best business plan topics

The 7 Best Business Plan Examples (2024)

As an aspiring entrepreneur gearing up to start your own business , you likely know the importance of drafting a business plan. However, you might not be entirely sure where to begin or what specific details to include. That’s where examining business plan examples can be beneficial. Sample business plans serve as real-world templates to help you craft your own plan with confidence. They also provide insight into the key sections that make up a business plan, as well as demonstrate how to structure and present your ideas effectively.

best business plan topics

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best business plan topics

Example business plan

To understand how to write a business plan, let’s study an example structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick overview 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, this is 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 this free business plan template, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:

  • 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 it’s 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 for a hypothetical ecommerce business: 

marketing swot example

You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component of 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.

  • Marketing plan

Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. So 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, 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.

In this business plan 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 plans (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 these 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


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. Be sure to include:

  • Market research


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. Include the following sections:

A strategic (or growth) business plan lays out your long-term vision and goals. This means your predictions stretch further into the future, and you aim for greater growth and revenue. While crafting this document, you use all the parts of a usual business plan but add more to each one:

  • Products and services: for launch and expansion
  • Market analysis: detailed analysis
  • Marketing plan: detailed strategy
  • Logistics and operations plan: detailed plan
  • Financials: detailed projections

Free business plan templates

Now that you’re familiar with what’s included and how to format a business plan, let’s go over a few templates you can fill out or draw inspiration from.

Bplans’ free business plan template

best business plan topics

Bplans’ free business plan template focuses a lot on the financial side of running a business. It has many pages just for your financial plan and statements. Once you fill it out, you’ll see exactly where your business stands financially and what you need to do to keep it on track or make it better.

PandaDoc’s free business plan template

best business plan topics

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is detailed and guides you through every section, so you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Filling it out, you’ll grasp the ins and outs of your business and how each part fits together. It’s also handy because it connects to PandaDoc’s e-signature for easy signing, ideal for businesses with partners or a board.

Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template

Miro's business model canvas template

Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template helps you map out the essentials of your business, like partnerships, core activities, and what makes you different. It’s a collaborative tool for you and your team to learn how everything in your business is linked.

Better business planning equals better business outcomes

Building a business plan is key to establishing a clear direction and strategy for your venture. With a solid plan in hand, you’ll know what steps to take for achieving each of your business goals. Kickstart your business planning and set yourself up for success with a defined roadmap—utilizing the sample business plans above to inform your approach.

Business plan FAQ

What are the 3 main points of a business plan.

  • Concept. Explain what your business does and the main idea behind it. This is where you tell people what you plan to achieve with your business.
  • Contents. Explain what you’re selling or offering. Point out who you’re selling to and who else is selling something similar. This part concerns your products or services, who will buy them, and who you’re up against.
  • Cash flow. Explain how money will move in and out of your business. Discuss the money you need to start and keep the business going, the costs of running your business, and how much money you expect to make.

How do I write a simple business plan?

To create a simple business plan, start with an executive summary that details your business vision and objectives. Follow this with a concise description of your company’s structure, your market analysis, and information about your products or services. Conclude your plan with financial projections that outline your expected revenue, expenses, and profitability.

What is the best format to write a business plan?

The optimal format for a business plan arranges your plan in a clear and structured way, helping potential investors get a quick grasp of what your business is about and what you aim to achieve. Always start with a summary of your plan and finish with the financial details or any extra information at the end.

Want to learn more?

  • Question: Are You a Business Owner or an Entrepreneur?
  • Bootstrapping a Business: 10 Tips to Help You Succeed
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset: 20 Ways to Think Like an Entrepreneur
  • 101+ Best Small Business Software Programs 

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Written by Jesse Sumrak | May 14, 2023

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Business plans might seem like an old-school stiff-collared practice, but they deserve a place in the startup realm, too. It’s probably not going to be the frame-worthy document you hang in the office—yet, it may one day be deserving of the privilege.

Whether you’re looking to win the heart of an angel investor or convince a bank to lend you money, you’ll need a business plan. And not just any ol’ notes and scribble on the back of a pizza box or napkin—you’ll need a professional, standardized report.

Bah. Sounds like homework, right?

Yes. Yes, it does.

However, just like bookkeeping, loan applications, and 404 redirects, business plans are an essential step in cementing your business foundation.

Don’t worry. We’ll show you how to write a business plan without boring you to tears. We’ve jam-packed this article with all the business plan examples, templates, and tips you need to take your non-existent proposal from concept to completion.

Table of Contents

What Is a Business Plan?

Tips to Make Your Small Business Plan Ironclad

How to Write a Business Plan in 6 Steps

Startup Business Plan Template

Business Plan Examples

Work on Making Your Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan FAQs

What is a business plan why do you desperately need one.

A business plan is a roadmap that outlines:

  • Who your business is, what it does, and who it serves
  • Where your business is now
  • Where you want it to go
  • How you’re going to make it happen
  • What might stop you from taking your business from Point A to Point B
  • How you’ll overcome the predicted obstacles

While it’s not required when starting a business, having a business plan is helpful for a few reasons:

  • Secure a Bank Loan: Before approving you for a business loan, banks will want to see that your business is legitimate and can repay the loan. They want to know how you’re going to use the loan and how you’ll make monthly payments on your debt. Lenders want to see a sound business strategy that doesn’t end in loan default.
  • Win Over Investors: Like lenders, investors want to know they’re going to make a return on their investment. They need to see your business plan to have the confidence to hand you money.
  • Stay Focused: It’s easy to get lost chasing the next big thing. Your business plan keeps you on track and focused on the big picture. Your business plan can prevent you from wasting time and resources on something that isn’t aligned with your business goals.

Beyond the reasoning, let’s look at what the data says:

  • Simply writing a business plan can boost your average annual growth by 30%
  • Entrepreneurs who create a formal business plan are 16% more likely to succeed than those who don’t
  • A study looking at 65 fast-growth companies found that 71% had small business plans
  • The process and output of creating a business plan have shown to improve business performance

Convinced yet? If those numbers and reasons don’t have you scrambling for pen and paper, who knows what will.

Don’t Skip: Business Startup Costs Checklist

Before we get into the nitty-gritty steps of how to write a business plan, let’s look at some high-level tips to get you started in the right direction:

Be Professional and Legit

You might be tempted to get cutesy or revolutionary with your business plan—resist the urge. While you should let your brand and creativity shine with everything you produce, business plans fall more into the realm of professional documents.

Think of your business plan the same way as your terms and conditions, employee contracts, or financial statements. You want your plan to be as uniform as possible so investors, lenders, partners, and prospective employees can find the information they need to make important decisions.

If you want to create a fun summary business plan for internal consumption, then, by all means, go right ahead. However, for the purpose of writing this external-facing document, keep it legit.

Know Your Audience

Your official business plan document is for lenders, investors, partners, and big-time prospective employees. Keep these names and faces in your mind as you draft your plan.

Think about what they might be interested in seeing, what questions they’ll ask, and what might convince (or scare) them. Cut the jargon and tailor your language so these individuals can understand.

Remember, these are busy people. They’re likely looking at hundreds of applicants and startup investments every month. Keep your business plan succinct and to the point. Include the most pertinent information and omit the sections that won’t impact their decision-making.

Invest Time Researching

You might not have answers to all the sections you should include in your business plan. Don’t skip over these!

Your audience will want:

  • Detailed information about your customers
  • Numbers and solid math to back up your financial claims and estimates
  • Deep insights about your competitors and potential threats
  • Data to support market opportunities and strategy

Your answers can’t be hypothetical or opinionated. You need research to back up your claims. If you don’t have that data yet, then invest time and money in collecting it. That information isn’t just critical for your business plan—it’s essential for owning, operating, and growing your company.

Stay Realistic

Your business may be ambitious, but reign in the enthusiasm just a teeny-tiny bit. The last thing you want to do is have an angel investor call BS and say “I’m out” before even giving you a chance.

The folks looking at your business and evaluating your plan have been around the block—they know a thing or two about fact and fiction. Your plan should be a blueprint for success. It should be the step-by-step roadmap for how you’re going from Point A to Point B.

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How to Write a Business Plan—6 Essential Elements

Not every business plan looks the same, but most share a few common elements. Here’s what they typically include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Overview
  • Products and Services
  • Market Analysis
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Financial Strategy

Below, we’ll break down each of these sections in more detail.

1. Executive Summary

While your executive summary is the first page of your business plan, it’s the section you’ll write last. That’s because it summarizes your entire business plan into a succinct one-pager.

Begin with an executive summary that introduces the reader to your business and gives them an overview of what’s inside the business plan.

Your executive summary highlights key points of your plan. Consider this your elevator pitch. You want to put all your juiciest strengths and opportunities strategically in this section.

2. Business Overview

In this section, you can dive deeper into the elements of your business, including answering:

  • What’s your business structure? Sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.
  • Where is it located?
  • Who owns the business? Does it have employees?
  • What problem does it solve, and how?
  • What’s your mission statement? Your mission statement briefly describes why you are in business. To write a proper mission statement, brainstorm your business’s core values and who you serve.

Don’t overlook your mission statement. This powerful sentence or paragraph could be the inspiration that drives an investor to take an interest in your business. Here are a few examples of powerful mission statements that just might give you the goosebumps:

  • Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
  • Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
  • InvisionApp : Question Assumptions. Think Deeply. Iterate as a Lifestyle. Details, Details. Design is Everywhere. Integrity.
  • TED : Spread ideas.
  • Warby Parker : To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.

3. Products and Services

As the owner, you know your business and the industry inside and out. However, whoever’s reading your document might not. You’re going to need to break down your products and services in minute detail.

For example, if you own a SaaS business, you’re going to need to explain how this business model works and what you’re selling.

You’ll need to include:

  • What services you sell: Describe the services you provide and how these will help your target audience.
  • What products you sell: Describe your products (and types if applicable) and how they will solve a need for your target and provide value.
  • How much you charge: If you’re selling services, will you charge hourly, per project, retainer, or a mixture of all of these? If you’re selling products, what are the price ranges?

4. Market Analysis

Your market analysis essentially explains how your products and services address customer concerns and pain points. This section will include research and data on the state and direction of your industry and target market.

This research should reveal lucrative opportunities and how your business is uniquely positioned to seize the advantage. You’ll also want to touch on your marketing strategy and how it will (or does) work for your audience.

Include a detailed analysis of your target customers. This describes the people you serve and sell your product to. Be careful not to go too broad here—you don’t want to fall into the common entrepreneurial trap of trying to sell to everyone and thereby not differentiating yourself enough to survive the competition.

The market analysis section will include your unique value proposition. Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the thing that makes you stand out from your competitors. This is your key to success.

If you don’t have a UVP, you don’t have a way to take on competitors who are already in this space. Here’s an example of an ecommerce internet business plan outlining their competitive edge:

FireStarters’ competitive advantage is offering product lines that make a statement but won’t leave you broke. The major brands are expensive and not distinctive enough to satisfy the changing taste of our target customers. FireStarters offers products that are just ahead of the curve and so affordable that our customers will return to the website often to check out what’s new.

5. Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis examines the strengths and weaknesses of competing businesses in your market or industry. This will include direct and indirect competitors. It can also include threats and opportunities, like economic concerns or legal restraints.

The best way to sum up this section is with a classic SWOT analysis. This will explain your company’s position in relation to your competitors.

6. Financial Strategy

Your financial strategy will sum up your revenue, expenses, profit (or loss), and financial plan for the future. It’ll explain how you make money, where your cash flow goes, and how you’ll become profitable or stay profitable.

This is one of the most important sections for lenders and investors. Have you ever watched Shark Tank? They always ask about the company’s financial situation. How has it performed in the past? What’s the ongoing outlook moving forward? How does the business plan to make it happen?

Answer all of these questions in your financial strategy so that your audience doesn’t have to ask. Go ahead and include forecasts and graphs in your plan, too:

  • Balance sheet: This includes your assets, liabilities, and equity.
  • Profit & Loss (P&L) statement: This details your income and expenses over a given period.
  • Cash flow statement: Similar to the P&L, this one will show all cash flowing into and out of the business each month.

It takes cash to change the world—lenders and investors get it. If you’re short on funding, explain how much money you’ll need and how you’ll use the capital. Where are you looking for financing? Are you looking to take out a business loan, or would you rather trade equity for capital instead?

Read More: 16 Financial Concepts Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Startup Business Plan Template (Copy/Paste Outline)

Ready to write your own business plan? Copy/paste the startup business plan template below and fill in the blanks.

Executive Summary Remember, do this last. Summarize who you are and your business plan in one page.

Business Overview Describe your business. What’s it do? Who owns it? How’s it structured? What’s the mission statement?

Products and Services Detail the products and services you offer. How do they work? What do you charge?

Market Analysis Write about the state of the market and opportunities. Use date. Describe your customers. Include your UVP.

Competitive Analysis Outline the competitors in your market and industry. Include threats and opportunities. Add a SWOT analysis of your business.

Financial Strategy Sum up your revenue, expenses, profit (or loss), and financial plan for the future. If you’re applying for a loan, include how you’ll use the funding to progress the business.

What’s the Best Business Plan to Succeed as a Consultant?

5 Frame-Worthy Business Plan Examples

Want to explore other templates and examples? We got you covered. Check out these 5 business plan examples you can use as inspiration when writing your plan:

  • SBA Wooden Grain Toy Company
  • SBA We Can Do It Consulting
  • OrcaSmart Business Plan Sample
  • Plum Business Plan Template
  • PandaDoc Free Business Plan Templates

Get to Work on Making Your Business Plan

If you find you’re getting stuck on perfecting your document, opt for a simple one-page business plan —and then get to work. You can always polish up your official plan later as you learn more about your business and the industry.

Remember, business plans are not a requirement for starting a business—they’re only truly essential if a bank or investor is asking for it.

Ask others to review your business plan. Get feedback from other startups and successful business owners. They’ll likely be able to see holes in your planning or undetected opportunities—just make sure these individuals aren’t your competitors (or potential competitors).

Your business plan isn’t a one-and-done report—it’s a living, breathing document. You’ll make changes to it as you grow and evolve. When the market or your customers change, your plan will need to change to adapt.

That means when you’re finished with this exercise, it’s not time to print your plan out and stuff it in a file cabinet somewhere. No, it should sit on your desk as a day-to-day reference. Use it (and update it) as you make decisions about your product, customers, and financial plan.

Review your business plan frequently, update it routinely, and follow the path you’ve developed to the future you’re building.

Keep Learning: New Product Development Process in 8 Easy Steps

What financial information should be included in a business plan?

Be as detailed as you can without assuming too much. For example, include your expected revenue, expenses, profit, and growth for the future.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing a business plan?

The most common mistake is turning your business plan into a textbook. A business plan is an internal guide and an external pitching tool. Cut the fat and only include the most relevant information to start and run your business.

Who should review my business plan before I submit it?

Co-founders, investors, or a board of advisors. Otherwise, reach out to a trusted mentor, your local chamber of commerce, or someone you know that runs a business.

Ready to Write Your Business Plan?

Don’t let creating a business plan hold you back from starting your business. Writing documents might not be your thing—that doesn’t mean your business is a bad idea.

Let us help you get started.

Join our free training to learn how to start an online side hustle in 30 days or less. We’ll provide you with a proven roadmap for how to find, validate, and pursue a profitable business idea (even if you have zero entrepreneurial experience).

Stuck on the ideas part? No problem. When you attend the masterclass, we’ll send you a free ebook with 100 of the hottest side hustle trends right now. It’s chock full of brilliant business ideas to get you up and running in the right direction.

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About Jesse Sumrak

Jesse Sumrak is a writing zealot focused on creating killer content. He’s spent almost a decade writing about startup, marketing, and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped business. A writer by day and a peak bagger by night (and early early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

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300+ Business Plan Examples

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With over two decades of experience, Growthink has assisted more than 1 million companies in developing effective business plans to launch and expand their businesses. Trust in our expertise to guide you through developing a business plan that drives your success. In addition to our sample plans, below you’ll learn the answers to key business plan questions and gain insightful tips on writing your business plan.

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1. Why is utilizing an example business plan a good idea?

Sample business plans can help you quickly and easily write a business plan for your own business. Business plans are an important tool for any business, but they can be challenging to create. A sample business plan will help you understand the business plan format , the benefit of market research, and how to write a compelling executive summary. It can also serve as a guide for creating your own business plan, outlining the key sections and providing examples of successful plans. Utilizing the best business plan template can save you time and ensure that your plan is well-structured and comprehensive.

Business plan examples may even help you with the different sections of a plan, including market analysis, business description, cash flow statements/business financial statements, and more. Business plans can also show you how a quality plan in your exact business plan category is organized and shows you the appropriate business communications style to use when writing your business plan.

2. Who would benefit from using an example business plan?

Any entrepreneur or business owner who has never written a business plan before can benefit from an example or sample plan. New business owners often start with business plan templates , which are helpful but are sometimes more useful after reviewing other sample business plans.

A good sample plan can be a step-by-step guide as you work on your business planning and business idea. Once you have a sense for the flow, specs, and details, etc. that business plans have, utilizing a business plan template will help you pull everything together, helping you create a plan investors and other stakeholders will value. A solid business plan will also help you if you need a bank loan, which may require a startup business plan. Download our free business plan template to help you get started on your own business plan.

Free Download : Free Business Plan Template PDF

3. How do you get started with a sample business plan and maximize its benefit?

First you should read the business plan thoroughly. Study both the type of information provided in key sections like the executive summary, target market analysis, summary, etc., as well as the format and style of the plan. As you read, you may find yourself thinking through things such as improving or evaluating your business planning process, your business idea, or reconsidering who you want to write your business plan for. This is OK and part of the process. In fact, when you start writing a business plan for the first time, it will be much easier because you’ve gone through this process.

After this initial read, outline your business plan and copy in from the sample plan sections that apply to your business. For instance, if the sample plan included public relations in their marketing strategy and sales plan, and you will also use this tactic, you can copy it into your plan and edit it as appropriate. Finally, answer the other questions answered in the sample plan in ways that reflect your unique business and target customers.

Writing a business plan can seem daunting. Starting your business plan writing process by reviewing a plan that’s already been created can remove a lot of mental and emotional barriers while helping you craft the best plan you can.

4. When should you not use a sample business plan?

If your business is unlike any other, using a sample business plan will not be as effective. In this situation, writing a business plan from scratch utilizing a business plan template is probably your best path forward.

As an example, Facebook’s early business plan was unlike others since it was paving a new path and way of doing business. But, groundbreaking new businesses like Facebook are not the norm, and the vast majority of companies will benefit from utilizing sample business plans.

5. How do you choose the right type of business plan for your venture?

Selecting the appropriate type of business plan depends on your business’s stage, needs, and goals. Let’s explore the different types of business plans and how to determine which business plan format is right for you.

  • Startup Business Plan : This type of plan is for businesses just starting out and seeking funding or investment. It typically includes a detailed analysis of the market, target audience, competition, and financial projections.
  • Traditional Business Plan : Traditional business plans are the most common type of business plan, used by established businesses to outline their goals and strategies. It includes all the key sections such as market analysis, company description, and financial statements.
  • Internal Business Plan : Internal business plans are used for internal purposes, to guide the day-to-day operations and decision making of the business. It may not be as detailed as a traditional business plan, but still includes important information such as company mission, objectives, and key performance indicators.
  • Feasibility Business Plan : A feasibility business plan is used to assess the viability of a new product or service in the market. It includes detailed research and analysis to determine if the business idea is feasible and profitable.
  • One-Page Business Plan : As the name suggests, this type of business plan is condensed into one page and includes the most critical information about the business. It can be a useful tool for pitching to potential investors or partners.
  • Strategic Business Plan : A strategic plan looks at the big picture and long-term business goals of a company. It may include the company’s mission statement, core values, and overarching strategies for achieving success.

Ultimately, the type of business plan you choose will depend on your business’s specific needs and goals. It may also be beneficial to combine elements from different types of plans to create a customized plan that best fits your business. Carefully consider your objectives and resources before deciding on the right type of plan for your venture.

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The business plan example below is for Shoutmouth, a company that enjoyed much success in the early 2000’s and which was able to raise funding. While the plan’s premise (social networking) is not as unique now as it was then, the format and structure of this business plan still holds.

I. Executive Summary

Business Overview

Launched in late February 2007, is the most comprehensive music news website on the Internet .

Music is one of the most searched and accessed interests on the Internet. Top music artists like Akon receive over 3 million searches each month. In addition, over 500 music artists each receive over 25,000 searches a month.

However, music fans are largely unsatisfied when it comes to the news and information they seek on the artists they love. This is because most music websites (e.g.,,,, etc.) cover only the top eight to ten music stories each day – the stories with mass appeal. This type of generic coverage does not satisfy the needs of serious music fans. Music fans generally listen to many different artists and genres of music. By publishing over 100 music stories each day, Shoutmouth enables these fans to read news on all their favorite artists.

In addition to publishing comprehensive music news on over 1200 music artists, Shoutmouth is a social network that allows fans to meet and communicate with other fans about music, and allows them to:

  • Create personal profiles
  • Interact with other members
  • Provide comments on news stories and music videos
  • Submit news stories and videos
  • Recommend new music artists to add to the community
  • Receive customized news and email alerts on their favorite artists

Success Factors

Shoutmouth is uniquely qualified to succeed due to the following reasons:

  • Entrepreneurial track record : Shoutmouth’s CEO and team have helped launch numerous successful ventures.
  • Affiliate marketing track record : Online affiliate marketing expertise has been cited as one of MySpace’s key success factors. Over the past two years, Shoutmouth’s founders have run one of the most successful online affiliate marketing programs, having sold products to over 500,000 music customers online.
  • Key milestones completed : Shoutmouth’s founders have invested $500,000 to-date to staff the company (we currently have an 11-person full-time team), build the core technology, and launch the site. We have succeeded in gaining initial customer traction with 50,000 unique visitors in March, 100,000 unique visitors in April, and 200,000 unique visitors in May 2007.

