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering. 

Traditional business plan

The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used for external purposes. Typically this is the type of plan you’ll need when applying for funding or pitching to investors. It can also be used when training or hiring employees, working with vendors, or any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual. 

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. We recommend only starting with this business plan format if you plan to immediately pursue funding and already have a solid handle on your business information. 

Business model canvas

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

The structure ditches a linear structure in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It’s faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations. This is really best for those exploring their business idea for the first time, but keep in mind that it can be difficult to actually validate your idea this way as well as adapt it into a full plan.

One-page business plan

The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan. This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. It basically serves as a beefed-up pitch document and can be finished as quickly as the business model canvas.

By starting with a one-page plan, you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan. This plan type is 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.

Now, the option that we here at LivePlan recommend is the Lean Plan . This 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 holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27-minutes . However, it’s even easier to convert into a full plan thanks to how heavily it’s tied to your financials. The overall goal of Lean Planning isn’t to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the Lean Planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and stable through times of crisis.

It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

Try the LivePlan Method for Lean Business Planning

Now that you know the basics of business planning, it’s time to get started. Again we recommend leveraging a Lean Plan for a faster, easier, and far more useful planning process. 

To get familiar with the Lean Plan format, you can download our free Lean Plan template . However, if you want to elevate your ability to create and use your lean plan even further, you may want to explore LivePlan. 

It features step-by-step guidance that ensures you cover everything necessary while reducing the time spent on formatting and presenting. You’ll also gain access to financial forecasting tools that propel you through the process. Finally, it will transform your plan into a management tool that will help you easily compare your forecasts to your actual results. 

Check out how LivePlan streamlines Lean Planning by downloading our Kickstart Your Business ebook .

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Kody Wirth

Posted in Business Plan Writing

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

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Steps

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

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

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

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

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

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

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

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

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

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

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

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

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

Step 1: Executive Summary

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

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

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

Step 2: Description of Business

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

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

Step 3: Market Analysis

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

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

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

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

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

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

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

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

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

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

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

Step 7: Marketing Plan

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

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

Step 8: Sales Plan

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

Start by answering the following questions:

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

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

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

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

Step 10: Financial Projections

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

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

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

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

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

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

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

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

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

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

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

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

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

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

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

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

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

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

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

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

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

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  • 11.4 The Business Plan
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Entrepreneurship Today
  • 1.2 Entrepreneurial Vision and Goals
  • 1.3 The Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • Review Questions
  • Discussion Questions
  • Case Questions
  • Suggested Resources
  • 2.1 Overview of the Entrepreneurial Journey
  • 2.2 The Process of Becoming an Entrepreneur
  • 2.3 Entrepreneurial Pathways
  • 2.4 Frameworks to Inform Your Entrepreneurial Path
  • 3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
  • 3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
  • 3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
  • 4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation
  • 4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ
  • 4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions
  • 5.1 Entrepreneurial Opportunity
  • 5.2 Researching Potential Business Opportunities
  • 5.3 Competitive Analysis
  • 6.1 Problem Solving to Find Entrepreneurial Solutions
  • 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
  • 6.3 Design Thinking
  • 6.4 Lean Processes
  • 7.1 Clarifying Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
  • 7.2 Sharing Your Entrepreneurial Story
  • 7.3 Developing Pitches for Various Audiences and Goals
  • 7.4 Protecting Your Idea and Polishing the Pitch through Feedback
  • 7.5 Reality Check: Contests and Competitions
  • 8.1 Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Marketing Mix
  • 8.2 Market Research, Market Opportunity Recognition, and Target Market
  • 8.3 Marketing Techniques and Tools for Entrepreneurs
  • 8.4 Entrepreneurial Branding
  • 8.5 Marketing Strategy and the Marketing Plan
  • 8.6 Sales and Customer Service
  • 9.1 Overview of Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting Strategies
  • 9.2 Special Funding Strategies
  • 9.3 Accounting Basics for Entrepreneurs
  • 9.4 Developing Startup Financial Statements and Projections
  • 10.1 Launching the Imperfect Business: Lean Startup
  • 10.2 Why Early Failure Can Lead to Success Later
  • 10.3 The Challenging Truth about Business Ownership
  • 10.4 Managing, Following, and Adjusting the Initial Plan
  • 10.5 Growth: Signs, Pains, and Cautions
  • 11.1 Avoiding the “Field of Dreams” Approach
  • 11.2 Designing the Business Model
  • 11.3 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
  • 12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
  • 12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
  • 12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
  • 13.1 Business Structures: Overview of Legal and Tax Considerations
  • 13.2 Corporations
  • 13.3 Partnerships and Joint Ventures
  • 13.4 Limited Liability Companies
  • 13.5 Sole Proprietorships
  • 13.6 Additional Considerations: Capital Acquisition, Business Domicile, and Technology
  • 13.7 Mitigating and Managing Risks
  • 14.1 Types of Resources
  • 14.2 Using the PEST Framework to Assess Resource Needs
  • 14.3 Managing Resources over the Venture Life Cycle
  • 15.1 Launching Your Venture
  • 15.2 Making Difficult Business Decisions in Response to Challenges
  • 15.3 Seeking Help or Support
  • 15.4 Now What? Serving as a Mentor, Consultant, or Champion
  • 15.5 Reflections: Documenting the Journey
  • A | Suggested Resources

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the different purposes of a business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a brief business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a full business plan

Unlike the brief or lean formats introduced so far, the business plan is a formal document used for the long-range planning of a company’s operation. It typically includes background information, financial information, and a summary of the business. Investors nearly always request a formal business plan because it is an integral part of their evaluation of whether to invest in a company. Although nothing in business is permanent, a business plan typically has components that are more “set in stone” than a business model canvas , which is more commonly used as a first step in the planning process and throughout the early stages of a nascent business. A business plan is likely to describe the business and industry, market strategies, sales potential, and competitive analysis, as well as the company’s long-term goals and objectives. An in-depth formal business plan would follow at later stages after various iterations to business model canvases. The business plan usually projects financial data over a three-year period and is typically required by banks or other investors to secure funding. The business plan is a roadmap for the company to follow over multiple years.

Some entrepreneurs prefer to use the canvas process instead of the business plan, whereas others use a shorter version of the business plan, submitting it to investors after several iterations. There are also entrepreneurs who use the business plan earlier in the entrepreneurial process, either preceding or concurrently with a canvas. For instance, Chris Guillebeau has a one-page business plan template in his book The $100 Startup . 48 His version is basically an extension of a napkin sketch without the detail of a full business plan. As you progress, you can also consider a brief business plan (about two pages)—if you want to support a rapid business launch—and/or a standard business plan.

As with many aspects of entrepreneurship, there are no clear hard and fast rules to achieving entrepreneurial success. You may encounter different people who want different things (canvas, summary, full business plan), and you also have flexibility in following whatever tool works best for you. Like the canvas, the various versions of the business plan are tools that will aid you in your entrepreneurial endeavor.

Business Plan Overview

Most business plans have several distinct sections ( Figure 11.16 ). The business plan can range from a few pages to twenty-five pages or more, depending on the purpose and the intended audience. For our discussion, we’ll describe a brief business plan and a standard business plan. If you are able to successfully design a business model canvas, then you will have the structure for developing a clear business plan that you can submit for financial consideration.

Both types of business plans aim at providing a picture and roadmap to follow from conception to creation. If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept.

The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, dealing with the proverbial devil in the details. Developing a full business plan will assist those of you who need a more detailed and structured roadmap, or those of you with little to no background in business. The business planning process includes the business model, a feasibility analysis, and a full business plan, which we will discuss later in this section. Next, we explore how a business plan can meet several different needs.

Purposes of a Business Plan

A business plan can serve many different purposes—some internal, others external. As we discussed previously, you can use a business plan as an internal early planning device, an extension of a napkin sketch, and as a follow-up to one of the canvas tools. A business plan can be an organizational roadmap , that is, an internal planning tool and working plan that you can apply to your business in order to reach your desired goals over the course of several years. The business plan should be written by the owners of the venture, since it forces a firsthand examination of the business operations and allows them to focus on areas that need improvement.

Refer to the business venture throughout the document. Generally speaking, a business plan should not be written in the first person.

A major external purpose for the business plan is as an investment tool that outlines financial projections, becoming a document designed to attract investors. In many instances, a business plan can complement a formal investor’s pitch. In this context, the business plan is a presentation plan, intended for an outside audience that may or may not be familiar with your industry, your business, and your competitors.

You can also use your business plan as a contingency plan by outlining some “what-if” scenarios and exploring how you might respond if these scenarios unfold. Pretty Young Professional launched in November 2010 as an online resource to guide an emerging generation of female leaders. The site focused on recent female college graduates and current students searching for professional roles and those in their first professional roles. It was founded by four friends who were coworkers at the global consultancy firm McKinsey. But after positions and equity were decided among them, fundamental differences of opinion about the direction of the business emerged between two factions, according to the cofounder and former CEO Kathryn Minshew . “I think, naively, we assumed that if we kicked the can down the road on some of those things, we’d be able to sort them out,” Minshew said. Minshew went on to found a different professional site, The Muse , and took much of the editorial team of Pretty Young Professional with her. 49 Whereas greater planning potentially could have prevented the early demise of Pretty Young Professional, a change in planning led to overnight success for Joshua Esnard and The Cut Buddy team. Esnard invented and patented the plastic hair template that he was selling online out of his Fort Lauderdale garage while working a full-time job at Broward College and running a side business. Esnard had hundreds of boxes of Cut Buddies sitting in his home when he changed his marketing plan to enlist companies specializing in making videos go viral. It worked so well that a promotional video for the product garnered 8 million views in hours. The Cut Buddy sold over 4,000 products in a few hours when Esnard only had hundreds remaining. Demand greatly exceeded his supply, so Esnard had to scramble to increase manufacturing and offered customers two-for-one deals to make up for delays. This led to selling 55,000 units, generating $700,000 in sales in 2017. 50 After appearing on Shark Tank and landing a deal with Daymond John that gave the “shark” a 20-percent equity stake in return for $300,000, The Cut Buddy has added new distribution channels to include retail sales along with online commerce. Changing one aspect of a business plan—the marketing plan—yielded success for The Cut Buddy.

Link to Learning

Watch this video of Cut Buddy’s founder, Joshua Esnard, telling his company’s story to learn more.

If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept. This version is used to interest potential investors, employees, and other stakeholders, and will include a financial summary “box,” but it must have a disclaimer, and the founder/entrepreneur may need to have the people who receive it sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) . The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, providing supporting details, and would be required by financial institutions and others as they formally become stakeholders in the venture. Both are aimed at providing a picture and roadmap to go from conception to creation.

Types of Business Plans

The brief business plan is similar to an extended executive summary from the full business plan. This concise document provides a broad overview of your entrepreneurial concept, your team members, how and why you will execute on your plans, and why you are the ones to do so. You can think of a brief business plan as a scene setter or—since we began this chapter with a film reference—as a trailer to the full movie. The brief business plan is the commercial equivalent to a trailer for Field of Dreams , whereas the full plan is the full-length movie equivalent.

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

As the name implies, the brief business plan or executive summary summarizes key elements of the entire business plan, such as the business concept, financial features, and current business position. The executive summary version of the business plan is your opportunity to broadly articulate the overall concept and vision of the company for yourself, for prospective investors, and for current and future employees.

A typical executive summary is generally no longer than a page, but because the brief business plan is essentially an extended executive summary, the executive summary section is vital. This is the “ask” to an investor. You should begin by clearly stating what you are asking for in the summary.

In the business concept phase, you’ll describe the business, its product, and its markets. Describe the customer segment it serves and why your company will hold a competitive advantage. This section may align roughly with the customer segments and value-proposition segments of a canvas.

Next, highlight the important financial features, including sales, profits, cash flows, and return on investment. Like the financial portion of a feasibility analysis, the financial analysis component of a business plan may typically include items like a twelve-month profit and loss projection, a three- or four-year profit and loss projection, a cash-flow projection, a projected balance sheet, and a breakeven calculation. You can explore a feasibility study and financial projections in more depth in the formal business plan. Here, you want to focus on the big picture of your numbers and what they mean.

The current business position section can furnish relevant information about you and your team members and the company at large. This is your opportunity to tell the story of how you formed the company, to describe its legal status (form of operation), and to list the principal players. In one part of the extended executive summary, you can cover your reasons for starting the business: Here is an opportunity to clearly define the needs you think you can meet and perhaps get into the pains and gains of customers. You also can provide a summary of the overall strategic direction in which you intend to take the company. Describe the company’s mission, vision, goals and objectives, overall business model, and value proposition.

Rice University’s Student Business Plan Competition, one of the largest and overall best-regarded graduate school business-plan competitions (see Telling Your Entrepreneurial Story and Pitching the Idea ), requires an executive summary of up to five pages to apply. 51 , 52 Its suggested sections are shown in Table 11.2 .

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

Fill out a canvas of your choosing for a well-known startup: Uber, Netflix, Dropbox, Etsy, Airbnb, Bird/Lime, Warby Parker, or any of the companies featured throughout this chapter or one of your choice. Then create a brief business plan for that business. See if you can find a version of the company’s actual executive summary, business plan, or canvas. Compare and contrast your vision with what the company has articulated.

  • These companies are well established but is there a component of what you charted that you would advise the company to change to ensure future viability?
  • Map out a contingency plan for a “what-if” scenario if one key aspect of the company or the environment it operates in were drastically is altered?

Full Business Plan

Even full business plans can vary in length, scale, and scope. Rice University sets a ten-page cap on business plans submitted for the full competition. The IndUS Entrepreneurs , one of the largest global networks of entrepreneurs, also holds business plan competitions for students through its Tie Young Entrepreneurs program. In contrast, business plans submitted for that competition can usually be up to twenty-five pages. These are just two examples. Some components may differ slightly; common elements are typically found in a formal business plan outline. The next section will provide sample components of a full business plan for a fictional business.

Executive Summary

The executive summary should provide an overview of your business with key points and issues. Because the summary is intended to summarize the entire document, it is most helpful to write this section last, even though it comes first in sequence. The writing in this section should be especially concise. Readers should be able to understand your needs and capabilities at first glance. The section should tell the reader what you want and your “ask” should be explicitly stated in the summary.

Describe your business, its product or service, and the intended customers. Explain what will be sold, who it will be sold to, and what competitive advantages the business has. Table 11.3 shows a sample executive summary for the fictional company La Vida Lola.

Business Description

This section describes the industry, your product, and the business and success factors. It should provide a current outlook as well as future trends and developments. You also should address your company’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives. Summarize your overall strategic direction, your reasons for starting the business, a description of your products and services, your business model, and your company’s value proposition. Consider including the Standard Industrial Classification/North American Industry Classification System (SIC/NAICS) code to specify the industry and insure correct identification. The industry extends beyond where the business is located and operates, and should include national and global dynamics. Table 11.4 shows a sample business description for La Vida Lola.

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

Here you should define your market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends, and sales potential. You’ll want to include your TAM and forecast the SAM . (Both these terms are discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis .) This is a place to address market segmentation strategies by geography, customer attributes, or product orientation. Describe your positioning relative to your competitors’ in terms of pricing, distribution, promotion plan, and sales potential. Table 11.5 shows an example industry analysis and market strategy for La Vida Lola.

Competitive Analysis

The competitive analysis is a statement of the business strategy as it relates to the competition. You want to be able to identify who are your major competitors and assess what are their market shares, markets served, strategies employed, and expected response to entry? You likely want to conduct a classic SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and complete a competitive-strength grid or competitive matrix. Outline your company’s competitive strengths relative to those of the competition in regard to product, distribution, pricing, promotion, and advertising. What are your company’s competitive advantages and their likely impacts on its success? The key is to construct it properly for the relevant features/benefits (by weight, according to customers) and how the startup compares to incumbents. The competitive matrix should show clearly how and why the startup has a clear (if not currently measurable) competitive advantage. Some common features in the example include price, benefits, quality, type of features, locations, and distribution/sales. Sample templates are shown in Figure 11.17 and Figure 11.18 . A competitive analysis helps you create a marketing strategy that will identify assets or skills that your competitors are lacking so you can plan to fill those gaps, giving you a distinct competitive advantage. When creating a competitor analysis, it is important to focus on the key features and elements that matter to customers, rather than focusing too heavily on the entrepreneur’s idea and desires.

Operations and Management Plan

In this section, outline how you will manage your company. Describe its organizational structure. Here you can address the form of ownership and, if warranted, include an organizational chart/structure. Highlight the backgrounds, experiences, qualifications, areas of expertise, and roles of members of the management team. This is also the place to mention any other stakeholders, such as a board of directors or advisory board(s), and their relevant relationship to the founder, experience and value to help make the venture successful, and professional service firms providing management support, such as accounting services and legal counsel.

Table 11.6 shows a sample operations and management plan for La Vida Lola.

Marketing Plan

Here you should outline and describe an effective overall marketing strategy for your venture, providing details regarding pricing, promotion, advertising, distribution, media usage, public relations, and a digital presence. Fully describe your sales management plan and the composition of your sales force, along with a comprehensive and detailed budget for the marketing plan. Table 11.7 shows a sample marketing plan for La Vida Lola.

Financial Plan

A financial plan seeks to forecast revenue and expenses; project a financial narrative; and estimate project costs, valuations, and cash flow projections. This section should present an accurate, realistic, and achievable financial plan for your venture (see Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting for detailed discussions about conducting these projections). Include sales forecasts and income projections, pro forma financial statements ( Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team , a breakeven analysis, and a capital budget. Identify your possible sources of financing (discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis ). Figure 11.19 shows a template of cash-flow needs for La Vida Lola.

