• Hubspot Blog
  • HubSpot.com

Oh no! We couldn't find anything like that.

Try another search, and we'll give it our best shot.

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

Clifford Chi

Published: December 01, 2022

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

Business plan sample: Image shows a hand writing a plan and a notepad.

hbspt.cta._relativeUrls=true;hbspt.cta.load(53, 'e9d2eacb-6b01-423a-bf7a-19d42ba77eaa', {"useNewLoader":"true","region":"na1"});

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

Business Plan Format

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

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

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

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

Free Business Plan Template

Fill out the form to get your free template..

Most business plans include the following sections:

1. Executive Summary

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

Most executive summaries include:

However, many of these topics will be covered in more detail later on in the business plan, so keep the executive summary clear and brief, including only the most important take-aways.

If you’re planning to start or expand a small business, preparing a business plan is still very crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business. You can check out this small business pdf to get an idea of how to create one for your business.

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

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

5. Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

6. Key Features and Benefits

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

7. Pricing and Revenue

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

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

8. Financials

This section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to determine funding strategies, investment opportunities, etc. 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 provide insight into how much cash a business has on hand.
  • Balance Sheet - This outlines assets, liabilities, and equity, which gives insight into how much a business is worth.

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

Keep in mind that each of these sections will be formatted differently. Some may be in paragraph format, while others will be in charts.

Sample Business Plan Templates

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

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

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

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

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

Why We Like It

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

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

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

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

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

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

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

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

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

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

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

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

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

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

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

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

Don't forget to share this post!

Related articles.

15 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

15 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

The 24 Best Google Chrome Extensions for SEO

The 24 Best Google Chrome Extensions for SEO

Professional Invoice Design: 27 Samples & Templates to Inspire You

Professional Invoice Design: 27 Samples & Templates to Inspire You

Customers’ Top HubSpot Integrations to Streamline Your Business in 2022

Customers’ Top HubSpot Integrations to Streamline Your Business in 2022

12 Gantt Chart Examples You'll Want to Copy

12 Gantt Chart Examples You'll Want to Copy

The Marketer's Guide to Content Aggregators in 2021

The Marketer's Guide to Content Aggregators in 2021

What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

6 Reasons You Really Need to Write A Business Plan

6 Reasons You Really Need to Write A Business Plan

85 Marketing Tools and Software for Every Business & Budget

85 Marketing Tools and Software for Every Business & Budget

2 Essential Templates For Starting Your Business

You’re our first priority. Every time.

We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.

So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Here is a list of our partners .

How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

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

1. Write an executive summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

Your sales strategy.

Your distribution strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

You may also include metrics such as:

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

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

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

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

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

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smartsheet Contributor Joe Weller

October 11, 2021

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Steps

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

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

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

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

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

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

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

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

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

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

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

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

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

Step 1: Executive Summary

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

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

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

Step 2: Description of Business

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

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

Step 3: Market Analysis

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

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

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

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

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

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

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

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

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

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

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

Step 7: Marketing Plan

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

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

Step 8: Sales Plan

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

Start by answering the following questions:

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

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

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

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

Step 10: Financial Projections

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

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

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

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

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

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

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

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

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

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

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

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

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

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

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

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

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

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

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to write a business plan in 7 steps

draft business plan example

With this step-by-step guide, learn how to write a well-written professional business plan that can help you successfully start your business, apply for funding, and grow.

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to have a business or accounting degree to put together a viable business plan. Business planning can be simple—even fun! 

This guide will show you how to get your plan done without any complexity or frustration. By the time you’re done, you’ll be better prepared to start, run, and grow your business. Here are the 7 steps to write a business plan:

  • Executive summary
  • Products & services
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing & sales
  • Company organization and management team
  • Financial projections

Be sure to download our free business plan template to start writing your own business plan as you work through this guide. For a more detailed guide to writing a business plan, download our free ebook : The Easy Way to Write Your Business Plan.

What is a business plan?

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

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. Setting sales goals, expense budgets, and predictions for cash flow. 

Now, a business plan can be far more than just a static document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. A management tool to analyze results, make strategic decisions, and showcase how your business will operate and grow. In short, if you’re thinking of starting a business or plan to pitch to investors or venture capitalists, writing a business plan can improve your chances of success.  

Why do you need a business plan?

You likely already have a good idea of your business strategy in your head. So you may be wondering, “Why should I spend my time making a business plan?” Here are the top reasons why you should invest in planning:

Businesses that plan grow 30% faster.

A surprising amount of research has been done on business planning and has shown that companies that take the time to write a plan and review it regularly grow 30% faster than those businesses that don’t plan. Not only do these companies grow faster, but they perform better and are less likely to fail in the long run.

Lenders and investors need business plans

If you’re growing your business and plan on getting a business loan or raising money from investors, you’ll need a business plan. Most lenders and investors will ask for a plan, but even if they don’t want to see the actual document, they will ask you questions that only a solid business plan will be able to answer.

Business plans reduce risk

Starting and running a business is always risky. Instead of flying by the seat of your pants, you can use a plan to forecast potential cash flow issues and get ahead of any potential roadblocks so you aren’t caught off guard. A business plan will help you reduce your risk and help you navigate the future.

Business planning helps you make smart spending decisions 

Before you make a big spending decision for your business, you need to know the potential impacts on your finances. With a business plan in place, you can easily explore different scenarios and see what impacts a new hire or an expansion to a second location will have on your business.

Need more reasons for why you need a business plan? Read our full list of reasons why having a business plan is important for small businesses .

How to write a business plan step-by-step

Whether you’re building a business plan to raise money and grow your business or just need to figure out if your idea will work, every business plan needs to cover 6 essential sections. Here’s an overview of each section:

Free business plan template

1. Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. Most people write it last, though. 

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. In fact, it’s very common for investors to ask for only the executive summary when they are evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation, and more in-depth financials.

Your executive summary should include a summary of the problem you are solving, a description of your product or service, an overview of your target market, a brief description of your team, a summary of your financials, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).

Learn more about writing an effective executive summary .

2. Products & services

The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you’re solving, your solution, and how your product or service fits into the existing competitive landscape.

Start the products & services chapter by describing the problem that you are solving for your customers and what your solution is. This is a description of your product or service. 

Next, you should outline your competition . Who else is providing solutions that try to solve your customers’ pain points? What are your competitive advantages over other businesses?

If you happen to have any competitive advantages, such as specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product—this chapter is a great place to talk about those things.

Finally, review your milestones and metrics. This is an overview of the next steps that you need to accomplish to get your product or service ready to sell, with target dates. If you’ve already achieved some key milestones, such as landing a crucial customer or taking on pre-orders, discuss that here. 

3. Market analysis

This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You’ll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry.

First, describe your target market . Your target market is the group of people that you plan on selling to. Try to be as specific as possible. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers.

Next, provide any market analysis and market research that you have. You’ll want to explain how your market is growing over time and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of expected changes in your industry.

4. Marketing & sales

The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments, how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.

Some businesses that distribute their products and reach their customers through stores like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, grocery store chains, and other retail outlets should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles that the business may have to overcome.

The marketing & sales chapter of your business plan can also be a good place to include a SWOT analysis . This is purely optional but can be a good way to explain how your products and services are positioned to deal with competitive threats and take advantage of opportunities.

5. Company organization and management team

Investors look for great teams in addition to great ideas. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire. You will also provide a quick overview of your legal structure, location, and history if you’re already up and running.

Include brief bios that highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member. It’s important here to make the case for why the team is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before?

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

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide a review of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

6. Financial projections

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. This is often what entrepreneurs find most daunting, but it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it seems. Business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. That said, if you need additional help, there are plenty of tools and resources out there to help you build a solid financial plan.

A typical financial plan will include:

Sales and revenue projections

A monthly sales and revenue forecast for the first 12 months, and then annual projections for the remaining three to five years. Three-year projections are typically adequate, but some investors will request a five-year forecast.

Profit and loss statement

An income statement , also known as the profit and loss (or P&L), is where your numbers all come together and show if you’re making a profit or taking a loss.

Cash flow statement

A cash flow statement . While the income statement calculates your profits and losses, the cash flow statement keeps track of how much cash (money in the bank) you have at any given point. 

Balance sheet

A balance sheet lists the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

Optional sections to include when seeking funding

If you are raising money from investors, you should include a brief section of your business plan that details exactly how you plan on using your investors’ cash. This is typically just called, “Use of Funds.”

Investors will also want to see a short section on your exit strategy. An exit strategy is your plan for eventually selling your business, either to another company or to the public in an IPO. If you have investors, they will want to know your thoughts on this. If you’re running a business that you plan to maintain ownership of indefinitely, and you’re not seeking angel investment or VC funding, you can skip the exit strategy section. 

For more information, read our guide on the different types of exit strategies .

Finally, discuss any assumptions and important risks for your business. Knowing what your assumptions are as you start a business can make the difference between business success and business failure. When you recognize your assumptions, you can set out to prove that your assumptions are correct. The more that you can minimize your assumptions, the more likely it is that your business will succeed.

7. Appendix

An appendix to your business plan isn’t a required chapter by any means. However, it is a useful place to stick any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that either felt too long or too out-of-place to include elsewhere in your business plan. If you have a patent or a patent-pending, or illustrations of your product, this is where you’d want to include the details. For more details, read about what to include in your business plan appendix .

Get a quick fill-in-the-blank planning tool

Business plan writing tips 

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

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. For example, if you are writing a business plan for yourself or just for use inside your own business, you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the money you want and exactly how you’re going to use those funds. So, before you start writing your plan, think about why you are writing a business plan and what you’re trying to get out of the process.

Keep things concise

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

So, focus on trimming things down to the essentials that your readers need to know. Skip the extended descriptions of your target market and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. It’s helpful to zoom out from time to time and make sure that your plan is logical and makes sense. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand. Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look, though. 

Start sharing your plan early and find out from your reader what questions the plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help keep you on track. If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to give it a thorough examination.

Use a free business plan template to get started

Knowing what information you need to cover in a business plan sometimes isn’t quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. If you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template to get you started, download the template that’s been used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 500 free sample business plans .

How do I write a simple business plan?

If you’re not ready to work on a detailed business plan and want to start with something shorter and simpler, we recommend starting with a simple one-page business plan . You’ll be able to put together an initial plan in less than 30 minutes. For many businesses, this is a great way to get started. And, if you’re not raising money from investors, this may be all the plan you need.

Next steps for writing your business plan

Whether you’re writing a plan to explore a new business idea, establishing steps to start a business, looking to raise money from investors, seeking a loan, or just trying to run your business better—a solid business plan will help get you there. 

Business planning is a continuous process that can help you validate your idea, set goals, manage, and successfully pitch your business. One of the most helpful things you can do to build a successful business is to jump in and start planning. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive step-by-step walkthrough for writing a business plan, check out our Business Planning Guide . 

If you need more than a template, we recommend exploring business planning software, such as LivePlan. It features step-by-step guidance that ensures you include only what you need in your plan and reduces the time you spend on formatting and presenting. 

You’ll also get help building solid financial models that you can trust, without having to worry about getting everything right in a spreadsheet. Finally, it will transform your plan into a management tool that will help you easily compare your forecasts to your actual results. This makes it easy to track your progress and make adjustments as you go.

Business plan FAQ

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investor, and identify areas for growth. Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

The seven steps to writing a business plan include: 1. Write a brief executive summary.  2. Describe your products and services. 3. Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis. 4. Describe your marketing and sales strategy.  5. Outline your organizational structure and management team. 6. Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow. 7. Add any additional documents to your appendix.

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid: 1. Not taking the planning process seriously. 2. Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information. 3. Inconsistent information or simple mistakes. 4. Failing to establish a sound business model. 5. Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan. However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan: – How will your business make money? – Is there a need for your product or service? – Who are your customers? – How are you different from the competition? – How will you reach your customers? – How will you measure success?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.  If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan or a 3-10 page Lean Plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering. Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.  Business model canvas: The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.  One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business. Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.  However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

The core elements of business planning are the same for nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses. The main difference between the two is that nonprofits are primarily driven by a specific mission or purpose. While a for-profit organization is typically driven by growth and improved performance. Additionally, nonprofit organizations will need to intently focus on their promotional, partnership, and fundraising strategies. While some of this is present in for-profit businesses, the need to thoroughly outline how and who you will continue to receive funding is far more important as a nonprofit.

AvatarNoah Parsons

Noah Parsons

noahparsons

Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. You can follow Noah on Twitter .

Starting or Growing a Business? Check out these Offerings.

LivePlan Dashboard

Management Dashboards

All the Insights You Need to Help Your Business Succeed

Works with QBO & XERO

LivePlan

Full Business Plan in Half the Time— and Double the Impact

Save 25% Annually

Business Plan Writers

Business Plan Writers

Investor-Ready Business Plans Written In No Time

100% Free Quote

Bplans Tools

Business Tools

Exclusive Offers on Must-Haves for New and Growing Businesses

$100+ in savings

LivePlan screen shots

Free Download

The ultimate guide to business planning.

  • eBook: Step-by-step planning guide (updated for 2023)
  • Template: Lender-approved business plan template
  • 50% discount: Save on LivePlan business planning software

Please provide your name and valid email address.

By entering your email we'll also send you related marketing emails subject to our Privacy Policy . You can unsubscribe at anytime.

Click below to access your downloads:

  • Ultimate business planning guide
  • Business plan template
  • 50% off LivePlan discount

Not ready to download your resources? Don't worry, they've been sent directly to your inbox for you to access later.

draft business plan example

Plan, fund, and grow.

Easily write a business plan, secure funding, and gain insights.

Achieve your business funding goals with a proven plan format.

draft business plan example

  • eSignatures
  • API overview
  • All use cases
  • Customer Success
  • Customer stories
  • Help center
  • Product updates
  • Community gallery
  • Integrations
  • Developer portal

Business plan templates

From competitive analysis to financial projections, business plans give your new business a roadmap for success. Download one of our free business plan templates and take your company to the next level.

Ecommerce Business Plan Template

Ecommerce Business Plan Template

This Ecommerce Business Plan Template is tailored particularly to e-commerce companies, and all you require to do is add the elements related to your business.

Accounting Firm Business Plan

Accounting Firm Business Plan

Use this Accounting Firm Business Plan to achieve your goals. Accounting firms are comparable to other industries and need the Business Plan to help their development.

Campground Business Plan Template

Campground Business Plan Template

This PandaDoc Campground Business Plan Template has all the essential information to help you develop a successful business strategy.

<strong>Firewood Business Plan</strong>

Firewood Business Plan

This Firewood Business Plan Template perfectly outlines the company structure of a probable firewood venture. It highlights the budgets needed to start and manage the unique business.

Funeral Home Business Plan

Funeral Home Business Plan

A Funeral Home Business Plan covers detailed data on the courtesies offered by the company, market analysis, administration strategies, personnel procedures, budget and financing plans, and other applicable topics.

Community Center Business Plan

Community Center Business Plan

You can use this Community Center Business Plan Template, it is perfect for anyone desiring to open and run a society center. It gives the center’s owner an outline of areas that must be disseminated with the investors to earn an acquisition.

Gas Station Business Plan

Gas Station Business Plan

Take the first step towards success in the fuel industry with our professionally crafted Gas Station Business Plan template.

Beauty Supply Store Business Plan

Beauty Supply Store Business Plan

This Beauty Supply Store Business Plan Template covers all the appropriate sections needed to invest in a beauty supply store. The template will help you to raise money for your business.

Flower Shop Business Plan Template

Flower Shop Business Plan Template

The Flower Shop Business Plan Template is organized to help you achieve the awareness of various investors to invest in your company.

Electrical Contractor Business Plan

Electrical Contractor Business Plan

This Electrical Contractor Business Plan template include information about the services you offer, who your target consumers are, why they should prefer you over your opponents and how much capital you require to get started.

Car Dealership Business Plan

Car Dealership Business Plan

A Car Dealership Business Plan is a detailed plan that will help you take your business to the next level. Use this template to create your plan.

Farm Business Plan

Farm Business Plan

Farm Business Plan gives an overview of the company, including corporation history, owner backgrounds, creations and more. Use this template to quickly develop your farm company plan.

Consultant Business Plan Template

Consultant Business Plan Template

An example of a document outlining your strategy for launching or expanding your consulting firm is a Consultant Business Plan Template. The essential elements include a summary of the company, team, sector, rivals, target audience, and an operations and marketing strategy.