Unique Investment Metrics

The Shoutmouth investment opportunity is very exciting due to the metrics of the business.

To begin, over the past two years, over twenty social networks have been acquired. The value in these networks is their relationships with large numbers of customers, which allow acquirers to effectively sell to this audience.

The sales price of these social networks has ranged from $25 to $137 per member. Shoutmouth has the ability to enroll members at less than $1 each, thus providing an extraordinary return on marketing expenditures. In fact, during an April 2007 test, we were able to sign-up 2,000 members to artist-specific Shoutmouth newsletters at a cost of only 43 cents per member.

While we are building Shoutmouth to last, potential acquirers include many types of companies that seek relationships with music fans such as music media/publishing (e.g., MTV, Rolling Stone), ticketing (e.g., Ticketmaster, LiveNation) and digital music sales firms (e.g., iTunes, The Orchard).

Financial Strategy, Needs and Exit Strategy

While Shoutmouth’s technological, marketing and operational infrastructure has been developed, we currently require $3 million to execute on our marketing and technology plan over the next 24 months until we hit profitability.

Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to become a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.

Topline projections over the next three years are as follows:

II. Shoutmouth Overview

What is Shoutmouth?

Shoutmouth is an operating company of The Kisco Group Inc. (TKG). Since 2003, TKG has capitalized on web-based marketing opportunities via launching targeted websites and generating web-based leads. TKG revenues in 2005 exceeded $1.3 million and grew to $3.5 million in 2006. Shoutmouth is currently the sole focus of TKG; all other TKG business units have been divested.

Development of Shoutmouth began in August 2006 and the site officially launched on February 21, 2007. Shoutmouth (located at is the most comprehensive music news community on the Internet. The website covers 1,200 popular bands and music artists and offers more than 100 new music articles each day. In addition to providing news, Shoutmouth is a web community. That is, Shoutmouth members can actively participate on the site, by doing things such as commenting on news stories and submitting their own stories.

The Market Size and Need for Shoutmouth

The music market is clearly vast. According to IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide, global music sales were $33.5 billion in 2005, with the U.S. accounting for $12.3 billion of that amount. Importantly, digitally music sales are seeing substantial growth, with IFPI reporting sales of $400 million in 2004, $1.1 billion in 2005 and $2 billion in 2006.

Online, music is the one of the most frequently searched and accessed interests. For example, according to Wordtracker, the music artist Eminem received over 1.7 million web searches in December 2006, while band Green Day received 534,000 searches.

To put these figures in perspective, top celebrities in other entertainment fields receive but a fraction of this search volume. For example, December 2006 search volumes for select sports stars and actors were as follows: Kobe Bryant, 122K; Tiger Woods, 88K; Cameron Diaz, 332K; and Tom Cruise, 82K.

Conversely, 225 music artists received over 100,000 searches in December 2006, and over 500 music artists received over 25,000 searches.

This data is corroborated by Nielsen BuzzMetrics which plots the most popular topics bloggers are posting about. The chart to the right plots September 25, 2006 to March 25, 2007 and shows how music dominates other entertainment sectors online.

When searching for music artists online, fans, which are primarily between the ages of 13 and 35, are looking for news, pictures, lyrics, videos and audio files. In addition, fans enjoy publicly voicing their opinions about music and interacting with other fans.

There is currently no website besides Shoutmouth that provides comprehensive music news. Currently, to get the latest news on their favorite artists, fans must visit the official websites or fan websites of each of the artists they like . Even then, it is unlikely that the fan will get all the news that has occurred. To solve this problem, Shoutmouth scours the web and uncovers news from thousands of web sites.

What Shoutmouth Does and Will Offer

As of May 2007, the site covers the 1,200 most popular music artists (popularity primarily based on the number of web searches over the past 12 months for each artist).

Shoutmouth currently offers members the ability to:

  • Read over 500 new music articles each week
  • Read special features such as album reviews, interviews, new album release dates, top quotes of the week and other special reports
  • Watch and rate music videos
  • Listen to select music audio clips
  • Comment on news stories and music videos
  • Submit news stories that they see/hear of elsewhere
  • Suggest new music artists to add to the site
  • View articles by music artist or by genre (current genres include Rock, Pop, Rap, R&B, Country, and Electronic)
  • Create a user profile that includes their favorite music artists, Shoutmouth friends, news stories submitted to Shoutmouth, and comments made. Members have the ability to find other members based on their favorite artists and via our search functions.
  • Receive customized news and email alerts. Members can customize their “My News” page to include only artists they specify. Likewise, they can choose to receive email alerts whenever there is a new story on one of their favorite artists.

While establishing itself as the premier music news community, Shoutmouth will embark on the more aggressive goal of becoming the premier music community online . To accomplish this, Shoutmouth will begin to offer additional content (more videos, audio, pictures, lyrics, etc.) and additional functionality (music compatibility testing (e.g., if you like this, you’ll like this), voting capabilities, member-to-member messaging, etc.). We have already begun mapping out our content and technology growths plans to achieve this goal upon financing.

Importantly, Shoutmouth expects to be able to add massive amounts of relevant content (e.g., lyrics, reviews, pictures, video files, audio files, etc.) via member submissions and moderation. This is the same way that YouTube has been able to quickly add millions of videos and Wikipedia has been able to add millions of articles. Importantly, since established music websites (e.g., MTV,,, etc.) are not community based, they would have to hire thousands of staff members to rival the content that Shoutmouth will have.

How We Get and Publish Our News

Currently, news stories that appear on Shoutmouth are gathered from numerous online sources. Shoutmouth’s staff writers find these stories by using RSS and News feeds that cover thousands of websites. In addition, Shoutmouth community members have the ability to submit stories they find elsewhere.

Typical stories include factual information plus the insight of the author. Shoutmouth editors ensure that all stories are properly classified by artist and genre, and that duplicate articles are filtered out.

Over the past three months, Shoutmouth has developed a solid infrastructure, which we consider a core competitive advantage, that that allows us to provide comprehensive music news . This infrastructure includes:

  • Setting up hundreds of RSS feeds based on comprehensive research regarding sites from which to receive feeds
  • Training our editorial team regarding identifying a story and weeding out duplicates
  • Assigning music artists among our five-person editorial team to better manage work flow and avoid duplicate articles

We are working on a system to ensure that member-submitted articles are automatically routed to the appropriate member of Shoutmouth’s editorial team to improve our efficiencies further.

Shoutmouth’s Goal to Break News First

The majority (approximately 90%) of Shoutmouth’s articles are currently developed by our in-house editorial team, while the balance is submitted by members. In addition, virtually all of our articles are based on information gleaned from other websites. As such, we are generally not the first to publish news; however we are the first and only site to publish all the news in one easily-accessible place. The one current exception is news which is published on bands’ official MySpace pages; Shoutmouth generally publishes articles on this news 24 to 48 hours before it is reported by other news or music sites (due to our efficiencies in finding news).

Shoutmouth realizes that it will gain a key competitive advantage, and will generate significant market buzz, if it is able to report on music news stories before other media sources . To accomplish this, we have begun contacting publicity departments at record labels to gain direct access to music news. We expect these contacts to enable us to gain immediate and sometimes exclusive access to news which will help further establish Shoutmouth as the canonical source for music news. We also plan to more aggressively solicit member submissions of new, buzzworthy news events and will consider offering rewards for unique substantiated news (much the way paparazzi are compensated).

III. Competition in the Online Music Market

This section of the business plan provides a competitive analysis, which is an overview of the competitive landscape, discusses both indirect and direct competitors and then details Shoutmouth’s competitive advantages.

Because consumer demand for music on the Internet is so great, there are a vast number of music websites. In summary, we consider most sectors of the online music market (which are discussed below) to be indirect competitors and potentially partners, rather than direct competitors, because none of them focus on music news.

The reason we believe that no one focuses on music news is that it is very difficult to do. Because news is very important to music fans, most music websites offer news. However, they primarily get their news from organizations such as CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press and BBC. These large organizations only write about the music stories that have mass appeal, which traditionally amounts to 8-10 music news stories per day. However, since music fans are often zealots when it comes to their favorite artists, they are not merely interested in cover stories. For instance, a U2 fan cares about any U2 news, particularly news that a non-U2 fan might consider insignificant.

In fact, because Shoutmouth is the sole one-stop shop for getting comprehensive music news, there might be an opportunity to license our content to other music websites.

Sectors of the Online Music Market

Shoutmouth specifically comPs in the community-based music news market. While players in this market represent direct competitors, Shoutmouth faces indirect competitors in the following markets:

  • Community-Based Sites
  • Community-Based News Sites
  • Community-Based Music Sites
  • Traditional Music Websites
  • Official Artist and Fan Sites

Each of these markets is described below.

A. Community-Based Sites

Community-based sites, also known as social networking sites, are websites in which members can create profiles, leave comments throughout the site, and communicate with other members among other features.

A June 2006 report by Piper Jaffray entitled “Silk Road: Social Networking is Here to Stay” effectively sums up the power and longevity of social networking:

“We believe social networking sites have become a permanent part of the fabric of web applications and are rapidly becoming one of the most popular activities online, potentially impacting how other popular services such as email, IM, and maybe even search are accessed.

As a clear indication of the growth rate and scale of social networking, consider this: MySpace monthly page views have now surpassed MSN or AOL in the U.S. and are nearly 75% of the size of Yahoo!. Social networking has filled a gap that was left by all the existing portals and web services and it is fulfilling a very important and basic function for millions of users: allowing them to express themselves and connect with their friends, with the two functions tightly integrated.

The leading sites such as MySpace (News Corp), Facebook, and others are amassing significant power in the new landscape of the Internet and the existing Internet companies are likely to have to work with these newcomers as they may yield material control on the flow of traffic to other applications.”

Social networking sites such as,,, and have educated consumers regarding the value of these sites and how to use them. Their success has spurred genre-specific social networks such as community-based/social networking news sites and music sites, which are discussed below.

Shoutmouth doesn’t view established social networking sites as competitors since these sites have a general focus. That is, members talk about all aspects of life, from dating to music to movies, etc. Conversely, Shoutmouth is solely focused on music.

B. Community-Based News Sites

Community-based news sites are sites in which members decide what’s newsworthy and what’s not. For instance, on, the most prominent community-based news site, members “Digg” stories that they feel are most newsworthy. The stories that the community feels are most important rise to Digg’s homepage, while less important stories get little attention.

Digg’s one million members can submit stories, “digg” stories, and comment on stories. Digg focuses on general news with a slant towards technology, gaming and unique/sensational news. While Digg does have a Music area within its Entertainment section, this receives little focus. In fact, at the time of the writing of this plan, Digg’s music home page only includes one article submitted within the past 48 hours. Furthermore, Digg doesn’t pare down the music category into sub-categories such as Rock and individual music artists. Conversely, these sub-categories are the entire focus of Shoutmouth.

Other sites that are similar to Digg include, and Of most relevance is the Digg-like site for music,, which was launched by Ticketmaster in January 2007.

Like Digg, allows members to submit and vote for music stories. is organized by music genre and not by music artist. This most likely will not satisfy the needs of many music fans since they don’t have the ability to find news on the specific artists they care most about. Likewise, without a full-time staff actively researching and publishing news stories at the artist-level, will never be able to offer the comprehensive news that Shoutmouth does.

While Shoutmouth is currently similar to community-based news sites in that members can submit stories and comment on the news they find most interesting, no established player in the market provides a comprehensive focus on music. In addition, Shoutmouth sees these sites as marketing partners as we have and will continue to submit our stories on them to increase our readership.

C. Community-Based Music Sites

There are many community-based music websites, although none focuses on music news such as Shoutmouth. Conversely, these sites generally give members the ability to create and listen to song play lists. The community acts to help individual members find new music and new friends based on similarities in their music tastes. Prominent sites in this genre include, Finetune, Pandora, RadioBlogClub, MyStrands, iLike[1] and iJigg. is the most prominent community-based music site and is a good model with which to compare Shoutmouth. Likewise, we will benchmark our performance against as we reach of goal of becoming the premier music news community and focus on becoming the premier music community.

According to Alexa, is the 359th most visited site on the Internet. While focuses on allowing members to create customized Internet stations based on their music tastes, the site has much additional content and social networking features. For instance, for each artist, includes pictures, a bio, concert dates, discography, fans on, and similar artists. Fans are also able to create journals and communicate with other fans. Key features that doesn’t currently focus on include news and video.

D. Traditional Music Websites

Traditional music websites such as,,,, AOL Music, and Yahoo! Music tend to have many features such as news, reviews, pictures, videos and audio. While these sites are generally very well done and extremely popular, they are under-serving visitors in two core areas: music news and community .

These sites’ lack of music news stems from the difficulty in creating this news, specifically that it requires filtering through thousands of articles and websites to find relevant stories. Likewise, as discussed, these firms might wish to license our news content in the future.

Regarding community , none of the top music sites are thriving communities. Rather, either these sites offer no community features or they recently began offering select features (e.g., submitting reviews or commenting on articles). Even when available, the community features on these sites are afterthoughts and are not engrained within the core fabric of the sites.

While they haven’t been able to transform their current sites into communities, top music websites clearly understand the power of online music communities and have an appetite for them. For example, in January 2007, MTV invested in social networking website TagWorld. MTV also acquired and (teen social network) in January 2007 and October 2006 respectively.

As mentioned previously, our vision is to build and incorporate additional technologies, and use our “army” of members to publish vast amounts of music content on Shoutmouth, in order to fully satisfy music fans and leapfrog traditional music sites in terms of their music content.

E. Official Artist and Fan Sites

Shoutmouth com’s with official music artist websites and fan websites. These sites often include news about the specific artist as well as pictures, videos and other relevant information.

On one hand, official music artist and fan websites are direct competitors to Shoutmouth. This is because some of these sites offer comprehensive news on the specific artist they cover. In addition, many offer forums, discussion boards or other ways to communicate with other fans.

However, two factors separate Shoutmouth from these types of sites: 1) breadth and 2) sophistication.

  • Breadth : Most music fans love more than one artist. As such, in order to get the news they want, they would have to visit/join multiple fan or artist websites rather than getting all of their news from Shoutmouth.
  • Sophistication : While some official music artist websites are technologically sophisticated, offering forums, networking and other worthwhile features, the majority of artist and fan websites have limited usability, functionality and networking ability. In fact, this deficiency has lead to the success of MusicToday, which provides front and back-end technology to power artist websites.

Specifically, MusicToday offers web design and hosting, develops sophisticated online stores, builds online fan clubs and offers web ticketing among other services to select top music artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Christina Aguilera, Kenny Chesney, Britney Spears and Usher. While offering sophisticated tools for select music artist websites, MusicToday offers little to no music news nor advanced social networking functions. For instance, the official Dave Matthews Band website offers less than one news story per month.

F. Direct Competitors: Community-Based Music News Sites

Shoutmouth’s direct competitors are other music news websites that have social or community features that allow users to join the site, submit articles, comment on articles, create public profiles and/or communicate with other members. Shoutmouth has identified one significant player who offers this service, has done a good job of building a user base (the site claims 125,000+ registered members and nearly 500,000 un-registered members). In addition, the user base is very active — the average story on their site receives approximately 20 comments. offers music news, reviews, pictures and interviews among other features.

On the negative side,’s articles are generally posted by one staff writer (as opposed to Shoutmouth’s five writers), most articles are simply one sentence posts rather than full articles, and no attempt seems to have been made to cover all news stories. In addition, the site only covers the punk music genre. Although “punk” is broadly defined on the site, the site doesn’t cater to genres such as R&B, rap and country among others, failing to satisfy the broader market. is owned by Indieclick, a Los Angeles-based media company. According to the website, the site:

  • Has developed a loyal (72% return rate) reader base
  • 5,182,147 Posts
  • 163,535 Threads
  • 126,448 Members
  • 1,711 Artist Profiles
  • 20,774 Multimedia Files
  • Approx 76,000 visits per day.
  • Approx 276,000 pageviews per day.

Shoutmouth’s Competitive Advantage

In addition to being the first to fill the untapped market void for comprehensive music news, Shoutmouth’s competitive advantage in the market primarily includes the following:

Online Marketing Sophistication

Content Development Experience and Expertise

Shoutmouth’s team, primarily team members DL and PF, has operated an affiliate marketing business focusing on music for the past four years. Affiliate marketing is defined as a system of revenue sharing between one site (the affiliate) which features an ad or content designed to drive traffic to another site (the merchant). The affiliate receives a fee based on traffic to the merchant which converts to sales.

Our affiliate business has focused on connecting music fans, primarily aged 13 to 30, with music offers such as iPods and ringtones. Over the past two years, we have successful sold affiliated offers to over 500,000 customers. We have become a significant online advertiser, receiving Google’s “over 1 million leads” award, and are recognized as a major player among the top affiliate networks.

It is important to note that affiliate marketing success has been credited with part of MySpace’s success. This is because effective affiliate marketers understand how to drive and convert on Internet traffic.

Shoutmouth will employ its affiliate marketing techniques to drive traffic to and enroll members. We will utilize technologies and proprietary techniques that allow us to monitor multiple metrics such as the cost per visitor, cost per member sign-up, etc., so that we can set and maintain profitable metrics.

Another venture that Shoutmouth team members, primarily PK and DL, launched was the development of over 3,000 niche websites. To create the content for these websites, we employed a virtual work force of over 90 researchers in India and 30 writers and editors in the US.

This experience taught us how to manage a large workforce, train writers to improve content quality and motivate a large group of people. These skill sets will be critical in allowing Shoutmouth to grow the content of the site, as developed by both staff and members, while maintaining quality standards.

IV. Marketing Plan

Shoutmouth’s marketing plan includes the following:

Online Advertising : Shoutmouth will initiate pay-per-click advertising campaigns on Google and Yahoo! in order to inexpensively drive traffic to the site. Specifically, Shoutmouth believes it can drive qualified traffic to the site for 20 cents per visitor and achieve a 20% member conversion rate, thus generating members at a cost of $1.00 per member.

Keys to Shoutmouth’s success in achieving this metric include:

  • Conducting thorough keyword research and advertising on appropriate keywords and keyword groups
  • Creating advertising text that maximizes click through rates
  • Creating landing pages that maximize conversions while maintaining the highest Google AdWords quality score possible
  • Closely monitoring conversions to quickly stop and/or modify unprofitable campaigns
  • Getting individuals to enter their email address to join the newsletter is much easier than getting them to join a site where they have to create a username, select a password, etc. As such, step one will be to get visitors to sign up for artist-specific newsletters.
  • Once on the newsletter distribution list, members will constantly receive messages (embedded in their daily newsletter) regarding the benefits of participating more on Shoutmouth.
  • Active Shoutmouth Membership: the constant reminders regarding Shoutmouth’s value proposition in the daily newsletters will influence members to participate more actively on the site (e.g., customize their profile, visit the site more often, etc.).

Invite-A-Friend : Shoutmouth is in the process of creating an aggressive invite-a-friend/member referral program. In doing so, we are following the lead of social movie community, Flixster, which grew to 5 million members within 10 months. It did this by encouraging members, during their initial registration process, to upload and send an invitation to multiple contacts in their email address books. The technology to develop this process is fairly complex and we expect to be completed with and to rollout this program in June 2007.

Direct Email Marketing : Shoutmouth will directly contact bloggers and prominent music fans we find online to tell them about Shoutmouth, encourage them to join, and encourage them to write about Shoutmouth on their blogs and online journals .

Creating/Distributing Buzzworthy/Viral Content : Shoutmouth plans to have several buzzworthy/viral articles (i.e., content that people would want to email to their friends since it is funny, interesting, etc.) on the site each day. With a single click, visitors will be able to send these articles to social bookmarking sites such as or, where these articles could receive widespread attention. In addition to our traditional news stories, Shoutmouth will also periodically create special reports/features in order to satisfy our members and visitors and to try to get widespread exposure.

An example of the power of such buzzworthy content, Shoutmouth has already succeeded in having two stories accepted by Fark and Digg, which have brought in over 50,000 unique visitors.

Super Fans/Street Team Development : Shoutmouth also plans to recruit “super fans.” Super fans are individuals who are passionate about a certain music artist/band and actively contribute articles and/or comments on Shoutmouth. We will recruit these fans, reward them with status (e.g., adding a gold Shoutmouth headphones image to their profile page) and encourage them to more aggressively promote the site by:

  • Submitting more news to Shoutmouth
  • Commenting on more articles on Shoutmouth
  • Growing the Shoutmouth community around their favorite artist(s) by actively recruiting new members to join the site (such as actively posting Shoutmouth-related comments on their MySpace pages, on other music forums, etc.)

Public Relations : Upon financing, Shoutmouth will hire a public relations firm to help us get mentions in media sources ranging from magazines, newspapers, radio, television and blogs. To date, we have developed and issued press releases via Billboard Publicity Wire which have been syndicated throughout the web. An effective PR firm will enable Shoutmouth to quickly reach a wide audience.

Widgets : Shoutmouth will create artist-specific and genre-specific music news widgets. For example, our U2 widget (see example on right) would include all of the recent U2 articles published on Shoutmouth. The widget can easily be placed on MySpace pages, blogs, etc. Each story title in the widget links to the full article on Shoutmouth.

Shoutmouth has great expectations for our widget. To begin, no such widget currently exists as there is no one place to get comprehensive news for specific music artists. Secondly, each time someone places a Shoutmouth widget on their blog or social networking page, it will effectively market Shoutmouth to a wide audience at zero cost to us.

V. Technology/Site Development Plan

This section provides a brief roadmap of the initial and future functionality of Shoutmouth.