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

Hugh Jackman ( Figure 11.20 ) may best be known for portraying a comic-book superhero who used his mutant abilities to protect the world from villains. But the Wolverine actor is also working to make the planet a better place for real, not through adamantium claws but through social entrepreneurship.

A love of java jolted Jackman into action in 2009, when he traveled to Ethiopia with a Christian humanitarian group to shoot a documentary about the impact of fair-trade certification on coffee growers there. He decided to launch a business and follow in the footsteps of the late Paul Newman, another famous actor turned philanthropist via food ventures.

Jackman launched Laughing Man Coffee two years later; he sold the line to Keurig in 2015. One Laughing Man Coffee café in New York continues to operate independently, investing its proceeds into charitable programs that support better housing, health, and educational initiatives within fair-trade farming communities. 55 Although the New York location is the only café, the coffee brand is still distributed, with Keurig donating an undisclosed portion of Laughing Man proceeds to those causes (whereas Jackman donates all his profits). The company initially donated its profits to World Vision, the Christian humanitarian group Jackman accompanied in 2009. In 2017, it created the Laughing Man Foundation to be more active with its money management and distribution.

  • You be the entrepreneur. If you were Jackman, would you have sold the company to Keurig? Why or why not?
  • Would you have started the Laughing Man Foundation?
  • What else can Jackman do to aid fair-trade practices for coffee growers?

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

Founded in 2014, Textbooks for Change uses a cross-compensation model, in which one customer segment pays for a product or service, and the profit from that revenue is used to provide the same product or service to another, underserved segment. Textbooks for Change partners with student organizations to collect used college textbooks, some of which are re-sold while others are donated to students in need at underserved universities across the globe. The organization has reused or recycled 250,000 textbooks, providing 220,000 students with access through seven campus partners in East Africa. This B-corp social enterprise tackles a problem and offers a solution that is directly relevant to college students like yourself. Have you observed a problem on your college campus or other campuses that is not being served properly? Could it result in a social enterprise?

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

A franchisee of East Coast Wings, a chain with dozens of restaurants in the United States, has decided to part ways with the chain. The new store will feature the same basic sports-bar-and-restaurant concept and serve the same basic foods: chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and the like. The new restaurant can’t rely on the same distributors and suppliers. A new business plan is needed.

  • What steps should the new restaurant take to create a new business plan?
  • Should it attempt to serve the same customers? Why or why not?

This New York Times video, “An Unlikely Business Plan,” describes entrepreneurial resurgence in Detroit, Michigan.

  • 48 Chris Guillebeau. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future . New York: Crown Business/Random House, 2012.
  • 49 Jonathan Chan. “What These 4 Startup Case Studies Can Teach You about Failure.” Foundr.com . July 12, 2015. https://foundr.com/4-startup-case-studies-failure/
  • 50 Amy Feldman. “Inventor of the Cut Buddy Paid YouTubers to Spark Sales. He Wasn’t Ready for a Video to Go Viral.” Forbes. February 15, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestreptalks/2017/02/15/inventor-of-the-cut-buddy-paid-youtubers-to-spark-sales-he-wasnt-ready-for-a-video-to-go-viral/#3eb540ce798a
  • 51 Jennifer Post. “National Business Plan Competitions for Entrepreneurs.” Business News Daily . August 30, 2018. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6902-business-plan-competitions-entrepreneurs.html
  • 52 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition . March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf
  • 53 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition. March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf; Based on 2019 RBPC Competition Rules and Format April 4–6, 2019. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2019-RBPC-Competition-Rules%20-Format.pdf
  • 54 Foodstart. http://foodstart.com
  • 55 “Hugh Jackman Journey to Starting a Social Enterprise Coffee Company.” Giving Compass. April 8, 2018. https://givingcompass.org/article/hugh-jackman-journey-to-starting-a-social-enterprise-coffee-company/

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An Introduction to Business Plans Why is a business plan so vital to the health of your business? Read the first section of our tutorial on How to Build a Business Plan to find out.

A business plan is a written description of your business's future. That's all there is to it--a document that desribes what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you've written a plan, or at least the germ of a plan.

Business plans can help perform a number of tasks for those who write and read them. They're used by investment-seeking entrepreneurs to convey their vision to potential investors. They may also be used by firms that are trying to attract key employees, prospect for new business, deal with suppliers or simply to understand how to manage their companies better.

So what's included in a business plan, and how do you put one together? Simply stated, a business plan conveys your business goals, the strategies you'll use to meet them, potential problems that may confront your business and ways to solve them, the organizational structure of your business (including titles and responsibilities), and finally, the amount of capital required to finance your venture and keep it going until it breaks even.

Sound impressive? It can be, if put together properly. A good business plan follows generally accepted guidelines for both form and content. There are three primary parts to a business plan:

  • The first is the business concept , where you discuss the industry, your business structure, your particular product or service, and how you plan to make your business a success.
  • The second is the marketplace section , in which you describe and analyze potential customers: who and where they are, what makes them buy and so on. Here, you also describe the competition and how you'll position yourself to beat it.
  • Finally, the financial section contains your income and cash flow statement, balance sheet and other financial ratios, such as break-even analyses. This part may require help from your accountant and a good spreadsheet software program.

Breaking these three major sections down even further, a business plan consists of seven key components:

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Market strategies
  • Competitive analysis
  • Design and development plan
  • Operations and management plan
  • Financial factors

In addition to these sections, a business plan should also have a cover, title page and table of contents.

How Long Should Your Business Plan Be? Depending on what you're using it for, a useful business plan can be any length, from a scrawl on the back of an envelope to, in the case of an especially detailed plan describing a complex enterprise, more than 100 pages. A typical business plan runs 15 to 20 pages, but there's room for wide variation from that norm. Much will depend on the nature of your business. If you have a simple concept, you may be able to express it in very few words. On the other hand, if you're proposing a new kind of business or even a new industry, it may require quite a bit of explanation to get the message across.

The purpose of your plan also determines its length. If you want to use your plan to seek millions of dollars in seed capital to start a risky venture, you may have to do a lot of explaining and convincing. If you're just going to use your plan for internal purposes to manage an ongoing business, a much more abbreviated version should be fine.

Who Needs a Business Plan?

About the only person who doesn't need a business plan is one who's not going into business. You don't need a plan to start a hobby or to moonlight from your regular job. But anybody beginning or extending a venture that will consume significant resources of money, energy or time, and that is expected to return a profit, should take the time to draft some kind of plan.

Startups. The classic business plan writer is an entrepreneur seeking funds to help start a new venture. Many, many great companies had their starts on paper, in the form of a plan that was used to convince investors to put up the capital necessary to get them under way.

Most books on business planning seem to be aimed at these startup business owners. There's one good reason for that: As the least experienced of the potential plan writers, they're probably most appreciative of the guidance. However, it's a mistake to think that only cash-starved startups need business plans. Business owners find plans useful at all stages of their companies' existence, whether they're seeking financing or trying to figure out how to invest a surplus.

Established firms seeking help. Not all business plans are written by starry-eyed entrepreneurs. Many are written by and for companies that are long past the startup stage. WalkerGroup/Designs, for instance, was already well-established as a designer of stores for major retailers when founder Ken Walker got the idea of trademarking and licensing to apparel makers and others the symbols 01-01-00 as a sort of numeric shorthand for the approaching millennium. Before beginning the arduous and costly task of trademarking it worldwide, Walker used a business plan complete with sales forecasts to convince big retailers it would be a good idea to promise to carry the 01-01-00 goods. It helped make the new venture a winner long before the big day arrived. "As a result of the retail support up front," Walker says, "we had over 45 licensees running the gamut of product lines almost from the beginning."

These middle-stage enterprises may draft plans to help them find funding for growth just as the startups do, although the amounts they seek may be larger and the investors more willing. They may feel the need for a written plan to help manage an already rapidly growing business. Or a plan may be seen as a valuable tool to be used to convey the mission and prospects of the business to customers, suppliers or others.

Plan an Updating Checklist Here are seven reasons to think about updating your business plan. If even just one applies to you, it's time for an update.

  • A new financial period is about to begin. You may update your plan annually, quarterly or even monthly if your industry is a fast-changing one.
  • You need financing , or additional financing. Lenders and other financiers need an updated plan to help them make financing decisions.
  • There's been a significant market change . Shifting client tastes, consolidation trends among customers and altered regulatory climates can trigger a need for plan updates.
  • Your firm develops or is about to develop a new product , technology , service or skill. If your business has changed a lot since you wrote your plan the first time around, it's time for an update.
  • You have had a change in management . New managers should get fresh information about your business and your goals.
  • Your company has crossed a threshold, such as moving out of your home office, crossing the $1 million sales mark or employing your 100th employee .
  • Your old plan doesn't seem to reflect reality any more. Maybe you did a poor job last time; maybe things have just changed faster than you expected. But if your plan seems irrelevant, redo it.

Finding the Right Plan for You

Business plans tend to have a lot of elements in common, like cash flow projections and marketing plans. And many of them share certain objectives as well, such as raising money or persuading a partner to join the firm. But business plans are not all the same any more than all businesses are.

Depending on your business and what you intend to use your plan for, you may need a very different type of business plan from another entrepreneur. Plans differ widely in their length, their appearance, the detail of their contents, and the varying emphases they place on different aspects of the business.

The reason that plan selection is so important is that it has a powerful effect on the overall impact of your plan. You want your plan to present you and your business in the best, most accurate light. That's true no matter what you intend to use your plan for, whether it's destined for presentation at a venture capital conference, or will never leave your own office or be seen outside internal strategy sessions.

When you select clothing for an important occasion, odds are you try to pick items that will play up your best features. Think about your plan the same way. You want to reveal any positives that your business may have and make sure they receive due consideration.

Types of Plans Business plans can be divided roughly into four separate types. There are very short plans, or miniplans. There are working plans, presentation plans and even electronic plans. They require very different amounts of labor and not always with proportionately different results. That is to say, a more elaborate plan is not guaranteed to be superior to an abbreviated one, depending on what you want to use it for.

  • The Miniplan. A miniplan may consist of one to 10 pages and should include at least cursory attention to such key matters as business concept, financing needs, marketing plan and financial statements, especially cash flow, income projection and balance sheet. It's a great way to quickly test a business concept or measure the interest of a potential partner or minor investor. It can also serve as a valuable prelude to a full-length plan later on.

Be careful about misusing a miniplan. It's not intended to substitute for a full-length plan. If you send a miniplan to an investor who's looking for a comprehensive one, you're only going to look foolish.

  • The Working Plan. A working plan is a tool to be used to operate your business. It has to be long on detail but may be short on presentation. As with a miniplan, you can probably afford a somewhat higher degree of candor and informality when preparing a working plan.

A plan intended strictly for internal use may also omit some elements that would be important in one aimed at someone outside the firm. You probably don't need to include an appendix with resumes of key executives, for example. Nor would a working plan especially benefit from, say, product photos.

Fit and finish are liable to be quite different in a working plan. It's not essential that a working plan be printed on high-quality paper and enclosed in a fancy binder. An old three-ring binder with "Plan" scrawled across it with a felt-tip marker will serve quite well.

Internal consistency of facts and figures is just as crucial with a working plan as with one aimed at outsiders. You don't have to be as careful, however, about such things as typos in the text, perfectly conforming to business style, being consistent with date formats and so on. This document is like an old pair of khakis you wear into the office on Saturdays or that one ancient delivery truck that never seems to break down. It's there to be used, not admired.

  • The Presentation Plan. If you take a working plan, with its low stress on cosmetics and impression, and twist the knob to boost the amount of attention paid to its looks, you'll wind up with a presentation plan. This plan is suitable for showing to bankers, investors and others outside the company.

Almost all the information in a presentation plan is going to be the same as your working plan, although it may be styled somewhat differently. For instance, you should use standard business vocabulary, omitting the informal jargon, slang and shorthand that's so useful in the workplace and is appropriate in a working plan. Remember, these readers won't be familiar with your operation. Unlike the working plan, this plan isn't being used as a reminder but as an introduction.

You'll also have to include some added elements. Among investors' requirements for due diligence is information on all competitive threats and risks. Even if you consider some of only peripheral significance, you need to address these concerns by providing the information.

The big difference between the presentation and working plans is in the details of appearance and polish. A working plan may be run off on the office printer and stapled together at one corner. A presentation plan should be printed by a high-quality printer, probably using color. It must be bound expertly into a booklet that is durable and easy to read. It should include graphics such as charts, graphs, tables and illustrations.

It's essential that a presentation plan be accurate and internally consistent. A mistake here could be construed as a misrepresentation by an unsympathetic outsider. At best, it will make you look less than careful. If the plan's summary describes a need for $40,000 in financing, but the cash flow projection shows $50,000 in financing coming in during the first year, you might think, "Oops! Forgot to update that summary to show the new numbers." The investor you're asking to pony up the cash, however, is unlikely to be so charitable.

  • The Electronic Plan. The majority of business plans are composed on a computer of some kind, then printed out and presented in hard copy. But more and more business information that once was transferred between parties only on paper is now sent electronically. So you may find it appropriate to have an electronic version of your plan available. An electronic plan can be handy for presentations to a group using a computer-driven overhead projector, for example, or for satisfying the demands of a discriminating investor who wants to be able to delve deeply into the underpinnings of complex spreadsheets.

Source: The Small Business Encyclopedia , Business Plans Made Easy , Start Your Own Business and Entrepreneur magazine .

Continue on to the next section of our Business Plan How-To >> Plan Your Plan

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How to Write a Business Plan "Concept and Value Proposition" Section

A key component of your business plan is your business concept and value proposition, which is the clear articulation of why customers should choose your solution over that of your competitors.

This section of the plan for developing your business concept and positioning your value proposition follows the executive summary and company history , so readers should already have a general idea of what your company does, who it's for, and what your long-term goals are for the business.

The business concept comprises your vision of the company, explaining the value your product or service will bring to the customer, why you are especially qualified to offer it, as well describing your offering's uniqueness and growth potential  within your industry.

This section enables you, as well as interested parties and potential investors, to research and analyze the concept for feasibility, both from a market and financial perspective. Keep in mind that everything in your business plan must relate back to the value and benefits your product or service provides to your target customers.

The Feasibility Test

Think of a feasibility test as a reality check for your business idea. The goal of conducting a feasibility test is to prove to yourself and your team or investors the probability of your product or service being successful within your industry.

A feasibility test should be as low-cost as possible and should revolve around creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or simple proof of concept, which communicates the most simple, basic value propositions of your future product or service.

According to Entrepreneurship For Dummies, by Kathleen Allen, a feasibility test weighs the validity of your business concept by examining four main points:

  • The product your firm will offer.
  • The customer you will target.
  • Your value proposition.
  • How you will get the product to its intended users.

By this stage in your business plan, you should have a firm grasp on what product or service you intend to offer, as well as who you believe will be your primary customer. The final item requires weighing various distribution channels, but, again, should be answerable with a little legwork.

The Value Proposition

Your value proposition is what makes customers choose you instead of the competition. It's part marketing, part operations, and part strategy; your value proposition is the foundation of your competitive advantage.

On a subconscious level, customers will compare the value proposition of your company against those of your competitors when deciding where to take their business. With that in mind, here are a few things to remember when writing your value proposition:

  • Keep it short and uncluttered. Your value proposition explains why customers should buy from you. If you can't sum it up in 10 words or less, chances are you won't be able to execute it, either.
  • Be precise. Your customers have specific needs; your value proposition should offer targeted solutions
  • It is about your customer, not you. Your value proposition should discuss only what matters to your customers and the value you can bring to them.
  • Value comes in numerous forms. Money, time, convenience and superior service are a few of the ways you can help deliver value to your customers.

Distribution Strategy

After you've validated your business idea with a small group of paying customers, the last part of the business concept is to determine how you will deliver your product to your customers at scale. Taking a manual approach to reaching your first customers is necessary, but won't work as you grow your business. Are you going to sell directly to consumers? Through strategic partnerships? Retail distributors?

Consider these several factors when planning the distribution strategy for your business:

  • Will you set up a brick-and-mortar shop or office, sell online, or both?
  • What unique obstacles exist for your company in these two different channels?
  • If your company sells a product, will you have the space to keep enough inventory on hand, or will customers have to agree to waiting periods?
  • Can you strike exclusive deals with any particular distributor or retailer? Do your competitors have any such deals that hinder your operation?

Vision is important if your business is going to grow. The more focus your business concept has in terms of clear solutions for a like-minded niche group of people, the greater the likelihood that you'll attract the best investors and customers.

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1.1: Chapter 1 – Developing a Business Plan

  • Last updated
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  • Page ID 21274

  • Lee A. Swanson
  • University of Saskatchewan

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • Describe the purposes for business planning
  • Describe common business planning principles
  • Explain common business plan development guidelines and tools
  • List and explain the elements of the business plan development process
  • Explain the purposes of each element of the business plan development process
  • Explain how applying the business plan development process can aid in developing a business plan that will meet entrepreneurs’ goals

This chapter describes the purposes, principles, and the general concepts and tools for business planning, and the process for developing a business plan.

Purposes for Developing Business Plans

Business plans are developed for both internal and external purposes. Internally, entrepreneurs develop business plans to help put the pieces of their business together. Externally, the most common purpose is to raise capital.