Construction Company Business Plan

Construction Company Business Plan

The objectives and tactics of a construction company are described in a business plan for a construction company. For the creation of your business plan, use this Construction Company Business Plan Template.

Fashion Business Plan Template

Fashion Business Plan Template

Structural and action plans for a fashion firm are laid out in the fashion business plan template.

Daycare Business Plan

Daycare Business Plan

The creation of a business strategy is the first step in starting a daycare. Use this Daycare Business Plan Template to describe your company’s objectives, as well as your target market, potential rivals, and your financing strategy.

Convenience Store Business Plan

Convenience Store Business Plan

Do you need a Convenience Store Business Plan Template? This plan includes all the details and information needed to secure funding for a convenience store.

Startup Business Plan Template

Startup Business Plan Template

We offer you the steps and the tools to create a fantastic business plan. Attract investors with this sleek and free startup business plan template.

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

This business plan template is a great tool for your startup to customize to reflect your strong qualifications, experienced team, and marketable business idea.

Coffee Shop Business Plan Template

Coffee Shop Business Plan Template

Looking for investors and permits for your new cafe? Use this free Coffee Shop Business Plan Template to get all your cups in a row.

Salon Business Plan Template

Salon Business Plan Template

You’re finally ready to open your own salon. This salon business plan template and tips will help guide you how to present your salon as a sound investment.

Restaurant Business Plan Template

Restaurant Business Plan Template

Always dreamed of starting a restaurant? This free restaurant business plan template is your first step in making your dream a legal, planned reality.

Bakery Business Plan Template

Bakery Business Plan Template

You’re ready to go out on your own to share your fabulous breads and pastries with the world. This free bakery business plan template is just what you need to get going.

Hotel Business Plan Template

Hotel Business Plan Template

Think you have the solution for local tourism? Kick off your hotels empire with this free hotel business plan template to assure investors and guests.

Executive Summary Template

Executive Summary Template

Your potential investors are spending the most time reading one part of your business plan. Use this executive summary template to make your business idea shine.

Business Letter Template

Business Letter Template

You want to make your company shine in all ways and certainly folks judge a book by it’s cover. Use this Business Letter Template to put your best face forward.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that helps small business owners determine the viability of their business idea. Combining market research and financial analysis, a professional business plan helps startup CEOs and potential investors determine if the company can compete in the target market.

Typically, a good business plan consists of the following:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Mission statement
  • Product and services
  • Marketing plan
  • Operations plan
  • Management organization
  • Financial plan
  • Conclusion & appendix

Every section involved in a business plan is designed to help startup businesses reach their target market.

A business plan asks founders and entrepreneurs to detail their business strategy in a step-by-step process that makes sense from an operational perspective. This is essential if a startup is seeking a business loan or an investment from a venture capital firm.

However, even small businesses that are already economically viable can benefit from creating a business plan, since it encourages business owners and their management teams to examine their business model and reevaluate the best ways to reach their target customers.

Should I use a business plan template?

Yes.  If you’ve never written one, a business plan can be challenging to write.

Creating a successful plan that you can use to grow your small business can require weeks of market analysis and financial preparation. You may spend time using Microsoft Excel or Powerpoint in order to create documentation which better supports our operational decisions.

However, almost every professional business plan is structured in the same way and most ask for the same information. Because of this, using a business plan template is advisable to save time, money, and effort.

Business plan templates for free

Rather than spending time trying to figure out how to write a business plan , use a free template as a guide to completion.

Business plan templates from PandaDoc can help you reach an effective go-to-market strategy even faster by asking you to provide all the relevant information you need when creating an effective business plan.

Grab a free template to get started!

Frequently asked questions

How many pages should my business plan be.

This depends on the kind of business plan you need to write and how you intend to use the plan that you create.

For example, a plan for a small business seeking potential investors or a business loan will need to provide income statements, cash flow statements, and a balance sheet (usually for a three-year or five-year forecast period).

These financial statements can be omitted if a small business owner isn’t seeking funding and is instead planning to use their business plan as a guiding document for themselves and their management team members.

Some business plans may only run a few pages. Fully-developed business plans can be as long as 50 pages. Much of this depends on the type of business, the operational strategy, and the level of detail that goes into developing the business plan.

Who needs a business plan?

Every business should have a business plan. This is an essential guidance document for any founder or CEO.

Good business plans help a company determine the viability of its place in the market and can help the business develop better strategies for differentiating itself from its competitors.

Business planning also forces business owners to evaluate their marketing strategy, the cost of customer acquisition and retention, and how they plan to grow their business over time.

What is the best business plan template?

Business plans come in all shapes and sizes. The best business plan template for your business is one that you understand and that matches the size and legal structure of your operation.

If you’re a sole proprietor, a business plan template designed for a big corporation probably doesn’t make sense. However, a business plan that helps you build an effective roadmap to grow your business while protecting your intellectual property is a good starting point.

PandaDoc offers specialized business plan templates for common industries along with tips to help you get started with business planning.

Should I hire someone to write my business plan for me?

No. You’ll find freelance writers and business strategy companies out there who are happy to write your business plan for a fee.  These resources can guide you through the process, but you should write (or be heavily involved in) the creation of your business plan.

The reason for this is simple: You know the most about your business, and your business needs you to succeed.

A writer can work with you to make your business plan sound better to investors, and a consultant can help you fill in knowledge gaps — like how to conduct a SWOT analysis — and point out weaknesses in your plan. But, at the end of the day, you need to use the business plan to pitch investors and run your business.

Those ideas and guiding principles aren’t something you can outsource.

Should I use business planning software?

Software isn’t required when creating an effective business plan. Most business planning software is designed to help you navigate the outlining and writing process more effectively.

You don’t need software to write a professional business plan, but a solid template can help you get started. Download a free template from PandaDoc today and take your business to the next level.

Get started with PandaDoc today

No credit card required

Fingers Stairs

Build your dream business for $1/month

Start your free trial, then enjoy 3 months of Shopify for $1/month when you sign up for a monthly Basic or Starter plan.

  • Sign up for a free trial
  • Select a monthly Basic or Starter plan
  • $1/month pricing will be applied at checkout
  • Add products, launch your store, and start selling!
  • Start free trial

Start selling with Shopify today

Try Shopify for free, and explore all the tools and services you need to start, run, and grow your business.

  • How to Start a Dropshipping Business- A Complete Playbook for 2023
  • The 13 Best Dropshipping Suppliers in 2023
  • How To Source Products To Sell Online
  • 25+ Ideas for Online Businesses To Start Now (2023)
  • The Ultimate Guide To Dropshipping (2023)
  • How to Build a Business Website for Beginners
  • 7 Inspiring Marketing Plan Examples (and How You Can Implement Them)
  • 10 Ways to Write Product Descriptions That Persuade (2023)
  • Get Guidance- 6 Business Plan Software to Help Write Your Future
  • Business Valuation- Learn the Value of Your Business

The Top 7 Business Plan Examples To Inspire Your Own (2023)

  • by Alexandra Sheehan
  • Starting Up
  • Aug 13, 2021
  • 8 minute read

Image of a woman planning her business plan on a white board with post its and annotations from examples she has found

Any aspiring entrepreneur researching how to start a business will likely be advised to write a business plan . But few resources provide business plan templates and relatable examples to really help guide you through writing one of your own.

That’s why we took some real-world and hypothetical examples of product-based ecommerce businesses to show how you can write your business plan.

7 Business plan examples: section by section

The business plan examples we’ll look at below follow this example template:

  • Executive summary. An introductory overview of your business.
  • Company description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists.
  • Market analysis. Research-based information about the industry and your target market.
  • Products and services. What you plan to offer in exchange for money.
  • Marketing plan. The promotional strategy to introduce your business to the world and drive sales.
  • Logistics and operations plan. Everything that happens in the background to make your business function properly.
  • Financial plan. A breakdown of your numbers to show what you need to get started as well as to prove viability of profitability.

Below, we have some real-world and hypothetical examples of each of these sections to show you how a business plan comes together.

  • Executive summary

Your executive summary is a page that gives a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. It’s easiest to save this section for last.

In our business plan template for Paw Print Post , the executive summary is four paragraphs and takes a little over half a page:

example of an executive summary in a business plan

  • Company description

You might repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your about page, social media profile pages, or other properties that require a boilerplate description of your business.

Soap brand ORRIS has a blurb on its About page that could easily be repurposed for the company description section of its business plan.

Orris company description

You can also go more in-depth with your company overview and include the following sections, like we did for Paw Print Post:

  • Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your business —as an LLC , sole proprietorship, corporation, or other business type . “Paw Print Post will operate as a sole proprietorship run by the owner, Jane Matthews.”
  • Nature of the business. “Paw Print Post sells unique, one-of-a-kind digitally printed cards that are customized with a pet’s unique paw prints.”
  • Industry. “Paw Print Post operates primarily in the pet industry and sells goods that could also be categorized as part of the greeting card industry.”
  • Background information. “Jane Matthews, the founder of Paw Print Post, has a long history in the pet industry and working with animals, and was recently trained as a graphic designer. She’s combining those two loves to capture a niche in the market: unique greeting cards customized with a pet’s paw prints, without needing to resort to the traditional (and messy) options of casting your pet’s prints in plaster or using pet-safe ink to have them stamp their ‘signature.’”
  • Business objectives. “Jane will have Paw Print Post ready to launch at the Big Important Pet Expo in Toronto to get the word out among industry players and consumers alike. After two years in business, Jane aims to drive $150,000 in annual revenue from the sale of Paw Print Post’s signature greeting cards and have expanded into two new product categories.”
  • Team. “Jane Matthews is the sole full-time employee of Paw Print Post but hires contractors as needed to support her workflow and fill gaps in her skill set. Notably, Paw Print Post has a standing contract for five hours a week of virtual assistant support with Virtual Assistants Pro.”

Your mission statement may also make an appearance here. Passionfruit shares its mission statement on its company website, and it would also work well in its business plan example.

Passionfruit's mission statement

  • Market analysis

The market analysis consists of research about supply and demand, your target market, industry trends, and the competitive landscape. You might run a SWOT analysis and include that in your business plan. Here’s an example SWOT analysis we did for an online tailored-shirt business:

SWOT analysis in market analysis

You’ll also want to do a competitive analysis as part of the market research component of your business plan. This will tell you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to differentiate your brand. Your competitive analysis might look like this:

competitive analysis

  • Products and services

This section of your business plan describes your offerings—which products and services do you sell to your customers? Here’s what we wrote for Paw Print Post:

Products and services offering

  • Marketing plan

It’s always a good idea to develop a marketing plan before you launch your business. Your marketing plan shows how you’ll get the word out about your business, and it’s an essential component of your business plan as well.

For Paw Print Post, we focused on four Ps: price, product, promotion, and place. However, you can take a different approach with your marketing plan. Maybe you can pull from your existing marketing strategy , or maybe you break it down by the different marketing channels. Whatever approach you take, your marketing plan should describe how you intend to promote your business and offerings to potential customers. It’s OK to go high level here.

  • Logistics and operations plan
  • For Paw Print Post, we looked at suppliers, production, facilities, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.

Financial plan

The financial plan provides a breakdown of sales, revenue, profit, expenses, and other relevant financial metrics related to funding and profiting from your business.

Ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy’s financial plan breaks down predicted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.

financial plan

It then dives deeper into the financials to include:

  • Funding needs
  • Projected profit-and-loss statement
  • Projected balance sheet
  • Projected cash-flow statement

You can use this financial plan template to build your own income statement, balance sheet, and cash-flow statement.

financial plan template

Types of business plans + what to include for each

A one-page business plan is meant to be high level and easy to understand at a glance. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re truncated and summarized:

  • Executive summary: truncated
  • Market analysis: summarized
  • Products and services: summarized
  • Marketing plan: summarized
  • Logistics and operations plan: summarized
  • Financials: summarized

A startup business plan is for a new business. Typically, these plans are developed and shared to secure outside funding . As such, there’s a bigger focus on the financials as well as on other sections that determine viability of your business idea—market research, for example.

  • Market analysis: in-depth
  • Financials: in-depth

Your internal business plan is meant to keep your team on the same page and aligned toward the same goal.

A strategic, or growth, business plan is a bigger picture, more-long-term look at your business. As such, the forecasts tend to look further into the future, and growth and revenue goals may be higher. Essentially, you want to use all the sections you would in a normal business plan and build upon each.

  • Market analysis: comprehensive outlook
  • Products and services: for launch and expansion
  • Marketing plan: comprehensive outlook
  • Logistics and operations plan: comprehensive outlook
  • Financials: comprehensive outlook

Feasibility

Your feasibility business plan is sort of a pre-business plan—many refer to it as simply a feasibility study. This plan essentially lays the groundwork and validates that it’s worth the effort to make a full business plan for your idea. As such, it’s mostly centered around research.

More resources for validating your ideas:

  • Product Research: The 15-Step Checklist for Finding Profitable, In-Demand Product Ideas
  • Video: How to Validate Your Product Ideas

Set yourself up for success

Building a business plan serves as a roadmap you can use for your ecommerce business at launch and as you reach each of your growth goals. Business plans create accountability for entrepreneurs and synergy among teams, regardless of your business model .

Kickstart your ecommerce business and set yourself up for success with intentional business planning—and with the business plan examples above to guide your own path.

Ready to create your first business? Start your free trial of Shopify—no credit card required.

Business plan faq, what 5 things should a business plan include.

  • Executive Summary: A concise overview of the company's mission, goals, target audience, and financial objectives.
  • Business Description: A description of the company's purpose, operations, products and services, target markets, and competitive landscape.
  • Market Analysis: An analysis of the industry, market trends, potential customers, and competitors.
  • Financial Plan: A detailed description of the company's financial projections and strategies.
  • Implementation Plan: An outline of the steps, resources, and timeline required to bring the business plan to fruition.

What are the 3 C's of a business plan?

  • Concept – your concept should explain the purpose of your business and provide an overall summary of what you intend to accomplish.
  • Contents – your content should include details about the products and services you provide, your target market, and your competition.
  • Cashflow – your cashflow section should include information about your expected cash inflows and outflows, such as capital investments, operating costs, and revenue projections.

What are 5 common mistakes of a business plan?

  • Poor financial projections: Business plans should provide realistic financial projections based on market research and sound assumptions.
  • Lack of competitive analysis: Business plans should contain a competitive analysis that outlines the competitive landscape, identifies key competitors, and assesses the competitive advantages and disadvantages of the proposed business.
  • Inconsistent formatting: Business plans should be presented in a professional, consistent format that is easy to read and understand.
  • Insufficient research: Business plans should be thoroughly researched and include accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Unrealistic goals: Business plans should set realistic and achievable goals that are in line with the proposed business’s resources and financial abilities.

Join 446,005 entrepreneurs who already have a head start.

Get free online marketing tips and resources delivered directly to your inbox.

No charge. Unsubscribe anytime.

Thanks for subscribing.

You’ll start receiving free tips and resources soon. In the meantime, start building your store with a free 3-day trial of Shopify.

Start your 3-day free trial today!

Try Shopify free for 3 days, no credit card required. By entering your email, you agree to receive marketing emails from Shopify.

Simple Business Plan Template (2023)

Reviewed By

Updated: Dec 16, 2022, 11:45pm

Simple Business Plan Template (2023)

Table of Contents

Why business plans are vital, get your free simple business plan template, how to write an effective business plan in 6 steps, frequently asked questions.

While taking many forms and serving many purposes, they all have one thing in common: business plans help you establish your goals and define the means for achieving them. Our simple business plan template covers everything you need to consider when launching a side gig, solo operation or small business. By following this step-by-step process, you might even uncover a few alternate routes to success.

Whether you’re a first-time solopreneur or a seasoned business owner, the planning process challenges you to examine the costs and tasks involved in bringing a product or service to market. The process can also help you spot new income opportunities and hone in on the most profitable business models.

Though vital, business planning doesn’t have to be a chore. Business plans for lean startups and solopreneurs can simply outline the business concept, sales proposition, target customers and sketch out a plan of action to bring the product or service to market. However, if you’re seeking startup funding or partnership opportunities, you’ll need a write a business plan that details market research, operating costs and revenue forecasting.

Whichever startup category you fall into, if you’re at square one, our simple business plan template will point you down the right path.