Initial Site Functionality

The initial Shoutmouth website will include the following features:

  • Ability to submit and comment on news stories
  • Ability to suggest new music artists to add to the site
  • Ability to create user profiles
  • Ability to receive customized news and email alerts
  • Articles categorized by artist and core genre (e.g., Rock, Rap, Pop, etc.)
  • Music artist sections which includes News, Bio and Fans

Future Site Functionality

Shoutmouth will use news and basic functionality as the platform though which we will build a thriving music community. After initial launch, the Shoutmouth technology team will work on incorporating additional features such as:

  • Ability to message other members via the site (e.g., members will have an Inbox on the site)
  • Event calendars: members will receive online calendars. With the click of a button, the member will be able to add tour dates of their favorite artists/bands to their calendar.
  • Articles also categorized by sub-genre (e.g., Alternative Rock, West Coast Rap, etc.)
  • Music artist sections to also include videos, audio files, photo galleries, reviews and event calendars to which members can upload files and vote on top content.
  • Forums and member blogs
  • Music compatibility testing (suggestions on song/artists members might like)
  • Trivia quizzes
  • Music playlists

VI. Financial Plan

Revenue Model

During the first six months, Shoutmouth will not generate any revenues as it will not sell advertising space nor offer products for sale. This decision has been made to spur the growth of the Shoutmouth community. By initially positioning Shoutmouth more as a non-profit, for-the-people-by-the-people venture, members will be more prone to promote the site and invite their friends than if the site looks too commercial.

Starting in September 2007, Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies (such as the Snocap music widget) evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to be a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.

Funding To Date

To date, Shoutmouth’s founders have invested $500,000 in Shoutmouth, with which we have accomplished the following:

  • Built the site’s core technology
  • Hired and trained our core staff (we currently maintain an 11-person full-time team)
  • Populated the website with content (over 10,000 articles and 1,200 artist bios)
  • Generated brand awareness among music fans, including driving 50,000 unique visitors in March, 100,000 unique visitors in April, and 200,000 unique visitors in May 2007.

Funding Requirements/Use of Funds

Shoutmouth is currently seeking $3 million to provide funding for the next 24 months. At this point, the site will be profitable and can grow organically, or additional capital may be sought to more aggressively expand our member base.

The capital will be used as follows:

  • Execution of Marketing plan : in order for Shoutmouth to grow its visitor and member base, we need to invest dollars in online advertising and public relations. With regards to online advertising, we are confident that we can enroll members at a cost of $1 per member, which is a fraction of the value of the members to an acquirer (minimum $25 per member), thus providing a significant return on our marketing investments.
  • Execution of Technology plan : in order to build a thriving community, Shoutmouth needs to offer its visitors a “stickier” website and enhanced features. We currently maintain a vast “wish list” of features, such as members uploading and rating pictures and videos, trivia quizzes, and member-to-member messaging, that will significantly improve the site’s functionality and value proposition.
  • Staffing : In order to reach our goals, we will have to hire additional technical and operations personnel.

Financial Projections

Below is an overview of Shoutmouth’s Financial Projections for the next three years. Please see the Appendix for the full financial projections and key assumptions.

Exit Strategy / Valuation Metric

Shoutmouth’s most likely exit strategy is to be acquired by a traditional music website or property (e.g., Viacom/MTV, Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone), an entertainment/media conglomerate (e.g., Yahoo!, IAC/InterActiveCorp, NBC), or a large social networking site (e.g., News Corp/MySpace).

This strategy is supported by the significant M&A activity in the social networking market, which includes the following transactions over the past 24 months:

Regarding valuation, below are the estimated valuations of social networking companies on a per member basis upon exit:

  • $50 – $100 per member
  • MySpace: $25 per member
  • Xing (business social network): $137 per member at IPO in 10/06
  • Flickr: $56 – $130 per member
  • Grouper: $130 per member

Based on this data, not only are social networking sites a promising investment, but sites that can acquire members for less than $25 each (a conservative valuation estimate based on the figures above), should earn a solid return on investment. As discussed above, Shoutmouth’s goal is to acquire members for no more than $1 each.

In addition, per the membership projections above, Shoutmouth’s valuation at the end of 2009, at a $25 valuation per member, is expected to be $239 million. A more conservative, using a 24.4 time EBITDA multiple (the average multiple of tech M&A deals in 2006 according to The M&A Advisor), yields a $121 million valuation in 2009.

Shoutmouth’s founding team includes entrepreneurs and managers with a track record of success and a history of successfully working together.

Management Team

DL, Co-Founder and CEO

D has a history of successfully launching and growing businesses of all sizes. As president and co-founder of an entrepreneurial services firm., D has personally assisted in the launch and development of over 100 ventures.

Over the past three years, D founded and has managed The Kisco Group which includes an affiliate marketing division (2006 revenues exceeded $3 million), a search engine optimization business which includes a network of 3,000 websites (2006 revenues exceeded $500,000) and an e-commerce business (which includes and

D earned his Bachelors degree from the University of South Carolina.

PK, Co-Founder and Vice President of Operations

For the past two years, P has managed The Kisco Group’s search engine optimization business where he hired, trained and managed nearly 100 employees and a dozen outside firms. During this time, P has honed his management skills with regards to content development, marketing and operations.

P has had a passion for music since childhood and has been a semi-professional drummer for the past 15 years.

P earned his Bachelors of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Clemson University.

PF, Co-Founder and Vice President of Technology

For the past year, P has managed The Kisco Group’s affiliate marketing business. In addition to setting up and managing widespread marketing campaigns, P has developed sophisticated analytic techniques to precisely analyze web traffic in order to optimize profitability.

Since August 2006, P has shifted his efforts and leveraged his technology skills in developing the Shoutmouth website. P has been instrumental in selecting the Content Management Platform upon which Shoutmouth is built, and finding and managing the technology team.

P earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College.

AB, Marketing Manager

A’s background in music includes being a singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer. He has also worked on the marketing side of music, having marketed Veritas Records through the development and distribution of promotional materials.

A’s career also includes psychological research and administration, having served as a Research Assistant with the Interpersonal Perception And Communication Laboratory in Cambridge, MA.

A earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Ohio State University.

M, Lead Technology Developer

M is an experienced web programmer with expertise in web design, application development and database development among others.

M’s work experience includes serving as a Senior Developer at Spheres. M has also engaged in multiple, long term freelance projects including serving as a Database Developer Consultant with The Penn Group and a Web Developer Consultant with Volution Media Group and Allied Online Consulting Group.

M earned his Bachelors degree in Computer Science with a minor in Cognitive Science from Rutgers University.

Content Development Team

Shoutmouth’s writing team, managed by PK, includes the following members:

  • JS, Editorial Manager: former content manager and copywriter for Scholastic Inc. and
  • TZ: former music intern (Virgin Records and WRRV) and author of the blog, The Tom Z Show .
  • ML: former assistant editor for Adventure Publishing; author of the blog Certified Gangsta ; and former editor-in-chief of Fordham University’s newspaper The Paper .
  • SB: former staff writer for Paste Magazine , The Clarion Ledger , and Nightclub and Bar Magazine among others.
  • CSJ: former editorial intern for Rolling Stone and Editorial Assistant for Psychology Today .

Outsourced Technology Team

Shoutmouth works very closely with 2skies, a technology firm based in Australia with staff in Australia and the United States. 2skies is run by JDN, one of the co-founding developers of XE, the platform upon which Shoutmouth is built.

XE is an extensible, Open Source web application framework written in PHP and licensed under the GNU General Public License. XE delivers the requisite infrastructure and tools to create custom web applications that include fully dynamic multi-platform Content Management Solutions (CMS).

VIII. Appendix: Shoutmouth Financial Projections   3-Year Income Statement

3-Year Balance Sheet

As of December 31

3-Year Cash Flow Statement

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Blog Business 15+ Business Plan Examples to Win Your Next Round of Funding

15+ Business Plan Examples to Win Your Next Round of Funding

Written by: Jennifer Gaskin Jun 09, 2021

15+ Business Plan Examples to Win Your Next Round of Funding Blog Header

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” according to words of wisdom dubiously attributed to Benjamin Franklin. While there’s no solid evidence that Franklin actually coined this phrase, the sentiment rings true for any business.

Not having a solid plan makes it unlikely you’ll achieve the goals you seek, whether the goals are getting your to-do list done or launching a successful organization.

In the early stages of a company, that means developing things like pitch decks, business plans, one-sheeters and more. With Venngage’s Business Plan Builder , you can easily organize your business plan into a visually appealing format that can help you win over investors, lenders or partners.

Learn more about  how to create a business plan  so you can hit the ground running after reading through this list for inspirational examples of business plans.


Click to jump ahead:

Simple business plan example, startup business plan example, small business plan example, nonprofit business plan example, strategic business plan example, market analysis business plan example, sales business plan example, organization and management business plan example, marketing and sales strategy business plan example, apple business plan example, airbnb business plan example, sequoia capital business plan example.

While your business plan should be supported by thorough and exhaustive research into your market and competitors, the resulting document does not have to be overwhelming for the reader. In fact, if you can boil your business plan down to a few key pages, all the better.

business plan example


The simple, bold visual aesthetic of this  business plan template  pairs well with the straightforward approach to the content and various elements of the business plan itself.

Use Venngage’s My Brand Kit  to automatically add your brand colors and fonts to your business plan with just a few clicks.

Return to Table of Contents

An essential startup business plan should include a clear and compelling value proposition, market analysis, competitive analysis, target audience identification, financial projections, and a well-defined marketing and operational strategy.

For a typical startup, the need to appear disruptive in the industry is important. After all, if you’re not offering anything truly new, why would an investor turn their attention toward your organization. That means establishing a problem and the ways in which you solve it right away.

business plan example


Whether it’s a full-scale business plan or, in this case, a pitch deck, the ideal way for a startup to make a splash with its plans is to be bold. This successful business plan example is memorable and aspirational.

In the Venngage editor, you can upload images of your business. Add these images to your plans and reports to make them uniquely your own.

All businesses start out small at first, but that doesn’t mean their communications have to be small. One of the best ways to get investors, lenders and talent on board is to show that you’ve done your due diligence.

business plan example

In this small business plan example, the content is spread over many pages, which is useful in making lengthy, in-depth research feel less like a chore than packing everyone on as few pages as possible.

Organizations that set out to solve problems rather than earning profits also benefit from creating compelling business plans that stir an emotional response in potential donors, benefactors, potential staff members or even media.

business plan example


Simplicity is the goal for nonprofits when it comes to business plans, particularly in their early days. Explain the crisis at hand and exactly how your organization will make a difference, which will help donors visualize how their money will be used to help.

Business plans are also helpful for companies that have been around for a while. Whether they’re considering new products to launch or looking for new opportunities, companies can approach business plans from the strategy side of the equation as well.

business plan example

Strategic business plans or strategy infographics should be highly focused on a single area or problem to be solved rather than taking a holistic approach to the entire business. Expanding scope too much can make a strategy seem too difficult to implement.

Easily share your business plan with Venngage’s multiple download options, including PNG, PNG HD, and as an interactive PDF.

One-page business plan example

For organizations with a simple business model, often a one-page business plan is all that’s needed. This is possible in any industry, but the most common are traditional ones like retail, where few complex concepts need to be explained.

business plan example

This one-page strategic business plan example could be easily replicated for an organization that offers goods or services across multiple channels or one with three core business areas. It’s a good business plan example for companies whose plans can be easily boiled down to a few bullet points per area.

Especially when entering a saturated market, understanding the landscape and players is crucial to understanding how your organization can fit it—and stand out. That’s why centering your business plan around a market analysis is often a good idea.

business plan example

In this example, the majority of the content and about half the pages are focused on the market analysis, including competitors, trends, pricing, demographics and more. This successful business plan example ensures the artwork and style used perfectly matches the company’s aesthetic, which further reinforces its position in the market.

You can find more memorable business plan templates to customize in the Venngage editor. Browse Venngage’s  business plan templates  to find plans that work for you and start editing.

Company description business plan example

Depending on the market, focusing on your company story and what makes you different can drive your narrative home with potential investors. By focusing your business plan on a company description, you center yourself and your organization in the minds of your audience.

business plan example

This abbreviated plan is a good business plan example. It uses most of the content to tell the organization’s story. In addition to background about the company, potential investors or clients can see how this design firm’s process is different from their rivals.

With Venngage Business , you can collaborate with team members in real-time to create a business plan that will be effective when presenting to investors.

Five-year business plan example

For most startups or young companies, showing potential investors or partners exactly how and when the company will become profitable is a key aspect of presenting a business plan. Whether it’s woven into a larger presentation or stands alone, you should be sure to include your five-year business plan so investors know you’re looking far beyond the present.

business plan example


With Venngage’s Business Plan Builder , you can customize a schedule like this to quickly illustrate for investors or partners what your revenue targets are for the first three to five years your company is in operation.

The lifeblood of any company is the sales team. These are the energetic folks who bring in new business, develop leads and turn prospects into customers. Focusing your energy on creating a sales business plan would prove to investors that you understand what will make your company money.

business plan example

In this example sales business plan, several facets of ideal buyers are detailed. These include a perfect customer profile that helps to convey to your audience that customer relationships will be at the heart of your operation.

You can include business infographics in your plan to visualize your goals. And with Venngage’s gallery of images and icons, you can customize the template to better reflect your business ethos.

Company mergers and shakeups are also major reasons for organizations to require strong business planning. Creating new departments, deciding which staff to retain and charting a course forward can be even more complex than starting a business from scratch.

business plan example

This organization and management business plan focuses on how the company can optimize operations through a few key organizational projects.

Executive summary for business plan example

Executive summaries give your business plan a strong human touch, and they set the tone for what’s to follow. That could mean having your executive leadership team write a personal note or singling out some huge achievements of which you’re particularly proud in a business plan infographic .

business plan example

In this executive summary for a business plan, a brief note is accompanied by a few notable achievements that signal the organization and leadership team’s authority in the industry.

Marketing and sales are two sides of the same coin, and clever companies know how they play off each other. That’s why centering your business plan around your marketing and sales strategy can pay dividends when it comes time to find investors and potential partners.

business plan example

This marketing and sales business plan example is the picture of a sleek, modern aesthetic, which is appropriate across many industries and will speak volumes to numbers-obsesses sales and marketing leaders.

Do business plans really help? Well, here’s some math for you; in 1981, Apple had just gone public and was in the midst of marketing an absolute flop , the Apple III computer.  The company’s market cap, or total estimated market value,  could hit $3 trillion this year.

Did this Apple business plan make the difference? No, it’s not possible to attribute the success of Apple entirely to this business plan from July 1981, but this ancient artifact goes to show that even the most groundbreaking companies need to take an honest stock of their situation.

business plan example

Apple’s 1981 business plan example pdf covers everything from the market landscape for computing to the products that founder Steve Jobs expects to roll out over the next few years, and the advanced analysis contained in the document shows how strategic Jobs and other Apple executives were in those early days.

Inviting strangers to stay in your house for the weekend seemed like a crazy concept before Airbnb became one of the world’s biggest companies. Like all disruptive startups, Airbnb had to create a robust, active system from nothing.

business plan example

As this Airbnb business plan pitch deck example shows, for companies that are introducing entirely new concepts, it’s helpful not to get too into the weeds. Explain the problem simply and boil down the essence of your solution into a few words; in this case, “A web platform where users can rent out their space” perfectly sums up this popular company.

Sequoia Capital is one of the most successful venture capital firms in the world, backing startups that now have a combined stock market value of more than $1 trillion, according to a Forbes analysis .

For young companies and startups that want to play in the big leagues, tailoring your pitch to something that would appeal to a company like Sequoia Capital is a good idea. That’s why the company has a standard business plan format it recommends .

business plan example

Using Sequoia Capital’s business plan example means being simple and clear with your content, like the above deck. Note how no slide contains much copy, and even when all slides appear on the screen at once, the text is legible.

In summary: Use Venngage to design business plans that will impress investors

Not every business plan, pitch deck or one-sheeter will net you billions in investment dollars, but every entrepreneur should be adept at crafting impressive, authoritative and informative business plans.

Whether you use one of the inspirational templates shared here or you want to go old school and mimic Apple’s 1981 business plan, using Venngage’s Business Plan Builder helps you bring your company’s vision to life.

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

May 24, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

Get a Business Idea

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

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

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

Three adjoining circles about business opportunity

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

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

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

Conduct Market Analysis

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

Product and Service Demand

An image showing product service and demand

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

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

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

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

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

Identify Demographics of Target Market

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

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

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

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

  • How to Write a Business Plan

Business plan development

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

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

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

SWOT Analysis

  • Competitor Data
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Marketing Expenses Strategy 

Pricing Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A notepad with a written executive summary for business plan writing

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

Mike told us,

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

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

It consists of three basic parts:

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

Example of an informal executive summary 

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

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

What should I include in an executive summary for investors?

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

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

Successful business plan examples

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

Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:

When to write an executive summary?

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

What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description

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

  • Mission statement
  • Philosophy and vision
  • Company goals

Target market

  • Legal structure

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

Mission Statement

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

Company Philosophy and Vision

Writing the company philosophy and vision

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

What makes your company different?

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

Examples of core values

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

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

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

What is a vision statement?

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

Example vision statements

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

A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.

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

Business Goals

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

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

How far in advance should a business plan?

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

Example of great business goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry resources

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

  • Trade Associations
  • Federal Reserve
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Legal Structure

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

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)



  • Franchises.

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

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

Sole Proprietorship

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

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

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

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

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

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

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

An iPad with colored pens on a desk

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

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

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

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

Questions to answer about your products and services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SWOT Examples

Business plan SWOT analysis

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

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

  • Adding offerings that fit with your current small business
  • Increase sales to current customers
  • Reducing costs through bulk ordering
  • Finding ways to reduce inventory
  •  And other areas you can improve

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

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

Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan

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

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

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

Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

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

Advertising Strategy

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

  • Online: Facebook and Google are the big names to work with here.
  • Print : Print can be used to reach broad groups or targeted markets. Check out this for tips .
  • Radio : iHeartMedia is one of the best ways to advertise on the radio
  • Cable television : High priced, hard to measure ROI, but here’s an explanation of the process
  • Billboards: Attracting customers with billboards can be beneficial in high traffic areas.

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

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

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

An iPad with graph about pricing strategy

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

Some common pricing strategies are:

  • Value-based pricing – Commonly used with home buying and selling or other products that are status symbols.
  • Skimming pricing – Commonly seen in video game consoles, price starts off high to recoup expenses quickly, then reduces over time.
  • Competition-based pricing – Pricing based on competitors’ pricing is commonly seen at gas stations.
  • Freemium services –  Commonly used for software, where there is a free plan, then purchase options for more functionality.

HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.

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

Distribution Plan

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

Supply Chain Examples

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

  • Suppliers for lawn care equipment and tools
  • Any chemicals or treatments needed
  • Repair parts for sprinkler systems
  • Vehicles to transport equipment and employees
  • Insurance to protect the company vehicles and people.

Examples of Supply Chains

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

  • Raw materials
  • Shipping of raw materials
  • Converting of raw materials to thread
  • Shipping thread to produce garments
  • Garment producer
  • Shipping to company
  • Company storage
  • Shipping to retail stores

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

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

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

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

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

Quality Control

  • Legal environment

Let’s look at each for some insight.

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

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

A wooden stamp with the words "quality control"

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

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

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

  • International Organization for Standardization – Quality standards for energy, technology, food, production environments, and cybersecurity
  • AICPA – Standard defined for accounting.
  • The Joint Commission – Healthcare
  • ASHRAE – HVAC best practices

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

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

  • The size of your location
  • The type of building (retail, industrial, commercial, etc.)
  • Zoning restrictions – Urban Wire has a good map on how zoning works in each state
  • Accessibility – Does it meet ADA requirements?
  • Costs including rent, maintenance, utilities, insurance and any buildout or remodeling costs
  • Utilities – b.e.f. has a good energy calculator .

Legal Environment

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

  • Any licenses and/or permits that are needed and whether you’ve obtained them
  • Any trademarks, copyrights, or patents that you have or are in the process of applying for
  • The insurance coverage your business requires and how much it costs
  • Any environmental, health, or workplace regulations affecting your business
  • Any special regulations affecting your industry
  • Bonding requirements, if applicable

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

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

  • What is the current leadership structure and what will it look like in the future?
  • What types of employees will you have? Are there any licensing or educational requirements?
  • How many employees will you need?
  • Will you ever hire freelancers or independent contractors?
  • What is each position’s job description?
  • What is the pay structure (hourly, salaried, base plus commission, etc.)?
  • How do you plan to find qualified employees and contractors?

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

Organization chart

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements 

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

Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business

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

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

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

  • Higher Revenue if expanding business
  • Lower Cost of Goods Sold if purchasing inventory with bulk discounts
  • Adding interest if utilizing financing (not equity deal)
  • Changes in expenses
  • Addition of financing information to the cash flow statement
  • Changes in Earnings per Share on the balance sheet

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

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

Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan

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

Mike gave the following advice in his interview:

Financial Forecasting Mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

A table showing yearly revenue of a business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ways to get funding for a small business

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

  • Bootstrapping – Using your savings without external funding.
  • Taking out debt – loans, credit cards
  • Equity, Seed Funding – Ownership of a percentage of the company in exchange for current funds
  • Crowdsourcing – Promising a good for funding to create the product

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

How funding will be used

When asking for business financing make sure to include:

  • How much to get started?
  • What is the minimum viable product and how soon can you make money?
  • How will the money be spent?

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

How to Write a Business Plan Resources

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

  • Sample plan

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

  • Wise Plans –  Shares a lot of information on starting businesses and is a business plan writing company.
  • Optimus Business Plans –  Another business plan writing company.
  • Venture Capital – A venture capital thread that can help give you ideas.

