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How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

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Every successful business has one thing in common, a good and well-executed business plan. A business plan is more than a document, it is a complete guide that outlines the goals your business wants to achieve, including its financial goals . It helps you analyze results, make strategic decisions, show your business operations and growth.

If you want to start a business or already have one and need to pitch it to investors for funding, writing a good business plan improves your chances of attracting financiers. As a startup, if you want to secure loans from financial institutions, part of the requirements involve submitting your business plan.

Writing a business plan does not have to be a complicated or time-consuming process. In this article, you will learn the step-by-step process for writing a successful business plan.

You will also learn what you need a business plan for, tips and strategies for writing a convincing business plan, business plan examples and templates that will save you tons of time, and the alternatives to the traditional business plan.

Let’s get started.

What Do You Need A Business Plan For?

Businesses create business plans for different purposes such as to secure funds, monitor business growth, measure your marketing strategies, and measure your business success.

1. Secure Funds

One of the primary reasons for writing a business plan is to secure funds, either from financial institutions/agencies or investors.

For you to effectively acquire funds, your business plan must contain the key elements of your business plan . For example, your business plan should include your growth plans, goals you want to achieve, and milestones you have recorded.

A business plan can also attract new business partners that are willing to contribute financially and intellectually. If you are writing a business plan to a bank, your project must show your traction , that is, the proof that you can pay back any loan borrowed.

Also, if you are writing to an investor, your plan must contain evidence that you can effectively utilize the funds you want them to invest in your business. Here, you are using your business plan to persuade a group or an individual that your business is a source of a good investment.

2. Monitor Business Growth

A business plan can help you track cash flows in your business. It steers your business to greater heights. A business plan capable of tracking business growth should contain:

  • The business goals
  • Methods to achieve the goals
  • Time-frame for attaining those goals

A good business plan should guide you through every step in achieving your goals. It can also track the allocation of assets to every aspect of the business. You can tell when you are spending more than you should on a project.

You can compare a business plan to a written GPS. It helps you manage your business and hints at the right time to expand your business.

3. Measure Business Success

A business plan can help you measure your business success rate. Some small-scale businesses are thriving better than more prominent companies because of their track record of success.

Right from the onset of your business operation, set goals and work towards them. Write a plan to guide you through your procedures. Use your plan to measure how much you have achieved and how much is left to attain.

You can also weigh your success by monitoring the position of your brand relative to competitors. On the other hand, a business plan can also show you why you have not achieved a goal. It can tell if you have elapsed the time frame you set to attain a goal.

4. Document Your Marketing Strategies

You can use a business plan to document your marketing plans. Every business should have an effective marketing plan.

Competition mandates every business owner to go the extraordinary mile to remain relevant in the market. Your business plan should contain your marketing strategies that work. You can measure the success rate of your marketing plans.

In your business plan, your marketing strategy must answer the questions:

  • How do you want to reach your target audience?
  • How do you plan to retain your customers?
  • What is/are your pricing plans?
  • What is your budget for marketing?

Business Plan Infographic

How to Write a Business Plan Step-by-Step

1. create your executive summary.

The executive summary is a snapshot of your business or a high-level overview of your business purposes and plans . Although the executive summary is the first section in your business plan, most people write it last. The length of the executive summary is not more than two pages.

Executive Summary of the business plan

Generally, there are nine sections in a business plan, the executive summary should condense essential ideas from the other eight sections.

A good executive summary should do the following:

  • A Snapshot of Growth Potential. Briefly inform the reader about your company and why it will be successful)
  • Contain your Mission Statement which explains what the main objective or focus of your business is.
  • Product Description and Differentiation. Brief description of your products or services and why it is different from other solutions in the market.
  • The Team. Basic information about your company’s leadership team and employees
  • Business Concept. A solid description of what your business does.
  • Target Market. The customers you plan to sell to.
  • Marketing Strategy. Your plans on reaching and selling to your customers
  • Current Financial State. Brief information about what revenue your business currently generates.
  • Projected Financial State. Brief information about what you foresee your business revenue to be in the future.

The executive summary is the make-or-break section of your business plan. If your summary cannot in less than two pages cannot clearly describe how your business will solve a particular problem of your target audience and make a profit, your business plan is set on a faulty foundation.

Avoid using the executive summary to hype your business, instead, focus on helping the reader understand the what and how of your plan.

View the executive summary as an opportunity to introduce your vision for your company. You know your executive summary is powerful when it can answer these key questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What sector or industry are you in?
  • What are your products and services?
  • What is the future of your industry?
  • Is your company scaleable?
  • Who are the owners and leaders of your company? What are their backgrounds and experience levels?
  • What is the motivation for starting your company?
  • What are the next steps?

Writing the executive summary last although it is the most important section of your business plan is an excellent idea. The reason why is because it is a high-level overview of your business plan. It is the section that determines whether potential investors and lenders will read further or not.

The executive summary can be a stand-alone document that covers everything in your business plan. It is not uncommon for investors to request only the executive summary when evaluating your business. If the information in the executive summary impresses them, they will ask for the complete business plan.

If you are writing your business plan for your planning purposes, you do not need to write the executive summary.

2. Add Your Company Overview

The company overview or description is the next section in your business plan after the executive summary. It describes what your business does.

Adding your company overview can be tricky especially when your business is still in the planning stages. Existing businesses can easily summarize their current operations but may encounter difficulties trying to explain what they plan to become.

Your company overview should contain the following:

  • What products and services you will provide
  • Geographical markets and locations your company have a presence
  • What you need to run your business
  • Who your target audience or customers are
  • Who will service your customers
  • Your company’s purpose, mission, and vision
  • Information about your company’s founders
  • Who the founders are
  • Notable achievements of your company so far

When creating a company overview, you have to focus on three basics: identifying your industry, identifying your customer, and explaining the problem you solve.

If you are stuck when creating your company overview, try to answer some of these questions that pertain to you.

  • Who are you targeting? (The answer is not everyone)
  • What pain point does your product or service solve for your customers that they will be willing to spend money on resolving?
  • How does your product or service overcome that pain point?
  • Where is the location of your business?
  • What products, equipment, and services do you need to run your business?
  • How is your company’s product or service different from your competition in the eyes of your customers?
  • How many employees do you need and what skills do you require them to have?

After answering some or all of these questions, you will get more than enough information you need to write your company overview or description section. When writing this section, describe what your company does for your customers.

It describes what your business does

The company description or overview section contains three elements: mission statement, history, and objectives.

  • Mission Statement

The mission statement refers to the reason why your business or company is existing. It goes beyond what you do or sell, it is about the ‘why’. A good mission statement should be emotional and inspirational.

Your mission statement should follow the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid). For example, Shopify’s mission statement is “Make commerce better for everyone.”

When describing your company’s history, make it simple and avoid the temptation of tying it to a defensive narrative. Write it in the manner you would a profile. Your company’s history should include the following information:

  • Founding Date
  • Major Milestones
  • Location(s)
  • Flagship Products or Services
  • Number of Employees
  • Executive Leadership Roles

When you fill in this information, you use it to write one or two paragraphs about your company’s history.

Business Objectives

Your business objective must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.) Failure to clearly identify your business objectives does not inspire confidence and makes it hard for your team members to work towards a common purpose.

3. Perform Market and Competitive Analyses to Proof a Big Enough Business Opportunity

The third step in writing a business plan is the market and competitive analysis section. Every business, no matter the size, needs to perform comprehensive market and competitive analyses before it enters into a market.

Performing market and competitive analyses are critical for the success of your business. It helps you avoid entering the right market with the wrong product, or vice versa. Anyone reading your business plans, especially financiers and financial institutions will want to see proof that there is a big enough business opportunity you are targeting.

This section is where you describe the market and industry you want to operate in and show the big opportunities in the market that your business can leverage to make a profit. If you noticed any unique trends when doing your research, show them in this section.

Market analysis alone is not enough, you have to add competitive analysis to strengthen this section. There are already businesses in the industry or market, how do you plan to take a share of the market from them?

You have to clearly illustrate the competitive landscape in your business plan. Are there areas your competitors are doing well? Are there areas where they are not doing so well? Show it.

Make it clear in this section why you are moving into the industry and what weaknesses are present there that you plan to explain. How are your competitors going to react to your market entry? How do you plan to get customers? Do you plan on taking your competitors' competitors, tap into other sources for customers, or both?

Illustrate the competitive landscape as well. What are your competitors doing well and not so well?

Answering these questions and thoughts will aid your market and competitive analysis of the opportunities in your space. Depending on how sophisticated your industry is, or the expectations of your financiers, you may need to carry out a more comprehensive market and competitive analysis to prove that big business opportunity.

Instead of looking at the market and competitive analyses as one entity, separating them will make the research even more comprehensive.

Market Analysis

Market analysis, boarding speaking, refers to research a business carried out on its industry, market, and competitors. It helps businesses gain a good understanding of their target market and the outlook of their industry. Before starting a company, it is vital to carry out market research to find out if the market is viable.

Market Analysis for Online Business

The market analysis section is a key part of the business plan. It is the section where you identify who your best clients or customers are. You cannot omit this section, without it your business plan is incomplete.

A good market analysis will tell your readers how you fit into the existing market and what makes you stand out. This section requires in-depth research, it will probably be the most time-consuming part of the business plan to write.

  • Market Research

To create a compelling market analysis that will win over investors and financial institutions, you have to carry out thorough market research . Your market research should be targeted at your primary target market for your products or services. Here is what you want to find out about your target market.

  • Your target market’s needs or pain points
  • The existing solutions for their pain points
  • Geographic Location
  • Demographics

The purpose of carrying out a marketing analysis is to get all the information you need to show that you have a solid and thorough understanding of your target audience.

Only after you have fully understood the people you plan to sell your products or services to, can you evaluate correctly if your target market will be interested in your products or services.

You can easily convince interested parties to invest in your business if you can show them you thoroughly understand the market and show them that there is a market for your products or services.

How to Quantify Your Target Market

One of the goals of your marketing research is to understand who your ideal customers are and their purchasing power. To quantify your target market, you have to determine the following:

  • Your Potential Customers: They are the people you plan to target. For example, if you sell accounting software for small businesses , then anyone who runs an enterprise or large business is unlikely to be your customers. Also, individuals who do not have a business will most likely not be interested in your product.
  • Total Households: If you are selling household products such as heating and air conditioning systems, determining the number of total households is more important than finding out the total population in the area you want to sell to. The logic is simple, people buy the product but it is the household that uses it.
  • Median Income: You need to know the median income of your target market. If you target a market that cannot afford to buy your products and services, your business will not last long.
  • Income by Demographics: If your potential customers belong to a certain age group or gender, determining income levels by demographics is necessary. For example, if you sell men's clothes, your target audience is men.

What Does a Good Market Analysis Entail?

Your business does not exist on its own, it can only flourish within an industry and alongside competitors. Market analysis takes into consideration your industry, target market, and competitors. Understanding these three entities will drastically improve your company’s chances of success.

Market Analysis Steps

You can view your market analysis as an examination of the market you want to break into and an education on the emerging trends and themes in that market. Good market analyses include the following:

  • Industry Description. You find out about the history of your industry, the current and future market size, and who the largest players/companies are in your industry.
  • Overview of Target Market. You research your target market and its characteristics. Who are you targeting? Note, it cannot be everyone, it has to be a specific group. You also have to find out all information possible about your customers that can help you understand how and why they make buying decisions.
  • Size of Target Market: You need to know the size of your target market, how frequently they buy, and the expected quantity they buy so you do not risk overproducing and having lots of bad inventory. Researching the size of your target market will help you determine if it is big enough for sustained business or not.
  • Growth Potential: Before picking a target market, you want to be sure there are lots of potential for future growth. You want to avoid going for an industry that is declining slowly or rapidly with almost zero growth potential.
  • Market Share Potential: Does your business stand a good chance of taking a good share of the market?
  • Market Pricing and Promotional Strategies: Your market analysis should give you an idea of the price point you can expect to charge for your products and services. Researching your target market will also give you ideas of pricing strategies you can implement to break into the market or to enjoy maximum profits.
  • Potential Barriers to Entry: One of the biggest benefits of conducting market analysis is that it shows you every potential barrier to entry your business will likely encounter. It is a good idea to discuss potential barriers to entry such as changing technology. It informs readers of your business plan that you understand the market.
  • Research on Competitors: You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and how you can exploit them for the benefit of your business. Find patterns and trends among your competitors that make them successful, discover what works and what doesn’t, and see what you can do better.

The market analysis section is not just for talking about your target market, industry, and competitors. You also have to explain how your company can fill the hole you have identified in the market.

Here are some questions you can answer that can help you position your product or service in a positive light to your readers.

  • Is your product or service of superior quality?
  • What additional features do you offer that your competitors do not offer?
  • Are you targeting a ‘new’ market?

Basically, your market analysis should include an analysis of what already exists in the market and an explanation of how your company fits into the market.

Competitive Analysis

In the competitive analysis section, y ou have to understand who your direct and indirect competitions are, and how successful they are in the marketplace. It is the section where you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, the advantage(s) they possess in the market and show the unique features or qualities that make you different from your competitors.

Four Steps to Create a Competitive Marketing Analysis

Many businesses do market analysis and competitive analysis together. However, to fully understand what the competitive analysis entails, it is essential to separate it from the market analysis.

Competitive analysis for your business can also include analysis on how to overcome barriers to entry in your target market.

The primary goal of conducting a competitive analysis is to distinguish your business from your competitors. A strong competitive analysis is essential if you want to convince potential funding sources to invest in your business. You have to show potential investors and lenders that your business has what it takes to compete in the marketplace successfully.

Competitive analysis will s how you what the strengths of your competition are and what they are doing to maintain that advantage.

When doing your competitive research, you first have to identify your competitor and then get all the information you can about them. The idea of spending time to identify your competitor and learn everything about them may seem daunting but it is well worth it.

Find answers to the following questions after you have identified who your competitors are.

  • What are your successful competitors doing?
  • Why is what they are doing working?
  • Can your business do it better?
  • What are the weaknesses of your successful competitors?
  • What are they not doing well?
  • Can your business turn its weaknesses into strengths?
  • How good is your competitors’ customer service?
  • Where do your competitors invest in advertising?
  • What sales and pricing strategies are they using?
  • What marketing strategies are they using?
  • What kind of press coverage do they get?
  • What are their customers saying about your competitors (both the positive and negative)?

If your competitors have a website, it is a good idea to visit their websites for more competitors’ research. Check their “About Us” page for more information.

How to Perform Competitive Analysis

If you are presenting your business plan to investors, you need to clearly distinguish yourself from your competitors. Investors can easily tell when you have not properly researched your competitors.

Take time to think about what unique qualities or features set you apart from your competitors. If you do not have any direct competition offering your product to the market, it does not mean you leave out the competitor analysis section blank. Instead research on other companies that are providing a similar product, or whose product is solving the problem your product solves.

The next step is to create a table listing the top competitors you want to include in your business plan. Ensure you list your business as the last and on the right. What you just created is known as the competitor analysis table.

Direct vs Indirect Competition

You cannot know if your product or service will be a fit for your target market if you have not understood your business and the competitive landscape.

There is no market you want to target where you will not encounter competition, even if your product is innovative. Including competitive analysis in your business plan is essential.

If you are entering an established market, you need to explain how you plan to differentiate your products from the available options in the market. Also, include a list of few companies that you view as your direct competitors The competition you face in an established market is your direct competition.

In situations where you are entering a market with no direct competition, it does not mean there is no competition there. Consider your indirect competition that offers substitutes for the products or services you offer.

For example, if you sell an innovative SaaS product, let us say a project management software , a company offering time management software is your indirect competition.

There is an easy way to find out who your indirect competitors are in the absence of no direct competitors. You simply have to research how your potential customers are solving the problems that your product or service seeks to solve. That is your direct competition.

Factors that Differentiate Your Business from the Competition

There are three main factors that any business can use to differentiate itself from its competition. They are cost leadership, product differentiation, and market segmentation.

1. Cost Leadership

A strategy you can impose to maximize your profits and gain an edge over your competitors. It involves offering lower prices than what the majority of your competitors are offering.

A common practice among businesses looking to enter into a market where there are dominant players is to use free trials or pricing to attract as many customers as possible to their offer.

2. Product Differentiation

Your product or service should have a unique selling proposition (USP) that your competitors do not have or do not stress in their marketing.

Part of the marketing strategy should involve making your products unique and different from your competitors. It does not have to be different from your competitors, it can be the addition to a feature or benefit that your competitors do not currently have.

3. Market Segmentation

As a new business seeking to break into an industry, you will gain more success from focusing on a specific niche or target market, and not the whole industry.

If your competitors are focused on a general need or target market, you can differentiate yourself from them by having a small and hyper-targeted audience. For example, if your competitors are selling men’s clothes in their online stores , you can sell hoodies for men.

4. Define Your Business and Management Structure

The next step in your business plan is your business and management structure. It is the section where you describe the legal structure of your business and the team running it.

Your business is only as good as the management team that runs it, while the management team can only strive when there is a proper business and management structure in place.

If your company is a sole proprietor or a limited liability company (LLC), a general or limited partnership, or a C or an S corporation, state it clearly in this section.

Use an organizational chart to show the management structure in your business. Clearly show who is in charge of what area in your company. It is where you show how each key manager or team leader’s unique experience can contribute immensely to the success of your company. You can also opt to add the resumes and CVs of the key players in your company.

The business and management structure section should show who the owner is, and other owners of the businesses (if the business has other owners). For businesses or companies with multiple owners, include the percent ownership of the various owners and clearly show the extent of each others’ involvement in the company.

Investors want to know who is behind the company and the team running it to determine if it has the right management to achieve its set goals.

Management Team

The management team section is where you show that you have the right team in place to successfully execute the business operations and ideas. Take time to create the management structure for your business. Think about all the important roles and responsibilities that you need managers for to grow your business.

Include brief bios of each key team member and ensure you highlight only the relevant information that is needed. If your team members have background industry experience or have held top positions for other companies and achieved success while filling that role, highlight it in this section.

Create Management Team For Business Plan

A common mistake that many startups make is assigning C-level titles such as (CMO and CEO) to everyone on their team. It is unrealistic for a small business to have those titles. While it may look good on paper for the ego of your team members, it can prevent investors from investing in your business.

Instead of building an unrealistic management structure that does not fit your business reality, it is best to allow business titles to grow as the business grows. Starting everyone at the top leaves no room for future change or growth, which is bad for productivity.

Your management team does not have to be complete before you start writing your business plan. You can have a complete business plan even when there are managerial positions that are empty and need filling.

If you have management gaps in your team, simply show the gaps and indicate you are searching for the right candidates for the role(s). Investors do not expect you to have a full management team when you are just starting your business.

Key Questions to Answer When Structuring Your Management Team

  • Who are the key leaders?
  • What experiences, skills, and educational backgrounds do you expect your key leaders to have?
  • Do your key leaders have industry experience?
  • What positions will they fill and what duties will they perform in those positions?
  • What level of authority do the key leaders have and what are their responsibilities?
  • What is the salary for the various management positions that will attract the ideal candidates?

Additional Tips for Writing the Management Structure Section

1. Avoid Adding ‘Ghost’ Names to Your Management Team

There is always that temptation to include a ‘ghost’ name to your management team to attract and influence investors to invest in your business. Although the presence of these celebrity management team members may attract the attention of investors, it can cause your business to lose any credibility if you get found out.

Seasoned investors will investigate further the members of your management team before committing fully to your business If they find out that the celebrity name used does not play any actual role in your business, they will not invest and may write you off as dishonest.

2. Focus on Credentials But Pay Extra Attention to the Roles

Investors want to know the experience that your key team members have to determine if they can successfully reach the company’s growth and financial goals.

While it is an excellent boost for your key management team to have the right credentials, you also want to pay extra attention to the roles they will play in your company.

Organizational Chart

Organizational chart Infographic

Adding an organizational chart in this section of your business plan is not necessary, you can do it in your business plan’s appendix.

If you are exploring funding options, it is not uncommon to get asked for your organizational chart. The function of an organizational chart goes beyond raising money, you can also use it as a useful planning tool for your business.

An organizational chart can help you identify how best to structure your management team for maximum productivity and point you towards key roles you need to fill in the future.

You can use the organizational chart to show your company’s internal management structure such as the roles and responsibilities of your management team, and relationships that exist between them.

5. Describe Your Product and Service Offering

In your business plan, you have to describe what you sell or the service you plan to offer. It is the next step after defining your business and management structure. The products and services section is where you sell the benefits of your business.

Here you have to explain how your product or service will benefit your customers and describe your product lifecycle. It is also the section where you write down your plans for intellectual property like patent filings and copyrighting.

The research and development that you are undertaking for your product or service need to be explained in detail in this section. However, do not get too technical, sell the general idea and its benefits.

If you have any diagrams or intricate designs of your product or service, do not include them in the products and services section. Instead, leave them for the addendum page. Also, if you are leaving out diagrams or designs for the addendum, ensure you add this phrase “For more detail, visit the addendum Page #.”

Your product and service section in your business plan should include the following:

  • A detailed explanation that clearly shows how your product or service works.
  • The pricing model for your product or service.
  • Your business’ sales and distribution strategy.
  • The ideal customers that want your product or service.
  • The benefits of your products and services.
  • Reason(s) why your product or service is a better alternative to what your competitors are currently offering in the market.
  • Plans for filling the orders you receive
  • If you have current or pending patents, copyrights, and trademarks for your product or service, you can also discuss them in this section.

What to Focus On When Describing the Benefits, Lifecycle, and Production Process of Your Products or Services

In the products and services section, you have to distill the benefits, lifecycle, and production process of your products and services.

When describing the benefits of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Unique features
  • Translating the unique features into benefits
  • The emotional, psychological, and practical payoffs to attract customers
  • Intellectual property rights or any patents

When describing the product life cycle of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Upsells, cross-sells, and down-sells
  • Time between purchases
  • Plans for research and development.

When describing the production process for your products or services, you need to think about the following:

  • The creation of new or existing products and services.
  • The sources for the raw materials or components you need for production.
  • Assembling the products
  • Maintaining quality control
  • Supply-chain logistics (receiving the raw materials and delivering the finished products)
  • The day-to-day management of the production processes, bookkeeping, and inventory.

Tips for Writing the Products or Services Section of Your Business Plan

1. Avoid Technical Descriptions and Industry Buzzwords

The products and services section of your business plan should clearly describe the products and services that your company provides. However, it is not a section to include technical jargons that anyone outside your industry will not understand.

A good practice is to remove highly detailed or technical descriptions in favor of simple terms. Industry buzzwords are not necessary, if there are simpler terms you can use, then use them. If you plan to use your business plan to source funds, making the product or service section so technical will do you no favors.

2. Describe How Your Products or Services Differ from Your Competitors

When potential investors look at your business plan, they want to know how the products and services you are offering differ from that of your competition. Differentiating your products or services from your competition in a way that makes your solution more attractive is critical.

If you are going the innovative path and there is no market currently for your product or service, you need to describe in this section why the market needs your product or service.

