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Ayush Jalan

  • December 12, 2023

examine the content of a business plan

A business plan is a document that describes what your company is, does, and plans to do in the future. It helps you map out all the objectives, goals, strategies, resources, and every other detail of your business. But arranging all this can get messy.

To Solve This, We Need a Business Plan Table of Contents

Think of it like this: If your business plan aims to define your prospects and incur funding, a table of contents helps investors study your business in-depth and build confidence in your business idea.

Furthermore, it also helps focus on and prioritize tasks, quickly revise strategies according to the ever-changing business environment, make operations more fluid, and manage finances systematically.

A business plan table of contents provides a bird’s-eye view of your business landscape to help better navigate KPIs .

Every company needs a business plan to sustain itself in the market. Ultimately, it’s the content inside the business plan and its quality that directs a business to achieve goals using actionable steps.

As much as the elements of a business plan matter, the way they’re presented also plays a pivotal role in grabbing the reader’s attention.

The first few things that pique the reader’s interest are the cover page and the table of contents. In this article, we’ll see why and how you should write a professional business plan table of contents.

Why Include a Business Plan Table of Contents?

A table of contents serves as the outline of a business plan . It assists the reader to navigate through the document and is placed at the beginning of a business plan. This helps the reader effortlessly find and browse through the topics that interest them.

It includes all the major sections and subcategories of a business plan. The sections are arranged logically with page numbers. And it usually precedes the executive summary.

Pros of Adding a Business Plan Table of Contents

Pros of Adding a Business Plan Table of Contents

A table of contents is an extremely important part of any formal document, let alone a business plan. It is the most commonly found aspect in every large format document, from books to magazines to business plans.

Let’s see the benefits of a business plan table of contents:

1. Acts as an introduction

The table of contents is placed before all the sections of a business plan. This will help the reader get a good look at the contents before diving into the details. Primarily, it introduces the reader to your business plan. In other words, a table of contents acts as an executive summary of the entire document.

2. Gives an overview of the scope

A table of contents further enables the reader to judge the scope of your business. To mirror the exact essence of your business plan, the table of contents should be crafted carefully.

Whether it’s an investor or another company you wish to work in partnership with, any formal entity interested in your business skims through your table of contents. Hence, it is wise to convey exactly what you intend to.

3. Displays attention to detail

While creating a table of contents, you include not only the major sections of your business plan but also the subsections. These subsections will convey that you have paid attention to the smallest of things while drafting your business. This indirectly sends a message that you are serious about your business ventures.

4. Provides easier navigation

This is an obvious but very significant advantage of a table of contents. Incorporating it into your business plan will add a navigational aspect to your document. Regardless if it’s a physical document or an e-document, a table of contents will help the reader go to any specific section they want.

These are the advantages of including a table of contents. You can now go ahead and create one for your business plan. To help you get started, we have also created a sample table of contents for you.

Feel free to use the following template and revamp it according to your unique business.

Sample for Table of Contents

  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement
  • Purpose and Values
  • Problem Identification
  • Problem Statement
  • Industry Analysis
  • Product & Service Overview
  • Product & Service Specifications
  • Product & ServiceBenefits and USPs
  • Available Substitutes
  • Competitive Overview
  • Direct and Indirect Competitors
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Competitive Position
  • Market Share Analysis
  • Barriers to Entry
  • Market Overview
  • Market Size
  • Market Segmentation
  • Ideal Customer Profile
  • Sales & Marketing Objectives
  • Pricing Strategies
  • Promotion Strategies
  • Site Location
  • Staffing and Training
  • Resource Allocation
  • Purchasing Process
  • Production Process
  • Quality Control Metrics
  • Customer Service
  • Key Management
  • Board of Directors
  • Board of Advisors
  • Financial Overview
  • Business Model
  • Financial Projections
  • Marketing and Personnel Expenses
  • Funding Requirements
  • Terms of Investment
  • Exit Strategy

Build Trust in Your Business with a Table of Contents

Writing a table of contents for your business plan is a subtle yet powerful way to captivate your potential investors or business partners . It is essentially a summary of the document that acts as a roadmap for your business activities.

A smart entrepreneur is one who uses every opportunity available to grow closer to success. Creating a striking business plan table of contents to engage your investors is a detail you shouldn’t miss.

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About the Author

examine the content of a business plan

Ayush is a writer with an academic background in business and marketing. Being a tech-enthusiast, he likes to keep a sharp eye on the latest tech gadgets and innovations. When he's not working, you can find him writing poetry, gaming, playing the ukulele, catching up with friends, and indulging in creative philosophies.

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

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Steps

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

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

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

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

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

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

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

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

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

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

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

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

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

Step 1: Executive Summary

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

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

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

Step 2: Description of Business

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

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

Step 3: Market Analysis

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

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

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

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

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

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

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

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

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

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

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

Step 7: Marketing Plan

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

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

Step 8: Sales Plan

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

Start by answering the following questions:

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

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

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

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

Step 10: Financial Projections

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

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

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

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

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

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

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

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

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

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

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

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

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

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

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

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

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

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

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

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

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

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What Is a Business Plan?

Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

examine the content of a business plan

A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
  • There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."

Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.

Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.

While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.

While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.

Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.

These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:

  • Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.

The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.

Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.

A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.

Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

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The Content of Business Plans

Here we look at the key ingredients required to produce an effective business plan.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

The precise form and content of a business plan will vary from organization to organization, to reflect the different economic, market and other environmental contexts within which each organization operates. In addition to this, the form and content of the business plan will depend to an extent, on the process that was used to produce it.

Business plans need to be set in a context . For most organizations, this will be the corporate or strategic plan that describes the key components of the strategic environment in which the organization will be operating.

examine the content of a business plan

Departments will have a specific and identifiable part to play in the overall aim and objectives. That role should be described in a statement of purpose : the equivalent of the mission or vision statement that would exist in most commercial forms of organization. The statement of purpose should set out clearly and concisely the essential, distinctive role that the department will play in helping the organization to achieve its aim and objectives.

Business plans are statements of intent relating to some future period of time . The choice of that period of time may be imposed, in that the corporate plan requires that business plans cover a set time period. If this is not the case then the time period should be chosen carefully: there may well be a natural cycle of activity that helps to dictate what is an appropriate period over which to plan.

Associated with the statement of purpose there should be clear and measurable objectives that are SMART :

  • M easurable
  • A chievable
  • T ime-limited

It should be possible to determine whether or not any particular objective has been achieved. The means by which this is done may be either through some unambiguous measure or by using an indicator , perhaps some surrogate measure that is almost certainly associated with the achievement of the main objective.

Objectives may relate to programs , a set of related activities designed to achieve some objective and often with an identifiable funding stream associated with it, or they may be related to organizational divisions of the department. Each objective should be the responsibility of a named individual. In some cases, it will be necessary to attribute responsibility for the achievement of an objective to more than one individual or, in exceptional cases, to a team or group. There are difficulties associated with this approach however. Objectives held by many are often effectively held by none, and it is all too easy for managers to assume that another individual is taking some action when in fact he/she is not. Where objectives are to be jointly held then, if at all possible, the respective contribution of each individual should be made clear.

All departments operate within an environment that is characterized by variety and uncertainty. The external environment contains the client groups that the department seeks to serve, the other organizations with which it competes to do so, and the general sociological, technological, environmental and political factors that are likely to affect the organization in its mission to meet the needs of its clients.

The business plan should describe the key components of this external environment clearly and concisely, in a way that illustrates easily the likely future development of each component and what this means for the plans of the department. In the most general of terms, future developments in the external environment are likely to result in the appearance of threats to the achievement of the aims and objectives of the department or opportunities that the department might seek to exploit.

Determining the boundary of the department will define the external environment from the internal environment. The internal environment is likely to contain many of the resources that the department will need to achieve its objectives. Analysis of these resources and how they are likely to develop over the period of the business plan ought to result in the identification of strengths that the department will be able to use to help it achieve its objectives, and weaknesses that, if not dealt with, might compromise its ability to do so.

Many organizations produce a summary of the threats and opportunities existing or likely to develop in the external environment, and the strengths and weaknesses associated with the internal environment in the form of a SWOT statement. Good practice in this area would seek to match up the components of the statement, identifying explicitly where strengths allow the exploitation of some opportunity or the countering of some threat: and where weaknesses leave the department vulnerable to an identified threat or unable to exploit some opportunity.

Such a tactic also helps to identify those ‘strengths’ that are not intended to be put to some use in exploiting an opportunity or countering a threat and therefore encourages the department to assess the extent to which they truly are strengths. In a similar vein, weaknesses that do not lead to vulnerability in terms of exposure to threats or inability to exploit opportunities, if correctly diagnosed, might safely be left unmanaged.

Business plans contain at their hearts a description of the range of products and services that the department will produce or deliver and the client groups that it will seek to serve. In appropriate circumstances, these products and services and client groups might each be classified as ‘existing’ and ‘new’, and programs of activity devised accordingly. Given that, in time, all existing products and services are likely to become unwanted and irrelevant and that new client groups are likely to emerge, then it is good practice to plan to direct at least some activity in the department towards identifying and meeting these developments.

Business plans are achieved through the deployment of resources . In this context, the term resources is used to refer to anything that can be used to help achieve an objective or aim. Some obvious and common resources are:

Less obvious (although often at least as important) resources are:

  • specialist knowledge

Where possible, the cost of resources consumed in the achievement of an objective should be quantified. In practice, this is most easily done for tangible resources and can, in practice, be quite difficult for those resources that have no physical existence, such as expertise.

A business plan should therefore contain a statement of the resources required to achieve the objectives with the cost of acquiring, maintaining or retaining them.

Where the resources to be deployed in the execution of a business plan are other than the most simple and straightforward, managers should consider the production of a resource management plan . This would set out:

  • the key resources that are required for effective and efficient implementation of the business plan
  • for resources not currently held by the department, an indication of how they are to be acquired and the cost, or the cost of maintaining or retaining those that are already held
  • any likely future development of resources held that is necessary for the achievement of the plan and the costs of doing so. In this regard and with specific reference to human resources, the cost of ensuring the appropriate development of knowledge, skills and behaviors should be included here
  • the identification of any resources that might be regarded as surplus to requirements, with a statement of what is proposed by way of disposing of such resources, including how much this is likely to cost

Where the deployment of resources is anything other than the most trivial of tasks then a plan for their deployment would be considered good practice.

