How To Write A Business Plan (2023 Guide)
Updated: Aug 20, 2022, 2:21am
Table of Contents
Brainstorm an executive summary, create a company description, brainstorm your business goals, describe your services or products, conduct market research, create financial plans, bottom line, frequently asked questions.
Every business starts with a vision, which is distilled and communicated through a business plan. In addition to your high-level hopes and dreams, a strong business plan outlines short-term and long-term goals, budget and whatever else you might need to get started. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to write a business plan that you can stick to and help guide your operations as you get started.
Drafting the Summary
An executive summary is an extremely important first step in your business. You have to be able to put the basic facts of your business in an elevator pitch-style sentence to grab investors’ attention and keep their interest. This should communicate your business’s name, what the products or services you’re selling are and what marketplace you’re entering.
Ask for Help
When drafting the executive summary, you should have a few different options. Enlist a few thought partners to review your executive summary possibilities to determine which one is best.
After you have the executive summary in place, you can work on the company description, which contains more specific information. In the description, you’ll need to include your business’s registered name , your business address and any key employees involved in the business.
The business description should also include the structure of your business, such as sole proprietorship , limited liability company (LLC) , partnership or corporation. This is the time to specify how much of an ownership stake everyone has in the company. Finally, include a section that outlines the history of the company and how it has evolved over time.
Wherever you are on the business journey, you return to your goals and assess where you are in meeting your in-progress targets and setting new goals to work toward.
Goals can cover a variety of sections of your business. Financial and profit goals are a given for when you’re establishing your business, but there are other goals to take into account as well with regard to brand awareness and growth. 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 nonprofit business. If you’re looking to grow, you’ll want to set revenue targets to make that happen as well.
Goals unrelated to traceable numbers are important as well. These can include seeing your business’s advertisement reach the general public or receiving a terrific client review. These goals are important for the direction you take your business and the direction you want it to go in the future.
The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you’re offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit in the current market or are providing something necessary or entirely new. If you have any patents or trademarks, this is where you can include those too.
If you have any visual aids, they should be included here as well. This would also be a good place to include pricing strategy and explain your materials.
This is the part of the business plan where you can explain your expertise and different approach in greater depth. Show how what you’re offering is vital to the market and fills an important gap.
You can also situate your business in your industry and compare it to other ones and how you have a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Other than financial goals, you want to have a budget and set your planned weekly, monthly and annual spending. There are several different costs to consider, such as operational costs.
Business Operations Costs
Rent for your business is the first big cost to factor into your budget. If your business is remote, the cost that replaces rent will be the software that maintains your virtual operations.
Marketing and sales costs should be next on your list. Devoting money to making sure people know about your business is as important as making sure it functions.
Although you can’t anticipate disasters, there are likely to be unanticipated costs that come up at some point in your business’s existence. It’s important to factor these possible costs into your financial plans so you’re not caught totally unaware.
Business plans are important for businesses of all sizes so that you can define where your business is and where you want it to go. Growing your business requires a vision, and giving yourself a roadmap in the form of a business plan will set you up for success.
How do I write a simple business plan?
When you’re working on a business plan, make sure you have as much information as possible so that you can simplify it to the most relevant information. A simple business plan still needs all of the parts included in this article, but you can be very clear and direct.
What are some common mistakes in a business plan?
The most common mistakes in a business plan are common writing issues like grammar errors or misspellings. It’s important to be clear in your sentence structure and proofread your business plan before sending it to any investors or partners.
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.
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Julia is a writer in New York and started covering tech and business during the pandemic. She also covers books and the publishing industry.
Kelly is an SMB Editor specializing in starting and marketing new ventures. Before joining the team, she was a Content Producer at Fit Small Business where she served as an editor and strategist covering small business marketing content. She is a former Google Tech Entrepreneur and she holds an MSc in International Marketing from Edinburgh Napier University. Additionally, she manages a column at Inc. Magazine.