For example, overnight delivery was a niche business that only a few companies were participating in. Federal Express (FedEx) had to show in its business plan that there was a large opportunity for that service and they justified why the market needed that service.

3. Long or Short Products or Services Section

Should your products or services section be short? Does the long products or services section attract more investors?

There are no straightforward answers to these questions. Whether your products or services section should be long or relatively short depends on the nature of your business.

If your business is product-focused, then automatically you need to use more space to describe the details of your products. However, if the product your business sells is a commodity item that relies on competitive pricing or other pricing strategies, you do not have to use up so much space to provide significant details about the product.

Likewise, if you are selling a commodity that is available in numerous outlets, then you do not have to spend time on writing a long products or services section.

The key to the success of your business is most likely the effectiveness of your marketing strategies compared to your competitors. Use more space to address that section.

If you are creating a new product or service that the market does not know about, your products or services section can be lengthy. The reason why is because you need to explain everything about the product or service such as the nature of the product, its use case, and values.

A short products or services section for an innovative product or service will not give the readers enough information to properly evaluate your business.

4. Describe Your Relationships with Vendors or Suppliers

Your business will rely on vendors or suppliers to supply raw materials or the components needed to make your products. In your products and services section, describe your relationships with your vendors and suppliers fully.

Avoid the mistake of relying on only one supplier or vendor. If that supplier or vendor fails to supply or goes out of business, you can easily face supply problems and struggle to meet your demands. Plan to set up multiple vendor or supplier relationships for better business stability.

5. Your Primary Goal Is to Convince Your Readers

The primary goal of your business plan is to convince your readers that your business is viable and to create a guide for your business to follow. It applies to the products and services section.

When drafting this section, think like the reader. See your reader as someone who has no idea about your products and services. You are using the products and services section to provide the needed information to help your reader understand your products and services. As a result, you have to be clear and to the point.

While you want to educate your readers about your products or services, you also do not want to bore them with lots of technical details. Show your products and services and not your fancy choice of words.

Your products and services section should provide the answer to the “what” question for your business. You and your management team may run the business, but it is your products and services that are the lifeblood of the business.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing your Products and Services Section

Answering these questions can help you write your products and services section quickly and in a way that will appeal to your readers.

  • Are your products existing on the market or are they still in the development stage?
  • What is your timeline for adding new products and services to the market?
  • What are the positives that make your products and services different from your competitors?
  • Do your products and services have any competitive advantage that your competitors’ products and services do not currently have?
  • Do your products or services have any competitive disadvantages that you need to overcome to compete with your competitors? If your answer is yes, state how you plan to overcome them,
  • How much does it cost to produce your products or services? How much do you plan to sell it for?
  • What is the price for your products and services compared to your competitors? Is pricing an issue?
  • What are your operating costs and will it be low enough for you to compete with your competitors and still take home a reasonable profit margin?
  • What is your plan for acquiring your products? Are you involved in the production of your products or services?
  • Are you the manufacturer and produce all the components you need to create your products? Do you assemble your products by using components supplied by other manufacturers? Do you purchase your products directly from suppliers or wholesalers?
  • Do you have a steady supply of products that you need to start your business? (If your business is yet to kick-off)
  • How do you plan to distribute your products or services to the market?

You can also hint at the marketing or promotion plans you have for your products or services such as how you plan to build awareness or retain customers. The next section is where you can go fully into details about your business’s marketing and sales plan.

6. Show and Explain Your Marketing and Sales Plan

Providing great products and services is wonderful, but it means nothing if you do not have a marketing and sales plan to inform your customers about them. Your marketing and sales plan is critical to the success of your business.

The sales and marketing section is where you show and offer a detailed explanation of your marketing and sales plan and how you plan to execute it. It covers your pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success, and the benefits of your products and services.

There are several ways you can approach your marketing and sales strategy. Ideally, your marketing and sales strategy has to fit the unique needs of your business.

In this section, you describe how the plans your business has for attracting and retaining customers, and the exact process for making a sale happen. It is essential to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales plans because you are still going to reference this section when you are making financial projections for your business.

Outline Your Business’ Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The sales and marketing section is where you outline your business’s unique selling proposition (USP). When you are developing your unique selling proposition, think about the strongest reasons why people should buy from you over your competition. That reason(s) is most likely a good fit to serve as your unique selling proposition (USP).

Target Market and Target Audience

Plans on how to get your products or services to your target market and how to get your target audience to buy them go into this section. You also highlight the strengths of your business here, particularly what sets them apart from your competition.

Target Market Vs Target Audience

Before you start writing your marketing and sales plan, you need to have properly defined your target audience and fleshed out your buyer persona. If you do not first understand the individual you are marketing to, your marketing and sales plan will lack any substance and easily fall.

Creating a Smart Marketing and Sales Plan

Marketing your products and services is an investment that requires you to spend money. Like any other investment, you have to generate a good return on investment (ROI) to justify using that marketing and sales plan. Good marketing and sales plans bring in high sales and profits to your company.

Avoid spending money on unproductive marketing channels. Do your research and find out the best marketing and sales plan that works best for your company.

Your marketing and sales plan can be broken into different parts: your positioning statement, pricing, promotion, packaging, advertising, public relations, content marketing, social media, and strategic alliances.

Your Positioning Statement

Your positioning statement is the first part of your marketing and sales plan. It refers to the way you present your company to your customers.

Are you the premium solution, the low-price solution, or are you the intermediary between the two extremes in the market? What do you offer that your competitors do not that can give you leverage in the market?

Before you start writing your positioning statement, you need to spend some time evaluating the current market conditions. Here are some questions that can help you to evaluate the market

  • What are the unique features or benefits that you offer that your competitors lack?
  • What are your customers’ primary needs and wants?
  • Why should a customer choose you over your competition? How do you plan to differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • How does your company’s solution compare with other solutions in the market?

After answering these questions, then you can start writing your positioning statement. Your positioning statement does not have to be in-depth or too long.

All you need to explain with your positioning statement are two focus areas. The first is the position of your company within the competitive landscape. The other focus area is the core value proposition that sets your company apart from other alternatives that your ideal customer might consider.

Here is a simple template you can use to develop a positioning statement.

For [description of target market] who [need of target market], [product or service] [how it meets the need]. Unlike [top competition], it [most essential distinguishing feature].

For example, let’s create the positioning statement for fictional accounting software and QuickBooks alternative , TBooks.

“For small business owners who need accounting services, TBooks is an accounting software that helps small businesses handle their small business bookkeeping basics quickly and easily. Unlike Wave, TBooks gives small businesses access to live sessions with top accountants.”

You can edit this positioning statement sample and fill it with your business details.

After writing your positioning statement, the next step is the pricing of your offerings. The overall positioning strategy you set in your positioning statement will often determine how you price your products or services.

Pricing is a powerful tool that sends a strong message to your customers. Failure to get your pricing strategy right can make or mar your business. If you are targeting a low-income audience, setting a premium price can result in low sales.

You can use pricing to communicate your positioning to your customers. For example, if you are offering a product at a premium price, you are sending a message to your customers that the product belongs to the premium category.

Basic Rules to Follow When Pricing Your Offering

Setting a price for your offering involves more than just putting a price tag on it. Deciding on the right pricing for your offering requires following some basic rules. They include covering your costs, primary and secondary profit center pricing, and matching the market rate.

  • Covering Your Costs: The price you set for your products or service should be more than it costs you to produce and deliver them. Every business has the same goal, to make a profit. Depending on the strategy you want to use, there are exceptions to this rule. However, the vast majority of businesses follow this rule.
  • Primary and Secondary Profit Center Pricing: When a company sets its price above the cost of production, it is making that product its primary profit center. A company can also decide not to make its initial price its primary profit center by selling below or at even with its production cost. It rather depends on the support product or even maintenance that is associated with the initial purchase to make its profit. The initial price thus became its secondary profit center.
  • Matching the Market Rate: A good rule to follow when pricing your products or services is to match your pricing with consumer demand and expectations. If you price your products or services beyond the price your customer perceives as the ideal price range, you may end up with no customers. Pricing your products too low below what your customer perceives as the ideal price range may lead to them undervaluing your offering.

Pricing Strategy

Your pricing strategy influences the price of your offering. There are several pricing strategies available for you to choose from when examining the right pricing strategy for your business. They include cost-plus pricing, market-based pricing, value pricing, and more.

Pricing strategy influences the price of offering

  • Cost-plus Pricing: This strategy is one of the simplest and oldest pricing strategies. Here you consider the cost of producing a unit of your product and then add a profit to it to arrive at your market price. It is an effective pricing strategy for manufacturers because it helps them cover their initial costs. Another name for the cost-plus pricing strategy is the markup pricing strategy.
  • Market-based Pricing: This pricing strategy analyses the market including competitors’ pricing and then sets a price based on what the market is expecting. With this pricing strategy, you can either set your price at the low-end or high-end of the market.
  • Value Pricing: This pricing strategy involves setting a price based on the value you are providing to your customer. When adopting a value-based pricing strategy, you have to set a price that your customers are willing to pay. Service-based businesses such as small business insurance providers , luxury goods sellers, and the fashion industry use this pricing strategy.

After carefully sorting out your positioning statement and pricing, the next item to look at is your promotional strategy. Your promotional strategy explains how you plan on communicating with your customers and prospects.

As a business, you must measure all your costs, including the cost of your promotions. You also want to measure how much sales your promotions bring for your business to determine its usefulness. Promotional strategies or programs that do not lead to profit need to be removed.

There are different types of promotional strategies you can adopt for your business, they include advertising, public relations, and content marketing.

Advertising

Your business plan should include your advertising plan which can be found in the marketing and sales plan section. You need to include an overview of your advertising plans such as the areas you plan to spend money on to advertise your business and offers.

Ensure that you make it clear in this section if your business will be advertising online or using the more traditional offline media, or the combination of both online and offline media. You can also include the advertising medium you want to use to raise awareness about your business and offers.

Some common online advertising mediums you can use include social media ads, landing pages, sales pages, SEO, Pay-Per-Click, emails, Google Ads, and others. Some common traditional and offline advertising mediums include word of mouth, radios, direct mail, televisions, flyers, billboards, posters, and others.

A key component of your advertising strategy is how you plan to measure the effectiveness and success of your advertising campaign. There is no point in sticking with an advertising plan or medium that does not produce results for your business in the long run.

Public Relations

A great way to reach your customers is to get the media to cover your business or product. Publicity, especially good ones, should be a part of your marketing and sales plan. In this section, show your plans for getting prominent reviews of your product from reputable publications and sources.

Your business needs that exposure to grow. If public relations is a crucial part of your promotional strategy, provide details about your public relations plan here.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a popular promotional strategy used by businesses to inform and attract their customers. It is about teaching and educating your prospects on various topics of interest in your niche, it does not just involve informing them about the benefits and features of the products and services you have,

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Businesses publish content usually for free where they provide useful information, tips, and advice so that their target market can be made aware of the importance of their products and services. Content marketing strategies seek to nurture prospects into buyers over time by simply providing value.

Your company can create a blog where it will be publishing content for its target market. You will need to use the best website builder such as Wix and Squarespace and the best web hosting services such as Bluehost, Hostinger, and other Bluehost alternatives to create a functional blog or website.

If content marketing is a crucial part of your promotional strategy (as it should be), detail your plans under promotions.

Including high-quality images of the packaging of your product in your business plan is a lovely idea. You can add the images of the packaging of that product in the marketing and sales plan section. If you are not selling a product, then you do not need to include any worry about the physical packaging of your product.

When organizing the packaging section of your business plan, you can answer the following questions to make maximum use of this section.

  • Is your choice of packaging consistent with your positioning strategy?
  • What key value proposition does your packaging communicate? (It should reflect the key value proposition of your business)
  • How does your packaging compare to that of your competitors?

Social Media

Your 21st-century business needs to have a good social media presence. Not having one is leaving out opportunities for growth and reaching out to your prospect.

You do not have to join the thousands of social media platforms out there. What you need to do is join the ones that your customers are active on and be active there.

Most popular social media platforms

Businesses use social media to provide information about their products such as promotions, discounts, the benefits of their products, and content on their blogs.

Social media is also a platform for engaging with your customers and getting feedback about your products or services. Make no mistake, more and more of your prospects are using social media channels to find more information about companies.

You need to consider the social media channels you want to prioritize your business (prioritize the ones your customers are active in) and your branding plans in this section.

Choosing the right social media platform

Strategic Alliances

If your company plans to work closely with other companies as part of your sales and marketing plan, include it in this section. Prove details about those partnerships in your business plan if you have already established them.

Strategic alliances can be beneficial for all parties involved including your company. Working closely with another company in the form of a partnership can provide access to a different target market segment for your company.

The company you are partnering with may also gain access to your target market or simply offer a new product or service (that of your company) to its customers.

Mutually beneficial partnerships can cover the weaknesses of one company with the strength of another. You should consider strategic alliances with companies that sell complimentary products to yours. For example, if you provide printers, you can partner with a company that produces ink since the customers that buy printers from you will also need inks for printing.

Steps Involved in Creating a Marketing and Sales Plan

1. Focus on Your Target Market

Identify who your customers are, the market you want to target. Then determine the best ways to get your products or services to your potential customers.

2. Evaluate Your Competition

One of the goals of having a marketing plan is to distinguish yourself from your competition. You cannot stand out from them without first knowing them in and out.

You can know your competitors by gathering information about their products, pricing, service, and advertising campaigns.

These questions can help you know your competition.

  • What makes your competition successful?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What are customers saying about your competition?

3. Consider Your Brand

Customers' perception of your brand has a strong impact on your sales. Your marketing and sales plan should seek to bolster the image of your brand. Before you start marketing your business, think about the message you want to pass across about your business and your products and services.

4. Focus on Benefits

The majority of your customers do not view your product in terms of features, what they want to know is the benefits and solutions your product offers. Think about the problems your product solves and the benefits it delivers, and use it to create the right sales and marketing message.

Your marketing plan should focus on what you want your customer to get instead of what you provide. Identify those benefits in your marketing and sales plan.

5. Focus on Differentiation

Your marketing and sales plan should look for a unique angle they can take that differentiates your business from the competition, even if the products offered are similar. Some good areas of differentiation you can use are your benefits, pricing, and features.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing Your Marketing and Sales Plan

  • What is your company’s budget for sales and marketing campaigns?
  • What key metrics will you use to determine if your marketing plans are successful?
  • What are your alternatives if your initial marketing efforts do not succeed?
  • Who are the sales representatives you need to promote your products or services?
  • What are the marketing and sales channels you plan to use? How do you plan to get your products in front of your ideal customers?
  • Where will you sell your products?

You may want to include samples of marketing materials you plan to use such as print ads, website descriptions, and social media ads. While it is not compulsory to include these samples, it can help you better communicate your marketing and sales plan and objectives.

The purpose of the marketing and sales section is to answer this question “How will you reach your customers?” If you cannot convincingly provide an answer to this question, you need to rework your marketing and sales section.

7. Clearly Show Your Funding Request

If you are writing your business plan to ask for funding from investors or financial institutions, the funding request section is where you will outline your funding requirements. The funding request section should answer the question ‘How much money will your business need in the near future (3 to 5 years)?’

A good funding request section will clearly outline and explain the amount of funding your business needs over the next five years. You need to know the amount of money your business needs to make an accurate funding request.

Also, when writing your funding request, provide details of how the funds will be used over the period. Specify if you want to use the funds to buy raw materials or machinery, pay salaries, pay for advertisements, and cover specific bills such as rent and electricity.

In addition to explaining what you want to use the funds requested for, you need to clearly state the projected return on investment (ROI) . Investors and creditors want to know if your business can generate profit for them if they put funds into it.

Ensure you do not inflate the figures and stay as realistic as possible. Investors and financial institutions you are seeking funds from will do their research before investing money in your business.

If you are not sure of an exact number to request from, you can use some range of numbers as rough estimates. Add a best-case scenario and a work-case scenario to your funding request. Also, include a description of your strategic future financial plans such as selling your business or paying off debts.

Funding Request: Debt or Equity?

When making your funding request, specify the type of funding you want. Do you want debt or equity? Draw out the terms that will be applicable for the funding, and the length of time the funding request will cover.

Case for Equity

If your new business has not yet started generating profits, you are most likely preparing to sell equity in your business to raise capital at the early stage. Equity here refers to ownership. In this case, you are selling a portion of your company to raise capital.

Although this method of raising capital for your business does not put your business in debt, keep in mind that an equity owner may expect to play a key role in company decisions even if he does not hold a major stake in the company.

Most equity sales for startups are usually private transactions . If you are making a funding request by offering equity in exchange for funding, let the investor know that they will be paid a dividend (a share of the company’s profit). Also, let the investor know the process for selling their equity in your business.

Case for Debt

You may decide not to offer equity in exchange for funds, instead, you make a funding request with the promise to pay back the money borrowed at the agreed time frame.

When making a funding request with an agreement to pay back, note that you will have to repay your creditors both the principal amount borrowed and the interest on it. Financial institutions offer this type of funding for businesses.

Large companies combine both equity and debt in their capital structure. When drafting your business plan, decide if you want to offer both or one over the other.

Before you sell equity in exchange for funding in your business, consider if you are willing to accept not being in total control of your business. Also, before you seek loans in your funding request section, ensure that the terms of repayment are favorable.

You should set a clear timeline in your funding request so that potential investors and creditors can know what you are expecting. Some investors and creditors may agree to your funding request and then delay payment for longer than 30 days, meanwhile, your business needs an immediate cash injection to operate efficiently.

Additional Tips for Writing the Funding Request Section of your Business Plan

The funding request section is not necessary for every business, it is only needed by businesses who plan to use their business plan to secure funding.

If you are adding the funding request section to your business plan, provide an itemized summary of how you plan to use the funds requested. Hiring a lawyer, accountant, or other professionals may be necessary for the proper development of this section.

You should also gather and use financial statements that add credibility and support to your funding requests. Ensure that the financial statements you use should include your projected financial data such as projected cash flows, forecast statements, and expenditure budgets.

If you are an existing business, include all historical financial statements such as cash flow statements, balance sheets and income statements .

Provide monthly and quarterly financial statements for a year. If your business has records that date back beyond the one-year mark, add the yearly statements of those years. These documents are for the appendix section of your business plan.

8. Detail Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projections

If you used the funding request section in your business plan, supplement it with a financial plan, metrics, and projections. This section paints a picture of the past performance of your business and then goes ahead to make an informed projection about its future.

The goal of this section is to convince readers that your business is going to be a financial success. It outlines your business plan to generate enough profit to repay the loan (with interest if applicable) and to generate a decent return on investment for investors.

If you have an existing business already in operation, use this section to demonstrate stability through finance. This section should include your cash flow statements, balance sheets, and income statements covering the last three to five years. If your business has some acceptable collateral that you can use to acquire loans, list it in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

Apart from current financial statements, this section should also contain a prospective financial outlook that spans the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, and capital expenditure budget.

If your business is new and is not yet generating profit, use clear and realistic projections to show the potentials of your business.

When drafting this section, research industry norms and the performance of comparable businesses. Your financial projections should cover at least five years. State the logic behind your financial projections. Remember you can always make adjustments to this section as the variables change.

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section create a baseline which your business can either exceed or fail to reach. If your business fails to reach your projections in this section, you need to understand why it failed.

Investors and loan managers spend a lot of time going through the financial plan, metrics, and projection section compared to other parts of the business plan. Ensure you spend time creating credible financial analyses for your business in this section.

Many entrepreneurs find this section daunting to write. You do not need a business degree to create a solid financial forecast for your business. Business finances, especially for startups, are not as complicated as they seem. There are several online tools and templates that make writing this section so much easier.

Use Graphs and Charts

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business. Charts and images make it easier to communicate your finances.

Accuracy in this section is key, ensure you carefully analyze your past financial statements properly before making financial projects.

Address the Risk Factors and Show Realistic Financial Projections

Keep your financial plan, metrics, and projection realistic. It is okay to be optimistic in your financial projection, however, you have to justify it.

You should also address the various risk factors associated with your business in this section. Investors want to know the potential risks involved, show them. You should also show your plans for mitigating those risks.

What You Should In The Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection Section of Your Business Plan

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section of your business plan should have monthly sales and revenue forecasts for the first year. It should also include annual projections that cover 3 to 5 years.

A three-year projection is a basic requirement to have in your business plan. However, some investors may request a five-year forecast.

Your business plan should include the following financial statements: sales forecast, personnel plan, income statement, income statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, and an exit strategy.

1. Sales Forecast

Sales forecast refers to your projections about the number of sales your business is going to record over the next few years. It is typically broken into several rows, with each row assigned to a core product or service that your business is offering.

One common mistake people make in their business plan is to break down the sales forecast section into long details. A sales forecast should forecast the high-level details.

For example, if you are forecasting sales for a payroll software provider, you could break down your forecast into target market segments or subscription categories.

Benefits of Sales Forecasting

Your sales forecast section should also have a corresponding row for each sales row to cover the direct cost or Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). The objective of these rows is to show the expenses that your business incurs in making and delivering your product or service.

Note that your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) should only cover those direct costs incurred when making your products. Other indirect expenses such as insurance, salaries, payroll tax, and rent should not be included.

For example, the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) for a restaurant is the cost of ingredients while for a consulting company it will be the cost of paper and other presentation materials.

Factors that affect sales forecasting

2. Personnel Plan

The personnel plan section is where you provide details about the payment plan for your employees. For a small business, you can easily list every position in your company and how much you plan to pay in the personnel plan.

However, for larger businesses, you have to break the personnel plan into functional groups such as sales and marketing.

The personnel plan will also include the cost of an employee beyond salary, commonly referred to as the employee burden. These costs include insurance, payroll taxes , and other essential costs incurred monthly as a result of having employees on your payroll.

True HR Cost Infographic

3. Income Statement

The income statement section shows if your business is making a profit or taking a loss. Another name for the income statement is the profit and loss (P&L). It takes data from your sales forecast and personnel plan and adds other ongoing expenses you incur while running your business.

The income statement section

Every business plan should have an income statement. It subtracts your business expenses from its earnings to show if your business is generating profit or incurring losses.

The income statement has the following items: sales, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), gross margin, operating expenses, total operating expenses, operating income , total expenses, and net profit.

  • Sales refer to the revenue your business generates from selling its products or services. Other names for sales are income or revenue.
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) refers to the total cost of selling your products. Other names for COGS are direct costs or cost of sales. Manufacturing businesses use the Costs of Goods Manufactured (COGM) .
  • Gross Margin is the figure you get when you subtract your COGS from your sales. In your income statement, you can express it as a percentage of total sales (Gross margin / Sales = Gross Margin Percent).
  • Operating Expenses refer to all the expenses you incur from running your business. It exempts the COGS because it stands alone as a core part of your income statement. You also have to exclude taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Your operating expenses include salaries, marketing expenses, research and development (R&D) expenses, and other expenses.
  • Total Operating Expenses refers to the sum of all your operating expenses including those exemptions named above under operating expenses.
  • Operating Income refers to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. It is simply known as the acronym EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). Calculating your operating income is simple, all you need to do is to subtract your COGS and total operating expenses from your sales.
  • Total Expenses refer to the sum of your operating expenses and your business’ interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
  • Net profit shows whether your business has made a profit or taken a loss during a given timeframe.

4. Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement tracks the money you have in the bank at any given point. It is often confused with the income statement or the profit and loss statement. They are both different types of financial statements. The income statement calculates your profits and losses while the cash flow statement shows you how much you have in the bank.

Cash Flow Statement Example

5. Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a financial statement that provides an overview of the financial health of your business. It contains information about the assets and liabilities of your company, and owner’s or shareholders’ equity.

You can get the net worth of your company by subtracting your company’s liabilities from its assets.

Balance sheet Formula

6. Exit Strategy

The exit strategy refers to a probable plan for selling your business either to the public in an IPO or to another company. It is the last thing you include in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

You can choose to omit the exit strategy from your business plan if you plan to maintain full ownership of your business and do not plan on seeking angel investment or virtual capitalist (VC) funding.

Investors may want to know what your exit plan is. They invest in your business to get a good return on investment.

Your exit strategy does not have to include long and boring details. Ensure you identify some interested parties who may be interested in buying the company if it becomes a success.

Exit Strategy Section of Business Plan Infographic

Key Questions to Answer with Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection

Your financial plan, metrics, and projection section helps investors, creditors, or your internal managers to understand what your expenses are, the amount of cash you need, and what it takes to make your company profitable. It also shows what you will be doing with any funding.

You do not need to show actual financial data if you do not have one. Adding forecasts and projections to your financial statements is added proof that your strategy is feasible and shows investors you have planned properly.

Here are some key questions to answer to help you develop this section.

  • What is your sales forecast for the next year?
  • When will your company achieve a positive cash flow?
  • What are the core expenses you need to operate?
  • How much money do you need upfront to operate or grow your company?
  • How will you use the loans or investments?

9. Add an Appendix to Your Business Plan

Adding an appendix to your business plan is optional. It is a useful place to put any charts, tables, legal notes, definitions, permits, résumés, and other critical information that do not fit into other sections of your business plan.

The appendix section is where you would want to include details of a patent or patent-pending if you have one. You can always add illustrations or images of your products here. It is the last section of your business plan.

When writing your business plan, there are details you cut short or remove to prevent the entire section from becoming too lengthy. There are also details you want to include in the business plan but are not a good fit for any of the previous sections. You can add that additional information to the appendix section.

Businesses also use the appendix section to include supporting documents or other materials specially requested by investors or lenders.

You can include just about any information that supports the assumptions and statements you made in the business plan under the appendix. It is the one place in the business plan where unrelated data and information can coexist amicably.

If your appendix section is lengthy, try organizing it by adding a table of contents at the beginning of the appendix section. It is also advisable to group similar information to make it easier for the reader to access them.

A well-organized appendix section makes it easier to share your information clearly and concisely. Add footnotes throughout the rest of the business plan or make references in the plan to the documents in the appendix.

The appendix section is usually only necessary if you are seeking funding from investors or lenders, or hoping to attract partners.

People reading business plans do not want to spend time going through a heap of backup information, numbers, and charts. Keep these documents or information in the Appendix section in case the reader wants to dig deeper.

Common Items to Include in the Appendix Section of Your Business Plan

The appendix section includes documents that supplement or support the information or claims given in other sections of the business plans. Common items you can include in the appendix section include:

  • Additional data about the process of manufacturing or creation
  • Additional description of products or services such as product schematics
  • Additional financial documents or projections
  • Articles of incorporation and status
  • Backup for market research or competitive analysis
  • Bank statements
  • Business registries
  • Client testimonials (if your business is already running)
  • Copies of insurances
  • Credit histories (personal or/and business)
  • Deeds and permits
  • Equipment leases
  • Examples of marketing and advertising collateral
  • Industry associations and memberships
  • Images of product
  • Intellectual property
  • Key customer contracts
  • Legal documents and other contracts
  • Letters of reference
  • Links to references
  • Market research data
  • Organizational charts
  • Photographs of potential facilities
  • Professional licenses pertaining to your legal structure or type of business
  • Purchase orders
  • Resumes of the founder(s) and key managers
  • State and federal identification numbers or codes
  • Trademarks or patents’ registrations

Avoid using the appendix section as a place to dump any document or information you feel like adding. Only add documents or information that you support or increase the credibility of your business plan.

Tips and Strategies for Writing a Convincing Business Plan

To achieve a perfect business plan, you need to consider some key tips and strategies. These tips will raise the efficiency of your business plan above average.

1. Know Your Audience

When writing a business plan, you need to know your audience . Business owners write business plans for different reasons. Your business plan has to be specific. For example, you can write business plans to potential investors, banks, and even fellow board members of the company.

The audience you are writing to determines the structure of the business plan. As a business owner, you have to know your audience. Not everyone will be your audience. Knowing your audience will help you to narrow the scope of your business plan.

Consider what your audience wants to see in your projects, the likely questions they might ask, and what interests them.

  • A business plan used to address a company's board members will center on its employment schemes, internal affairs, projects, stakeholders, etc.
  • A business plan for financial institutions will talk about the size of your market and the chances for you to pay back any loans you demand.
  • A business plan for investors will show proof that you can return the investment capital within a specific time. In addition, it discusses your financial projections, tractions, and market size.

2. Get Inspiration from People

Writing a business plan from scratch as an entrepreneur can be daunting. That is why you need the right inspiration to push you to write one. You can gain inspiration from the successful business plans of other businesses. Look at their business plans, the style they use, the structure of the project, etc.

To make your business plan easier to create, search companies related to your business to get an exact copy of what you need to create an effective business plan. You can also make references while citing examples in your business plans.

When drafting your business plan, get as much help from others as you possibly can. By getting inspiration from people, you can create something better than what they have.

3. Avoid Being Over Optimistic

Many business owners make use of strong adjectives to qualify their content. One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make when preparing a business plan is promising too much.

The use of superlatives and over-optimistic claims can prepare the audience for more than you can offer. In the end, you disappoint the confidence they have in you.

In most cases, the best option is to be realistic with your claims and statistics. Most of the investors can sense a bit of incompetency from the overuse of superlatives. As a new entrepreneur, do not be tempted to over-promise to get the interests of investors.

The concept of entrepreneurship centers on risks, nothing is certain when you make future analyses. What separates the best is the ability to do careful research and work towards achieving that, not promising more than you can achieve.

To make an excellent first impression as an entrepreneur, replace superlatives with compelling data-driven content. In this way, you are more specific than someone promising a huge ROI from an investment.

4. Keep it Simple and Short

When writing business plans, ensure you keep them simple throughout. Irrespective of the purpose of the business plan, your goal is to convince the audience.

One way to achieve this goal is to make them understand your proposal. Therefore, it would be best if you avoid the use of complex grammar to express yourself. It would be a huge turn-off if the people you want to convince are not familiar with your use of words.

Another thing to note is the length of your business plan. It would be best if you made it as brief as possible.

You hardly see investors or agencies that read through an extremely long document. In that case, if your first few pages can’t convince them, then you have lost it. The more pages you write, the higher the chances of you derailing from the essential contents.

To ensure your business plan has a high conversion rate, you need to dispose of every unnecessary information. For example, if you have a strategy that you are not sure of, it would be best to leave it out of the plan.

5. Make an Outline and Follow Through

A perfect business plan must have touched every part needed to convince the audience. Business owners get easily tempted to concentrate more on their products than on other sections. Doing this can be detrimental to the efficiency of the business plan.

For example, imagine you talking about a product but omitting or providing very little information about the target audience. You will leave your clients confused.

To ensure that your business plan communicates your full business model to readers, you have to input all the necessary information in it. One of the best ways to achieve this is to design a structure and stick to it.

This structure is what guides you throughout the writing. To make your work easier, you can assign an estimated word count or page limit to every section to avoid making it too bulky for easy reading. As a guide, the necessary things your business plan must contain are:

  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Product or service description
  • Target audience
  • Market size
  • Competition analysis
  • Financial projections

Some specific businesses can include some other essential sections, but these are the key sections that must be in every business plan.

6. Ask a Professional to Proofread

When writing a business plan, you must tie all loose ends to get a perfect result. When you are done with writing, call a professional to go through the document for you. You are bound to make mistakes, and the way to correct them is to get external help.

You should get a professional in your field who can relate to every section of your business plan. It would be easier for the professional to notice the inner flaws in the document than an editor with no knowledge of your business.

In addition to getting a professional to proofread, get an editor to proofread and edit your document. The editor will help you identify grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and inappropriate writing styles.

Writing a business plan can be daunting, but you can surmount that obstacle and get the best out of it with these tips.

Business Plan Examples and Templates That’ll Save You Tons of Time

1. hubspot's one-page business plan.

HubSpot's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan template by HubSpot is the perfect guide for businesses of any size, irrespective of their business strategy. Although the template is condensed into a page, your final business plan should not be a page long! The template is designed to ask helpful questions that can help you develop your business plan.

Hubspot’s one-page business plan template is divided into nine fields:

  • Business opportunity
  • Company description
  • Industry analysis
  • Target market
  • Implementation timeline
  • Marketing plan
  • Financial summary
  • Funding required

2. Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplans' free business plan template is investor-approved. It is a rich template used by prestigious educational institutions such as Babson College and Princeton University to teach entrepreneurs how to create a business plan.

The template has six sections: the executive summary, opportunity, execution, company, financial plan, and appendix. There is a step-by-step guide for writing every little detail in the business plan. Follow the instructions each step of the way and you will create a business plan that impresses investors or lenders easily.

3. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot’s downloadable business plan template is a more comprehensive option compared to the one-page business template by HubSpot. This free and downloadable business plan template is designed for entrepreneurs.

The template is a comprehensive guide and checklist for business owners just starting their businesses. It tells you everything you need to fill in each section of the business plan and how to do it.

There are nine sections in this business plan template: an executive summary, company and business description, product and services line, market analysis, marketing plan, sales plan, legal notes, financial considerations, and appendix.

4. Business Plan by My Own Business Institute

The Business Profile

My Own Business Institute (MOBI) which is a part of Santa Clara University's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers a free business plan template. You can either copy the free business template from the link provided above or download it as a Word document.

The comprehensive template consists of a whopping 15 sections.

  • The Business Profile
  • The Vision and the People
  • Home-Based Business and Freelance Business Opportunities
  • Organization
  • Licenses and Permits
  • Business Insurance
  • Communication Tools
  • Acquisitions
  • Location and Leasing
  • Accounting and Cash Flow
  • Opening and Marketing
  • Managing Employees
  • Expanding and Handling Problems

There are lots of helpful tips on how to fill each section in the free business plan template by MOBI.

5. Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score is an American nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs build successful companies. This business plan template for startups by Score is available for free download. The business plan template asks a whooping 150 generic questions that help entrepreneurs from different fields to set up the perfect business plan.

The business plan template for startups contains clear instructions and worksheets, all you have to do is answer the questions and fill the worksheets.

There are nine sections in the business plan template: executive summary, company description, products and services, marketing plan, operational plan, management and organization, startup expenses and capitalization, financial plan, and appendices.

The ‘refining the plan’ resource contains instructions that help you modify your business plan to suit your specific needs, industry, and target audience. After you have completed Score’s business plan template, you can work with a SCORE mentor for expert advice in business planning.

6. Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

The minimalist architecture business plan template is a simple template by Venngage that you can customize to suit your business needs .

There are five sections in the template: an executive summary, statement of problem, approach and methodology, qualifications, and schedule and benchmark. The business plan template has instructions that guide users on what to fill in each section.

7. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two free business plan templates, filled with practical real-life examples that you can model to create your business plan. Both free business plan templates are written by fictional business owners: Rebecca who owns a consulting firm, and Andrew who owns a toy company.

There are five sections in the two SBA’s free business plan templates.

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Service Line
  • Marketing and Sales

8. The $100 Startup's One-Page Business Plan

The $100 Startup's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan by the $100 startup is a simple business plan template for entrepreneurs who do not want to create a long and complicated plan . You can include more details in the appendices for funders who want more information beyond what you can put in the one-page business plan.

There are five sections in the one-page business plan such as overview, ka-ching, hustling, success, and obstacles or challenges or open questions. You can answer all the questions using one or two sentences.

9. PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

The free business plan template by PandaDoc is a comprehensive 15-page document that describes the information you should include in every section.

There are 11 sections in PandaDoc’s free business plan template.

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Products and services
  • Operations plan
  • Management organization
  • Financial plan
  • Conclusion / Call to action
  • Confidentiality statement

You have to sign up for its 14-day free trial to access the template. You will find different business plan templates on PandaDoc once you sign up (including templates for general businesses and specific businesses such as bakeries, startups, restaurants, salons, hotels, and coffee shops)

PandaDoc allows you to customize its business plan templates to fit the needs of your business. After editing the template, you can send it to interested parties and track opens and views through PandaDoc.

10. Invoiceberry Templates for Word, Open Office, Excel, or PPT

Invoiceberry Templates Business Concept

InvoiceBerry is a U.K based online invoicing and tracking platform that offers free business plan templates in .docx, .odt, .xlsx, and .pptx formats for freelancers and small businesses.

Before you can download the free business plan template, it will ask you to give it your email address. After you complete the little task, it will send the download link to your inbox for you to download. It also provides a business plan checklist in .xlsx file format that ensures you add the right information to the business plan.

Alternatives to the Traditional Business Plan

A business plan is very important in mapping out how one expects their business to grow over a set number of years, particularly when they need external investment in their business. However, many investors do not have the time to watch you present your business plan. It is a long and boring read.

Luckily, there are three alternatives to the traditional business plan (the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck). These alternatives are less laborious and easier and quicker to present to investors.

Business Model Canvas (BMC)

The business model canvas is a business tool used to present all the important components of setting up a business, such as customers, route to market, value proposition, and finance in a single sheet. It provides a very focused blueprint that defines your business initially which you can later expand on if needed.

Business Model Canvas (BMC) Infographic

The sheet is divided mainly into company, industry, and consumer models that are interconnected in how they find problems and proffer solutions.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas was developed by founder Alexander Osterwalder to answer important business questions. It contains nine segments.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

  • Key Partners: Who will be occupying important executive positions in your business? What do they bring to the table? Will there be a third party involved with the company?
  • Key Activities: What important activities will production entail? What activities will be carried out to ensure the smooth running of the company?
  • The Product’s Value Propositions: What does your product do? How will it be different from other products?
  • Customer Segments: What demography of consumers are you targeting? What are the habits of these consumers? Who are the MVPs of your target consumers?
  • Customer Relationships: How will the team support and work with its customer base? How do you intend to build and maintain trust with the customer?
  • Key Resources: What type of personnel and tools will be needed? What size of the budget will they need access to?
  • Channels: How do you plan to create awareness of your products? How do you intend to transport your product to the customer?
  • Cost Structure: What is the estimated cost of production? How much will distribution cost?
  • Revenue Streams: For what value are customers willing to pay? How do they prefer to pay for the product? Are there any external revenues attached apart from the main source? How do the revenue streams contribute to the overall revenue?

Lean Canvas

The lean canvas is a problem-oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas. It was proposed by Ash Maurya, creator of Lean Stack as a development of the business model generation. It uses a more problem-focused approach and it majorly targets entrepreneurs and startup businesses.

The lean canvas is a problem oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas

Lean Canvas uses the same 9 blocks concept as the business model canvas, however, they have been modified slightly to suit the needs and purpose of a small startup. The key partners, key activities, customer relationships, and key resources are replaced by new segments which are:

  • Problem: Simple and straightforward number of problems you have identified, ideally three.
  • Solution: The solutions to each problem.
  • Unfair Advantage: Something you possess that can't be easily bought or replicated.
  • Key Metrics: Important numbers that will tell how your business is doing.

Startup Pitch Deck

While the business model canvas compresses into a factual sheet, startup pitch decks expand flamboyantly.

Pitch decks, through slides, convey your business plan, often through graphs and images used to emphasize estimations and observations in your presentation. Entrepreneurs often use pitch decks to fully convince their target audience of their plans before discussing funding arrangements.

Startup Pitch Deck Presentation

Considering the likelihood of it being used in a small time frame, a good startup pitch deck should ideally contain 20 slides or less to have enough time to answer questions from the audience.

Unlike the standard and lean business model canvases, a pitch deck doesn't have a set template on how to present your business plan but there are still important components to it. These components often mirror those of the business model canvas except that they are in slide form and contain more details.

Airbnb Pitch Deck

Using Airbnb (one of the most successful start-ups in recent history) for reference, the important components of a good slide are listed below.

  • Cover/Introduction Slide: Here, you should include your company's name and mission statement. Your mission statement should be a very catchy tagline. Also, include personal information and contact details to provide an easy link for potential investors.
  • Problem Slide: This slide requires you to create a connection with the audience or the investor that you are pitching. For example in their pitch, Airbnb summarized the most important problems it would solve in three brief points – pricing of hotels, disconnection from city culture, and connection problems for local bookings.
  • Solution Slide: This slide includes your core value proposition. List simple and direct solutions to the problems you have mentioned
  • Customer Analysis: Here you will provide information on the customers you will be offering your service to. The identity of your customers plays an important part in fundraising as well as the long-run viability of the business.
  • Market Validation: Use competitive analysis to show numbers that prove the presence of a market for your product, industry behavior in the present and the long run, as well as the percentage of the market you aim to attract. It shows that you understand your competitors and customers and convinces investors of the opportunities presented in the market.
  • Business Model: Your business model is the hook of your presentation. It may vary in complexity but it should generally include a pricing system informed by your market analysis. The goal of the slide is to confirm your business model is easy to implement.
  • Marketing Strategy: This slide should summarize a few customer acquisition methods that you plan to use to grow the business.
  • Competitive Advantage: What this slide will do is provide information on what will set you apart and make you a more attractive option to customers. It could be the possession of technology that is not widely known in the market.
  • Team Slide: Here you will give a brief description of your team. Include your key management personnel here and their specific roles in the company. Include their educational background, job history, and skillsets. Also, talk about their accomplishments in their careers so far to build investors' confidence in members of your team.
  • Traction Slide: This validates the company’s business model by showing growth through early sales and support. The slide aims to reduce any lingering fears in potential investors by showing realistic periodic milestones and profit margins. It can include current sales, growth, valuable customers, pre-orders, or data from surveys outlining current consumer interest.
  • Funding Slide: This slide is popularly referred to as ‘the ask'. Here you will include important details like how much is needed to get your business off the ground and how the funding will be spent to help the company reach its goals.
  • Appendix Slides: Your pitch deck appendix should always be included alongside a standard pitch presentation. It consists of additional slides you could not show in the pitch deck but you need to complement your presentation.

It is important to support your calculations with pictorial renditions. Infographics, such as pie charts or bar graphs, will be more effective in presenting the information than just listing numbers. For example, a six-month graph that shows rising profit margins will easily look more impressive than merely writing it.

Lastly, since a pitch deck is primarily used to secure meetings and you may be sharing your pitch with several investors, it is advisable to keep a separate public version that doesn't include financials. Only disclose the one with projections once you have secured a link with an investor.

Advantages of the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck over the Traditional Business Plan

  • Time-Saving: Writing a detailed traditional business plan could take weeks or months. On the other hand, all three alternatives can be done in a few days or even one night of brainstorming if you have a comprehensive understanding of your business.
  • Easier to Understand: Since the information presented is almost entirely factual, it puts focus on what is most important in running the business. They cut away the excess pages of fillers in a traditional business plan and allow investors to see what is driving the business and what is getting in the way.
  • Easy to Update: Businesses typically present their business plans to many potential investors before they secure funding. What this means is that you may regularly have to amend your presentation to update statistics or adjust to audience-specific needs. For a traditional business plan, this could mean rewriting a whole section of your plan. For the three alternatives, updating is much easier because they are not voluminous.
  • Guide for a More In-depth Business Plan: All three alternatives have the added benefit of being able to double as a sketch of your business plan if the need to create one arises in the future.

Business Plan FAQ

Business plans are important for any entrepreneur who is looking for a framework to run their company over some time or seeking external support. Although they are essential for new businesses, every company should ideally have a business plan to track their growth from time to time.  They can be used by startups seeking investments or loans to convey their business ideas or an employee to convince his boss of the feasibility of starting a new project. They can also be used by companies seeking to recruit high-profile employee targets into key positions or trying to secure partnerships with other firms.

Business plans often vary depending on your target audience, the scope, and the goals for the plan. Startup plans are the most common among the different types of business plans.  A start-up plan is used by a new business to present all the necessary information to help get the business up and running. They are usually used by entrepreneurs who are seeking funding from investors or bank loans. The established company alternative to a start-up plan is a feasibility plan. A feasibility plan is often used by an established company looking for new business opportunities. They are used to show the upsides of creating a new product for a consumer base. Because the audience is usually company people, it requires less company analysis. The third type of business plan is the lean business plan. A lean business plan is a brief, straight-to-the-point breakdown of your ideas and analysis for your business. It does not contain details of your proposal and can be written on one page. Finally, you have the what-if plan. As it implies, a what-if plan is a preparation for the worst-case scenario. You must always be prepared for the possibility of your original plan being rejected. A good what-if plan will serve as a good plan B to the original.

A good business plan has 10 key components. They include an executive plan, product analysis, desired customer base, company analysis, industry analysis, marketing strategy, sales strategy, financial projection, funding, and appendix. Executive Plan Your business should begin with your executive plan. An executive plan will provide early insight into what you are planning to achieve with your business. It should include your mission statement and highlight some of the important points which you will explain later. Product Analysis The next component of your business plan is your product analysis. A key part of this section is explaining the type of item or service you are going to offer as well as the market problems your product will solve. Desired Consumer Base Your product analysis should be supplemented with a detailed breakdown of your desired consumer base. Investors are always interested in knowing the economic power of your market as well as potential MVP customers. Company Analysis The next component of your business plan is your company analysis. Here, you explain how you want to run your business. It will include your operational strategy, an insight into the workforce needed to keep the company running, and important executive positions. It will also provide a calculation of expected operational costs.  Industry Analysis A good business plan should also contain well laid out industry analysis. It is important to convince potential investors you know the companies you will be competing with, as well as your plans to gain an edge on the competition. Marketing Strategy Your business plan should also include your marketing strategy. This is how you intend to spread awareness of your product. It should include a detailed explanation of the company brand as well as your advertising methods. Sales Strategy Your sales strategy comes after the market strategy. Here you give an overview of your company's pricing strategy and how you aim to maximize profits. You can also explain how your prices will adapt to market behaviors. Financial Projection The financial projection is the next component of your business plan. It explains your company's expected running cost and revenue earned during the tenure of the business plan. Financial projection gives a clear idea of how your company will develop in the future. Funding The next component of your business plan is funding. You have to detail how much external investment you need to get your business idea off the ground here. Appendix The last component of your plan is the appendix. This is where you put licenses, graphs, or key information that does not fit in any of the other components.

The business model canvas is a business management tool used to quickly define your business idea and model. It is often used when investors need you to pitch your business idea during a brief window.

A pitch deck is similar to a business model canvas except that it makes use of slides in its presentation. A pitch is not primarily used to secure funding, rather its main purpose is to entice potential investors by selling a very optimistic outlook on the business.