Internal Purposes

As the road map for a business’s development, the business plan

  • Defines the vision for the company
  • Establishes the company’s strategy
  • Describes how the strategy will be implemented
  • Provides a framework for analysis of key issues
  • Provides a plan for the development of the business
  • Helps the entrepreneur develop and measure critical success factors
  • Helps the entrepreneur to be realistic and test theories

External Purposes

The business plan provides the most complete source of information for valuation of the business. Thus, it is often the main method of describing a company to external audiences such as potential sources for financing and key personnel being recruited. It should assist outside parties to understand the current status of the company, its opportunities, and its needs for resources such as capital and personnel.

Business Plan Development Principles

Hindle and Mainprize (2006) suggested that business plan writers must strive to effectively communicate their expectations about the nature of an uncertain future and to project credibility. The liabilities of newness make communicating the expected future of new ventures much more difficult than for existing businesses. Consequently, business plan writers should adhere to five specific communication principles .

First, business plans must be written to meet the expectations of targeted readers in terms of what they need to know to support the proposed business. They should also lay out the milestones that investors or other targeted readers need to know. Finally, writers must clearly outline the opportunity , the context within the proposed venture will operate (internal and external environment), and the business model (Hindle & Mainprize, 2006).

There are also five business plan credibility principles that writers should consider. Business plan writers should build and establish their credibility by highlighting important and relevant information about the venture team . Writers need to elaborate on the plans they outline in their document so that targeted readers have the information they need to assess the plan’s credibility. To build and establish credibility, they must integrate scenarios to show that the entrepreneur has made realistic assumptions and has effectively anticipated what the future holds for their proposed venture. Writers need to provide comprehensive and realistic financial links between all relevant components of the plan. Finally, they must outline the deal , or the value that targeted readers should expect to derive from their involvement with the venture (Hindle & Mainprize, 2006).

General Guidelines for Developing Business Plans

Many businesses must have a business plan to achieve their goals. Using a standard format helps the reader understand that the you have thought everything through, and that the returns justify the risk. The following are some basic guidelines for business plan development.

As You Write Your Business Plan

1. If appropriate, include nice, catchy, professional graphics on your title page to make it appealing to targeted readers, but don’t go overboard.

2. Bind your document so readers can go through it easily without it falling apart. You might use a three-ring binder, coil binding, or a similar method. Make sure the binding method you use does not obscure the information next to where it is bound.

3. Make certain all of your pages are ordered and numbered correctly.

4. The usual business plan convention is to number all major sections and subsections within your plan using the format as follows:

1. First main heading

1.1 First subheading under the first main heading

1.1.1. First sub-subheading under the first subheading

2. Second main heading

2.1 First subheading under the second main heading

Use the styles and references features in Word to automatically number and format your section titles and to generate your table of contents. Be sure that the last thing you do before printing your document is update your automatic numbering and automatically generated tables. If you fail to do this, your numbering may be incorrect.

5. Prior to submitting your plan, be 100% certain each of the following requirements are met:

  • Everything must be completely integrated. The written part must say exactly the same thing as the financial part.
  • All financial statements must be completely linked and valid. Make sure all of your balance sheets balance.
  • Everything must be correct. There should be NO spelling, grammar, sentence structure, referencing, or calculation errors.
  • Your document must be well organized and formatted. The layout you choose should make the document easy to read and comprehend. All of your diagrams, charts, statements, and other additions should be easy to find and be located in the parts of the plan best suited to them.
  • In some cases it can strengthen your business plan to show some information in both text and table or figure formats. You should avoid unnecessary repetition , however, as it is usually unnecessary—and even damaging—to state the same thing more than once.
  • You should include all the information necessary for readers to understand everything in your document.
  • The terms you use in your plan should be clear and consistent. For example, the following statement in a business plan would leave a reader completely confused: “There is a shortage of 100,000 units with competitors currently producing 25,000. We can help fill this huge gap in demand with our capacity to produce 5,000 units.”

Table of Contents

What is a business plan, the advantages of having a business plan, the types of business plans, the key elements of a business plan, best business plan software, common challenges of writing a business plan, become an expert business planner, business planning: it’s importance, types and key elements.

Business Planning: It’s Importance, Types and Key Elements

Every year, thousands of new businesses see the light of the day. One look at the  World Bank's Entrepreneurship Survey and database  shows the mind-boggling rate of new business registrations. However, sadly, only a tiny percentage of them have a chance of survival.   

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, about 50% in their fifth year.

Research from the University of Tennessee found that 44% of businesses fail within the first three years. Among those that operate within specific sectors, like information (which includes most tech firms), 63% shut shop within three years.

Several  other statistics  expose the abysmal rates of business failure. But why are so many businesses bound to fail? Most studies mention "lack of business planning" as one of the reasons.

This isn’t surprising at all. 

Running a business without a plan is like riding a motorcycle up a craggy cliff blindfolded. Yet, way too many firms ( a whopping 67%)  don't have a formal business plan in place. 

It doesn't matter if you're a startup with a great idea or a business with an excellent product. You can only go so far without a roadmap — a business plan. Only, a business plan is so much more than just a roadmap. A solid plan allows a business to weather market challenges and pivot quickly in the face of crisis, like the one global businesses are struggling with right now, in the post-pandemic world.  

But before you can go ahead and develop a great business plan, you need to know the basics. In this article, we'll discuss the fundamentals of business planning to help you plan effectively for 2021.  

Now before we begin with the details of business planning, let us understand what it is.

No two businesses have an identical business plan, even if they operate within the same industry. So one business plan can look entirely different from another one. Still, for the sake of simplicity, a business plan can be defined as a guide for a company to operate and achieve its goals.  

More specifically, it's a document in writing that outlines the goals, objectives, and purpose of a business while laying out the blueprint for its day-to-day operations and key functions such as marketing, finance, and expansion.

A good business plan can be a game-changer for startups that are looking to raise funds to grow and scale. It convinces prospective investors that the venture will be profitable and provides a realistic outlook on how much profit is on the cards and by when it will be attained. 

However, it's not only new businesses that greatly benefit from a business plan. Well-established companies and large conglomerates also need to tweak their business plans to adapt to new business environments and unpredictable market changes. 

Before getting into learning more about business planning, let us learn the advantages of having one.

Since a detailed business plan offers a birds-eye view of the entire framework of an establishment, it has several benefits that make it an important part of any organization. Here are few ways a business plan can offer significant competitive edge.

  • Sets objectives and benchmarks: Proper planning helps a business set realistic objectives and assign stipulated time for those goals to be met. This results in long-term profitability. It also lets a company set benchmarks and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) necessary to reach its goals. 
  • Maximizes resource allocation: A good business plan helps to effectively organize and allocate the company’s resources. It provides an understanding of the result of actions, such as, opening new offices, recruiting fresh staff, change in production, and so on. It also helps the business estimate the financial impact of such actions.
  • Enhances viability: A plan greatly contributes towards turning concepts into reality. Though business plans vary from company to company, the blueprints of successful companies often serve as an excellent guide for nascent-stage start-ups and new entrepreneurs. It also helps existing firms to market, advertise, and promote new products and services into the market.
  • Aids in decision making: Running a business involves a lot of decision making: where to pitch, where to locate, what to sell, what to charge — the list goes on. A well thought-out business plan provides an organization the ability to anticipate the curveballs that the future could throw at them. It allows them to come up with answers and solutions to these issues well in advance.
  • Fix past mistakes: When businesses create plans keeping in mind the flaws and failures of the past and what worked for them and what didn’t, it can help them save time, money, and resources. Such plans that reflects the lessons learnt from the past offers businesses an opportunity to avoid future pitfalls.
  • Attracts investors: A business plan gives investors an in-depth idea about the objectives, structure, and validity of a firm. It helps to secure their confidence and encourages them to invest. 

Now let's look at the various types involved in business planning.

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Business plans are formulated according to the needs of a business. It can be a simple one-page document or an elaborate 40-page affair, or anything in between. While there’s no rule set in stone as to what exactly a business plan can or can’t contain, there are a few common types of business plan that nearly all businesses in existence use.  

Here’s an overview of a few fundamental types of business plans. 

  • Start-up plan: As the name suggests, this is a documentation of the plans, structure, and objections of a new business establishments. It describes the products and services that are to be produced by the firm, the staff management, and market analysis of their production. Often, a detailed finance spreadsheet is also attached to this document for investors to determine the viability of the new business set-up.
  • Feasibility plan: A feasibility plan evaluates the prospective customers of the products or services that are to be produced by a company. It also estimates the possibility of a profit or a loss of a venture. It helps to forecast how well a product will sell at the market, the duration it will require to yield results, and the profit margin that it will secure on investments. 
  • Expansion Plan: This kind of plan is primarily framed when a company decided to expand in terms of production or structure. It lays down the fundamental steps and guidelines with regards to internal or external growth. It helps the firm to analyze the activities like resource allocation for increased production, financial investments, employment of extra staff, and much more.
  • Operations Plan: An operational plan is also called an annual plan. This details the day-to-day activities and strategies that a business needs to follow in order to materialize its targets. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of the managing body, the various departments, and the company’s employees for the holistic success of the firm.
  • Strategic Plan: This document caters to the internal strategies of the company and is a part of the foundational grounds of the establishments. It can be accurately drafted with the help of a SWOT analysis through which the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can be categorized and evaluated so that to develop means for optimizing profits.

There is some preliminary work that’s required before you actually sit down to write a plan for your business. Knowing what goes into a business plan is one of them. 

Here are the key elements of a good business plan:

  • Executive Summary: An executive summary gives a clear picture of the strategies and goals of your business right at the outset. Though its value is often understated, it can be extremely helpful in creating the readers’ first impression of your business. As such, it could define the opinions of customers and investors from the get-go.  
  • Business Description: A thorough business description removes room for any ambiguity from your processes. An excellent business description will explain the size and structure of the firm as well as its position in the market. It also describes the kind of products and services that the company offers. It even states as to whether the company is old and established or new and aspiring. Most importantly, it highlights the USP of the products or services as compared to your competitors in the market.
  • Market Analysis: A systematic market analysis helps to determine the current position of a business and analyzes its scope for future expansions. This can help in evaluating investments, promotions, marketing, and distribution of products. In-depth market understanding also helps a business combat competition and make plans for long-term success.
  • Operations and Management: Much like a statement of purpose, this allows an enterprise to explain its uniqueness to its readers and customers. It showcases the ways in which the firm can deliver greater and superior products at cheaper rates and in relatively less time. 
  • Financial Plan: This is the most important element of a business plan and is primarily addressed to investors and sponsors. It requires a firm to reveal its financial policies and market analysis. At times, a 5-year financial report is also required to be included to show past performances and profits. The financial plan draws out the current business strategies, future projections, and the total estimated worth of the firm.

The importance of business planning is it simplifies the planning of your company's finances to present this information to a bank or investors. Here are the best business plan software providers available right now:

  • Business Sorter

The importance of business planning cannot be emphasized enough, but it can be challenging to write a business plan. Here are a few issues to consider before you start your business planning:

  • Create a business plan to determine your company's direction, obtain financing, and attract investors.
  • Identifying financial, demographic, and achievable goals is a common challenge when writing a business plan.
  • Some entrepreneurs struggle to write a business plan that is concise, interesting, and informative enough to demonstrate the viability of their business idea.
  • You can streamline your business planning process by conducting research, speaking with experts and peers, and working with a business consultant.

Whether you’re running your own business or in-charge of ensuring strategic performance and growth for your employer or clients, knowing the ins and outs of business planning can set you up for success. 

Be it the launch of a new and exciting product or an expansion of operations, business planning is the necessity of all large and small companies. Which is why the need for professionals with superior business planning skills will never die out. In fact, their demand is on the rise with global firms putting emphasis on business analysis and planning to cope with cut-throat competition and market uncertainties.

While some are natural-born planners, most people have to work to develop this important skill. Plus, business planning requires you to understand the fundamentals of business management and be familiar with business analysis techniques . It also requires you to have a working knowledge of data visualization, project management, and monitoring tools commonly used by businesses today.   

Simpliearn’s Executive Certificate Program in General Management will help you develop and hone the required skills to become an extraordinary business planner. This comprehensive general management program by IIM Indore can serve as a career catalyst, equipping professionals with a competitive edge in the ever-evolving business environment.

What Is Meant by Business Planning?

Business planning is developing a company's mission or goals and defining the strategies you will use to achieve those goals or tasks. The process can be extensive, encompassing all aspects of the operation, or it can be concrete, focusing on specific functions within the overall corporate structure.

What Are the 4 Types of Business Plans?

The following are the four types of business plans:

Operational Planning

This type of planning typically describes the company's day-to-day operations. Single-use plans are developed for events and activities that occur only once (such as a single marketing campaign). Ongoing plans include problem-solving policies, rules for specific regulations, and procedures for a step-by-step process for achieving particular goals.

Strategic Planning

Strategic plans are all about why things must occur. A high-level overview of the entire business is included in strategic planning. It is the organization's foundation and will dictate long-term decisions.

Tactical Planning

Tactical plans are about what will happen. Strategic planning is aided by tactical planning. It outlines the tactics the organization intends to employ to achieve the goals outlined in the strategic plan.

Contingency Planning

When something unexpected occurs or something needs to be changed, contingency plans are created. In situations where a change is required, contingency planning can be beneficial.

What Are the 7 Steps of a Business Plan?

The following are the seven steps required for a business plan:

Conduct Research

If your company is to run a viable business plan and attract investors, your information must be of the highest quality.

Have a Goal

The goal must be unambiguous. You will waste your time if you don't know why you're writing a business plan. Knowing also implies having a target audience for when the plan is expected to get completed.

Create a Company Profile

Some refer to it as a company profile, while others refer to it as a snapshot. It's designed to be mentally quick and digestible because it needs to stick in the reader's mind quickly since more information is provided later in the plan.

Describe the Company in Detail

Explain the company's current situation, both good and bad. Details should also include patents, licenses, copyrights, and unique strengths that no one else has.

Create a marketing plan ahead of time.

A strategic marketing plan is required because it outlines how your product or service will be communicated, delivered, and sold to customers.

Be Willing to Change Your Plan for the Sake of Your Audience

Another standard error is that people only write one business plan. Startups have several versions, just as candidates have numerous resumes for various potential employers.

Incorporate Your Motivation

Your motivation must be a compelling reason for people to believe your company will succeed in all circumstances. A mission should drive a business, not just selling, to make money. That mission is defined by your motivation as specified in your business plan.

What Are the Basic Steps in Business Planning?

These are the basic steps in business planning:

Summary and Objectives

Briefly describe your company, its objectives, and your plan to keep it running.

Services and Products

Add specifics to your detailed description of the product or service you intend to offer. Where, why, and how much you plan to sell your product or service and any special offers.

Conduct research on your industry and the ideal customers to whom you want to sell. Identify the issues you want to solve for your customers.

Operations are the process of running your business, including the people, skills, and experience required to make it successful.

How are you going to reach your target audience? How you intend to sell to them may include positioning, pricing, promotion, and distribution.

Consider funding costs, operating expenses, and projected income. Include your financial objectives and a breakdown of what it takes to make your company profitable. With proper business planning through the help of support, system, and mentorship, it is easy to start a business.

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24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

Clifford Chi

Published: February 06, 2024

Free Business Plan Template

the concept of business plan

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

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I believe that reading sample business plans is essential when writing your own.

sample business plans and examples

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As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, it’s easier for you to learn how to write a good one.

But what does a good business plan look like? And how do you write one that’s both viable and convincing. I’ll walk you through the ideal business plan format along with some examples to help you get started.

Table of Contents

Business Plan Format

Business plan types, sample business plan templates, top business plan examples.

Ask any successful sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you they have a unique plan for every single game. To me, the same logic applies to business.

If you want to build a thriving company that can pull ahead of the competition, you need to prepare for battle before breaking into a market.

Business plans guide you along the rocky journey of growing a company. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, I’m sure you’re wondering where to begin.

the concept of business plan

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

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

First, you’ll want to nail down your formatting. Most business plans include the following sections.

1. Executive Summary

I’d say the executive summary is the most important section of the entire business plan. 

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

There are two main elements I’d recommend including in your executive summary:

Company Description

This is the perfect space to highlight your company’s mission statement and goals, a brief overview of your history and leadership, and your top accomplishments as a business.

Tell potential investors who you are and why what you do matters. Naturally, they’re going to want to know who they’re getting into business with up front, and this is a great opportunity to showcase your impact.

Need some extra help firming up those business goals? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free course to help you set goals that matter — I’d highly recommend it

Products and Services

To piggyback off of the company description, be sure to incorporate an overview of your offerings. This doesn’t have to be extensive — just another chance to introduce your industry and overall purpose as a business.

In addition to the items above, I recommend including some information about your financial projections and competitive advantage here too.:

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

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

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

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example

This executive summary is so good to me because it tells potential investors a short story while still covering all of the most important details.

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

Image Source

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • Start with a strong introduction of your company, showcase your mission and impact, and outline the products and services you provide.
  • Clearly define a problem, and explain how your product solves that problem, and show why the market needs your business.
  • Be sure to highlight your value proposition, market opportunity, and growth potential.
  • Keep it concise and support ideas with data.
  • Customize your summary to your audience. For example, emphasize finances and return on investment for venture capitalists.

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

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market.

The main question I’d ask myself here is this: Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will my product fill that gap?

More specifically, here’s what I’d include in this section:

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

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, and SOM analysis and perform market research on your industry.

You may also benefit from creating a SWOT analysis to get some of the insights for this section.

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Market Opportunity

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

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

3. Competitive Landscape

Since we’re already speaking of market share, you'll also need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are.

After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you'll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another.

My favorite part of performing a competitive analysis is that it can help you uncover:

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

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

I like how the competitive landscape section of this business plan below shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are.

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location, which shows useful experience in this specific industry. 