Plans are statements of intent with regard to future actions . Given that the future is inherently unpredictable, it is possible that some significant future event will not materialize or a necessary condition may not come about. A robust business plan must therefore deal with the issue of risk .

All business plans depend to some extent or other on assumptions. Managers of departments should take care, therefore, to bring to the surface their own assumptions and those of the other individuals involved in helping them to produce the business plan. Documenting the key assumptions that underpin the plan is also good practice, as is testing each for consistency with assumptions made elsewhere.

Given that it is unlikely that all assumptions and forecasts will come about exactly as predicted in the plan, good practice mandates the use of sensitivity analysis . This essentially asks: “What would happen if the key variables affecting the achievement of objectives changed?”. For example, if the plan contained an assumption about future rates of price increase then you might test out the impact of rates that were slightly less and slightly more than you had assumed. If changing this assumption by, say, 5%, results in a 10% change in performance then you might reasonably conclude that that results are sensitive to changes in this key variable.

Sensitivity analysis might cause you, as the manager of the department, to revisit the plan, perhaps seeking to augment the risk management strategy or to change an objective because it is inherently and unacceptably risky.

Nowadays, most organizations have implemented programs of continuous improvement , however they might be designated in practice. As someone who manages others, you will wish to ensure that as well as having such programs in place for all key client-related and other activities, the same treatment is afforded to the process of business planning itself. You should be continuously striving to find ways to make the process of producing the business plan more effective and efficient each time you do it.

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examine the content of a business plan

The 7 Best Business Plan Examples (2024)

So you want to start a business . Kudos! You’re doing big things.

One of the first steps to building a strong foundation for your new venture is to write a rock-solid business plan . When done right, your business plan can pave your path to success, all while helping you to smoothly cruise through any obstacles that may come up.

Plus, a good business plan can help you secure critical partnerships and funding that you might need in your early stages.

If you’re unsure how to write one, a great place to start is to learn from the pros. In this article, we’ll look at companies that built incredible business plans.

Take notes on the structure, format, and details. Hopefully you’ll leave with plenty of inspiration to write your own.

examine the content of a business plan

Start selling online now with Shopify

examine the content of a business plan

7-part template for business plan examples

We’ll look at a business plan that is structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick review of those parts:

  • Executive summary: A quick overview of your business and the contents of your business plan.
  • Company description: More info about your company, its goals and mission, and why you started it in the first place.
  • Market analysis: Research about the market and industry your business will operate in, including a competitive analysis about the companies you’ll be up against.
  • Products and services: A detailed description of what you’ll be selling to your customers.
  • Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market.
  • Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background.
  • Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even long-term) financial goals and the costs to run the business. If you’re looking for funding, here’s the place to discuss your request and needs.

7 business plan examples (section by section)

In this section, you’ll find hypothetical and real-world examples of each aspect of a business plan to show you how the whole thing comes together. 

  • Executive summary

Your executive summary offers a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. You’ll want to include a brief description of your company, market research, competitor analysis, and financial information.  

In ThoughtCo’s sample business plan for a fictional company called Acme Management Technology, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:

business plan executive summary

  • Company description

You might go more in-depth with your company description and include the following sections:

  • Nature of the business. Mention the general category of business you fall under. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of your products?
  • Background information. Talk about your past experiences and skills, and how you’ve combined them to fill in the market. 
  • Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your company —as a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC, or other business type.
  • Industry. Which business sector do you operate in? The answer might be technology, merchandising, or another industry.
  • Team. Whether you’re the sole full-time employee of your business or you have contractors to support your daily workflow, this is your chance to put them under the spotlight.

You can also repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business. Hair extensions brand Luxy Hair has a blurb on its About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan. 

company description business plan

  • Market analysis

Market analysis comprises research on product supply and demand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. You might do a SWOT analysis to learn where you stand and identify market gaps that you could exploit to establish your footing. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis we did for a hypothetical ecommerce business: 

marketing swot example

You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component for your business plan. This will show you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to gain an edge over the competition. 

  • Products and services

This part of your business plan describes your product or service, how it will be priced, and the ways it will compete against similar offerings in the market. Don’t go into too much detail here —a few lines are enough to introduce your item to the reader.

examine the content of a business plan

  • Marketing plan

Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. As such, it’s essential to build a marketing plan that highlights the promotion and customer acquisition strategies you’re planning to adopt. 

Most marketing plans focus on the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. However, it’s easier when you break it down by the different marketing channels . Mention how you intend to promote your business using blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing. 

Here’s an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website:

marketing section template for business plan

Logistics and operations

This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, production, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.

Financial plan

The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit, and other financial metrics. You’ll want to include all the numbers and concrete data to project your current and projected financial state. For example, the financial statement for ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy includes forecasted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.

financial plan example

It then goes deeper into the financials, citing:

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

You can use Shopify’s financial plan template to create your own income statement, cash-flow statement, and balance sheet. 

Types of business plan (and what to write for each)

A one-page business plan is a pared down version of a standard business plan that’s easy for potential investors and partners to understand. You’ll want to include all of the sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized.

  • Logistics and operations plan
  • Financials 

A startup business plan is meant to secure outside funding for a new business. Typically, there’s a big focus on the financials, as well as other sections that help determine the viability of your business idea —market analysis, for example. Shopify has a great business plan template for startups that include all the below points.

  • Market research: in depth
  • Financials: in depth

Internal 

Your internal business plan acts as the enforcer of your company’s vision. It reminds your team of the long-term objective and keeps them strategically aligned toward the same goal.

  • Market research

Feasibility 

A feasibility business plan is essentially a feasibility study that helps you evaluate whether your product or idea is worthy of a full business plan. 

Mix and match to make a killer business plan

The good news is: there’s no single right way to write a business plan. If you’re feeling unsure about how to craft yours, pull bits and pieces that you like from other examples, and leave out the parts that don’t apply or make sense for you.

The important thing is to clearly communicate your reason for starting the company, what’s needed to operate it, and how you plan to make it work in the long run.

When you can convince others that you have a killer game plan, you’ve nailed it.

Want to learn more?

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1.1: Chapter 1 – Developing a Business Plan

  • Last updated
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  • Page ID 21274

  • Lee A. Swanson
  • University of Saskatchewan

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

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

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

Purposes for Developing Business Plans

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

Internal Purposes

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

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

External Purposes

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

Business Plan Development Principles

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

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

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

General Guidelines for Developing Business Plans

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

As You Write Your Business Plan

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

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

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

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

1. First main heading

1.1 First subheading under the first main heading

1.1.1. First sub-subheading under the first subheading

2. Second main heading

2.1 First subheading under the second main heading

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

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

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

Business Plan Contents Page: Everything You Need to Know

A business plan contents page will cover the important topics that should be included in a business plan. 3 min read updated on February 01, 2023

A business plan contents page will cover the important topics that should be included in a business plan. A business plan is a strategy for how the business will operate and can also be utilized for the marketing and production of a new product or service. The strategy will look to the future and attempt to figure out what the company or product will be like. A business plan also serves the following purposes:

  • Make financial projections
  • Establish a budget
  • Determine and calculate risk
  • Strategize on how to manage risk
  • Predict how money will be spent
  • Predict how revenue will be earned
  • Prioritization of business goals
  • Label main assumptions

A business plan should be utilized for any type of company , whether it is a small business or a nonprofit. The type of company will determine what elements should be present in the business plan.

Startups often rely heavily on financial support from investors. Established companies that have been achieving their goals will indicate similar content in their business plan. The business plan, in these cases, is designed to illustrate to investors the following information:

  • Good business leads
  • Competency of employees
  • Employee comprehension of product, the market, and competitors
  • Thorough planning and company strategy
  • Forecasted investor returns

A company that has not been performing as anticipated should cover these topics in the development of a business plan :

  • The company understands why they have performed poorly
  • The company has developed a promising game plan on how to improve
  • The company the resources and skill to carry out the new game plan

A government agency or nonprofit organization will have a similar business plan to that of a business that offers a service or sells a product. Government agencies and nonprofits also offer a service to a specific market or customer base and must operate within a strict budget. Like a startup that relies on investor dollars, these organizations must find funding to offset the cost of expenses.

Business Case

People are often confused by how a business plan and business case are different and how they work together. Simply put, the business plan is an overview of the company, while the business case focuses on a single action and its consequences. The business case will answer questions such as, what will be the likely financial consequences for choosing this versus that? What are the crucial non-financial results of either choice? Can you rationalize this investment?

To better understand the differences, take a look at the following examples:

  • The business plan will predict performance, especially financially. The business case will predict financial and non-financial impacts of a particular action.
  • The business plan focuses on the company goals. The business case focuses on the company goals for a specific step and the results of said step.
  • The business plan centers on the business model, including company earnings, anticipated market, and competitor behavior. The business case centers on the earnings, market, and competitor behavior of an action.
  • The business plan assesses overall performance in sales, margins, and profits. The business case assesses specific fiscal metrics, such as the return of investment or net present value. A business case also assesses the non-fiscal results.

The business plan follows a specific format that is divided into three main sections : the business concept, marketplace, and finances.

Begin with the cover page. The cover page must include the company name, logo, contact person, address, phone number, date of incorporation, state of incorporation, and a confidentiality and nondisclosure statement. The table of contents should include all the sections of the business plan and what page to find a certain section.

Following the table of contents will be the executive summary. This will be the first section read, so ensure that it stands out and is strongly written. The executive summary will describe the company and determine what stage the company is currently in. Also, include details about the company's strategy, customer base, marketing efforts, the background of the management team, and expected revenue and profits.

The body of the plan should include the following sections: background and purpose, market analysis, product or service development, marketing, financial data, organization structure and management, ownership, risk factors, and the conclusion. Each of these sections will include additional subsections where further details can be discussed. A table of appendices, referencing back to key concepts, will be the last section of the business plan.

If you need help developing your business plan contents, you can post your job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

Hire the top business lawyers and save up to 60% on legal fees

Content Approved by UpCounsel

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  • Service Business Plan
  • LLC Business Plan Template
  • Sample of a Good Business Plan
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  • Details of a Business Plan
  • Startup Business Plan Presentation Template
  • IT Company Business Plan

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Food and Beverage Business Plans

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Hotel & Lodging Business Plans

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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

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. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.

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).

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 any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.

This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.

Market analysis

Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. 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. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.