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

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

  • The definition of a business plan
  • Coming up with a business idea
  • Performing market research
  • The critical components of a business plan
  • An example business plan

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

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

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

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How to Start a $41K/Month T-Shirt Business (2024)

  • Which Business Model Is Easiest
  • Skills You Need to Create Your Own T-shirt Designs and Sell Online
  • What Makes a Great Business Name
  • Elements of a Good Business Plan for an Online T-shirt Business
  • Where to Go to Establish Your Business Structure
  • Steps to Take Before You Start Selling T-shirts Online
  • Choosing a Location to Sell Your T-shirts
  • What You Need to Know About Equipment
  • Resources for Team Building
  • How to Manage Your Small Business Finances
  • Paying Taxes
  • Marketing Your Business

Step 1. What's the Best Way to Start a T-Shirt Business?

man measures the t-shirt upflip logo on heat press machine

  • Focusing on a specific target market, such as small business t-shirts.
  • Performing graphic tee design work and printing them yourself.
  • Starting an ecommerce store using Print-on-Demand companies.

How to Start a T-Shirts Franchise

How to start a t-shirt printing business with big frog.

screenshot of franchising from bigfrog website

  • Request information .
  • Get to know the franchisor on a business call.
  • Attend a webinar that goes into more detail about the responsibilities of an owner.
  • Fill out disclosure documents to prove you have the resources necessary to start a t-shirt business franchise.
  • Meet other franchise business owners.
  • Get to know the corporate team.
  • Learn to press T-shirts.
  • Learn about their customer support.
  • Start the franchise.
  • No less than $50K liquid assets
  • At least $40K working capital
  • $300K net worth (varies based on regional construction costs)
  • $39,500 initial franchise fee
  • Initial investment of $188,344 to $247,944
  • A 6% royalty paid monthly on revenue
  • 1.5% of revenue for marketing costs

How to Start a Brick and Mortar T-Shirt Business

Sell custom t-shirts, sell t-shirts online.

  • Amazon is the largest online marketplace on the planet. You have to be listed there.
  • Facebook and Instagram Marketplaces are also massive. Some functions can be done through one platform and then work on both, but others have to be done separately. 
  • eBay is another great place to sell t-shirts online. Learn about selling on eBay .
  • Shopify offers an easy experience to set up your own clothing store and connects with most of the bigger marketplaces directly from your shop.
  • WordPress and WooCommerce work great together for super fast ecommerce stores.
  • Etsy is another great marketplace for an online t-shirt business. Check out our guide on creating an Etsy shop .

How to Sell Shirts Online with Print on Demand

tshirt and a computer on a table

Fashion Designers

man holding a box full of clothes


Step 2. learning the skills.

man working on a tshirt design in front of a computer

  • Production and printing
  • Business skills

Design Skills

  • Draw t-shirt designs using digital software, like Photoshop , Canva , or Illustrator .
  • Have a pattern maker cut the patterns for the design.
  • Build a prototype.
  • Make alterations.
  • Create a tech pack . A tech pack is just the design specifications you give to a clothing manufacturer.
  • Source the materials and begin manufacturing.
  • Embroidery machines
  • Sublimation
  • Screen printing

man working on a laptop

  • Best Fashion Design Schools
  • Best Free Online Classes
  • Best Fashion Design Software
  • Best Print-on-Demand Companies
  • An ecommerce platform (Find Investopedia's review of the best ones here .)
  • Payment processors
  • Editing software
  • Marketing software

marketing team working together

  • Facebook and Instagram

Production and Printing Skills

  • Direct to garment
  • Transfer printing
  • Cad cut vinyl

t-shirt printing technique infographic

Business Skills

  • Accounting : Udemy , edX
  • Pricing : Coursera , Udemy
  • Shipping : Shopify , BigCommerce
  • Inventory Management : Quickbooks , Unleashed

Step 3. T-Shirt Business Name

  • Will the name indicate your business sells shirts?
  • Is it easy to spell?
  • Will you focus on local sales? If you do, consider including the name of the location.
  • Is the .com domain available ?
  • Is the business name unique?
  • Does your name fit your branding? Check out Big Frog's logo:

branding logo design of big frog

Step 4. Write a T-Shirt Business Plan

  • Guiding decisions
  • Securing financing
  • Developing partnerships with other businesses 
  • Location selection and lease negotiation
  • Design and layout of the store
  • Recruitment
  • One-page business plan
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) business guide
  • State-specific templates
  • Business plan template for a startup business
  • SCORE's free plans and startup assistance resources
  • The Complete Business Plan Course (includes 50 templates)

Step 5. Establish a Legal Structure

  • Sole Proprietorship : Most franchises will not allow you to run a sole proprietorship because there is no liability protection, but it's the least expensive way to start a business. Fill out a Schedule C to get started. Consider joining the American Independent Business Alliance .
  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) : Each state has different requirements. Check your state's requirements . You might choose to register in a different state than where you live to reduce the cost of doing business. Check out the top 10 states to get an LLC.
  • Corporation : If you intend to sell stock or raise funds by selling equity, you might want to become a corporation. Otherwise, stick to an LLC.
  • Partnership : Normally, legal firms operate as partnerships. Unless there is a specific reason you need a partnership, it is better to do a multi-person LLC. Investopedia has good information about partnerships and corporations here .
  • Franchise: Buying the right to use a company's processes and intellectual property to run one of its locations. has two franchise opportunities to start a t-shirt business in the United States. Big Frog is the only Direct to Garment (DTG) t-shirt franchise.

Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Licenses, permits, and tax forms.

woman holding a licenses and permits brochure

Step 6. Getting Ready for Customers

  • Location: Where will you be working?
  • Inventory: What will you sell, and how will you pay for it?
  • Employees: Will you have employees, and how will you make sure it is a safe environment?
  • Finances : How will you keep track of transactions and financial records?
  • Insurance : How can you protect what you are building?
  • Marketing : How will you find customers?

Step 7. T-Shirt Business Location

woman holding a tablet with laptop and a coffee on a table

  • Do you need space for screen printing equipment and inventory?
  • Are you running an online t-shirt business? If so, you can run it from home.
  • Will customers be coming to your small business?
  • Does your t-shirt store have inventory?
  • How will you display your t-shirt designs?
  • How much space is needed to store your t-shirt designs?
  • Will you host a traveling pop-up t-shirt store?

How to Start a T-shirt Business From Home

Finding a good spot, step 8. inventory, screen printing machines, and product displays.

man holding a mobile phone with an inventory screen

Used Printing Machines and Product Displays

Step 9. employees.


Tax Filing and Withholding

Federal employment and labor law posters.

  • Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)
  • State's New Hire Program
  • Worker's Compensation Insurance
  • Disability Insurance (varies by state)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Job Posting

office chair and a hiring sign

  • Zip Recruiter


woman holding a cheque and a cash

  • Salary: You might want to assign yourself a flat weekly or monthly rate for budgeting purposes.
  • Hourly: This pay structure tracks the hours an employee works and pays them a set hourly rate, but it doesn't reward performance.
  • Commission: If you only want to reward performance and not time, a percentage of revenue is the way to go.
  • Hybrid Models: Hybrid models combine two pay structures. Combining hourly and commission encourages employees to help drive sales.

Step 10. Financial Management

income statement, calculator and a marker

Budget! Budget! Budget!

  • dsBudget : This open-source software requires some development experience.
  • QuickBooks: This popular resource is used by millions to make their accounting easy by setting up rules, connecting with their bank(s) directly, and more.
  • Xero : I was introduced to them through an Australian client, and people love them. In my experience, it allows you to automate most of your processes but is meant to be set up by an accountant and software developer so that the platform works specifically based on your location(s) tax needs.

How to Start a T-shirt Business with No Money

man showing an empty pocket

  • Shopify : Get a free 30-day trial of Shopify with our affiliate link.
  • A print-on-demand company : I prefer Printful.
  • Social media marketing : This might be less than $500 per month and is typically more economical than other options.

Common Funding Paths

  • Loans from family or friends
  • Business partners
  • Government programs

Alternative Sources of Funding

  • Crowdfunding  
  • Credit cards
  • Home equity loan
  • Rollover for business startups (ROBS)

Develop a Pricing Structure

Increase prices every year.

  • Send an email in November letting your customers know that prices will be going up at the beginning of the year.
  • Book enough online t-shirt business to keep you busy through the slow months (January to March).
  • Raise prices on January 1st. 

Step 11: Sales Tax and Insurance

sales tax and insurance stamp

Sales Taxes

Step 12: marketing.


More Marketing Tips for T-Shirt Businesses

  • Building relationships. Networking is what makes a business pay off.
  • Continually focusing on SEO for your ecommerce business. Start by familiarizing yourself with Google requirements .
  • Checking customers' previous print jobs to give you ideas on how to sell more shirts.
  • Following up! It makes a difference.
  • Using analytics.


young female influencer filming a video

  • Elon Musk : Let's face it, both Sanford and I think he's a rockstar. He mixes jokes, insight, and enthusiasm to spread his message. He's the founder of six companies and the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. We can all learn from him.
  • Screen Printing Blogs : Want a list of 40 blogs focused on t-shirt printing? Check out this one. 
  • SEO Influencers: Rand Fishkin , Danny Sullivan ,and Neil Patel

Go Forth and Start Your Own T-Shirt Business!

  • Do I know how to start an ecommerce store?
  • Is it worth it for me to sell online?
  • Will I be comfortable speaking to clients?
  • Am I starting a clothing line this year?
  • Why am I starting a clothing business?
  • Do I need employees or advice to get started?
  • What will I need to feel successful?

440 Stand-Out Craft Business Names

Did you know craft business owners are expected to make 50% more in 2028 than they did last year?

That means there’s a lot of demand for handmade craft business names. Choosing a great craft business name can give you a headstart in competing for potential customers.

Here, we discuss the craft industry, what makes a good craft business name, catchy craft names for your business, and how to register your craft company name.

[su_note note_color="#dbeafc"] Click on any of the links below to jump ahead in your artistic journey.

Craft Business Industry Outlook

What makes a good craft business name, what should i name my craft business, 30 catchy craft business names, 34 cool craft business names, 36 funny craft business names, 34 creative craft business names, 30 professional craft business names, 20 personal craft business names, 34 location-based craft business names, 40 handmade craft business names, 30 creative shop name ideas, 28 unique craft business names, 30 clever business names for crafters, 32 cute shop names for crafts, 32 jewelry business name ideas, 30 crochet business name ideas, how to register your craft business names.

  • Next Steps After Naming Your Craft Business [/su_note]

Craft businesses are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.69% and reach $68 billion in industry revenue by 2028. That means a crafting business should expect to see considerable growth in the future if it provides quality handmade crafts.

Woodworker in his shop using a laptop to do a craft business name search

A good craft business name should be:

  • Memorable: Your business name should be easy to remember and pronounce.
  • Relevant: Your business name should reflect the type of crafts you make and sell.
  • Unique: Your business name should be unique and not already in use by another business.
  • Professional: Your business name should sound professional and trustworthy.
  • Appealing: Your business name should be appealing to your target audience.

Let’s look at some of the different ways of creating a catchy craft business name.

The best craft business names help you attract customers and communicate what your crafting business does. We’ll cover all kinds of timeless craft business names, including:

  • Catchy business names for craft companies
  • Cool craft names
  • Funny craft names
  • Creative name ideas
  • Professional names for craft products
  • Personal name ideas for craft business owners
  • Location-based craft business naming ideas
  • Business names perfect for handmade products

Keep reading to get your creative juices flowing. You’re sure to find unique craft business names that you love.

Consider one of these business name ideas when you start selling your crafts.

1. Crafty Creations 2. Creative Hands 3. The Craft Corner 4. The Happy Maker 5. The Artful Crafter 6. The Craftiest 7. The Colorful Crafter 8. The Crafters 9. The Crafty Corner 10. The Craft Zone 11. The Craft Hub 12. The Craft Room 13. The Craft Shop 14. The Craft Studio 15. The Craft Workshop

16. The Crafty Cottage 17. The Crafty Cabin 18. The Crafty Den 19. The Crafty Nook 20. The Crafty Retreat 21. The Crafty Spot 22. The Crafty Store 23. The Crafty Table 24. The Crafty Treehouse 25. The Crafty Turtle 26. The Crafty Unicorn 27. Crafty Wonderland 28. Creative Corner 29. The Creative Studio 30. Craft Galore Club

Pro Tip: Once you have a catchy business name, check if the corresponding domain name is available. Just input the name in the search bar of your web browser and see what comes up. If the website and the social media handles are available, you will have a much easier time attracting customers.

Painter holding a wood sign that reads "The Artisan’s Nook"

You can create a cool craft brand by combining two or more words to create a new and memorable phrase. This works especially well if they are keywords related to craft businesses.

1. Craftastic Creations 2. The Crafty Caravan 3. The Artisan's Nook 4. The Craft Emporium 5. The Crafter's Collective 6. The Crafty Cat 7. The Crafty Owl 8. The Crafticorn 9. Foxxy Crafty 10. Crafty Rabbit 11. The Crafty Bear 12. The Crafty Mouse 13. Crafty Dog 14. The Crafty Penguin 15. Crafty Frog 16. The Crafty Giraffe 17. Crafty Monkey

18. Crafty Elephant 19. The Crafty Hippo 20. Crafty Lion 21. The Crafty Tiger 22. Crafty Zebra 23. The Crafty Panda 24. Crafty Koala 25. The Crafty Kangaroo 26. Crafty Wombat 27. The Crafty Echidna 28. The Craftipus 29. Crafty Innovation 30. Yarns + Crafts 31. Crafting Cottage 32. The Paperie 33. Pottery Place 34. Woodworking Wizardry

Pro Tip: Rhyming words can also be used to come up with crafty business name ideas.

If your craft business offers products that are defined by their silly or goofy vibe, you might want to go with funny business names for crafts.

1. Artsy Fartsy Crafts 2. Bobbin and Skein 3. Color Me Happy 4. Crafty Critters 5. The Crafty Pickle 6. The Yarn Pirates 7. The Bead Bandits 8. The Crafty Cat Lady 9. The Knit Wits 10. The Sew and Sews 11. The Paper Puppets 12. The Paint Party People 13. The Claymation Crew 14. In Stitches 15. The Crafting Queens 16. The Junk Art Junkies 17. The Upcycled Oddities 18. The Mismatched Masterpieces

19. The Quirky Creations 20. The Silly Sculptors 21. The Wonky Woolen Wonders 22. The Crafty Critters 23. The Whimsical Woodland Workshop 24. The Doodling Dinosaurs 25. The Crafty Cacti 26. The Mischievous Makers 27. Playful Papercrafts 28. Goofy Gifts 29. Silly Stitches 30. Crazy Candles 31. Wonky Wall Art 32. Mismatched Mosaic Madness 33. Crafty Chaos 34. Quirky Quilts 35. Crafty Capers 36. Makin' It Mine

Pro Tip: When choosing a funny craft business name, it's important to strike the right balance of humor and professionalism. You want your name to be memorable and attention-grabbing, but you also don't want to alienate potential customers.

Here are a few tips for choosing a funny craft business name:

  • Use puns or wordplay. This is a great way to add humor to your name without being too over the top.
  • Choose a name that is relevant to your products or services. This will help customers understand what your business is all about.
  • Keep it short and sweet. A long, complicated name is less likely to be remembered than a short, catchy one.
  • Avoid using offensive or vulgar language. This could alienate potential customers and damage your reputation.

Top-down shot of a woman using her tablet to search for creative craft business names for her accessories business

Want to create a craft business brand that stands out from other crafters? Consider some of these craft business names.

1. Stitch & Stone 2. Nature's Canvas 3. Artisan's Haven 4. Color & Craft 5. Threads & Textures 6. Paper & Paint 7. Clay & Creation 8. Mosaic Moments 9. Yarn & Wonder 10. Fiber & Fabric 11. Metal & Magic 12. Glass & Glamour 13. Wood & Whimsy 14. Resin & Radiance 15. Leather & Love 16. Quill & Ink 17. Candle & Calm

18. Soap & Serenity 19. Bath & Body Bliss 20. Home & Heart 21. Garden & Grace 22. Jewelry & Joy 23. Accessories & Adornments 24. Gifts & Gadgets 25. Party & Play 26. Learn & Create 27. Craft & Connect 28. Inspire & Be Inspired 29. The Maker's Muse 30. Spindles and Yarns 31. Fiber Frenzy 32. Funky Findings 33. Handmade Heaven 34. Heartfelt Creations

Pro Tip: You might incorporate some of your specific craft supplies’ names as you’re brainstorming creative small business names for craft companies.

Professionalism can make all the difference to craft store customers. Consider some of these names to differentiate yourself from other businesses.

1. Crafted Creations 2. The Crafted Studio 3. The Craftery 4. The Crafthouse 5. Crafty Corner 6. Creative Crafts 7. Design & Craft 8. Handmade Elegance 9. Handcrafted Wonders 10. The Craft Loft 11. The Craft Parlour 12. The Craft Station 13. The Crafty Rabbit 14. The Designery 15. The Maker's Place

16. The Maker's Studio 17. The Studio 18. The Workshop 19. Uniquely Crafted 20. Baubles & Blooms 21. Crafted with Love 22. Handcrafted Treasures 23. The Crafting Co. 24. The Crafty Canary 25. The Crafty Cardinal 26. Handmade with Love 27. Crafted By Yours Truly 28. Passion Crafts 29. World of Crafts 30. Wonderfully Handmade

Pro Tip: Your business name ideas should help people understand what you do. You don’t want to confuse customers.

When it comes to personal business names, ideas might include your first name, last name, or something or someone dear to you. Consider some of these creative names for business owners.

1. Emily's Embellishments 2. Ava + Milo Studio 3. Jake's Handmade Haven 4. Lily's Craft Corner 5. Alex's Artistry Alcove 6. Masterpieces by Mason 7. Chloe's Creative Crafts 8. Owen's Originals 9. Bella's Boutique Creations 10. Noah's Nifty Crafts

11. Ava's Artful Designs 12. Smith & Stitches Studio 13. Johnsons Jovial Crafts 14. Anderson Artisans 15. Davis Design Den 16. Taylor Family Treasures Workshop 17. The Miller's Handcrafted Haven 18. Lily & Sage Creations 19. EthanRose Designs 20. Olivia-Max Crafts

Pro Tip: Adding a personal touch to business name ideas helps make your craft store name more relatable to your target customers.

Top-down shot of an artist sketching a world map in a craft paper sketch book surrounded by colored pens, a wood ruler, scissors, a zipper, buttons, and pins

Using your location as part of your craft business name is a great way of selling arts locally.

1. Albuquerque Artisans 2. Anchorage Crafts 3. Atlanta Artworks 4. Austin Artisans 5. Baltimore Crafts 6. Rodeo Drive Designs 7. Boston Creations 8. Charleston Craftsmen 9. Chicago Crafters 10. Cleveland Crafts 11. Columbus Creation 12. Dallas Designs 13. Denver Designs 14. Abbey Road Artistry 15. Detroit Artisans 16. Houston Handcrafts 17. Indianapolis Craftsmen

18. Jacksonville Creations 19. Kansas City Crafts 20. Las Vegas Craftsmen 21. Los Angeles Creations 22. Louisville Artisans 23. Bourbon Street Crafts 24. Memphis Craftsmen 25. Miami Designs 26. Milwaukee Crafters 27. Minneapolis Creations 28. Nashville Craftsmen 29. New Orleans Crafts 30. New York City Creations 31. Orlando Artisans 32. Philadelphia Craftsmen 33. Phoenix Designs 34. Fifth Avenue Creations

Pro Tip: You might also try cute business names using nicknames for your region.

Handmade craft business name ideas can help show that your specific craft is done by hand. See if any of these unique business names for handmade crafts is a win for your business.

1. The Crafted Corner 2. The Maker's Market 3. One-of-a-Kind Creations 4. The Handmade Studio 5. The Craft Cottage 6. Creations by [Your Name] 7. The Upcycled Workshop 8. The Sustainable Stitchery 9. The Yarn Haven 10. The Soap Emporium 11. Candlelight Studio 12. The Artful Abode 13. The Creative Nook 14. The Artisanal Marketplace 15. The Handmade Collective 16. The Maker's Guild 17. The Craft Bazaar 18. Artisan's Alley 19. Handmade Haven 20. The Upcycled Market

21. Sustainable Studio 22. Eco-Friendly Emporium 23. Trinket Trove 24. Crafty Kaleidoscope 25. Tantalizing Creations 26. Upcycled Creative 27. Fabled Fibers 28. Fibers and You 29. Craft Me Not 30. Lovingly Handmade 31. Inspired by Nature 32. Joyful Creations 33. Knitting Nook 34. Papercraft Paradise 35. Piecework Perfection 36. Quilting Corner 37. Recycled Relics 38. Sew Much Fun 39. Something Special 40. Stitching Time

Whether you’re looking for an Etsy shop name or are opening a brick-and-mortar retail store selling your crafts, a great shop name can help your business thrive. Consider some of these craft business name ideas. 

1. The Gilded Thimble 2. The Yarn Garden 3. The Bead Bazaar 4. The Fabric Emporium 5. The Paper Palace 6. The Paint Box 7. The Clay Studio 8. The Jewelry Workshop 9. The Woodworking Shop 10. The Glassblowing Studio 11. The Pottery Barn 12. The Fiber Arts Studio 13. The Weaving Studio 14. The Knitting Nook 15. The Quilting Bee

16. The Embroidery Guild 17. The Cross-Stitch Society 18. The Needlepoint Club 19. The Tatting Circle 20. The Lace-Making Society 21. The Bobbin Lace Guild 22. The Crochet Club 23. The Macrame Society 24. The Beading Circle 25. The Jewelry-Making Guild 26. Sew Many Stitches 27. The Doodling Dragon 28. The Mismatched Menagerie 29. The Beaded Bookmark 30. The Quirky Quilter

Potter making a pinch pot in a ceramics studio

Want unique craft business name ideas? Here are a few examples.