Copy our free simple business plan template so you can fill in the blanks as we explore each element of your business plan. Need help getting your ideas flowing? You’ll also find several startup scenario examples below.

Download free template as .docx

Whether you need a quick-launch overview or an in-depth plan for investors, any business plan should cover the six key elements outlined in our free template and explained below. The main difference in starting a small business versus an investor-funded business is the market research and operational and financial details needed to support the concept.

1. Your Mission or Vision

Start by declaring a “dream statement” for your business. You can call this your executive summary, vision statement or mission. Whatever the name, the first part of your business plan summarizes your idea by answering five questions. Keep it brief, such as an elevator pitch. You’ll expand these answers in the following sections of the simple business plan template.

  • What does your business do? Are you selling products, services, information or a combination?
  • Where does this happen? Will you conduct business online, in-store, via mobile means or in a specific location or environment?
  • Who does your business benefit? Who is your target market and ideal customer for your concept?
  • Why would potential customers care? What would make your ideal customers take notice of your business?
  • How do your products and/or services outshine the competition? What would make your ideal customers choose you over a competitor?

These answers come easily if you have a solid concept for your business, but don’t worry if you get stuck. Use the rest of your plan template to brainstorm ideas and tactics. You’ll quickly find these answers and possibly new directions as you explore your ideas and options.

2. Offer and Value Proposition

This is where you detail your offer, such as selling products, providing services or both, and why anyone would care. That’s the value proposition. Specifically, you’ll expand on your answers to the first and fourth bullets from your mission/vision.

As you complete this section, you might find that exploring value propositions uncovers marketable business opportunities that you hadn’t yet considered. So spend some time brainstorming the possibilities in this section.

For example, a cottage baker startup specializing in gluten-free or keto-friendly products might be a value proposition that certain audiences care deeply about. Plus, you could expand on that value proposition by offering wedding and other special-occasion cakes that incorporate gluten-free, keto-friendly and traditional cake elements that all guests can enjoy.

draft business plan example

3. Audience and Ideal Customer

Here is where you explore bullet point number three, who your business will benefit. Identifying your ideal customer and exploring a broader audience for your goods or services is essential in defining your sales and marketing strategies, plus it helps fine-tune what you offer.

There are many ways to research potential audiences, but a shortcut is to simply identify a problem that people have that your product or service can solve. If you start from the position of being a problem solver, it’s easy to define your audience and describe the wants and needs of your ideal customer for marketing efforts.

Using the cottage baker startup example, a problem people might have is finding fresh-baked gluten-free or keto-friendly sweets. Examining the wants and needs of these people might reveal a target audience that is health-conscious or possibly dealing with health issues and willing to spend more for hard-to-find items.

However, it’s essential to have a customer base that can support your business. You can be too specialized. For example, our baker startup can attract a broader audience and boost revenue by offering a wider selection of traditional baked goods alongside its gluten-free and keto-focused specialties.

4. Revenue Streams, Sales Channels and Marketing

Thanks to our internet-driven economy, startups have many revenue opportunities and can connect with target audiences through various channels. Revenue streams and sales channels also serve as marketing vehicles, so you can cover all three in this section.

Revenue Streams

Revenue streams are the many ways you can make money in your business. In your plan template, list how you’ll make money upon launch, plus include ideas for future expansion. The income possibilities just might surprise you.

For example, our cottage baker startup might consider these revenue streams:

  • Product sales : Online, pop-up shops , wholesale and (future) in-store sales
  • Affiliate income : Monetize blog and social media posts with affiliate links
  • Advertising income : Reserve website space for advertising
  • E-book sales : (future) Publish recipe e-books targeting gluten-free and keto-friendly dessert niches
  • Video income : (future) Monetize a YouTube channel featuring how-to videos for the gluten-free and keto-friendly dessert niches
  • Webinars and online classes : (future) Monetize coaching-style webinars and online classes covering specialty baking tips and techniques
  • Members-only content : (future) Monetize a members-only section of the website for specialty content to complement webinars and online classes
  • Franchise : (future) Monetize a specialty cottage bakery concept and sell to franchise entrepreneurs

Sales Channels

Sales channels put your revenue streams into action. This section also answers the “where will this happen” question in the second bullet of your vision.

The product sales channels for our cottage bakery example can include:

  • Mobile point-of-sale (POS) : A mobile platform such as Shopify or Square POS for managing in-person sales at local farmers’ markets, fairs and festivals
  • E-commerce platform : An online store such as Shopify, Square or WooCommerce for online retail sales and wholesale sales orders
  • Social media channels : Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest shoppable posts and pins for online sales via social media channels
  • Brick-and-mortar location : For in-store sales , once the business has grown to a point that it can support a physical location

Channels that support other income streams might include:

  • Affiliate income : Blog section on the e-commerce website and affiliate partner accounts
  • Advertising income : Reserved advertising spaces on the e-commerce website
  • E-book sales : Amazon e-book sales via Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Video income : YouTube channel with ad monetization
  • Webinars and online classes : Online class and webinar platforms that support member accounts, recordings and playback
  • Members-only content : Password-protected website content using membership apps such as MemberPress

Nowadays, the line between marketing and sales channels is blurred. Social media outlets, e-books, websites, blogs and videos serve as both marketing tools and income opportunities. Since most are free and those with advertising options are extremely economical, these are ideal marketing outlets for lean startups.

However, many businesses still find value in traditional advertising such as local radio, television, direct mail, newspapers and magazines. You can include these advertising costs in your simple business plan template to help build a marketing plan and budget.

draft business plan example

5. Structure, Suppliers and Operations

This section of your simple business plan template explores how to structure and operate your business. Details include the type of business organization your startup will take, roles and responsibilities, supplier logistics and day-to-day operations. Also, include any certifications or permits needed to launch your enterprise in this section.

Our cottage baker example might use a structure and startup plan such as this:

  • Business structure : Sole proprietorship with a “doing business as” (DBA) .
  • Permits and certifications : County-issued food handling permit and state cottage food certification for home-based food production. Option, check into certified commercial kitchen rentals.
  • Roles and responsibilities : Solopreneur, all roles and responsibilities with the owner.
  • Supply chain : Bulk ingredients and food packaging via Sam’s Club, Costco, Amazon Prime with annual membership costs. Uline for shipping supplies; no membership needed.
  • Day-to-day operations : Source ingredients and bake three days per week to fulfill local and online orders. Reserve time for specialty sales, wholesale partner orders and market events as needed. Ship online orders on alternating days. Update website and create marketing and affiliate blog posts on non-shipping days.

6. Financial Forecasts

Your final task is to list forecasted business startup and ongoing costs and profit projections in your simple business plan template. Thanks to free business tools such as Square and free marketing on social media, lean startups can launch with few upfront costs. In many cases, cost of goods, shipping and packaging, business permits and printing for business cards are your only out-of-pocket expenses.

Cost Forecast

Our cottage baker’s forecasted lean startup costs might include:

Gross Profit Projections

This helps you determine the retail prices and sales volume required to keep your business running and, hopefully, earn income for yourself. Use product research to spot target retail prices for your goods, then subtract your cost of goods, such as hourly rate, raw goods and supplier costs. The total amount is your gross profit per item or service.

Here are some examples of projected gross profits for our cottage baker:

Bottom Line

Putting careful thought and detail in a business plan is always beneficial, but don’t get so bogged down in planning that you never hit the start button to launch your business . Also, remember that business plans aren’t set in stone. Markets, audiences and technologies change, and so will your goals and means of achieving them. Think of your business plan as a living document and regularly revisit, expand and restructure it as market opportunities and business growth demand.

Is there a template for a business plan?

Yes, you can copy our free business plan template and fill in the blanks or customize it in Google Docs, Microsoft Word or another word processing app. This free business plan template includes the six key elements that any entrepreneur needs to consider when launching a new business.

What does a simple business plan include?

A simple business plan is a one- to two-page overview covering six key elements that any budding entrepreneur needs to consider when launching a startup. These include your vision or mission, product or service offering, target audience, revenue streams and sales channels, structure and operations, and financial forecasts.

How can I create a free business plan template?

Start with this free simple business plan template that covers the six essential elements of a startup. Once downloaded, you can edit this document in Google Docs or another word processing app and add new sections or subsections to your plan template to meet your specific business plan needs.

What basic items should be included in a business plan?

When writing out a business plan, you want to make sure that you cover everything related to your concept for the business,  an analysis of the industry―including potential customers and an overview of the market for your goods or services―how you plan to execute your vision for the business, how you plan to grow the business if it becomes successful and all financial data around the business, including current cash on hand, potential investors and budget plans for the next few years.

  • Best LLC Services
  • Best Registered Agent Services
  • Best Trademark Registration Services
  • Top LegalZoom Competitors
  • Best Business Loans
  • Best Business Plan Software
  • ZenBusiness Review
  • LegalZoom LLC Review
  • Northwest Registered Agent Review
  • Rocket Lawyer Review
  • Inc. Authority Review
  • Rocket Lawyer vs LegalZoom
  • Incfile Review
  • Swyft Filings Review
  • Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
  • LLC vs Corporation
  • LLC vs S Corp
  • LegalZoom vs Incfile
  • LegalZoom vs ZenBusiness
  • LegalZoom vs Rocket Lawyer
  • ZenBusiness vs Incfile
  • How To Start A Business
  • How to Set Up an LLC
  • How to Get a Business License
  • LLC Operating Agreement Template
  • 501(c)(3) Application Guide
  • What is a Business License?
  • What is an LLC?
  • What is an S Corp?
  • What is a C Corp?
  • What is a DBA?
  • What is a Sole Proprietorship?
  • What is a Registered Agent?
  • How to Dissolve an LLC
  • How to File a DBA
  • What Are Articles Of Incorporation?
  • Types Of Business Ownership

Next Up In Company Formation

  • Best Online Legal Services
  • How To Write A Business Plan
  • Member-Managed LLC Vs. Manager-Managed LLC
  • Starting An S-Corp
  • LLC Vs. C Corp
  • How Much Does It Cost To Start An LLC?

How To Find Employees In 2023

29 side hustle ideas to make extra money in 2023, best auto dialer (2023), recruitment process outsourcing: the ultimate guide, the accounting cycle: 8 steps you need to know, the state of workplace communication in 2023.

Krista Fabregas is a seasoned eCommerce and online content pro sharing more than 20 years of hands-on know-how with those looking to launch and grow tech-forward businesses. Her expertise includes eCommerce startups and growth, SMB operations and logistics, website platforms, payment systems, side-gig and affiliate income, and multichannel marketing. Krista holds a bachelor's degree in English from The University of Texas at Austin and held senior positions at NASA, a Fortune 100 company, and several online startups.

How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)

Brandon Boushy

  • 2 years ago

Woman working on a business plan

Have you ever wondered how to write a business plan step by step? Mike Andes, told us: 

This guide will help you write a business plan to impress investors.

Throughout this process, we’ll get information from Mike Andes, who started Augusta Lawn Care Services when he was 12 and turned it into a franchise with over 90 locations. He has gone on to help others learn how to write business plans and start businesses.  He knows a thing or two about writing  business plans!

We’ll start by discussing the definition of a business plan. Then we’ll discuss how to come up with the idea, how to do the market research, and then the important elements in the business plan format. Keep reading to start your journey!

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is simply a road map of what you are trying to achieve with your business and how you will go about achieving it. It should cover all elements of your business including: 

  • Finding customers
  • Plans for developing a team
  •  Competition
  • Legal structures
  • Key milestones you are pursuing

If you aren’t quite ready to create a business plan, consider starting by reading our business startup guide .

Get a Business Idea

Before you can write a business plan, you have to have a business idea. You may see a problem that needs to be solved and have an idea how to solve it, or you might start by evaluating your interests and skills. 

Mike told us, “The three things I suggest asking yourself when thinking about starting a business are:

  • What am I good at?
  • What would I enjoy doing?
  • What can I get paid for?”

Three adjoining circles about business opportunity

If all three of these questions don’t lead to at least one common answer, it will probably be a much harder road to success. Either there is not much market for it, you won’t be good at it, or you won’t enjoy doing it. 

As Mike told us, “There’s enough stress starting and running a business that if you don’t like it or aren’t good at it, it’s hard to succeed.”

If you’d like to hear more about Mike’s approach to starting a business, check out our YouTube video

Conduct Market Analysis

Market analysis is focused on establishing if there is a target market for your products and services, how large the target market is, and identifying the demographics of people or businesses that would be interested in the product or service. The goal here is to establish how much money your business concept can make.

Product and Service Demand

An image showing product service and demand

A search engine is your best friend when trying to figure out if there is demand for your products and services. Personally, I love using presearch.org because it lets you directly search on a ton of different platforms including Google, Youtube, Twitter, and more. Check out the screenshot for the full list of search options.

With quick web searches, you can find out how many competitors you have, look through their reviews, and see if there are common complaints about the competitors. Bad reviews are a great place to find opportunities to offer better products or services. 

If there are no similar products or services, you may have stumbled upon something new, or there may just be no demand for it. To find out, go talk to your most honest friend about the idea and see what they think. If they tell you it’s dumb or stare at you vacantly, there’s probably no market for it.

You can also conduct a survey through social media to get public opinion on your idea. Using Facebook Business Manager , you could get a feel for who would be interested in your product or service.

 I ran a quick test of how many people between 18-65  you could reach in the U.S. during a week. It returned an estimated 700-2,000 for the total number of leads, which is enough to do a fairly accurate statistical analysis.

Identify Demographics of Target Market

Depending on what type of business you want to run, your target market will be different. The narrower the demographic, the fewer potential customers you’ll have. If you did a survey, you’ll be able to use that data to help define your target audience. Some considerations you’ll want to consider are:

  • Other Interests
  • Marital Status
  • Do they have kids?

Once you have this information, it can help you narrow down your options for location and help define your marketing further. One resource that Mike recommended using is the Census Bureau’s Quick Facts Map . He told us,  

“It helps you quickly evaluate what the best areas are for your business to be located.”

How to Write a Business Plan

Business plan development

Now that you’ve developed your idea a little and established there is a market for it, you can begin writing a business plan. Getting started is easier with the business plan template we created for you to download. I strongly recommend using it as it is updated to make it easier to create an action plan. 

Each of the following should be a section of your business plan:

  • Business Plan Cover Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Description of Products and Services

SWOT Analysis

  • Competitor Data
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Marketing Expenses Strategy 

Pricing Strategy

  • Distribution Channel Assessment
  • Operational Plan
  • Management and Organizational Strategy
  • Financial Statements and/or Financial Projections

We’ll look into each of these. Don’t forget to download our free business plan template (mentioned just above) so you can follow along as we go. 

How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page

The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions.

A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:

  • Professionally designed logo
  • Company name
  • Mission or Vision Statement
  • Contact Info

Basically, think of a cover page for your business plan like a giant business card. It is meant to capture people’s attention but be quickly processed.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 2. Create a Table of Contents

Most people are busy enough that they don’t have a lot of time. Providing a table of contents makes it easy for them to find the pages of your plan that are meaningful to them.

A table of contents will be immediately after the cover page, but you can include it after the executive summary. Including the table of contents immediately after the executive summary will help investors know what section of your business plan they want to review more thoroughly.

Check out Canva’s article about creating a  table of contents . It has a ton of great information about creating easy access to each section of your business plan. Just remember that you’ll want to use different strategies for digital and hard copy business plans.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 3. Write an Executive Summary

A notepad with a written executive summary for business plan writing

An executive summary is where your business plan should catch the readers interest.  It doesn’t need to be long, but should be quick and easy to read.

Mike told us,

How long should an executive summary bein an informal business plan?

For casual use, an executive summary should be similar to an elevator pitch, no more than 150-160 words, just enough to get them interested and wanting more. Indeed has a great article on elevator pitches .  This can also be used for the content of emails to get readers’ attention.

It consists of three basic parts:

  • An introduction to you and your business.
  • What your business is about.
  • A call to action

Example of an informal executive summary 

One of the best elevator pitches I’ve used is:

So far that pitch has achieved a 100% success rate in getting partnerships for the business.

What should I include in an executive summary for investors?

Investors are going to need a more detailed executive summary if you want to secure financing or sell equity. The executive summary should be a brief overview of your entire business plan and include:

  • Introduction of yourself and company.
  • An origin story (Recognition of a problem and how you came to solution)
  • An introduction to your products or services.
  • Your unique value proposition. Make sure to include intellectual property.
  • Where you are in the business life cycle
  • Request and why you need it.