Business plan competitions help you evaluate the strength of your business plan. By participating in business plan competitions, you are improving your experience. The experience provides you with a degree of validation while practicing important skills. The main motivation for entering into the competitions is often to secure funding by finishing in podium positions. There is also the chance that you may catch the eye of a casual observer outside of the competition. These competitions also provide good networking opportunities. You could meet mentors who will take a keen interest in guiding you in your business journey. You also have the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs whose ideas can complement yours.

Exlore Further

  • 12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)
  • 13 Sources of Business Finance For Companies & Sole Traders
  • 5 Common Types of Business Structures (+ Pros & Cons)
  • How to Buy a Business in 8 Steps (+ Due Diligence Checklist)

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

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

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How to Write a Startup Business Plan

May 28, 2022 - 10 min read

Yuvika Iyer

A startup business plan is an outline of your ideas and strategies for what you’ll need to do to start, manage, and even complete your startup’s mission. Creating one might sound simple enough, but because it’s a startup’s roadmap for success, it can be a complex document to create. 

Writing a business plan can make a world of difference for entrepreneurs who desire external funding. It involves determining your target customers, understanding what makes them tick, and figuring out how to reach them through marketing campaigns. 

In this blog post, we’ve explained why you should have a startup business plan, different types of startup business plans, and we’ve included 12 of the most effective tips for writing a startup business plan. If you’re ready to start with now, we have a product launch template to get you started quickly. 

What is a startup business plan?

A startup business plan is a written document that outlines your ideas and strategies for launching, managing, and eventually exiting your new venture. 

A well-constructed business plan can be crucial to the success of any entrepreneurial endeavor . As you prepare your proposal, keep in mind that it will evolve as you learn more about your market.

To start, create an outline of the most important items you'd like feedback on before writing anything down officially.

Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want?
  • Why does my company exist?
  • How will I make money?
  • What are my long-term goals?

A detailed business plan helps you set milestones for measuring success. You can share the plan with investors who may want some reassurance on the viability of their investment in your company.

The best way to create a successful startup business plan is by including everything in an organized and easy-to-read document — marketing strategies, financial projections, team bios, timelines, and more.

What is a lean startup business plan?

A lean startup business plan is a method for developing products that relies on iterative experimentation to reduce uncertainty. 

It has been used by companies such as Google , Amazon, and Facebook in the early stages of their development, and involves testing your idea with real customers early in development.

Lean startups are less likely to fail because they have tested their product or service with live feedback from consumers. Doing this allows them to make changes quickly without wasting resources on something no one wants.

The goal is not to build an extensive business plan but rather a "lean" one that can be changed based on customer feedback and then re-evaluated in regular intervals until it reaches market potential — or fails.

A lean startup business plan is a strategy that focuses on getting a product in front of customers as quickly and cheaply as possible. Use the lean startup business plan to validate your ideas before wasting time and resources.

Why do you need a small startup business plan?

A small startup business plan is one of the most important steps in building a company. Apart from helping you to focus on company goals, it aids in obtaining feedback from potential partners and keeps the team on the same page.

The best thing about starting small? You can change course at any time! If you need help developing or tweaking your small startup business plan, use this guide for entrepreneurs to get started.

You've built a product and you're ready to take the next step, but what's your plan? First, you need a strategy in place. Do you know how much money it will cost, or where exactly that funding should come from? What about marketing strategies for getting customers in the door? 

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You’ll also need to find ways to retain them afterwards so they keep coming back again and again (and spending more).

product launch startup template

Obtain external funding

If you want to get funding from lenders or investors, you need a startup business plan. Lenders want to make sure they're investing in a company that will last and grow.

A well-organized idea shows passion for its purpose and outlines clear goals for helping customers. At the same time, having an exit strategy is also important.

Making a plan for when things don’t pan out as desired lets investors understand how much value there can be while giving customers (and yourself) peace of mind.

Understand your target market

One key piece of your business plan is knowing how to conduct a market analysis. To do this, consider the industry, target market, and competitors. 

Are there any market trends or competitor factors that can affect your business? Review them closely and get ready to make required changes to your business plan.

Prioritize high ROI strategies

In business, ROI is important. Any business that doesn’t generate as much cash as it burns is likely to fail.

With a startup business plan in place, the strategies with the highest ROI become crystal clear. You'll know exactly what to tackle first and how to prioritize the rest of your tasks.

Accelerate financial health

Business plans are not crystal balls, but they can help forecast your financial health. Planning for expenses is vital to keep operations steady and identify problems as soon as possible. 

Cash flow projections can help you see if goals are achievable or highlight upcoming issues that need correction before it's too late.

How to write a small startup business plan

Use this guide for entrepreneurs to develop or tweak a startup business plan. By following this easy six-step process, you'll soon have a clear path to startup success.

1. Clarify the startup vision, mission, and values

The first step to writing a startup business plan is understanding the startup itself.

Once you know what your startup does, ask yourself why. What is the startup's mission? What problem will it help customers solve? The startup's mission statement helps define its reason for existing.

It’s usually expressed in a simple sentence, but can also be written as a short paragraph.

Try to answer these questions: What does your startup do? How will it make money? How quickly do you hope it will grow? Are there any significant milestones or deadlines that need to be met?

2. Outline the executive summary

Now that you have an idea for your startup, its mission, and a vision in mind, it's time to write your startup business plan executive summary.

Keep it simple and precise. Begin by writing a one-sentence startup business plan introduction that showcases the core customer need/pain point and how you propose to solve it.

3. Develop startup goals and milestones

Next, write down the milestones and goals for your startup business plan. This is a crucial step that many entrepreneurs forget when they're starting out.

Do you want to focus on getting new customers? Or attaining a specific revenue number?  Without clear short-term goals, it can be hard to know how to prioritize startup tasks.

4. Write a company description

Answer the two fundamental questions — who are you and what will you do? Then, give an introduction to why you're in business.

Provide a summary of introspective goals, clarifying intangible aspects such as values or cultural philosophies. Make sure to mention:

  • Proposed business structure (limited partnership, sole proprietorship, incorporated company, or a general partnership)
  • Business model
  • Business vision and mission statement
  • Background information of your team members

start up project business plan

5. Conduct market analysis

Choosing the right market is crucial to your organization’s success. There are different kinds of products and services that a business can offer and each has particular requirements for a successful market fit.

If you choose one that doesn't have a large enough customer base or is not profitable enough, your company may end up struggling for every sale.

Ensure that there is a clear market niche — an ideal audience of customers with a need or a pain point that your business can help solve.

6. Develop startup partnerships and resources

When you're launching a small startup, one of the most important things that your business needs is capital. There are several ways to get going on this front.

When thinking about sources of funding for startups , consider startup grants, startup loans, startup investors, and startup accelerators.

7. Write a startup marketing plan and startup budget

Your startup business plan is almost complete! All that's left is to create a startup marketing plan and budget. Your startup marketing plan will help you define your company’s target audience and brand image.

The startup budget is an integral part of any startup that helps you take the guesswork out of writing expenses.

Examples of startup business plans

Business plans differ based on the nature of the business, target market, competitive advantage, delivery of product/service, scope, and size.

Though the core business plan template remains the same, the content and flow change. Here is an example of an accounting firm's business plan:

Vision statement

At our company, ABC Accounting Services LLC, we work hard to provide the best service and build a strong team. Our vision is for this brand to be recognized as #1 throughout NYC by both smaller businesses and larger corporations.

Our values are reflected in all that we do: integrity (ethical behavior), service (giving top priority to clients' needs), excellence ("doing it right"), teamwork (working together).

Executive summary

ABC Accounting Services LLC is the premier accounting firm in New York City and will handle various financial services. We specialize in audits, bookkeeping, tax preparation/compliance work, and budgeting assistance with high-quality consulting.

Business structure

ABC Accounting Services LLC will be structured as an LLC — a Limited Liability Company in the state of New York. It will provide accounting, bookkeeping, taxation, auditing, and compliance-related services to small, medium, and large enterprises situated in New York City.

Marketing strategy and competitive advantages

Despite the fact that there are many established accounting services firms in our industry, we have a great chance of becoming successful because of the high demand for financial consulting. 

Often, small businesses don't need full-time employees but would rather hire an accounting service provider like us to handle their bookkeeping and tax returns on time every year.

It is best to find a unique niche or carve out your own market in the financial consulting services industry. If you're able to create an identifiable brand identity for your accounting business, then you will likely see less competition from other firms.

Startup milestones

ABC Accounting Services LLC will focus on delivering an exceptional client experience to grow the business and expand market share.

Startup business plan template

Here's a template you can follow when creating your startup business plan:

start up project business plan

Top tips for writing a startup business plan

The following tips will help you create a compelling startup business plan without getting overwhelmed.

Know your audience

To write an effective business plan, tailor your language and level of detail to match the audience reading it. 

Have a simple and clear goal

If you have a goal of securing funding for your business, it will be an uphill task with lots of work and research.

Simplifying and breaking down bigger goals into smaller, actionable tasks will assist you in getting through them faster.

Spend time researching

Avoid assuming anything about your target audience, product/service, or the market need.

Spending adequate time and effort on research from primary and secondary sources will help you develop an accurate business plan.

Build a startup toolkit

The process of creation becomes easier if you have the right startup tools and software by your side. Pick the right ones that will help you in your journey.

Keep it precise

Short and easy-to-read business plans are best kept within 20 pages. If you have additional documents, consider adding them as appendices or provide a link if available online.

Ensure tonal consistency

Keep the tone consistent by having just one author write your startup business plan. Otherwise, be sure to edit it thoroughly before you finalize it.

Add reference points

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

Be ready to pivot

A business plan should be fluid and flexible. Think of it as an evolving document that will continue to change over time.

How to create a business plan with Wrike

A good business plan is a powerful tool and can be a key predictor of future progress, but simply filling in a startup business plan won’t help you achieve success. You need to create action steps with accountability that will help you reach your goals. 

Wrike’s project management software can help your organization deliver successful projects and maximize individual and team productivity, and our product launch template can help you turn your startup business plan goals into actionable steps. 

Start a free trial of Wrike today to see how it can help to simplify work, showcase progress to stakeholders, and achieve startup success.

Yuvika Iyer

Yuvika Iyer

Yuvika is a freelance writer who specializes in recruitment and resume writing.

Related articles

How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)

How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)

A business plan is a straightforward document. In it, you’ll include market research, your overall goals for the business, and your strategies for achieving those goals.  But what is a business case and why do you need one if a business plan outlines everything else? A business case takes a closer look at a specific problem and how you can solve it. Think of a business case as the reason you create a project you’re going to manage in the first place.  The article provides a step-by-step guide on how to write a successful business case, including a checklist for identifying problems, researching solutions, and presenting to stakeholders. As a bonus, we’ll show you how to use Wrike to manage your product business cases with a requirements management template or implement them with a project scheduling template. What is a business case? A business case is a project you’ll assemble for identifying, addressing, and solving a specific business problem.  The key to a business case is the change it creates in your business. Developing a business case starts with identifying a problem that needs a permanent solution. Without that lasting change, a business case is only an observation about what’s going wrong. A complete business case addresses how a company can alter its strategy to fix that problem. Front-to-back, a business case is a complete story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It typically looks like this: Beginning: Someone identifies a problem within the business and presents the business case to the key decision-makers. Middle: With the project go-ahead, the company launches an internal team to address the business case and deliver results. End: The team delivers a presentation on the changes made and their long-term effects. In short, a business case is the story of a problem that needs solving.   Examples of business cases The problem for many companies is that they can turn a blind eye to challenges that are right in front of their faces. This is even the case when the company has a compelling product to sell. Consider the example of Febreze. In the mid-1990s, a researcher at Procter & Gamble was working with hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin. His wife noticed that his clothes no longer smelled like cigarettes, which was a frequent complaint. P&G had something of a miracle product on its hands. However, their approach was wrong. They initially marketed Febreze as a way to eliminate embarrassing smells. Predictably, the product flopped.  But P&G stuck at it. They had a potential business case on their hands: a highly marketable product proved difficult to market. What was going wrong? Working on the business case from beginning to end provided the answer. After some focus group testing, P&G found out that few consumers recognized the nasty odors they were used to. Instead, they learned to use a different business case for Febreze: it was a cleaning product now, a way to make the house smell nice when the floors are vacuumed and the counters are wiped clean. They gave it its own pleasant smell and fashioned it into a cleaning product. And because it worked so well, so did the campaign.  That’s an example of a business case overall. But let’s get specific: developing a business case is easier when you have a template to look at. Let’s build an example using a made-up company, ABC Widgets, and a hypothetical business case. Let’s call our business case example “Operation Super Widgets”: Business Case: ABC Widgets Section 1: Summary Briefly describe the problem and the opportunities.  ABC Widgets’ latest widget, the Super Widget, is suffering from supply issues, requiring higher shipping costs to procure the necessary resources, and eating into profits. We need to switch to a new supplier to restore the viability of the Super Widget. Section 2: Project Scope This section should include the following: Financial appraisal of the situation. Super Widgets are now 20% more expensive to produce than in the year prior, resulting in -1% profits with each Super Widget sold. Business objectives. To get revenues back up, we need to restore profit margins on Cost Per Unit Sold for every Super Widget back to 2020 levels. Benefits/limitations. Restoring Cost Per Unit Sold will restore 5% of sagging revenues. However, we are limited to three choices for new Super Widget suppliers. Scope and impact. We will need to involve supply chain managers and Super Widget project management teams, which may temporarily reduce the number of widgets we’re able to produce, potentially resulting in $25,000 in lost revenue. Plan. Project Management Teams A and B will take the next two weeks to get quotes from suppliers and select one while integrating an immediate plan to bring in new Super Widget parts for manufacturing within four weeks. Organization. Team Member Sarah will take the lead on Operation Super Widget Profit. Both teams will report to Sarah. This is a bare-bones example of what a business case might look like, but it does hit on the key points: what’s the problem, how can you fix it, what’s the plan to fix it, and what will happen if you succeed? How do you write and develop a business case? When writing your own business case, the above example is a good guide to follow as you get started with the basics.  But, once you’re more familiar with the nuts and bolts, it’s also worth being prepared for some potential roadblocks you could face along the way.  Challenges of writing a good business case Why don’t more companies create a business case? It might come down to a lack of good communication. Many people don’t even know how to write a business case, let alone present one. “The idea may be great, but if it’s not communicated well, it won’t get any traction,” said Nancy Duarte, communication and author who wrote The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. The key challenge, notes Duarte, is taking abstract business concepts (like lagging numbers) and turning them into an immediately recognizable problem. After all, if a company already had perfect awareness that it was making a mistake, it likely would find a way to stop the error in its tracks.  A business case is challenging because it usually means you’ll have to persuade someone that change is needed. And change can be difficult. In a thriving business, it’s especially problematic because it’s easy to point to the bottom line and say that whatever the company is doing is already working. How do you present a business case? The tips and examples above give you some nice remedies for creating a business case without the typical problems. But you’ll still want to present a business case with the straightforward proposals and numbers you’d associate with any new project.  Essentially, it all comes down to how well your business case can persuade the decision-makers. That’s why you shouldn’t just build a case off of raw numbers. The bottom line might be a compelling argument, but it’s not always what “clicks.”  If you’re presenting a business case, you’re a salesperson. And not every sale is a matter of precise logic. It’s also about emotion—the story of why something’s gone wrong and what needs doing if you’re going to overcome it.  The art of a good business case is the art of persuasion. Keep these specific points in mind as you craft one of your own: Point to an example of a bad business case and liken it to the present case. No one likes the idea of watching themselves walk into a mistake. Presenting an example of a business that made the same mistake your company is making and then translating it into the present moment is a compelling way to craft a business case that makes ears perk up. Build a narrative. Nancy Duarte pointed out that in one business case, a client convinced a CEO to follow through with a project by using simple illustrations. It’s not that the idea of adding illustrations to the business case was so great. It’s that the illustrations were able to tell a compelling story about why the case needed to go through. Distill the idea into an elevator pitch. Try this exercise: get your business case down to one sentence. If you can’t explain it any more simply than that, your business case might not be as memorable as it needs to be to sway decision-makers. Use analogies to drive the point home. Let’s say you discovered a problem in a growing business. Overall, revenues are good — but you’ve noticed an associated cost that has the potential to explode in the future and tank the business. But it’s not compelling to use dollars and cents when the business is doing so well. Instead, consider introducing the business case with a simple analogy: “Without repair, every leaky boat eventually sinks.” You now have their attention. Use the numbers to drive the point home, but not to make the point. If you’re presenting a business case to decision-makers, remember that it’s not only the logic of your argument that will convince people — it’s how persuasive you can be. Business case checklist Before you can check “learn how to write a business case” off your list, you have to know the essentials. Make sure you include the following elements in your business case checklist (and, of course, your business case itself): Reasons. This should be the most compelling part of your business case. You can tell a story here. And the most compelling stories start with a loss or a complication of some sort. What is the threat to the business that needs remedy? What are the reasons for moving forward? Potential courses of action. It’s not a complete story until we know the next chapter. A business case isn’t just about the problem — it’s about rectifying a problem through the solution. Recommend a few specific courses of action to help spur discussion about what to do next. Risks and benefits. Not every solution is going to be perfectly clean. There are going to be solutions with downsides. There are going to be costs along with the benefits. Make sure to include each of these to give a clear and complete picture. This is the time to manage expectations — but also the time to inspire action. Cost. What’s it going to cost to complete the project? The people making the decisions need to know the bottom line figure to assess which business cases to prioritize. Timeline. A good project isn’t only measured in dollars but in days, weeks, and months. What is the expected timeline for the business case? How quickly can the problem meet its solution?  With every business case, specificity is key. A vague timeline won’t help — a timeline with specific weekly milestones looks more achievable. To make your business case more compelling, always look for the specific details that tie your story together. Business case template A business case template is a document that outlines the key elements of a business case in a structured format. By using a standardized template, companies can ensure that all relevant information is captured and shared in a clear and consistent manner. Depending on the size of your business and the scope of your project, your business case template can be as detailed or as simple as you like. For a smaller project, you can use a one-pager to get started, detailing the main points of your project, which include: Executive summary: An overview of your project, its goals, and the benefits of completing it for your business Team and stakeholders: A list of the relevant people involved in your project, and their contact information SWOT analysis: An analysis of how your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats weigh up against your competitors Risk analysis: An overview of the kind of risks that are involved with your project and how you may avoid them Budget and financial plan: Details of your budget and where you may secure financing for your project Project plan: A schedule of how you plan to implement your project and what tasks are involved Let's see what that might look like. Executive summary   Team and stakeholders   SWOT analysis   Risk analysis   Budget   Project plan   How to write a business case with Wrike Wrike’s project management software can step in and turn a business case from the seedling of an idea to a full-fledged initiative.  The requirements management pre-built template can help you document and track project requirements in a structured manner. The template includes sections for capturing stakeholder requirements and business cases, as well as any constraints that may affect the project’s success. By using this template, you can ensure that all necessary requirements are identified and that potential issues are addressed early in the project planning process. If you want to move from the business case description to the actual implementation faster, consider using the project scheduling template. This template can help you create a detailed project timeline with milestones, identify task dependencies, and assign resources. By utilizing this template, you can ensure that the project is realistically achievable and meets all business needs, giving stakeholders confidence in the project’s success.

Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

Learn how to create an operational plan that will help your business succeed. Check out our guide to everything you need to know about operational planning.

What Is a PMIS and How Does it Work?

What Is a PMIS and How Does it Work?

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How to make a business plan

Strategic planning in Miro

Table of Contents

How to make a good business plan: step-by-step guide.

A business plan is a strategic roadmap used to navigate the challenging journey of entrepreneurship. It's the foundation upon which you build a successful business.

A well-crafted business plan can help you define your vision, clarify your goals, and identify potential problems before they arise.

But where do you start? How do you create a business plan that sets you up for success?

This article will explore the step-by-step process of creating a comprehensive business plan.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document that outlines a business's objectives, strategies, and operational procedures. It typically includes the following information about a company:

Products or services

Target market

Competitors

Marketing and sales strategies

Financial plan

Management team

A business plan serves as a roadmap for a company's success and provides a blueprint for its growth and development. It helps entrepreneurs and business owners organize their ideas, evaluate the feasibility, and identify potential challenges and opportunities.

As well as serving as a guide for business owners, a business plan can attract investors and secure funding. It demonstrates the company's understanding of the market, its ability to generate revenue and profits, and its strategy for managing risks and achieving success.

Business plan vs. business model canvas

A business plan may seem similar to a business model canvas, but each document serves a different purpose.

A business model canvas is a high-level overview that helps entrepreneurs and business owners quickly test and iterate their ideas. It is often a one-page document that briefly outlines the following:

Key partnerships

Key activities

Key propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

Key resources

Cost structure

Revenue streams

On the other hand, a Business Plan Template provides a more in-depth analysis of a company's strategy and operations. It is typically a lengthy document and requires significant time and effort to develop.

A business model shouldn’t replace a business plan, and vice versa. Business owners should lay the foundations and visually capture the most important information with a Business Model Canvas Template . Because this is a fast and efficient way to communicate a business idea, a business model canvas is a good starting point before developing a more comprehensive business plan.

A business plan can aim to secure funding from investors or lenders, while a business model canvas communicates a business idea to potential customers or partners.

Why is a business plan important?

A business plan is crucial for any entrepreneur or business owner wanting to increase their chances of success.

Here are some of the many benefits of having a thorough business plan.

Helps to define the business goals and objectives

A business plan encourages you to think critically about your goals and objectives. Doing so lets you clearly understand what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.

A well-defined set of goals, objectives, and key results also provides a sense of direction and purpose, which helps keep business owners focused and motivated.

Guides decision-making

A business plan requires you to consider different scenarios and potential problems that may arise in your business. This awareness allows you to devise strategies to deal with these issues and avoid pitfalls.

With a clear plan, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions aligning with their overall business goals and objectives. This helps reduce the risk of making costly mistakes and ensures they make decisions with long-term success in mind.

Attracts investors and secures funding

Investors and lenders often require a business plan before considering investing in your business. A document that outlines the company's goals, objectives, and financial forecasts can help instill confidence in potential investors and lenders.

A well-written business plan demonstrates that you have thoroughly thought through your business idea and have a solid plan for success.

Identifies potential challenges and risks

A business plan requires entrepreneurs to consider potential challenges and risks that could impact their business. For example:

Is there enough demand for my product or service?

Will I have enough capital to start my business?

Is the market oversaturated with too many competitors?

What will happen if my marketing strategy is ineffective?

By identifying these potential challenges, entrepreneurs can develop strategies to mitigate risks and overcome challenges. This can reduce the likelihood of costly mistakes and ensure the business is well-positioned to take on any challenges.

Provides a basis for measuring success

A business plan serves as a framework for measuring success by providing clear goals and financial projections . Entrepreneurs can regularly refer to the original business plan as a benchmark to measure progress. By comparing the current business position to initial forecasts, business owners can answer questions such as:

Are we where we want to be at this point?

Did we achieve our goals?

If not, why not, and what do we need to do?