Competition

Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.

To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you're business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.

Marketing & sales

The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address 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.

The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.

Milestones & metrics

The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.

A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.

You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.

Company & team

Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.

Financial projections

Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.

Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.

The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

Business model canvas

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

The structure ditches a linear format in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It's faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations.

One-page business plan

The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan . This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business.

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

Growth planning

Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's 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, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.

It holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27 minutes . However, it's even easier to convert into a more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.

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

Download a free sample business plan template

Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2024.

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. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.

How to use an example business plan to help you write your own

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How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.

Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company

You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.

For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.

Use a business plan example as a guide

Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.

One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.

You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.

If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template , or get started right away with LivePlan .

Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document

Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.

Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool

Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.

If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.

Prepare to pitch your business

If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.

Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.

With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples. Or for a modern pitch solution that helps you create a business plan and pitch deck side-by-side, you may want to check out LivePlan . It will help you build everything needed for outside investment and to better manage your business.

Get LivePlan in your classroom

Are you an educator looking for real-world business plan examples for your students? With LivePlan, you give your students access to industry-best business plans and help them set goals and track metrics with spreadsheet-free financial forecasts. All of this within a single tool that includes additional instructional resources that work seamlessly alongside your current classroom setup.

With LivePlan, it's not just a classroom project. It's your students planning for their futures. Click here to learn more about business planning for students .

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12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)

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Starting and running a successful business requires proper planning and execution of effective business tactics and strategies .

You need to prepare many essential business documents when starting a business for maximum success; the business plan is one such document.

When creating a business, you want to achieve business objectives and financial goals like productivity, profitability, and business growth. You need an effective business plan to help you get to your desired business destination.

Even if you are already running a business, the proper understanding and review of the key elements of a business plan help you navigate potential crises and obstacles.

This article will teach you why the business document is at the core of any successful business and its key elements you can not avoid.

Let’s get started.

Why Are Business Plans Important?

Business plans are practical steps or guidelines that usually outline what companies need to do to reach their goals. They are essential documents for any business wanting to grow and thrive in a highly-competitive business environment .

1. Proves Your Business Viability

A business plan gives companies an idea of how viable they are and what actions they need to take to grow and reach their financial targets. With a well-written and clearly defined business plan, your business is better positioned to meet its goals.

2. Guides You Throughout the Business Cycle

A business plan is not just important at the start of a business. As a business owner, you must draw up a business plan to remain relevant throughout the business cycle .

During the starting phase of your business, a business plan helps bring your ideas into reality. A solid business plan can secure funding from lenders and investors.

After successfully setting up your business, the next phase is management. Your business plan still has a role to play in this phase, as it assists in communicating your business vision to employees and external partners.

Essentially, your business plan needs to be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the needs of your business.

3. Helps You Make Better Business Decisions

As a business owner, you are involved in an endless decision-making cycle. Your business plan helps you find answers to your most crucial business decisions.

A robust business plan helps you settle your major business components before you launch your product, such as your marketing and sales strategy and competitive advantage.

4. Eliminates Big Mistakes

Many small businesses fail within their first five years for several reasons: lack of financing, stiff competition, low market need, inadequate teams, and inefficient pricing strategy.

Creating an effective plan helps you eliminate these big mistakes that lead to businesses' decline. Every business plan element is crucial for helping you avoid potential mistakes before they happen.

5. Secures Financing and Attracts Top Talents

Having an effective plan increases your chances of securing business loans. One of the essential requirements many lenders ask for to grant your loan request is your business plan.

A business plan helps investors feel confident that your business can attract a significant return on investments ( ROI ).

You can attract and retain top-quality talents with a clear business plan. It inspires your employees and keeps them aligned to achieve your strategic business goals.

Key Elements of Business Plan

Starting and running a successful business requires well-laid actions and supporting documents that better position a company to achieve its business goals and maximize success.

A business plan is a written document with relevant information detailing business objectives and how it intends to achieve its goals.

With an effective business plan, investors, lenders, and potential partners understand your organizational structure and goals, usually around profitability, productivity, and growth.

Every successful business plan is made up of key components that help solidify the efficacy of the business plan in delivering on what it was created to do.

Here are some of the components of an effective business plan.

1. Executive Summary

One of the key elements of a business plan is the executive summary. Write the executive summary as part of the concluding topics in the business plan. Creating an executive summary with all the facts and information available is easier.

In the overall business plan document, the executive summary should be at the forefront of the business plan. It helps set the tone for readers on what to expect from the business plan.

A well-written executive summary includes all vital information about the organization's operations, making it easy for a reader to understand.

The key points that need to be acted upon are highlighted in the executive summary. They should be well spelled out to make decisions easy for the management team.

A good and compelling executive summary points out a company's mission statement and a brief description of its products and services.

Executive Summary of the Business Plan

An executive summary summarizes a business's expected value proposition to distinct customer segments. It highlights the other key elements to be discussed during the rest of the business plan.

Including your prior experiences as an entrepreneur is a good idea in drawing up an executive summary for your business. A brief but detailed explanation of why you decided to start the business in the first place is essential.

Adding your company's mission statement in your executive summary cannot be overemphasized. It creates a culture that defines how employees and all individuals associated with your company abide when carrying out its related processes and operations.

Your executive summary should be brief and detailed to catch readers' attention and encourage them to learn more about your company.

Components of an Executive Summary

Here are some of the information that makes up an executive summary:

  • The name and location of your company
  • Products and services offered by your company
  • Mission and vision statements
  • Success factors of your business plan

2. Business Description

Your business description needs to be exciting and captivating as it is the formal introduction a reader gets about your company.

What your company aims to provide, its products and services, goals and objectives, target audience , and potential customers it plans to serve need to be highlighted in your business description.

A company description helps point out notable qualities that make your company stand out from other businesses in the industry. It details its unique strengths and the competitive advantages that give it an edge to succeed over its direct and indirect competitors.

Spell out how your business aims to deliver on the particular needs and wants of identified customers in your company description, as well as the particular industry and target market of the particular focus of the company.

Include trends and significant competitors within your particular industry in your company description. Your business description should contain what sets your company apart from other businesses and provides it with the needed competitive advantage.

In essence, if there is any area in your business plan where you need to brag about your business, your company description provides that unique opportunity as readers look to get a high-level overview.

Components of a Business Description

Your business description needs to contain these categories of information.

  • Business location
  • The legal structure of your business
  • Summary of your business’s short and long-term goals

3. Market Analysis

The market analysis section should be solely based on analytical research as it details trends particular to the market you want to penetrate.

Graphs, spreadsheets, and histograms are handy data and statistical tools you need to utilize in your market analysis. They make it easy to understand the relationship between your current ideas and the future goals you have for the business.

All details about the target customers you plan to sell products or services should be in the market analysis section. It helps readers with a helpful overview of the market.

In your market analysis, you provide the needed data and statistics about industry and market share, the identified strengths in your company description, and compare them against other businesses in the same industry.

The market analysis section aims to define your target audience and estimate how your product or service would fare with these identified audiences.

Components of Market Analysis

Market analysis helps visualize a target market by researching and identifying the primary target audience of your company and detailing steps and plans based on your audience location.

Obtaining this information through market research is essential as it helps shape how your business achieves its short-term and long-term goals.

Market Analysis Factors

Here are some of the factors to be included in your market analysis.

  • The geographical location of your target market
  • Needs of your target market and how your products and services can meet those needs
  • Demographics of your target audience

Components of the Market Analysis Section

Here is some of the information to be included in your market analysis.

  • Industry description and statistics
  • Demographics and profile of target customers
  • Marketing data for your products and services
  • Detailed evaluation of your competitors

4. Marketing Plan

A marketing plan defines how your business aims to reach its target customers, generate sales leads, and, ultimately, make sales.

Promotion is at the center of any successful marketing plan. It is a series of steps to pitch a product or service to a larger audience to generate engagement. Note that the marketing strategy for a business should not be stagnant and must evolve depending on its outcome.

Include the budgetary requirement for successfully implementing your marketing plan in this section to make it easy for readers to measure your marketing plan's impact in terms of numbers.

The information to include in your marketing plan includes marketing and promotion strategies, pricing plans and strategies , and sales proposals. You need to include how you intend to get customers to return and make repeat purchases in your business plan.

Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan

5. Sales Strategy

Sales strategy defines how you intend to get your product or service to your target customers and works hand in hand with your business marketing strategy.

Your sales strategy approach should not be complex. Break it down into simple and understandable steps to promote your product or service to target customers.

Apart from the steps to promote your product or service, define the budget you need to implement your sales strategies and the number of sales reps needed to help the business assist in direct sales.

Your sales strategy should be specific on what you need and how you intend to deliver on your sales targets, where numbers are reflected to make it easier for readers to understand and relate better.

Sales Strategy

6. Competitive Analysis

Providing transparent and honest information, even with direct and indirect competitors, defines a good business plan. Provide the reader with a clear picture of your rank against major competitors.

Identifying your competitors' weaknesses and strengths is useful in drawing up a market analysis. It is one information investors look out for when assessing business plans.

Competitive Analysis Framework

The competitive analysis section clearly defines the notable differences between your company and your competitors as measured against their strengths and weaknesses.

This section should define the following:

  • Your competitors' identified advantages in the market
  • How do you plan to set up your company to challenge your competitors’ advantage and gain grounds from them?
  • The standout qualities that distinguish you from other companies
  • Potential bottlenecks you have identified that have plagued competitors in the same industry and how you intend to overcome these bottlenecks

In your business plan, you need to prove your industry knowledge to anyone who reads your business plan. The competitive analysis section is designed for that purpose.

7. Management and Organization

Management and organization are key components of a business plan. They define its structure and how it is positioned to run.

Whether you intend to run a sole proprietorship, general or limited partnership, or corporation, the legal structure of your business needs to be clearly defined in your business plan.

Use an organizational chart that illustrates the hierarchy of operations of your company and spells out separate departments and their roles and functions in this business plan section.

The management and organization section includes profiles of advisors, board of directors, and executive team members and their roles and responsibilities in guaranteeing the company's success.

Apparent factors that influence your company's corporate culture, such as human resources requirements and legal structure, should be well defined in the management and organization section.

Defining the business's chain of command if you are not a sole proprietor is necessary. It leaves room for little or no confusion about who is in charge or responsible during business operations.