Successful business plan examples

The owner of Urbanity told us he spent 2 months writing a 75-page business plan and received a $250,000 loan from the bank when he was 23. Make your business plan as detailed as possible when looking for financing. We’ve provided a template to help you prepare the portions of a business plan that banks expect.

Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:

When to write an executive summary?

Even though the summary is near the beginning of a business plan, you should write it after you complete the rest of a business plan. You can’t talk about revenue, profits, and expected expenditures if you haven’t done the market research and created a financial plan.

What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?

Business owners commonly go into too much detail about the following items in an executive summary:

  • Marketing and sales processes
  • Financial statements
  • Organizational structure
  • Market analysis

These are things that people will want to know later, but they don’t hook the reader. They won’t spark interest in your small business, but they’ll close the deal.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description

Every business plan should include a company description. A great business plan will include the following elements while describing the company:

  • Mission statement
  • Philosophy and vision
  • Company goals

Target market

  • Legal structure

Let’s take a look at what each section includes in a good business plan.

Mission Statement

A mission statement is a brief explanation of why you started the company and what the company’s main focus is. It should be no more than one or two sentences. Check out HubSpot’s article 27 Inspiring Mission Statement for a great read on informative and inspiring mission and vision statements. 

Company Philosophy and Vision

Writing the company philosophy and vision

The company philosophy is what drives your company. You’ll normally hear them called core values.  These are the building blocks that make your company different. You want to communicate your values to customers, business owners, and investors as often as possible to build a company culture, but make sure to back them up.

What makes your company different?

Each company is different. Your new business should rise above the standard company lines of honesty, integrity, fun, innovation, and community when communicating your business values. The standard answers are corporate jargon and lack authenticity. 

Examples of core values

One of my clients decided to add a core values page to their website. As a tech company they emphasized the values:

  •  Prioritize communication.
  •  Never stop learning.
  •  Be transparent.
  •  Start small and grow incrementally.

These values communicate how the owner and the rest of the company operate. They also show a value proposition and competitive advantage because they specifically focus on delivering business value from the start. These values also genuinely show what the company is about and customers recognize the sincerity. Indeed has a great blog about how to identify your core values .

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement communicate the long lasting change a business pursues. The vision helps investors and customers understand what your company is trying to accomplish. The vision statement goes beyond a mission statement to provide something meaningful to the community, customer’s lives, or even the world.

Example vision statements

The Alzheimer’s Association is a great example of a vision statement:

A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.

It clearly tells how they want to change the world. A world without Alzheimers might be unachievable, but that means they always have room for improvement.

Business Goals

You have to measure success against goals for a business plan to be meaningful. A business plan helps guide a company similar to how your GPS provides a road map to your favorite travel destination. A goal to make as much money as possible is not inspirational and sounds greedy.

Sure, business owners want to increase their profits and improve customer service, but they need to present an overview of what they consider success. The goals should help everyone prioritize their work.

How far in advance should a business plan?

Business planning should be done at least one year in advance, but many banks and investors prefer three to five year business plans. Longer plans show investors that the management team  understands the market and knows the business is operating in a constantly shifting market. In addition, a plan helps businesses to adjust to changes because they have already considered how to handle them.

Example of great business goals

My all time-favorite long-term company goals are included in Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux . These goals were written in 2016 and drive the company’s decisions through 2026. They are the reason that investors are so forgiving when Elon Musk continually fails to meet his quarterly and annual goals.

If the progress aligns with the business plan investors are likely to continue to believe in the company. Just make sure the goals are reasonable or you’ll be discredited (unless you’re Elon Musk).

A man holding an iPad with a cup of coffee on his desk

You did target market research before creating a business plan. Now it’s time to add it to the plan so others understand what your ideal customer looks like. As a new business owner, you may not be considered an expert in your field yet, so document everything. Make sure the references you use are from respectable sources. 

Use information from the specific lender when you are applying for lending. Most lenders provide industry research reports and using their data can strengthen the position of your business plan.

A small business plan should include a section on the external environment. Understanding the industry is crucial because we don’t plan a business in a vacuum. Make sure to research the industry trends, competitors, and forecasts. I personally prefer IBIS World for my business research. Make sure to answer questions like:

  • What is the industry outlook long-term and short-term?
  • How will your business take advantage of projected industry changes and trends?
  • What might happen to your competitors and how will your business successfully compete?

Industry resources

Some helpful resources to help you establish more about your industry are:

  • Trade Associations
  • Federal Reserve
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Legal Structure

There are five basic types of legal structures that most people will utilize:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

Partnerships

Corporations.

  • Franchises.

Each business structure has their pros and cons. An LLC is the most common legal structure due to its protection of personal assets and ease of setting up. Make sure to specify how ownership is divided and what roles each owner plays when you have more than one business owner.

You’ll have to decide which structure is best for you, but we’ve gathered information on each to make it easier.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the easiest legal structure to set up but doesn’t protect the owner’s personal assets from legal issues. That means if something goes wrong, you could lose both your company and your home.

To start a sole proprietorship, fill out a special tax form called a  Schedule C . Sole proprietors can also join the American Independent Business Alliance .

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is the most common business structure used in the United States because an LLC protects the owner’s personal assets. It’s similar to partnerships and corporations, but can be a single-member LLC in most states. An LLC requires a document called an operating agreement.

Each state has different requirements. Here’s a link to find your state’s requirements . Delaware and Nevada are common states to file an LLC because they are really business-friendly. Here’s a blog on the top 10 states to get an LLC.

Partnerships are typically for legal firms. If you choose to use a partnership choose a Limited Liability Partnership. Alternatively, you can just use an LLC.

Corporations are typically for massive organizations. Corporations have taxes on both corporate and income tax so unless you plan on selling stock, you are better off considering an LLC with S-Corp status . Investopedia has good information corporations here .

An iPad with colored pens on a desk

There are several opportunities to purchase successful franchises. TopFranchise.com has a list of companies in a variety of industries that offer franchise opportunities. This makes it where an entrepreneur can benefit from the reputation of an established business that has already worked out many of the kinks of starting from scratch.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 5. Products and Services

This section of the business plan should focus on what you sell, how you source it, and how you sell it. You should include:

  • Unique features that differentiate your business products from competitors
  • Intellectual property
  • Your supply chain
  • Cost and pricing structure 

Questions to answer about your products and services

Mike gave us a list  of the most important questions to answer about your product and services:

  • How will you be selling the product? (in person, ecommerce, wholesale, direct to consumer)?
  • How do you let them know they need a product?
  • How do you communicate the message?
  • How will you do transactions?
  • How much will you be selling it for?
  • How many do you think you’ll sell and why?

Make sure to use the worksheet on our business plan template .

How to Write a Business Plan Step 6. Sales and Marketing Plan

The marketing and sales plan is focused on the strategy to bring awareness to your company and guides how you will get the product to the consumer.  It should contain the following sections:

SWOT Analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Not only do you want to identify them, but you also want to document how the business plans to deal with them.

Business owners need to do a thorough job documenting how their service or product stacks up against the competition.

If proper research isn’t done, investors will be able to tell that the owner hasn’t researched the competition and is less likely to believe that the team can protect its service from threats by the more well-established competition. This is one of the most common parts of a presentation that trips up business owners presenting on Shark Tank .

SWOT Examples

Business plan SWOT analysis

Examples of strengths and weaknesses could be things like the lack of cash flow, intellectual property ownership, high costs of suppliers, and customers’ expectations on shipping times.

Opportunities could be ways to capitalize on your strengths or improve your weaknesses, but may also be gaps in the industry. This includes:

Threats will normally come from outside of the company but could also be things like losing a key member of the team. Threats normally come from competition, regulations, taxes, and unforeseen events.

The management team should use the SWOT analysis to guide other areas of business planning, but it absolutely has to be done before a business owner starts marketing. 

Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan

When you plan a business, taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the competition is key to navigating the field. Providing an overview of your competition and where they are headed shows that you are invested in understanding the industry.

For smaller businesses, you’ll want to search both the company and the owners names to see what they are working on. For publicly held corporations, you can find their quarterly and annual reports on the SEC website .

What another business plans to do can impact your business. Make sure to include things that might make it attractive for bigger companies to outsource to a small business.

Marketing Strategy

The marketing and sales part of business plans should be focused on how you are going to make potential customers aware of your business and then sell to them.

If you haven’t already included it, Mike recommends:

“They’ll want to know about Demographics, ages, and wealth of your target market.”

Make sure to include the Total addressable market .  The term refers to the value if you captured 100% of the market.

Advertising Strategy

You’ll explain what formats of advertising you’ll be using. Some possibilities are:

You’ll want to define how you’ll be using each including frequency, duration, and cost. If you have the materials already created, including pictures or links to the marketing to show creative assets.

Mike told us “Most businesses are marketing digitally now due to Covid, but that’s not always the right answer.”

Make sure the marketing strategy will help team members or external marketing agencies stay within the brand guidelines .

An iPad with graph about pricing strategy

This section of a business plan should be focused on pricing. There are a ton of pricing strategies that may work for different business plans. Which one will work for you depends on what kind of a business you run.

Some common pricing strategies are:

HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.

Beyond explaining what strategy your business plans to use, you should include references for how you came to this pricing strategy and how it will impact your cash flow.

Distribution Plan

This part of a business plan is focused on how the product or service is going to go through the supply chain. These may include multiple divisions or multiple companies. Make sure to include any parts of the workflow that are automated so investors can see where cost savings are expected and when.

Supply Chain Examples

For instance, lawn care companies  would need to cover aspects such as:

Examples of Supply Chains

These are fairly flat supply chains compared to something like a clothing designer where the clothes would go through multiple vendors. A clothing company might have the following supply chain:

There have been advances such as print on demand that eliminate many of these steps. If you are designing completely custom clothing, all of this would need to be planned to keep from having business disruptions.

The main thing to include in the business plan is the list of suppliers, the path the supply chain follows, the time from order to the customer’s home, and the costs associated with each step of the process.

According to BizPlanReview , a business plan without this information is likely to get rejected because they have failed to research the key elements necessary to make sales to the customer.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 7. Company Organization and Operational Plan

This part of the business plan is focused on how the business model will function while serving customers.  The business plan should provide an overview of  how the team will manage the following aspects:

Quality Control

Let’s look at each for some insight.

Production has already been discussed in previous sections so I won’t go into it much. When writing a business plan for investors, try to avoid repetition as it creates a more simple business plan.

If the organizational plan will be used by the team as an overview of how to perform the best services for the customer, then redundancy makes more sense as it communicates what is important to the business.

A wooden stamp with the words "quality control"

Quality control policies help to keep the team focused on how to verify that the company adheres to the business plan and meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Quality control can be anything from a standard that says “all labels on shirts can be no more than 1/16″ off center” to a defined checklist of steps that should be performed and filled out for every customer.

There are a variety of organizations that help define quality control including:

You can find lists of the organizations that contribute most to the government regulation of industries on Open Secrets . Research what the leaders in your field are doing. Follow their example and implement it in your quality control plan.

For location, you should use information from the market research to establish where the location will be. Make sure to include the following in the location documentation.

Legal Environment

The legal requirement section is focused on defining how to meet the legal requirements for your industry. A good business plan should include all of the following:

Your local SBA office can help you establish requirements in your area. I strongly recommend using them. They are a great resource.

Your business plan should include a plan for company organization and hiring. While you may be the only person with the company right now, down the road you’ll need more people. Make sure to consider and document the answers to the following questions:

One of the most crucial parts of a business plan is the organizational chart. This simply shows the positions the company will need, who is in charge of them and the relationship of each of them. It will look similar to this:

Organization chart

Our small business plan template has a much more in-depth organizational chart you can edit to include when you include the organizational chart in your business plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements 

No business plan is complete without financial statements or financial projections. The business plan format will be different based on whether you are writing a business plan to expand a business or a startup business plan. Let’s dig deeper into each.

Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business

An existing business should use their past financial documents including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement to find trends to estimate the next 3-5 years.

You can create easy trendlines in excel to predict future revenue, profit and loss, cash flow, and other changes in year-over-year performance. This will show your expected performance assuming business continues as normal.

If you are seeking an investment, then the business is probably not going to continue as normal. Depending on the financial plan and the purpose of getting financing, adjustments may be needed to the following:

Financial modeling is a challenging subject, but there are plenty of low-cost courses on the subject. If you need help planning your business financial documentation take some time to watch some of them.

Make it a point to document how you calculated all the changes to the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in your business plan so that key team members or investors can verify your research.

Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan

Unlike an existing business, a startup doesn’t have previous success to model its future performance. In this scenario, you need to focus on how to make a business plan realistic through the use of industry research and averages.

Mike gave the following advice in his interview:

Financial Forecasting Mistakes

One of the things a lot of inexperienced people use is the argument, “If I get one percent of the market, it is worth $100 million.” If you use this, investors are likely to file the document under bad business plan examples.

Let’s use custom t-shirts as an example.

Credence Research estimated in 2018 there were 11,334,800,000 custom t-shirts sold for a total of $206.12 Billion, with a 6% compound annual growth rate.

With that data,  you can calculate that the industry will grow to $270 Billion in 2023 and that the average shirt sold creates $18.18 in revenue.

Combine that with an IBIS World estimate of 11,094 custom screen printers and that means even if you become an average seller, you’ll get .009% of the market.

Here’s a table for easier viewing of that information.

A table showing yearly revenue of a business

The point here is to make sure your business proposal examples make sense.

You’ll need to know industry averages such as cost of customer acquisition, revenue per customer, the average cost of goods sold, and admin costs to be able to create accurate estimates.

Our simple business plan templates walk you through most of these processes. If you follow them you’ll have a good idea of how to write a business proposal.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 9. Business Plan Example of Funding Requests

What is a business plan without a plan on how to obtain funding?

The Small Business Administration has an example for a pizza restaurant that theoretically needed nearly $20k to make it through their first month.

In our video, How to Start a $500K/Year T-Shirt Business (Pt. 1 ), Sanford Booth told us he needed about $200,000 to start his franchise and broke even after 4 months.

Freshbooks estimates it takes on average 2-3 years for a business to be profitable, which means the fictitious pizza company from the SBA could need up to $330k to make it through that time and still pay their bills for their home and pizza shop.

Not every business needs that much to start, but realistically it’s a good idea to assume that you need a fairly large cushion.

Ways to get funding for a small business

There are a variety of ways to cover this. the most common are:

Keep reading for more tips on how to write a business plan.

How funding will be used

When asking for business financing make sure to include:

Mike emphasized two aspects that should be included in every plan, 

How to Write a Business Plan Resources

Here are some links to a business plan sample and business plan outline. 

It’s also helpful to follow some of the leading influencers in the business plan writing community. Here’s a list:

How to Write a Business Plan: What’s Next?

We hope this guide about how to write a simple business plan step by step has been helpful. We’ve covered:

In addition, we provided you with a simple business plan template to assist you in the process of writing your startup business plan. The startup business plan template also includes a business model template that will be the key to your success.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our business hub .

Have you written a business plan before? How did it impact your ability to achieve your goals?

img

Brandon Boushy

Brandon Boushy started his company after years of working in customer service, engineering, and project management. After receiving his MBA, he turned his diverse skills into a business helping other small business owners find resources and strategies that further their business objectives. He focuses on assisting businesses with their marketing, communication, and research needs.

Related posts

Business plan template

Free Business Plan Template (With Examples)

Getting a business license for a store illustration

How to Get a Business License (In 3 Steps)

Market validation breakdown

Market Validation: 7 Steps to Validate Your Business Idea

Join the discussion cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

0 thoughts on “How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)”

' src=

My Name is PRETTY NGOMANE. A south African female. Aspiring to do farming. And finding a home away from home for the differently abled persons in their daily needs.

Compare listings

Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.

draft business plan example

Business plan templates

Let these informative and polished templates guide you through creating your business plan. .

Share via Facebook

We use essential cookies to make Venngage work. By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

Manage Cookies

Cookies and similar technologies collect certain information about how you’re using our website. Some of them are essential, and without them you wouldn’t be able to use Venngage. But others are optional, and you get to choose whether we use them or not.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are always on, as they’re essential for making Venngage work, and making it safe. Without these cookies, services you’ve asked for can’t be provided.

Show cookie providers

Functionality Cookies

These cookies help us provide enhanced functionality and personalisation, and remember your settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers.