1. Handman Concoctions 2. Crafty Kids 3. Natural Materials Crafters 4. Craft 4 Days 5. Crafts Gone Wild 6. Curious Craft Company 7. Crafts Galore 8. The Crafty Kraken 9. The Creative Canvas 10. The Stitching Studio 11. The Yarn Emporium 12. The Paintbox 13. The Clay Cottage 14. The Jewelry Junction

15. The Scrapbooking Shack 16. The Upcycling Emporium 17. The Repurposing Realm 18. The Eco-Friendly Crafts Co. 19. The Craft Collective 20. Craft Central 21. Crafty Craze 22. Craftastic World 23. Inkwell & Quill 24. Crafty Concoctions 25. The Painted Petal 26. The Enchanted Easel 27. Button Bonanza 28. The Gilded Loom

Craft business name ideas should show off how crafty you are. What better way than to come up with a clever company name? Try some of these craft business name ideas.

1. Threaded Dreamscapes 2. Fiddlesticks & Fleece 3. Wondrous Weaves 4. Yarnicorn Creations 5. The Looping Llama 6. Crochet Couture 7. Whimsy & Wool 8. Cuddly Creations 9. The Hooked Haven 10. Yarnivore's Delight 11. Knot Just Crochet 12. Threaded Tales & Trails 13. Stitchy & Chic 14. The Wooly Wyvern 15. The Cozy Nest

16. Yarnography 17. The Unraveling Ramble 18. Stitching Symphony 19. Woolful Wonders 20. The Hooked Hippogriff 21. Yarntastic Creations 22. The Cozy Cauldron 23. Loopty-Loo Crafts 24. Hooked on Happiness 25. Stitchin' with Sass 26. Knotty, Spice, and Everything Nice 27. Hook, Line & Stitcher 28. The Yarnival Effect 29. The Fuzzy Foxglove 30. The Critter's Crochet

Top-down shot of handcrafted felt gingerbread men

1. The Threadbender 2. The Painted Fox 3. The Twisted Twine 4. The Gilded Lily 5. The Woven Willow 6. The Knotty Gnome 7. The Beaded Butterfly 8. Our Enchanted Forest 9. The Mermaid's Cove 10. The Dragon's Hoard 11. The Unicorn's Horn 12. The Rainbow Room 13. The Land of Oz 14. Candy Land Crafts 15. The Glass Chocolate 16. Bon Bon Craft Supplies

17. Toyland Crafters 18. The Enchanted Garden 19. The Magic Kingdom 20. The Land of Make-Believe 21. The Land of Dreams 22. Neverland Crafts 23. The Lost World 24. The Secret Garden 25. Misty Mountains Crafters 26. Sparkling Sea Artisans 27. Whispering Woods Studio 28. The Starry Night 29. Knotty and Nice 30. Whimsical Baubles 31. The Yarn Barn 32. Whimsical Wonders

A jewelry company is often focused on crafting and will be appealing to its customers’ aesthetic sensibility. You might try some of these handmade business name ideas if you’re selling a custom jewelry line.

1. The Jewelry Box 2. Adorned Elegance 3. Artisan Jewels 4. Bling Bliss 5. Charm & Chic 6. Dazzling Delights 7. Enchanted Embellishments 8. Exquisite Adornments 9. Gemstone Glamour 10. Heirloom Jewels 11. Jeweled Creations 12. Luminous Luxuries 13. Made with Love Jewelry 14. Ornate Opulence 15. Precious Pieces 16. Radiant Reflections

17. Shimmering Splendor 18. Sparkling Sensations 19. The Bling Boutique 20. Timeless Treasures 21. Unique Adornments 22. Vintage Vibes Jewelry 23. Wearable Art 24. Artisan Adornments 25. Crafted with Care 26. Elegant Expressions 27. Enchanted Elegance 28. Handmade Heirlooms 29. Enchanted Trinkets 30. Embellished by You 31. Diamond Bright Studio 32. The Beading Boutique

Want more ideas? Check out our picks for a crochet business.

Many craft business owners like to crochet. Consider some of these names for crocheted crafts.

1. Hooked on Crochet 2. Stitches of Love 3. The Crochet Corner 4. A Stitch in Time 5. Knotty by Nature 6. Yarn and Joy 7. The Crochet Studio 8. The Yarn Loft 9. Hooked on Handmade 10. The Crochet Cottage 11. The Crochet Parlour 12. The Yarn Boutique 13. The Stitchery 14. The Crochet Nook 15. The Yarn Stash

16. Yarn Over 17. Hook, Line, and Sinker 18. The Yarn Diva 19. The Crochet Queen 20. The Yarn Whisperer 21. The Crochet Goddess 22. The Yarn Enthusiast 23. The Crochet Maven 24. The Yarnista 25. The Crochet Alchemist 26. Yarnspirations 27. Knotty Nirvana 28. Purrfectly Hooked 29. The Cozy Burrow 30. The Wandering Skein

Business owner using a laptop to register their sculpture business online

Now that you have plenty of craft business name inspiration, it’s time to talk about how to register your craft business’s name. You’ll want to make sure to:

  • Choose a business name. Your business name should be unique, memorable, and relevant to your products or services. It should also be available as a domain name and social media handle.
  • Check the availability of your business name. Once you have chosen a business name, you should check to see if it is available in your state. You can do this by searching the Secretary of State's website or contacting the office directly.
  • File a DBA (Doing Business As) name. If your business name is different from your legal name, you will need to file a DBA name with the county clerk's office in the county where your business is located.
  • Register your business with the IRS. You will need to register your business with the IRS to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can do this online or by mail.
  • Obtain the necessary licenses and permits. Depending on the type of craft business you are operating, you may need to obtain certain licenses and permits. You can contact your local Chamber of Commerce or the Small Business Administration (SBA) for more information.

Local artisans will have so much more to accomplish for their handmade business operations to be successful. Let’s discuss some of the things you’ll need to do next.

Next Steps After Naming Your Craft Business

Once you’ve found a craft business name you love and registered it, you’ll need to start building your inventory of crafts, create a website, and start marketing your crafts. One of the best ways to market a crafts business is to record yourself making them and share your videos on social media.

What crafts business name do you like?

13 Recession-Proof Businesses (2024)

Are you worried about the direction of the global economy?

You’re not alone. Both business owners and employees are feeling a crunch from rising costs. That’s why we’re going to discuss recession-proof businesses.

[su_note note_color="#dbeafc"] We’ll help you understand more about recessions, including:

Are we in an economic downturn?

What are recession-proof businesses, what industries are recession-proof.

  • How do economic downturns impact businesses ?

Recession-Proof Business Ideas: 13 Good Businesses to Start in a Bad Economy

Benefits of starting a business in a bad economy.

  • Conclusion [/su_note]

When you’re done reading this, you’ll have an understanding of recession-proof sectors and be prepared for the next economic downturn. Read from start to finish or click any of the links above to jump straight to the section you need to know more about right now.

According to the Federal Reserve , as of April 5, 2024, we are not in a recession, but economic downturns tend to occur every 6.33 years and typically last between 6 and 18 months.

The last economic downturn was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and government shutdowns that lasted two quarters. Prior to that, the housing market crash of 2008 resulted in a recession that lasted for nearly two years.

Many people believe that the relatively high rate of inflation, the housing and rent bubble, and the reduction in spending power for many Americans are signs that the economic climate is primed for another economic crisis.

If you’re a business owner, now’s the time to should look at your business model and consider how it will survive and thrive during tough economic times.

Man in a suit standing under a black umbrella as cash rains down around him

Recession-proof businesses are companies in industries that tend to perform better than the gross domestic product (GDP) as a whole.

As we experienced during the pandemic, if a small business was considered an “essential service,” it could ride out the tough times because the economic activity that kept it afloat didn’t stop, even when most businesses were not allowed to operate as usual.

When a recession hits, some industries and sectors tend to do better than others. There are essential services and products that people still need during economic slumps, including:

  • Utility services
  • Disposable goods
  • Consumer staples
  • Auto repairs

Meanwhile, revenue streams tend to dry up for some companies when widespread economic hardship occurs. Consumer demand for the following tends to decrease during an economic recession:

  • New automobiles
  • Restaurants
  • Large purchases

The economic conditions during each recession will be different, which means consumers cut costs in different areas depending on what the scenario is.

For instance, during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, real estate agents were hardest hit because the cash reserves and risk appetite of banks were vastly reduced. In the 1980s, oil embargos caused people to reduce their driving because of gas shortages.

How do economic downturns impact businesses?

When economic uncertainty hits, small business owners will normally experience a reduction of incoming cash flow and be compelled to tighten up their budgets and stop hiring.

When the economic situation gets even worse, they may need to offer cheaper alternatives, lay people off, and, in the worst-case scenario, close their businesses.

Industries that are recession-proof will normally be able to avoid many of the worst-case scenarios because people still need food, clothing, shelter, and other recession-proof products.

Man in a suit holding a fan of cash and a tablet showing a downward-trending graph and a cartoon lightbulb

In the sections below, we’ll discuss industries that do well in recession.

The following businesses are sorted based on the number of searches for each type of recession-proof business. Why? Search volume is a good indicator of the demand for information about recession-proof industries.

Consider the following recession-proof business ideas:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Grocery stores
  • Food delivery services
  • Auto repair shops
  • Home improvement and home repair companies
  • Property management companies
  • Cleaning services
  • Accounting services
  • Healthcare industry
  • Information technology support
  • Dollar stores

Keep reading to learn about the most recession-proof industries.

1. Affiliate Marketing

According to Kinsta , 56% of affiliate marketers increased their earnings during the recession of 2020, making it the best recession-proof business. If that’s not enough, Authority Hacker expects affiliate marketing to be a $27.78 billion recession-proof industry by 2027.

Affiliate marketing is the most commonly searched for recession-proof business. It doesn’t require an inventory, and you make commissions on every sale.

You might need to refer people to recession-proof services like bookkeeping services and rideshare services to keep your income flowing, but there are plenty of great affiliate marketing offerings.

Learn more about affiliate marketing through our interview with affiliate marketing master Matt Diggity.

2. Grocery Store

Grocery stores are another of the most recession-resistant business models. The food industry is never going to end because we have to eat to survive.

According to Forbes , people spend about 14% of their income on food, and the percentage of that spending that goes to fast food and restaurants has declined from 45% to 40%. That means people are grocery shopping more.

Check out our interview with Punardeep Sandhu, a serial entrepreneur who owns a grocery store.

3. Food Delivery Services

According to Bloomberg Second Measure , delivering food spiked during the pandemic. Given this industry hasn’t been around long enough to survive multiple recessions, it might not be as recession-resistant as the chart suggests.

That said, a business owner could focus on offering the same services for grocery stores to help protect against sudden reduced cash flow.

Find out how Adam Haber started his courier services working with Amazon.

4. Auto Repair Shops

Denver Post "Auto mechanics reap bounty of downturn" article on a desktop computer

According to the Denver Post , auto mechanics saw a 16% increase in revenue during the 2008 financial crisis, making it a fairly recession-proof business. These support services benefited from the lack of available loans during that time.

Meanwhile, repair shops saw a decrease in business during the pandemic because people drove 13.2% less .

Find out how Lucky Sing started his repair business in 2016 for just $20,000.

5. Home Improvement and Home Repair Companies

During the Great Recession, the home improvement and repairs industry dropped 1% the first year before starting to increase again according to Statista . Meanwhile, home repairs increased by 22% during the pandemic.

Depending on the cause of each recession, the business opportunities may be in repairs or improvement. Offering both types of services makes a business that much more recession-proof.

Check out our list of construction businesses to learn more about starting home repair and improvement businesses.

6. Property Management Companies

According to the Congressional Research Survey , there are 49.5 million rental properties in the United States. Furthermore, 44% of them are managed by property managers according to DoorLoop .

People don’t stop renting just because the economy isn’t doing well, and these companies take a percentage of monthly revenue.

Learn more about property management and real estate investment.

7. Cleaning Services

A cleaning business can be recession-resistant. Home cleaners may find people cut back on cleanings, but janitorial services are unlikely to stop managing cleaning contracts because nobody wants to go to a business that is filthy.

During the pandemic, many cleaning services added sterilization services to drive new revenue and growth.

Learn how Christobal Mondragon makes over $1.5 million per year in our exclusive cleaning business course .

8. Accounting Services

Almost everyone in the United States needs accounting services. Some people only need once-per-year tax filing assistance, while others need financial advisors for things like:

  • Financial planning services
  • Bookkeeping
  • Quarterly taxes
  • Comparing financing options

These services are in high demand during all economic conditions.

9. Healthcare Industry

Physician holding a tablet with a Changing America article on the U.S. healthcare worker shortage

The healthcare sector benefits from people getting sick and having emergencies. That means healthcare companies make money no matter what the economy is doing.

Right now is a perfect time for starting a new business in the healthcare industry. According to The Hill , the entire healthcare industry is facing shortages of essential workers. The work is typically high paying and offers job security for those who can handle the grueling hours and stressful environment.

10. Child Care

According to Statista , there are 46.6 million American kids under 11 years old. The Census Bureau estimates 17% of their parents rely on paid childcare services. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor reports that people pay between $5,357 and $17,171 per year for childcare.

In-home daycares make great small businesses—you can save money and fulfill the ever-higher demand for childcare.

Pro Tip: Check out our picks for 698 Endearing Daycare Names and How to Start a Day Care (in 9 Simple Steps) .

11. Information Technology Support

Sharply dressed tech business owner working at a laptop

IT support companies are recession-proof companies because people still need help solving their tech-related problems, even in a downturn.

According to Axios , tech companies did poorly at the turn of the century because of the tech bust, but 2008 led to a lot of new technology that opened new business opportunities. Then, in the pandemic, there were grants to help small businesses implement new technology.

Small business ideas in this field tend to have high profits that make it easier for them to be recession-proof businesses. Just make sure to save money so you can weather economic downturns and invest in businesses that thrive in recession.

12. Pet Care

Recession-resistant industries include pet care. These are good business ideas because pets still need to be fed and go to the bathroom during economic downturns.

These recession-resistant businesses can use affordable luxuries like online shopping, digital marketing, and social media to make modern life easier for their pet-owning customers.

13. Dollar Stores

Dollar stores tend to do best when money is tight. According to USA Today , multiple chains are closing down their dollar stores due to financial challenges.

These businesses need to be able to purchase things in bulk and sell them for low costs, which requires implementing successful and sustainable buying and pricing strategies.

While dollar stores can be businesses that are recession-proof, getting into the game might be best in expansionary times.

Odd Pizza’s owner showing his restaurants offerings in a brightly lit restaurant space

Starting a business during a recession can actually be really beneficial. A recession often provides people who want to start a business with some competitive advantages, including:

  • An Obvious Problem: Recessions are almost always tied to a specific event or industry bubble. Finding the solution to solve that problem can be highly beneficial.
  • Lower Costs: Many large purchases, like equipment, real estate, and existing businesses, tend to be less expensive during economic downturns.
  • More government incentives: Governments tend to provide other businesses more support during recessions than expansionary times. As long as you provide a solution in the industries they are focused on, this can help you.

Don’t focus so much on what industries do well in a recession; rather, focus on the industries in which you can differentiate yourself.

Consider this example: Lee Kindell started Moto Pizza when COVID shutdowns closed his hotel. He put $60,000 on a credit card to open the pizza shop—and has since opened multiple locations. Find out how he did it in the interview below.

At this point, you have an understanding of recession-proof businesses that commonly perform well during an economic downturn.

We discussed the industries that perform well during recessions, how businesses are impacted by recessions, what businesses do well in a recession, and why you might want to start a business…even during an economic downturn.

It’s up to you to do the research on each business, but we have interviewed hundreds of business owners to learn what they did and how you can speed up your process to success. Consider taking one of our courses to start a successful business faster .

What recession-proof business will you start?

best business plan topics

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best business plan topics

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.

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

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

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

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

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What is a business plan?

1. write an executive summary, 2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. summarize how your company operates, 10. add any additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

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



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

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

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

This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your business offers and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.

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

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

Next up is your company description. This should contain basic information like:

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

Lastly, write a little about the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.

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

best business plan topics

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

How much do you need?

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

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

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

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

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

Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.

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8 Business Plan Templates You Can Get for Free

Author: Kody Wirth

8 min. read

Updated April 10, 2024

A business plan template can be an excellent tool to simplify the creation of your business plan. 

The pre-set structure helps you organize ideas, covers all critical business information, and saves you time and effort on formatting.

The only issue? There are SO many free business plan templates out there. 

So, which ones are actually worth using? 

To help remove the guesswork, I’ve rounded up some of the best business plan templates you can access right now. 

These are listed in no particular order, and each has its benefits and drawbacks.

What to look for in a business plan template

Not all business plan templates are created equal. As you weigh your options and decide which template(s) you’ll use, be sure to review them with the following criteria in mind:

  • Easy to edit: A template should save you time. That won’t be the case if you have to fuss around figuring out how to edit the document, or even worse, it doesn’t allow you to edit at all.
  • Contains the right sections: A good template should cover all essential sections of a business plan , including the executive summary, product/service description, market/competitive analysis, marketing and sales plan, operations, milestones, and financial projections. 
  • Provides guidance: You should be able to trust that the information in a template is accurate. That means the organization or person who created the template is highly credible, known for producing useful resources, and ideally has some entrepreneurial experience.
  • Software compatibility: Lastly, you want any template to be compatible with the software platforms you use. More than likely, this means it’s available in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or PDF format at a minimum. 

1. Bplans — A plan with expert guidance

Preview of Bplans' free business plan template download asset.

Since you’re already on Bplans, I have to first mention the templates that we have available. 

Our traditional and one-page templates were created by entrepreneurs and business owners with over 80 years of collective planning experience. We revisit and update them annually to ensure they are approachable, thorough, and aligned with our team’s evolving best practices.  

The templates, available in Word, PDF, or Google Doc formats, include in-depth guidance on what to include in each section, expert tips, and links to additional resources. 

Plus, we have over 550 real-world sample business plans you can use for guidance when filling out your template.

Download: Traditional lender-ready business plan template or a simple one-page plan template .

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2. SBA — Introduction to business plans

best business plan topics

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two different business plan templates along with a short planning guide. 

While not incredibly in-depth, it’s enough to help you understand how traditional and lean plans are structured and what information needs to be covered. The templates themselves are more like examples, providing you with a finished product to reference as you write your plan.

The key benefit of using these templates is that they were created by the SBA. While they may provide less guidance, you can be assured that the information and structure meet their expectations.

Explore: The SBA’s planning guide and free templates

3. SCORE — Planning workbook

best business plan topics

SCORE’s template is more like a workbook. It includes exercises after each section to help you get your ideas down and turn them into a structured plan.

The market research worksheets are especially useful. They provide a clear framework for identifying your target market and analyzing competitors from multiple angles. Plus, they give you an easy way to document all the information you’re collecting.

You will likely have to remove the exercises in this template to make it investor-ready. But it can be worth it if you’re struggling to get past a blank page and want a more interactive planning method.

Download: SCORE’s business plan template

4. PandaDoc — A template with fillable forms

best business plan topics

PandaDoc’s library offers a variety of industry-specific business plan templates that feature a modern design flair and concise instructions. 

These templates are designed for sharing. They include fillable fields and sections for non-disclosure agreements, which may be necessary when sending a plan to investors.  

But the real benefit is their compatibility with PandaDoc’s platform. Yes, they are free, but if you’re a PandaDoc subscriber, you’ll have far more customization options. 

Out of all their templates, the standard business plan template is the most in-depth. The rest, while still useful, go a bit lighter on guidance in favor of tailoring the plan to a specific industry.

Explore: PandaDoc’s business plan template library  

5. Canva — Pitch with your plan

A sample of the 696 free business plan templates available from Canva. The templates represented here are for a restaurant and two options designed around a minimalist beige aesthetic.

Canva is a great option for building a visually stunning business plan that can be used as a pitch tool. It offers a diverse array of templates built by their in-house team and the larger creative community, meaning the number of options constantly grows.

You will need to verify that the information in the template you choose matches the standard structure of a traditional business plan. 

You should do this with any template, but it’s especially important with any tool that accepts community submissions. While they are likely reviewed and approved, there may still be errors.

Remember, you can only edit these templates within Canva. Luckily, you only need a free subscription, and you may just miss out on some of the visual assets being used. 

To get the most value, it may be best to create a more traditional planning document and transfer that information into Canva. 

Explore: Canva’s business plan gallery

6. ClickUp — The collaborative template

Preview of ClickUp's business plan template within the project management platform. It includes a number of fillable cells to help guide the creation process.

Out of all the project management tools that offer free business plan templates, ClickUp’s is the most approachable.

Rather than throwing you into all the features and expecting you to figure it out—ClickUp provides a thorough startup guide with resource links, images, and videos explaining how to write a plan using the tool. 

There’s also a completed sample plan (structured like an expanded one-page plan) for you to reference and see how the more traditional document can connect to the product management features. You can set goals, target dates, leave comments, and even assign tasks to someone else on your team. 

These features are limited to the ClickUp platform and will not be useful for everyone. They will likely get in the way of writing a plan you can easily share with lenders or investors. 

But this is a great option if you’re looking for a template that makes internal collaboration more fluid and keeps all your information in one place.

Sign Up: Get a free trial of ClickUp and explore their template library

7. Smartsheet — A wide variety of templates

A preview of the Smartsheet business plan template. It provides a preview of the cover page, directory, and small views of the remaining template pages.