This section provides relevant information on how the management team intends to help employees maximize their strengths and address their identified weaknesses to help all quarters improve for the business's success.

8. Products and Services

This business plan section describes what a company has to offer regarding products and services to the maximum benefit and satisfaction of its target market.

Boldly spell out pending patents or copyright products and intellectual property in this section alongside costs, expected sales revenue, research and development, and competitors' advantage as an overview.

At this stage of your business plan, the reader needs to know what your business plans to produce and sell and the benefits these products offer in meeting customers' needs.

The supply network of your business product, production costs, and how you intend to sell the products are crucial components of the products and services section.

Investors are always keen on this information to help them reach a balanced assessment of if investing in your business is risky or offer benefits to them.

You need to create a link in this section on how your products or services are designed to meet the market's needs and how you intend to keep those customers and carve out a market share for your company.

Repeat purchases are the backing that a successful business relies on and measure how much customers are into what your company is offering.

This section is more like an expansion of the executive summary section. You need to analyze each product or service under the business.

9. Operating Plan

An operations plan describes how you plan to carry out your business operations and processes.

The operating plan for your business should include:

  • Information about how your company plans to carry out its operations.
  • The base location from which your company intends to operate.
  • The number of employees to be utilized and other information about your company's operations.
  • Key business processes.

This section should highlight how your organization is set up to run. You can also introduce your company's management team in this section, alongside their skills, roles, and responsibilities in the company.

The best way to introduce the company team is by drawing up an organizational chart that effectively maps out an organization's rank and chain of command.

What should be spelled out to readers when they come across this business plan section is how the business plans to operate day-in and day-out successfully.

10. Financial Projections and Assumptions

Bringing your great business ideas into reality is why business plans are important. They help create a sustainable and viable business.

The financial section of your business plan offers significant value. A business uses a financial plan to solve all its financial concerns, which usually involves startup costs, labor expenses, financial projections, and funding and investor pitches.

All key assumptions about the business finances need to be listed alongside the business financial projection, and changes to be made on the assumptions side until it balances with the projection for the business.

The financial plan should also include how the business plans to generate income and the capital expenditure budgets that tend to eat into the budget to arrive at an accurate cash flow projection for the business.

Base your financial goals and expectations on extensive market research backed with relevant financial statements for the relevant period.

Examples of financial statements you can include in the financial projections and assumptions section of your business plan include:

  • Projected income statements
  • Cash flow statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Income statements

Revealing the financial goals and potentials of the business is what the financial projection and assumption section of your business plan is all about. It needs to be purely based on facts that can be measurable and attainable.

11. Request For Funding

The request for funding section focuses on the amount of money needed to set up your business and underlying plans for raising the money required. This section includes plans for utilizing the funds for your business's operational and manufacturing processes.

When seeking funding, a reasonable timeline is required alongside it. If the need arises for additional funding to complete other business-related projects, you are not left scampering and desperate for funds.

If you do not have the funds to start up your business, then you should devote a whole section of your business plan to explaining the amount of money you need and how you plan to utilize every penny of the funds. You need to explain it in detail for a future funding request.

When an investor picks up your business plan to analyze it, with all your plans for the funds well spelled out, they are motivated to invest as they have gotten a backing guarantee from your funding request section.

Include timelines and plans for how you intend to repay the loans received in your funding request section. This addition keeps investors assured that they could recoup their investment in the business.

12. Exhibits and Appendices

Exhibits and appendices comprise the final section of your business plan and contain all supporting documents for other sections of the business plan.

Some of the documents that comprise the exhibits and appendices section includes:

  • Legal documents
  • Licenses and permits
  • Credit histories
  • Customer lists

The choice of what additional document to include in your business plan to support your statements depends mainly on the intended audience of your business plan. Hence, it is better to play it safe and not leave anything out when drawing up the appendix and exhibit section.

Supporting documentation is particularly helpful when you need funding or support for your business. This section provides investors with a clearer understanding of the research that backs the claims made in your business plan.

There are key points to include in the appendix and exhibits section of your business plan.

  • The management team and other stakeholders resume
  • Marketing research
  • Permits and relevant legal documents
  • Financial documents

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Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.

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

Clifford Chi

Published: February 06, 2024

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

sample business plans and examples

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

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

Table of Contents

Business Plan Format

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

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

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

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

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

examine the content of a business plan

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

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

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

1. Executive Summary

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

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

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

Company Description

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

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

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

Products and Services

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

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

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

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

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

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example

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

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

Image Source

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

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

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

2. Market Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Market Opportunity

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

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

3. Competitive Landscape

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

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

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

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

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

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

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

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

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

4. Target Audience

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

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

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

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

Target Audience Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Target Audience

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

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

5. Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

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

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

Business plans examples: Marketing Strategy

Tips for Writing Your Marketing Strategy

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

6. Key Features and Benefits

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

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

Key Features and Benefits Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Key Features and Benefits

Tips for Writing Your Key Features and Benefits

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

7. Pricing and Revenue

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

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

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

Pricing and Revenue Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Pricing and Revenue

Tips for Writing Your Pricing and Revenue Section

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

8. Financials

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

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

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

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

Financials Business Plan Example

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

Business plans examples: Financials

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

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

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

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

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

1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas.

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

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

2. Feasibility Studies

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

3. Internal Use

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

4. Strategic Initiatives

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

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

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

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

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

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Why I Like It

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

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

We also created a business plan template for entrepreneurs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sample Business Plan: LiveFLow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. ThoughtCo’s Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: ThoughtCo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

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

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

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

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

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

8. Panda Doc’s Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Panda Doc

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

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

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

9. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Small Business Administration

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s take a look.

1. LiveFlow

business plan example: liveflow

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Vesta Home Automation

business plan example: Vesta executive summary

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

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

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

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

5. NALB Creative Center

business plan examples: nalb creative center

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

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

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

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

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

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

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

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

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

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

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

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

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

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

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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Where Entrepreneurs Find Inspiration

Ideas and Research from Stanford University

Chapter 6: The Business Story and Plan

Entrepreneurs respond to attractive opportunities by forming new firms. In this chapter, we consider the five-step process for establishing a new enterprise. One particularly noteworthy step in the process is the development of a story and a business plan, including a compelling business model. The story is a compelling synopsis of why this venture is needed at this moment in time and how it can achieve success. We then detail the task of writing a business plan, which is an effort to better prepare the venture for testing its assumptions and hypotheses. An example of a well-prepared business model is provided in appendix A. Visit the textbook website for additional sample business plans, models and slide (or pitch) decks.

1. “Purpose of a Business Plan” with Tom Byers, Stanford University

2. “Work Backwards From the Customer” with Diego Piacentini, Amazon

3. “Have a Sense of Urgency” with Mike Maples, Floodgate

Continue to Chapter 7

Tom Byers

Tom Byers , Stanford University

Tom Byers is a Professor in the Department of Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University and a faculty director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP).

examine the content of a business plan

Andrew Nelson , University of Oregon

Andrew Nelson is Associate Vice President for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and an Associate Professor of Management at the University of Oregon.

examine the content of a business plan

Richard Dorf , University of California, Davis

Richard C. Dorf is a Professor Emeritus of Management and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Davis.

Ernestine Fu

Taking Action for Startup Success [Entire Talk]

Video clips.

Ernestine Fu

Focus on Your Customers First

Approach capital with care, a mindset for founders, characteristics of promising founders, the right company at the right time, ditch the classroom rivalry.

examine the content of a business plan

Principles Belong in Your Decision-Making Toolkit

Hayagreeva “Huggy” Rao and Robert I. Sutton

Smart Leaders Understand Friction [Entire Talk] [Explicit]

Hayagreeva “Huggy” Rao and Robert I. Sutton

Origins of ‘The Friction Project’

Friction for aspiring founders, speed versus long-term success [explicit], leading huge organizations, good friction [explicit], identifying good investors.

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How to Write a Winning Business Plan

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When It's Time to Pivot, What's Your Story?

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How to Write a Great Business Plan

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How We Built a Strong Company in a Weak Industry

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Experiment to Learn About Your Market

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In Pitch Contests, Going First Is a Disadvantage

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The CEO of Cabot Creamery on Beating Sustainability Benchmarks

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Adapt to the Market

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Crossing the River

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The Explainer: How to Write a Great Business Plan

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Secure Your Plan with the Right Team

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Preparing for the Perfect Product Launch

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Create Your Rules of the Road

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Extend Fertility: Conceiving the Market for Egg Preservation (A)

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Farmstar Goes Global: Corporate Entrepreneurship Bringing Sustainable Value Innovation to Agribusiness

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Technical Data Corp.: Business Plan

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A Chairman's Decision: Launching A Robo-Advisor in CCB Principal Asset Management Company

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Business Tips from SCORE: A business plan gives owners a guide to their operations

One of the sure ways of launching a business that will fail is not to plan its launch and growth.

Most budding entrepreneurs’ eyes roll back in their head when they hear “business plan.” It doesn’t have to be complicated or voluminous. It might be as simple as a one-page Business Model Canvas – BMC − plan or if needed a deeper dive with a full business plan . But there’s no better way to think through important issues and gain focus in your business than by creating a guide.

Not only will building a business plan help you get a better handle on where you are and how you’ll grow, but it’s an absolute necessity if you seek outside investment.

A business model is a way of describing how the enterprise will make money.  Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas is a 9-block process that explores, initially, value proposition (your offer, but not what you are selling), customer segments (to whom are you making the offer(s)), communication channels (how will you reach your customer segments). Then validate your assumptions. Then follow-up with customer relationships , activities, resource and strategic partners , expenses and revenue streams . The right side of the BMC canvas focuses on the customer and market or external factors that are not totally under your control. The left side focuses on the internal that is mostly in your control. The middle is the value proposition that represents the exchange of value between your customers and your business.

Here’s an easy guide on how to build a business plan step-by-step.

Step 1: Describe the “Big Idea” in an executive summary

Think of the executive summary as an explanation of your unique selling proposition. You want someone to be able to immediately grasp what your company does and the value you bring to the market.

This section should include a mission statement, brief explanations of the products or services you plan to offer, a basic introduction of key team members and where your company is located. If you’re seeking financing, you’ll also need to include basic information about your finances and plans for use of borrowed funds.

Step 2: Conduct a market analysis

This is where you’ll get into more detail by describing your industry and where your business fits into its landscape. Some questions to answer:

  • What exactly does your business do? 
  • What do you sell and why do you sell it? 
  • Why is your product or service needed? 
  • Who’s going to benefit from the products or services you provide?