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Master of Business Administration
An Online MBA Degree That Prepares You to be a Successful Business Leader
You're ready to become a leader and rise to the next level in business. A master's degree in business administration is the step you need to take you further in your professional career and potentially earn a higher salary. A reputable online MBA degree program can be the difference-maker for your future by helping you understand business practices and management skills. This master's in business administration is focused on equipping you with skills and credentials that helps distinguish your value in the business world.
Graduates can finish within
WGU lets you set a schedule so you can finish your MBA in just one year. You are in control of the schedule and timing for your online MBA program.
*WGU Internal Data
Tuition per six-month term is
See what your online MBA will cost at our university. Tuition charged per term—rather than per credit—helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. Finish faster, pay less!
Average salary increase
Master of Business Administration graduates report an average salary increase of $16,200 after completing their WGU degree.
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COURSES & COMPETENCIES
This program is composed of the following business and management courses. You will typically complete them one at a time as you make your way through your program, working with your Program Mentor each term to build your personalized degree plan. You’ll work through each course as quickly as you can study and master the material. As soon as you’re ready, you’ll pass the assessment, complete the course, and move on. This means you can finish as many courses as you're able in a term at no additional cost. One year MBA students can complete all of their coursework in just two WGU terms. You will set a schedule with your Program Mentor to enable you to finish your program quickly. Learn more about the one year MBA program at WGU.
To ensure WGU graduates acquire the knowledge and skills sought by today’s employers, our Master of Business Administration—like all of WGU's College of Business programs—was developed with significant input from experts and business leaders who serve on our Business Program Council.
This course covers principles of effective management and leadership that maximize organizational performance. The following topics are included: the role and functions of a manager, analysis of personal leadership styles, approaches to self-awareness and self-assessment, and application of foundational leadership and management skills.
This course focuses on strategies and tools that managers use to maximize employee contribution and create organizational excellence. You will learn talent management strategies to motivate and develop employees as well as best practices to manage performance for added value.
This course prepares students for the communication challenges in organizations. Topics examined include theories and strategies of communication, persuasion, conflict management, and ethics that enhance communication to various audiences.
This course focuses on the strategic importance of operations management to overall performance. This course also emphasizes principles of supply chain management relevant to a variety of business operations ranging from manufacturing goods to retail services. You will examine the various planning, control, and decision-making tools and techniques of the operations function.
This course examines how economic tools, techniques, and indicators can be used for solving organizational problems related to competitiveness, productivity, and growth. You will explore the management implications of a variety of economic concepts and effective strategies to make decisions within a global context.
Marketing Fundamentals introduces students to principles of the marketing environment, social media, consumer behavior, marketing research, and market segmentation. Students will also explore marketing strategies that are related to products and services, distribution channels, promotions, sales, and pricing.
This course provides you with the accounting knowledge and skills to assess and manage a business. Topics include the accounting cycle, financial statements, taxes, and budgeting. This course will improve students’ ability to understand reports and use accounting information to plan and make sound business decisions.
This course examines the ethical issues and dilemmas managers face. This course provides a framework for analysis of management-related ethical issues and decision-making action required for satisfactory resolution of these issues.
This course covers practical approaches to analysis and decision-making in the administration of corporate funds, including capital budgeting, working capital management, and cost of capital. Topics include financial planning, management of working capital, analysis of investment opportunities, sources of long-term financing, government regulations, and global influences. This course will improve students’ ability to interpret financial statements and manage corporate finances.
This course presents critical problem-solving methodologies, including field research and data collection methods that enhance organizational performance. Topics include quantitative analysis, statistical and quality tools. You will improve your ability to use data to make informed decisions.
MBA Capstone is the culminating course in the MBA program that provides an integrative experience with all competencies and assessment topics throughout the program. Students synthesize concepts from previously completed coursework and demonstrate an understanding of responsible practices for growing and running a business. This course promotes a meaningful connection between the academic work and career experience.
Program consists of 11 courses
At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to help you show that you know your stuff.
Special requirements for this program
At the end of your program, you will complete a capstone project that represents the culmination of all your hard work—a project that allows you to take what you’ve learned and apply it to a real-world situation, proposing a solution to an actual issue you face in your place of business.