After assessing whether the business is meeting its objectives or falling short, business owners can adjust their strategies as needed.

How to make a business plan step by step

The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include.

1. Create an executive summary

Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

Keep your executive summary concise and clear with the Executive Summary Template . The simple design helps readers understand the crux of your business plan without reading the entire document.

2. Write your company description

Provide a detailed explanation of your company. Include information on what your company does, the mission statement, and your vision for the future.

Provide additional background information on the history of your company, the founders, and any notable achievements or milestones.

3. Conduct a market analysis

Conduct an in-depth analysis of your industry, competitors, and target market. This is best done with a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Next, identify your target market's needs, demographics, and behaviors.

Use the Competitive Analysis Template to brainstorm answers to simple questions like:

What does the current market look like?

Who are your competitors?

What are they offering?

What will give you a competitive advantage?

Who is your target market?

What are they looking for and why?

How will your product or service satisfy a need?

These questions should give you valuable insights into the current market and where your business stands.

4. Describe your products and services

Provide detailed information about your products and services. This includes pricing information, product features, and any unique selling points.

Use the Product/Market Fit Template to explain how your products meet the needs of your target market. Describe what sets them apart from the competition.

5. Design a marketing and sales strategy

Outline how you plan to promote and sell your products. Your marketing strategy and sales strategy should include information about your:

Pricing strategy

Advertising and promotional tactics

Sales channels

The Go to Market Strategy Template is a great way to visually map how you plan to launch your product or service in a new or existing market.

6. Determine budget and financial projections

Document detailed information on your business’ finances. Describe the current financial position of the company and how you expect the finances to play out.

Some details to include in this section are:

Startup costs

Revenue projections

Profit and loss statement

Funding you have received or plan to receive

Strategy for raising funds

7. Set the organization and management structure

Define how your company is structured and who will be responsible for each aspect of the business. Use the Business Organizational Chart Template to visually map the company’s teams, roles, and hierarchy.

As well as the organization and management structure, discuss the legal structure of your business. Clarify whether your business is a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or LLC.

8. Make an action plan

At this point in your business plan, you’ve described what you’re aiming for. But how are you going to get there? The Action Plan Template describes the following steps to move your business plan forward. Outline the next steps you plan to take to bring your business plan to fruition.

Types of business plans

Several types of business plans cater to different purposes and stages of a company's lifecycle. Here are some of the most common types of business plans.

Startup business plan

A startup business plan is typically an entrepreneur's first business plan. This document helps entrepreneurs articulate their business idea when starting a new business.

Not sure how to make a business plan for a startup? It’s pretty similar to a regular business plan, except the primary purpose of a startup business plan is to convince investors to provide funding for the business. A startup business plan also outlines the potential target market, product/service offering, marketing plan, and financial projections.

Strategic business plan

A strategic business plan is a long-term plan that outlines a company's overall strategy, objectives, and tactics. This type of strategic plan focuses on the big picture and helps business owners set goals and priorities and measure progress.

The primary purpose of a strategic business plan is to provide direction and guidance to the company's management team and stakeholders. The plan typically covers a period of three to five years.

Operational business plan

An operational business plan is a detailed document that outlines the day-to-day operations of a business. It focuses on the specific activities and processes required to run the business, such as:

Organizational structure

Staffing plan

Production plan

Quality control

Inventory management

Supply chain

The primary purpose of an operational business plan is to ensure that the business runs efficiently and effectively. It helps business owners manage their resources, track their performance, and identify areas for improvement.

Growth-business plan

A growth-business plan is a strategic plan that outlines how a company plans to expand its business. It helps business owners identify new market opportunities and increase revenue and profitability. The primary purpose of a growth-business plan is to provide a roadmap for the company's expansion and growth.

The 3 Horizons of Growth Template is a great tool to identify new areas of growth. This framework categorizes growth opportunities into three categories: Horizon 1 (core business), Horizon 2 (emerging business), and Horizon 3 (potential business).

One-page business plan

A one-page business plan is a condensed version of a full business plan that focuses on the most critical aspects of a business. It’s a great tool for entrepreneurs who want to quickly communicate their business idea to potential investors, partners, or employees.

A one-page business plan typically includes sections such as business concept, value proposition, revenue streams, and cost structure.

Best practices for how to make a good business plan

Here are some additional tips for creating a business plan:

Use a template

A template can help you organize your thoughts and effectively communicate your business ideas and strategies. Starting with a template can also save you time and effort when formatting your plan.

Miro’s extensive library of customizable templates includes all the necessary sections for a comprehensive business plan. With our templates, you can confidently present your business plans to stakeholders and investors.

Be practical

Avoid overestimating revenue projections or underestimating expenses. Your business plan should be grounded in practical realities like your budget, resources, and capabilities.

Be specific

Provide as much detail as possible in your business plan. A specific plan is easier to execute because it provides clear guidance on what needs to be done and how. Without specific details, your plan may be too broad or vague, making it difficult to know where to start or how to measure success.

Be thorough with your research

Conduct thorough research to fully understand the market, your competitors, and your target audience . By conducting thorough research, you can identify potential risks and challenges your business may face and develop strategies to mitigate them.

Get input from others

It can be easy to become overly focused on your vision and ideas, leading to tunnel vision and a lack of objectivity. By seeking input from others, you can identify potential opportunities you may have overlooked.

Review and revise regularly

A business plan is a living document. You should update it regularly to reflect market, industry, and business changes. Set aside time for regular reviews and revisions to ensure your plan remains relevant and effective.

Create a winning business plan to chart your path to success

Starting or growing a business can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, a well-written business plan can make or break your business’ success.

The purpose of a business plan is more than just to secure funding and attract investors. It also serves as a roadmap for achieving your business goals and realizing your vision. With the right mindset, tools, and strategies, you can develop a visually appealing, persuasive business plan.

Ready to make an effective business plan that works for you? Check out our library of ready-made strategy and planning templates and chart your path to success.

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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 presearch.org because it lets you directly search on a ton of different platforms including Google, Youtube, Twitter, and more. Check out the screenshot for the full list of search options.

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

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

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

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

Identify Demographics of Target Market

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

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan

Business plan development

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

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

  • Business Plan Cover Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Executive Summary

Company Description

  • Description of Products and Services

SWOT Analysis

  • Competitor Data
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Marketing Expenses Strategy 

Pricing Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A notepad with a written executive summary for business plan writing

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

Mike told us,

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

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

It consists of three basic parts:

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

Example of an informal executive summary 

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

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

What should I include in an executive summary for investors?

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

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

Successful business plan examples

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

Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:

When to write an executive summary?

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

What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description

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

  • Mission statement
  • Philosophy and vision
  • Company goals

Target market

  • Legal structure

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

Mission Statement

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

Company Philosophy and Vision

Writing the company philosophy and vision

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

What makes your company different?

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

Examples of core values

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

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

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

What is a vision statement?

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

Example vision statements

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

A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.

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

Business Goals

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

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

How far in advance should a business plan?

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

Example of great business goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry resources

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

  • Trade Associations
  • Federal Reserve
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Legal Structure

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

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

Partnerships

Corporations.

  • Franchises.

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

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

Sole Proprietorship

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

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

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

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

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

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

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

An iPad with colored pens on a desk

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

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

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

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

Questions to answer about your products and services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SWOT Examples

Business plan SWOT analysis

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

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

  • 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 $75K/Month Car Detailing Business (2024)

Auto detailing can be highly profitable with a low barrier to entry and equally low overhead costs. We'll show you how to start a car detailing business.

Let us demonstrate how owning a car detailing business isn't complicated or expensive.

We gathered expert advice from GoDetail founder and owner Alan Tursunbaev. He started the auto detailing business for extra money between high school and college. At 22, he's making $75K per month. Even better, he's increased revenue by 50% in the last six months. Best of all, he offers $10 discounts for every referral a customer sends.

We'll explain the step-by-step process of how to start a car detailing business. By the end of this article, you'll understand more about:

  • Car detailing business skills
  • Mobile detailing services
  • Car detailing business plans
  • Cleaning business names
  • Business structure and other legal requirements
  • Cleaning business finances
  • Safety during business operations
  • Equipment for mobile detailing businesses
  • Mobile car detailer marketing
  • Employee management structure
  • Processing documentation

Are you ready to start a successful car detailing business?

Step 1. Learn more about the car detailing business

There are three areas you should understand before starting a car detailing business:

  • Car detailing industry
  • Detailing technical skills
  • Soft skills

Learn about the mobile detailing industry

Someone starting a car detailing company needs to understand the $14.7 billion car wash and auto detailing industry. We'll answer some common questions about how to start a mobile detailing business.

How much do car detailers make?

According to IBISWorld Report 81119A , there are over 67,000 companies under NAICS Code 811192. That means the average company makes around $220,000, but it varies dramatically.

GoDetail makes approximately $900K per year, making it over four times the revenue of the average company.

How much does a car detailing business owner make?

The net income for the industry is 17.1% of revenue, which means that the average small business owner makes approximately $37,620 in profit plus any salary they take from mobile car cleaning. But, Alan told us:

[su_quote]We make around 60% gross profit. (That converts to about 42% net income, or over $300K net income)[/su_quote]

Check out our first interview with Alan below:

How much does it cost to start detailing business operations?

Alan started his mobile car detailing business with $500. So you don't need much money when starting a mobile detail business. If you are starting a detail business with a physical location, it may cost $20,000 to $10 million, depending on the cost of land, equipment, and labor in your area.

Now, just because you can start this business with $500 doesn't mean that's the best choice. A larger investment at the start can often help you grow faster so you'll end up with more money in the long term. This doesn't need to mean taking out a massive loan, either. A business line of credit gives you access to funds when you need them and you'll only accrue interest on the money you use, making it a flexible and cost-saving way to get a quick cash infusion for a new detailing business.

start up project business plan

The good news is that starting an auto detailing business doesn't require a ton of experience. Over 90% of US households have access to at least one vehicle. So, services catering to automobile owners aren't going anywhere!

Let's get into the “details” about starting a car detailing service.

Skills for a mobile car detailing business 

So what are the skills you'll need? You'll need to be able to do the following when starting a detailing business:

  • Air compressor operation
  • Car washing and drying by hand
  • Leather conditioning
  • Pressure washing
  • Upholstery cleaning
  • Wet and dry vacuuming

Learn and practice these skills, and you're on your way to becoming a successful auto detailer!

Alternatively, you can watch YouTube auto detailing videos or read Detailing 101 . Simple, right?

Auto detailing certification

Automotive detailing doesn't have as many certifications as other cleaning businesses do. Here are a few you might consider when you start a detailing business:

International Detailing Association (IDA)

The IDA offers four levels of certification. With each one, you get uniform badges, branding materials, and a listing on the IDA website. Check out their certifications:

  • Certified Detailer (Phase 1) : 10 tests you can take online that cost $400 for nonmembers (NM) or $200 when you buy a $110 per year membership .
  • Skills Validated Detailer (Phase 2) : Same pricing as Phase 1 but requires four mobile detailing skills tests.
  • Recognized Independent Trainer : Requires active membership, Phase 2 certification, three years of training experience, references, and an outline of the training to be considered.
  • Marine Certification : If you want to be a mobile detailer who works on boats, you'll have to take the Phase 1 exam, then take the $400 NM or $200 member five-part certification exam.

start up project business plan

Detail King

Starting a car detailing business is easier with Detail King. You might want to consider Detail King because they are:

  • A Pennsylvania accredited technical school for detailers.
  • A supply house for everything mobile auto detailing related (You’ll get discounts on cleaning business startup kits and supplies.)
  • Paint restoration trainers, which means you’ll have a chance to expand revenue streams.
  • Ceramic coating trainers, which helps mobile detailing businesses offer a service that starts at $1,000, and improves resale value by documenting it on Carfax. Ceramics protect against scratches, small dings, and corrosion.
  • Offering licenses which are the equivalent of a franchise without the franchise fees.

Not-so-technical skills

The key to Alan's success is incredible customer service and looking at the big picture. He adds value to his mobile detailing service by:

  • being personable
  • learning names
  • sharing detailing tricks with customers

The common denominator of successful businesses, especially startups, is excellent customer service.

Don't neglect these soft skills:

  • communication
  • trustworthiness

Alan told us:

[su_quote]Customers prefer over-communication rather than under-communication.[/su_quote]

He added that you need to hire employees, automate, and create scripts to build this into your mobile detailing business model and grow.

The International Detailing Association ( IDA ) published a code of ethics you might want to check out.

Here's the formula

start up project business plan

The formula for gaining skills and experience for starting a car wash business is:

  • Learn technical skills.
  • Pay close attention while detailing cars.
  • Nurture those soft skills.

There are even more mobile auto detail tips available on Detail University !

It's that simple. Now shake that up and spray it over any areas of doubt you had about how to start a detail business.

Step 2. What type of detailing business is right for you?

GoDetail provides both home auto detailing and commercial fleet detailing services, but there are many types of detailing businesses. For example, your small business can concentrate on:

  • at-home car detailing
  • commercial fleet inventories, such as a car dealership
  • recreational vehicles (RVs)
  • shop, garage, or car wash-based operation

[/su_note] Stationary or mobile?

Alan and his crew have both mobile and stationary car detailing. Mobile sounds convenient, right? Keep reading to decide what works for you.  

Stationary car detailing businesses need a garage, lobby, office, adequate plumbing, parking lot, and other infrastructure. It's easy to realize that this is the more expensive option. Nevertheless, it can be very profitable. Read more about costs and garage setup when starting a car detail business.

Two types of stationary detailing shops

start up project business plan

There are generally two types: high-volume and boutique. 

How to start a car detail business with high volume

A high-volume business location serves customers looking for lower-cost services. These small businesses offer:

  • convenience
  • fast service
  • high volume (of course)
  • more workers with fewer skills
  • A mix of automation, self-serve, and manual service

People might vacuum their own car at these. Some local businesses even require the owner to hand wash the car.

Most businesses that require a customer to wash their own car have gone out of business. If you find one, you might want to buy it because you can add automation without needing to pay for as many construction costs.

Starting detailing business: Boutique

Alternatively, boutiques attract customers with luxury vehicles who appreciate first-class treatment and advanced services, such as paint corrections. A boutique detailer provides:

  • high prices
  • services for high-end vehicles
  • small, well-trained staff
  • specialized services, including ceramic coatings

Don't assume less work and more money is always better. If your personality isn't refined, a boutique may not be right for you. Maybe you want to do something else involving motor vehicles like:

  • Become an auto mechanic
  • Start a food truck

In essence, consider your options and make the best choice for you.

How to start mobile detailing business

Mobile detailing is better for many small business owners because it requires less capital and experience.

Notto Jensen, the owner of Attention 2 Detail attributes much of his success to this decision:

Starting small and being mobile...turned out to be an asset.

Here's the magic: All you need is a van and some supplies. Alan estimates startup costs for supplies are around $500. You can get a used van with under 100K miles for $10K to $20K.

start up project business plan

Take the next step by researching how to accept payments. Start by reading this: “ Invoices & Receipts 101 for Auto Detailers. ” There's good stuff there.

The competitive advantage of a mobile car wash business

Notto realized that starting small, being mobile, and not being able to afford overhead initially benefited him. He says: 

[su_quote]I found that very busy people couldn't believe that we would come to their house and take care of it.[/su_quote]

We also interviewed Isaiah Barhoum of Big's Mobile Detailing. 

There's plenty of business ideas you can consider. Check out our courses here .

Step 3. Write a car detailing business plan

I know what you're thinking: I can learn how to start a car detailing business from home and watch the profits shine. Well, there's more to it than that. The deal is that a car wash business plan is your roadmap to long-term success.

Business plan sections are pretty standard. Make sure to include:

  • auto detailing insurance
  • competitive analysis of car detailing in my area
  • detailing supplies
  • financial projections
  • ideal physical location
  • licenses and permits
  • marketing plan
  • strategies to make money

And the best part is that UpFlip's guide steers you through writing a business plan, including a free template to download. It's worth your time to check it out.

Step 4. Choose a name

Now, it's time for some fun!

Choosing a name is an exciting part of the entrepreneurial process. Enjoy being creative, but consider the following points:

  • Add your details: You want people to know what you do, but don't constrain yourself too much. GoDetail and Attention 2 Detail both state what they do, but Attention 2 Detail can be expanded to any niche.
  • Easy and clear: Potential customers may be put off by a name they struggle to spell or pronounce. Keep it simple.
  • Location: Consider including your location to attract customers in your area and establish yourself within the local region.
  • Branding: Ask yourself if you can easily incorporate your name into branding elements, such as logos and graphics. For inspiration, read the histories behind famous car logos .

start up project business plan

Set up a dot com

Using a dot com in your website address looks very official. Run your name through this domain name search to see what's available. Also, it's worth your time to read UpFlip's guide on creating a website .

Lock it all in

Run your business name by some trusted friends and family (and Google Trends ) and then register it legally, which brings us to our next step below.

Step 5. How to start a car detailing business

Establishing a legal structure is vital and legally necessary, and it might require professional help . The experts at CorpNet understand all the ins and outs of what it takes to set up and run a business legally. They can also be helpful down the line with things like payroll tax registration and other legal matters that will come up as you grow. If you're just looking for more information, check out their Learning Center for comparisons of different legal structures and other helpful knowledge. 

Your new detailing business will likely need assorted licenses, permits, and tax forms. Find out what you'll need from the Small Business Administration ( SBA ) and Municode Library .

The Municode Library is great, but most of us aren't lawyers. Fortunately, I went through and gathered the information for cleaning businesses and most of it will apply to mobile detailing.

Business structure & car detailing license

start up project business plan

There are several types of business structures you may want to use. You can file for most of them on the Secretary of State website for your state.

  • S-Corporation : Best for high earning companies that want to lower business owner taxes. Limited number of stockholders, provides personal liability protection, requires business owners to receive salary (and optional dividends), no double taxation.
  • C-Corporation : Best for companies trying to change the world. Unlimited stockholders, provides personal liability protection, high compliance costs, and double taxation. Business owners can earn money through multiple income streams with different tax codes.
  • Limited Liability Company : Best for companies that want to separate business entities from personal assets. Provides limited liability, pass-through income, and no double taxation.
  • Sole Proprietorship : Best to just get started. Doesn't provide liability protection or create a separate business entity, and is considered personal income. Don't use a sole proprietorship if you hire employees.

To learn more about business structures, check out our blog on 11 structures . You'll also want to get your business licensed. Some states let you do it all at once. Don't forget to grab an employer identification number from the IRS . It's like a social security number for your business.

Open a business bank account

start up project business plan

To run a successful business, you need to open a business bank account because you need to separate your business and personal finances. Business bank accounts can be either online or from banks and credit unions.

Online banks tend to have better offers, but they might not offer the range of business credit card accounts you can open in the legacy banking system. If credit accounts or making cash deposits are important to you, go with the legacy banks. Learn more .

Get business insurance

You'll want to get business insurance including:

  • General liability insurance
  • Property damage insurance
  • Workers compensation insurance
  • Cyber Security Insurance (You have people's credit cards, names, and addresses.)

Consider Simply Business  t o get the most competitive insurance quotes for your business.

Step 6. Set up your car detailing business finances

Let's talk numbers. You already have a budget from your business plan and know what the industry profit margin is. How are you going to fund the business?

People working on table

The auto detailing industry's barrier to entry is low, but funding is an important step. Try business financing through one of our partners. Other sources provide a boost, such as:

  • angel investor
  • business partner(s)
  • credit cards
  • crowdfunding
  • government programs
  • home equity loan
  • friends or family
  • personal finance through savings or wages
  • rollover for business startups ( ROBS )

Each method has its pros and cons. For example, personal funds help you possess full ownership and avoid interest, but they might place you in a risky position financially.

Pricing structure

Rather than charging per hour, Alan set prices for car detailing based on the size of the car. Make sure to have a price list for common cars. Notto charges per foot for boat detailing. Customers appreciate transparency.

Charge extra on the initial detailing or when the vehicle has extra grime. Explain to customers that a routine detail will cost less per cleaning because it keeps the car cleaner.

Once you have a price locked in for a customer, put it in writing. If needed, create a contract with crystal clear terms. It makes sense, right?

Revenue and profit

[su_quote]We currently clean about four to six cars a day.[/su_quote]

He has 18 employees, bringing in revenue of around $75,000 per month. For more information on how to profit from detailing services, take Detail King's advice for a spin.

Step 7. Establish safety protocols

start up project business plan

Training and adhering to safety guidelines , such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA ) guidelines, are essential in this business. Take them seriously to keep all parties safe from injury, fines, and legal action.

Know your stuff

Be familiar with detailing chemicals and equipment operations, and investigate locations before performing a mobile detail. Here's the truth: good practices mitigate risk and prevent fines over violations.

Environmental concerns

Both mobile and brick-and-mortar detailers must be mindful of issues and regulations about the environment, like the Clean Water Act and Ozone Transport Commission ( OTC ).

IDA explains environmental concerns on their website. Also, you can offer eco-friendly products for your service.

Step 8. Get equipment and supplies

Equipment and supplies for a detailing business vary for mobile or stationary, with items in common. Let's open the door and hop in.

Common supplies

start up project business plan

Car detailing businesses need the same essential items, such as brushes, polishers, and a vacuum. Learn more by reading IDA's list of essential equipment for detailers. It's worth your time to check it out. You'll also need to get some software to run your business.

Software for Mobile Detailing

A solid CRM software is a must for any mobile business, ensuring your employee and customer communications are organized and that no tasks are falling through the cracks. The Monday Sales CRM platform is our favorite at UpFlip because it integrates your sales pipeline and lead management into your customer engagement portal so everything's in one convenient place.

Alan uses Housecall Pro, a software built for the mobile detailer . Housecall Pro CRM has features built-in to increase customer satisfaction, transparency, and communication, while simplifying your employees jobs.

Don't buff out the importance of a polisher

As Notto puts it, your “main muscle” is your buffer, which you can purchase easily from retailers . There's also a ton of options for wax . Notto suggests finding two or three that work for you. There's no need to buy them all.

Water reclamation

Some detailers collect and dispose of greywater with a water reclamation system. Detail King offers guidance , but that's only part of the story because certain states regulate greywater . So, be sure you comply with applicable laws.

Alan prefers to use Optimum No Rinse (ONR) because it reduces the water needed down to a bucket. Requires one ounce of ONR and two gallons of water per car.

At the time of writing this article, costs for important detailing equipment you'll need are as follows:

  • Absorber (Notto's favorite towel) $20 for two
  • All-purpose cleaner $7
  • Buffer $120
  • Hoses and nozzles $75 to $100
  • Leather cleaner and shoe brush $15
  • Pressure washer $159 (You don't need this if you're using ONR)
  • Shop-Vac $100
  • Small tools, such as grout brushes $13
  • Business cards $30

Imagine running out of drying towels at a customer's house. Instead of watching water droplets form white spots on the great wash you just performed, plan with backup supplies and equipment.

Acquire what you can at first, but heed Notto's advice that not having them can “stop you dead in your tracks.” Don't let this be you.

Mobile detailing business

A mobile detailing setup requires a heavy-duty vehicle , such as a van, SUV, or trailer. Be sure it's reliable, presentable, and has plenty of space for supplies and equipment. Notto stresses vehicle reliability as the key to success .