Step 3: Introduce your team with a company description

In this section, include information like the legally registered name of your company, your business address, the company’s legal structure (LLC, sole proprietorship, etc.) and key team members. 

If your company is large, consider using an organizational chart to show who’s in charge of what. Also, include any special skills or unique experience your team has that will help advance your mission.

Step 4: Describe the value of your products and services

Piggyback on what you wrote in your market analysis to give details about your products and/or services. Give a thorough explanation of what your product or service does, how it works, your pricing structure, your ideal customer and your distribution strategy.

If you have intellectual property like patents, copyrights or trademarks, mention those as well, along with any research you plan to conduct or have completed.

Step 5: Describe your “go to market” strategy with a marketing and sales plan

How are you going to acquire customers? How are you going to create loyalty? There’s no right or wrong strategy here, only the strategy that makes sense given your current circumstances, the market and your customers’ attitudes. Over time, this may evolve, which is fine!

You can describe your sales process, how you’ll initially attract prospects, how you’ll deepen that attraction into a purchase, what a typical sales cycle might look like, what happens after the sale and so on. 

Step 6: Dive into the numbers with a financial analysis

Depending on how long you’ve been in business, you may not have a lot of concrete numbers for this section. Or, you may have a lot.

If you’re a startup, you’ll have to supply financial projections — forecasted income statements and balance sheets, for example. Be detailed for the first year, breaking down your projections quarterly or, even better, monthly.

If you’re established and are writing the plan to guide your growth strategy, you should include profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, a section for metrics like profit margin and a statement of your total assets and debts. This is also a great place to include any charts and graphs that help tell the financial story of your business. 

Step 7: If you need funding, explain why and for what 

If you’re seeking outside investment, use this section to provide details about your capital needs. How much do you anticipate needing over the next three to five years, what will it be used for, what are the terms you’re seeking, what opportunities will it allow you to exploit, and how will it help you meet your growth targets? And, don’t forget to include your “skin in the game” investment.  A critical step for lender evaluations.

Step 8: Anything else to include?

If you want to include additional information — resumes, leases, permits, bank statements, contracts, photos, charts, diagrams, etc. — include them at the end of your plan in an appendix.

Regardless of which format you select remember that a business plan is a guide, compass and companion for you to reach your business objectives.

Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor, SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands, www.score.org/capecod , 508-775-4884.  A SCORE Mentor Can Help You Build a Detailed Business Plan.  Sources: ASK Score 2023, An Easy Guide to the Business Model Canvas, Creately Blog, May 18, 2022.

  Thanks to our subscribers, who help make this coverage possible. If you are not a subscriber, please consider supporting quality local journalism with a Cape Cod Times subscription.  Here are our subscription plans.    

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Blueprint is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service focused on helping readers make smarter decisions. We receive compensation from the companies that advertise on Blueprint which may impact how and where products appear on this site. The compensation we receive from advertisers does not influence the recommendations or advice our editorial team provides in our articles or otherwise impact any of the editorial content on Blueprint. Blueprint does not include all companies, products or offers that may be available to you within the market. A list of selected affiliate partners is available here .

Free business plan template (with examples)

Alan Bradley

Sierra Campbell

Sierra Campbell

“Verified by an expert” means that this article has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated for accuracy.

Updated 3:37 a.m. UTC Feb. 12, 2024

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AzmanL, Getty Images

Starting a business can be a daunting undertaking. As with so many large projects, one of the most difficult challenges is just getting started, and one of the best ways to start is by putting together a plan. A plan is also a powerful tool for communication and can serve as a cornerstone for onboarding new partners and employees or for demonstrating your philosophy and priorities to potential collaborators. 

A solid business plan will not only provide a framework for your business going forward but will also give you an early opportunity to organize and refine your thoughts and define your mission statement, providing a guidepost that can serve as a beacon for your business for years to come. We’ve provided a business plan template below to help guide you in the creation of your new enterprise.

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Business plan template

What should a business plan include?

Regardless of the type of business you own or the products and services you provide, every business plan should include some core elements:

  • Mission statement. The definition and executive summary of your business.
  • Market analysis. A breakdown of the market segment and customers you hope to reach, built through primary (gathered by you) and secondary (gathered from outside sources) research.
  • Organization and logistics. The nuts and bolts of how your business is operated
  • Products or services. What your company provides its customers.
  • Advertising and marketing. How you intend to get your products in front of your customers.
  • Forecasting. Revenue forecasting for partners or potential investors.

Why do you need a business plan?

A business plan is a framework for success. It provides a number of key benefits:

  • Structure. The outline around which to design your business.
  • Operational guidance. A signpost for how to run your business from day to day.
  • Expansion. A vision for the future growth of your enterprise.
  • Definition. A platform to consider every element of your business and how best to execute your plans for them.
  • Collaboration. A synopsis of what’s exceptional about your business and a way to attract funding, investment or partnerships.
  • Onboarding. An efficient summary of your business for new or potential employees.

Business plan examples

We’ve created two fictional companies to illustrate how a business might use a business plan to sketch out goals and opportunities as well as forecast revenue.

Bling, Incorporated

Our first hypothetical example is a jewelry and accessory creator called Bling, Incorporated. A hybrid business that manufactures its products for sale both online and through physical retail channels, Bling’s mission statement is focused on transforming simple, inexpensive ingredients into wearable statement pieces of art. 

Market analysis includes gathering data around sourcing sustainable, inexpensive components, aesthetic trends in fashion and on which platforms competitors have had success in advertising jewelry to prospective customers. Logistics include shipping products, negotiating with retailers, establishing an e-commerce presence and material and manufacturing costs. 

Bling, Incorporated advertises initially through social platforms like TikTok and Facebook, as well as with Google AdSense, with plans to eventually expand to television advertising. Revenue forecasting is structured around a low overhead on the basis of inexpensive materials, no dedicated storefront and broad reach through digital platforms.

Phaeton Custom Cars

Phaeton is a custom car builder and classic car restoration business with a regional focus and reach. Its mission statement defines it as a local, family-owned business serving a community of auto enthusiasts and a broader regional niche of collectors. 

Market analysis breaks down the location and facilities of other competitor shops in the region as well as online communities of regional car enthusiasts likely to spend money on custom modifications or restoration projects. It also examines trends in valuations for custom parts and vintage cars. Logistics include pricing out parts and labor, finding skilled or apprentice laborers and mortgaging a garage and equipment. 

Phaeton advertises in regional publications, at local events and regional car shows and online through Facebook and Instagram, with an emphasis on a social presence highlighting their flashiest builds. Revenue forecasting is built around a growing reputation and high-value commissions.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

A business plan may not be a prerequisite for every type of business, but there are few businesses that wouldn’t benefit from one. It can serve as an important strategic tool and help crystalize a vision of your business and its future.

Business plans do just that: they help you plan the future of your business, serve as a platform to brainstorm ideas and think through your vision and are a great tool for showcasing why your business works to potential investors or partners.

Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy . The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.

Alan Bradley

Alan is an experienced culture and tech writer with a background in newspaper reporting. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Paste Magazine, The Escapist, PC Mag, PC Gamer, and a multitude of other outlets. He has over twenty years of experience as a journalist and editor and is the author of the urban fantasy novel The Sixth Borough.

Sierra Campbell is a small business editor for USA Today Blueprint. She specializes in writing, editing and fact-checking content centered around helping businesses. She has worked as a digital content and show producer for several local TV stations, an editor for U.S. News & World Report and a freelance writer and editor for many companies. Sierra prides herself in delivering accurate and up-to-date information to readers. Her expertise includes credit card processing companies, e-commerce platforms, payroll software, accounting software and virtual private networks (VPNs). She also owns Editing by Sierra, where she offers editing services to writers of all backgrounds, including self-published and traditionally published authors.

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

Business Eric Rosenberg

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Sample Catering Business Plan

how to start a catering business

Writing a business plan is a crucial step in starting a catering business. Not only does it provide structure and guidance for the future, but it also helps to create funding opportunities and attract potential investors. For aspiring catering business owners, having access to a sample catering business plan can be especially helpful in providing direction and gaining insight into how to draft their own catering business plan.

Download our Ultimate Catering Business Plan Template

Having a thorough business plan in place is critical for any successful catering venture. It will serve as the foundation for your operations, setting out the goals and objectives that will help guide your decisions and actions. A well-written business plan can give you clarity on realistic financial projections and help you secure financing from lenders or investors. A catering business plan example can be a great resource to draw upon when creating your own plan, making sure that all the key components are included in your document.

The catering business plan sample below will give you an idea of what one should look like. It is not as comprehensive and successful in raising capital for your catering as Growthink’s Ultimate Catering Business Plan Template , but it can help you write a catering business plan of your own.

Example – SavorFest Caterers

Table of contents, executive summary, company overview, industry analysis, customer analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team, financial plan.

At SavorFest Caterers, located in the vibrant city of Austin, TX, we are passionately committed to delivering unparalleled catering services that truly distinguish us in a competitive marketplace. Our philosophy revolves around the belief that the essence of a memorable event is not just the quality of food but also the caliber of service provided. To this end, our team is rigorously trained to execute seamless events, complemented by our meticulously prepared dishes that utilize only the finest ingredients. This dedication to excellence ensures a culinary experience that exceeds the expectations of the most discerning guests. Furthermore, our continuous innovation in offering tailored catering solutions allows us to meet the varied needs of our clients, making every event uniquely unforgettable.

Our success hinges on our unwavering commitment to quality and innovation, which has been instrumental in distinguishing SavorFest Caterers within the bustling Austin catering scene. We’ve achieved this through our dedication to sourcing the finest ingredients, our flexibility in customizing our services to meet the diverse needs of our clientele, and our relentless pursuit of excellence in both food and service. These factors, combined with our ability to adapt to any event theme or dietary requirement, position us as the go-to caterers for those seeking an incomparable dining experience.

The catering industry, while competitive, presents substantial opportunities for businesses that can distinguish themselves through exceptional service and culinary innovation. This is particularly true in markets like Austin, TX, where the demand for high-quality catering services is driven by a vibrant cultural scene and a growing economy. Success in this industry demands not just culinary excellence but also the ability to adapt to evolving consumer preferences and dietary needs. Companies that can leverage local ingredients and offer personalized experiences stand a better chance of capturing and retaining a loyal customer base.