Performance Cookies

These cookies help us analyze how many people are using Venngage, where they come from and how they're using it. If you opt out of these cookies, we can’t get feedback to make Venngage better for you and all our users.

Targeting Cookies

These cookies are set by our advertising partners to track your activity and show you relevant Venngage ads on other sites as you browse the internet.

Blog Business

How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates] 

By Letícia Fonseca , Jul 18, 2022

business plan outline

When it comes to writing a business plan, getting started is the biggest challenge.

So how can you avoid staring at a blank page for hours on end? Start with a business plan outline. 

With anything in life, an outline can give you the clarity you need to tackle an overwhelming task. This is especially true when drafting crucial documents for your success, like a  business plan . 

In fact, businesses with clear plans are  16% more likely to succeed , showing more focus and commitment than businesses without plans. 

But I know, a business plan is a huge document and it can be confusing to create an outline, too. That’s why I’ve gathered all the information you’ll need to write a business plan outline. No sweat. 

Read on for answers to all your business plan outline questions or jump ahead for some handy templates. 

Click to jump ahead:

What is a business plan outline (and why do you need one), what format should you choose for your business plan outline, what are the key components of a business plan outline.

A business plan outline is the backbone of your business plan. It contains all the most important information you’ll want to expand on in your full-length plan. 

Think of it this way: your outline is a frame for your plan. It provides a high-level idea of what the final plan should look like, what it will include and how all the information will be organized. 

Why would you do this extra step? Beyond saving you from blank page syndrome, an outline ensures you don’t leave any essential information out of your plan — you can see all the most important points at a glance and quickly identify any content gaps. 

It also serves as a writing guide. Once you know all the sections you want in your plan, you just need to expand on them. Suddenly, you’re “filling in the blanks” as opposed to writing a plan from scratch!

Incidentally, using a business plan template like this one gives you a running head start, too: 

business plan outline

Perhaps most importantly, a business plan outline keeps you focused on the essential parts of your document. (Not to mention what matters most to stakeholders and investors.)  With an outline, you’ll spend less time worrying about structure or organization and more time perfecting the actual content of your document. 

If you’re looking for more general advice, you can read about  how to create a business plan here . But if you’re working on outlining your plan, stick with me.

Return to Table of Contents

Most business plans fit into one of two formats. 

The format you choose largely depends on three factors: (1) the stage of your business, (2) if you’re presenting the plan to investors and (3) what you want to achieve with your business plan. 

Let’s have a closer look at these two formats and why you might choose one over the other.

Traditional format

Traditional business plans  are typically long, detailed documents. In many cases, they take up to 50-60 pages, but it’s not uncommon to see plans spanning 100+ pages. 

Traditional plans are long because they cover  every aspect  of your business. They leave nothing out. You’ll find a traditional business plan template with sections like executive summary, company description, target market, market analysis, marketing plan, financial plan, and more. Basically: the more information the merrier.

This business plan template isn’t of a traditional format, but you could expand it into one by duplicating pages:

business plan outline

Due to their high level of detail, traditional formats are the best way to sell your business. They show you’re reliable and have a clear vision for your business’s future. 

If you’re planning on presenting your plan to investors and stakeholders, you’ll want to go with a traditional plan format. The more information you include, the fewer doubts and questions you’ll get when you present your plan, so don’t hold back. 

Traditional business plans require more detailed outlines before drafting since there’s a lot of information to cover. You’ll want to list all the sections and include bullet points describing what each section should cover. 

It’s also a good idea to include all external resources and visuals in your outline, so you don’t have to gather them later. 

Lean format

Lean business plan formats are high level and quick to write. They’re often only one or two pages. Similar to a  business plan infographic , they’re scannable and quick to digest, like this template: 

business plan outline

This format is often referred to as a “startup” format due to (you guessed it!) many startups using it. 

Lean business plans require less detailed outlines. You can include high-level sections and a few lines in each section covering the basics. Since the final plan will only be a page or two, you don’t need to over prepare. Nor will you need a ton of external resources. 

Lean plans don’t answer all the questions investors and stakeholders may ask, so if you go this route, make sure it’s the right choice for your business . Companies not yet ready to present to investors will typically use a lean/startup format to get their rough plan on paper and share it internally with their management team. 

Here’s another example of a lean business plan format in the form of a financial plan: 

business plan outline

Your business plan outline should include all the following sections. The level of detail you choose to go into will depend on your intentions for your plan (sharing with stakeholders vs. internal use), but you’ll want every section to be clear and to the point. 

1. Executive summary

The executive summary gives a high-level description of your company, product or service. This section should include a mission statement, your company description, your business’s primary goal, and the problem it aims to solve. You’ll want to state how your business can solve the problem and briefly explain what makes you stand out (your competitive advantage).

Having an executive summary is essential to selling your business to stakeholders , so it should be as clear and concise as possible. Summarize your business in a few sentences in a way that will hook the reader (or audience) and get them invested in what you have to say next. In other words, this is your elevator pitch.

business plan outline

2. Product and services description

This is where you should go into more detail about your product or service. Your product is the heart of your business, so it’s essential this section is easy to grasp. After all, if people don’t know what you’re selling, you’ll have a hard time keeping them engaged!

Expand on your description in the executive summary, going into detail about the problem your customers face and how your product/service will solve it. If you have various products or services, go through all of them in equal detail. 

business plan outline

3. Target market and/or Market analysis

A market analysis is crucial for placing your business in a larger context and showing investors you know your industry. This section should include market research on your prospective customer demographic including location, age range, goals and motivations. 

You can even  include detailed customer personas  as a visual aid — these are especially useful if you have several target demographics. You want to showcase your knowledge of your customer, who exactly you’re selling to and how you can fulfill their needs.

Be sure to include information on the overall target market for your product, including direct and indirect competitors and how your industry is performing. If your competitors have strengths you want to mimic or weaknesses you want to exploit, this is the place to record that information. 

business plan outline

4. Organization and management

You can think of this as a “meet the team” section — this is where you should go into depth on your business’s structure from management to legal and HR. If there are people bringing unique skills or experience to the table (I’m sure there are!), you should highlight them in this section. 

The goal here is to showcase why your team is the best to run your business. Investors want to know you’re unified, organized and reliable. This is also a potential opportunity to bring more humanity to your business plan and showcase the faces behind the ideas and product. 

business plan outline

5. Marketing and sales

Now that you’ve introduced your product and team, you need to explain how you’re going to sell it. Give a detailed explanation of your sales and marketing strategy, including pricing, timelines for launching your product and advertising.

This is a major section of your plan and can even live as a separate document for your marketing and sales teams. Here are some  marketing plan templates to help you get started .

Make sure you have research or analysis to back up your decisions — if you want to do paid ads on LinkedIn to advertise your product, include a brief explanation as to why that is the best channel for your business. 

business plan outline

6. Financial projections and funding request

The end of your plan is where you’ll look to the future and how you think your business will perform financially. Your financial plan should include results from your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow projections. 

State your funding requirements and what you need to realize the business. Be extremely clear about how you plan to use the funding and when you expect investors will see returns.

If you aren’t presenting to potential investors, you can skip this part, but it’s something to keep in mind should you seek funding in the future. Covering financial projections and the previous five components is essential at the stage of business formation to ensure everything goes smoothly moving forward.

business plan outline

7. Appendix

Any extra visual aids, receipts, paperwork or charts will live here. Anything that may be relevant to your plan should be included as reference e.g. your cash flow statement (or other financial statements). You can format your appendix in whatever way you think is best — as long as it’s easy for readers to find what they’re looking for, you’ve done your job!

Typically, the best way to start your outline is to list all these high-level sections. Then, you can add bullet points outlining what will go in each section and the resources you’ll need to write them. This should give you a solid starting point for your full-length plan.

Business plan outline templates

Looking for a shortcut? Our  business plan templates  are basically outlines in a box! 

While your outline likely won’t go into as much detail, these templates are great examples of how to organize your sections.

Traditional format templates

A strong template can turn your long, dense business plan into an engaging, easy-to-read document. There are lots to choose from, but here are just a few ideas to inspire you… 

You can duplicate pages and use these styles for a traditional outline, or start with a lean outline as you build your business plan out over time:

business plan outline

Lean format templates

For lean format outlines, a simpler ‘ mind map ’ style is a good bet. With this style, you can get ideas down fast and quickly turn them into one or two-page plans. Plus, because they’re shorter, they’re easy to share with your team.

business plan outline

Writing tips to ace your business plan outline

Business plans are complex documents, so if you’re still not sure how to write your outline, don’t worry! Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when drafting your business plan outline:

If this is your first time writing a business plan outline, don’t be too hard on yourself. You might not get it 100% right on the first try, but with these tips and the key components listed above, you’ll have a strong foundation. Remember, done is better than perfect. 

Create a winning business plan by starting with a detailed, actionable outline

The best way to learn is by doing. So go ahead, get started on your business plan outline. As you develop your plan, you’ll no doubt learn more about your business and what’s important for success along the way. 

A clean, compelling template is a great way to get a head start on your outline. After all, the sections are already separated and defined for you! 

Explore Venngage’s business plan templates  for one that suits your needs. Many are free to use and there are premium templates available for a small monthly fee. Happy outlining!

draft business plan example

Business Planning

Financial forecasting, see how upmetrics works  →, strategic planning, entrepreneurs & small business, accelerators & incubators, business consultants & advisors, educators & business schools, students & scholars.

Business Plan Course

Strategic canvas templates, e-books, guides & more.

Customers Success Stories

Cookie Business Plan

Are you thinking of starting a Cookie business? We have prepared a solid Cookie business plan sample that guides you on every stage of your business plan writing.

draft business plan example

Breakfast or any other snack time is incomplete without cookies being served. So, starting a cookie-making business will be a smart move for aspiring entrepreneurs given the high demand for cookies in the current market.

Are you looking to start writing a business plan for your cookie business? Creating a business plan is essential to starting, growing, and securing funding for your business. We have prepared a cookie business plan template for you to help in start writing yours.

How To Write A Cookie Business Plan?

Writing a business plan for a cookie business is a crucial step toward the success of your business. Here are the key steps to consider when writing a business plan:

1. Executive Summary

An executive summary is the first section of the business plan intended to provide an overview of the whole business plan. Generally, it is written after the whole business plan is ready. Here are some components to add to your summary:

Start with a brief introduction:

Market opportunity:, mention your services:, management team:, financial highlights:, call to action:.

Ensure you keep your executive summary concise and clear, use simple language, and avoid jargon.

2. Business Overview

Depending on what details of your business are important, you’ll need different elements in your business overview , But there are some foundational elements like business name, legal structure, location, history, and mission statement that every business overview should include:

About the business:

Provide all the basic information about your business in this section like:

Mission statement:

Business history:, future goals:.

This section should provide an in-depth understanding of your cookie business. Also, the business overview section should be engaging and precise.

3. Market Analysis

Market analysis provides a clear understanding of the market in which your cookie shop business will run along with the target market, competitors, and growth opportunities. Your market analysis should contain the following essential components:

Target market:

Market size and growth potential:, competitive analysis:, market trends:, regulatory environment:.

Some additional tips for writing the market analysis section of your business plan:

4. Products And Services

The product and services section of a cookie business plan should describe the specific services and products that will be offered to customers. To write this section should include the following:

List the services:

Packaging and labeling:

Overall, the product and services section of a business plan should be detailed, informative, and customer-focused. By providing a clear and compelling description of your products, you can help potential investors and readers understand the value of your business.

5. Sales And Marketing Strategies

Writing the sales and marketing strategies section means a list of strategies you will use to attract and retain your clients. Here are some key points to include in your marketing plan:

Develop your unique selling proposition (USP):

Determine your pricing strategy:, marketing strategies:, sales strategies:, customer retention:.

Overall, the sales and marketing strategies section of your business plan should outline your plans to attract and retain customers and generate revenue.

6. Operations Plan

When writing the operations plan section , it’s important to consider the various aspects of your business operations. Here are the components to include in an operations plan:

Explain your production process:

Operational process:, technologies:.

By including these key elements in your operations plan section, you can create a comprehensive plan that outlines how you will run your cookie business.

7. Management Team

The management team section provides an overview of the individuals responsible for running the cookie shop business. This section should provide a detailed description of the experience and qualifications of each manager, as well as their responsibilities and roles.

Key managers:

Organizational structure:, compensation plan:, board of advisors:.

Describe the key personnel of your company and highlight why your business has the fittest team.

8. Financial Plan

When writing the financial plan section of a business plan , it’s important to provide a comprehensive overview of your financial projections for the first few years of your business.

Profit & loss statement:

Cash flow statement:, balance sheet:, break-even point:, financing needs:.

Remember to be realistic with your financial projections, and to provide supporting evidence for all of your estimates.

Need help creating a business plan?

Turn your idea into an actionable plan 2X faster with Upmetrics

Start Planning

img

9. Appendix

When writing the appendix section , you should include any additional information that supports the main content of your plan. This may include financial statements, market research data, legal documents, and other relevant information.

Remember, the appendix section of your cookie business should only include relevant and important information that supports the main content of your plan.

This cookie business plan sample will provide an idea for writing a successful cookie business plan, including all the essential components of your business.

After this, if you are still confused about how to write an investment-ready cookie business plan to impress your audience, then download our cookie business plan pdf.

Frequently Asked Questions

1 why do you need a cookie business plan.

A business plan is an essential tool for anyone looking to start or run a successful cookie business. It helps to get clarity in your business, secures funding, and identifies potential challenges while starting and growing your cookie business.

Overall, a well-written plan can help you make informed decisions, which can contribute to the long-term success of your cookie business.

2 How to get funding for your cookie business plan?

There are several ways to get funding for your cookie, but one of the most efficient and speedy funding options is self-funding. Other options for funding are

Apart from all these options, there are small business grants available, check for the same in your location and you can apply for it.

3 Where to find business plan writers for your cookie business?

There are many business plan writers available, but no one knows your business and idea better than you, so we recommend you write your cookie business plan and outline your vision as you have in your mind.

4 What is the easiest way to write your cookie business plan?

A lot of research is necessary for writing a business plan, but you can write your plan most efficiently with the help of any cookie business plan example and edit it as per your need. You can also quickly finish your plan in just a few hours or less with the help of our business plan software.

draft business plan example

Business Planning Resources

We have plenty of  free business planning resources  available to help you with your planning. You can download our resources to learn all about business planning.

FREE TEMPLATES

Not found what you are looking for? Explore our 200+ sample business plans to find match for your business.

draft business plan example

DISCLAIMER: The business plans, templates, and articles contained on upmetrics.co are not to be considered as legal advice. All content is for informational purposes, and upmetrics makes no claim as to accuracy, legality or suitability. The site owner shall not be held liable for any errors, omissions or for damages of any kind.

Plan Template thumb

Plan your business in the shortest time possible

No Risk – Cancel at Any Time – 15 Day Money Back Guarantee

trustpilot reviews

Ready to Kickstart Your Business Planning?

– Don’t Miss It

draft business plan example

Please fill out the form below and we'll contact you shortly.

We care about your privacy. See our privacy policy

Download Your Template Now

We care about your privacy. See our Privacy Policy

Business Plan Example and Template

Learn how to create a business plan

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that contains the operational and financial plan of a business, and details how its objectives will be achieved. It serves as a road map for the business and can be used when pitching investors or financial institutions for debt or equity financing .

Business Plan

A business plan should follow a standard format and contain all the important business plan elements. Typically, it should present whatever information an investor or financial institution expects to see before providing financing to a business.

Contents of a Business Plan

A business plan should be structured in a way that it contains all the important information that investors are looking for. Here are the main sections of a business plan:

1. Title Page

The title page captures the legal information of the business, which includes the registered business name, physical address, phone number, email address, date, and the company logo.

2. Executive Summary

The executive summary is the most important section because it is the first section that investors and bankers see when they open the business plan. It provides a summary of the entire business plan. It should be written last to ensure that you don’t leave any details out. It must be short and to the point, and it should capture the reader’s attention. The executive summary should not exceed two pages.

3. Industry Overview

The industry overview section provides information about the specific industry that the business operates in. Some of the information provided in this section includes major competitors, industry trends, and estimated revenues. It also shows the company’s position in the industry and how it will compete in the market against other major players.