This can help build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

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

4. Target Audience

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

If your immediate answer is "everyone," you'll need to dig deeper. Here are some questions I’d ask myself here:

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

I’d also recommend building a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear on why you're targeting them.

Target Audience Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Target Audience

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

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

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you'll discuss how you'll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. I’d suggest including information:

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

I think it’s helpful to have a marketing plan built out in advance to make this part of your business plan easier.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler.

In my opinion, it really works because it offers a comprehensive picture of how they plan to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Business plans examples: Marketing Strategy

Tips for Writing Your Marketing Strategy

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

6. Key Features and Benefits

At some point in your business plan, you'll need to review the key features and benefits of your products and/or services.

Laying these out can give readers an idea of how you're positioning yourself in the market and the messaging you're likely to use. It can even help them gain better insight into your business model.

Key Features and Benefits Business Plan Example

In my opinion, the example below does a great job outlining products and services for this business, along with why these qualities will attract the audience.

Business plans examples: Key Features and Benefits

Tips for Writing Your Key Features and Benefits

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

7. Pricing and Revenue

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

For this reason, here’s what I’d might outline in this section:

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

Pricing and Revenue Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Pricing and Revenue

Tips for Writing Your Pricing and Revenue Section

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

8. Financials

To me, this section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to figure out funding strategies, investment opportunities, and more.

 According to Forbes , you'll want to include three main things:

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

While some business plans might include more or less information, these are the key details I’d include in this section.

Financials Business Plan Example

This balance sheet is a great example of level of detail you’ll need to include in the financials section of your business plan.

Business plans examples: Financials

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

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

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

The formats above apply to most types of business plans. That said, the format and structure of your plan will vary by your goals for that plan. 

So, I’ve added a quick review of different business plan types. For a more detailed overview, check out this post .

1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas.

If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business.

You can check out this guide for more detailed business plan inspiration .

2. Feasibility Studies

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

3. Internal Use

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

4. Strategic Initiatives

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

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

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

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

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

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

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

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

Fields such as Company Description, Required Funding, and Implementation Timeline give this one-page business plan a framework for how to build your brand and what tasks to keep track of as you grow.

Then, as the business matures, you can expand on your original business plan with a new iteration of the above document.

Why I Like It

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

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

We also created a business plan template for entrepreneurs.

The template is designed as a guide and checklist for starting your own business. You’ll learn what to include in each section of your business plan and how to do it.

There’s also a list for you to check off when you finish each section of your business plan.

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

This business plan kit is essential for the budding entrepreneur who needs a more extensive document to share with investors and other stakeholders.

It not only includes sections for your executive summary, product line, market analysis, marketing plan, and sales plan, but it also offers hands-on guidance for filling out those sections.

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

Sample Business Plan: LiveFLow

This free template from LiveFlow aims to make it easy for businesses to create a financial plan and track their progress on a monthly basis.

The P&L Budget versus Actual format allows users to track their revenue, cost of sales, operating expenses, operating profit margin, net profit, and more.

The summary dashboard aggregates all of the data put into the financial plan sheet and will automatically update when changes are made.

Instead of wasting hours manually importing your data to your spreadsheet, LiveFlow can also help you to automatically connect your accounting and banking data directly to your spreadsheet, so your numbers are always up-to-date.

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

This is a fantastic template to track performance and alignment internally and to create a dependable process for documenting financial information across the business. It’s highly versatile and beginner-friendly.

It’s especially useful if you don’t have an accountant on the team. (I always recommend you do, but for new businesses, having one might not be possible.)

4. ThoughtCo’s Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: ThoughtCo.

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

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

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

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

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

With the guidance of Stanley Rich and Richard Gumpert, co-authors of " Business Plans That Win: Lessons From the MIT Enterprise Forum ", you'll learn how to write a convincing business plan that emphasizes the market demand for your product or service.

You’ll also learn the financial benefits investors can reap from putting money into your venture rather than trying to sell them on how great your product or service is.

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

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know writing a business plan is one of the most challenging first steps to starting a business.

Fortunately, with HubSpot's comprehensive guide to starting a business, you'll learn how to map out all the details by understanding what to include in your business plan and why it’s important to include them. The guide also fleshes out an entire sample business plan for you.

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

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of starting a business, in addition to writing your business plan, with a high level of exactitude and detail. So if you’re in the midst of starting your business, this is an excellent guide for you.

It also offers other resources you might need, such as market analysis templates.

8. Panda Doc’s Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Panda Doc

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

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

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

9. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several free business plan templates that can be used to inspire your own plan.

Before you get started, you can decide what type of business plan you need — a traditional or lean start-up plan.

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

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

I’ve compiled some completed business plan samples to help you get an idea of how to customize a plan for your business.

I chose different types of business plan ideas to expand your imagination. Some are extensive, while others are fairly simple.

Let’s take a look.

1. LiveFlow

business plan example: liveflow

One of the major business expenses is marketing. How you handle your marketing reflects your company’s revenue.

I included this business plan to show you how you can ensure your marketing team is aligned with your overall business plan to get results. The plan also shows you how to track even the smallest metrics of your campaigns, like ROI and payback periods instead of just focusing on big metrics like gross and revenue.

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

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

When it came to including marketing strategy in its business plan, LiveFlow created a separate marketing profit and loss statement (P&L) to track how well the company was doing with its marketing initiatives.

This is a great approach, allowing businesses to focus on where their marketing dollars are making the most impact. Having this information handy will enable you to build out your business plan’s marketing section with confidence. LiveFlow has shared the template here . You can test it for yourself.

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

Sometimes all you need is a solid mission statement and core values to guide you on how to go about everything. You do this by creating a business plan revolving around how to fulfill your statement best.

For example, Patagonia is an eco-friendly company, so their plan discusses how to make the best environmentally friendly products without causing harm.

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

Patagonia has one of the most compelling mission statements I’ve seen:

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

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

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

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

4. Vesta Home Automation

business plan example: Vesta executive summary

This executive summary for a smart home device startup is part of a business plan created by students at Mount Royal University .

While it lacks some of the sleek visuals of the templates above, its executive summary does a great job of demonstrating how invested they are in the business.

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

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

5. NALB Creative Center

business plan examples: nalb creative center

This fictional business plan for an art supply store includes everything one might need in a business plan: an executive summary, a company summary, a list of services, a market analysis summary, and more.

One of its most notable sections is its market analysis summary, which includes an overview of the population growth in the business’ target geographical area, as well as a breakdown of the types of potential customers they expect to welcome at the store. 

This sort of granular insight is essential for understanding and communicating your business’s growth potential. Plus, it lays a strong foundation for creating relevant and useful buyer personas .

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

Due to its comprehensiveness, it’s an excellent example to follow if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store and need to get external funding to start your business .

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

If you’re looking for a SaaS business plan example, look no further than this business plan for a fictional educational software company called Curriculum Companion Suites. 

Like the business plan for the NALB Creative Center, it includes plenty of information for prospective investors and other key stakeholders in the business.

One of the most notable features of this business plan is the executive summary, which includes an overview of the product, market, and mission.

The first two are essential for software companies because the product offering is so often at the forefront of the company’s strategy. Without that information being immediately available to investors and executives, then you risk writing an unfocused business plan.

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

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

Culina's sample business plan is an excellent example of how to lay out your business plan so that it flows naturally, engages readers, and provides the critical information investors and stakeholders need. 

You can use this template as a guide while you're gathering important information for your own business plan. You'll have a better understanding of the data and research you need to do since Culina’s plan outlines these details so flawlessly for inspiration.

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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The 4 Phases Needed to Develop a Successful Business Plan

Back view of freelancer man sitting in front of wall with strategy and creating a plan.

David Gordon

  • January 5, 2021
  • Type Articles

As they say in the military, “The enemy has a say.” The key to winning is adjusting. In 2021, expect COVID-19 will continue to impact the first half of the year, while the second half could represent different opportunities. Further, a new presidential administration, with its new initiatives, could impact your market looking toward 2022 and 2023.

This is where business planning comes into play.

Planning is about understanding the landscape, knowing what you want to achieve and then determining how to achieve it. It requires gathering information to understand your environment; determining current deployment; resources; where you can solicit assistance and then determining what you need to do (or procure) to give your team the resources needed to achieve the goal. Then, it is all about execution – developing a plan to achieve your future goals.

The phases of developing a plan include:

1. Introspection, Research & Insights

2. idea generation, 3. aggregation & execution, 4. ongoing evaluation and refinement.

While it sounds comprehensive, and it can be, it can also be streamlined. It all depends upon your organization, style and, if you use an outside facilitator, their ability to ask the right questions, understand your business/industry and add ideas.

This first step is critical. It is about gathering information: quantitative information and qualitative insights.

This can comprise macroeconomic information, marketplace information, industry insights and data analysis. The goal is to have a sense of where the economy and market are going while understanding your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), which comes from information gathering.

Understand your relationship with your market, your company, your customers, and the potential of each. Data can deliver these insights. Internal business intelligence data, combined with external economic data, can be powerful tools.

Some additional areas to consider include:

  • Do you “plan” expecting today’s COVID-19 environment or a different one? For how long?
  • What is your expectation of the market? Future macro trends and the potential opportunities that they can create? For example, how will the new presidential administration’s likely focus on clean energy and the climate impact your markets?
  • How have your processes been impacted?
  • More importantly, how are customers and their customers being impacted? What are their new expectations? What is their outlook?
  • What is your staff’s input?

As part of this process, “customer” insights can be beneficial. This should be 360-degree input. From end-customers/contractors, distributors (if you are a manufacturer), salespeople (and reps/RSMs), perhaps even employees or suppliers. Ask their opinion about the market, their opportunities, how “you” can improve and more. Those who contribute want you to succeed.

Next, ask departments how they can improve. How can “you/they” be easier to do business with? What additional value can each bring to their customers? What processes need to be improved? How can utilization, and productivity, increase? What is their value proposition, and the company’s, today and what could it be?

If you are in sales, the issues are the same, but focus on their goals and account package. Where are customer needs? Where are they going? What is your value proposition, according to your sales organization? How can you generate more? What do you need to be successful (or, more importantly, what does your company need to do to be more successful with your customers/in your territory?)

Ask what is important for account retention as well as for taking share. Then prioritize.

It is about asking for information, seeking opportunities, developing ideas, changing models and anticipating the future, becoming knowledgeable. Going into 2021, many companies will be more conservative with investments and will seek to reallocate funding. Focus and enhancing models will be critical. Opportunities abound.

Once you have gathered information and know the current and projected state, the next phase is identifying what strategies you want to continue. Conduct an idea generation exercise to determine what’s next.

This brainstorming exercise helps identify what new strategies will emerge. Consider what competitors are doing. Look at distributors/manufacturers in other industries or markets. Ask customers what would be of benefit to them.

Next it is about aggregating the ideas, developing a project plan and calendaring the activities to ensure time implementation.

For some initiatives, you may want advance time to present the strategy to your key suppliers or distributors to gather their input, or perhaps get their buy-in. For distributors, remember your 2021 earned co-op funds will probably decline, as they are based upon 2020 performance.

Gather the thoughts, determine the feasibility, gain budgetary insight and then prioritize. Inevitably, you cannot do everything. Every company is, at some point, resource-constrained.

An area that is challenging for most companies is ongoing evaluation of strategy with periodic reviews that allow the company to refine its strategy. It is like taking a road trip and finding out that there is construction on a segment of the highway. You can slow down or consider a detour/alternate route that enables you to continue. Adjustments are needed in plans. The key is achieving the end goal within the defined timeframe.

Reporting these metrics to various stakeholders also helps earn buy-in for future initiatives.

Strategic planning is a commitment to intentionally succeed. It is a leadership decision that reinforces to your staff that the company has a roadmap to achieve success and is committed to profitable growth. Involving your team helps develop a better “product” as well as earns their buy-in to the strategy, to implementation and to success.

Planning can be a process, or it can be a workshop. The key is, have a plan so you can be intentional in your actions.

David Gordon is president of Channel Marketing Group, a distribution strategy and marketing consulting firm helping distributors, manufacturers and representatives in the industrial and construction industries generate insights and ideas to drive growth. For more information on Channel Marketing Group, visit channelmkt.com . Reach Gordon at [email protected]

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Business Terms Glossary

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68 min. read

Updated February 23, 2024

To start and run a business , you often need to understand business terms that may not be well-defined in a standard dictionary.

Our glossary of business terms provides definitions for common terminology and acronyms in business plans , accounting, finance, funding , and other aspects of small business.

Accounts Payable (AP)

Accounts payable (AP) are bills to be paid as part of the normal course of business.

This is a standard accounting term, one of the most common liabilities, which normally appears in the balance sheet listing of liabilities. Businesses receive goods or services from a vendor, receive an invoice, and until that invoice is paid the amount is recorded as part of “accounts payable.”

Accounts Receivable (AR)

Accounts receivables are debts owed to your company, usually from sales on credit. Accounts receivable is business asset, the sum of the money owed to you by customers who haven’t paid.

The standard procedure in business-to-business sales is that when goods or services are delivered the come with an invoice, which is to be paid later. Business customers expect to be invoiced and to pay later. The money involved goes onto the seller’s books as accounts receivable, and onto the buyer’s books as accounts payable.

Accrual-Based Accounting

Accrual-based accounting is standard business accounting, which assumes there will be accounts payable (Bills to be paid as part of the normal course of business) and/or sales on credit (sales made on account; shipments against invoices to be paid later), as opposed to cash basis only.

For example, most businesses have regular bills such as rent, utilities, and often inventory purchase which are not paid for at the exact moment of purchase, but are invoiced. Most businesses will also not be able to collect on all of their sales immediately in cash, but must bill the purchaser or wait for payment on at least some percentage of their sales (the exact percentage varies by industry).

Accumulated Depreciation

Total accumulated depreciation reduces the formal accounting value (called book value) of assets. Each month’s accumulated balance is the same as last month’s balance plus this month’s depreciation.

An acid test is a business’s short-term assets minus accounts receivable and inventory, divided by short-term liabilities.

This tests a company’s ability to meet its immediate cash requirements. It is one of the more common business ratios used by financial analysts.

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Acquisition Costs

Acquisition costs are the incremental costs involved in obtaining a new customer.

Adaptive Firm

An adaptive firm is an organization that can respond to and address changes in their market, their environment, and/or their industry to better position themselves for survival and profitability.

To be adaptive, it’s smart to look at your business critically—and a tool like a SWOT analysis can be helpful here.

Adventure Capital

Adventure capital is capital needed in the earliest stages of the venture’s creation before the product or service is available to be provided.

Advertising Opportunity

A product or service may generate additional revenue through advertising if there is benefit from creating additional awareness, communicating differentiating attributes, hidden qualities, or benefits. Optimizing the opportunity may involve leveraging strong emotional buying motives and potential benefits.

An agent is a business entity that negotiates, purchases, and/or sells, but does not take title to the goods.

Asset Turnover

Asset turnover is sales divided by total assets . Important for comparison over time and to other companies of the same industry. This is a standard business ratio.

Assets are property that a business owns, including cash and receivables, inventory, and so on.

Assets are any possessions that have value in an exchange. The more formal definition is the entire property of a person, association, corporation, or estate applicable or subject to the payment of debts. What most people understand as business assets are cash and investments, accounts receivable, inventory, office equipment, plant and equipment, and so on.

Assets can be long-term or short-term, and the distinction between these two categories might be whether they last three years, five years, 10 years, or whatever; normally the accountants decide for each company and what’s important is consistency. The government also has a say in defining assets, because it has to do with tax treatment; when you buy a piece of equipment, if you call that purchase an expense then you can deduct it from taxable income.

If you call it an asset you can’t deduct it, but you can list it on your financial statement among the assets. The tax code controls how businesses decide to categorize spendings into assets or expenses.

Back End (Websites)

Back end and front end describe website program interfaces relative to the user.

The front end of your website is how it looks and how a user interacts with it: the graphic design and HTML portion—some people call this the user interface or UI.

In contrast, the back end handles the dynamic parts of the site, that your website visitors generally don’t see or interact with such as a newsletter, an administration page, a registration database, a contact page or more complicated web applications.

Your back end interfaces with your UI and makes your website work.

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is one of three essential parts that form the bedrock of a company’s financial statements: cash flow, balance sheet, and income statement.

The balance sheet is a snapshot of your company’s assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity at a specific point in time. It shows what a company owns (assets), what it owes (liabilities), and how much owners and shareholders have invested (equity).

A balance sheet always has to balance: Assets = Liabilities + Equity

For more, read our article here on Bplans that gives an overview of what a balance sheet is .

A benchmark is a standard or guideline used to compare some aspect of a business to some objective or external standard measure.

For example, when a banker compares a business’ profitability to standard financial ratios for that type of business, the process is sometimes referred to as “benchmarking.”

Industry benchmarks can tell you whether you are matching the profit margins of your peers, keeping too much inventory on hand, or getting paid faster or slower than others.

For more on small business financials, see The Key Elements of the Financial Plan .

Your company’s brand includes your business name, logo, sign, symbol, design, or a combination of all used to differentiate your goods or services from competitors.

Brand Equity

Brand equity is the added value a brand name identity brings to a product or service beyond the functional benefits provided. For example, Apple benefits from the fact that its brand name is a household name in smartphones and computers. Apple built a brand that seems fundamentally different from all other computers and smartphones.

Brand Extension Strategy

Brand extension strategy is the practice of using a current brand name to enter a new or different product class. An example of this is the ride-sharing company Uber’s foray into scooters and bike share.

Brand Recognition

Brand recognition refers to a customer’s ability to identify a brand based on its name, logo, colors, or other aspects of a marketing campaign.