Our target customers are diverse, ranging from individuals and families celebrating special occasions to businesses and organizations hosting corporate events. These clients are united by a common desire for high-quality, memorable catering experiences that are tailored to their specific needs. They value creativity, flexibility, and attention to detail, and they are willing to invest in premium services that meet these criteria. Catering to such a varied clientele requires a deep understanding of different dietary preferences and event formats, something we excel in at SavorFest Caterers.

Top Competitors: Gourmet Delights, EliteEats Catering, and Feast & Festivities

Gourmet Delights is known for its traditional gourmet offerings, while EliteEats Catering focuses on corporate events with a modern twist. Feast & Festivities targets weddings and large social gatherings with their extensive buffet options. Our competitive advantage lies in our personalized approach, our commitment to quality and innovation, and our versatility in catering to any event theme or dietary requirement, setting us apart as the preferred choice for a wide range of clients.

Our marketing plan is centered around showcasing our diverse range of products, services, and competitive pricing. We offer a wide selection of menu options that cater to various dietary needs and event types, from intimate gatherings to large-scale corporate events. Our pricing strategy is designed to offer value to our clients, ensuring they receive the highest quality service and culinary excellence at competitive prices. To promote our services, we leverage a multi-channel approach that includes social media marketing, targeted email campaigns, and strategic partnerships with event planners and venues. Our promotions plan is focused on building brand awareness and driving engagement through special offers, tastings, and participation in local events, which allows us to connect directly with potential customers and showcase our culinary expertise.

Our operations are the backbone of our success, encompassing menu planning, ingredient sourcing, inventory management, and more. We prioritize sourcing high-quality, fresh ingredients locally, supporting the community and ensuring the best taste. Our inventory is meticulously managed to prevent shortages and reduce waste. The order process is streamlined for customer convenience, and our food preparation adheres to strict quality control standards. Compliance with health and safety regulations is paramount, ensuring a safe environment for both staff and customers. We also focus on exceptional customer service and communication, essential for customer satisfaction and retention. Logistics for event catering are carefully coordinated, ensuring timely setup, service, and cleanup. Our marketing efforts and customer relationship management are ongoing, aimed at attracting new customers and fostering loyalty among existing ones. Financial management is handled with diligence, monitoring daily revenues and expenses to maintain healthy cash flow and inform strategic decisions.

Our management team comprises experienced professionals with a passion for catering and event management. Each member brings a unique set of skills and expertise to the table, from culinary arts to business administration and customer service. This diversity in our leadership ensures a comprehensive approach to managing all aspects of the business, from menu development and event planning to marketing and financial management. Together, we are committed to upholding the highest standards of quality and innovation, driving SavorFest Caterers towards continued success and growth.

Welcome to SavorFest Caterers, a fresh and vibrant catering service now gracing the Austin, TX scene. As a local catering business, we pride ourselves on filling a much-needed gap in the market. Until now, the area has seen a lack of high-quality local catering services, a void we’re excited to fill with our unique blend of culinary expertise and passionate service.

At SavorFest Caterers, our offerings are designed with versatility and quality in mind. Our services span the entire spectrum of catering needs, from intimate events to grand celebrations. Clients can look forward to customizable menus that cater to a wide array of dietary preferences and event themes. Beyond exceptional food, our services extend to food delivery and setup, ensuring every event is executed flawlessly. We also provide comprehensive beverage services, complemented by our team of professional staff who are committed to making every occasion memorable.

Rooted in the heart of Austin, TX, SavorFest Caterers is poised to serve the local community and its diverse clientele. Our location not only allows us to be at the center of Austin’s vibrant event scene but also enables us to source fresh ingredients from local suppliers, supporting the community we are a part of.

Our confidence in our success is not unfounded. The founding team brings with it a wealth of experience from running a successful catering business previously. This, combined with our commitment to offering superior catering services and meticulously prepared food and beverages, sets us apart from our competition. Our dedication to excellence in every aspect of our service ensures that SavorFest Caterers stands out as the premier choice for catering in Austin.

Since our inception on January 6, 2024, as a Sole Proprietorship, we’ve hit the ground running. Our accomplishments to date include the creation of a distinctive logo that captures the essence of our brand, the development of our unique company name that resonates with our mission, and securing a prime location that serves as our operating base. These achievements mark the beginning of our journey to becoming a cornerstone of the Austin catering scene.

The Catering industry in the United States is a thriving and lucrative market. According to industry reports, the current size of the market is estimated to be around $60 billion. This indicates a strong demand for catering services and presents significant opportunities for growth and profitability.

Furthermore, the Catering industry is expected to experience steady growth in the coming years. Market research suggests that the industry is projected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 4% over the next five years. This growth can be attributed to various factors including increasing consumer spending, rising disposable incomes, and a growing preference for convenience and personalized dining experiences.

These trends in the Catering industry are particularly promising for SavorFest Caterers, a new catering business operating in Austin, TX. As consumers increasingly seek out unique and memorable dining experiences, SavorFest Caterers is well-positioned to capitalize on this demand. With its commitment to delivering exceptional service, innovative menus, and attention to detail, SavorFest Caterers has the potential to carve out a significant market share in the Austin catering scene and establish itself as a go-to choice for customers seeking high-quality catering services.

Below is a description of our target customers and their core needs.

Target Customers

SavorFest Caterers will target local residents eager to add an extraordinary touch to their private gatherings, from intimate family reunions to larger celebratory events. These customers are looking for high-quality, memorable culinary experiences that reflect the unique flavors and spirit of Austin, TX. SavorFest Caterers will tailor its offerings to meet the diverse tastes and dietary preferences of this vibrant community, ensuring every event is a reflection of its host’s distinct style and personality.

Aside from serving local residents, SavorFest Caterers will also cater to the business sector, including corporate events, conferences, and office parties. Austin’s dynamic business environment, characterized by a mix of startups, tech companies, and established firms, presents a lucrative opportunity for SavorFest Caterers. The company will offer customizable menus and flexible service options to accommodate the specific needs and schedules of business clients, aiming to become a trusted partner for companies seeking to enhance their corporate events.

Furthermore, SavorFest Caterers will target the thriving event industry in Austin, including weddings, festivals, and public gatherings. This segment demands exceptional catering services that can handle the scale and specific requirements of such events, from outdoor weddings to large-scale public festivals. SavorFest Caterers will leverage its expertise and creativity to provide standout culinary experiences that contribute to the success and memorability of these events, establishing itself as a go-to caterer for Austin’s event planners and organizers.

Customer Needs

SavorFest Caterers emerges as a beacon of culinary excellence, poised to meet the sophisticated needs of Austin’s residents who desire professional catering services. These discerning clients expect not just meals but culinary experiences that tantalize the taste buds and elevate their events. SavorFest Caterers can fulfill this need by offering a diverse menu that incorporates both local flavors and international cuisines, ensuring a unique dining experience for every occasion.

Moreover, SavorFest Caterers understands the importance of seamless service in event planning. Clients can count on meticulous attention to detail, from the presentation of food to the professionalism of the staff. This reliability ensures that hosts can focus on their guests, confident in the knowledge that all catering aspects are expertly managed. SavorFest Caterers thus not only satisfies the appetite but also contributes to the overall success and ambiance of the event.

In addition to exceptional food and service, SavorFest Caterers recognizes the growing demand for sustainable and health-conscious catering options. By incorporating organic, locally-sourced ingredients and offering a range of dietary accommodations, SavorFest can cater to the diverse preferences and needs of Austin’s residents. This commitment to quality and sustainability further distinguishes SavorFest Caterers as a versatile and conscientious choice for any event, large or small.

WheelsJourney Rentals’s competitors include the following companies:

Alamo Rent A Car offers a range of services including economy cars, SUVs, and luxury vehicles for both leisure and business travelers. Their price points vary depending on vehicle type, rental duration, and location but are competitive within the industry. Alamo generates significant revenue from both domestic and international travelers, thanks to its presence in major airports across the United States and in several other countries. Alamo serves a wide customer segment including individual travelers, families, and business professionals. They operate in numerous geographies including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, and South America. A key strength of Alamo is their self-service kiosks that expedite the rental process for customers. However, a potential weakness is their reliance on airport locations, which may limit their reach to local renters who prefer more accessible city or neighborhood locations.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car offers a broad spectrum of vehicles including cars, trucks, and vans to cater to a variety of customer needs. Their pricing is flexible, with options for daily, weekly, and long-term rentals, often including deals and discounts for certain customer segments. Enterprise boasts substantial revenues, underpinned by a strong brand and extensive network of locations. Enterprise targets a diverse customer base from individual renters to large corporations requiring fleet services. The company has a vast geographical presence, operating not just in the United States but also in Europe, Canada, Asia, and beyond. One of Enterprise’s key strengths is its customer service, often recognized as industry-leading. However, its size and scope can sometimes lead to inconsistencies in service quality across different locations.

Rose Caterings might not have the same level of brand recognition as Alamo or Enterprise but offers competitive products and services in select markets. Their vehicle offerings include standard cars, luxury models, and specialty vehicles. Rose Caterings’ pricing strategy aims to attract budget-conscious consumers with competitive rates and transparent fees. Rose Caterings primarily serves customers in urban and suburban areas, focusing on convenience and personalized service. They operate in a limited geographical area but are looking to expand their presence. A strength of Rose Caterings is their focus on customer satisfaction and local market expertise. However, their limited geographical reach and smaller fleet size compared to larger competitors could be seen as weaknesses.

Competitive Advantages

At SavorFest Caterers, we pride ourselves on offering superior catering services that stand out in the competitive Austin, TX market. Our dedication to excellence is evident in every dish we serve, setting us apart from our competitors. We understand that the key to a memorable event lies not only in the quality of food but also in the service provided. Therefore, we ensure that our team is trained to offer impeccable service, making every event a seamless experience. Our carefully prepared food and beverages reflect our commitment to quality, using only the finest ingredients to create culinary delights that satisfy even the most discerning palates.

Moreover, our competitive advantage extends beyond our exceptional food and service. We are constantly innovating, offering unique and personalized catering solutions to meet the diverse needs of our clients. Whether it’s a small family gathering or a large corporate event, we tailor our services to ensure that each occasion is unforgettable. Our flexibility and attention to detail mean that we can adapt to any theme or dietary requirement, making us the preferred choice for customers seeking a caterer that can truly cater to their specific needs. By choosing SavorFest Caterers, clients can expect not just a meal, but an extraordinary dining experience that will leave a lasting impression on their guests.