Are you wondering where the water comes from to wash all these vehicles? 

Some mobile car detailing businesses utilize the customer's residential water supply, while other mobile car wash businesses have a water tank . There are also “ waterless ” detailing supplies like ONR.

Step 9. Hire employees

Alan had a lot to say about hiring employees. He's hired 18 of them and told us:

He went on to explain:

Alan emphasized the importance of paying them well and commission.

Once you get busy enough, Alan recommends hiring employees, then a receptionist, and finally a manager. He cautioned people against one of the biggest mistakes when hiring:

[su_quote]Don’t expect them to change. If they aren’t reliable, it’s better to fire them and hire someone new.[/su_quote]

Watch our interview with him below.

According to Notto:

[su_quote]Finding the right people, rewarding them, giving them a little bit of ownership. . . and just making sure that you have that same vision.[/su_quote]

Some of the qualities of a good employee include:

  • enthusiastic
  • safety-conscious
  • team player

It also helps if they possess technical skills, which can be taught. Also, here's a great new hire checklist for a car detailing business.

Step 10. Develop a sales and marketing strategy

Sales and marketing strategy

Marketing is super important, and sales bring in revenue. So, don't skimp on your sales and marketing budget.

[su_quote]Don’t have all your eggs in one basket.[/su_quote]

His marketing budget is $3,500, and it's divided evenly between:

  • Print materials
  • Business cards

According to Carfax.com , an excellent selling point is that a regularly cleaned car increases its resale value and promotes pride in ownership. Keep reading to learn more about your sales audience.

Market Research: Identify your customer

Create an ideal customer persona to help you pinpoint your ideal demographic. Narrowing down the characteristics of your ideal customer will help you build your customer base.

Read more about identifying ideal customers and creating a customer persona.

Do some research to figure out who is willing to pay for the services you provide in your area. Once you've narrowed it down, go out and find some customers!

Digital marketing

In the digital age, your online presence is how customers find you. A website, social media accounts, email newsletters, and digital advertising are all practical marketing tools. Check out Upflip's helpful guide on creating a website.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

[su_quote]Hire an expert. Don't try to do it yourself. you have too much going on.[/su_quote]

Be sure to implement SEO for the best results. Services like Surfer can help you with that. And the best part is you can always perform a quick test to determine if your SEO is working.

Check out what Entrepreneur.com has to say about finding a reputable SEO company. And once you have your website, don't forget to explore the following opportunities to improve SEO:

  • featured snippets
  • Google Business Profile
  • optimization of your site for speed

Digital business card

Try a digital business card service, like Popl , that allows you to link your contacts, websites, social pages, payment apps, and promotional material all from one page.

Social media

People working on table

Instead of spending too much time scrolling through social media, make it work for your business! Facebook and Instagram provide free insights on business accounts, with opportunities to run paid ads. 

Managing multiple social media platforms can take a lot of time, and that's something most small business owners don't have to spare. Tailwind makes this easier by managing your email and social media marketing across platforms, and is an especially useful tool for small detailing businesses that don't have the budget for dedicated marketing staff.

Email newsletter

A newsletter is an excellent way to keep in touch with customers and send them coupons. Mailchimp and Constant Contact provide awesome email marketing tools.

Digital advertising

Take your ad dollars one step further with broader digital marketing efforts. Consider pay-per-click (PPC), marketing automation, and other avenues.

Printed materials

[su_quote]Print marketing can be very effective, but tailor it based on the target market.[/su_quote]

Consider creating mailers, brochures, business cards, car magnets, flyers, t-shirts, and other promotional swag as a way of getting your name out there. Use an application like Canva to help. Alan told us about his car detailing business cards:

[su_quote]We have a scratch-off that reveals a QR code with a discount. Feel free to steal the idea.[/su_quote]

Direct contact

Cold-calling and door-to-door advertising are less common these days than they were when Notto started in the mid-nineties, but these methods can still be effective if done responsibly.

Polished appearance

Cap and detailing uniform on the table

Like the vehicles you clean, everything about your appearance should sparkle. Be a rolling advertisement by ensuring your crew, equipment, and fleet vehicles look polished.

Consider simple uniforms and vehicle branding to look professional and maximize advertising.

Get reviews to feed the crews

Don't forget reviews! They're a cost-effective way to appeal to customers online. Excellent service with a friendly approach will result in good reviews.

[su_quote]You need to focus on building the team, marketing, (and) getting reviews. Everything else you can pay someone to do.[/su_quote]

In addition, actively seek reviews ! Alan uses Housecall Pro to have reviews automatically sent to his customer base. However, he's building his own CRM that will fix some of their problems and cost each car detailing business about half as much.

Otherwise, only negative reviews will prevail. For bad reviews (warranted or not), respond professionally .

Good feedback leads to new customers and encourages repeat business. It's a car detailing shop, so you know customers will need recurring service. Simple, right?

Step 11. Document business processes

Notebook with creative process concept on table

Establish good processes that scale easily and that others can follow. You won't let go of the wheel completely, but it will help you smooth bumps in the road. Use Lucidchart to document them in a process map .

Here's a basic “process” for working through your options:

  • Set a goal for your process mapping session.
  • Include all roles involved in the workflow.
  • Identify the issue you hope to solve with the map.
  • List all activities.
  • Determine the triggers, inputs, and outputs.
  • Flow out the steps and decisions because you can't always depend on the “ideal” path.
  • Make the final draft, get all roles to agree, and sign off on the process map.

Create a successful car detailing business

The internet won't replace the service industry. Making cars clean and shiny isn't going anywhere soon. Before starting your auto detailing business, ask yourself two fundamental questions:

  • What do I need to research?
  • Am I capable of providing a great experience through top-level customer service?

It might seem like a lot, but don't overcomplicate it. In truth, you can start a car detailing business quickly.

Have the vision to provide outstanding service, have fun, make money, and make people happy. That's all you need to succeed. Now buckle in and drive through the wash bay to come out as a clean, mean detailing machine. 

Take the next step in learning more about vehicles—and potential customers—by reading about car rental and charter boat businesses.

What are some of the best strategies you have found to improve your business results?

Free Business Plan Template (With Examples)

What makes a good business plan template?

  • An executive summary

Your mission and goals

  • Your strategies 
  • Your strengths and weaknesses

How you fit in the external environment

Call to action.

  • Documentation

The Executive Summary in a Business Plan Template

UpFlip Youtube art example

  • Looking for funding : How much? Do you want a loan or to sell equity?
  • Looking for employees : What do you want from them? What values should they hold dear to their hearts?
  • Looking for a partnership with another company : Why would the two be a good fit?
  • Just for you : An executive summary might be enough.
  • Your company mission and goals : Why does your company matter?
  • Your product and target market : What are you selling and to whom?
  • Your team : Who is going to help you succeed? You might want to create an organizational chart with your management team, including their skill sets and the gaps you need to fill.
  • Your legal structure : Will how you’re structured lead you to succeed? Don’t even bother applying for financing if you are a sole proprietorship. They won’t take you seriously. Register as an LLC or a Corporation.

Goals drawing in notebook

  • S pecific: What are you trying to achieve? In Boxabl’s case, it is lowering the cost of homeownership for everyone.
  • M easurable: How can you measure it? With Boxabl, you might measure against HomeAdvisor’s estimate to build in an area and the median home sale price in the area.
  • A chievable: Can it be done? For Boxabl, their factory claims to have a production capacity of 30,000 homes annually for $50,000 each (plus land costs). That’s a substantial savings, but it only covers .5% of the US housing sales in 2021 .
  • R ealistic: Can you actually do what needs to be done? In Boxabl’s case, it could reduce the costs in a single city based on current capacity. 30,000 sales would be equal to 60% of Las Vegas home sales in 2021 . 
  • T ime-Oriented: How long will it take? With Boxabl’s design, it could dramatically lower rates in Las Vegas in a year but would need to ramp up production to meet the nationwide levels. It would need to ramp up 120X capacity to reach 60% of all home sales. That means years down the road.

2021 roadmap

  • Whole Economy : Consider GDP growth or shrinkage, interest rates, consumer spending, and anything else that has the ability to impact your business from the highest market analysis standpoint.
  • Industry : What is the industry outlook over the next five to 10 years? How many total businesses are in your industry (both nationwide and locally)? Who are the major players? What percent of the market do the major players service? How much is left for smaller players? How is the industry changing?
  • Individual Companies : What are they doing? What gaps are they leaving? What can you do better? What do their 401K and quarterly reports show?

Gas station map screenshot

Include strengths and weaknesses in a business plan template

  • Your team : Include an organizational chart that outlines your management team, their skill sets, and the gaps you need to fill.
  • Divisions : Do you have divisions that are really strong or weak? How are you going to fix this?
  • Funding : How are your monetary or cash flow scenarios?
  • Vendors: Do you have special vendor scenarios that give you an advantage or disadvantage?
  • Industry : Do you have competitive advantages or disadvantages that other companies don’t have? Does that leave holes for you to fill a service area? Check out the map below for potential holes in the market for gas stations:

Opportunities For Gas Stations

Your strategies (operations).

  • Risk Management
  • Mergers and Acquisitions

People working together on table

  • Target market data
  • Brand assets like logos
  • How you’ll be communicating with potential customers
  • Your marketing channels and budget
  • Examples of your ads if they are truly impressive

Financial History and Projections

  • Your assumptions

Your past performance

  • Your current year forecast 
  • Longer-term outlook (three, five or ten-year outlook)

Assumptions

  • Wage growth
  • Industry growth
  • Market share growth
  • Financing rates
  • Production timelines
  • Marketing metrics

Murphy's laws

Your current year forecast

  • Profit & Loss Statement : This is similar to a Net Income Statement but is made up. It’s for a one-year minimum and may be called a P&L statement.
  • Cash Flow Statement : Here you will show the annual flow of funds in and out of the business.
  • Balance Sheet : Give a comparison of the assets and receivables to the liabilities and owners’ equity.

Longer-term outlook (three, five, or ten-year outlook)

  • A request for financing for equipment, inventory, or other business needs
  • An offer to schedule a meeting to discuss equity purchases
  • Linking to employment applications for applicants
  • A link to a quiz to make sure employees processed the information
  • A request for a tax subsidy from a government

Research and Documentation

Get the primary data set.

Data drawing on a notebook

Buy the Processed Data from a Trusted Source

Add citations to the business plan template.

  • Appendix : Save the documents and add them at the end of your business plan. Make sure you label them well. You might want to use this in combination with footnotes to mark which citation goes with which statement.
  • Footnotes : You’ll want to add a footnote, then put the reference at the bottom of the page using The Chicago Manual of Style . Check the footnote below for how it looks.
  • Hyperlinks : These only work for digital copies, but they send the reader right to the website where the information was retrieved. Just make sure it’s not pay protected. Use these in conjunction with an appendix so you can use the same business plan for both print and digital.
  • American Psychological Association Style
  • Modern Language Association Style

Free Business Plan Templates

  • UpFlip : Download the  template that follows this blog.
  • Score : View three Score templates .
  • Oprah : Oprah offers three templates for business owners.
  • My Own Business Institute : (That’s the name; I don’t own it.) Other than ours, I like this free business plan best. Check it out .
  • BizGym : Want a lean business plan, BizGym is a good one.

How to Buy a Business With No Money (2024)

There are plenty of ways to buy a business with no money. One of the most common strategies is called seller financing—and nearly 80% of business purchases include at least some of it.

We’re going to share some options for buying a business without money, or with very little money, up front. You’ll learn what to look for during a business acquisition and how to negotiate the deal.

[su_note note_color="#dbeafc"]If you’re looking to start buying businesses without money, click on one of the links below—or simply read on—to learn more.

Use seller financing

Get a small business administration (sba) loan, bring on investors or partners, work with business brokers, identify goals before you buy an existing business, find the right business for sale, value the business, negotiate your deal, close the deal and transition into ownership.

  • Why start new businesses when you can buy businesses with no money? [/su_note]

How can I buy a business without money?

Broken open, empty piggy bank with "business for sale" sign propped against a shard

There are multiple ways to buy an existing business from the current business owners. Using a combination of these strategies can help you buy a business with no money of your own. Some of the most common funding options include:

  • Using seller financing
  • Getting a Small Business Administration loan
  • Bringing on investors or partners

Let’s look into each.

Seller financing, also called owner financing, is one of the most common ways of transferring ownership from a current owner to a new business owner. According to the mergers and acquisitions firm Morgan & Westfield , 80% of all small business purchases use at least some seller financing.

In deals that use seller financing, sellers fund a portion of the small business purchase in exchange for a percentage of the cash flow for a specific period after the new business owner takes over. The buyer often pays the remaining balance with a down payment and periodic installments.

The terms of the deal may look something like below:

• Percent seller finances: 10% to 20% • Your down payment: 30% to 80%, but 50% is fairly standard • Interest rates: 6.6% to 16.5%, comparable to the Small Business Administration's current rates • Note duration: Three to seven years

When you propose seller financing, you’ll likely have to create and sign a promissory note and agree to a Uniform Commercial Code lien . Most sellers may require you to maintain specific financial benchmarks as well.

The SBA offers small business loans to people buying a small business. 7(a) loans are easier to get when buying an existing business because there is a record of profitability that new ventures do not have.

When applying for a 7(a) loan, apply for enough financing to purchase the existing business and cover expenses for ongoing operations.

You can also bring on investors or partners when you want to buy a business without money up front. Investors can be a friends-and-family business loan, venture capitalists, or crowdfunding.

How to buy a business with no money

Empty wallet on a wood grain desk next to a mouse, keyboard, and tablet

Buying a business with no money is as simple as following the six-step process below:

  • Identify goals before you buy an existing business.
  • Work with business brokers.
  • Find the right business for sale.
  • Value the business.
  • Negotiate the deal.
  • Close the deal and transition into ownership.

Before you start looking for business acquisitions, you’ll want to think about what you are trying to achieve by buying an established business. You might buy a business to:

  • Hedge risk: Investing in an established, income-generating business can limit risk and provide reliable income, as it has already gone through most of the struggles that upstart companies experience.
  • Accelerate your retirement: A leveraged buyout allows you to keep your current financial investments and grow your income, which gets you closer to retirement.
  • Finance your growth: Using leverage helps small business owners build their businesses quickly.
  • Improve liquidity: Taking out a business loan for a business acquisition will help small business owners increase their cash on hand, which makes it easier to cover business expenses.

In addition to the goals listed above, you may be interested in a specific business model, like an online business or making money with passive income plays.

Buying an existing business is a complex task, and you need an experienced broker to help you enter your next business venture correctly. You’ll want a business broker because they:

  • Have experience completing deals
  • Have tools to help them find and evaluate businesses
  • Routinely deal with business acquisition paperwork
  • Help you through the process

Next, you’ll establish your business acquisition goals.

Buying a business has never been easier. There are several business listing sites, like:

When buying a business, you want to find businesses that can provide a win-win deal. Look for small businesses that have certain qualities. We’ll discuss the essential qualities of a business for sale next.

Look for an owner who is ready to get out

Casually dressed man sitting on a couch reviewing business documents

Buying a business is easier when the seller is looking for potential buyers and wants to sell the business quickly. You’ll have to find out the seller’s motivations for selling the business, which may include:

  • Reaching retirement age
  • Moving to care for a family member
  • Equipment issues
  • Lack of automation
  • High churn rates
  • Lack of marketing
  • Revenue problems
  • Employee turnover

Ultimately, each of these is a potential opportunity for a new business owner to get a deal on the small business and dramatically improve the cash flow and profitability. Some may also lower the purchase price or make it easier to receive seller financing.

Look for businesses with growth opportunities

Some businesses provide clear opportunities for growth if purchased. Look for qualities such as:

  • Outdated technology: Just by implementing new tech, business buyers can dramatically improve operating costs. SBA lenders have loans specifically meant to help a business’s success through improving technology.
  • Lack of competition: Business buyers can really benefit when the competition can’t keep up with the improvements you make once it’s your own business.

Look for businesses you’re familiar with

Concept of a man doing a "local business for sale" search on his laptop with search bar hovering above him while he works on his laptop

While it’s possible to purchase a business you (or consumers) don’t know much about, searching for the following qualities can help ensure a seamless transition:

  • Age: Old, reputable businesses can provide financial security and provide a brand to build upon.
  • Known business models: Own businesses you understand. Spending money on a business model you must learn adds risk and time to learn the business.

Next, you’ll want to dig into the financial statements and other business aspects to decide on a fair business price.

You’ll want to visit the business to check it out. There, you’ll be able to see how it operates, determine where it can improve, and make other observations that can’t be made from afar.

If you like what you see so far, it’s time to send a letter of intent to the business owner so you can start the due diligence process.

You’ll want to understand their financial statements, especially areas like cash flow, operating expenses, accounts receivable, and outstanding debt.

You’ll also want to understand the age of the equipment to determine if you’ll need equipment financing. You may also be able to use the equipment as collateral to secure alternative funding options.

You might want to prepare a list of questions before buying businesses . Then, you’ll want to calculate business valuation , which will guide how much money you’re prepared to spend.

Business people shaking hands over a board room table

Buying a business will require negotiating a price that’s fair to both business owners. You can negotiate both the purchase price and the sale terms, but you need to decide which is more important to you and which is more important to the seller.

When you have multiple financing options lined up or are using your own money up front, you might find it most beneficial to negotiate the price. But when you seek seller financing, you might just give them their asking price in exchange for more favorable financing options.

Offer a higher interest rate

Interest accrual concept shown with increasingly tall stacks of coins overlaid with upward pointing arrows and percentage signs at the top of the stacks

Seller financing can be made more attractive by bumping up the interest rates.

For instance, let’s assume the buyer wants $500K and you want to pay over seven years. That’s not an attractive deal if you offered to pay $75K annually. To get more favorable payment terms, you can raise the interest rate.

Which offer would you take?

  • $500K up front
  • $100K up front and $478K over 2 annual payments
  • $100K up front and $504K over 3 annual payments
  • $100K up front and $528K over 4 annual payments
  • $100K up front and $550K over 5 annual payments
  • $100K up front and $575K over 6 annual payments
  • $100K up front and $630K over 7 annual payments

All except for the last one are paying 10% interest. The last option has a higher interest rate, pays the seller an extra $4K per year, but still allows you to keep more cash on hand each year.

Bring on a silent partner

You can always bring in a silent partner if you don’t have the cash up front. Silent partners contribute monetarily and often benefit from the sale, but they don’t take an active role otherwise.

You might also be able to secure venture capital, though venture capitalists tend to want more involvement. Make sure you negotiate for the venture capitalist to be a silent partner because many actively help investments grow.

Find a secondary source of financing

UpFlip’s how to get a $100K business loan blog post on a laptop

Seller loans don’t normally cover all the financing when buying a business. Loans like SBA financing or traditional bank loans may be secured by using equipment or accounts receivable (meaning the money you are set to make) as collateral.

Learn about in our article about business loans .

Raise the capital through crowdfunding

Crowdfunding uses alternative financing options to get the money you need. With crowdfunding, you can offer donors incentives (like products or equity) in exchange for contributions, or you can offer to pay them back with just like if you were given a loan.

There are tons of options for crowdfunding. Learn more below:

Use your cash flow

A great way to get a loan to buy a business is using your cash flow or accounts receivable to secure a loan. They’ll want to take a specific amount out each week, but it’s another to purchase a business with no money up front.

Learn more about cash flow loans through National Business Credit .

Finance growth

Woman readingUpFlip’s how to write a business plan blog post on a laptop

While deciding how to get financing for a business, don’t forget to give yourself some wiggle room for improvements and operational expenses. You might need to write a business plan to show how the money will be spent. Learn more in our guide to writing a business plan .

Take your time to show you have a plan to turn the funds into new revenue and prove you can pay the loan back.

Once you’ve secured professional advice, chosen the business you want to buy, done your due diligence, secured a loan, paid the down payment, and signed the contract, you’ll still have to transfer ownership. This step includes:

  • Building an operational transition timeline
  • Building relationships with employees
  • Transferring all authorization, contracts, bank accounts, and other legalities
  • Hiring an operator if you plan to be a passive investor

Why start new businesses when you can buy businesses with no money?

Excited young woman business owner pumping her fist and smiling while looking at her laptop

Starting a new business can be a real challenge if you don’t have money. You have to learn a lot as you go and may not be able to afford new freelancers or employees until you start earning revenue.

But buying an existing business without money is something that happens all the time. You’ll start with the business’s existing revenue and systems, then turn your focus to fixing areas that you’ve identified as problematic.

Have you ever bought a business without money? How did it go? We want to know.

start up project business plan

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start up project business plan

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

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Blog Feature Updates Startup Business Plans 101: Your Path to Success

Startup Business Plans 101: Your Path to Success

Written by: Jay Nair Jul 24, 2023

start up project business plan

It’s time — you’ve got a promising idea and you’re now prepared to invest the necessary effort to turn it into reality. Startup business plans are vital hack tools that will guide you through your entrepreneurial journey and a business venture with clarity and purpose.

Though vital, business planning doesn’t have to be a chore. Business plans for lean startups and solopreneurs can simply outline the business concept, sales proposition, target customers and sketch out a plan of action to bring the product or service to market. These plans will serve as strategic documents outlining your company’s vision, mission statements, business objectives, target market, financial forecasts and growth strategies.

To simplify the creation of a robust business plan as an entrepreneur, you can harness the power of a business plan maker . This invaluable tool streamlines the process and ensures a polished and well-organized presentation.  Startup business plan templates provide pre-designed frameworks that can be customized to suit your specific industry needs, saving valuable time and effort while preserving the essential structure of a comprehensive business plan.

Ready to begin? Let’s go!

start up project business plan

Just so you know, some of our business plan templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign-up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.

Click to jump ahead:

  • Laying the foundation of your startup business plan
  • Business plan executive summary
  • Writing your business description
  • Marketing & sales strategies
  • Startup operational plans
  • Financial plans – forecasting and projections
  • Team and management
  • Appendix and supporting documents

FAQs on startup business plans

  • Use Venngage to create your startup business plan

Preparation and research: 6 steps to laying the foundation of your startup business plan

  • What problem does your product or service solve? 
  • Who are your target customers? 
  • What differentiates your offering from existing solutions in the market? 

This self-reflection will help you establish a clear direction for your startup.

  • Next, conduct market research to gather valuable insights about your target market , including demographics, preferences, and purchasing behavior . This data will enable you to tailor your product or service to meet the specific needs of your customers. Identify trends, industry growth projections, and any potential barriers or challenges you may encounter.
  • Competitive analysis is another critical aspect of preparation and research. Study your competitors to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies. Analyze their pricing, marketing tactics, customer experience, and product/service features. This analysis will allow you to identify gaps in the market and position your startup to offer a unique value proposition .
  • Financial research is equally important during this phase. Calculate the costs associated with starting and operating your business , including overhead expenses, production costs, marketing expenses, and employee salaries. Assess potential revenue streams and estimate your expected sales. This financial analysis will help you determine the feasibility of your business idea and outline a realistic financial plan.
  • Additionally, gather information about legal and regulatory requirements that apply to your industry and location . Understand the necessary permits, licenses, and certifications you need to operate legally. Complying with these regulations from the outset will prevent potential setbacks or legal issues in the future.
  • Finally, organize your findings and insights into a coherent business plan. Create your business plan outline , list your business plan goals, strategies, target market, competitive analysis, marketing plan, financial projections and any other relevant information. This compilation will serve as a roadmap for your startup, guiding your decisions and actions moving forward.