Break-Even Analysis

A break-even analysis is used to assess the expected profitability of a company or a single product. It helps you determine at what point revenues and expenditures are equal.

Break-even is usually expressed in terms of the number of units you’ll need to sell or how much revenue you’ll need to generate.

The break-even analysis uses three assumptions to determine a break-even point: fixed costs, variable costs, and unit price. Fixed costs and variable costs are both included in this glossary, and unit price is the average revenue per unit of sales.

The formula for the break-even point in sales amount is: = fixed costs/(1-(Unit Variable Cost/Unit Price)).

The break-even analysis is often confused with the payback period (also in this glossary), because many people interpret breaking even as paying back the initial investment.

However, this is not what the break-even analysis actually does. Despite the common and more general use of the term “break even,” the financial analysis has an exact definition as explained above.

One important disadvantage of the break-even analysis is that it requires estimating a single per-unit variable cost, and a single per-unit price or revenue, for the entire business. That is a hard concept to estimate in a normal business that has a variety of products or services to sell.

Another problem that comes up with break-even is its preference for talking about sales and variable cost of sales in units. Many businesses, especially service businesses, don’t think of sales in units, but rather as sales in money. In those cases, the break-even analysis should think of the dollar as the unit, and state variable costs per unit as variable costs per dollar of sales.

Break-Even Point

The break-even point is the output of a standard break-even analysis. The unit sales volumes or actual sales amounts a company needs to equal its running expense rate and not lose or make money in a given month.

The formula for the break-even point in sales amount is: = Regular running costs/(1-(Unit Variable Cost/Unit Price)).

This should not be confused with the recovering initial investment through the regular operation of a business. That concept, often confused with break-even, is called the payback period.

For more detail on the subject, read: What Is Break Even Analysis?

A broker is an intermediary that serves as a go-between for the buyer or seller.

Check out our latest articles on law and taxes for more information on the legal side of setting up and managing your business.

Bundling is the practice of marketing two or more product or service items in a single package with one price.

Burden Rate

Burden rate refers to personnel burden, the sum of employer costs over and above salaries (including employer taxes, benefits, and so on).

Business Mission

A business mission is, also called a mission statement, is a brief description of an organization’s purpose with reference to its customers, products or services, markets, philosophy, and technology.

For more on your business mission, see How to Write a Mission Statement With 10 Examples

Business Plan

A business plan is a strategic roadmap for any new or growing business or startup venture. Formal business plans are generally required by bank lenders, angel investors, and venture capitalists if you’re seeking funding to grow your company. 

A business plan captures the opportunity see for your company: it describes your product or service and your business model, the target market you’ll serve. 

It also includes details on how you’ll execute your plan: how you’ll price and market your solution, and your financial projections.

Check out our full guide covering the basics of business plans .

Buy-Sell Agreement

A buy-sell agreement is an agreement designed to address situations in which one or more of the entrepreneurs want to sell their interest in the venture.

For more on exiting your business, check out our article on selling your business .

C Corporation (C Corp)

The C corporation is the classic legal entity of the vast majority of successful companies in the United States.

Most lawyers would agree that the C corporation is the structure that provides the best shielding from personal liability for owners, and provides the best non-tax benefits. This is a separate legal entity, different from its owners, which pays its own taxes.

Most lawyers would also probably agree that for a company that has ambitions of raising major investment capital and eventually going public, the C corporation is the standard legal entity.

Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR)

Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is the rate of return that would be required for an investment to grow from its beginning balance to its ending balance if you reinvest profits every year.

The standard formula for compound average growth rate is: (last number/first number)^(1/periods)-1

Cannibalization

Cannibalization is the undesirable tradeoff where sales of a new product or service decrease sales from existing products or services and minimize or detract from the total revenue.

Capital Assets

Capital assets are long-term assets, also known as fixed assets.

These terms are interchangeable. Assets are generally divided into short-term and long-term assets, the distinction depending on how long they last.

Usually, the difference between short-term and long term is a matter of accounting and financial policy. Five years is probably the most frequent division point, meaning that assets that depreciate over more than five years are long-term assets. Ten years and three years are also common.

Capital Expenditure

Spending on capital assets (also called plant and equipment, fixed assets, or long-term assets).

Capital Input

Capital input can also be called investment, or new investment. It is new money being invested in the business, not as loans or repayment of loans, but as money invested in ownership.

This is also money at risk. It will grow in value if the business prospers, and decline in value if the business declines. This is closely related to the concept of paid-in capital, on the balance sheet table. 

Paid-in capital is the amount of money actually invested in the business as money, checks written by investors. Paid-in capital increases only when there is new investment. It is different from retained earnings.

Cash normally means bills and coins, as in paying in cash.

However, the term is used in a business plan to represent the bank balance, or checking account balance.

For more on cash, check out our article on forecasting cash flow .

Cash basis means an accounting system that doesn’t use the standard accrual accounting. 

It records only cash receipts and cash spending, without assuming sales on credit (sales made on account; shipments against invoices to be paid later) or accounts payable (bills to be paid as part of the normal course of business).

ash flow measures how much money is moving into and out of your business during a specific period of time.

Businesses bring in money through sales, returns on investments, and from loans and investments—that’s cash flowing into the business.

And businesses spend money on supplies and services, as well as utilities, taxes, loan payments, and other bills—that’s cash flowing out.

Cash flow is measured by comparing how much money flows into a business during a certain period of time compared to how much money flows out of that business during that same period. Usually, cash flow is measured over the course of a month or a quarter.

Cash Flow Budget

A cash flow budget is a budget that provides an overview of cash inflows and outflows during a specified period of time.

This is often called the cash flow, or the cash budget. Just as cash flow is one of the most critical elements of business, the cash flow projection or table is one of the most critical elements of a business plan.

Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement is one of the three main financial statements (along with the income statement and balance sheet) that shows the financial position and health of a business.

The cash flow statement shows actual cash inflows and outflows of a business over a specified period of time, usually a month or a quarter. The statement then compares cash received to cash spending to determine if a business is cash flow negative or positive.

Cash sales are sales made in cash, with credit cards, or by check. The opposite of sales on credit (sales made on account; shipments against invoices to be paid later).

Cash Spending

Cash spending is money a business spends when it pays obligations immediately instead of letting them wait for a few days first.

Central Driving Forces Model

The central driving forces model is an entrepreneurial-based model that considers the positives and negatives of three areas of the venture; founder(s), opportunities, and resources. 

The model then evaluates these areas regarding the “fits and gaps” that indicate correlating strengths or weaknesses for the venture. The CDF model also considers industry and market information in the overall analysis.

Channel Conflicts

Channel conflicts refer to a situation where one or more channel members believe another channel member is engaged in behavior that is preventing it from achieving its goals. Channel conflict most often relates to pricing issues.

Channels of Distribution

Channels of distribution are the system where customers are provided access to an organization’s products or services.

Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate is a way of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign.

A click-through rate (CTR) is obtained by dividing the number of users who clicked on an ad on a webpage by the number of times the ad was delivered (impressions).

For example, if your banner ad was delivered 100 times (impressions delivered) and 1 person clicked on it (clicks recorded), then the resulting CTR would be 1%.

Co-Branding

Co-branding is the pairing of two manufacturer’s brand names on a single product or service.

Cost of Goods Sold

The cost of goods sold is traditionally the costs of materials and production of the goods a business sells.

For a manufacturing company this is materials, labor, and factory overhead. For a retail shop it would be what it pays to buy the goods that it sells to its customers.

For service businesses, that don’t sell goods, the same concept is normally called “cost of sales,” which shouldn’t be confused with “sales and marketing expenses.” The cost of sales in this case is directly analogous to cost of goods sold. 

For a consulting company, for example, the cost of sales would be the compensation paid to the consultants plus costs of research, photocopying, and production of reports and presentations.

In standard accounting, costs of sales or costs of goods sold are subtracted from sales to calculate gross margin. 

These costs are distinguished from operating expenses, because gross profit is gross margin less operating expenses. Costs are not expenses.

Collection Period (Days)

A collection period is the average number of days between delivering an invoice and receiving the money.

The formula is: =(Accounts_receivable_balance*360)/(Sales_on_credit*12)

In business, a commission is the compensation paid to the person or entity based on the sale of a product; commonly calculated on a percentage basis.

The most frequent commission formula is gross margin multiplied by the commission percentage.

Commission Percent

A commission percent is an assumed percentage used to calculate commission expense as the product of commission percent multiplied by sales, gross margin, or related sales items.

Community Interest Company (CIC)

A CIC is a new type of limited company in the United Kingdom, designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good.

CICs will be easy to set up, with all the flexibility and certainty of the company form, but with some special features to ensure they are working for the benefit of the community. This is achieved by a “community interest test” and “asset lock”, which ensure that the CIC is established for community purposes and the assets and profits are dedicated to these purposes.

Registration of a company as a CIC has to be approved by the regulator who also has a continuing monitoring and enforcement role.

Competitive Advantage

A competitive advantage is strategic development where customers will choose a firm’s product or service over its competitors based on significantly more favorable perceptions or offerings.

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis means assessing and analyzing the comparative strengths and weaknesses of competitors; may include their current and potential product and service development and marketing strategies.

Competitive Entry Wedges

Competitive entry wedges are strategic competitive advantages and justification for entering an established market or activity that provides recognizable and known value.

The four competitive entry wedges include:

  • New product or service
  • Parallel competition
  • Franchise entry

Completed Store Transactions

Completed store transactions refer to a conversion value measuring the number of purchases made on the website.

Concentrated Target Marketing

Concentrated target marketing is a process that occurs when a single target market segment is pursued.

Contribution

Contribution can have different meanings in different context.

When the contribution is applied to a product or product line, it means the difference between total sales revenue and total variable costs, or, on a per-unit basis, the difference between unit selling and the unit variable cost. It may be expressed in percentage terms (contribution margin) or dollar terms (contribution per unit).

Contribution Margin

Contribution is frequently expressed as contribution margin for a whole company or across a group or product line, in which case it can be taken as gross margin less sales and marketing expenses.

Conversion Rate

A conversion rate is the percentage of unique website visitors who take a desired action upon visiting the website.

The desired action may be submitting a sales lead, making a purchase, viewing a key page of the site, downloading a file, or some other measurable action.

Core Marketing Strategy

Core marketing strategy is a statement that communicates the predominant reason to buy to a specific target market.

Corporation

Corporations are either the standard C corporation, or the small business S corporation.

The C corporation is the classic legal entity of most successful companies in the United States. The S corporation is used for family companies and smaller ownership groups.

The clearest distinction from C is that the S corporation’s profits or losses go straight through to the S corporation’s owners, without being taxed separately first. 

In practical terms, this means that the corporation’s owners can take their profits home without first paying the corporation’s separate tax on profits. Profits are taxed once for the S owner, and twice for the C owner. The C corporation doesn’t send its profits home to its owners as much as the S corporation because it usually has different goals and objectives. It often wants to grow and go public, or it already is public.

In most states, an S corporation is owned by a limited number (25 is a common maximum) of private owners, and corporations can’t hold stock in S corporations, just individuals. Corporations can switch from C to S and back again, but not often. The IRS has strict rules for when and how those switches are made. 

You’ll almost always want to have your CPA and, in some cases, your attorney guide you through the legal requirements for switching.

Corridor Principal

The corridor principle is the principle where an entrepreneurial venture may find that it has significantly changed its focus from the initial concept of the venture as it has continually responded and adapted to its market and the desire to optimize profitability potential.

Cost of Sales

Cost of sales refers to the costs associated with producing the sales.

In a standard manufacturing or distribution company, this is the same as the cost of the goods sold. In a services company, this is more likely to be personnel costs for people delivering the service or subcontracting costs.

This term is commonly used interchangeably with “cost of goods sold,” particularly for a manufacturing, retail, distribution, or other product-based company. In these cases, it is traditionally the costs of materials and production of the goods a business sells.

For a manufacturing company, this is materials, labor, and factory overhead. 

For a retail shop, it would be what it pays to buy the goods that it sells to its customers. 

For service businesses that don’t sell goods, the concept is normally called “cost of sales,” which shouldn’t be confused with “sales and marketing expenses.” The cost of sales, in this case, is directly analogous to cost of goods sold.

In standard accounting, costs of sales or costs of goods sold are subtracted from sales to calculate gross margin. These costs are distinguished from operating expenses, because gross profit is gross margin less operating expenses. Costs are not expenses.

For more on costs of goods sold, see our article on the LivePlan blog: What Are Direct Costs?

Cross Elasticity of Demand

Cross elasticity of demand is the change in the quantity demanded of one product or service, impacting the change in demand for another product or service.

Current Assets

Current assets are the same as short-term assets.

Current Debt

Current debt refers to short-term debt and short-term liabilities.

Current Liabilities

Current liabilities refer to short-term debt and short-term liabilities.

Doing Business As (DBA)

DBA stands for “doing business as ,” which is a company name, also commonly called a “fictitious business name.”

When a sole proprietor operates a company using any name except his or her own given name, then the DBA or fictitious business name registration establishes the legal ownership to satisfy banks, local authorities, and customers.

So when you start the Acme Restaurant, unless you are named Acme, you need your DBA to open a bank account in that name, pay employees, and do business.

You can usually obtain this registration through the county government, and the cost is no more than a small registration fee plus a required newspaper ad, for a total of less than $100 in most states.

Debt and Equity

Debt and equity is the sum of liabilities and capital. This should always be equal to total assets.

Depreciation

Depreciation is an accounting and tax concept used to estimate the loss of value of assets over time. For example, cars depreciate with use.

Differentiated Target Marketing

Differentiated target marketing is a process that occurs when an organization simultaneously pursues several different market segments, usually with a different strategy for each.

Differentiation

Differentiation is an approach to create a competitive advantage based on obtaining a significant value difference that customers will appreciate and be willing to pay for, and which ideally will increase their loyalty as a result.

Direct Cost of Sales

Direct cost of sales is a shortcut for cost of goods sold: traditionally, the costs of materials and production of the goods a business sells, or the costs of fulfilling a service for a service business.

Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing is a form of direct marketing that involves sending information through a mail process, physical or electronic, to potential customers.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing refers to any method of distribution that gives the customer access to an organization’s products and services without intermediaries; also, any communication from the producer that communicates with a target market to generate a revenue producing response.

A directory is a computer term related to the operating system on IBM and compatible computers. Disk storage space is divided into directories.

Distinctive Competency

A distinctive competency is an organization’s strengths or qualities including skills, technologies, or resources that distinguish it from competitors to provide superior and unique customer value and, hopefully, is difficult to imitate.

Diversification

Diversification is a product-market strategy that involves the development or acquisition of offerings new to the organization and/or the introduction of those offerings to the target markets not previously served by the organization.

Dividends refers to money distributed to the owners of a business as profits.

Dual Distribution

Dual distribution is the practice of simultaneously distributing products or services through two or more marketing channels that may or may not compete for similar buyers.

Early Adopters

Early adopters are one type of adopter in Everett Rogers’ diffusion of innovations framework that describes buyers that follow “innovators” rather than be the first to purchase.

Early Majority

An early majority is one type of adopter in Everett Rogers’ diffusion of innovations framework that describes those interested in new technology that wait to purchase until these innovations are proven to perform to the expected standard.

Also called income or profits, earnings are the famous “bottom line”: sales less costs of sales and expenses.

Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT)

EBIT refers to earnings before interest and taxes.

Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA)

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (or EBITDA) is equal to the gross margin (the difference between total sales revenue and total direct cost of sales) minus total operating expenses (tax-deductible expenses incurred in conducting normal business operations, such as wages and salaries, rent, and so on), plus any depreciation (The loss of value of assets over time) and amortization.

This is similar to earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). The difference between the two is that EBIT subtracts all expenses, including depreciation, as an expense, and EBITDA subtracts all expenses except depreciation and amortization.

Economies of Scale

Economies of scale refers to the benefit that larger production volumes allow fixed costs to be spread over more units lowering the average unit costs and offering a competitive price and margin advantage.

Producing in large volume often generates economies of scale. The per-unit cost of something goes down with volume because vendors charge less per unit for larger orders, and often production techniques and facilities cost less per unit as volume increases. Fixed costs are spread over larger volume.

Effective Demand

Effective demand is when prospective buyers have the willingness and ability to purchase an organization’s offerings.

Effective Tax Rate

The effective tax rate is a comparison of final tax payments compared to actual profits. Usually the effective tax rate is somewhat less than the nominal tax rate because of deductions, credits, etc.

Entrepreneur in Heat (EIH)

The term “entrepreneur in heat” describes an entrepreneur that continues to develop new products and services beyond what the venture can support and inadvertently may diminish the focus and effectiveness of the activities supporting the venture’s primary revenue streams.

Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur is someone who starts a new business venture; someone who recognizes and pursues opportunities others may not see as clearly, and finds the resources necessary to accomplish his or her goals.

Equity is business ownership—capital. Equity can be calculated as the difference between assets and liabilities.

Equity Financing

Equity financing refers to the sales of some portion of ownership in a venture to gain additional capital for startup.

Evaluating Ideas and Opportunities

Evaluating ideas and opportunities is the process of considering ideas versus opportunities, and then screening those opportunities using objective criteria as well as personal criteria.

Everett Rogers

Everett Rogers is an author who studied and published work on the diffusion of innovation.

Exclusive Distribution

Exclusive distribution is a distribution strategy whereby a producer sells its products or services in only one retail outlet in a specific geographical area.

For the purposes of business accounting, expenses are deductible against taxable income. Common expenses are rent, salaries, advertising, travel, and so on.