4. Market Analysis and Competition

The market analysis section details the target market for the company’s product offerings. This section confirms that the company understands the market and that it has already analyzed the existing market to determine that there is adequate demand to support its proposed business model.

Market analysis includes information about the target market’s demographics , geographical location, consumer behavior, and market needs. The company can present numbers and sources to give an overview of the target market size.

A business can choose to consolidate the market analysis and competition analysis into one section or present them as two separate sections.

5. Sales and Marketing Plan

The sales and marketing plan details how the company plans to sell its products to the target market. It attempts to present the business’s unique selling proposition and the channels it will use to sell its goods and services. It details the company’s advertising and promotion activities, pricing strategy, sales and distribution methods, and after-sales support.

6. Management Plan

The management plan provides an outline of the company’s legal structure, its management team, and internal and external human resource requirements. It should list the number of employees that will be needed and the remuneration to be paid to each of the employees.

Any external professionals, such as lawyers, valuers, architects, and consultants, that the company will need should also be included. If the company intends to use the business plan to source funding from investors, it should list the members of the executive team, as well as the members of the advisory board.

7. Operating Plan

The operating plan provides an overview of the company’s physical requirements, such as office space, machinery, labor, supplies, and inventory . For a business that requires custom warehouses and specialized equipment, the operating plan will be more detailed, as compared to, say, a home-based consulting business. If the business plan is for a manufacturing company, it will include information on raw material requirements and the supply chain.

8. Financial Plan

The financial plan is an important section that will often determine whether the business will obtain required financing from financial institutions, investors, or venture capitalists. It should demonstrate that the proposed business is viable and will return enough revenues to be able to meet its financial obligations. Some of the information contained in the financial plan includes a projected income statement , balance sheet, and cash flow.

9. Appendices and Exhibits

The appendices and exhibits part is the last section of a business plan. It includes any additional information that banks and investors may be interested in or that adds credibility to the business. Some of the information that may be included in the appendices section includes office/building plans, detailed market research , products/services offering information, marketing brochures, and credit histories of the promoters.

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Here is a basic template that any business can use when developing its business plan:

Section 1: Executive Summary

Section 2: Industry Overview

Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition

Section 4: Sales and Marketing Plan

Section 5: Management Plan

Section 6: Operating Plan

Section 7: Financial Plan

Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits

Related Readings

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Business Plans. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful:

draft business plan example

Car Wash Business Plan Template & Guidebook

image of Car Wash

Get worry-free services and support to launch your business starting at $0 plus state fees

All the tools you need to start your business and look professional, in one place.

Easily write a business plan, get funded, and know exactly how to reach your goals.

How to Write a Car Wash Business Plan in 7 Steps:

1. describe the purpose of your car wash business., 2. products & services offered by your car wash business., 3. build a creative marketing stratgey., target market, customer base , product or service description, competitive analysis, marketing channels, 4. write your operational plan., what equipment, supplies, or permits are needed to run a car wash business, 5. management & organization of your car wash business., 6. car wash business startup expenses & captial needed., 7. financial plan & projections, frequently asked questions about car wash business plans:, why do you need a business plan for a car wash business, who should you ask for help with your car wash business plan, can you write a car wash business plan yourself, related business plans, home inventory business plan template & guidebook, home inspection business plan template & guidebook, home decor business plan template & guidebook, health and wellness business plan template & guidebook, hauling business plan template & guidebook, hardware business plan template & guidebook, handyman business plan template & guidebook, hair extension business plan template & guidebook, handbag business plan template & guidebook.

ChatGPT Business Plan Examples and Prompts

So, you have a great idea for a business. But, in order to make it succeed, you need to create a comprehensive business plan. While the thought of creating one can be daunting and overwhelming, don’t worry—the ChatGPT business plan is here to help! With its easy-to-use platform and step-by-step guidance, ChatGPT will have your business plan written up in no time. Let’s take a look at how this ChatGPT use case works.

First, give ChatGPT a prompt: Give me a business plan for a [business] startup.

The business plan outline looks something like this:

Sure, I can provide you with a basic outline for a tech startup business plan:

Here’s an example business plan created by ChatGPT

Here is an example outline of a business plan for a tech startup:

Related Posts

ChatGPT Prompt: People Don’t Know Blog Ideas

No code, no problem: ai website design with ai art and chatgpt, chatgpt seo use cases: these are my favorite, best chatgpt use cases for businesses and home in 2023., executive summary.

“XYZ Tech is a software company focused on developing cutting-edge tools to simplify project management. Our mission is to help businesses of all sizes streamline their project management process and improve their overall productivity.”

Company Overview:

“XYZ Tech is a privately held company founded in 2021. The company is owned and managed by Jane Doe and John Smith, who have a combined 20 years of experience in the software industry. Our business model is based on a subscription-based software as a service (SaaS) model, where customers pay a monthly fee for access to our project management tools.”

Market Analysis:

“Our target customers are businesses of all sizes, from small startups to large corporations. Our main competitors are established project management software companies such as Asana, Trello , and Basecamp. However, we differentiate ourselves by offering a more user-friendly interface, intuitive features, and competitive pricing. The project management software industry is expected to grow steadily in the coming years, focusing particularly on remote work and collaboration.”

Product or Service Offering

“Our software offers a range of project management tools, including task assignment, file sharing, time tracking, and progress monitoring. Our tools are designed to be user-friendly, intuitive, and easy to integrate with other software solutions. Our subscription-based pricing model is designed to be affordable for businesses of all sizes.”

Marketing and Sales Strategy

“Our marketing strategy includes digital marketing, including social media ads, email marketing, and content marketing. We also plan to attend industry conferences and events to showcase our software to potential customers. Our sales strategy is to offer a free trial of our software to potential customers and follow up with targeted email campaigns and personalized demos to convert them to paying customers.”

Management and Organization

“Jane Doe and John Smith will serve as co-founders and CEOs of the company. They will oversee all aspects of the business, including product development, sales, and marketing. We plan to hire a team of software developers, customer service representatives, and salespeople to support our business operations.”

Financial Projections

“Our startup costs are estimated at $500,000, which will be funded through a combination of personal investments, angel investors, and venture capital. We project revenue of $1 million in the first year, $2 million in the second year, and $4 million in the third year. We expect to reach profitability by the end of the second year.”

Funding Request:

“We are seeking $500,000 in seed funding to cover our startup costs, including software development, hiring, and marketing. These funds will be used to launch our product and build our initial customer base. We plan to raise additional. capital through a series of funding rounds as we grow our business.”

“Attached to this business plan are the resumes of Jane Doe and John Smith, as well as a detailed market analysis report conducted by a third-party research firm. We have also included product screenshots and feature specifications to provide a better understanding of our software.”

Remember, this is just an example, and your business plan should be tailored to your specific business and industry. Good luck with your tech startup!

Real Estate Business Plan Example

Many of my readers are real estate agents, as am I. I thought it would be helpful to include a sample real estate business plan for a first-year real estate agent.

Here is an example of a completed business plan for a first-year real estate agent:

ABC Real Estate is a new real estate agency focused on providing high-quality real estate services to buyers and sellers in the local market. Our goal is to become the go-to agency for clients looking to buy or sell their homes in the area.

ABC Real Estate is a sole proprietorship owned and operated by Jane Smith. The business model is based on a commission-based sales structure, where Jane will earn a percentage of the total sales price for each transaction.

The local real estate market is strong, with a steady demand for homes in the area. The primary competition includes other local real estate agencies and online real estate platforms like Zillow and Redfin. ABC Real Estate plans to differentiate itself by providing a more personalized, hands-on approach to real estate services and competitive commission rates.

ABC Real Estate’s marketing strategy will focus on building relationships with potential clients through networking, social media, and community involvement. In addition, Jane will leverage online advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) to increase the agency’s online visibility. Sales strategies will include effective lead generation and conversion, focusing on building lasting relationships with clients to encourage repeat business and referrals.

ABC Real Estate will offer a full range of real estate services, including buying, selling, and renting residential properties. The agency will also provide comprehensive market analysis, home valuation, and personalized marketing plans to help sellers achieve the best possible sales price.

The startup costs for ABC Real Estate are estimated at $10,000, which includes licensing, marketing, and office expenses. The agency plans to generate revenue primarily through commission-based sales, with a projected revenue of $50,000 in the first year. The agency aims to break even within the first six months of operation and achieve profitability by the end of the first year.

ABC Real Estate will be run by Jane Smith, who will handle all sales, marketing, and administrative tasks. She plans to hire a part-time assistant within the first year to help with administrative tasks and increase the agency’s capacity for growth.

ABC Real Estate’s milestones for the first year include establishing a solid client base, achieving a high level of customer satisfaction, and reaching $250,000 in sales revenue. Jane also aims to attend at least one real estate conference within the first year to expand her network and stay up-to-date on industry trends.

The appendix includes Jane’s resume and real estate license, as well as market research data and financial projections for the first year of operation.

Remember, a business plan is a living document that should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in the market, business operations, and financial goals. Good luck with your real estate agency!

Tips for using ChatGPT to create a business plan:

1) A great business plan should be comprehensive, giving an in-depth look at your target market, competitors, marketing strategy, and financial projections. Being specific is the key to success – include as much information as possible to build a clear picture of what it will take for your venture to thrive! Set yourself up for growth with measurable goals based on sound details.

2) Make sure to ask follow-up questions if the answers don’t quite fit what you were expecting. You’ll get greater insights for your business this way and a more comprehensive understanding of any topic!

3) ChatGPT is a great tool when planning your next business venture, but it should complement rather than dictate your decisions. Use it as a starting point and draw on professionals for more in-depth advice if needed – these extra insights may take your strategy further!

4)When formulating your business plan, don’t be shy about giving it a personalized touch! ChatGPT provides an effective blueprint to work from; the rest is up to you. Tweak away and make adjustments as required.

5) Review and revise: After using ChatGPT to create your business plan, be sure to review and revise it multiple times. Ensure all the information is accurate and up-to-date and the plan is well-organized and easy to read. Show the plan to others and ask for feedback, and be willing to make changes as needed.

In conclusion, ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for creating a comprehensive and well-organized business plan. Following the tips outlined above and using ChatGPT to supplement your research and knowledge, you can create a plan that accurately reflects your business goals, market analysis, and financial projections.

However, it is important to remember that a business plan is a living document that should be reviewed and updated regularly as your business grows and evolves. With the right tools, resources, and a willingness to adapt to changes, you can create a successful business plan to guide your business toward long-term success.”

ChatGPT can be a powerful asset when crafting an effective and efficient business plan. With reference to our tips and the assistance of this tool, you’ll have confidence that your goals are outlined in detail, potential markets understood, and financial plans determined with precision.

Yet despite all this hard work, it is essential for any trajectory towards success that a business plan remains current: look out for changing trends as well keeping up to date on market data; armed with these elements plus Chat GPT , there’s no reason why long-term victory won’t follow!

draft business plan example

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Amazon Product Tester

Create a chatgpt marketing plan.

Lori Ballen

Lori Ballen

I'm a full-time blogger. I teach entrepreneurs how to get more website traffic, generate leads, and make more money online. This website contains affiliate links that benefit me. Take a Course Get a Website Try my Tools

ChatGPT can understand natural language and generate responses to a wide range of questions. However, there are still many questions that people have about ChatGPT. Here are the most commonly asked questions about this AI language model:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Policy Agreement I agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy .

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

What Can We Help You Find?

draft business plan example

Lori Ballen brings you the best tutorials, guides, and software lists for blogging, and affiliate marketing.

Recent Posts

© 2022 Lori Ballen | This website contains affiliate links that benefit the site owner

Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Remember Me

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.

You cannot copy content of this page

Business Plan Template for Small Businesses, Startups, and Entrepreneurs

This form will load shortly, thanks for your patience.

Sign up arrow

Start your business plan today

Why you need a business plan.

Why you should start with a business plan template

What is included in this business plan template?

Free business plan template PDF download

Free business plan template for microsoft word, need help writing a business plan, business planning guide, learn to write your business plan, free sample business plans and examples, simple business plan template, step-by-step business planning software, expert business plan writers.

35 day money back guarantee

Need a faster way to write your business plan? LivePlan is the #1 planning tool for over 1 million businesses.

Laptop business plan example

Your download should begin immediately

If your download doesn't begin after 5 seconds, please click here .

View our entire gallery of free downloads

Tweet about it

I just downloaded a free business plan template from Bplans.com!#smb #startup

New Call-to-action

Recommended Articles

How to write a business plan in 7 steps

Recommended Download

Sample Business Plans

You might also enjoy:

Bplans.com Logo

The Small Business Toolkit

Access a free list of must–have resources for new and growing businesses in any industry.

LivePlan screen shots

From template to plan in 30 minutes

draft business plan example

Plan, fund, and grow.

Easily write a business plan, secure funding, and gain insights.

Achieve your business funding goals with a proven plan format.

draft business plan example

Cookies on GOV.UK

We use some essential cookies to make this website work.

We’d like to set additional cookies to understand how you use GOV.UK, remember your settings and improve government services.

We also use cookies set by other sites to help us deliver content from their services.

You have accepted additional cookies. You have rejected additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

draft business plan example

Write a business plan

Download free business plan templates and find help and advice on how to write your business plan.

Business plan templates

Download a free business plan template on The Prince’s Trust website.

You can also download a free cash flow forecast template or a business plan template on the Start Up Loans website to help you manage your finances.

Business plan examples

Read example business plans on the Bplans website.

How to write a business plan

Get detailed information about how to write a business plan on the Start Up Donut website.

Why you need a business plan

A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.

A business plan helps you to:

You’ll need a business plan if you want to secure investment or a loan from a bank. Read about the finance options available for businesses on the Business Finance Guide website.

It can also help to convince customers, suppliers and potential employees to support you.

Related content

Is this page useful.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.

To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. We’ll send you a link to a feedback form. It will take only 2 minutes to fill in. Don’t worry we won’t send you spam or share your email address with anyone.

draft business plan example

draft business plan example

draft business plan example

draft business plan example

How to write a business plan in seven simple steps

When written effectively, a business plan can help raise capital, inform decisions, and draw new talent.

WeWork 511 West 25th St in New York.

Companies of all sizes have one thing in common: They all began as small businesses.  Starting small  is the corner for those just getting off the ground. Learn about how to make that first hire, deal with all things administrative, and set yourself up for success.

Writing a business plan is often the first step in transforming your business from an idea into something tangible . As you write, your thoughts begin to solidify into strategy, and a path forward starts to emerge. But a business plan is not only the realm of startups; established companies can also benefit from revisiting and rewriting theirs. In any case, the formal documentation can provide the clarity needed to motivate staff , woo investors, or inform future decisions.  

No matter your industry or the size of your team, the task of writing a business plan—a document filled with so much detail and documentation—can feel daunting. Don’t let that stop you, however; there are easy steps to getting started. 

What is a business plan and why does it matter? 

A business plan is a formal document outlining the goals, direction, finances, team, and future planning of your business. It can be geared toward investors, in a bid to raise capital, or used as an internal document to align teams and provide direction. It typically includes extensive market research, competitor analysis, financial documentation, and an overview of your business and marketing strategy. When written effectively, a business plan can help prescribe action and keep business owners on track to meeting business goals. 

Who needs a business plan?

A business plan can be particularly helpful during a company’s initial growth and serve as a guiding force amid the uncertainty, distractions, and at-times rapid developments involved in starting a business . For enterprise companies, a business plan should be a living, breathing document that guides decision-making and facilitates intentional growth.

“You should have a game plan for every major commitment you’ll have, from early-stage founder agreements to onboarding legal professionals,” says Colin Keogh, CEO of the Rapid Foundation—a company that brings technology and training to communities in need—and a WeWork Labs mentor in the UK . “You can’t go out on funding rounds or take part in accelerators without any planning.”

How to make a business plan and seven components every plan needs

While there is no set format for writing a business plan, there are several elements that are typically included. Here’s what’s important to consider when writing your business plan. 

1. Executive summary 

No longer than half a page, the executive summary should briefly introduce your business and describe the purpose of the business plan. Are you writing the plan to attract capital? If so, specify how much money you hope to raise, and how you’re going to repay the loan. If you’re writing the plan to align your team and provide direction, explain at a high level what you hope to achieve with this alignment, as well as the size and state of your existing team.

The executive summary should explain what your business does, and provide an introductory overview of your financial health and major achievements to date.  