“Because of WGU's competency-based program, I didn't have to get into things that I already knew. Instead I was able to use that for the things that were more challenging for me to learn.”
—Alvyn Joy Halili MBA
After graduation, WGU MBA master's degree graduates report earning $16,200 more per year*. Are you ready to make more money?
On Your Schedule
Competency-based education means you can move as quickly through your degree as you can master the material. You don't have to log in to classes at a certain time—you are truly in the driver's seat of your education.
The Master of Business Administration degree at WGU is 100% online, which means it works wherever you are. You can do your coursework at night after working at your full-time job, on weekends, while you're traveling the world or on vacation—it's entirely up to you.
Accredited, Respected, Recognized™
One important measure of a degree’s value is the reputation of the university where it was earned. When employers, industry leaders, and academic experts hold your alma mater in high esteem, you reap the benefits of that respect. WGU is a pioneer in reinventing higher education for the 21st century, and our quality has been recognized.
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A College Degree Within Reach
There is help available to make paying for school possible for you:
The average student loan debt of WGU graduates in 2022 (among those who borrowed) was less than half* the national average.
* WGU undergraduate students have approximately half the debt at graduation compared to the national average, according to the Institute for College Access and Success (2022).
Most WGU students qualify for financial aid, and WGU is approved for federal financial aid and U.S. veterans benefits.
Many scholarship opportunities are available. Find out what you might be eligible for.
You control where, when, and how fast you learn and graduate.
Schedules are tight and often unpredictable for busy professionals. That’s why we offer a flexible, personalized approach to how education should be. No interruptions to your work and family obligations. No rigid class schedules. No barriers to earning your degree on your own terms. Just a solid, career-focused online MBA program that meshes seamlessly with your current lifestyle.
"I was fortunate enough to finish my WGU degree program in six months because I was able to show what I knew and not have to sit in needless classes. I was able to showcase my strengths and still have plenty of time to work on my weaknesses, which really helped me finish my degree. I couldn't have done this anywhere else.”
—David Burks MBA
A Respected MBA Degree That Can Prepare You for a Successful Management Career
Goldman Sachs. Google. MGM. Microsoft. Apple. These giant organizations are changing the world, and WGU MBA graduates are there in the thick of it—making decisions as key leaders in top organizations. An online MBA degree from WGU has prepared these graduates to stand out from the competition, to take charge, and to make change. And a master's in business administration degree could do the same thing for you. Get an MBA online that is focused on helping you excel as a business leader and reach all your career aspirations.
WGU’s online MBA degree is designed for business professionals who are ready to advance their career. It is a university program that focuses on management, strategy, and business skills that are vital to your success as a leader. Earn an online MBA that gives you the skills to become the impactful business leader your organization needs.
Return on Your Investment
Employment of top executives is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029.
—U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
MBAs from WGU Are Leading Teams and Businesses in Diverse Industries
Problem-solving leaders are required in every industry, and strategic thinking is necessary at every successful company. If you're ready to broaden your business knowledge and advance your career, WGU's MBA program online can prepare you to be an effective leader and produce successful results wherever you go. Your business management career starts here! Our 5,300-plus MBA grads have great jobs and satisfying careers.
- President and CEO
- Vice president
- Executive director
- Chief strategic officer
- Private companies
- Healthcare organizations
- Nonprofit organizations
- Colleges and universities
- American Airlines
- Edward Jones
- Intermountain Healthcare
- Mayo Clinic
WGU Grads Hold Positions With Top Employers
Mba admission requirements.
To be considered for this program, you must:
- Submit a transcript verifying receipt of your bachelor’s degree from a recognized, accredited institution.
NOTE: You do not need to take the GRE or GMAT to be admitted to this program. Learn why we don't require these tests.
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The One-Year MBA
WGU's unique competency-based model allows you to move faster through your degree program. This online Master of Business Administration degree gives you the flexibility you need to earn your degree on your terms. You don't have to leave your job to pursue a master's in business administration—something you and your employer will both appreciate. No logging in, no set class times—you are in the driver's seat of your education.