Questions arise because some businesses have trouble distinguishing between expenses and purchase of assets, especially with development expenses. When your business purchases office equipment, if you call that an expense then you can deduct that amount from taxable income, so it reduces taxes.

Experience Curve

The experience curve is a visual representation, often based on a function of time, from exposure to a process that offers greater information and results in enhanced efficiency and operations advantage.

Features, Advantages, and Benefits (FAB)

A FAB analysis explores the features, advantages, and benefits of a product or service offering.

Marketing plans need to understand these concepts in order to develop effective marketing programs. People often confuse features and benefits; for example, in an automobile, air bags are a feature that produces the benefit of greater safety. 

Advantages fall in between, and features become advantages that offer benefits to the end user.

Failure Rule, Common Causes

Entrepreneurial ventures most often fail due to one or more of these four issues:

  • Inadequate sales (39%)
  • Competitive weaknesses (21%)
  • Excessive operating expenses (11%)
  • Uncollected receivables (9%)

Failure Rule, Exceptions to the Rule

Entrepreneurial ventures most often fail due to one (or more) of the following common issues: inadequate sales, competitive weaknesses, excessive operating expenses, and uncollected receivables.

Exceptions to the failure rule include:

  • High potential ventures
  • Threshold concept
  • Promise of growth
  • Venture capital backing

Fatal 2% Rule

The concept of the fatal 2% rule is that if a venture can just get “2%” of total market share it will be successful.

This percentage can be unattainable based on the approach, limited resources, and/or structure of the industry.

Fighting Brand Strategy

A fighting brand strategy is adding a new brand to confront competitive brands in an established product category.

First Mover

The first mover is a company that attempts to gain an unchallengeable, privileged market position by being the first to establish itself in a given market.

First Mover Advantage

Key first mover advantages include:

  • Reputation effect
  • Experience curve
  • Customer commitment and loyalty

First Mover Disadvantage

These factors can turn first-mover advantages into weaknesses. They include:

  • Resolution of technological uncertainty
  • Resolution of strategic uncertainty
  • Free-rider effect—others duplicate based on the leader’s success
  • Complementary assets to exploit core technological expertise

Fiscal Year

The fiscal year is a standard accounting practice allows the accounting year to begin in any month. Fiscal years are numbered according to the year in which they end. 

For example, a fiscal year ending in February of 2025 is Fiscal 2025, even though most of the year takes place in 2024.

Five Forces Model

Porter’s model considers these forces as they impact an industry and the overall competitive climate:

  • Risk of entry by potential competitors
  • Bargaining power of suppliers
  • Bargaining power of buyers
  • Threat of substitute products
  • Rivalry among established firms

Running costs that take time to wind down: usually rent, overhead, some salaries. Technically, fixed costs are those that the business would continue to pay even if it went bankrupt.

In practice, fixed costs are usually considered the running costs. These are static expenses that do not fluctuate with output volume and become progressively smaller per unit of output as volume increases.

Fixed costs are an important assumption for developing a break-even analysis. The standard break-even formula estimates a break-even point of sales based on per-unit price or revenue, per-unit variable costs, and fixed costs.

Fixed Liabilities

Fixed liabilities are debts—money that must be paid. Usually, debt on terms of longer than five years are fixed liabilities. Also called long-term liabilities.

Fixed liabilities, in contrast to floating liabilities, are secured by assets with a stable value, such as a building or a piece of equipment.

Floating Liabilities

Floating liabilities are debts—money that must be paid. Floating liabilities, in contrast to fixed liabilities, are secured by assets with a constantly changing value, such as a company’s accounts receivable (debtors). These are usually short-term loans.

Focus Group

A focus group refers to small groups of people, usually between nine and 12 in number, representing target audiences, that are brought together to discuss a topic that will offer insight for product development and/or marketing efforts.

Frequency Marketing

Frequency marketing refers to activities that encourage repeat purchasing through a formal program enrollment process to develop loyalty and commitment from the customer base. Frequency marketing is also referred to as loyalty programs.

Front End (Websites)

Front end and back end describe program interfaces relative to the user.

The front end, here, is the appearance of your website. It is the graphic design and HTML portion—some people call this the user interface or UI.

In contrast, the portion of the application you or your developers work with is the back end. The back end handles the dynamic parts of the site, such as a newsletter, an administration page, a registration database, a contact page, or more complicated web applications. Your back end interfaces with your UI and makes your website work.

Full-Cost Price Strategies

Full-cost price strategies are costs that consider variable cost and fixed cost (total cost) in the pricing of a product or service.

Future Value Projections

Future value projections refer to the process of projecting the future value of a venture and/or an investment in the venture. It typically considers an expected rate of return, inflation, and the period of time to assess future value.

Goodwill is when a company purchases another company for more than the value of its assets—which is quite common—the difference is recorded as an asset named “goodwill.”

This is not a general term for the value of a brand, for example, but a very specific accounting term.

For example, if one business buys another business for $1 million then it needs to show the $1 million spent as an asset. If there are only $500 thousand in real assets, the accounting result should be $500,000 in real assets purchased and another $500,000 in “goodwill.”

Gross Margin

Gross margin is the difference between total sales revenue and total cost of goods sold (also called total cost of sales). This can also be expressed on a per unit basis, as the difference between unit selling price and unit cost of goods sold. Gross margin can be expressed in dollar or percentage terms.

Gross Margin Percent

The gross margin percent is the gross margin divided by sales, displayed as a percentage. Acceptable levels depend on the nature of the business. There are providers who can deliver standard gross margins for different types of industries based on SIC (Standard Industry Classification) codes that categorize industries.

Guerrilla Marketing

The term guerrilla marketing comes from Conrad Levinson’s book Guerrilla Marketing, which refers to marketing via events and stimulated media coverage rather than paid advertisements.

Harvesting is most often referring to selling a business or product line, as when a company sells a product line or division or a family sells a business.

  • Impressions

An impression occurs each time an advertisement is seen by a potential customer. For example, in online marketing, an impression happens when an advertisement such as a banner ad loads on a user’s screen, whether for the first time, when returning to a page, or when the ad cycles through dynamically.

Income Statement

Also called profit and loss statement, an income statement is a financial statement that shows sales, cost of sales, gross margin, operating expenses, and profits or losses.

Gross margin is sales less cost of sales, and profit (or loss) is gross margin less operating expenses and taxes. The result is profit if it’s positive, loss if it’s negative.

Initial Public Offering (IPO)

An IPO is a corporation’s initial effort to raise capital through the sale of securities on the public stock market.

Innovation (Evolutionary or Revolutionary)

Innovation refers to the determination if an innovation is a “new and improved” concept taken to the next level (evolutionary), or the rare innovation that revolutionizes a technology or concept to the product or services.

Innovators refers to one type of adopter in Everett Rogers’ diffusion of innovations framework describing the first group to purchase a new product or service.

Integrated Marketing Communications

Integrated marketing communications is the practice of blending different elements of the communication mix in mutually reinforcing ways.

Intensive Distribution

Intensive distribution is a distribution strategy whereby a producer attempts to sell its products or services in as many retail outlets as possible within a geographical area without exclusivity.

Interest Expense

Interest expense is interest paid on debts, and interest expense is deducted from profits as expenses. Interest expense is either long-term or short-term interest.

Intraprenuership

Intrapreneurship refers to entrepreneurial-based activities within a corporation that receive organizational support and resource commitments for an innovative new business experience within the organization itself.

Inventory refers to goods in stock, either finished goods or materials used to manufacture goods.

Inventory Turnover

Inventory turnover is the total cost of sales divided by inventory. Usually calculated using the average inventory over an accounting period, not an ending-inventory value.

Inventory Turns

Also known as inventory turnover, inventory turns are the total cost of sales divided by inventory. Usually calculated using the average inventory over an accounting period, not an ending-inventory value.

A jobber is an intermediary that buys from producers to sell to retailers and offers various services with that function.

Labor, in this context, refers to the labor costs associated with making goods to be sold. This labor is part of the cost of sales, part of the manufacturing and assembly. The row heading refers to fulfillment costs as well, for service companies.

Laggards are one type of adopter in Everett Rogers’ diffusion of innovations framework describing the risk-averse group that follows the late majority that is generally not interested in new technology and are the last customers to buy.

Leveraged Buy Out (LBO)

A leveraged buy-out is a type of purchase of a business that relies heavily on the venture’s cash receipts with expectations of positive cash flow continuing based on historical or other performance indicators.

Liabilities

Liabilities are debts or money that must be paid. Usually, debt on terms of less than five years is called short-term liabilities, and debt for longer than five years is called long-term liabilities.

A life cycle is a model depicting the sales volume cycle of a single product, brand, service, or a class of products or services over time described in terms of the four phases of introduction, growth, maturity and decline.

Limited (Public) Company (AUS)

A public limited company is one where the right to transfer shares and the number of members is not limited. In addition, the company may invite the public to subscribe for its shares and, to deposit money with the company.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

The LLC form is different for different states, with some real advantages in some states that aren’t relevant in others.

An LLC is usually a lot like an S corporation, a combination of some limitation on legal liability and some favorable tax treatment for profits and transfer of assets. This is a newer form of legal entity, and often harder to establish than a corporation.

Why would you establish an LLC instead of a corporation? That’s a tough legal question, not one we can answer here. In general, the LLC has to be missing two of the four characteristics of a corporation (limited liability, centralized management, continuity of life, and free transferability of ownership interest). 

Still, with the advisability and advantages varying from state to state, here again, this is a question to take to a good local attorney with small business experience.

Limited Liability Partnership

A limited liability partnership is a form of business organization combining elements of partnerships and corporations, in which both managing and non-managing partners are protected from liability to some degree, and have a different tax liability than in a corporation. 

Although this form of business is available in the U.S., the U.K., and Japan, legal details of forming and operating such a company vary from one country to another, and by state within the U.S.

Long-Term Assets

Long-term assets are assets like plant and equipment that are depreciated over terms of more than five years, and are likely to last that long, too.

Long-Term Interest Rate

A long-term interest rate is the interest rate charged on long-term debt.

Long-Term Liabilities

Long-term liabilities are the same as long-term loans. Most companies call a debt long-term when it is on terms of five years or more.

Loss is an accounting concept, the exact opposite of profit, normally the bottom line of the income statement, which is also called profit or loss statement. 

Start with sales, subtract all costs of sales and all expenses, and that produces profit before tax. Subtract tax to get net profit. If the end result is negative, then instead of profit it is called loss.

Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are activities designed to encourage repeat purchasing through a formal program enrollment process and the distribution of benefits. Loyalty programs may also be referred to as frequency marketing.

Manufacturer’s Agent

A manufacturer’s agent is an agent who typically operates on an extended contractual basis, often sells in an exclusive territory, offers non-competing but related lines of goods, and has defined authority regarding prices and terms of sale.

A market refers to prospective buyers, individuals, or organizations, willing and able to purchase the organization’s potential offering.

Market Development Funds

Market development funds refer to the monetary resources a company invests to assist channel members increase volume sales of their products or services.

Market Development Strategy

A market development strategy is a product-market strategy whereby an organization introduces its offerings to markets other than those it is currently serving. In global marketing, this strategy can be implemented through exportation licensing, joint ventures, or direct investment.

Market Evolution

Market evolution refers to changes in primary demand for a product class and changes in technology.

Market Penetration Strategy

Market penetration is the amount that your business is able to sell a product or service to customers compared to the estimated total available market (TAM). 

This is a measurement that can help you define the serviceable available market (SAM), which is the portion you estimate that you can acquire. 

Additionally, it can serve as a baseline for developing a strategy to increase your service obtainable market (SOM), or the subset of customers that you can realistically acquire.

Market Plan

Often found within the business plan, the market plan provides details regarding the overall marketing strategy, pricing, sales tactics, service and warranty policies, advertising, promotion, and distribution plans for the venture.

Market Redefinition

Market redefinition refers to changes in the offering demanded by buyers or promoted by competitors to enhance its perception and associated sales.

Market Sales Potential

Market sales potential is the maximum level of sales that might be available to all organizations serving a defined market in a specific period.

Market Segmentation

Market segmentation is the categorization of potential buyers into groups based on common characteristics such as age, gender, income, and geography or other attributes relating to purchase or consumption behavior.

Market Share

Market share is the total sales of an organization divided by the sales of the market they serve.

Marketing refers to the set of planned activities designed to positively influence the perceptions and purchase choices of individuals and organizations.

Check out our guide on the different ways to market your business .

Marketing Audit

A marketing audit is a comprehensive and systematic examination of a company’s marketing environment, objectives, strategies, and activities with a view of identifying and understanding problem areas and opportunities and recommending a plan of action.

Marketing Mix

Marketing mix refers to the activities controllable by the organization. It includes the product, service, or idea offered, the manner in which the offering will be communicated to customers, the method for distributing or delivering the offering, and the price to be charged.

Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a written document containing descriptions and guidelines for an organization’s or a product’s marketing strategies, tactics, and programs for offering their products and services over the defined planning period, often one year.

Marketing Cost Analysis

Marketing cost analysis refers to assigning or allocating costs to a specified marketing activity or entity in a manner that accurately captures the financial contribution of activities or entities to the organization.

Materials are included in the cost of sales. These are materials involved in the assembly or manufacture of goods for sale.

Materials Included in Cost of Sales

These are materials involved in the assembly or manufacture of goods for sale.

Mission Statement

A mission statement is a statement that captures an organization’s purpose, customer orientation, and business philosophy.

Moving Weighted Average

Moving weighted average is a statistical method to forecast the future based on past results. It is a subset of time series analysis.

Multiple Channel System

A multiple-channel system is a channel of distribution that uses a combination of direct and indirect channels where the channel members serve different segments.

Net Cash Flow

Net cash flow is the projected change in cash position, an increase or decrease in cash balance.

Net Present Value (NPV)

Net present value is a method of discounting future income streams using an expected rate of return to evaluate the current value of expected earnings. It calculates future value in today’s dollars. NPV may be used to determine the current value of a business being offered for sale or capitalized.

Net profit is the operating income less taxes and interest. The same as earnings, or net income.

Net Profit Margin Before Taxes

Net profit margin before taxes is the remainder after cost of goods sold, other variable costs revenue, or simply, total revenue minus total cost. Net profit margin can be expressed in actual monetary values or percentage terms.

Net worth is the same as assets minus liabilities, and the same as total equity; other short-term assets. These might be securities, business equipment, and so on.

New Visitors

In online marketing, a new visitor is a website visitor who has not made any previous visits to the site or page in question.

New Brand Strategy

New brand strategy is the development of a new brand and often a new offering for a product class that has not been previously served by the organization.

Newsletter Subscriptions

In online marketing, newsletter subscription is a conversion value measuring the number of users who voluntarily include themselves in your database and are willing to accept unsolicited emails from you.

Not Invented Here (NIH)

Not invented here is a negative response to innovations and inventions from sources outside the venture’s own research and development activities.

Obligations Incurred

Obligations incurred are business costs or expenses that need to be paid, but wait for a time as accounts payable (in other words, bills to be paid as part of the normal course of business) instead of being paid immediately.

An offering is the total benefits or satisfaction provided to target markets by an organization. An offering consists of a tangible product or service plus related services such as installation, repair, warranties or guarantees, packaging, technical support, field support, and other services.

Offering Mix or Portfolio

An offering mix is an organization’s offerings, including all products and services.

On-costs are labor costs in addition to salaries and wages; that is, payroll tax, workers’ compensation, and other liability insurance, subsidized services to employees, training costs, and so on.

Operating Expenses

Operating expenses are expenses incurred in conducting normal business operations. Operating expenses may include wages, salaries, administrative and research and development costs, but excludes interest, depreciation, and taxes.

Operating Leverage

Operating leverage is the extent to which fixed costs and variable costs are used in the production and marketing of products and services.

Operations Control

Operations control is assessing how well an organization performs marketing activities as it seeks to achieve planned outcomes.

Opportunity Analysis

Opportunity analysis identifies and explores revenue enhancement or expense reduction situations to better position the organization to realize increased profitability, efficiencies, market potential, or other desirable objectives.

Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost refers to the resource use options given up due to pursuing one activity among several possibilities. Potential benefits foregone as a result of choosing an alternative course of action.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

An original equipment manufacturer is the process that is facilitated through licensing or other financial arrangements where the initial producer of a product or service agrees to allow another entity to include, remanufacture, or label products or services under their name and sell through their distribution channels.

It typically results in a “higher volume, lower margin” relationship for the original producer. It offers access to a broader range of products and services the buyer can offer their consumers at more attractive costs.

Other Short-Term Liabilities

Other short-term liabilities are short-term debts that don’t cause interest expenses. For example, they might be loans from founders or accrued taxes (taxes owed, already incurred, but not yet paid).

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is purchasing an item or a service from an outside vendor to replace the performance of the task with an organization’s internal operations.

In online marketing, a request for a file whose type is defined as a page in log analysis. This is generally what people mean when they talk about webpage hits, but is a more accurate way of tracking this metric because of the way log analysis works.

A single pageview (one visitor looking at one page) may generate multiple hits in log analysis, as all the resources required to view the page (images, .js, and .css files) are also requested from the web server.

Paid-In Capital

Paid-in capital is real money paid into the company as investments. This is not to be confused with the par value of stock, or market value of stock. This is actual money to the company as equity investments by owners.

Partnership

Partnerships are hard to describe because they change so much. State laws govern them, but the Uniform Partnership Act has become the law in most states. That act, however, mostly sets the specific partnership agreement as the real legal core of the partnership, so the legal details can vary widely.

Usually, the income or loss from partnerships passes through to the partners without any partnership tax. The agreements can define different levels of risk, which is why you’ll read about some partnerships with general and limited partners, with different levels of risk for each. The agreement should also define what happens if a partner withdraws, buy and sell arrangements for partners, and liquidation arrangements if that becomes necessary.