2. Company description 

To properly introduce your company, it’s important to also describe the wider industry. What is the financial worth of your market? Are there market trends that will affect the success of your company? What is the state of the industry and its future potential? Use data to support your claims and be sure to include the full gamut of information—both positive and negative—to provide investors and your employees a complete and accurate portrayal of your company’s milieu. 

Go on to describe your company and what it provides your customers. Are you a sole proprietor , LLC, partnership, or corporation? Are you an established company or a budding startup? What does your leadership team look like and how many employees do you have? This section should provide both historical and future context around your business, including its founding story, mission statement , and vision for the future. 

It’s essential to showcase your point of difference in your company description, as well as any advantages you may have in terms of expert talent or leading technology. This is typically one of the first pieces of the plan to be written.

3. Market analysis and opportunity

Research is key in completing a business plan and, ideally, more time should be spent on research and analysis than writing the plan itself. Understanding the size, growth, history, future potential, and current risks inherent to the wider market is essential for the success of your business, and these considerations should be described here. 

In addition to this, it’s important to include research into the target demographic of your product or service. This might be in the form of fictional customer personas, or a broader overview of the income, location, age, gender, and buying habits of your existing and potential customers. 

Though the research should be objective, the analysis in this section is a good place to reiterate your point of difference and the ways you plan to capture the market and surpass your competition.

4. Competitive analysis 

Beyond explaining the elements that differentiate you from your competition, it’s important to provide an in-depth analysis of your competitors themselves.

This research should delve into the operations, financials, history, leadership, and distribution channels of your direct and indirect competitors. It should explore the value propositions of these competitors, and explain the ways you can compete with, or exploit, their strengths and weaknesses. 

5. Execution plan: operations, development, management 

This segment provides details around how you’re going to do the work necessary to fulfill this plan. It should include information about your organizational structure and the everyday operations of your team, contractors, and physical and digital assets.

Consider including your company’s organizational chart, as well as more in-depth information on the leadership team: Who are they? What are their backgrounds? What do they bring to the table? Potentially include the résumés of key people on your team. 

For startups, your execution plan should include how long it will take to begin operations, and then how much longer to reach profitability. For established companies, it’s a good idea to outline how long it will take to execute your plan, and the ways in which you will change existing operations.

If applicable, it’s also beneficial to include your strategy for hiring new team members and scaling into different markets. 

6. Marketing plan 

It’s essential to have a comprehensive marketing plan in place as you scale operations or kick off a new strategy—and this should be shared with your stakeholders and employees. This segment of your business plan should show how you’re going to promote your business, attract customers, and retain existing clients.

Include brand messaging, marketing assets, and the timeline and budget for engaging consumers across different channels. Potentially include a marketing SWOT analysis into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Evaluate the way your competitors market themselves, and how your target audience responds—or doesn’t respond—to these messages.

WeWork 222 Exhibition Street in Melbourne, Australia.

7. Financial history and projections  

It’s essential to disclose all finances involved in running your company within your business plan. This is so your shareholders properly understand how you’re projected to perform going forward, and the progress you’ve made so far. 

You should include your income statement, which outlines annual net profits or losses; a cash flow statement, which shows how much money you need to launch or scale operations; and a balance sheet that shows financial liabilities and assets. 

“An income statement is the measure of your financial results for a certain period and the most accurate report of business activities during that time, [whereas a balance sheet] presents your assets, liabilities, and equity,” Amit Perry, a corporate finance expert, explained at a WeWork Labs educational session in Israel.

It’s crucial to understand the terms correctly so you know how to present your finances when you’re speaking to investors. Amit Perry, CEO and founder of Perryllion Ltd.

In addition, if you’re asking for funding, you will need to outline exactly how much money you need as well as where this money will go and how you plan to pay it back. 

12 quick tips for writing a business plan 

Now that you know what components are traditionally included in a business plan, it’s time to consider how you’ll actually construct the document.

Here are 12 key factors to keep in mind when writing a business plan. These overarching principles will help you write a business plan that serves its purpose (whatever that may be) and becomes an easy reference in the years ahead. 

1. Don’t be long-winded

Use clear, concise language and avoid jargon. When business plans are too long-winded, they’re less likely to be used as intended and more likely to be forgotten or glazed over by stakeholders. 

2. Show why you care

Let your passion for your business shine through; show employees and investors why you care (and why they should too). 

3. Provide supporting documents

Don’t be afraid to have an extensive list of appendices, including the CVs of team members, built-out customer personas, product demonstrations, and examples of internal or external messaging. 

4. Reference data

All information regarding the market, your competitors, and your customers should reference authoritative and relevant data points.  

5. Research, research, research

The research that goes into your business plan should take you longer than the writing itself. Consider tracking your research as supporting documentation. 

6. Clearly demonstrate your points of difference

At every opportunity, it’s important to drive home the way your product or service differentiates you from your competition and helps solve a problem for your target audience. Don’t shy away from reiterating these differentiating factors throughout the plan. 

7. Be objective in your research

As important as it is to showcase your company and the benefits you provide your customers, it’s also important to be objective in the data and research you reference. Showcase the good and the bad when it comes to market research and your financials; you want your shareholders to know you’ve thought through every possible contingency. 

8. Know the purpose of your plan

It’s important you understand the purpose of your plan before you begin researching and writing. Be clear about whether you’re writing this plan to attract investment, align teams, or provide direction. 

9. Identify your audience

The same way your business plan must have a clearly defined purpose, you must have a clearly defined audience. To whom are you writing? New investors? Current employees? Potential collaborators? Existing shareholders? 

Related articles

draft business plan example

10. Avoid jargon

Avoid using industry-specific jargon, unless completely unavoidable, and try making your business plan as easy to understand as possible—for all potential stakeholders. 

11. Don’t be afraid to change it

Your business plan should evolve with your company’s growth, which means your business plan document should evolve as well. Revisit and rework your business plan as needed, and remember the most important factor: having a plan in place, even if it changes.

A business plan shouldn’t just be a line on your to-do list; it should be referenced and used as intended going forward. Keep your business plan close, and use it to inform decisions and guide your team in the years ahead. 

Creating a business plan is an important step in growing your company 

Whether you’re just starting out or running an existing operation, writing an effective business plan can be a key predictor of future success. It can be a foundational document from which you grow and thrive . It can serve as a constant reminder to employees and clients about what you stand for, and the direction in which you’re moving. Or, it can prove to investors that your business, team, and vision are worth their investment. 

No matter the size or stage of your business, WeWork can help you fulfill the objectives outlined in your business plan—and WeWork’s coworking spaces can be a hotbed for finding talent and investors, too. The benefits of coworking spaces include intentionally designed lounges, conference rooms, and private offices that foster connection and bolster creativity, while a global network of professionals allows you to expand your reach and meet new collaborators. 

Using these steps to write a business plan will put you in good stead to not only create a document that fulfills a purpose but one that also helps to more clearly understand your market, competition, point of difference, and plan for the future. 

For more tips on growing teams and building a business, check out all our articles on  Ideas by WeWork.

Caitlin Bishop is a writer for WeWork’s  Ideas by WeWork , based in New York City. Previously, she was a journalist and editor at  Mamamia  in Sydney, Australia, and a contributing reporter at  Gotham Gazette .

draft business plan example

Short-term leases can offer startups and established companies some much-needed flexibility

Deducting taxes from employee paychecks.

From federal taxes to 401(k)s, figuring out payroll deductions can be a headache. Here’s how to get started

draft business plan example

Does your company culture still reflect your goals and values? If not, it might be time for a change

38+ Business Plan Examples [ Startup, Restaurant, Small Business ]

Business plan in pdf, 38+ business plan template examples, 1. business plan example, 2. business plan format template, 3. small business plan template, 4. business plan template for online start-up, 5. spa business plan template, 6. it consulting business plan template, 7. software sales business plan template, 8. software testing business plan, 9. database software business plan template, 10. software company business plan template, 11. it security business plan template, 12. nonprofit business plan template, 13. trucking business plan template, 14. business plan table of contents template, 15. startup business plan template, 16. rental property business plan template, 17. construction business plan template, 18. sample construction business plan template, 19. restaurant business plan template, 20. freight trucking business plan template, 21. mortgage broker business plan template, 22. simple business plan template, 23. boutique business plan template, 24. restaurant business plan, 25. real estate business plan, 26. basic business plan, 27. business continuity plan, 28. business development plan, 29. business strategic plan, 30. small strategic plan, 31. final strategic plan, 32. e-commerce startup plan, 33. business consulting plan, 34. accounting business, 35. cafe business plan, 36. event business plan, 37. car wash business plan, 38. business model plan, 39. hotel business plan, what is a business plan, startups’ business risk, how to make a business plan, what are the two purposes of a business plan, how do you define a good business plan, what are the two types of a business plan.

business plan template

business plan format template

trucking business plan template2

startup business plan template

1. Organize Your Objectives

2. begin with a precise executive summary, 3. showcase your business management structure, 4. place your proposed strategies, 5. review the budget, more design, how a business plan can help small business owners, how to develop a human resources department business plan, 24+ examples of free business plans, 7+ annual plan examples, samples, 9+ transition plan examples, samples, 6+ advertising plan examples, samples, 9+ control plan examples, samples, 7+ audit plan examples, samples, related articles.

Create a business plan

draft business plan example

You've been dreaming of starting your own business. You've started with some concrete steps, and you're ready to put your proposal together. But how do you start, and how do you know when you have the right information?

How to get it done

Create a business plan with templates in Word:

Your browser does not support video. Install Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash Player, or Internet Explorer 9.

Start with a template

Download these templates from the Office Templates site to create your plan:

Fill in your Business plan .

Analyze your market with the Business market analysis template .

Detail your financials in a Financial plan .

Divide up the work and track deliverables with this Business plan checklist .

Wrap up with this Business startup checklist .

Need a little help?

Learn how to:

Start a document from a template .

Apply themes to change your plan's look.

Related resources

Related article

Must follow steps for starting a successful business

Buy Microsoft 365

Get Microsoft 365

Get help setting up

Training and in-person help

Facebook

Need more help?

Expand your skills.

EXPLORE TRAINING >

Get new features first

JOIN MICROSOFT 365 INSIDERS >

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback.

draft business plan example

How to start a business: A practical 22-step guide to success

How to start a business: A practical 22-step guide to success

Image Alt Text

How to write a business plan in 10 steps + free template

What is cash flow? An in-depth guide for business owners

What is cash flow? An in-depth guide for business owners

draft business plan example

Small business grants: 20+ grants and resources to fund your future without debt

Image Alt Text

How to choose the best payment method for small businesses

Image Alt Text

Jobs report: Are small business wages keeping up with inflation?

Melissa Skaggs shares the buzz around The Hive

Melissa Skaggs shares the buzz around The Hive

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or just beginning to think about  starting a business , demands come at you fast. Amidst the rush of to-do lists and meetings, determining how to write a business plan—much less following a business plan template—often feels time-consuming and intimidating.

But nearly 70% of business owners who have been there and done that recommend writing a business plan before you start a business, according to  a recent QuickBooks survey . After all, when done right, business plans have enormous payoffs.

And yet, more than 10% of prospective business owners said they do not intend to write a business plan. Another 10% aren’t sure if they need a plan.

It’s more than the old cliche: A failure to plan is a plan to fail. In fact, a wealth of data now exists on the difference a written business plan makes, especially for small or growing companies.

Executive summary

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to write a successful business plan, step-by-step, and turn your idea into a reality. Even better, if you’re pressed for time, we’ve compiled the  10 steps and examples into a downloadable (PDF) template . The 10 steps to write a business plan are:

But, first things first.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a comprehensive road map for your small business’s growth and development. It communicates who you are, what you plan to do, and how you plan to do it. It also helps you attract talent and investors.

But remember that a  business idea  or  business concept  is not a plan.

3 Ws of a business plan: Who, what, and why

Investors want to know you have:

A templated business plan gives investors a blueprint of what to expect from your company and tells them about you as an entrepreneur.

Why do you need a business plan?

You need a business plan because the majority of venture capitalists (VCs) and all banking institutions will not invest in a startup or small business without a solid, written plan. Not only does a business plan help you focus on concrete objectives, but it gives outside parties reassurance that you’ve thought ahead.

In 2018, entrepreneurial resource center Bplans worked with the University of Oregon to compile and analyze research around the  benefits of business planning . Here’s what they found:

Perhaps the strongest evidence comes from the  Journal of Business Venturing’s  2010 meta-analysis of 46 separate studies on 11,046 organizations: Its findings confirm that “business planning increases the performance of both new and established small firms.”

When do you need a business plan?

Before you leave a nine-to-five income, your business plan can tell you if you’re ready. Over the long term, it’ll keep you focused on what needs to be accomplished.

It’s also smart to write a business plan when you’re:

draft business plan example

Feel confident from day one

You're never too small, and it's never too soon to know you're on track for success.

How to write a business plan in 10 steps

Start with a clear picture of the audience your plan will address. Is it a room full of angel investors? Your local bank’s venture funding department? Or is it you, your leaders, and your employees?

Internal business plan vs external business plan

Defining your audience helps you determine the language you’ll need to propose your ideas as well as the depth to which you need to go to help readers conduct due diligence.

Now, let’s dive into the 10 key elements of your business plan.

1. Create an executive summary

Even though it appears first in the plan, write your executive summary last so you can condense essential ideas from the other nine sections. For now, leave it as a placeholder.

What is an executive summary?

The executive summary lays out all the vital information about your business within a relatively short space.  An executive summary is typically one page or less.  It’s a high-level look at everything and summarizes the other sections of your plan. In short, it’s an overview of your business.

How do I write an executive summary?

Below, you’ll find an example from a fictional business, Laura’s Landscapers. (We’ll use that same company throughout this guide to make each step practical and easy to replicate.)

This executive summary focuses on what’s often called the value proposition or unique selling point: an extended motto aimed at customers, investors, and employees.

You can follow a straightforward “problem, solution” format, or a fill-in-the-blanks framework:

This framework isn’t meant to be rigid, but instead to serve as a jumping-off point.

Example of an executive summary

Market research indicates that an increasing number of wealthy consumers in Richmond are interested in landscape architecture based on sustainable design. However, high-end firms in the area are scarce. Currently, only two exist—neither of which focus on eco-friendly planning nor are certified by green organizations.

Laura’s Landscapers provides a premium, sustainable service for customers with disposable incomes, large yards, and a love of nature.

2. Compose your company description

Within a business plan, your company description contains three elements:

These elements give context to the bigger picture in your business plan, letting investors know the purpose behind your company so the goals make sense as well.

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement is your business’s reason for existing. It’s more than what you do or what you sell, it’s about why exactly you do what you do. Effective mission statements should be:

Throughout every part of your plan, less is more. Nowhere is that truer than your mission statement. Think about what motivates you, what causes and experiences led you to start the business, the problems you solve, the wider social issues you care about, and more.

Tip:  Review your mission statement often to make sure it matches your company’s purpose as it evolves. A statement that doesn’t fit your core values or what you actually do can undermine your marketing efforts and credibility.

How do you describe a company’s history?

Don’t worry about making your company history a dense narrative. Instead, write it like you would a profile:

Then, translate that list into a few short paragraphs (like the example below).

Why do business objectives matter?

Business objectives give you clear goals to focus on, like the North Star. These goals must be SMART, which stands for:

They must also be tied to key results. When your objectives aren’t clearly defined, it’s hard for employees and team members to work toward a common purpose. What’s worse, fuzzy goals won’t inspire confidence from investors, nor will they have a profitable impact on your business.

Example of a company description

Laura’s Landscapers’ mission is to change the face of our city through sustainable landscaping and help you create the outdoor living space of your dreams.

Founded in 2021 by sisters Laura and Raquel Smith, we have over 25 years of combined landscape architecture experience. Our four employees work in teams of two and have already completed 10 projects for some of Richmond’s most influential business and community leaders.

Our objectives over the next three years are to:

3. Summarize market research and potential

The next step is to outline your ideal potential customer as well as the actual and potential size of your market. Target markets—also known as personas—identify demographic information like:

By getting specific, you’ll illustrate expertise and generate confidence.  If your target market is too broad, it can be a red flag for investors.

The same is true with your market analysis when you estimate its size and monetary value. In addition to big numbers that encompass the total market, drill down into your business’s addressable market—meaning, local numbers or numbers that apply the grand total to your specific segments. You may even  map your customer’s journey  to get a better understanding of their wants and needs.