WGU's one-year* MBA allows you to finish your Master in Business Administration program in only 12 months for just $9,460.
* Program can be completed in as little as 12 months. Pricing is based on 12-month completion of the program. Students that do not complete in 12 months and need longer to complete the program will need to pay for additional terms.
Frequently Asked Questions about MBA Programs
- General MBA FAQs
- Online MBA FAQs
What is an MBA?
MBA stands for Master’s of Business Administration. An MBA is a graduate-level business management degree that teaches you leadership skills for the modern business world. Those with an MBA often stand out among candidates for upper management positions.
Is it Masters or Master of Business Administration?
Both terms are commonly used, but the technical correct usage is Master of Business Administration, or a Master's in Business Administration.
What can you do with a Master in Business Administration?
There are many job opportunities with an MBA degree. They include:
- Chief executive officer
- Chief financial officer
- Marketing manager
- International business development
- Chief marketing officer
- Sales manager
- Operations manager
- Human resources manager
What is the purpose of an MBA degree?
An MBA gives you additional skills and training that can help you progress in your career. You'll learn about strategy, communication, management, and leadership that will help you move into larger roles in an organization. An MBA trains you to become a business leader in many different kinds of industries.
What do you learn in an MBA program?
In an MBA program you'll have courses in accounting, finance, marketing, strategy, leadership, management, and more.
Is a Master's in Business Administration worth it?
Yes! An MBA can help you boost your résumé and help you get higher pay, better job opportunities, and more. In fact, WGU MBA graduates earn an average of $16,200 more per year after graduation.
Why should you pursue an MBA?
An MBA is a great option for those who want to progress into management or leadership roles in an organization. Whether you want to move to a new company or have upward mobility in your current organization, an MBA can help you be prepared to move up.
What is an MBA good for?
An MBA teaches you leadership skills that can help you excel as an executive in a business setting. Earning an MBA can set you apart when you’re looking to advance into a management role within a corporation. The skills you learn in an MBA program may also help you start and manage your own business.
How long does it take to get an MBA degree?
In general, it takes around two years to earn an MBA degree. That said, through a competency-based online MBA program like the one offered at WGU, students may be able to earn their degree more quickly, sometimes in 18 months or less.
How many years does it take to get an MBA degree?
The number of years it takes to earn an MBA degree can vary depending on the university.
- Traditional university: 2 years
- Competency-based MBA program: 1 to 1.5 years
- Part-time MBA program: around 3 years
Can you earn an MBA completely online?
Yes. You can earn an MBA completely online. This unique model enables students to keep their current job while working toward their degree. Competency-based education models and on-demand classes, tests, and assignments make earning a degree online a valid option for busy working professionals or those with limited access to a brick and mortar university.
Does online MBA have any value?
Yes. With the growing prevalence and availability of online MBA programs, curriculum and acceptance criteria have become more rigorous. As higher education has moved increasingly to online formats, more employers are respecting online MBAs and finding online MBA grads to possess the skills necessary to add value to their business.
Is an online MBA respected?
Yes. If you earn an MBA from an accredited and reputable university, it will likely be respected by employers. Many online MBA programs have gained enough of a reputation that employers now seek out graduates specifically from certain online programs and universities.
Which online MBA program is best?
The best online MBA programs in terms of ROI include:
- Excelsior College; 497% ROI
- Western Governors University; 267% ROI
- American Public University; 249% ROI
- Arizona State University—Skysong; 225% ROI
- Capella University; 171% ROI
Is an online MBA easy?
No. An online MBA is not necessarily easy. While an online MBA may offer more flexibility and accessibility than a typical in-person program, online programs are still competitive and rigorous. Many students, however, find that an online MBA is easier in the sense that it fits more seamlessly into their busy lives, as they can access courses, take exams, and complete projects anywhere they have internet access.
For students, most visited links, state-based universities.