I’m including Smartsheet’s library of templates on this list because of the sheer number of options they provide. 

They have a simple business plan template, a one-page plan, a fill-in-the-blank template, a plan outline, a plan grading rubric, and even an Excel-built project plan. All are perfectly usable and vary in visual style, depth of instructions, and the available format.

Honestly, the only drawback (which is also the core benefit) is that the amount of templates can be overwhelming. If you’re already uncertain which plan option is right for you, the lengthy list they provide may not provide much clarity.

At the same time, it can be a great resource if you want a one-stop shop to view multiple plan types.

Explore: Smartsheet’s business plan template library  

8. ReferralRock affiliate marketing business plan

Preview of the ReferralRock affiliate marketing business plan template. It just represents the cover page of the full template.

I’m adding ReferralRock’s template to this list due to its specificity. 

It’s not your standard business plan template. The plan is tailored with specific sections and guidance around launching an affiliate marketing business. 

Most of the template is dedicated to defining how to choose affiliates, set commissions, create legal agreements, and track performance.

So, if you plan on starting an affiliate marketing business or program, this template will provide more specific guidance. Just know that you will likely need to reference additional resources when writing the non-industry sections of your plan.

Download: ReferralRock affiliate marketing business plan template

Does it matter what business plan template you use?

The short answer is no. As long as the structure is correct, it saves you time, and it helps you write your business plan , then any template will work. 

What it ultimately comes down to, is what sort of value you hope to get from the template. 

  • Do you need more guidance? 
  • A simple way to structure your plan? 
  • An option that works with a specific tool?
  • A way to make your plan more visually interesting?

Hopefully, this list has helped you hone in on an option that meets one (or several) of these needs. Still, it may be worth downloading a few of these templates to determine the right fit. 

And really, what matters most is that you spend time writing a business plan . It will help you avoid early mistakes, determine if you have a viable business, and fully consider what it will take to get up and running. 

If you need additional guidance, check out our library of planning resources . We cover everything from plan formats , to how to write a business plan, and even how to use it as a management tool . 

If you don’t want to waste time researching other templates, you can download our one-page or traditional business plan template and jump right into the planning process.

Content Author: Kody Wirth

Kody Wirth is a content writer and SEO specialist for Palo Alto Software—the creator's of Bplans and LivePlan. He has 3+ years experience covering small business topics and runs a part-time content writing service in his spare time.

Check out LivePlan

Table of Contents

  • Qualities of a good template
  • ReferralRock
  • Does the template matter?

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70 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business

Meg Prater (she/her)

Published: March 19, 2024

A good business idea may seem hard to come by, but with some planning and preparation, you can easily launch a small business to supplement your income — or become your own full-time boss.

Small business ideas symbolically showing the spirit of a small business

Maybe you already have an idea of the business you’d like to start. But while you might feel ready for a new venture and passionate about your idea, you might be looking for some direction.

Access Now: Free Business Idea Database

To help get you started, here's a list of small business ideas separated into a few sections:

  • What makes a good small business?

Best Small Business Ideas

Best businesses to start with little money, home business ideas.

  • Online Businesses Ideas

Easy Businesses to Start

Business ideas for students, creative small business ideas, how to start a small business at home, starting a small business: faq.

The first step to becoming a successful entrepreneur is finding a business idea that works for you. In this article, you’ll find dozens of small business ideas you can start from home and scale up as your clientele grows. Let’s get started.

What makes a good small business idea?

Not all small business ideas are made equal: Some require more effort and funding than others, while some can be launched with few resources — or resources you already have. As a potential small business owner, you’ll want to save as much money as possible on training, rent, supplies, and other necessities.

Let’s go over what makes a good business idea:

  • Requires little to no training . A good small business idea will ideally leverage your existing field of expertise and require little to no training. That will not only shorten your time-to-launch, but also lessen your expenses, since training courses can cost a significant amount of money. Plus, you’ll be more confident offering services that you feel prepared to deliver.
  • Requires low setup costs. Your business should be cheap to start. Maybe you only need to purchase a website domain or buy a desk for your garage.
  • Requires little hands-on inventory or supply management . A great business idea needs few supplies and little inventory management. If you want to sell physical goods, you can either try drop-shipping and manually make goods in small batches.
  • Is based online . The best small business ideas are based online and can be carried out from your personal computer. This will automatically lower your commuting costs and give you greater flexibility over your personal and work life.
  • Can sustainably be managed by few people . As a small business owner, you won’t have the funds to hire other people to help you run your business — at least not at first. A good business idea should give you the ability to run your business on your own.

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9 templates to help you brainstorm a business name, develop your business plan, and pitch your idea to investors.

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You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Airbnb Co-founder, Brian Chesky, said, “If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life.”

If you’re like Brian and you’ve already thought about a solution for a problem you encounter in your life — or you’re on the path to doing so — then starting a small business may be in your future. It may also be for you if you dream of clocking out of your nine-to-five job for the last time and becoming your own boss.

Below, we include the best ideas for you to start your small business — with resources and examples to help you get started.

1. Handyman

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8. Life/Career Coach

If you have experience navigating career, personal, and social transitions successfully, put it to good use as a life or career coach. Many of us are looking for guidance in our careers — and finding someone with the time to mentor us can be tough.

Life/career coaches don’t come cheap, but they are able to offer clients the intense and hands-on training and advice they need to make serious moves in their personal and professional lives. After all, everyone needs some uplifting advice from time to time.

To start your life/career coaching business with confidence, you can look for a certification program (like the Life Coach School’s or Diane Hudson’s ), then apply your skills as you acquire new clients.

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A resume writing business is economical, has few overhead costs, and has few educational requirements. We still recommend having an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and a few resume samples on hand. If you still feel that you need to brush up on your resume writing skills, you can take a course like Coursera’s or LinkedIn Learning’s .

Once you’ve gotten resume writing down, you can expand your business to include cover letter writing and even offer career coaching services in conjunction with these services.

10. Freelance Writer

If you have writing skills , there’s someone out there willing to pay you for them. Write blog posts, magazine articles, and website copy galore — just make sure you have a body of work built up to share with potential clients. Even if you create a few sample pieces to have on hand, they’ll help exhibit your work and attract new business.

To become a freelance writer, it’s essential to choose a specialty. For instance, you might choose to only write for publications in the healthcare industry (maybe because you were previously a healthcare worker) or focus on lifestyle publications. Whatever the case, specializing will help you find your niche market and gain confidence as a new freelancer writer.

There are no educational requirements for freelance writing, but you do need strong writing skills. It also helps to enjoy writing. While certification may be beneficial, getting practice and writing every day is more important. Try these writing prompts to start.

11. Landscaper

Mowing, tree-trimming, and seasonal decor are all neighborhood needs. If you have or can acquire the equipment, a landscaping business can be a lucrative affair. It’s also a great choice if you enjoy doing it for your own home and have a good eye for landscape design.

The good news is that you can start small. For instance, you could offer your neighbors seasonal planting services and start with a few perennial plants, or simply offer mulching services.

To grow your landscaping business, you should consider taking some formal training. The following organizations offer courses:

  • New York Botanical Gardens

After completing a course and getting enough experience, you can apply for a certificate from a landscaping organization. While a certificate isn’t necessary to work in the field, it can build your credentials and help you make industry connections to take your landscaping business to the next level. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers offers one potential certificate you could pursue.

Some states require licensure, especially if you’ll be using pesticides and fertilizers. Be sure to review the requirements for your state.

Learn some of the basics now with this video on landscape design from Lowe’s:

12. Videographer

Video production requires you to have invested in the equipment up front, which can be quite expensive. But that’s also what makes your services so valuable. Make sure you have a reel of your work to share or create a website with several selections of your work available for interested viewers.

There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a video production business. As with writing and other creative arts, though, it pays to specialize. Real estate videos differ radically from wedding videos, and wedding videos differ radically from in-studio interviews and testimonials. By specializing, you target a highly specific customer who’ll benefit the most from your services, and you can also skill-up more effectively in one shooting style.

While you can find general classes on videography, you should consider taking a class in the type of videography you’d like to do. For instance, you could take The Complete Wedding Videography Course .

Hot tip: If you’re interested in specializing in video marketing, check out The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing and download our starter pack below.

→ Access Now: Video Marketing Starter Pack [Free Kit]

13. Photographer

Start by conducting photo shoots for your family and friends. As you build a body of work, ask for referrals and reviews. Photography businesses often grow by word of mouth, so create a Facebook page where you can tag recent clients. Photos where you tag those clients will show up in their friends’ newsfeeds, where they can view your work. You can also ask them to leave reviews on your Facebook business page.

Like with a video production small business, you’ll want to specialize. Will you do product shoots or portraits? How about wedding or fashion photo shoots? Once you specialize, you’ll be able to create a body of work that most accurately represents your strengths.

There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a small photography business. Still, we recommend investing in a few photography courses, especially if you haven’t used your camera in a while. Some courses you might start with include:

  • Cornell’s Digital Photography Certificate Program
  • New York Institute of Photography’s Course

From there, seek courses that help you build skills in your chosen specialty.

If you’re not sure where to start with freelance photography, take a look at Erica Clayton’s journey into the business below. Her advice? Give yourself a firm deadline to turn a profit.

14. Bed and Breakfast Owner

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Some consulting industries are more competitive than others, so be sure to complete your research before starting a small consulting business. One way to find out how competitive a consulting niche is by doing keyword search . If your target niche is highly searched or is already dominated by big companies, you may have a harder time breaking in. You can use keyword research tools to uncover keyword volume and local demand.

If there’s room for you to enter the market, the next step is to land your first clients. Be sure to participate in local networking events covering your niche and reach out to potential prospects through cold calling and emailing. Investing in dedicated sales software can also help measure and improve your emailing strategy, as well as keep track of worthwhile leads.  

12. Event Planner

An event planning business is an excellent choice if you have great organizational and interpersonal skills, and it’s relatively cheap to start. You might choose to specialize in a specific type of event — like weddings or company meetings — or set yourself up as an event planner of all trades.

The good news is that event planners are always in demand. It’s not an easily automated job, so this small business idea is set to thrive regardless of the digital landscape. To start, you’ll want to look for a platform that will easily allow you to advertise your availability, such as event planner directories like Eventective and WeddingWire .

If you’re highly organized, detail-oriented, and have experience planning large events, it might be time for others to benefit from your skills.

13. Personal Assistant

Personal assistants help business owners and executives take care of administrative tasks. To launch a freelance personal assistant business, you should leverage networking opportunities on LinkedIn and attend small business events at local chambers of commerce. Most local business owners might not even know they need a personal assistant until you market your services to them.

If you’re an organized, highly-detailed person, the life of a personal assistant might be for you. Don’t want to be tied to one office or person all day, every day? Consider becoming a virtual assistant, which allows you a more flexible work environment.

To become an assistant, choose a niche — will you be helping women business owners specifically? Do you have a specific field of expertise, like bookkeeping? A website can also go a long way, and be sure to print business cards for you to hand out during networking events.

14. Consignment Shop Owner

If you have an eye for style but don’t want to invest in the inventory of a brand-new boutique, consider starting a consignment shop. It will allow you to curate a collection of clothing that matches your goals and aesthetic without the overhead of a boutique selling entirely new garments.

The beauty of a small consignment business is that you can now start one online. You can sign up on a platform such as Poshmark , Depop , and even Etsy , then easily start selling your own used fashion from home.

Once you’ve defined your niche — such as vintage clothing, unique locally made art, or colorful shoes — you can begin sourcing new products from your local stores and thrift shops.

15. Caterer

If the personal chef gig is too restrictive for your schedule, consider catering instead. Pick your projects, work on fewer but larger events, and hone in on your time management skills.

Becoming a caterer is a natural step for those who are used to cooking for large events — for instance, you may have already catered your friend’s wedding or brought a 20-person meal to a potluck (that counts, too!).

It’s essential that you have enough temperature-regulated storage for the meals prior to each event, and that you arrange for reliable, temperature-controlled transportation to and from your home kitchen. Alternatively, you can lower your costs by inviting customers to pick up their order at your home.

16. Gym Owner

Kickboxing gyms, yoga studios, CrossFit, oh my! Turn your passion for fitness into a community for others by creating your own gym — start one from the ground up, become an affiliate, or open a franchise location.

Available franchise opportunities include Anytime Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, Pure Barre, Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness, and more. Be prepared to take out a loan to finance your franchise — most agreements start with fees upward of $20,000. But the payoff can be tremendous due to brand recognition. You’ll have no trouble recruiting new members as long as you use local marketing strategies .

Alternatively, you can create a local studio, but ideally, it should be for a specific activity instead of general fitness. Yoga, pilates, bootcamp-style gyms, and martial arts perform well as independent fitness studios.

17. Boutique Agency Owner

What’s your specialty? Whether it’s marketing, social media, or PR, it might be time to start your own agency. Many other small businesses need this type of help but don’t have the resources or volume to necessitate a full-time position.

To start an agency, you would ideally have worked in your specialty for a number of years. You should also be prepared to interface directly with clients, fulfill their requirements, and temper their expectations (if they want results in an unreasonably short amount of time).

Consider building a small team and learn from other entrepreneurs who’ve successfully started their own agencies, like Duane Brown of Take Some Risk .

18. Coffee Shop Owner

Turn your caffeine addiction into something a little more lucrative. Opening a franchise or buying an existing shop are lower-risk entry points to the coffee game, but they usually require a little more cash upfront. Starting a shop from scratch requires more planning and work — but it also maximizes your earning potential in the future.

A coffee shop is an excellent fit if you already have a full-time remote job and wish to supplement your income with a small business. You can manage the coffee shop as you work at one of the tables, but be sure to have the budget to hire an experienced barista who can pick up the slack.

If you would like to open a coffee shop and run it full-time on your own, you’ll need to undertake barista training, understand worldwide coffee sources, and have excellent customer service skills.

19. Moving Company

A truck, moving equipment, manpower, and the correct permits and insurance are the building blocks of starting your own moving company . Before you buy your first fleet of trucks, however, start small with a moving van and keep your costs low.

Still sound like too much of an initial investment? Consider offering packing services only, which have a much lower financial barrier to entry. You can partner with moving companies and offer to do their packing, or have them refer clients to you.

You could even take a niche approach to the industry as Astro International has by offering international moving services.

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2. Vending Machine Owner

Since 2015, the growth rate for vending machine businesses has increased 1.4%. Even as social distancing restrictions are still in place, this business can still be lucrative if you choose the right locations. High-traffic is key — places like hospitals, schools, and community centers are smart places to start placing your machines to generate enough revenue to cover cost and turn a profit.

3. Social Media Manager

Do you have a knack for social media? As a social media manager, you can use your skills to manage the social media accounts for companies and even individual people. Influencer marketing has become more common and many influencers rely on marketing agencies or employees to help them run their social channels.

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Online Business Ideas

If you want a business idea that you can run entirely online, check out the ones below. These ideas are ideal for those looking for a passive income stream. In other words, you shouldn’t need to do too much manual work to launch these businesses from your home or preferred business location.

1. Become an online reseller.

To become an online reseller, all you need is some business savvy and some funds to invest in product stock from manufacturers — or, of course,the willingness to sell your own used items. Generally, this is a low-touch but high-performance way of creating a passive income online business.

Online resellers usually use a platform, such as Facebook Marketplace or Amazon Sellers, to sell either their own or manufacturers’ stock. The benefit of using Facebook Marketplace is that you can begin today with your own Facebook account, and simply list items that you already own.

Interested buyers typically drive directly to your home for pick-up — but if you’re not interested in human interaction, you can leave it outside and have the buyer pay via an online platform.

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Blogging is one of the most accessible small businesses to start, and there are countless niches to choose from. That said, because there are many blogs online, you’ll need to learn blog SEO and keyword research to ensure your audience finds you. That way, you actually make money out of your blogging efforts.

The great news is that a small blogging business has a ridiculously low overhead. All you need is a custom domain and your time for writing blog posts. Although finding the right topic ideas and outlining your posts may seem challenging at first, especially if you’re new to writing, you can let a blog ideas generator do most of the grunt work for you.

These tools leverage Artificial Intelligence to help you brainstorm ideas and set up your content structure. That way, you can kickstart your creative juices and begin writing about what you love right away. 

5. Home-Baked Goods Seller

Warehouse-made, store-bought chocolate chip cookies will never compare to a batch made with love in someone’s home. Simple desserts can be easily baked and packaged to sell at local events or around your neighborhood. Use custom labels and watch the word spread about your goods!

You can begin a baked goods business easily by opening a Facebook and Instagram profile. Facebook and Instagram are both excellent platforms to market your goods, show pictures of your previous baked products, and even showcase happy clients.

Build a loyal following slowly, and save on costs by asking clients to drive to your home to pick up their order. Choosing a niche can be helpful here, or baking in a specific style that can’t be found at grocery store bakeries. The overhead can be especially low if you already have most essential baking supplies.

6. Ecommerce Store Owner

Do you create, collect, or curate anything special? Consider starting an ecommerce store and turning your hobby into a full-time job. Whether you need somewhere to sell all that pottery you’ve been making, or an excuse to search for the sports memorabilia you love tracking down, an ecommerce store can make it financially viable for you to pursue your passion.

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Starting an ecommerce store is simple and easy. You can set up a shop using an ecommerce website builder , all of which start at a minimal monthly subscription (some even start at free). Be sure to take good photos of your products and write descriptive product pages .

If you don’t have inventory, you can always own an ecommerce store by using dropshipping . Instead of creating and shipping your products yourself, you’ll instead partner with a dropshipping website and have them mail out the orders directly to your client.

7. House Cleaner

With a low barrier to entry, house cleaning can be a great way to start doing what you love — soon. Consider advertising to homes in your neighborhood and get more bang for your buck by earning a few small businesses as clients as well. They’ll usually bring in a higher paycheck for a similar amount of work.

To become a house cleaner, you should be prepared to invest in cleaning supplies and accessories, or be willing to use your own. If you plan to serve small businesses, you should buy industrial janitorial supplies so you can get work done more effectively.

Need some inspiration? This small business cleaning service grew virtually overnight on Instagram after their content went viral during the pandemic.

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Get HubSpot's Free CRM Software

4. create a business plan..

No business plan? No business. Particularly if your small business idea requires investors, you'll need to draft up a business plan to provide an overview of your market positioning, your financial projections, and your unique competitive advantages. You can download HubSpot's free business plan templates for free to get started.

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Learn more about choosing the right structure for your business from the Small Business Administration.

6. Create a business bank account.

Once you have a legally formed business and have been issued an Employer Identification Number (EIN), open a bank account specifically for your business. Having a business bank account is essential for keeping your personal and business finances separate which can help you gain an accurate picture of your business’s cash flow and financial health.

Additionally, keeping your personal and business finances separate makes bookkeeping and tax preparation easier.

Many banks offer business checking and savings accounts. Business checking accounts typically do not have a limit on the number of transactions that can take place, and issue a debit card that can be used for making business purchases. However, these checking accounts do not accrue interest.

Business savings accounts typically earn interest over time but have a limited number of transactions that can occur each month. When you’re just starting out, look for a business bank account that does not have a minimum balance requirement so you are not penalized for having low funds as you work to build your business.

7. Determine if your business idea works well from home.

Ask yourself whether your business idea will work well from home. Some businesses simply aren’t suited to be based from home. If you want to run a dog boarding center but live in an apartment without a backyard, you might want to consider a dog walking business instead.

8. Set up an office.

If your business idea is well-suited for being run from home, it’s still important you have a designated workspace. While a home office might not be possible, consider setting aside a corner in your living room or putting a desk in your bedroom for a space that inspires you and creates the conditions for success.

Need a more professional space? If you conduct client-facing work requiring you to be on video calls, no one wants to see your rumpled sheets in the background. Check out local coworking spaces for memberships that earn you access to conference rooms, desk space, and more.

9. Get to work!

You’ve put in the hard work, but I’ve got bad news — it’s only going to get harder. But most entrepreneurs will agree that the payoff of being your own boss, making your own hours, and working on projects that you’re passionate about will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

What are the types of small businesses?

The types of small business structures are sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.

  • Sole Proprietorship — The simplest type of business structure is a sole proprietorship, which is also the easiest to start. As a sole proprietor, you are personally responsible for the business's liabilities and profits, and you have complete control over your business. If you are a solopreneur, you are automatically considered a sole proprietor.
  • Partnership — A partnership is a business model involving two or more individuals who agree to share the business‘s profits and liabilities. Each partner contributes to the business and shares the risks and rewards. It’s essential to have a partnership agreement that defines each partner's roles and responsibilities to ensure clarity and prevent potential misunderstandings.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) — An LLC, or limited liability company, is a common option for small businesses because it protects its owners by separating personal assets from the company's liabilities. To form an LLC, the business owner must file the required paperwork with the state.
  • Corporation — A corporation is an independent legal entity distinct from its owners. It provides limited liability protection to its shareholders, who are not held personally accountable for the company's debts. Corporations have formal requirements and often raise capital by issuing stocks or shares.

Which business type is best?

The best business type is a limited liability company (LLC). Operating as an LLC means that your personal assets are separate from your business assets. If your business goes bankrupt, your personal holdings won’t be affected. That said, it’s also one of the costlier types, requiring a fee paid to the state.

The easiest business type to start is a sole proprietorship. The main downside is that there’s no differentiation between you and your business.

It's crucial to seek advice from legal or accounting professionals to determine the best business structure based on your unique needs and objectives. Each structure has advantages, legal requirements, tax implications, and flexibility considerations.

How do I create a business idea?

To create a business idea, determine your skill set, work preferences, startup budget, and available resources. It’s important to strike the right balance between what you can feasibly offer and what you can feasibly afford in the short and long term.