You’ve just encountered a wealth of information and are well on your way to becoming a seasoned business owner! This can sometimes feel overwhelming. But don’t worry, take a moment to breathe deeply and remember how far you’ve come. You’ve got this!

To help you condense and organize your essential points, I have brilliant one-page samples of business plan layouts and templates that will capture everything in a concise format.

start up project business plan

Knowing when to use a one-page business plan versus a more comprehensive plan depends on various factors. A one-page business plan is ideal for providing a quick overview, saving time, and internal planning. However, it may not suffice for detailed information, complex business models, or meeting external stakeholders’ expectations.

Ultimately, consider the purpose, audience, and complexity of your business when deciding whether to utilize a one-page business plan or opt for a more detailed approach.

Executive Summary: Your Startup’s Elevator Pitch

First impressions are crucial, and a concise yet comprehensive executive summary is your chance to grab potential investors’ attention.

To create a compelling elevator pitch, consider the following key elements:

Problem Statement : Clearly articulate the problem or pain point that your startup addresses. Emphasize the significance of the problem and the potential market size

Solution : Concisely describe your innovative solution or product that solves the identified problem. Highlight its unique features or benefits that differentiate it from existing alternatives.

Target Market : Define your ideal customer segment and outline the market potential. Demonstrate a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs, preferences, and behavior.

Competitive Advantage : Showcase the competitive edge that sets your startup apart from competitors. This could include intellectual property, strategic partnerships, cost advantages, or disruptive technology.

Business Model : Briefly explain how your startup generates revenue and sustains profitability. Outline your monetization strategy, pricing model, and any recurring revenue streams .

Traction and Milestones : Highlight any significant achievements or milestones reached by your startup. This could include customer acquisitions, partnerships, product development progress, or market validation.

Team : Showcase the expertise and qualifications of your founding team or business partners. Highlight key members and their relevant experiences demonstrating their ability to execute the business plan.

I can sense your eagerness to dive right in! To expedite your progress, I’m excited to present you with a collection of meticulously crafted executive summary templates. These templates have been thoughtfully designed and structured by Venngage designers, ensuring seamless integration into your thorough business plan. All you need to do is infuse them with your brilliant startup ideas, and you’ll be well on your way to success!

start up project business plan

Now, remember that there’s still a ton of work to be done. Let’s take a moment to regroup and ensure we’re on the right track. Before diving into the process of writing your business plan , it’s imperative to gather a wealth of essential information. Conducting comprehensive research is key, and it should encompass the following aspects:

How to assess your target audience

To gain comprehensive insights into your potential user base, creating a user persona report is invaluable. This persona guide report will help you develop a detailed understanding of various user profiles, enabling you to tailor your products or services to meet their specific needs and preferences.

start up project business plan

Understanding Your Market and Competition

Analyze your market and any trends relevant to your startup. Research your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and identify what differentiates your offering from the competition.

start up project business plan

Developing a Unique Value Proposition

A business Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is a concise statement that communicates the unique advantage a product or service offers over competitors, addressing a specific problem or need. It highlights the distinctive value and benefits customers can expect, helping businesses attract and retain customers by differentiating themselves in the market.

Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the cornerstone of your startup, defining what sets you apart from your competitors. A strong UVP focuses on the specific benefits and solutions your startup offers to customers.

start up project business plan

Company Description: Painting the Picture

Your company description allows you to showcase your startup’s unique features and provide more in-depth details about your business. This section should include:

The Purpose of the Company Description

Clarify the purpose of your business, your goals and how your startup is uniquely positioned to achieve them.

Essential Information to Include

Include details such as your company’s legal structure, location and a brief history of any founders or key personnel.

Showcase Your Company’s Unique Features

Emphasize the unique aspects of your startup, explaining how these features translate into a competitive advantage.

Allow me to provide you with a dash of inspiration to ignite the momentum for your startup business plan:

start up project business plan

When it comes to showcasing your company’s unique features, keep in mind that it is essential to emphasize and highlight the distinctive aspects of your startup . Clearly articulate how these features set your company apart from competitors and translate into a tangible competitive advantage . 

Whether it’s through cutting-edge technology, innovative business models, exceptional customer service, or a combination of factors, conveying the value and impact of these unique features is crucial. By effectively communicating the benefits they bring to customers, investors, and partners, you can demonstrate the significance of your offerings and differentiate yourself in the market.

Product/Service Line: What You’re Bringing to the Table

This section highlights the finer details of your product or service offerings:

Detailing Your Product/Service Offerings

Provide a thorough description of your products/services, highlighting key features and their intended use.

start up project business plan

Highlighting Features, Benefits, and Solutions

Demonstrate how your startup’s offerings solve specific problems or address customer needs through an analysis of product features and associated benefits.

start up project business plan

Defining Your Pricing and Revenue Model

Outline your startup’s pricing strategy and how it aligns with the overall business model. Detail any plans for scaling or expanding your revenue sources in the future.

start up project business plan

Presenting Your Market Research Findings

Share insights from your market research, including target customer demographics, market size, and growth potential.

start up project business plan

Identifying Market Trends and Opportunities

Discuss current trends, emerging opportunities, and how your startup will capitalize on these developments.

start up project business plan

Marketing and Sales Strategies: Spreading the Word

Developing a robust marketing and sales strategy plan aligns with your overall business strategy and ensures steady growth. Marketing planning will be an essential part of your journey once you’ve got your business plan tight-knit! Also, creating a marketing strategy can be the most fun part of your business plan!

Developing a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy & Plan

  • Outline Specific Marketing Goals : Clearly define your marketing objectives, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales . Set measurable targets to track progress.
  • Identify Target Audience : Conduct thorough market research to identify your ideal customer profiles. Understand their demographics, behaviors, preferences, and pain points. Tailor your marketing messages to resonate with their needs.
  • Select Effective Marketing Channels : Consider both digital and traditional channels that align with your target audience and marketing goals. This may include online advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email campaigns, print media, events, or partnerships.
  • Craft Compelling Messages : Develop persuasive and consistent messaging that highlights the unique value proposition of your products or services. Clearly communicate how your offerings solve customer problems or improve their lives.

start up project business plan

5 Tips for Effective Sales Techniques and Growth Strategies + free templates

  • Define Your Sales Strategy : Outline the approach and tactics your sales team will use to reach and convert customers. This may involve direct sales, channel partnerships, online sales, or a combination of strategies. Specify your sales process, including lead generation, qualification, nurturing, and closing.
  • Expand Your Customer Base : Identify opportunities to expand your customer reach. Consider targeting new customer segments, entering new geographic markets, or exploring untapped market niches. Develop strategies to attract and engage these potential customers.
  • Penetrate New Markets : Assess the feasibility of expanding into new markets or verticals. Market research will help you understand the dynamics, competition, and customer needs in these markets. Adapt your marketing and sales strategies accordingly to effectively penetrate and capture market share.
  • Innovate Products/Services : Continuously evaluate and enhance your product or service offerings to meet evolving customer demands. Identify areas for innovation or improvement and develop a roadmap for launching new features, versions, or complementary offerings.
  • Perform a SWOT analysis : By conducting a sales SWOT analysis , you will gather valuable insights to enhance your department’s performance. This analysis involves evaluating your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, enabling you to identify areas for improvement and capitalize on advantageous factors in the market.

Here’s a hack to get you organized – Get right into it with the help of these growth strategy templates and strategic planning templates :

start up project business plan

Operational Plan: How Your Startup Will Run

Define an efficient and scalable operational plan, keeping in mind the following points:

Defining an Efficient and Scalable Plan

Outline the day-to-day operations, including processes, timelines, and necessary resources.

Legal Considerations for Your Startup Business

Identify any legal requirements or considerations, such as licenses, permits, or regulations that may apply to your startup.

Key Elements of Supply Chain Management and Logistics

Discuss supply chain and logistical aspects relevant to your business. Include details on how you plan to manage and scale these processes.

Here’s a kickstart on how you can structure your operating plans:

start up project business plan

Financial Projections: Crunching the Numbers

A startup’s financial projections are vital in securing investor buy-in. This section should address:

The Importance of Financial Forecasting and Budgeting

Explain the significance of accurate financial forecasting, budgeting, and the assumptions made in your projections.

Identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Highlight the KPIs used to gauge your business’s financial health and growth trajectory.

Outlining Funding Requirements

Detail the amount and type of funding your startup requires , including how the funds will be allocated and how this investment positions the company for growth.

start up project business plan

Team and Management Structure: Building Your Dream Team

Your startup’s success depends on the people behind it. This section should cover:

Tips for Building the Right Team

Share your strategy for assembling a skilled team that supports your startup’s vision and growth trajectory.

Founders’ Background and Roles

Provide an overview of the founders’ backgrounds, their roles within the company, and how their skills contribute to the startup’s success.

Organizational Structure and Key Management Personnel

Outline your startup’s organizational structure, including any key management personnel who play a pivotal role in day-to-day operations.

Appendices and Supporting Documents: Backing Up Your Plan

Include any other relevant supporting documents, such as:

  • Research data, market analysis, or competitor analyses.
  • Financial statements, budgeting or forecasting data, and other financial documentation.
  • Legal documents, agreements or contracts, and any patent or trademark information.

Finally, remember to review and update your business plan regularly as the industry, market, and competitive landscape evolve!

1. Why is a business plan essential for a startup?

A startup business plan is crucial for a startup because it provides a framework for strategic decision-making, facilitates financial planning, helps assess risks, aligns teams, communicates your vision, and ensures effective resource allocation. 

2. What should a startup business plan include?

A startup business plan should include:

  • Vision and Direction : Set clear goals and objectives, and outline strategies to achieve them. With a well-defined plan, you will stay focused, make informed decisions, and ensure alignment with your vision.
  • Market Analysis : A business plan necessitates thorough market research to understand your target market, identify competition, and assess product/service demand. These insights enable you to tailor offerings, meet customer needs, and gain a competitive edge.
  • Financial Planning : By constructing a financial roadmap through projected statements such as income, cash flow, and balance sheets, a business plan unveils the expected revenues, expenses, and profitability. This comprehensive planning not only anticipates challenges and sets realistic goals but also serves as a magnet for attracting investors and securing funding.
  • Risk Assessment : Devise strategies for risk mitigation and contingency planning. By proactively doing this, you can significantly enhance the likelihood of success by anticipating and effectively addressing potential obstacles.
  • Communication and Team Alignment : From fostering effective communication with both internal and external stakeholders to aligning team members and showcasing your startup’s unique value proposition, a business plan plays a crucial role. It enables you to articulate target market insights, competitive advantages, and growth strategies to potential investors, partners, and employees.
  • Resource Allocation : A business plan helps you identify the resources required to launch and operate your startup successfully. It includes an assessment of your human resources, technology needs, infrastructure requirements, and other key resources. By understanding your resource needs, you can allocate them effectively, ensuring that you have the necessary assets to execute your business strategy.
  • Adaptability and Flexibility : Your business plan should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and adapt to new circumstances. Startups operate in dynamic environments, and a well-designed plan allows you to monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, and make adjustments as needed. This agility enables you to seize new opportunities and navigate challenges effectively.

3. What is the ideal length for a startup business plan?

The optimal length for a startup business plan typically depends on the specific requirements and intended audience, but a concise and focused plan of around 20 to 30 pages is often recommended.

4. How to write a good startup business plan?

To write a good and effective startup plan, include an executive summary, company description, market analysis, detailed products/services description and a clear marketing and sales strategy. Also incorporate a comprehensive financial plan, outline your organizational structure, and demonstrates your team’s expertise and capabilities. Your plan should be well-researched, concise, and compelling, with a focus on your company’s unique value proposition and market opportunity, making it attractive to investors and stakeholders.

Utilizing Venngage templates & other tools for success

A visually appealing and professional business plan needn’t be a daunting task. Leverage tools like Venngage Business Plan Maker for effective templates that cater to various industries and streamline the process. 

  • Leveraging Venngage for Visually Appealing and Professional Business Plans

Venngage offers a range of templates designed specifically for business plans, allowing you to craft a polished and visually engaging plan without any design experience. Simply choose a template, customize it to suit your startup’s branding, and populate it with your content.

  • Exploring Additional Resources and Tools for Entrepreneurs. In addition to Venngage, several other resources and tools can assist entrepreneurs in crafting the perfect business plan. Examples include:
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) – Offers guidance on writing business plans and provides templates and resources for each section.
  • SCORE – A nonprofit organization providing mentorship, workshops, and other resources for entrepreneurs.
  • Industry-specific resources – Research relevant professional organizations, industry publications, and blogs to stay up to date on industry trends and insights.

Embarking on the entrepreneurial path may present formidable challenges, yet it offers abundant rewards in various aspects. Embrace the art of continuous learning, delving not only into the essence of your business idea but also immersing yourself in the vast world that surrounds it. Cultivate a genuine passion for understanding every facet of your enterprise, for it is through this journey of exploration that you will uncover invaluable insights and experience the true fulfillment of entrepreneurship.

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Business plan template

If you’re looking for a way to start your business off on the right foot, a business plan template can help you establish the foundation for your strategy. Get started in a few clicks with Asana’s free business plan template.

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You’re pumped—you just thought of the greatest business idea ever. You want to get started, but you don’t have a plan laid out. You need a loan to get your idea off the ground, and the bank wants to see an in-depth business plan. We’re here to help.

What is a business plan template?

A business plan template is a framework that helps you solidify your ideas in an organized format. Our free business plan template walks you through how to create a new business from scratch, or re-imagine your existing business in a new market.

What components are included in a business plan template?

Our business plan template covers what an organization wants to achieve within three to five years. By using our template, you’ll have a place to capture all of the major information you need in order to complete your business plan. That includes:

Company description : Information like your executive summary , your company’s mission statement and vision, and your founder’s bio. 

Product and services: A high-level overview of what your company provides, including core products or services. This may also include how your product is developed, any potential screenshots or prototypes of your product, and pricing plans.

Marketing plan: How you plan to bring your product into market at a high level. You can add information like a SWOT analysis , target market research, and brand positioning in this section.

Financial plan: Important financial information such as balance sheets, a break-even analysis, and your cash flow projections. 

Management and organization information: Information on your company’s founders, executive team, and the board of directors.

How to use our free business plan template

Using Asana’s free business plan template is simple. Start by creating a new project with our free template. From there, add relevant information for your specific business plan in the sections provided in our template. If there’s more information you want to include in your business plan, you’re free to add sections, custom fields, or additional tasks to make this template fit your needs.

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Goals . Goals in Asana directly connect to the work you’re doing to hit them, making it easy for team members to see what they’re working towards. More often than not, our goals live separate from the work that goes into achieving them. By connecting your team and company goals to the work that supports them, team members have real-time insight and clarity into how their work directly contributes to your team—and company—success. As a result, team members can make better decisions. If necessary, they can identify the projects that support the company’s strategy and prioritize work that delivers measurable results. 

Reporting . Reporting in Asana translates project data into visual charts and digestible graphs. By reporting on work where work lives, you can reduce duplicative work and cut down on unnecessary app switching. And, because all of your team’s work is already in Asana, you can pull data from any project or team to get an accurate picture of what’s happening in one place.

Milestones . Milestones represent important project checkpoints. By setting milestones throughout your project, you can let your team members and project stakeholders know how you’re pacing towards your goal. Use milestones as a chance to celebrate the little wins on the path towards the big project goal. 

Project Overview . Project Overview is your one-stop-shop for all important project context. Give your team a bird’s-eye view of the what, why, and how of your project work. Add a project description to set the tone for how you’ll work together in Asana. Then, share any important resources and context—like meeting details, communication channels, and project briefs—in one place.

Microsoft Teams . With the Microsoft Teams + Asana integration, you can search for and share the information you need without leaving Teams. Easily connect your Teams conversations to actionable items in Asana. Plus, create, assign, and view tasks during a Teams Meeting without needing to switch to your browser.

Slack . Turn ideas, work requests, and action items from Slack into trackable tasks and comments in Asana. Go from quick questions and action items to tasks with assignees and due dates. Easily capture work so requests and to-dos don’t get lost in Slack. 

Google Workplace . Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Google Workplace file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane. Easily attach any My Drive file with just a few clicks.

Gmail . With the Asana for Gmail integration, you can create Asana tasks directly from your Gmail inbox. Any tasks you create from Gmail will automatically include the context from your email, so you never miss a beat. Need to refer to an Asana task while composing an email? Instead of opening Asana, use the Asana for Gmail add-on to simply search for that task directly from your Gmail inbox. 

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Instead of taking the time to create a business plan from scratch, start the process off with Asana’s free template.To further customize your template, add evergreen information about your specific business, such as your business model, company name, address, mission statement, value proposition, or target audience. Adding these details to your template lets you avoid documenting this information from scratch every time you create a new business plan.

What components should I include in a business plan template?

Business plan templates typically contain five main sections: a company description, products and services, a marketing plan, basic management and organization information, and your current financial plan.

How long should my business plan be?

Short answer—as long as you need it to be. The long answer is that your business plan should have the answers to specific questions on how your business is run, from the perspective of an investor. The goal of a business plan is to highlight your business strategy for the next three to five years. This means any important operational, financial, and strategic information should be included. 

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550+ Free Sample Business Plans

550+ Business Plan Examples to Launch Your Business

550+ Free Sample Business Plans

Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration.

Find your business plan example

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Finish your plan faster with step-by-step guidance, financial wizards, and a proven format.

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View all sample business plans

Example business plan format

Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.

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

Products & services

The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.

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

Market analysis

Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.

Competition

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

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

Marketing & sales

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

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

Milestones & metrics

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

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

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

Company & team

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

Financial projections

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

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

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

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

Business model canvas

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

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

One-page business plan

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

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

Growth planning

Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.

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

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

Download a free sample business plan template

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

This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.

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

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

Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company

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

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

Use a business plan example as a guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare to pitch your business

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

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

With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples.

Ready to get started?

Now that you know how to use an example business plan to help you write a plan for your business, it's time to find the right one.

Use the search bar below to get started and find the right match for your business idea.

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

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Steps

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

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

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

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

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

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

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

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

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

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

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

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

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

Step 1: Executive Summary

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

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

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

Step 2: Description of Business

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

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

Step 3: Market Analysis

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

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

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

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

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

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

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

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

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

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

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

Step 7: Marketing Plan

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

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

Step 8: Sales Plan

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

Start by answering the following questions:

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

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

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

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

Step 10: Financial Projections

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

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

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

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

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

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

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

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

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

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

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

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

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

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

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

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

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

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

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

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

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

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

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

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How to Write a Business Plan for a Startup

Last Updated: December 22, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jack Herrick . Jack Herrick is an American entrepreneur and wiki enthusiast. His entrepreneurial projects include wikiHow, eHow, Luminescent Technologies, and BigTray. In January 2005, Herrick started wikiHow with the goal of creating "the how-to guide for everything." He has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Dartmouth College. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 116,097 times.

As a startup, you will need a business plan. For example, you will need to show your plan to a bank if you are seeking a loan. You also need to show the plan to any investor. Business plans are helpful because they force you to step back and analyze your business critically. You should consider your target market, the products or services you will offer, and your projected finances. Writing a business plan isn’t difficult, though it will require considerable research and planning.

Explaining Your Marketing Plan

Step 1 Describe your mission and objectives.

  • Your mission. What is your driving goal every day? Don’t simply write, “Make money.” Identify how you will make money. For example, you can write: “Our mission is to offer residents of the Lakeview neighborhood the best day spa experience in the Near North Side of Chicago. We are committed to providing value and quality in a fun atmosphere that is never predictable.”
  • Your goals. For example, a day spay might have the following goal: “To attract a minimum of 35 customers each day in the first year of operations.” Make your goals as concrete as possible.
  • Description of the industry. Explain whether the industry is growing or poised for growth in the short and long term.
  • The factors that will drive your success. How will you set yourself apart? For example, “You All Day will separate itself from the pack based on the owner’s deep experience running a day spa in Seattle for ten years. This experience includes familiarity with successful marketing techniques and trends analysis.”
  • Your legal form. Are you a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation? Also explain why you selected this form.

Jack Herrick

Jack Herrick

Don’t skimp on how much energy and time you put into your mission. When asked about creating wikiHow’s mission, Jack Herrick, founder of wikiHow, responded: “We had the whole management team — alongside members of the wikiHow community — reviewing it, discussing it, and going back and forth on the wording. Those two sentences were many hours of work.”

Step 2 Discuss your industry.

  • You can search for industry information in other places. For example, talk to people in your industry at trade shows. Also search online. Many industries have trade associations, which have websites with information.
  • For example, when analyzing the day spa industry, you might want to talk about how it is growing because more upper-income men in urban areas are visiting. (If that’s true).
  • By analyzing the industry, you gain insight as to your likely target market and how you can reach them.

Step 3 Identify your target market.

  • Age. What is the average age of your likely customer? If you don’t know, then visit similar businesses and note the ages of the clientele.
  • Gender. Will men or women—or both—primarily use your products or services?
  • Location. Generally, your market will be located near your business. However, if you have a web-based business, your target audience could have no geographic boundaries.
  • Income level.
  • Occupation. For example, a day spa might target stressed-out white collar professionals.
  • Education level. There is often a link between education, income, and occupation—though not always. For example, a discount bookstore might target an educated audience that nevertheless has a lower income.

Step 4 Scope out your competition.

  • To find competitors, look in the phone book and do a general Google search. Make sure to read their website and stop into the business.
  • If you’re opening a restaurant, you’ll want to see a sample menu, as well as the hours of operation.
  • Also identify indirect competitors. For example, a day spa is competing with more than other spas. You also compete with any business that offers relaxation, such as massage parlors or meditation centers.
  • Name of your competitor.
  • What you offer that they don’t. Think about products and services, but also location, ease of ordering, etc. What will make the consumer experience different at your business?
  • What they offer that you don’t. Identify why you don’t offer their products or services. For example, they may be serving multiple niches while you are focused on only one. Alternately, they may have a favorable location.

Step 6 Describe your products and services.

  • Whether you will sell pizza by the slice, as whole pies, or both
  • How big your pizzas will be
  • What toppings your customers can offer
  • If you will have take-out and delivery options
  • What other food items will be sold

Step 7 Devise your marketing...

  • What type of advertising or promotion will you use? How often will you use paid promotion?
  • What other promotion other than paid advertising will you use? For example, you might use social media, professional networks, etc.
  • Will you create a logo and use it on cards, letterhead, websites, etc.?
  • How large will your promotional budget be?

Discussing Your Business Organization

Step 1 Explain your daily operations.

  • State how much you expect to pay each employee in your first three years of business.
  • Also name your professional support, such as your business lawyer, accountant, and insurance agent. Professionals are independent contractors you use but don’t employ. Calculate how much you expect to spend on each professional.