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Master planning: everything you need to know, wondering how to manage your community’s physical growth in a consistent and deliberate fashion here’s how master planning can help..
As a local government leader, you may already have a strategic plan that outlines where your city or town wants to be in the future, as well as the steps it will take to get there. But a strategic plan isn’t the only guidance you’ll need for future growth—a master plan is another valuable resource that can help you more easily get where you want to go.
In this article, we’ll look at master planning in relation to local governments and strategic planning : what it means to have a master plan, the benefits of having one, and ways to approach the planning process.
Chapter 1: What Is Master Planning?
Master planning is a type of urban planning that pertains to the physical development of a city or town over the long term, usually covering a time frame of about 10 to 15 years into the future. It is intended to guide a community’s growth from a high-level perspective, focusing on ways to:
- Preserve a locality’s unique character
- Ensure diversity
- Support investment
- Promote desired change
- Enhance a community’s livability
A master plan format can vary, but is essentially a dynamic long-term planning document that provides a framework for future growth. It helps you think about development. If you are trying to redevelop a downtown area, for example, you need a plan that looks out 10 to 15 years to maintain consistency in growth over time. This includes knowing how and if you’ll redesign or widen roads to avoid building in the path of a new road; rules for new housing developments; and how growth will impact police, schools, and hospitals. If you are a fast-growing area, like Prince William County, Virginia, or Arvada, Colorado—both of which are adding tens of thousands of residents each year—a master plan ensures that you continue to grow and serve the public seamlessly.
Master plans also play a crucial role in building and preserving character. An excellent master plan example that illustrates this idea is that of Savannah, Georgia. If you’ve ever been to Savannah, you know it has a definite sense of place—period architecture, Spanish moss-filled trees, and beautiful squares all contribute to Savannah’s reputation as a place with historic charm. Its master plan (which extends to 2033) outlines a number of priorities, two of which specifically pertain to preserving and extending these character elements in future years. Its plan “encourages more of what we love about Savannah,” and aims to provide decision-makers with a set of design principles going forward.
Just because master planning is done by community leaders doesn’t mean they are the sole contributors. Town development should take the broader community’s desires and values into consideration. A good master plan should pull in ideas from a variety of sources: the public, city council, key stakeholders (like historical, environmental, or cultural groups), private contractors, etc., so future development reflects a multitude of perspectives.
It’s important to remember that master plans are aspirational—they imagine what’s possible and propose a path to achieve those goals. But that doesn’t mean they are set in stone. Circumstances may change as time goes on, and plans may need to be adjusted accordingly. For example, Saint Paul, Minnesota updated its master plan 12 years after creating it to provide more meaningful direction to developers as the government began a new campaign to revitalize the West Side Flats area of the Mississippi riverfront.
Is your city not living up to its full potential? Find out which key element might be missing from your strategic plan in this free ebook.
Chapter 2: the benefits of master planning.
It’s no surprise that having a blueprint to guide your town’s future growth will pay off in the long run because it:
1. Identifies And Unites Your Short-term And Long-Term Visions
Your strategic plan will identify goals you’re trying to reach in the next three to five years, as well as the projects that need to be done to achieve them. But even if, for example, building two new parking garages brings in more revenue, does it fit in with your town’s vision to be walkable and “greener”? A master plan guarantees consistency and ensures your shorter-term activities protect and preserve the character of your community as envisioned by residents.
2. Attracts Private Sector Investments
Having a master plan is a sign of intelligent community planning at work. Evidence of concrete plans and a deliberate direction for future growth makes investors feel more secure. You’ll also be more likely to attract the kind of investors you want—those with an interest in historical preservation or environmentally friendly development, for example—if they can see their value to the town over the long term.
3. Engages The Local Community
Engaged citizens make for strong, healthy communities. When people play a meaningful role in discussions surrounding the future of their community, they are more likely to support ongoing projects and be satisfied with their outcomes; they also have a deeper understanding of the challenges the town faces. Part of your master plan preparation process should include outreach to community members, which may require some creativity. When Lowell, Massachusetts, leaders were creating a master plan, for example, they created an online “game” for residents encouraging them to think about the future in a fun, interactive way.