If you think a partnership might work for your business, do this right. Find an attorney with experience in partnerships, and check for references of present and past clients. This is a complicated area, and a mistake in the agreement will cause a lot of problems.

Payables is short for account payables—bills to be paid as part of the normal course of business. This is a standard accounting term, one of the most common liabilities, which normally appears in the balance sheet listing of liabilities.

Businesses receive goods or services from a supplier, receive an invoice, and until that invoice is paid the amount is recorded as part of “accounts payable.”

Payback Period

A payback period is the number of years an organization requires to recapture an initial investment. This may apply to an entire business operation or an individual project.

Payment Days

Payment days are the average number of days that pass between receiving an invoice and paying it.

It is not a simple estimate; it is calculated with a financial formula: =(Accounts_payable_balance*360)/(Total entries to accounts payable*12)

Payment Delay

Payment delay is the number of days on average a business waits between receiving a bill and paying a bill. Also called payment days.

Payroll refers to wages, salaries, or employee compensation.

Payroll Burden

Payroll burden includes payroll taxes and benefits. It is calculated using a percentage assumption that is applied to payroll.

For example, if payroll is $1,000 and the burden rate is 10 percent, the burden is an extra $100. Acceptable payroll burden rates vary by market, industry, and company.

Penetration Pricing Strategy

Penetration pricing strategy refers to setting a relatively low initial price for a new product or service.

Perceived Risk

Perceived risk is the extent to which a customer or client is uncertain about the consequences of an action, often relating to purchase decisions.

Perceptual Map

A perceptual map is a two or three-dimensional illustration of a customer’s perceptions of competing products comparing select attributes based on market research.

Personal Selling

Personal selling is the use of face-to-face communication between the seller and buyer.

PEST analysis

PEST is a popular framework for situation analysis, looking at political, economic, and social trends. Analyzing these factors can help generate marketing ideas, product ideas, and so on.

Plant and Equipment

Plant and equipment is the same as long-term, fixed, or capital assets. These are generally assets that are depreciated over terms of more than five years, and are likely to last that long, too.

Point of Purchase Advertising (POP)

Point of purchase advertising is a retail in-store presentation that displays product and communicates information to retail consumers at the place of purchase.

A portfolio is the complete array of an organization’s offerings including all products and services. Also called an offering mix.

Positioning

Positioning refers to orchestrating an organization’s offering and image to occupy a unique and valued place in the customer’s mind relative to competitive offerings. A product or service can be positioned on the basis of an attribute or benefit, use or application, user, class, price, or quality.

Premiums refers to a product-oriented promotion that offers some free or reduced-price item contingent on the purchase of advertised or featured merchandise or service.

Price Elasticity of Demand

Price elasticity of demand is the change in demand relative to a change in price for a product or service.

Privately Owned

A company whose shares are not publicly traded on a stock market. Such companies usually have less restrictive reporting requirements than publicly traded companies. A company that is not owned by the government (state-owned).

Pro Forma Income Statement

A pro forma income statement is a projected income statement. Pro forma in this context means projected. An income statement is the same as a profit and loss statement, a financial statement that shows sales, cost of sales, gross margin, operating expenses, and profits.

Pro Forma Statements

The term “pro forma” in front of any financial statement primarily serves to label that version of the statement as not adhering to the strict “generally accepted accounting principles” (GAAP) standards that all publicly-traded companies must use to produce their financial statements.

Major corporations use pro forma statements to illustrate projected numbers, like in the case of a merger or acquisition, or to emphasize certain current figures.

GAAP standards don’t apply to small businesses, so you don’t really need to worry about distinguishing your financial statements as “pro forma” or not—everyone you show them to expects that they’re not GAAP-compliant. But if you want to be technically correct in your terminology, go ahead and call your financial statements “pro forma.”

Product Definition

A product definition is a stage in a new product development process in which concepts are translated into actual products for additional testing based on interactions with customers. 

Product Development

Product development refers to expenses incurred in the development of new products (salaries, laboratory equipment, test equipment, prototypes, research and development, and so on).

Product Development Strategy

A product development strategy is a product-market strategy whereby an organization creates new offerings for existing markets innovation, product augmentation, or product line extensions.

Product Life Cycle (PLC)

Product life cycle refers to the phases of the sales projections or history of a product or service category over time used to assist with marketing mix decisions and strategic options available.

The four stages of the product life cycle include introduction, growth, maturity, and decline, and typically follow a predictable pattern based on sales volume over a period of time.

Product Line

A product line is a group of closely related products with similar attributes or target markets.

Product Line Pricing

Product line pricing refers to the setting of prices for all items in a product line involving the lowest-priced product price, the highest-priced product, and price differentials for all other products in the line.

Profit is an accounting concept, normally the bottom line of the income statement, which is also called profit or loss statement. Start with sales, subtract all costs of sales and all expenses, and that produces profit before tax. Subtract tax to get net profit.

Profit Before Interest and Taxes

Profit before interest and taxes is also called EBIT, for Earnings Before Interest and Taxes. It is gross margin minus operating expenses.

Profit or Loss

Also called profit and loss statement, a profit or loss statement is an income statement is a financial statement that shows sales, cost of sales, gross margin, operating expenses, and profits or losses. 

Proprietary (Private) Limited Company

A Proprietary Limited Company (often abbreviated as “Pty Ltd”) is a private company, in which the right to transfer shares is restricted and the number of members is limited to no more than fifty.

In addition, the company is prohibited from inviting the public to subscribe for its shares and, from inviting the public to deposit money with the company.

Public Relations

Public relations refers to communications often in the form of news distributed in a non-personal form which may include newspaper, magazine, radio, television, internet, or other form of media for which the sponsoring organization does not pay a fee.

Publicly Traded

Publicly traded means a company owned by shareholders who are members of the general public and trade shares publicly, as on the stock market.

Pull Communication Strategy

A pull communication strategy creates interest among potential buyers, who demand the offering from intermediaries, ultimately “pulling” the offering through the channel.

Push Communication Strategy

A push communication strategy is the practice of “pushing” an offering through a marketing channel in a sequential fashion, with each channel focusing on a distinct target market.

The principal emphasis is on personal selling and trade promotions directed toward wholesalers and retailers. 

Questionable Costs

Questionable costs are costs that may be considered as variable or as fixed costs, depending on the specifics of the situation.

Receivables

Short for account receivables, this refers to debts owed to your company, usually from sales on credit. Accounts receivable is a business asset, the sum of the money owed to you by customers who haven’t paid.

The standard procedure in business-to-business sales is that when goods or services are delivered, they come with an invoice, which is to be paid later. Business customers expect to be invoiced and to pay later. The money involved goes onto the seller’s books as accounts receivable and the buyer’s books as accounts payable.

Receivables Turnover

Receivables turnover refers to sales on credit for an accounting period divided by the average accounts receivables balance.

Regional Marketing

Regional marketing is the practice of using different marketing mixes to accommodate unique preferences and competitive conditions in different geographical areas.

Relevant Cost

Relevant cost refers to expenditures that are expected to occur in the future as a result of some marketing action and differ among other potential marketing alternatives.

Repositioning

Repositioning is the process of strategically changing the perceptions surrounding a product or service.

Resource Requirements (Websites)

Your resource requirements are the personnel, time, space, and equipment necessary to create and maintain your website. Remember that a website is never done—it will always require resources, some of which will be used to create new content periodically.

Retained Earnings

Retained earnings are earnings (or losses) that have been reinvested into the company, not paid out as dividends to the owners. When retained earnings are negative, the company has accumulated losses.

Return on Assets

Return on assets is your net profits divided by total assets. It is a measure of profitability.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on investment, or ROI is your net profits divided by net worth or total equity. It’s another measure of profitability.

Return on Sales

Return on sales is net profits divided by sales. It’s another measure of profitability.

Return Visitors

In online marketing, a website visitor who has made at least one previous visit to the site or page in question is considered a return visitor.

Rich-Gumpert Evaluation System

The Rich-Gumpert evaluation system is a method of analysis that associates a numeric value between 1 and 4 regarding the spectrums of product development and the entrepreneur and management team.

S Corporation (S Corp)

The C corporation is the classic legal entity of the vast majority of successful companies in the United States. Most lawyers would agree that the C corporation is the structure that provides the best shielding from personal liability for owners, and provides the best non-tax benefits to owers. This is a separate legal entity, different from its owners, which pays its own taxes.

Most lawyers would also probably agree that for a company that has ambitions of raising major investment capital and eventually going public, the C corporation is the standard form of legal entity. The S corporation is used for family companies and smaller ownership groups. The clearest distinction from C is that the S corporation’s profits or losses go straight through to the S corporation’s owners, without being taxed separately first.

In practical terms, this means that the owners of the corporation can take their profits home without first paying the corporation’s separate tax on profits, so those profits are taxed once for the S owner, and twice for the C owner. In practical terms the C corporation doesn’t send its profits home to its owners as much as the S corporation does, because it usually has different goals and objectives. It often wants to grow and go public, or it already is public. In most states an S corporation is owned by a limited number (25 is a common maximum) of private owners, and corporations can’t hold stock in S corporations, just individuals.

Corporations can switch from C to S and back again, but not often. The IRS has strict rules for when and how those switches are made. You’ll almost always want to have your CPA and in some cases your attorney guide you through the legal requirements for switching.

Sales Break Even

Sales break-even is the sales volume at which costs are exactly equal to sales.

The exact formula is =Fixed_costs/(1-(Unit_Variable_Cost/Unit_Price))

Sales Forecast

A sales forecast is the level of sales a single organization expects to achieve based on a chosen marketing strategy and assumed competitive environment.

Sales on Credit

Sales on credit are sales made on account; shipments against invoices to be paid later.

Scrambled Merchandising

Scrambled merchandising is the practice by wholesalers and retailers that carry an increasingly wider assortment of merchandise.

Seed Capital

Seed capital is investment contributed at a very early stage of a new venture, usually in relatively small amounts. It comes even before what they call “first round” venture capital.

How much is that “relatively small amount?” Some high-end high-tech ventures in the heart of Silicon Valley call an investment of $500K seed capital, and other ventures that called $35K investment seed capital, and the following $300K investment the first round. It depends on the point of view.

Selective Distribution

Selective distribution is a strategy where a producer sells its products or services in a few exclusively chosen retail outlets in a specific geographical area.

Selling Approaches

Selling approaches are potential selling resources based on the sales value and the distribution of the product.

Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)

SCORE is a no-cost consulting and resources service offered through the Small Business Administration.

Shareholders

Shareholders are individuals or companies that legally own one or more shares of stock in a company.

Short-term is normally used to distinguish between short-term and long-term, when referring to assets or liabilities. Definitions vary because different companies and accountants handle this in different ways.

Accounts payable is always a short-term liability, and cash, accounts receivable and inventory are always short-term assets. Most companies call any debt of less than five-year terms short-term debt. Assets that depreciate over more than five years (e.g., plant and equipment) are usually long-term assets.

Short-Term Assets

Short-term assets are cash, securities, bank accounts, accounts receivable, inventory, business equipment, assets that last less than five years or are depreciated over terms of less than five years. Also called current assets.

Short-Term Notes

Short-term notes are the same as short-term loans. These are debts with terms of five years or less.

Short-Term Liabilities

Short-term liabilities are debts with terms of five years or less. These are also called current liabilities, short-term loans, or short-term (current) debts. These may also include short-term debts that don’t cause interest expenses.

For example, they might be loans from founders or accrued taxes (taxes owed, already incurred, but not yet paid).

Simple Linear Regression

Simple linear regression is a linear correlation that offers a straight-line projection based on the variables considered.

Situation Analysis

A situation analysis is the assessment of operations to determine the reasons for the gap between what was or is expected, and what has happened or will happen.

Skimming Pricing Strategy

Skimming pricing strategy refers to setting a relatively high initial price for a new product or service when there is a strong price-perceived quality relationship that targets early adopters who are price insensitive. The price may be lowered over time.

Slotting Allowances

Slotting allowances are payments to store chains for acquiring and maintaining shelf space.

Small Business Investment Council (SBIC)

The SBIC is a division of the Small Business Administration that offers “venture capital-like” resources to higher-risk businesses seeking capital.

Sole Proprietorship

The simplest business structure is the sole proprietorship. Simply put, your business is a sole proprietorship if you don’t create a separate legal entity for it.

This is true whether you operate it in your own name, or under a trade name. If it isn’t your own name, then you register a company name as a “Fictitious business name,” also called a DBA (“Doing Business As”).

Depending on your state, you can usually obtain this through the county government, and the cost is no more than a small registration fee plus a required newspaper ad, for a total of less than $100 in most states.

Sole Trader

A sole trader is the easiest and quickest form of corporation for a small, privately-owned business. Your Memorandum and Articles of Association are usually fairly straightforward to obtain, and your taxes will be lower than those of a public company.

However, the owner of a sole trader is personally liable for all of its actions and debts, and may not be entitled to benefits, like unemployment payments, that would accrue to those running public companies.

Starting Date

Starting date refers to the starting date for the entire business plan.

Goods on hand, either finished goods or materials to be used to manufacture goods. Also called inventory.

Stock can also refer to privately held or publicly traded shares or securities representing an investment in, or partial ownership of, a business. Public trading of such stock occurs on the stock market.

Stock Market

The stock market is the organized trading of stocks, bonds, or other securities, or the place where such trading occurs.

Stock Turnover

Stock turnover is the total cost of sales divided by inventory (materials or goods on hand). Usually calculated using the average inventory over an accounting period, not an ending-inventory value. Also called inventory turnover.

Strategic Control

Strategic control is the practice of assessing the direction of the organization as evidenced by its implicit or explicit goals, objectives, strategies, and capacity to perform in the context of changing environmental and competitive actions.

Strategic Marketing Management

Strategic marketing management is the planned process of defining the organization’s business, mission, and goals; identifying and framing organizational opportunities; formulating product-market strategies, budgeting marketing, financial, and production resources; developing reformulation.

Success Factors

Primary success factors include considerations regarding:

  • The choice of business based on the status of the market
  • Education and experience
  • People and collaboration
  • Creativity and innovation versus business skills and networks
  • Incubation potential
  • Leveraging available resources
  • Management practices

Success Requirements

Success requirements are the basic tasks that must be performed by an organization in a market or industry to compete successfully.

Sunk cost refers to past expenditures for a given activity that are typically irrelevant in whole or in part to future decisions. The “sunk cost fallacy” is an attempt to recoup spent dollars by spending still more dollars in the future.

Surplus or Deficit

Surplus or deficit is a term used by nonprofits. It’s also called profit and loss statement or an income statement in for-profit plans.

An income statement is a financial statement that shows funding, cost of funding, gross surplus, operating expenses, and surplus or deficit. Gross surplus is funding less cost of funding, and surplus (or deficit) is gross surplus less operating expenses and taxes. The result is surplus if it is positive, a deficit if it is negative.

Switching Costs

Switching costs are the costs incurred in changing from one provider of a product or service to another. Switching costs may be tangible or intangible costs incurred due to the change of this source.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a formal framework of identifying and framing organizational growth opportunities. SWOT is an acronym for an organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.

Systematic Innovation

Systematic innovation is innovation resulting from an intentional and organized process to evaluate opportunities to introduce change, based on a definition provided by Peter Drucker. The sources of innovation may be internal or external to the enterprise.

Tactics are a collection of tools, activities and business decisions required to implement a strategy.

Target Market

A target market is a defined segment of the market that is the strategic focus of a business or a marketing plan. Normally the members of this segment possess common characteristics and a relative high propensity to purchase a particular product or service. 

Because of this, the member of this segment represent the greatest potential for sales volume and frequency. The target market is often defined in terms of geographic, demographic, and psychographic characteristics.

Target Marketing

Target marketing is the process of marketing to a specific market segment or multiple segments. Differentiated target marketing occurs when an organization simultaneously pursues several different market segments, usually with a different strategy for each. 

Concentrated target marketing occurs when a single market segment is pursued.

Tax Rate Percent

Tax rate percent is an assumed percentage applied against pre-tax income to determine taxes.

Taxes Incurred

Taxes incurred are taxes that are owed but not yet paid.

Telemarketing

Telemarketing is a form of direct marketing that uses the telephone to reach potential customers.

Trade Margin

Trade margin is the difference between unit sales price and unit cost and each level of a marketing channel usually expressed in percentage terms.

Trading Down

Trading down is the process of reducing the number of features or quality of an offering to realize a lower purchase price.

Trading up is the practice of improving an offering by adding new features and higher quality materials or adding products or services to increase the purchase price.

In broad, general terms, traffic is the number of visitors and visits a website receives.

Types of Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs may be categorized into eleven areas, including:

  • Solo self-employed individuals
  • Team builders
  • Independent innovators
  • Pattern multipliers
  • Economy of scale exploiters
  • Capital aggregators
  • Buy-sell artists
  • Conglomerates
  • Speculators
  • Apparent value manipulators

User Interface (UI)

User interface is the graphic design and appearance of a website, its function as seen and used by the person on the user end, at the website in a browser.

The UI of a website is ultimately how it lets users know what it has to offer them. If it lacks an easy navigation scheme users get lost, and never find the information on a site.

Unique User Sessions

In online marketing, unique user sessions is a website metric tracking the number of uniquely identified clients generating requests on the web server (log analysis) or viewing pages (page tagging). A visitor can make multiple visits.

Unit Variable Cost

Unit variable cost is the specific labor and materials associated with a single unit of goods sold. Does not include general overhead.