Example of market research and potential

Laura’s Landscapers’ ideal customer is a wealthy baby boomer, a member of Gen X, or a millennial between the ages of 35 and 65 with a high disposable income. He or she—though primarily, she—is a homeowner. They’re a working professional or have recently retired. In love with the outdoors, they want to enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature in their own backyard, but don’t have the time or skill to do it for themselves.

Market research shows the opportunity for Laura’s Landscapers has never been better:

In Richmond, leading indicators for interest in green, eco-friendly, and sustainable landscaping have all increased exponentially over the last five years:

4. Conduct competitive analysis

Competitive research begins with identifying other companies that currently sell in the market you’re looking to enter. The idea of carving out enough time to learn about every potential competitor you have may sound overwhelming, but it can be extremely useful.

Answer these additional questions after you’ve identified your most significant competitors:

Spend some time thinking about what sets you apart. If your idea is truly novel, be prepared to explain the customer pain points you see your business solving. If your business doesn’t have any direct competition, research other companies that provide a similar product or service.

How to distinguish your business plan from competitors

Next, create a table or spreadsheet listing your competitors to include in your plan, often referred to as a competitor analysis table.

Example of competitive analysis

Within Richmond’s residential landscaping market, there are only two high-end architectural competitors: (1) Yukie’s Yards and (2) Dante’s Landscape Design. All other businesses focus solely on either industrial projects or residential maintenance.

Yukie’s Yards

Dante’s Landscape Design

5. Describe your product or service

This section describes the benefits, production process, and life cycle of your products or services, and how what your business offers is better than your competitors.

When describing benefits, focus on:

For the production process, answer how you:

Within the product life cycle portion, map elements like:

Example of product or service description

Laura’s Landscapers’ service—our competitive advantage—is differentiated by three core features.

First, throughout their careers, Laura and Raquel Smith have worked at and with Richmond’s three leading industrial landscaping firms. This gives us unique access to the residents who are most likely to use our service.

Second, we’re the only firm certified green by the Richmond Homeowners Association, the National Preservation Society, and Business Leaders for Greener Richmond.

Third, of our 10 completed projects, seven have rated us a 5 out of 5 on Google My Business and our price points for those projects place us in a healthy middle ground between our two other competitors.

6. Develop a marketing and sales strategy

Your marketing strategy or marketing plan can be the difference between selling so much that growth explodes or getting no business at all. Growth strategies are a critical part of your business plan.

You should briefly reiterate topics such as your:

Then, add your:

You can also use this section of your business plan to reinforce your strengths and what differentiates you from the competition. Be sure to show what you’ve already done, what you plan to do given your existing resources, and what results you expect from your efforts.

Example of marketing and sales strategy

Laura’s Landscapers’ marketing and sales strategy will leverage, in order of importance:

Reputation is the number one purchase influencer in high-end landscape design. As such, channels 1-4 will continue to be our top priority.

Our social media strategy will involve YouTube videos of the design process as well as multiple Instagram accounts and Pinterest boards showcasing professional photography. Lastly, our direct mail campaigns will send carbon-neutral, glossy brochures to houses in wealthy neighborhoods.

7. Compile your business financials

If you’re just starting out, your business may not yet have  financial data , financial statements, or comprehensive reporting. However, you’ll still need to prepare a budget and a financial plan.

If your company has been around for a while and you’re seeking investors, be sure to include:

Other figures that can be included are:

Ideally, you should  provide at least three years’ worth of reporting.  Make sure your figures are accurate and don’t provide any profit or loss projections before carefully going over your past statements for justification.

Avoid underestimating business costs

Costs, profit margins, and sale prices are closely linked, and many business owners set sale prices without accounting for all costs. New business owners are particularly at risk for this mistake.  The cost of your product or service must include all of your costs, including overhead.  If it doesn’t, you can’t determine a sale price to generate the profit level you desire.

Underestimating costs can catch you off guard and eat away at your business over time.

Example of business financials

Given the high degree of specificity required to accurately represent your business’s financials, rather than create a fictional line item example for Laura’s Landscapers, we suggest using one of our free Excel templates and entering your own data:

Once you’ve completed either one, then create a big picture representation to include here as well as in your objectives in step two.

In the case of Laura’s Landscapers, this big picture would involve steadily increasing the number of annual projects and cost per project to offset lower margins:

Current revenue for FY2022:  $200,000

FY2022 projections:  $360,000

FY2023 projections:  $552,000

FY2024 projections:  $972,000

8. Describe your organization and management

Your business is only as good as the team that runs it. Identify your team members and explain why they can either turn your business idea into a reality or continue to grow it.  Highlight expertise and qualifications throughout —this section of your business plan should show off your management team superstars.

You should also note:

To make informed business decisions, you may need to budget for a  bookkeeper , a CPA, and an attorney. CPAs can help you review your monthly  accounting  transactions and prepare your annual tax return. An attorney can help with client agreements, investor contracts (like shareholder agreements), and with any legal disputes that may arise.

Ask your business contacts for referrals (and their fees), and be sure to  include those costs in your business plan.

Example of organization and management

Laura Smith, Co-founder and CEO

Raquel Smith, Co-founder and Chief Design Officer

Laura’s Landscapers’ creative crews

9. Explain your funding request

When outlining how much money your small business needs, try to be as realistic as possible. You can provide a range of numbers if you don’t want to pinpoint an exact number. However,  include a best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario.

Since a new business doesn’t have a track record of generating profits, it’s likely that you’ll sell equity to raise capital in the early years of operation. Equity means ownership—when you sell equity to raise capital, you are selling a portion of your company.

Most small business equity sales are private transactions. The investor may also expect to be paid a dividend, which is a share of company profits, and they’ll want to know how they can sell their ownership interest. Additionally, you can raise capital by borrowing money, but you’ll have to repay creditors both the principal amount borrowed and the interest on the debt.

If you look at the capital structure of any large company, you’ll see that most firms issue both equity and debt. When drafting your business plan, decide if you’re willing to accept the trade-off of giving up total control and profits before you sell equity in your business.

The founder can access cash by contributing their own money into the business by securing a line of credit (LOC) at a bank or applying for  QuickBooks Capital . If you raise cash through a LOC or some other type of loan, it needs to be paid off ASAP to reduce the interest cost on debt.

Example of a funding request

Laura’s Landscapers has already purchased all necessary permits, software, and equipment to serve our existing customers. Once scaled to $972,000 in annual revenue—over the next three years and at a 10% profit margin—our primary ongoing annual expenses (not including taxes) will total $874,800.

While already profitable, we are requesting $100,000 in the form of either a business loan or in exchange for equity to purchase equipment necessary to outfit two additional creative crews.

10. Compile an appendix for official documents

Finally, assemble a well-organized appendix for anything and everything readers will need to supplement the information in your plan. Consider any info that:

Useful details to cover in an appendix include:

Your appendix should be a living section of the business plan, whether the plan is a document for internal reference only or an external call for investors.

How to make a business plan that stands out

Investors have little patience for poorly written documents. You want your business plan to be as attractive and readable as possible.

3 tips to update your business plan

It’s a good idea to periodically revisit your business plan, especially if you are looking to expand. Conducting new research and updating your plan could also provide answers when you hit difficult questions.

Mid-year is a good time to refocus and revise your original plans because it gives you the opportunity to refocus any goals for the second half of the year. Below are three ways to update your plan.

1. Refocus your productivity

When you wrote your original business plan, you likely identified your specific business and personal goals. Take some time now to assess if you’ve hit your targets.

If you only want to work a set number of hours per week, you must identify the products and services that deliver the returns you need to make that a reality. Doing so helps you refocus your productivity on the most lucrative profit streams.

Also, use what you’ve achieved and the hard lessons you’ve learned to help you re-evaluate what is and isn’t working.

2. Realign with your goals

Do a gut check to determine whether all of your hard work is still aligned with your original goals and your mission statement. Ask yourself these questions:

These questions may be tough to answer at first glance, but they reveal your ties to your goals and what most likely needs to change to achieve new wins.

3. Repurpose your offerings

If your time has become more focused on small projects rather than tangible growth and building a valuable client list, consider packaging your existing products or services differently. Can you bundle a few things together?

You must deliberately manage your revenue streams, and that might require shuffling things around a little to focus on what is working for you.

Business plan template

Even if you don’t plan on seeking investments early on, there are other important reasons to use a business plan template to write a great business plan:

Download the following template to build your business plan from the ground up, considering all the important questions that will help your investors and employees.

Business plan template download

The old cliche is still true today: A failure to plan is a plan to fail. Your business plan is crucial to the growth of your business, from giving direction, motivation, and context to employees, to providing thoughtful reassurance and risk mitigation to financers. Before you get your small business up and running , put down a plan that instills confidence and sets you up for success.

Recommended for you

Starting a business

December 15, 2021

draft business plan example

pricing strategy

Pricing strategy guide: How to choose one for your business

April 22, 2022

A woman talking on her cell phone, wearing an apron, writing down an order on a piece of paper.

Running a business

Financial forecasting models: 4 methods to consider

February 9, 2022

Get the latest to your inbox

Relevant resources to help start, run, and grow your business.

By clicking “Submit,” you agree to permit Intuit to contact you regarding QuickBooks and have read and acknowledge our Privacy Statement .

Thanks for subscribing.

Fresh business resources are headed your way!

This content is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting, or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc. does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit Inc. does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

We provide third-party links as a convenience and for informational purposes only. Intuit does not endorse or approve these products and services, or the opinions of these corporations or organizations or individuals. Intuit accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content on these sites.

Looking for something else?

From big jobs to small tasks, we've got your business covered.

Firm of the Future

Topical articles and news from top pros and Intuit product experts.

QuickBooks Support

Get help with QuickBooks. Find articles, video tutorials, and more.

Call Sales: 1-844-435-1308

© 2023 Intuit Inc. All rights reserved.

Intuit, QuickBooks, QB, TurboTax, Mint, Credit Karma, and Mailchimp are registered trademarks of Intuit Inc. Terms and conditions, features, support, pricing, and service options subject to change without notice.

By accessing and using this page you agree to the Terms and Conditions.

TRUSTe

IMAGES

  1. Draft Template Business Plan

    draft business plan example

  2. How to Start a Business: A Startup Guide for Entrepreneurs [Template]

    draft business plan example

  3. FREE 31+ Sample Business Plan Templates in Google Docs

    draft business plan example

  4. Business Plan

    draft business plan example

  5. 7 Draft Business Plan Template

    draft business plan example

  6. Olie business plan draft feb 13 2013 final draft

    draft business plan example

VIDEO

  1. How to write a Business Plan?

  2. How To Start A Profitable Business In One Weekend

  3. California High-Speed Rail Board of Directors Meeting, February 17, 2022

  4. Writing your business plan

  5. How to Write a Business Plan

  6. How to Make Money as a Coach in Just 6 Months

COMMENTS

  1. Write your business plan

    Example lean business plan. Before you write your business plan, read this example business plan written by a fictional business owner, Andrew, who owns a toy company. Download Andrew's business plan. Need help? Get free business counseling.

  2. How To Write A Business Plan (2023 Guide)

    For example, you might want to hit a certain number of followers across social channels or raise your engagement rates. Another goal could be to attract new investors or find grants if you're a...

  3. 18 Best Sample Business Plans & Examples to Help You Write Your Own

    Sample Business Plan Templates Now that you know what's included and how to format a business plan, let's review some templates. 1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan Download a free, editable one-page business plan template.

  4. 500+ free business plan examples to help write your plan

    Example business plan format Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format. You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections: Executive summary

  5. How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

    Learn about the best business plan software. 1. Write an executive summary. This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement ...

  6. Business plans

    Business plan templates offer step-by-step instructions and prefabricated slides for your executive summary, company overview, financial plan, and more. You'll even find a business plan template for specific industries including business plan templates in Word for healthcare providers, professional services, and retail.

  7. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    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

  8. How to write a business plan in 7 steps

    Here are the 7 steps to write a business plan: Executive summary Products & services Market analysis Marketing & sales Company organization and management team Financial projections Appendix Be sure to download our free business plan template to start writing your own business plan as you work through this guide.

  9. Business Plan Templates: 9 FREE Samples

    For example, a plan for a small business seeking potential investors or a business loan will need to provide income statements, cash flow statements, and a balance sheet (usually for a three-year or five-year forecast period).

  10. The Top 7 Business Plan Examples To Inspire Your Own (2023)

    7 Business plan examples: section by section The business plan examples we'll look at below follow this example template: Click here to start selling online now with Shopify Executive summary. An introductory overview of your business. Company description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists. Market analysis.

  11. How to Write a Business Proposal (Examples & Templates)

    This gray business proposal example has a detailed yet short executive summary including some social proof in the form of clients they've worked with: CREATE THIS PROPOSAL TEMPLATE Take note of how precise this business proposal example is. You want to keep your executive summary concise and clear from the get-go.

  12. Simple Business Plan Template (2023)

    This section of your simple business plan template explores how to structure and operate your business. Details include the type of business organization your startup will take, roles and...

  13. How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)

    Successful business plan examples The owner of Urbanity told us he spent 2 months writing a 75-page business plan and received a $250,000 loan from the bank when he was 23. Make your business plan as detailed as possible when looking for financing. We've provided a template to help you prepare the portions of a business plan that banks expect.

  14. Business plan templates

    Business plan (Design) Word Business Plan Word Small business startup checklist Word Professional services marketing plan PowerPoint Home business startup checklist Word Home business plan Word Business plan presentation (Ion green design, widescreen) PowerPoint Business Startup Checklist Word Professional services business plan Word

  15. How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates]

    Here's another example of a lean business plan format in the form of a financial plan: CREATE THIS PLAN TEMPLATE Return to Table of Contents What are the key components of a business plan outline? Your business plan outline should include all the following sections.

  16. Cookie Business Plan Template (2023)

    How To Write A Cookie Business Plan? Writing a business plan for a cookie business is a crucial step toward the success of your business. Here are the key steps to consider when writing a business plan: 1. Executive Summary. An executive summary is the first section of the business plan intended to provide an overview of the whole business plan ...

  17. Business Plan Example and Template

    Business Plan Template Here is a basic template that any business can use when developing its business plan: Section 1: Executive Summary Present the company's mission. Describe the company's product and/or service offerings. Give a summary of the target market and its demographics.

  18. The #1 Car Wash Business Plan Template & Guidebook

    How to Write a Car Wash Business Plan in 7 Steps: 1. Describe the Purpose of Your Car Wash Business. The first step to writing your business plan is to describe the purpose of your car wash business. This includes describing why you are starting this type of business, and what problems it will solve for customers.

  19. ChatGPT Business Plan Examples And Prompts

    First, give ChatGPT a prompt: Give me a business plan for a [business] startup. Sure, I can provide you with a basic outline for a tech startup business plan: Executive Summary: Provide a brief overview of your business, its mission, and its objectives. Company Overview: Include a detailed description of your company, its ownership structure ...

  20. Free Business Plan Template for Small Businesses

    Business Plan Template for Small Businesses, Startups, and Entrepreneurs. This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales.

  21. Write a business plan

    It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts. A business plan helps you to: clarify your business idea spot potential problems set out your goals measure your...

  22. How to write a business plan in seven simple steps

    This is typically one of the first pieces of the plan to be written. 3. Market analysis and opportunity. Research is key in completing a business plan and, ideally, more time should be spent on research and analysis than writing the plan itself. Understanding the size, growth, history, future potential, and current risks inherent to the wider ...

  23. 38+ Business Plan Examples [ Startup, Restaurant, Small Business ]

    1. Organize Your Objectives. In starting a business plan, always come up with smart goals. Together with is must be the objectives that you set to follow. So, to begin with, list all your ambitions for your company. Create an outline that summarizes what you aim to accomplish, whether monthly or annually.

  24. Create a business plan

    Start with a template. Download these templates from the Office Templates site to create your plan: Fill in your Business plan. Analyze your market with the Business market analysis template. Detail your financials in a Financial plan. Divide up the work and track deliverables with this Business plan checklist.

  25. How to write a business plan in 10 steps + free template

    Even better, if you're pressed for time, we've compiled the 10 steps and examples into a downloadable (PDF) template. The 10 steps to write a business plan are: Create an executive summary. Compose your company description. Summarize market research and potential. Conduct competitive analysis.