4. Helps Prioritize Work Plans
The master planning process should result in a thorough understanding of the community as a whole and its most pressing areas of need. This information should be used to prioritize projects. Community leaders in Savannah, for instance, wanted to support interconnectedness among its neighborhoods by enabling multiple modes of transportation—walking, biking, and public transportation. As a result, one project that made the priority list was to convert on-street parking areas to bike lanes in certain areas.
5. Enables Clear And Consistent Decision-Making
The existence of a master plan provides a reference point for various town boards and committees in their decision-making processes. When everyone is working from the same set of “rules,” a town is more likely to develop in a predictable and orderly fashion.
Chapter 3: The Master Plan Preparation Process
Below is an outline of the general steps for developing and implementing a master plan.
1. Engage the community.
The first step in master planning is to ask the public about their vision for the community’s future. As noted above, securing public support for your plan is crucial to achieving it. To reach the broadest possible audience—and encourage everyone to participate—set up a variety of ways residents can provide input. A combination of several methods is best, including:
- Online surveys
- Public “visioning” meetings
- Telephone surveys
- Direct mail surveys
- Request for text message responses
- Open house event
- Creative methods (like Lowell’s online games and snapshot contests )
Ask questions that will prompt readers to reflect on the town’s character as well as their thoughts on the future, such as:
- What are the town’s strengths?
- What are its shortcomings?
- What concerns do you have with regard to future development?
- What types of development should the town encourage/discourage?
- How can the town support you and the specific interests of your group or community?
- Complete this phrase: “In the future, I want my town to be…”
The goal of this step is to create community-supported vision statements, goals, and objectives that will help guide the development of your master plan.
2. Gather and analyze the relevant data.
You’ll next need to gather data that might influence the priorities and projects identified in the master plan. Data around your town’s financials, facility operations, condition of assets, population forecasts, land use, capital improvement projects, and stakeholder needs is typically used in the planning process and serves as the foundation for the document you produce. Thus, accuracy is important.
Governments that are using performance management software like ClearPoint have a leg up in this area. The software is capable of pulling in data automatically from other compatible sources across all government departments; when any source data is changed, ClearPoint is updated automatically. No more chasing down multiple individuals responsible for various sets of data. ClearPoint essentially serves as a hub for all your data streams, so you can stay on top of the most current data relevant to your plan.
The goal of this step is to understand the state of your town and identify possible future conditions that might drive the need for specific changes.
3. Identify and narrow down your options.
Using what you have learned about the town’s current state, future projections, land maps, and community input, consider a variety of development scenarios. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of each, and how you can best use your current land and resources to encourage your preferred type of growth. To eliminate options, you may want to develop a set of criteria to measure each scenario against.
4. Prepare a strategy for moving forward.
Once you’ve chosen a particular development scenario, you’ll need to come up with a strategy as to how, when, and by whom the recommendations of the plan should be implemented. As board and committee members in all functional areas consider proposed projects in the months and years ahead, how will you ensure that development aligns with your goals and drives progress forward in the intended way?
Try listing out the main guiding principles of development identified in your master plan and prioritizing them. For instance, is accessibility more or less important than sustainability ? Additionally, you could develop a list of criteria against which each proposed project could be measured, again assigning weights. Is it more important to fill existing gaps or address community preferences ? The parks and recreation master planning team in Palo Alto, California, incorporated these techniques into its master plan; you can read more about it here.
Using software makes it easier for all your teams to evaluate and prioritize projects. ClearPoint is unique in that it gives users the ability to tie individual projects happening across your government with high-level master plan objectives. You can set it up to:
- Link projects with goals (even link a single project to different goals in different departments)
- See how and why projects are evaluated
- Measure and automatically evaluate projects according to specific scoring rules
- Visualize project performance in auto-generated reports
No matter your specific master plan format or evaluation criteria, you can see how your efforts are aligned across all your government departments with ClearPoint.