We recommend starting with your skill set so that you can easily determine the niche in which you can effectively compete. For instance, if you have ample experience as a writer, you might consider starting a freelance writing business. But if you know you’d prefer to work with clients face-to-face, you might choose to start a ghostwriting business instead. That’s why it’s so important to take your work preferences into account, as well.

After that, take a look at your budget and determine the type of business you can start based on the resources at your disposal. For instance, you might not be able to afford a physical office or location, so a location-based business will likely not be a good fit. In that case, starting an online business is your best option.

What resources or tools can I use to refine and validate my business ideas during the brainstorming process?

Online market research tools like Google Trends, Keyword Planner, and SEMrush can provide insights into market demand, competition, and keyword trends related to your business niche. Industry reports and market analyses from reputable sources such as IBISWorld, Gartner, Statista, and industry-specific publications can offer valuable data and trends to inform your decision-making. Ensure you know the industry risk before embarking on your small business venture.

→ Download Now: Market Research Kit [Free Download]

Additionally, joining entrepreneurial communities, forums, and social media groups can provide opportunities to seek feedback, network with like-minded people, and gain insights from experienced entrepreneurs. Finally, consider conducting surveys or interviews with potential customers to gather feedback and validate your business concept before investing significant time and resources.

What are some of the most successful small businesses?

Every small business has the potential to be successful and profitable, provided it’s backed by a strong product-market fit and a robust business plan . These two elements are essential. Maybe postnatal services are one of the most successful small businesses to launch, but if you live in an area with declining population or a large elderly population, then that small business idea won’t yield a high return on investment.

Think carefully about the market where you’re launching your business, and you’ll be more than likely to see lasting success.

What are the top growing small businesses?

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63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024 We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

By Eve Gumpel Edited by Brittany Robins Mar 15, 2024

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many people dream of starting their own business. Running an enterprise in your home, garage or on the go means you can take more control over your professional goals, set more ambitious financial targets and achieve a more desirable work-life balance.

But what if you're ready to start a business but don't know what type of services to provide? You've come to the right place if you need profitable business ideas. Below, find a detailed breakdown of 63 small business ideas — from financial services to physical labor and creative contracting — to help you chart a path forward.

Related: Want to Start a Simple Business That Helps the Planet? After 'One Night's Worth of Research,' He Started an Eco-Friendly Gig And Now Makes $200K a Year

Some of these opportunities require more experience or credentials than others. Some can be started from home for cheap, while others require dedicated office space and capital investment. To ensure you choose the right business venture for yourself, it's crucial to consider a few factors before you pursue a sole proprietorship.

How do you determine the best small business idea?

Consider your current skill set and credentials..

For instance, if you already have a CPA license, venturing out as a freelance accountant (as detailed below) would be a natural avenue to explore. If you have experience as a writer, you might consider editorial services, or if you've spent years working in the food and beverage industry, you could explore catering or becoming a personal chef.

As you explore your options, consider if you'll need to secure special licenses (for example, hairstylists and electricians) or if the work requires additional education and credentialing.

Determine the goals of your small business.

For some people, starting a small business means leaving their full-time gig and committing to the new endeavor. For others, a part-time business provides meaningful supplemental income and can be managed in addition to other work. Consider how much money you're hoping to earn from the business, how many clients or customers you'll need to be profitable and how many hours you'll need to work each week to make it feasible.

Think about capital costs, as well as growth: Will launching the business require the purchase of equipment or other serious financial investment? Do you plan to hire employees? Will you expand to multiple locations? At the outset, it's a good idea to create a formal business plan .

Study your location and identify what's most feasible there.

Finding customers and clients is essential to any small business, so conduct a market analysis before you open shop. For instance, your boat cleaning business will be significantly more successful if you live near a coast, and your side hustle as an interpreter will likely be more profitable if you live in a diverse community.

You should also research what businesses already exist. Is there a dearth of dependable landscapers in your market? Is there a glut of professional photographers in your town? Answering these questions will help you determine the viability of your idea.

Decide if you want to run a business online or in person.

The digital age has created many opportunities for entrepreneurs to run a business from behind a laptop, meaning their enterprise can go wherever they choose. That's not for everyone, though. If you want to run a brick-and-mortar shop at the heart of your community or are more comfortable interacting with customers and clients in person, launch a business that will allow you to achieve those goals.

Related: TV Shows All Entrepreneurs Should Be Watching

Financial and Business Service Ideas

1. accounting and tax services.

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

At some point, most people seek the advice of a good bookkeeper or accountant, whether to prepare for tax season, get advice for starting a business or simply plan for the future. If you're already a Certified Public Accountant, you can earn good money by going out on your own.

If you're not already trained as an accountant or licensed by the state you live in, you'll want to explore the recommended educational prerequisites and plan to obtain the appropriate credentials. Most tax preparation franchises offer courses, seminars and training to get you ready to work for them.

You'll also want to think about the types of services you'll provide:

  • Do you want to simply do bookkeeping for small businesses?
  • Or do you also want to prepare balance sheets, income statements and other financial reports?

Other specializations can include tax accounting — a huge area of potential work.

2. Business Consulting

Has expansion possibilities

With a consulting business, you can work with a wide range of businesses on a variety of business problems. You could help new entities get off the ground by creating business plans , conducting market research and organizing a management structure.

Depending on your level of experience, you could also help large organizations through difficult transitions and periods of restructuring or outline a successful exit strategy by providing executive-level advice and guidance on an array of matters core to the business' mission.

A good calendar app will likely come in handy as time-tracking is crucial to accurate billing.

3. Financial Planning and Advising

Financial advisors help millions of Americans save for things like retirement and college funds while also helping them grow their wealth through various investments. If your goal is to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), you'll have to complete coursework and ultimately pass an exam. This will earn you a certificate that shows potential clients you have expertise and credibility. Once you're certified, working as an independent financial advisor can provide a steady income.

4. Buying a Franchise

Some business experience needed

The benefits of buying a franchise are many: You'll have a proven business model, the market research is already done and the brand typically provides support to franchisees as part of the purchase. Plus, many franchises can be launched for less than $10,000, including:

  • Dream Vacations
  • Cruise Planners
  • Jazzercise Inc.

To learn more about how to buy and launch a franchise, read Entrepreneur's basics of buying a franchise business .

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

5. Notary Public Services

In most states, a notary public is a state officer who is authorized to witness and attest to the legalities of certain documents by stamping a seal and signing. Most states require that you pass an exam and a background check, but it costs very little to become a notary. You can generate significant income from notary work by charging fees for services such as loan-signing notarizations.

Manual Labor Business Ideas

6. general construction.

If you have experience working in construction, you may be ready to start your own handyman business and take on projects of your own. From building a fence to hanging drywall or framing an addition, many people need skilled laborers who can do quality work on time.

If you have a network of skilled people whose work you trust, you could also subcontract some of the construction and spend more time finding clients and growing your business. Check with your state to determine what permits and licenses you need to get started.

7. Landscaping

Put your green thumb to work. Most people want their yards tidied up in the spring, their lawns mowed in the summer, their leaves removed in the fall, their shrubs trimmed and their trees cared for. Your landscaping business could also offer irrigation services, including the installation and repair of sprinkler lines, as well as blowing them out before winter.

Garden work, such as planting annuals and perennials and vegetable garden preparation, can also be a lucrative business. There is plenty to do in the yard that has nothing to do with plants: stone wall restoration, fencing, artificial turf installation and more.

Read This: Start Your Own Lawn Care or Landscaping Business by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

8. House Painting

Regardless of the season, you can make good money with a residential painting business — inside and out. Before you begin offering services, you'll want to work with professional painters and learn the basics:

  • Masking a house
  • Laying a drop cloth
  • Choosing the appropriate paints and brushes for various indoor and outdoor climates

You'll also need to invest in some basic equipment — ladders, brushes, trays and more. Once you're set up, you can begin marketing your services to customers through a variety of online platforms with relatively low upfront costs.

9. Carpentry

Woodworking is in high demand these days, and if you're a talented carpenter, there are a variety of ways you can make money. Residential projects like cabinets, tables and shelves are often high on homeowners' lists and typically pay well. You can also make good money with boutique projects like gallery frames, hand-carved figurines and other work. In some cases, you can work for general contractors to frame doorways and support larger construction projects.

10. Electrical Work

Becoming an electrician is not easy — you must take classes, work as an apprentice and pass licensing exams before you can start your own business — but there's no shortage of work for electricians. Master electricians are always in demand for small and large projects, and you'll have the ability to hire apprentices, build a team and scale your business offerings.

11. Moving Services

When people move, they often want to hire someone to do the heavy lifting for them — literally. You can focus your work on local moves across town or to the town next door. As your business ramps up, you may also offer large-scale, long-distance moving services if you have the personnel and equipment to accommodate it. Advertise around town to convince the locals to let you take care of their move, provide excellent customer service and watch your business grow.

Read This: Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business and More by Entrepreneur Press and George Sheldon | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Creative Work Business Ideas

12. content and editorial contracting.

Almost every business or organization needs good writers and editors, and if you have the skills to go out on your own, you'll likely find a bevy of work. From copyediting to developmental editing, ghostwriting and digital content production, freelance writers and editors can find clients in a host of industries, including marketing, communications, journalism and book publishing. To get started, you'll need to create a portfolio of work that exemplifies your skills for writing, content creation and/or editing–this will help you build relationships with potential clients.

13. Graphic Design

Have an eye for design? Logos, fliers, newsletters, information sheets and advertisements are just a few of the types of design materials that businesses hire independent designers to create for them. Websites and online advertising need graphic design services as well. You can offer clients a suite of services to take their project from beginning to end, including coordinating with content creators and print shops and getting products ready to mail and present.

Read This: Start Your Own Graphic Design Business by Entrepreneur Press and George Sheldon | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

14. Web Development

Many in-person and online courses exist to teach you the language of coding and website creation. With some specialized training, you can master the basics of building a website from scratch — a service you can offer to many small businesses, whether they're looking for an ecommerce platform or just a landing page to describe their services. You may also find clients who will hire you to not only design their website but manage their online presence on a day-to-day basis.

15. Marketing or Public Relations Agency

Every business has a story to tell, but not everyone has the know-how to get their message into the world. With your marketing or public relations agency, you can help businesses identify new audiences, craft messages that resonate with new customers and produce newsletters and other products — potentially winning the media's interest along the way. You'll want experience working in this field before you set out on your own, as potential clients will want to hire someone who understands the world of marketing and public relations.

Read This: Start Your Own Consulting Business by Entrepreneur Press and Eileen F. Sandlin | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

16. Photography

Independent photographers can run successful businesses with one or more specialties. You can offer:

  • Portraits or senior pictures
  • Wedding photography
  • Editorial shots for newspapers or magazines

To get your photography business off the ground, you'll want to create an online portfolio of your work so potential clients can see your style and inquire with you. Being active on social media platforms is also a great strategy for growing your brand.

Read This: Start Your Own Photography Business by Entrepreneur Press and Charlene Davis | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

17. Videography

If you can do quality work behind a camera and edit footage well, there are plenty of opportunities for videography work, from creating brand videos for organizations to filming events, weddings and interviews. Your clients could include outdoor brands, small nonprofits and big corporations, but you'll want to have some filming and editing training and experience creating quality content before you launch your business.

18. Audio Editing

Audio storytelling is a growing industry, with countless podcasts being streamed daily by listeners all over the world. If you have experience recording and editing audio, you could shop your services to media brands, businesses or individuals who might want to launch their own podcasts. And who knows? Maybe you can use your skills to launch and monetize a podcast of your own.

19. Social Media Management

Some experience needed

Although many businesses want to enhance their social media presence, they often don't have the skills or internal bandwidth to grow their following and post engaging content.

If you're skilled at brainstorming content plans and writing snappy copy — and you already spend many hours on social media — it might be worth launching your own social media marketing enterprise. Clients might have you create a content marketing plan, monitor and reply to comments and report growth statistics monthly.

If making art is already your hobby, you might be able to turn it into a profitable business. You can sell your work on sites like Etsy, enter your work in shows or ink contracts with clients who need illustrators or custom art as part of their brand assets. Other potential art business offerings include creating portraits, painting murals and teaching art classes.

21. Music Lessons

Turn down the volume and listen up: Your music skills could be in high demand. There are a few ways to approach running your own music business. You can be mobile and teach in your clients' homes or run it out of your own space (a separate building or designated area of your home).

Some people teach music lessons online by recording lessons on YouTube and offering subscriptions. To get started, try connecting with local music schools for part-time gigs. This will allow you to see if you like it and help you build a reputation with potential clients.

Related: 10 Essential Tips For a Long and Lucrative Music Career

Repair and Maintenance Business Ideas

22. mechanic shop.

If you've spent years working on your vehicles and know your way around an engine, it could be time to offer your services to customers. Depending on where you live, you may not need to obtain a mechanics license, but taking some formal classes and earning a certification will help build trust with customers.

Many shops require licensing before hiring mechanics, so if you're looking to get some experience before launching your own business, you'll likely want to take some classes.

23. Appliance Repair

Every household has several appliances — from refrigerators to dishwashers to dryers — and appliances tend to break down, so appliance repair is one of the best business ideas for any area. You can work on your own or contract with appliance stores to cover their warranty service calls — or some of each.

Start slow and build your customer base on recommendations and referrals from work well done. You could also develop relationships with contractors to be the go-to person to install appliances in newly constructed houses.

24. Bicycle Repair

Almost every bike needs a good tune-up. This business tends to be seasonal in many parts of the country, but you can find ways around that. If you have the space, you could offer to store people's bicycles during the winter after you do a tune-up and any needed repairs on them.

And if you keep Saturday shop hours, you could make your shop a meeting place for cycling enthusiasts. If you live in a bike-oriented place, you may be able to purchase and sell used bikes, making some money as a retailer on top of your repair business.

25. Boat Cleaning

Boats hauled out of the water for the winter or even just for mid-season repairs will need their hulls cleaned. Depending on the type of boat, it might also be time for a major cleaning of everything else—the decks, the sleeping quarters, the head and the holds.

Start by advertising on Nextdoor, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, reaching out to homes with boats sitting in their yard, or marketing your services to a local marina.

26. Car Cleaning & Detailing

Making a car shine inside and out isn't easy work, which is why many people don't want to do it themselves. Plus, because drive-thru car washes don't clean every corner, there's a market for car cleaning and detailing across the country. With a little investment in materials (soaps, scrubs, hoses, vacuums, etc.), you could make house calls or rent a garage space where customers can drop off their vehicles.

27. Electronics Repair

Whether it's a laptop, a television, a tablet or a specialized radio, if you're handy with circuit boards, you could run a profitable business for customers whose electronics are on the fritz. You'll want to run the business out of your home or a storefront so people can bring equipment directly to you. Not unlike other repair shops, your business may evolve to the point where you're buying used electronics and selling them to your customers.

28. Furniture Restoration

If you have a knack for sewing and woodwork, upholstery and restoration might be a natural business idea. Many books and online videos can be helpful as you learn the trade, but nothing will be as helpful as finding some discarded furniture and tearing it apart before restuffing and constructing it.

Often, furniture in need of upholstering will also require repairs—sanding, staining, or reinforcing damaged areas. Much of this work is relatively minor (you don't have to be a carpenter) and can add significant upsell value to your services.

Read This: Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design by Amanda Brown | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

29. Rug Cleaning

Most people don't have the time or space to do more for their rugs than a basic vacuum. As a rug cleaner, you will need to learn how to work with all kinds of carpet fabrics, from synthetic to wool. You should also decide whether you will take on valuable antique rugs and family heirlooms. If you do, you should consider getting specialized training in handling and properly cleaning these carpets.

Learn how to get tough stains and odors out of carpets — such as dog and cat odors — and customers will seek your services out. You'll need a dedicated space for people to drop off their rugs, so plan for that as you set up your business.

30. Jewelry Making and Repair

There are many different ways of getting into the jewelry business and different types of materials you can work with. Manipulating metal will require specific tools since you need to heat the metal and use tools to cut and engrave, but you'll likely also work with glass, gemstones, and maybe even wood. The wider the variety of materials you can work with, , the broader the range of repair services you can provide to your customers, including stone polishing and setting.

Read This: Start Your Own Fashion Accessories Business by Entrepreneur Press and Eileen F. Sandlin | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Property and Real Estate Business Ideas

31. real estate.

Every community needs trusted real estate agents. Whether your clients are buying or selling property — or just seeking real estate advice — there are many opportunities to launch your own business. But, first, you'll need to become a licensed agent, and the requirements vary by state. Typically, you'll have to complete coursework and pass an exam. Once you've done that, you can start offering services and building your business from scratch.

32. Property Management

Many people manage properties as a side hustle. Maybe you have a vacation home that you use for short-term rentals or perhaps you have an additional property with a long-term lease. If you want to dive in full-time, you can acquire multiple properties and be a full-time landlord. In the case of rental units, your job will be to make sure the property is running smoothly, ensure tenants are paying rent and honoring their lease terms, and be available in case of any issues. You can also contract with individual property owners to serve as their property manager, lightening their load by taking care of the landlord duties for them.

33. Cleaning Service

No experience needed

There are many directions you can take this small business idea. If you want to work during hours when no one else does, you can focus your cleaning business on office clients. You can provide cleaning services to retail businesses and keep your customers within one or two blocks. Restaurants need daily thorough cleaning and can also be a great source of steady clients. But, if you're more interested in house cleaning, you can start with a small number of clients, and new customers will likely emerge via word of mouth.

Read This: Start Your Own Cleaning Service by Entrepreneur Press and Jacquelyn Lynn | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

34. Professional Organizing

Spatial planning is not everyone's strength. If it's yours, you can make good money as a professional organizer for individuals and businesses. For individuals, you can choose either to do the organizing work — maybe a kids' playroom or a cluttered garage — or consult with the homeowner to help them better organize themselves.

Businesses, too, don't always know how to organize their office and maximize the efficiency of their spaces. You can consult on ways to better arrange furniture, desks, conference areas, stockrooms and more.

35. Home Inspection

To be a successful inspector, first establish contacts with real estate agents who can recommend your services to customers. Home inspection can be an incredibly competitive market so you will need to constantly update your education and knowledge. For instance, Builders are constantly introducing new materials. If you only know about wood decks, you will not know how to inspect and assess the new materials on the market, such as composites that look like real wood. Also, stay apprised of all safety updates regarding materials and problems with things like off-gassing, carbon monoxide production and other chemical hazards.

Read This: Start Your Own Home Inspection Service by Entrepreneur Press | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

36. Home Energy Auditing

Homeowners are always looking for ways to save on their utility bills. With some specialized training, you can help by conducting an audit of their homes and calculating how much they might save on heating, cooling and electrical use by implementing new technology or upgraded appliances.

To grow your business, you can work directly with vendors to refer upgrades or gain a certification and learn how to do electrical work like installing solar panels and heat pumps yourself.

Read This: Toward a Zero Energy Home: A Complete Guide to Energy Self-Sufficiency at Home by David Johnston and Scott Gibson | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

37. Interior Decorating and Design

If you have an eye for design, market your interior decorating talents to building contractors. People purchasing new homes can often be overwhelmed with choices and possibilities. Create questionnaires for each major element and room in the house:

  • How will the homeowner use the home?
  • Are there children?

Depending on how involved your client wants to be, you can also help them purchase furniture, art, plants and more. You can also work with businesses, such as hotels and restaurants, to design their spaces.

Planning, Training and Coaching Business Ideas

38. event planning.

There are a variety of ways to launch an event-planning business, particularly if you have a professional background in planning large gatherings. First, you'll want to hone in on your niche, some of which include:

  • Private parties at people's homes
  • Kids birthday parties
  • Corporate events

If you work with businesses, you must visit every potential event location you plan to work with. Tour each site and learn what's available, including capacity, AV equipment, chairs and tables and more. If you can nail a big party as an event planner, new clients will seek you out.

Read This: Start Your Own Event Planning Business by The Staff at Entrepreneur Media and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

39. Wedding Planning

You will need to be up-to-date on wedding trends, dress styles, popular colors — and almost every other facet of the wedding industry. Offer your customers an à la carte menu of services, from helping them choose flowers, a wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses to picking the venue and hiring the caterer.

Before you open your business, visit area wedding shops and see what kinds of services they provide. Wedding planners need to know every business detail to assure couples that they are in the right hands.

40. Vacation Planning

Some people take great joy in planning their vacations. However, if you're an experienced traveler and know how to save people money, you can still be very much in demand as a vacation planner for individuals or large groups. You can coordinate hotel and flight bookings, arrange transportation, provide daily itineraries and help your clients re-book in case of unforeseen travel crises. There's typically no required certification for this work, but there are courses you can take that will put you and your clients at ease.

41. Private Coaching

Active children and adults alike often seek athletic instruction beyond what they've learned in group formats. If you're highly skilled in an athletic discipline, you can help take athletes to the next level.

Common business options include:

  • Baseball pitching

In terms of qualifications, you should already have some coaching experience and be able to offer high-level instruction. Depending on the community where you're coaching, you may need to have a license to run your business or a certification to use public amenities, like tennis courts, for profit.

42. Personal Training

Many people are looking to improve their overall fitness, and working with a personal trainer is one way to achieve their goals. To get started, you'll need to obtain a certification — especially if you're working with a gym — which will help your clients trust that you know what you're doing and can help them avoid injury. You can advertise your business at gyms and other public places, and having a strong social media and web presence is always helpful.

43. Nutritional Advising

With so many different dieting trends and supplements in the world, a nutritionist can help people better understand the landscape of healthy eating and living. Although nutritionists don't offer medical nutritional counseling or treat illnesses (as a dietitian does), there is still a wide market for the work.

First, determine what kind of nutrition service you want to provide — pediatric, sports, holistic or something else — and then work toward credentialing. At a minimum, you'll need to research the laws for becoming certified in your state and begin taking prerequisite courses to help you become licensed.