Our marketing plan, included below, details our products/services, pricing and promotions plan.

Products and Services

SavorFest Caterers emerges as a beacon of culinary excellence, offering a diverse range of services tailored to meet the unique needs of each event. At the heart of their offerings is Catering Services for Events, which stands as a testament to their commitment to delivering unforgettable dining experiences. Clients can expect to engage in a collaborative process, working closely with the SavorFest team to design a menu that perfectly aligns with the theme and expectations of their event. The average cost for these comprehensive catering services starts at $50 per person, ensuring a balance of quality and value.

Understanding the importance of personal touch and customization, SavorFest Caterers introduces Customizable Menus as one of its key services. This offering allows clients to tailor their event’s culinary journey, ensuring that every dish reflects their personal taste and dietary preferences. Whether it’s a wedding, corporate gathering, or intimate dinner party, the ability to customize menus adds a layer of exclusivity and personalization to every occasion. Prices for customizable menus are variable, starting at an additional $10 per person on top of the base catering service cost, depending on the complexity and ingredients required.

With an eye for convenience and efficiency, SavorFest Caterers also provides Food Delivery and Setup services. This offering is designed to ensure that every aspect of the event’s culinary needs is handled with care and professionalism, from the careful delivery of prepared dishes to the meticulous setup at the venue. Clients can expect this service to start at $200, varying with the size and location of the event, providing a hassle-free solution to event planning and execution.

Beverage Services complement the culinary offerings, providing a curated selection of drinks to match the quality and theme of the food served. From artisanal cocktails to fine wines and refreshing non-alcoholic options, SavorFest ensures that every guest finds a beverage that suits their taste. This service is priced starting at $15 per person, offering a range of options to suit various preferences and budgets.

Professional Staffing stands as a cornerstone of SavorFest Caterers’ commitment to excellence. Recognizing that the success of an event often hinges on the quality of service, SavorFest provides skilled and courteous staff for every occasion. Whether it’s chefs, servers, or bartenders, clients can expect professionalism and efficiency, ensuring that every guest’s needs are attended to. The cost for professional staffing starts at $30 per hour per staff member, contributing to a seamless and memorable event experience.

Through these diverse offerings, SavorFest Caterers positions itself as a premier choice for those seeking exceptional catering services in Austin, TX. With a focus on quality, customization, and client satisfaction, they are dedicated to making every event a remarkable culinary journey.

Promotions Plan

WheelsJourney Rentals employs a variety of promotional methods and tactics to attract customers in Dallas, TX. Online marketing stands at the forefront of these efforts, leveraging the power of social media platforms, search engine optimization (SEO), and targeted email campaigns. By engaging potential customers where they spend a significant portion of their time, WheelsJourney Rentals ensures its visibility and relevance in a competitive market.

In addition to online marketing, WheelsJourney Rentals also utilizes traditional advertising methods such as billboards and local radio ads. These mediums offer broad exposure, helping to build brand recognition and trust within the community. Furthermore, partnerships with local businesses and tourism agencies will play a crucial role in cross-promotion, reaching an audience that is already interested in travel and vehicle rental services.

Customer referral programs are another key tactic in WheelsJourney Rentals’ promotional strategy. By incentivizing current customers to refer friends and family, the company taps into the power of word-of-mouth marketing. This not only increases the customer base but also strengthens customer loyalty, as people tend to trust recommendations from people they know.

Loyalty programs will also be implemented to encourage repeat business. These programs reward customers for their continued patronage, offering discounts, special offers, and exclusive benefits. This approach not only fosters a loyal customer base but also differentiates WheelsJourney Rentals from its competitors.

Lastly, attending and sponsoring local events and exhibitions will raise the profile of WheelsJourney Rentals. Participation in such events demonstrates the company’s commitment to the community and allows for direct engagement with potential customers. It provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the range of services and the quality of vehicles offered, creating a lasting impression on event attendees.

By employing these promotional methods and tactics, WheelsJourney Rentals expects to attract a wide range of customers in Dallas, TX. The combination of online and traditional marketing, alongside customer engagement programs, ensures that WheelsJourney Rentals remains competitive and becomes a preferred choice for vehicle rental services.

Our Operations Plan details:

  • The key day-to-day processes that our business performs to serve our customers
  • The key business milestones that our company expects to accomplish as we grow

Key Operational Processes

To ensure the success of SavorFest Caterers, there are several key day-to-day operational processes that we will perform.

  • Constantly update and adapt menus to meet customer preferences and seasonal availability of ingredients.
  • Source high-quality, fresh ingredients from local suppliers to ensure the best taste and support the local economy.
  • Maintain an accurate inventory of ingredients, supplies, and equipment to avoid shortages or excess.
  • Implement a first-in, first-out (FIFO) system to ensure freshness and reduce waste.
  • Ensure a seamless order intake process, utilizing online and phone-based systems for customer convenience.
  • Confirm orders with customers, including specific details such as date, time, location, and any special requests.
  • Prepare dishes according to established recipes and presentation standards to ensure consistency and quality.
  • Conduct regular quality control checks throughout the food preparation process.
  • Adhere strictly to health and safety regulations to ensure a safe environment for both staff and customers.
  • Regularly train staff on the latest health and safety practices and conduct frequent audits.
  • Provide excellent customer service, addressing any inquiries or concerns promptly and professionally.
  • Maintain open lines of communication with customers before, during, and after events to ensure satisfaction.
  • Coordinate logistics for event catering, including transportation of food, equipment, and staff to and from event locations.
  • Ensure timely setup, service, and cleanup at events, adhering to the agreed schedule.
  • Engage in ongoing marketing efforts to attract new customers and retain existing ones, utilizing social media, email marketing, and word-of-mouth.
  • Use CRM tools to manage customer data, feedback, and communication to personalize service and foster loyalty.
  • Monitor daily revenues and expenses to manage cash flow effectively.
  • Prepare and review financial reports regularly to inform strategic decision-making.

SavorFest Caterers expects to complete the following milestones in the coming months in order to ensure its success:

  • Launch Our Catering Business : This is the foundational milestone that involves setting up the operational structure, finalizing the menu, establishing a base kitchen, and initiating marketing campaigns to create awareness in the Austin area.
  • Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses : Secure all required local, state, and possibly federal permits and licenses to legally operate a catering business in Austin, TX. This includes health department permits, a food handler’s license, and a business license.
  • Build a Robust Vendor Network : Establish relationships with local food suppliers, equipment rental companies, and event venues to ensure quality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness in service delivery.
  • Hire and Train Staff : Recruit a team of chefs, servers, and support staff. Provide comprehensive training on food safety, customer service, and company policies to ensure high-quality service delivery.
  • Implement an Online Ordering and Management System : Set up a user-friendly online platform for customers to view the menu, place orders, and make payments. This system should also facilitate efficient order management, scheduling, and customer communication.
  • Secure First 10 Contracts : Aim to secure contracts for 10 events (could be weddings, corporate events, private parties, etc.) as a proof of concept and to build a portfolio of successful events.
  • Achieve Consistent Positive Customer Feedback : Establish a system for collecting and analyzing customer feedback. Aim for high satisfaction rates to build a strong reputation in the Austin catering market.
  • Reach $5,000/Month in Revenue : This intermediate financial milestone indicates initial market acceptance and will help in refining the business model towards profitability.
  • Form Strategic Partnerships : Establish partnerships with event planners, venues, and other related businesses in Austin to create referral opportunities and expand the customer base.
  • Get to $15,000/Month in Revenue : Achieving this milestone within 24 months will indicate strong market demand, operational efficiency, and a path towards long-term sustainability and growth for SavorFest Caterers.

SavorFest Caterers management team, which includes the following members, has the experience and expertise to successfully execute on our business plan:

Noah Wilson, CEO

Noah Wilson brings a wealth of experience to SavorFest Caterers, marked by a proven track record of success in the catering industry. His previous endeavor as the head of a catering business laid the foundation for his deep understanding of the complexities of the catering world, from menu selection and event planning to logistics and customer service. Noah’s leadership is defined by his ability to foresee industry trends, adapt to changing market demands, and inspire his team to strive for excellence. His strategic vision and hands-on experience are crucial assets for SavorFest Caterers, positioning the company for sustained growth and success in a competitive market.

To achieve our growth objectives, we are seeking to raise funds that will be strategically invested in expanding our service offerings, enhancing our marketing efforts, and improving our operational infrastructure. This financial injection will enable us to fulfill our growth potential, capture a larger market share, and ultimately establish SavorFest Caterers as a leader in the catering industry. Our detailed financial plan outlines the required investment and the projected returns, demonstrating our commitment to creating value for our stakeholders while delivering exceptional catering experiences to our clients.

Financial Statements

Balance sheet.

[insert balance sheet]

Income Statement

[insert income statement]

Cash Flow Statement

[insert cash flow statement]

Catering Business Plan Example PDF

Download our Catering Business Plan PDF here. This is a free catering business plan example to help you get started on your own catering plan.  

How to Finish Your Catering Business Plan in 1 Day!

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

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

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Hair Salon Business Plan PDF Example

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  • February 15, 2024
  • Business Plan

Executive summary slide of Hair Salon(Example)

Creating a comprehensive business plan is crucial for launching and running a successful hair salon. This plan serves as your roadmap, detailing your vision, operational strategies, and financial plan. It helps establish your salon’s identity, navigate the competitive market, and secure funding for growth.

This article not only breaks down the critical components of a hair salon business plan, but also provides an example of a business plan to help you craft your own.

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or new to the beauty industry, this guide, complete with a business plan example, lays the groundwork for turning your hair salon concept into reality. Let’s dive in!

Our hair salon business plan is structured to cover all essential aspects needed for a comprehensive strategy. It outlines the salon’s operations, marketing strategy, market environment, competitors, management team, and financial forecasts.