5. Manage and track the performance of your projects and programs.
Just like government strategic planning, master planning isn’t a “one and done” activity. You need to track the plan’s progress over time to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Establish a set of KPIs against which to measure performance, as well as a reporting system to help with analysis and decision-making. You’ll also want a way to report on progress to your constituents, to keep them apprised of milestones reached or changes made.
Reporting can be time-intensive—a problem that software can help solve. ClearPoint simplifies and automates 70% of the reporting process, so you’re not wasting time on manual reporting tasks. To make reporting easier and more efficient, ClearPoint lets you:
- Automatically upload and sync data from various sources to include in your report
- Set criteria that automatically evaluates the status of any KPI and displays it as an easy-to-understand red, amber, or green indicator
- Manipulate and view your data in unlimited ways for different audiences
- Include quantitative and qualitative data describing progress
- Create visualizations like custom charts to present data in an appealing, easily digestible format
- Generate summary reports to pull lots of information into one place for easier sharing and interpretation
- Design community dashboards that show residents at a glance how new developments are contributing to long-term goals, and how current projects are progressing
Whether you want it to or not, your community is likely to continue to grow in the years ahead. It’s smart to embrace a strategic approach to development in the form of both master planning and strategic planning, that will take you in the direction you want to go. At ClearPoint, we’ve helped numerous local governments navigate the complexities of future planning (several of which, like Germantown, Tennessee , have become award winners)—and we’d love to help you, too! Reach out anytime to talk with us , or see how our software works.
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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 .
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
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.
- Summarize the industry competition and how the company will capture a share of the available market.
- Give a summary of the operational plan, such as inventory, office and labor, and equipment requirements.
Section 2: Industry Overview
- Describe the company’s position in the industry.
- Describe the existing competition and the major players in the industry.
- Provide information about the industry that the business will operate in, estimated revenues, industry trends, government influences, as well as the demographics of the target market.
Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition
- Define your target market, their needs, and their geographical location.
- Describe the size of the market, the units of the company’s products that potential customers may buy, and the market changes that may occur due to overall economic changes.
- Give an overview of the estimated sales volume vis-à-vis what competitors sell.
- Give a plan on how the company plans to combat the existing competition to gain and retain market share.
Section 4: Sales and Marketing Plan
- Describe the products that the company will offer for sale and its unique selling proposition.
- List the different advertising platforms that the business will use to get its message to customers.
- Describe how the business plans to price its products in a way that allows it to make a profit.
- Give details on how the company’s products will be distributed to the target market and the shipping method.
Section 5: Management Plan
- Describe the organizational structure of the company.
- List the owners of the company and their ownership percentages.
- List the key executives, their roles, and remuneration.
- List any internal and external professionals that the company plans to hire, and how they will be compensated.
- Include a list of the members of the advisory board, if available.
Section 6: Operating Plan
- Describe the location of the business, including office and warehouse requirements.
- Describe the labor requirement of the company. Outline the number of staff that the company needs, their roles, skills training needed, and employee tenures (full-time or part-time).
- Describe the manufacturing process, and the time it will take to produce one unit of a product.
- Describe the equipment and machinery requirements, and if the company will lease or purchase equipment and machinery, and the related costs that the company estimates it will incur.
- Provide a list of raw material requirements, how they will be sourced, and the main suppliers that will supply the required inputs.
Section 7: Financial Plan
- Describe the financial projections of the company, by including the projected income statement, projected cash flow statement, and the balance sheet projection.
Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits
- Quotes of building and machinery leases
- Proposed office and warehouse plan
- Market research and a summary of the target market
- Credit information of the owners
- List of product and/or services
Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Business Plans. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful:
- Corporate Structure
- Three Financial Statements
- NEW CFI Template Marketplace
- See all management & strategy resources
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Master planning is a type of urban planning that pertains to the physical development of a city or town over the long term, usually covering a time frame of about 10 to 15 years into the future. It is intended to guide a community’s growth from a high-level perspective, focusing on ways to: Preserve a locality’s unique character Ensure diversity
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 ...