44. Life Coaching

Life coaching has exploded in popularity over the past decade, as many people are looking to recreate or realign their personal goals. Life coaches do not provide clinical mental healthcare (a therapist does), but they help people create and use tools to move closer to their ultimate goals. To become a life coach, you'll first want to determine what kind of client you're looking for:

  • People with professional hurdles to clear
  • Folks struggling with romantic endeavors
  • Busy entrepreneurs looking to reclaim work/life balance

You don't technically need certification, though many practitioners take courses and have credentials.

45. Career Coaching

Career coaches help people navigate professional transitions, establish business goals and make the most of their skills. As a career coach, you might help people write cover letters and resumes, find new opportunities, establish business plans and success strategies or hone their niche in a crowded market.

Your background and specialty will determine what clientele you should work with:

  • Recent graduates
  • People looking to start second careers
  • Someone who has been out of the workforce for years

Although there is no standard license or certification, many career coaches have earned credentials or successful careers of their own.

46. Tutoring

If you have a background in education, you can make significant supplemental income — or launch a full-fledged business — by offering tutoring services. Start by choosing the subject area that best fits your strengths. For instance, if you're a professional writer or English teacher, you could offer essay writing help. If you're skilled in math and sciences, you could help high schoolers with algebra or precalculus.

You don't have to be a licensed teacher to offer tutoring services, but being a subject matter expert will make it easier to sell your services to potential customers.

Hospitality Business Ideas

47. private chef service.

If you have experience working in restaurants or other areas of the food and beverage industry, you could tap into the growing private chef market. Whether potential customers are looking to accommodate specific dietary needs or an intimate event with friends, a positive experience should lead to client testimonials and referrals to help you grow your business.

You'll want to make sure you have proper training — either via work experience or formal courses — because your reputation is on the line with every dish you create.

48. Bed and Breakfast / Airbnb

Do you have a room that has its own bathroom and is private from the rest of the living space? Or do you own a property that could function as a small lodging establishment near a tourist area, sports stadium or large venue? Maybe you own a charming home in the country. If so, turn your property into a bed and breakfast or Airbnb rental and welcome guests into a home away from home.

Read This: Start Your Own Bed and Breakfast by Entrepreneur Press and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

49. Catering

Are you experienced with managing large-scale food operations? Consider branching out into catering to serve large events like weddings and corporate banquets. You'll need to make sure you have strong project- and personnel-management skills, because catering requires you to lead a team and deliver exceptional service for clients. You'll also need to obtain the proper licensing from the state in which you operate, similar to the requirements for opening a restaurant.

50. Food Truck

Do you want to deliver a specific type of cuisine to the masses without running an entire restaurant? Build (or purchase) a food truck and take your product on the go. You'll have to obtain appropriate operating licenses, but once you've checked those boxes, you can start working at festivals, breweries and other community events. As your reputation grows, you'll likely book business by word-of-mouth.

51. Brewery

Have you always wanted to run your own brewery? Maybe you've already been experimenting with brewing at home.? If so, opening a brewery could be an option. But first, you'll want to pursue training in brewing sciences and work as an apprentice to someone who knows the craft well. From there, you'll need to conduct a competitive market analysis to make sure there's room for another brewery in your area.

Other Small Business Ideas

52. dog walking.

If you have a flexible schedule and can make multiple house calls, you can generate significant revenue as a dog walker. Dog walkers take pooches out for their daily constitutional one or more times a day, individually or in small groups.

In some cities, like New York, dog walking alone can be a booming business. But, it's more common for dog walkers to offer additional services, including playing with and feeding pets, bringing in newspapers and mail and turning lights on and off.

Read This: Start Your Own Pet Business and More by Entrepreneur Press and Eileen F. Sandlin | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

53. Pet Sitting or Boarding

Most people leave behind their pets when they travel. Although big daycare shelters exist, you can make decent money by offering a more personal pet-sitting service — either by staying at someone's house while they're out of town or by hosting their animal at your place.

Starting a pet-sitting service requires almost nothing in startup costs. Your list of credentials should probably include personal pet ownership — if not currently, at least in the past — and other pet-related experience, including referrals from pet owners whose pets you have taken care of before.

Read This: Start Your Own Pet Sitting Business and More by Entrepreneur Press and Cheryl Kimball | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

54. Pet Grooming

Most animals need a bath or fresh cut from time to time. Most pet owners aren't equipped to do a full grooming themselves. This means there's a target market for professional groomers who do house calls or have a space where people can drop their pets for a few hours.

There are no required certifications, but most groomers begin by taking courses, which are widely available in most states.

55. At-Home Daycare

Childcare needs continue to soar in the United States, and many people prefer for their child to be cared for in a home environment as opposed to a more institutional setting. These factors make the market ripe for a home-based childcare business. The regulations for a home-based child care vary by state, so you'll need to pursue appropriate certifications and training depending on where you live.

Read This: Start Your Own Child-Care Service by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media and Jacquelyn Lynn | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

56. Making Gift Baskets

Finding a niche is the best way to start out in the gift basket business. Are you a dog-lover, horse enthusiast or exercise guru who could put together baskets that hold the things that people with this interest would like?

Do you already create a product that a gift basket could be built around?

You could create custom, place-based gift baskets that could be shipped across the country or sold in a local store, or you can collaborate with local makers to get your business idea off the ground.

57. Hair Styling / Barber Shop

Styling hair or working as a barber is a popular business idea that can be lucrative if you have the right skills and online presence. Typically, a home-based hairstylist business or barber shop would be started by someone with a cosmetology career who wants to go out on their own. If you don't have experience, you can take courses and sharpen your skills by working in someone else's shop. You'll need to obtain the appropriate licenses before you can launch your own business.

58. Nail Technician

If you'd like to offer professional nail styling to clients, most states require that you complete cosmetology school — the number of hours varies depending on where you live. It can be smart to work with someone else before opening your own shop so you learn the skills and techniques you need to be successful.

Once you've completed these steps, you can run your own small business from home or a dedicated storefront.

59. Massage Therapist

Massage therapy can be a successful business, but you must have the proper education and training to not cause injury to your clients. At a minimum, you will want to become certified, which will help you practice safely and ultimately market your qualifications.

Certification courses cover not only human anatomy and physiology and the ways massage affects both, but also how to establish your own successful massage business.

60. Storage Facility

People tend to acquire more things than they can reasonably store in their homes. If you have land, you could make meaningful income by storing large items like recreational vehicles, boats, trailers and campers. Or, if you want to dive deeper into the self-storage business, you could consider opening a storage facility, which would require an increase in overhead costs, appropriate licensing and market analysis.

61. Independent Car Service / Ride-Sharing Driver

Driving experience needed

If you drive for companies like Uber and Lyft, you lose a percentage of your wage to the company. However, there are still market demands for private drivers. If you have a reliable vehicle — or can afford to manage a fleet and other drivers — you can cater to high-end clients not interested in using ride-share apps for their transportation needs.

Newer peer-to-peer car rental services like Turo (think Airbnb for cars) also allow potential business owners to rent out their vehicles to generate incremental income when not in use.

62. Online Reselling Business

Do you have items lurking around your household that you could sell? Or are you scouring Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and thrift stores for deals on items you could flip?Here's a relatively straightforward online business idea: Auction or sell the items you find on one of online marketplaces.

Reselling products online can provide a major source of supplemental income, especially if you're willing to refurbish items and sell them at a higher rate. Anyone can get into this type of business as long as they're willing to hustle.

63. Interpreting or Translating Services

In communities with international populations, dependable interpreters and translators are extremely valuable. If you already speak multiple languages, you could earn extra income as an interpreter if you pursue a certification, which typically involves about 40 hours of training.

From there, you can determine what type of translation service clients you're seeking: business professionals, government officials, folks who need documents translated and more.

How to Get Started

Addressing these foundational "business checklist" elements early on can set a strong course for growth and operational efficiency for your entrepreneurial endeavor.

1. Create a Business Plan

Create a detailed business plan outlining your business goals, strategies for achieving them, market analysis, operational structure and financial projections. This document is crucial for guiding your strategy and securing business loans.

2. Decide on Legal Structure

Choose the appropriate legal structure for your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, corporation), and register your business according to local laws.

Your chosen business structure affects your taxes, liability and business operations, so consult an attorney and a certified accountant before finalizing your decision.

3. Keep Finances Separate

Set up a robust system for managing your finances, including budgeting, bookkeeping and financial forecasting. Consider your startup costs, ongoing expenses and how you will fund your business idea.

Keeping personal and business finances separate is also highly advisable.

  • Open a business bank account and use it for all business-related transactions.
  • Obtain a business credit card for company expenses.
  • Pay yourself a salary from your business account, which then goes into your personal account, rather than directly using business funds for personal expenses.
  • Keep all receipts and document all financial transactions meticulously.

4. Plan Operational Needs

Outline your business' operational needs, including staffing, location, equipment, technology and software needs. Consider how you will efficiently manage the production of goods or delivery of services.

5. Develop a Brand and Marketing Strategy

If through social media platforms, affiliate marketing or search engine optimization, consider how you will establish a strong brand identity and develop a marketing plan to reach your target audience.

This should include your branding elements (logo, color scheme) and your strategies for content creation, promotion and advertising.

6. Operate Within the Law

Ensure you know and comply with all relevant city and state laws, regulations and industry standards. This includes obtaining necessary licenses and permits, understanding labor laws if hiring employees and ensuring data protection and privacy.

7. Build a Support Network

Support networks can provide invaluable advice, feedback and connections. Build a network of mentors, advisors and fellow entrepreneurs.

This network might be close friends, former colleagues or paid mastermind groups.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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7 Funding Ideas to Help Start Your Business

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I've had a lot of clients who are entrepreneurs. They come in excited about an idea they have for a small business and ask for advice on how to get funding to start it up. The first thing I do is tell them about my grandfather. That stops them for a minute, but it also ends up inspiring them. You see, my grandfather ran a successful small business. He was a gifted carpenter who went from teaching at a technical college to becoming the finest and most sought-after furniture maker in his city. I was proud of him for his unique skill, but also for the way he grew his business, making connections in the community and ultimately building wealth for his family. He opened doors for himself and for all of us.

I love that entrepreneurial spirit. And I recognize how important it is to our economy. Indeed,  small businesses generated 12.9 million net new jobs over the past 25 years, accounting for two out of every three jobs added to the economy, according to the Small Business Administration.

But as someone in the financial business, I also know it takes more than a good idea and a unique skill to get a small business off the ground. It takes research, planning—and yes, money—to get started.

So the second thing I may say to someone who wants to start their own business is: show me your plan. Have you researched your market? Do you know your competitors, both direct and indirect? What are the start-up costs? Will you need employees? How will you sustain your business if things get tough? Now let's say you've thought it through. You have the idea, the skill, and your plan of action. The next step is finding the cash.

Here are seven funding ideas to help start your business.

1. bootstrapping.

That means exactly what it sounds like—you fund it yourself. It turns out that over 70% of small business owners use personal savings to fund and grow their businesses, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If you've planned ahead and saved up some seed money, great. But if you're eyeing your 401(k) or other retirement fund as a source of cash, think very carefully—and consider this a last resort. An early withdrawal from a tax-deferred account before age 59½ means you'll pay a 10% penalty on top of ordinary income taxes. Plus, you could even put your retirement at risk. Make sure you understand the potential consequences.

2. Friends and family

This could be a great opportunity to involve your inner circle with your success, and they typically will be your biggest fans. In fact, 38% of startups relied on friends and family over the past five years, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But here again, a word of caution. Consider getting any financial agreements in writing. If it's a loan, spell out the terms (hopefully interest-free!) and how and when you'll pay it back. If it's an investment, consider making it clear there are no guarantees. You don't want money to tear apart your relationships.

3. SBA microloan

The U.S. Small Business Association offers a variety of loans, but most are geared toward more established small businesses. However, SBA microloans, loans of up to $50,000, could be an alternative to tapping into your IRA if you need a smaller amount for something like working capital, inventory, equipment, or a vehicle. These loans often support businesses operating in underserved communities, businesses of a certain size, or female-run businesses. SBA-backed loans offer a variety of benefits, including competitive terms and counseling and education. It's worth finding out if you qualify.

4. Business loan

An alternative to an SBA loan is a business loan from a bank. A bank loan will generally have more restrictions and will most likely require a personal guarantee. But if the terms are reasonable—and borrowing is part of your business plan—it could make sense.

5. Personal loan

If you have a strong personal credit history and low debt balances, you could be able to find a fixed-rate personal loan at a reasonable rate. But be sure to confirm you can use the loan for business. Also realize that if you miss payments or can't repay the loan, it will hurt your credit score.

6. Crowdfunding

Are you social media savvy? This could be a great way to get your idea out in the marketplace as well as get seed money. Crowdfunding platforms, like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, make it easy to launch your campaign and generate buzz about your business. But you can't just ask for the money; you may need to tell a compelling story. Plus, it could help if you can get your own network to share it far and wide. Crowdfunding typically doesn't need big donations—it needs a lot of donors!

7. Angel investor

This may well be every entrepreneur's dream, but the reality is that finding an angel investor could be unlikely as a startup. An established business may be more likely to attract funds from outside investors. Plus, having investors could mean giving up some control or ownership.

Follow your passion by being prepared.

For anyone who is talented, creative, and driven to make their small business work, I say go for it—but be prepared. Write down your business plan. Carefully consider how much funding you need and your best options for getting it. And be wary about borrowing more than you can pay back.

Last but not least, gather your own team of experts to help you. You may have the skill and the drive, but you may not have all the business expertise needed. Whether it's taxes, sales, marketing, or wherever you need help, consider finding someone who shares your passion but complements your skills. Sure, money is important to get your business off the ground. But, carefully thinking it through and having a support system could help you make it the success you envision.

Schwab has solutions for small businesses.

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The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness, or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve.

  • Auto-Portability Providers Racing to Close Retirement Plan Gap

Carlton Fields

For decades, both the federal and state governments have been working to tackle the coverage gaps in our retirement system. In the race for retirement readiness, dark horses like state plans with mandatory adoption requirements, automatic IRA arrangements, auto-enrollment, and auto-escalation of contributions have been central themes. One of the biggest remaining gaps, however, is “leakage” that occurs when people take their funds out of tax-favored retirement plans for purposes other than retirement. These funds are often not used for emergencies or taken out of the account because of need. Indeed, the most significant proportion of leakage occurs when people leave jobs and, because of “friction” (unfamiliar processes and procedures), fail to roll over funds to another tax-deferred plan or IRA.

Section 120 of the Secure 2.0 Act created a prohibited transaction exemption that allows compensation to be paid to “automatic portability providers” (APPs) to help stop such leakage. APPs can facilitate the automatic transfer to a new employer’s plan of employee assets that have been forced into safe harbor IRAs following employee termination. The detailed conditions under which such force-outs into safe harbor IRAs may occur remain the same as prior to the Secure 2.0 Act and still must be satisfied.

This February, however, the Department of Labor proposed regulations that, by way of implementing Section 120, would enable the additional transaction out of the safe harbor IRA to a new employer’s plan, including compensation to the APP assisting an employee/IRA owner. Once a safe harbor IRA is funded, an APP would query other record-keepers continually to find any data matching that of the employee and thus locate the new employer’s plan. When such data is found, and where the new employer has allowed, the APP can automatically roll existing safe harbor IRA funds into that employee’s account at the new employer’s plan.

Saddle Weights for APPs . Under the proposed rules, in addition to disclosure and operational requirements, APPs would need to acknowledge their fiduciary status in writing and would be subject to fiduciary duties. Unlike the existing rules for safe harbor IRAs, the proposed rules provide no fiduciary safe harbor for rollovers to a new employer’s plan by an APP. If an APP doesn’t meet its fiduciary responsibilities, there could be regulatory or civil action against the APP.

Plan Sponsors Also Weighed Down . Moreover, according to the DOL, the decision of an employer to participate in an APP program would constitute a fiduciary act. Where the current regulation for force-out rollovers to safe harbor IRAs provides fiduciary relief for a sponsor in the selection of an IRA provider and the selection of default investments for the IRA, no such safe harbor exists for APP selection by an employer or for the employee’s new employer in allocating rollover dollars into the new plan. The new employer would also be required to disclose the program, including any fees and expenses, to employees in its summary plan description. Because of the lack of fiduciary relief, employers that allowed the transfer of assets into their plans via an APP transfer would also need to review the transaction to ensure the assets were correctly invested into the asset allocation selected by the participant or, if none exists, into the default investment option of the receiving plan.

Overall, the DOL had a real opportunity to encourage auto-portability. Instead of making it a fast track, however, the track is muddied with additional burdens and risks for both employers and APPs. The DOL could have created a safe harbor similar to the one for force-outs to safe harbor IRAs, thus allowing transfers into a new employer’s plan based on “negative consent” by the employee and without subjecting employers and APPs to fiduciary scrutiny, so long as certain prescribed conditions were met. However, the regulation proposed has come up at least a furlong short of the finish line. Under the circumstances, it is unlikely that auto-portability will be widely adopted in this current incarnation.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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Employee Onboarding Guide

Onboarding definition & overview.

Last updated: May 15th, 2024

Quality onboarding is crucial for new employees' long-term success and organizational productivity. Learn why a solid employee onboarding process can make a significant impact on employee experience and retention, plus innovative ideas to approaching welcoming new staff.

Onboarding Guide Navigation

> Definition & Overview

colleagues welcoming new coworker shaking hands and smiling

What Is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into an organization. It includes the orientation process and opportunities for new hires to learn about the organization's structure, culture, vision, mission and values. Onboarding can span one or two days of activities at some companies; others offer a more extensive series of activities spanning months. 

Onboarding is often confused with orientation. While orientation is necessary for completing paperwork and other routine tasks, onboarding is a comprehensive process involving management and other employees and can last up to 12 months. 

Why Is It Important to Get Onboarding Right?

All new employees are onboarded—but the quality of the onboarding makes a difference. Too often, onboarding consists of handing a new employee a pile of forms and having a supervisor or HR professional walk the employee around the premises, making introductions on an ad hoc basis. When onboarding is done well, however, it lays a foundation for long-term success for the employee and the employer. It can improve productivity, build loyalty and engagement, and help employees become successful early in their careers with the new organization.

A study by  Gallup  showed that while only 12 percent of employees felt their company did a great job with onboarding, those employees were nearly three times as likely to say they have the best possible job. Overall, only 29 percent of new hires felt they were prepared and supported to excel in their new role. This leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Other studies consistently show a positive correlation between engaged employees and a company's profitability, turnover rate, safety record, absenteeism, product quality and customer ratings. An effective onboarding plan offers an ideal opportunity to boost employee engagement by, for example, fostering a supportive relationship between new hires and management, reinforcing the company's commitment to helping employees' professional growth and proving that management recognizes the employees' talent.   For further reading learn  how to optimize the onboarding process  and the importance of good onboarding . 

Relatedly, an  employee value proposition  (EVP) defines the value employees will get from working for a particular organization. It embodies the promises made during recruitment and is lived out every day through company culture. Onboarding gives employees their first look at how an organization's EVP may or may not be realized.

Onboarding Process Summary

While there are many ways to design an onboarding program, some components are integral to the process:

1. Preboarding

Consider inviting new employees to tour the facility, sending informational material, providing care packages, and assigning a buddy to help them integrate before their official start date.

2. Orientation

Introduce employees to the organization's structure, vision, mission, and values; review employee handbook and major policies; complete paperwork; cover administrative procedures; and provide other mandatory training.

3. Foundation Building

Ensure the onboarding process consistently embodies an organization's culture, mission, employee value proposition, brand, and other foundational elements, recognizing that assimilating these values takes time.

4. Mentoring and Buddy Systems

In partnership with hiring managers, enlist mentors or buddies to provide new employees with guidance, assistance, and insights into organizational nuances.

View our full guide on onboarding process steps.

Innovative Approaches to Onboarding

Various components of an onboarding program can be delivered using different approaches and methodologies combined to suit the organization and available resources.

Some employers are using innovative practices, such as games, video, and team-building exercises, to get new hires excited about joining the company. They're also working to make sure people can hit the ground running with functional workstations and equipment. Some examples of this include: 

Facebook has its "45-minute rule," which means all new employees can begin to work within 45 minutes of arriving because all of their systems and devices have been set up before they report for their first day.

Leaders at Suffolk Construction, a national construction firm based in Boston, invite entry-level hires to participate in a variety of team-building exercises, including rowing the Charles River. 

New employees at Bedgear, a Farmingdale, N.Y.-based manufacturer of performance bedding, take a walking tour of downtown Manhattan to visit other retailers that sell customized products, including Warby Parker and Samsung.

View more  original onboarding options, shared from 4 HR leaders . 

coworkers playing team building game together with colored plastic rods

Continue Learning About Onboarding

Additional resources:.

  • Checklist for Developing Onboarding/New Hire Practices
  • New Hire Orientation Checklist
  • New-Hire Orientation Process
  • New Hire Survey
  • New Hire Survey – Remote Employee
  • Onboarding Companies and Vendors in the SHRM Vendor Directory  
  • SHRM Store resources on  Onboarding

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Select Send . Copilot will draft a presentation for you!

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With Copilot in PowerPoint, you can create a presentation from an existing Word document. Point Copilot in PowerPoint to your Word document, and it will generate slides, apply layouts, create speaker notes, and choose a theme for you.

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Note:  If the file picker doesn't appear type a front slash (/) to cause it to pop up.

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Leverage word styles to help copilot understand the structure of your document.

By using Styles in Word to organize your document, Copilot will better understand your document structure and how to break it up into slides of a presentation. Structure your content under Titles and Headers when appropriate and Copilot will do its best to generate a presentation for you.

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