  • Executive Summary : Offers an overview of your hair salon’s business concept, market analysis, management, and financial strategy.
  • Salon & Location : Describes the salon’s design, amenities, and why its location is appealing to potential clients.
  • Treatments & Pricing : Lists the services provided by your hair salon, including treatments and pricing structure.
  • Key Stats : Shares industry size, growth trends, and relevant statistics for the hair salon market.
  • Key Trends : Highlights recent trends affecting the hair and beauty sector.
  • Key Competitors : Analyzes main competitors nearby and how your salon differs from them.
  • SWOT : Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis.
  • Marketing Plan : Strategies for attracting and retaining customers.
  • Timeline : Key milestones and objectives from start-up through the first year of operation.
  • Management : Information on who manages the hair salon and their roles.
  • Financial Plan : Projects the salon’s 5-year financial performance, including revenue, profits, and expected expenses.

The business plan template of a hair salon

Hair Salon Business Plan

Download an expert-built 30+ slides Powerpoint business plan template

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary introduces your hair salon’s business plan, offering a concise overview of your salon and its services. It should detail your market positioning, the range of hair care and styling services you offer, its location, size, and an outline of day-to-day operations.

This section should also explore how your hair salon will integrate into the local market, including the number of direct competitors within the area, identifying who they are, along with your salon’s unique selling points that differentiate it from these competitors.

Furthermore, you should include information about the management and co-founding team, detailing their roles and contributions to the salon’s success. Additionally, a summary of your financial projections, including revenue and profits over the next five years, should be presented here to provide a clear picture of your salon’s financial plan.

Make sure to cover here _ Business Overview _ Market Overview _ Management Team _ Financial Plan

examine the content of a business plan

Dive deeper into Executive Summary

Business Overview

For a Hair Salon, the Business Overview section can be concisely divided into 2 main slides:

Salon & Location Briefly describe the salon’s physical environment, emphasizing its design, comfort, and the overall atmosphere that welcomes clients. Mention the salon’s location, highlighting its accessibility and the convenience it offers to clients, such as proximity to shopping centers or ease of parking. Explain why this location is advantageous in attracting your target clientele.

Treatments & Pricing Detail the range of hair treatments and services offered, from basic cuts and styling to specialized treatments like coloring, extensions, or keratin smoothing. Outline your pricing strategy, ensuring it reflects the quality of services provided and matches the market you’re targeting. Highlight any packages, membership deals, or loyalty programs that provide added value to your clients, encouraging repeat business and customer loyalty.

Make sure to cover here _ Salon & Location _ Treatments & Pricing

examine the content of a business plan

Market Overview

In the Market Overview of your hair salon business plan, start by examining the size of the hair care industry and its growth potential. This analysis is crucial for understanding the market’s scope and identifying expansion opportunities.

Proceed to discuss recent market trends, such as the increasing consumer interest in personalized hair care services, organic and sustainable products, and innovative styling techniques. For example, highlight the demand for services that cater to specific hair types and concerns, alongside the rising popularity of eco-friendly salons.

Then, consider the competitive landscape, which includes a range of salons from high-end boutiques to budget-friendly options, as well as at-home hair care trends. For example, emphasize what makes your salon distinctive, whether it’s through exceptional customer service, a unique range of services, or specialization in certain hair care practices. This section will help articulate the demand for hair salon services, the competitive environment, and how your salon is positioned to thrive within this dynamic market.

Make sure to cover here _ Industry size & growth _ Key competitors _ Key market trends

hair salon business plan market overview

Dive deeper into Key competitors

First, conduct a SWOT analysis for the hair salon, highlighting Strengths (such as expert stylists and a wide array of services), Weaknesses (including high operational costs or strong competition), Opportunities (for example, an increasing trend in personal grooming and beauty care), and Threats (such as economic downturns that may decrease consumer spending on luxury services).

Next, develop a marketing strategy that outlines how to attract and retain clients through targeted advertising, promotional discounts, engaging social media presence, and community involvement.

Finally, create a detailed timeline that outlines critical milestones for the hair salon’s opening, marketing efforts, client base growth, and expansion objectives, ensuring the business moves forward with clear direction and purpose.

Make sure to cover here _ SWOT _ Marketing Plan _ Timeline

hair salon business plan strategy

Dive deeper into SWOT

Dive deeper into Marketing Plan

The Management section focuses on the hair salon’s management and their direct roles in daily operations and strategic direction. This part is crucial for understanding who is responsible for making key decisions and driving the salon towards its financial and operational goals.

For your hair salon business plan, list the core team members, their specific responsibilities, and how their expertise supports the business.

hair salon business plan management

Financial Plan

The Financial Plan section is a comprehensive analysis of your financial projections for revenue, expenses, and profitability. It lays out your hair salon’s approach to securing funding, managing cash flow, and achieving breakeven.

This section typically includes detailed forecasts for the first 5 years of operation, highlighting expected revenue, operating costs and capital expenditures.

For your hair salon business plan, provide a snapshot of your financial statement (profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow statement), as well as your key assumptions (e.g. number of customers and prices, expenses, etc.).

Make sure to cover here _ Profit and Loss _ Cash Flow Statement _ Balance Sheet _ Use of Funds

hair salon business plan financial plan

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  2. How to Write a Business Plan

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  3. 5 Tips For A Strong Business Plan

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  1. What is a Business Plan? Key Steps for Writing a Good Business Plan

  2. 11 Elements of Sample Business Plan You Must Need to Know

  3. How to Write a Business Plan

  4. ESTABLISHING A BUSINESS Part Two: The Business Plan

  5. How to Write A Business Plan In 2021 That Produces Results

  6. Title Page and Introduction of Business Plan

COMMENTS

  1. 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 ...

  2. Write your business plan

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

  3. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe Your Services or Products. 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 ...

  4. Business Plan Table of Contents

    1. Acts as an introduction. The table of contents is placed before all the sections of a business plan. This will help the reader get a good look at the contents before diving into the details. Primarily, it introduces the reader to your business plan. In other words, a table of contents acts as an executive summary of the entire document.

  5. 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. Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create ...

  6. Contents of a Business Plan

    A business plan includes the cost of organizing the business, the anticipated sources of revenue, how the products and services are customer oriented, and anticipated profit margins. Business plans serve two main purposes. First, they are a guide business owners use to streamline management and planning/organization of the business.

  7. Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One

    Business Plan: A business plan is a written document that describes in detail how a business, usually a new one, is going to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written plan from a ...

  8. The Content of Business Plans

    MTCT. The precise form and content of a business plan will vary from organization to organization, to reflect the different economic, market and other environmental contexts within which each organization operates. In addition to this, the form and content of the business plan will depend to an extent, on the process that was used to produce it.

  9. How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

    7. Perform a business financial analysis. 8. Make financial projections. 9. Add additional information to an appendix. Business plan tips and resources. MORE LIKE THIS Small-Business Loans Small ...

  10. Business Plan Format & Structure

    Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here > How to Format Your Business Plan: The Cover Sheet. Every business plan should begin with a simple business plan cover page including the business name, your name and contact information. An easy to read table of contents should follow. Example Business Plan Table of Contents. I: Executive Summary

  11. The 7 Best Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own (2024)

    Here's an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website: This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, production, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory. The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit ...

  12. Top 10 Components of a Business Plan

    That's where your business plan comes in. It provides investors, lenders and potential partners with an understanding of your company's structure and goals. If you want to gain the financial autonomy to run a business or become an entrepreneur, a can help align your finances. Your executive summary should appear first in your business plan.

  13. 1.1: Chapter 1

    Make certain all of your pages are ordered and numbered correctly. 4. The usual business plan convention is to number all major sections and subsections within your plan using the format as follows: 1. First main heading. 1.1 First subheading under the first main heading. 1.1.1.

  14. The 12 Key Components of a Business Plan

    For a thorough explanation of how to write a business plan, refer to Shopify's guide. 12 components of a business plan. Business plans vary depending on the product or service. Some entrepreneurs choose to use diagrams and charts, while others rely on text alone. Regardless of how you go about it, good business plans tend to include the ...

  15. Business Plan Contents Page: Everything You Need to Know

    A business plan contents page will cover the important topics that should be included in a business plan. A business plan is a strategy for how the business will operate and can also be utilized for the marketing and production of a new product or service. The strategy will look to the future and attempt to figure out what the company or ...

  16. Simple Business Plan Template (2024)

    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 ...

  17. 550+ Sample Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own

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

  18. 12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)

    Here are some of the components of an effective business plan. 1. Executive Summary. One of the key elements of a business plan is the executive summary. Write the executive summary as part of the concluding topics in the business plan. Creating an executive summary with all the facts and information available is easier.

  19. 15+ Business Plan Examples to Help You Write Your Own

    1 Simple Business Plan Example. When a business plan is called simple, it does not mean it lacks details. A good business plan should cover the most important details of your core idea and present them in a way that's easy for your audience to understand and remember. Customize this template and make it your own!

  20. 24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

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

  21. 7 Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own (2024)

    The business plan examples in this article 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.

  22. Chapter 6: The Business Story and Plan

    In this chapter, we consider the five-step process for establishing a new enterprise. One particularly noteworthy step in the process is the development of a story and a business plan, including a compelling business model. The story is a compelling synopsis of why this venture is needed at this moment in time and how it can achieve success.

  23. Business plans

    Keeping Your Business Plan Flexible. Strategy & Execution Best Practice. Amy Gallo. People make business plans for all sorts of reasons - to attract funding, evaluate future growth, build ...

  24. How to build a successful business plan in eight steps

    A business model is a way of describing how the enterprise will make money. Strategyzer's Business Model Canvas is a 9-block process that explores, initially, value proposition (your offer, but ...

  25. Free Business Plan Template (With Examples)

    Regardless of the type of business you own or the products and services you provide, every business plan should include some core elements: Mission statement. The definition and executive summary ...

  26. Sample Car Rental Business Plan

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  27. Sample Catering Business Plan

    A catering business plan example can be a great resource to draw upon when creating your own plan, making sure that all the key components are included in your document. The catering business plan sample below will give you an idea of what one should look like. It is not as comprehensive and successful in raising capital for your catering as ...

  28. Hair Salon Business Plan PDF Example

    Business Overview. For a Hair Salon, the Business Overview section can be concisely divided into 2 main slides: Salon & Location Briefly describe the salon's physical environment, emphasizing its design, comfort, and the overall atmosphere that welcomes clients. Mention the salon's location, highlighting its accessibility and the convenience it offers to clients, such as proximity to ...

  29. Business Analyst Job Description (With Examples)

    Christine is a non-practicing attorney, freelance writer, and author. She has written legal and marketing content and communications for a wide range of law firms for more than 15 years.