Units Break-Even

Units break-even refers to the unit sales volume at which the fixed and variable costs are exactly equal to sales. 

The formula is UBE=Fixed_costs/(Unit_Price-Unit_Variable_Cost)

Unpaid Expenses

Unpaid expenses are money owed to vendors for expenses incurred, but not yet paid. In bookkeeping and accounting, this is called accounts payable. A simple example would be the advertising expense from advertising that has already run but not yet been paid for by the advertiser.

User Benefits

User benefits refer to understanding and appreciating the base reason an individual purchases a product or service that may not directly correlate with the feature or function of the good or service. These benefits may be intangible.

User Registrations

In online marketing, user registrations is a conversion value measuring the number of website visitors who voluntarily include themselves in your database in order to access the content you provide on your website.

Used as a noun, valuation is what a business is worth, as in, “this company’s valuation is $10 million.”

This would mean that a company is valued at $10 million, or worth $10 million. The term is used most often for discussions of sale or purchase of a company; it’s valuation is the price of a share times the number of shares outstanding, and the price of a share is the total valuation divided by the number of shares outstanding.

Value is the ratio of perceived benefits compared to price for a product or service.

Variable Cost

Variable costs are costs that fluctuate in direct proportion to the volume of units produced. The best and most obvious example are physical costs of goods sold, direct costs, such as materials, products purchased for resale, production costs and overhead, etc.

The concept of variable cost is an important component of risk in a company. Generally, variable costs are less risky than fixed costs, because variable costs are not incurred unless there are sales and production. See also break-even analysis, fixed costs, and contribution.

For more on this, check out What Is Break-Even Analysis?

Variance is a calculation of the difference between plan and actual results, used by analysts to manage and track the impact of planning and budgeting.

Venture Capitalists (VC)

Venture capitalists are thought of in two ways, first, some people think of any wealthy individual who invests in young companies as a venture capitalist. Second, among the more informed investors, analysts, and entrepreneurs, a venture capitalist is a manager of a mainstream venture capital fund.

Venture Capital

Venture capital nowadays is used two ways. First, people often take venture capital as any investment capital obtained through private investment or public investment funds directed to high-risk and high-potential enterprises. 

Second, within the more informed and sophisticated business circles, venture capital is defined more narrowly as investment money coming from the mainstream venture capital firms, a few hundred major firms, different from investment money from other private investors, angels, etc.

A website (or site) is a virtual location, identified and located by a URL (uniform resource locator), an address that can lead you to a file on any connected machine anywhere in the world.

Website Metrics

In online marketing, website metrics metrics are measurement tools used to evaluate how effectively a website is marketing a business.

These can include:

  • Unique user sessions
  • New visitors
  • Return visitors
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate

Website Traffic

In broad, general terms, website traffic is the number of visitors and visits a website receives. This traffic can be measured by a variety of website metrics.

A wholesaler is a channel member that purchases from the producer and supplies to the retailer and primarily performs the function of physical distribution and amassing inventory for rapid delivery.

Working Capital

The accessible resources needed to support the day-to-day operations of an organization.

Working capital is commonly in the form of cash and current (short-term) assets, including accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, accounts payable for goods and services, and current unpaid income taxes.

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

Content Author: Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.

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the concept of business plan

the concept of business plan

Basic Concept of Business Plan

Basic Concept of Business Plan

Definition & Introduction:

A business plan is considered to be an important device for any business. It is a document in writing which illustrates in detail the nature, objectives and financial position of a business, particularly a new one and the way it will achieve its objectives. A business plan can also be prepared for an established business which is changing its area of operation or applying for a business loan or funding request.

Types of Business Plan:

Business plans can be basically of two types :

Formal Business Plan: A detailed document mainly prepared for the purpose of ensuring outside finance for the business.

Informal Business Plan: A rough plan which may contain hand-written notes helping the owners in the daily functioning of a business and planning for expansions.

Basic Components of a Business Plan:

A formal business plan should state that the business will produce sufficient revenue to meet up the expenses and will generate a mentionable profit for the investors. The basic components of a business plan are briefly discussed below.

Executive Summary: It focuses on the objectives of the plan and the selling proposition in less than two pages.

Summary of the Company: It provides an accurate illustration of the company, its ownership, and the historical background.

Products or Services: This part gives a brief description of the products and/ or services and their merits or strengths.

Analysis of the Market: It gives a summary of the existing customers, market size, competitive landscape and probable growth of the market.

Marketing Strategy and Implementation: This section explains the marketing strategy of the products and/ services and its implementation and future possibilities.

Summary of the Management: This part briefly summarizes the background, experiences and key achievements of the management team.

Financial Projections: This section consists of financial statements such as balance sheets, income statements, cash-flow statements and funding request (if required).

Objectives of a Successful Business Plan:

A successful business plan has the following objectives:

  • Providing a clear business concept written in an understandable and precise language.
  • The business plan should have a logical structure.
  • Explaining the management’s capability to achieve success.
  • Showing profitability so that investors will be interested to invest in the business.

Ways of Creating a Business Plan:

A business plan can be created by following any of the following ways:

Appointing a Professional:

You can appoint or hire a qualified professional consultant who will prepare a business plan for your business. You still have to understand the plan properly and have to modify it if necessary. You have to discuss with the consultant about it and make sure that the plan clearly defines your business concept.

Buying or Downloading a Book:

There are various good books available in the market or online from where you can buy one or download some. You can get a good idea of creating a good business plan from there.

Using Business Planning Software:

Nowadays different business planning software is available. You can select a suitable business planning software package which will provide you the format of a well and professional business plan which will save your time and energy.

Merits of Creating a Business Plan:

Creating a business plan serves a business with the following merits:

  • Provides assistance while applying for a business loan.
  • Helps in raising equity funding.
  • Sets and defines objectives and design program to attain those objectives.
  • Provides a scope for regular modification of the plan and business review.
  • Clarifies agreements between partners (if any).
  • Defines the value or principle of a business for sale or legal processes.
  • Analyze the scope for promotion and expansion of the existing business.

A business plan should be dynamic in a sense that it will grow and change with the growth of the business as well as with the requirement of time and technology. An effective business plan and its proper implementation can lead a business to the success. So a business owner should be very careful while creating a business plan that it properly defines its objectives and effectively helps to achieve those.

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How to Start Your Own Small Business?

M any people try their luck in business. This industry is enormous and offers a wide range of options for development. Many smart people can start their small businesses without being educated. There are multiple ways to enjoy success in this industry.

For example, you may use the assistance of the small business management software . It can control and carry out various processes. Of course, you need more than simply using smart technology. Thus, the experts from Vcita have prepared this comprehensive guide. It highlights the most effective tips to start your small business.

Determine Your Business Concept

The first task is to figure out what exactly you want to do. You may have plenty of ideas. Refine them to define the best option for you. It’s necessary to ask definite questions, such as:

  • What do you like?
  • What do you hate? (to avoid this niche)
  • Is there anything that can make things run easier?
  • What are your best skills?
  • What spheres are you good at?
  • Is there something you always wanted to do?

Ask these questions to define the best business concept for you. For example, you may sell service based business ideas . This is a vast branch of business. It includes a skilled service or person, expertise, or a physical product. So, you will surely have a lot of interesting perspectives. Here are some of the most popular concepts you can start:

  • Online writing
  • Photography
  • Landscaping
  • Vending machine business, etc.

Of course, you can choose other ideas too.

Conduct Marketing Research

Although you may find a standpoint that seems to be perfect, don’t haste! Your idea may have little chance of success. You need to carry out marketing research to find it out. Your main goal is to find out how perspective the selected niche can be.

To enjoy success with this task, undertake several steps. Make allowances for them here below:

  • Primary research. This method uses the opinion of your direct customers. It takes the forms of questionnaires, surveys, polls, or interviews. You ask potential customers to get honest and direct answers.
  • Secondary research. This method involves ways of finding, studying, and analyzing data from various sources.
  • A SWOT analysis. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are behind the abbreviation. It helps to find out all the pros and cons, potential benefits and drawbacks in the direction.

Remark! Do not forget to study your direct competitors. It’s vital to learn from their successful cases. Yet, you can learn from their failures too. You will understand what mistakes you can avoid.

Have a Business Plan

Once you have the direction and data, create a business plan . This is the core of your campaign and future business. It includes important peculiarities you must check and follow. These are as follows:

  • Executive summary. It highlights your business, and what you propose, and outlines the goals of your company.
  • Company description. This one clarifies the issues your product or service can solve. It also convinces your customers that what you offer is the best for them.
  • Market analysis. This point states how you stand against your competitors. It should include all possible positions. It includes segmentation analysis, market size, growth rate, and so on.
  • Organization and structure. This section outlines your risk strategies and what experts you need to make things run.
  • Mission and aims. This one states your mission, outlines the main wishes, and how you can achieve them.
  • What do you sell? You should outline the product or service you’re selling. Discover its main benefits and values.
  • Background summary. A comprehensive analysis of all possible factors that may impact your business.
  • Marketing plan. This section determines the main characteristics of your product or service. You need to add to it strategies of promotion, comparison with competitors, budget, etc.
  • Finance plan. This section shows how much money you need to run your business. It also includes hidden expenses.

Make sure all these sections are written properly!

Choose the Structure

Think of a structure your business will acquire. An LLC, LLP, corporation, or sole proprietorship are there. Each comes with its pros and cons. Pay attention to how many taxes will be charged. Besides, what your daily operations will be, and if your employees are put at risk.

Choose the Name and Register It

You should choose the name of your business. Make sure it is unique and no one else uses the same name. Register it according to the laws of your region to make it legal.

Open a Bank Account

You need to bring your finances to order. You surely require the capital that can guarantee that your company can be launched. Or, it can survive the competition. To ensure that, open a bank account. If you don’t have enough funds, you can borrow them.

It may be necessary to hire a bookkeeper. A professional expert will help to maintain your budget to use it wisely. An alternative solution is to use good software.

Use Technology

Don’t forget that technology is your friend. If you use it properly, it will surely provide a lot of benefits for your small business. A lot of apps and software provide tips, and examples, comprehensive analysis. Here are the best ones that suit small business:

Look for other tools if you need something else.

Fund Your Business

You surely have to find money to launch your business. There are various ways of getting the required money. People divide them into internal and external funds.

Internal funding:

  • Personal savings
  • Credit cards
  • Funds from friends and family

External funding includes:

  • Small business loans
  • Small business grants
  • Angel investors
  • Venture capital
  • Crowdfunding

You can combine both funding sources.

Get Insurance

The business industry is tricky. You need to apply for business insurance too. Thus, you’ll be able to protect your investments and the entire company.

It’s not too difficult to establish and run your own small business. You can use the tips we have provided above, as well as hire a few competent experts. This combination will help to launch it smoothly and enjoy the desired outcomes.

Many people try their luck in business. This industry is enormous and offers a wide range of options for development. M

Circular economy: definition, importance and benefits

The circular economy: find out what it means, how it benefits you, the environment and our economy.

the concept of business plan

The European Union produces more than 2.2 billion tonnes of waste every year . It is currently updating its legislation on waste management to promote a shift to a more sustainable model known as the circular economy.

But what exactly does the circular economy mean? And what would be the benefits?

What is the circular economy?

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption , which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.

In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible thanks to recycling. These can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value .

This is a departure from the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern. This model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy.

Also part of this model is planned obsolescence , when a product has been designed to have a limited lifespan to encourage consumers to buy it again. The European Parliament has called for measures to tackle this practice.

Infographic explaining the circular economy model

Benefits: why do we need to switch to a circular economy?

To protect the environment.

Reusing and recycling products would slow down the use of natural resources, reduce landscape and habitat disruption and help to limit biodiversity loss .

Another benefit from the circular economy is a reduction in total annual greenhouse gas emissions . According to the European Environment Agency, industrial processes and product use are responsible for 9.10% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, while the management of waste accounts for 3.32%.

Creating more efficient and sustainable products from the start would help to reduce energy and resource consumption, as it is estimated that more than 80% of a product's environmental impact is determined during the design phase.

A shift to more reliable products that can be reused, upgraded and repaired would reduce the amount of waste. Packaging is a growing issue and, on average, the average European generates nearly 180 kilos of packaging waste per year . The aim is to tackle excessive packaging and improve its design to promote reuse and recycling.

Reduce raw material dependence

The world's population is growing and with it the demand for raw materials. However, the supply of crucial raw materials is limited.

Finite supplies also means some EU countries are dependent on other countries for their raw materials. According to Eurostat , the EU imports about half of the raw materials it consumes.

The total value of trade (import plus exports) of raw materials between the EU and the rest of the world has almost tripled since 2002, with exports growing faster than imports. Regardless, the EU still imports more than it exports. In 2021, this resulted in a trade deficit of €35.5 billion.

Recycling raw materials mitigates the risks associated with supply, such as price volatility, availability and import dependency.

This especially applies to critical raw materials , needed for the production of technologies that are crucial for achieving climate goals, such as batteries and electric engines.

Create jobs and save consumers money

Moving towards a more circular economy could increase competitiveness, stimulate innovation, boost economic growth and create jobs ( 700,000 jobs in the EU alone by 2030 ).

Redesigning materials and products for circular use would also boost innovation across different sectors of the economy.

Consumers will be provided with more durable and innovative products that will increase the quality of life and save them money in the long term.

What is the EU doing to become a circular economy?

  In March 2020, the European Commission presented the circular economy action plan,  which aims to promote more sustainable product design, reduce waste and empower consumers, for example by creating a right to repair ). There is a focus on resource intensive sectors, such as electronics and ICT , plastics , textiles and construction.

In February 2021, the Parliament adopted a resolution on the new circular economy action plan demanding additional measures to achieve a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050, including tighter recycling rules and binding targets for materials use and consumption by 2030. In March 2022, the Commission released the first package of measures to speed up the transition towards a circular economy, as part of the circular economy action plan. The proposals include boosting sustainable products, empowering consumers for the green transition, reviewing construction product regulation, and creating a strategy on sustainable textiles.

In November 2022, the Commission proposed new EU-wide rules on packaging . It aims to reduce packaging waste and improve packaging design, with for example clear labelling to promote reuse and recycling; and calls for a transition to bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics.

Find out more

  • Infographic on the circular economy

Related articles

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    Identify key topic concepts of Centra care Business Plan ...

Identify key topic concepts of Centra care Business Plan 

  • Look up information about your organization (GuideStar for non-profits, Annual Reports, website, media and other evidence based).
  • Utilizing evidence based research such as peer reviewed journal articles, books &/or government sources, begin researching your project topic by compiling a brief one page google word document Draft Evidenced-based Literature Review.
  • Brainstorm other organizations, associations and/or healthcare/business leaders you could connect with to gain more information on this topic and include them on your one page Draft Literature.

Answer & Explanation

Creating a business plan for an organization like Centra Care requires a thorough understanding of its operations, strategic goals, and the healthcare landscape. Here's how to approach the task of identifying key topic concepts for Centra Care's business plan, conducting research, and drafting an evidence-based literature review.

 Step 1: Gather Information about Centra Care

- **GuideStar for Non-profits:** If Centra Care is a non-profit, GuideStar is an excellent resource for financial data, mission statements, and program information. - **Annual Reports:** Review Centra Care's annual reports for insights into financial health, strategic priorities, achievements, and future plans. - **Website:** The official website can provide the most current information on services, locations, leadership, and news updates. - **Media:** Search for recent news articles, press releases, and interviews for external perspectives on Centra Care's activities and reputation.

 Step 2: Conduct Evidence-based Research

- **Peer-reviewed Journal Articles:** Use academic databases like PubMed, JSTOR, or Google Scholar to find articles on healthcare management, patient care models, and innovations in healthcare that relate to Centra Care's services. - **Books:** Look for recent publications on healthcare management and strategic planning in healthcare. Books can provide comprehensive insights into industry practices and trends. - **Government Sources:** Check websites like the CDC, WHO, and local health departments for guidelines, policies, and statistics that impact healthcare organizations like Centra Care.

 Step 3: Draft an Evidence-based Literature Review

- **Introduction:** Briefly introduce Centra Care and the purpose of the business plan. Outline the key topic concepts you will explore, such as patient care models, healthcare innovation, strategic planning, and financial management. - **Body:** Organize the literature review into sections based on the key topic concepts. For each concept, summarize the findings from your research, highlighting relevant theories, practices, and case studies. Discuss how these findings relate to Centra Care's operations and strategic goals. - **Conclusion:** Summarize the main insights from the literature review and their implications for Centra Care's business plan. Identify gaps in the literature where further research or information would be beneficial.

 Step 4: Brainstorm Potential Contacts for Further Information

- **Healthcare Organizations:** Identify other healthcare providers with similar services or operational models. Consider reaching out for benchmarking opportunities or best practices. - **Associations:** Look for professional associations in healthcare management, such as the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) or the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), for resources and networking opportunities. - **Healthcare/Business Leaders:** Identify leaders in healthcare management or related fields who could provide insights or mentorship. Consider reaching out through LinkedIn or industry events.

 Conclusion

Compiling a business plan for Centra Care involves a multi-step process of gathering information, conducting evidence-based research, drafting a literature review, and networking for additional insights. By systematically exploring key topic concepts and integrating findings from reputable sources, you can develop a comprehensive and informed business plan that aligns with Centra Care's strategic goals and the broader healthcare landscape.

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  28. Identify key topic concepts of Centra care Business Plan

    Creating a business plan for an organization like Centra Care requires a thorough understanding of its operations, strategic goals, and the healthcare landscape. Here's how to approach the task of identifying key topic concepts for Centra Care's business plan, conducting research, and drafting an evidence-based literature review.