Step 2 Identify management.

  • You might write: “Lisa Jones is the sole proprietor of You All Day and will run day-to-day operations. As a certified massage therapist, she ran the Relax! chain of day spas in the Greater Seattle area for ten years. A former accountant, Lisa has an MS in accounting from the University of New Hampshire and worked as a CPA briefly before going into the spa business.”
  • If you are asking for a loan, then include resumes for each owner. You can put them in the appendix at the end of the document.

Step 3 Provide personal financial statements.

  • You should create professional-looking financial statements using a spreadsheet.
  • You’ll have to gather quite a bit of information to make the financial statement. For example, you will need information on your assets, investments, and personal debts.
  • You might also want to get a free copy of your credit report and review it as you draft your business plan.

Analyzing Business Finances

Step 1 Explain your start-up costs.

  • Common startup costs include insurance, licenses, equipment, advertising, and employee expenses. [9] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Small Business Administration U.S. government agency focused on supporting small businesses Go to source
  • Also identify the source of the startup capital. For example, if your startup has three initial owners, state how much each is contributing to the business and their ownership percentage.
  • If you need financing, state how much. Include the terms of any proposed loan.

Step 2 Forecast profits for the first year.

  • You’ll need to make some assumptions in order to come up with a forecast of sales. You should explain these assumptions in your business plan.
  • For example, you can write, “We assume continued interest in day spas in the Chicago area.”
  • Another assumption is the overall health of the economy. “Although the Chicagoland economy has grown more slowly than other regions of the country, we assume that the Chicago economy will grow on par with other large metropolitan areas in the coming decade.”
  • You can also include a four-year projection, though this is optional.

Step 3 Identify expected cash...

  • Also talk about how you will build up your cash reserves. For example: “In addition to normal cash flow, we will focus on obtaining sufficient cash reserves for emergencies. These reserves include a line of credit with a bank, which we can use when business is slow. We will also invest excess cash in certificates of deposits at our bank.”

Step 4 Provide a break-even analysis.

  • Fixed costs: these don’t vary depending on your sales volume. For example, your rent, employee salaries, and insurance are fixed costs.
  • Variable costs: these fluctuate depending on your sales and include shipping, inventory, and manufacturing costs.

Finishing Your Business Plan

Step 1 Format your document.

  • Add a cover page to your document. You can title it “[Company Name]’s Business Plan” or “Business Plan for [Your Name].” If you have a logo, include that too.

Step 2 Draft your executive summary.

  • For example, you can write, “You All Day is a start-up dedicated to providing men and women in Chicago a high-quality day spa experience at an affordable price. We specialize in pedicures, manicures, massage, and herbal aromatherapy. The Near North Side of Chicago has grown substantially over the past 20 years, with young, educated millennials settling in to start families. This area is currently under served, and we hope You All Day can meet the demand of the local market.”

Step 3 Assemble the pieces.

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Industry Analysis
  • Market and Competition
  • Products and Services
  • Marketing and Sales Plan
  • Operations and Management
  • Financial Forecasts
  • Exhibits/Appendix

Step 4 Add attachments in the appendix.

  • Review for typos and other errors. An accountant should check your numbers to make sure they are accurate.
  • Analyze the overall presentation. Is the information crammed in so that the document is tiring to read? If so, spread out the information so that there is a lot of white space on each page.
  • You can also show the plan to a business adviser. If you live in the U.S., you can show it to someone at your nearest Small Business Development Center, which provides help drafting business plans. You can find your nearest SBDC by visiting this website: https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc .

Step 6 Print and bind the plan.

  • You might want to include tabbed partitions between each section of your business plan. This will make it easier for someone to flip through it and find what they are looking for.

Expert Q&A

  • Don’t be afraid to change your business plans as you research and draft the document. That’s one of the reasons for writing the plan in the first place. For example, you might have intended to target women as consumers only to realize that there are growth opportunities with men. You can adjust your plans accordingly. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://business.vic.gov.au/business-information/marketing-and-sales/increasing-sales-through-marketing/do-market-research
  • ↑ https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/7-5-reality-check-contests-and-competitions
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/market-research-competitive-analysis
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/business-plan-product-description
  • ↑ https://business.gov.au/planning/business-plans/develop-your-marketing-plan
  • ↑ https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/11-4-the-business-plan
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/calculate-your-startup-costs
  • ↑ https://www.alberta.ca/preparing-financial-projections-and-monitoring-results.aspx
  • ↑ https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/entrepreneurial-private-business/small-business-solutions/blogs/preparing-a-cash-flow-forecast-simple-steps-for-vital-insight.html
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan
  • ↑ https://smallbusinessbc.ca/article/5-reasons-business-plan-review/

About This Article

Jack Herrick

To write a business plan for a startup, break your plan up into several sections, including an executive summary, a description of your company, an industry analysis, market and competition information, your products and services, your marketing and sales plan, operations and management information, your financial forecasts, and finally, an appendix. To format your business plan, use a professional font, like Times New Roman, and include a cover page with your company's name and logo on it. To learn how to write each section of your business plan, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Project Management Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

project management business plan

Project Management Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their project management companies.

If you’re unfamiliar with creating a project management business plan, you may think creating one will be a time-consuming and frustrating process. For most entrepreneurs it is, but for you, it won’t be since we’re here to help. We have the experience, resources, and knowledge to help you create a great business plan.

In this article, you will learn some background information on why business planning is important. Then, you will learn how to write a project management business plan step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What is a Project Management Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your project management business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategies for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan for a Project Management Company

If you’re looking to start a project management business or grow your existing project management company, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your project management business to improve your chances of success. Your project management business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Project Management Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a project management business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans, and angel investors. When it comes to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to ensure that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for project management companies.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

How to write a business plan for a project management business.

If you want to start a project management business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. The guide below details the necessary information for how to write each essential component of your project management business plan.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your executive summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the kind of project management business you are running and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have a project management business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of project management businesses?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan.

  • Give a brief overview of the project management industry.
  • Discuss the type of project management business you are operating.
  • Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers.
  • Provide a snapshot of your marketing strategy. Identify the key members of your team.
  • Offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Overview

In your company overview, you will detail the type of project management business you are operating.

For example, you might specialize in one of the following types of project management businesses:

  • Marketing project management : this type of project management involves overseeing projects related to marketing and advertising.
  • Construction project management: this type of project management involves overseeing responsibilities related to planning and the logistics of a construction project.
  • Engineering project management: this type of project management is responsible for overseeing engineering projects to ensure they’re completed appropriately.
  • IT project management: this type of project management involves overseeing job duties such as establishing IT goals, overseeing the IT team’s processes and ensuring all project-related employees have the necessary resources to complete the project.

In addition to explaining the type of project management business you will operate, the company overview needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to questions such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of clients served, the number of clients with positive outcomes, reaching X number of clients served, etc.
  • Your legal business Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry or market analysis, you need to provide an overview of the project management industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the project management industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your marketing strategy, particularly if your analysis identifies market trends.

The third reason is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your project management business plan:

  • How big is the project management industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential target market for your project management business? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your project management business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: small businesses, midsize companies and corporations.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of project management business you operate. Clearly, corporations would respond to different marketing promotions than small businesses, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the potential customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can recognize and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

Finish Your Project Management Business Plan in 1 Day!

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

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

Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other project management businesses.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t directly competing with your product or service. This includes in-house employees, online programs, or software. You need to mention such competition as well.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their business and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as

  • What types of clients do they serve?
  • What type of project management business are they?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide your own staff?
  • Will you offer products or services that your competition doesn’t?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a project management business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of project management company that you documented in your company overview. Then, detail the specific products or services you will be offering. For example, will you provide consulting, scheduling, budgeting, or staffing?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your plan, you are presenting the products and/or services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the site of your project management company. Document where your company is situated and mention how the site will impact your success. For example, is your project management business located in a business district, a standalone office, or purely online? Discuss how your site might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your project management marketing plan is where you will document how you will drive potential customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertise in local papers, radio stations and/or magazines
  • Attend industry events and tradeshows
  • Reach out to websites
  • Distribute flyers
  • Engage in email marketing
  • Advertise on social media platforms
  • Improve the SEO (search engine optimization) on your website for targeted keywords

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your project management business, including answering calls, planning and providing project services, client interaction,  billing clients and/or vendors, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to book your Xth client, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your project management business to a new city.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your project management business’ potential to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing project management businesses. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing a project management business or successfully running a small consulting firm.

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.

Income Statement

An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenue and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you manage 5 clients per day, and/or offer consulting services? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets

Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your project management business, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a lender writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and ensure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.

When creating your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a project management business:

  • Cost of equipment and office supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Other start-up expenses (if you’re a new business) like legal expenses, permits, computer software, and equipment

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your office location lease or a list of project management services you plan to offer.

Writing a business plan for your project management business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will understand the project management industry, your competition, and your customers. You will develop a marketing strategy and will understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful project management business.

Project Management Business Plan Template FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my project management business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily write your project management business plan.

How Do You Start a Project Management Business?

Starting a project management business is easy with these 14 steps:

  • Choose the Name for Your Project Management Business
  • Create Your Project Management Business Plan
  • Choose the Legal Structure for Your Project Management Business
  • Secure Startup Funding for Your Project Management Business (If Needed)
  • Secure a Location for Your Business
  • Register Your Project Management Business with the IRS
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
  • Get Business Insurance for Your Project Management Business
  • Buy or Lease the Right Project Management Business Equipment
  • Develop Your Project Management Business Marketing Materials
  • Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Project Management Business
  • Open for Business

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

OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.   Click here to see how a Growthink business planning advisor can create your business plan for you.

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Simple business plan template for startup founders

start up project business plan

Most new businesses that fail do so for one of two reasons: (1) lack of market need and/or (2) no more cash.

These two reasons account for more than 70% of new businesses not making it. However, both causes can often be avoided if founders invest upfront time in developing a carefully researched business plan.

A simple business plan template provides a proven framework to start from, concisely helps structure ideas, and shows potential investors what an organized and professional team looks like — one that can bring this business idea to market.

This article will share our custom-developed, simple business plan template, cover what should be included, and more.

Get the template

What is a simple business plan template?

A business plan is a written document outlining how a company intends to achieve its primary objectives — obtaining a particular market share, growing revenue, or reaching the next round of funding.

Download Excel template

While companies of all stages and sizes use business plans, they are beneficial for startups, as they can be the key to attaining funding.

A business plan template is a customizable document that provides all the crucial and necessary elements of a great business plan, allowing company leaders to start from a solid and established foundation rather than from scratch.

A simple business plan template typically includes:

  • table of contents
  • executive summary
  • company description
  • analysis of the target market
  • description of the management team
  • details of the product or service
  • financial forecasts
  • funding requirements
  • appendices such as legal documents, permits, patents, and licenses

Business plans can quickly become huge, cumbersome documents, requiring a significant time investment from the creator. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends business plans be between 30 and 50 pages long.

While there is some benefit to spending this time developing a comprehensive business plan, agility is often more critical in the startup business world. That’s the main reason why simple business plan templates exist.

Simple business plan templates typically follow a structure outlining goals, teams, and financials.

  • Company description : What does the business do? What problems does it solve?
  • Team : Who is involved? What key hires have been made? What expertise do they bring to the table? Why are they the right team to get the job done?
  • Industry and competitive analysis: Who are the company’s competitors? What are they doing well and not so well? What opportunities exist to differentiate and be successful in this industry?
  • Target market: Who are the customers being targeted? What are their interests? What are their everyday challenges and goals?
  • Timeline : What are the critical dates for tasks/goals?
  • Marketing plan : How will the plan attract new customers?
  • Financial plan : What do current revenue streams, cash on hand, revenue structure, required funding or funding already received, etc., look like.

Why use a simple business plan template?

We highly recommend founders use a simple business plan template, mainly for the speed and agility they offer.

Creating a business plan takes time and effort, no matter how many times it’s been done. Even a simple, one-page business plan designed for small businesses requires a fair bit of research.

Each section of the business needs to be analyzed. First, it’s essential to understand the market conditions and have a step-by-step plan. Then finally, it’s necessary to determine the plan’s structure.

Templates are even more crucial for first-time startup founders. 

It’s understandable not to be super-confident in the first (or 2nd or 3rd) business plan writing process. A proven framework will help all — even seasoned veterans, ensure they:

  • Don’t miss any critical elements.
  • Structure ideas neatly and concisely.
  • Foster a sense of professionalism, improving the confidence of potential investors

What are some examples of simple business plan templates?

These sample business plan templates serve as a great jumping-off point. Use them as inspiration. Take note of the similarities across the different examples.

1. One-page business plan template

A one-page business plan template is perfect for creating a plan to bring to the next startup pitch. But of course, supplementing the template with appendices for financial reports like balance sheets or income statements is important.

Summarizing the entire business into a single page is a great exercise. It ensures a robust and concise knowledge of each area of operation, creating more confidence to discuss each point with potential investors.

A breakdown how to create a simple business plan template in five steps

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2. Simple business plan template in Excel

While Excel does not have all the bells and whistles, it’s still a popular and widely-used platform — one that many founders choose to use to create simple business plans. This template can be used for any type of business, though it’s built for early-stage startups to plan out the first few months in business.

Notice how the template breaks overall costs down into smaller, more detailed items. This is useful to understand better the costs associated with starting a new business. Noting when those costs are owed also helps business owners monitor cash flow.

Simple business plan template in an Excel spreadsheet

3. Startup business plan template

Here’s another excellent example of a business plan template built for startups.

What’s great about this template is rather than providing simple headers for each section, it includes questions and prompts to help guide the necessary information.

A simple business plan template with prompt questions

4. Lean business plan template

Lean business is a style of startup operation that focuses on minimizing waste, moving fast, and keeping costs low. It’s a popular methodology for companies wanting to get off the ground quickly and build revenue without raising significant funding.

This business plan template supports startups based on the lean concept, allowing for a simple, single-page business plan with minimal time investment.

A table detailing how to fill out a lean, simple business plan template

monday.com’s simple business plan template

Most free business plan templates come in PDF, Google Docs, or Microsoft Word formats. Unfortunately, while these are popular formats and tools, they don’t tend to be particularly collaborative.

Have a distributed team? The monday.com simple business plan template will be your best friend.

A screenshot of a simple business plan template from monday.com

Customize it to include all the fields necessary for a stellar business plan plus any additional ones unique to your business. But the most significant benefit of the template is the platform it’s built on .

The monday.com Work OS means building apps and workflows is simple. Customizing fields and columns to fit what the company is already doing, not the other way around. For example, once a business plan has been created using the monday.com simple template, it’s super-easy to set up a collaborative board to manage the marketing plan , assign tasks and due dates to employees and freelancers, and turn that business plan into reality.

A main table view of the monday.com simple business plan template

Simple business plan template tips & tricks

Here are a few tips to make the most of this template and create a business plan that works.

1. Use simple, approachable language.

The goal is for people to read the business plan, right? Using everyday language over complex jargon and corporate terminology is an excellent place to start. Then, ensuring anyone who comes across the plan will have no issue understanding its meaning.

2. Write the executive summary last.

The executive summary is a short section that summarizes every aspect of the business plan. So, first, write the entire plan. THEN write the executive summary.

3. Supplement the business plan with supporting documents

While simple business plans are fast and effective, they leave out a lot of information by nature. Consider supplementing the plan with appendices such as financial statements , data sets, and market analyses.

4. Be conservative with financial estimates.

Where possible, financial projections should be based on real-life data. But even with the most accurate and up-to-date information out there, there’s always room for interpretation. So it’s best to give a range where possible, and if not, stay conservative with financial estimates.

5. Include thorough research and analysis

Invest the time early on and capture accurate, comprehensive data to support all claims. Interview customers and prospects to get a realistic picture of the target audience. Consider hiring a professional firm to provide a market research report.

FAQs about simple business plan templates

How do i write a simple business plan.

Simple business plans can be as little as one page with concise writing. Include information for each of these sections:

  • Company description : What does the company do and sell? What problems does it solve?
  • Team : Who works for the company, and what value do they provide?
  • Industry : What competitors or other options exist?
  • Target market : What does the ideal customer look like?
  • Marketing strategy and plan : What is the plan to bring in new customers?
  • Financial plan : What do the revenue streams look like?

What are the 7 parts of a business plan?

A 7-part business plan starts with the executive summary, moves on to describe the company, and finishes with financials.

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Organization and management team
  • Products and services
  • Market analysis
  • Strategy and implementation timeline
  • Financial plan and projections

What are common mistakes in a business plan?

Typical business plan mistakes include:

  • not being research-driven
  • unrealistic financial estimates
  • providing too much information
  • not using data to back up claims
  • not offering an analysis of the competitive landscape
  • only outlining vague goals and priorities

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Vartika Kashyap

Project Management for Startups & Entrepreneurs: A Quick Reference Guide

Project Management for Startups & Entrepreneurs

Jay runs an early stage startup. He comes across a fair share of thrills, with busy schedules filled with endless management tasks. There are too many things he has to take care of — finances, email threads, bugs to fix, conversations with clients, and more. This is where a project management comes into picture for an entrepreneur. Online project management for startup companies plays a huge role. It is something every startup needs to reach success.

Startups are fast-growing businesses that aim to meet the demands of the marketplace by developing innovative products, services, or platforms. If you’re a budding entrepreneur like Jay or have an idea for running a startup, here is a quick guide for you to start and grow.

Why a Startup Needs Project Management?

Why a Startup Needs Project Management?

Many entrepreneurs undervalue the power of project management for their startup. But it is true that there is no room for error with project management being in the right place. Sure, your startup will have to take many risks like planning, delivering value to clients, taking care of budgets, execution of a project, and many others. However, a project manager who takes care of project management will make sure that business is more efficient during its early stages.

Did you know that ninety seven percent of those asked about how important is project management to productivity consider that it is crucial for business success?  Remember it’s never too early for your business to engage in project management. Be it at any stage, you need a project management system.

At times, finding the right method for project management for startups can be a hard nut to crack for your business. You need to carefully think what works well for your business and what not. Maybe for your competitor, the traditional waterfall method is the right fit, but your business demands Agile methods. So, pick the right project management methodology for success.

“Manage your tasks, teams, and clients effortlessly from one place.” Start using ProofHub !

How to Pick the Right Project Management Methodology

How to Pick the Right Project Management Methodology

There is no right or wrong in project management, it’s all what your needs are. So start by understanding your needs.

  • How is your business structured?
  • What is the size of your organization?
  • What are your goals?
  • How complex is your project?
  • What do you expect from final deliverables?
  • Do your clients/customers prefer a particular methodology?

Taking care of your needs, choosing the right methodology is a vital step in your project journey.  After you’ve picked the right method, let’s look at the project management tips and tricks for startup companies that can help turn your startup into a successful business.

Turning Your Startup into Successful Business

Success is not a random act. It doesn’t just happen. It is something that happens because of you.

Startup Project Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

Startup Project Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

These are the steps that entrepreneurs can take to start building your empire.

1. Set realistic goals

Set realistic goals

“The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams.” – Og Mandino

The point is every entrepreneur should not just set a goal but set good goals. If your goals are realistic, setting and achieving them will give you a sense of happiness and well-being. Start with laying a strong foundation.

  • Identify your clients
  • Develop a solid project plan
  • Be proactive and spontaneous
  • Ask yourself these questions:
  • What is the most basic purpose of my long-term goal?
  • What actions do I need to take for long-term goals?
  • How to build upon the actions?

Wherever you want to take your life – set goals that you’ll realistically achieve, more important – pick goals you want to achieve.

2. Transform Setbacks into Success

Transform Setbacks into Success

As an entrepreneur, your life is what you make it. Many of you will be aware of the flowery life as an entrepreneur, but what is following the path that you ain’t be told are the setbacks. If you encounter inadequate preparing for your project, project setback will be a common expectation. Complaints from stakeholders, heated conversations in the team, missed deadlines or budget issues will make it pretty tough to run the project smoothly. It’s on you how you anticipate the setback and turn it into an opportunity for growth. How you make of the challenges that come your way!  

3. Put Yourself First (Self-evaluation)

Put Yourself First (Self-evaluation)

In your entrepreneurial journey, every now and then, you’ll need to take time to review where you are and where you are going. Why do you want to start a business? For extra money? For more freedom? Because you’re passionate? It’s your dream? Get an answer for yourself. For your one answer, get yourself ready for another question like:

  • What skills do you have?
  • Are you one responsible person?
  • Where does your passion lie?
  • Do you have the energy to work on weekends?
  • How much can you afford to spend?
  • Are you clear in your directions?
  • What sort of lifestyle do you want to live?
  • Are you even ready to be an entrepreneur ?

4. Milestone Planning

Milestone Planning

Milestone signifies a change in development. It can help you communicate what’s happening with your project. A very important part of project plan acts as a signpost through your project. Define the right milestones for your team. Discuss with your team the importance of each milestone to stay focused on the goals. Steps to set successful milestones for the success of your project from the get-go.

  • Break the project into a list of deliverables
  • Identify project risks
  • Set progress reporting
  • Highlight important dates
  • Have a control over project deliverables
  • Clear objectives and requirements
  • Consider your stakeholders’ support
  • Be ready for the long run

Make sure with time your milestones go on being a bit more ambitious and soon your projects will always be successful.  

5. Regularly communicate with your team

Regularly communicate with your team

You’ll have to have a good understanding of the communication process to communicate with authority. In project management, More effective communication = Better project management is known to everyone. Team communications on daily basis keep requirements under control. You’ll be able to keep your team informed about every step in a project.

A study in Procedia Technology , after examining many project managers found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. Communication is not just about talking and hearing, it is about having an understanding of the complete ins and outs of a project. It’s about being there for everyone, understanding the challenges of the project, being engaged with everyone, and clearly articulating the vision.

“Poorly managed tasks ruining your productivity? Start using ProofHub !”

6. Set scope, budget and time

Set scope, budget and time

Do you have an idea of how important the triple constraints is for project management? This is one important part of the project because it keeps track of the project for a startup.

Time is essential to get your product/project into the world. You need to have a system in place where you can set time estimates for each project. Easily compare how much time is spend is spent on a task or project by using a free Gantt chart software that comes with project management tools also.

Scope is important to manage any project. Product/project scope needs to be decided on. It tells about the specific requirements that cannot be missed to complete the project on time and under budget.

Cost budgeting creates a cost baseline. Many businesses fail because of fundings. So, it is necessary to allocate the funds so you do not run out of money. Using project management tools you can have an accurate estimate of your budget by calculating the cost variances.

7. Build a Team That Won’t Sink Your Business

Build a Team That Won’t Sink Your Business

The wrong team is among the top reasons when you look at the research on why startups don’t make it . There is no such thing as a solo entrepreneur. You cannot do it alone. A study by CBInsights shows that 23% of startups fail because of not having a strong team with the necessary skills set.

Here‘s how to hire a super team for your startup:

  • Look for relevant experience
  • Define your team culture
  • Make sure they row in the same direction
  • Tell them about customer service
  • Get them to buy into your vision

Keep Up with the Latest Project Management Trends

According to a recent report published by the Project Management Institute , “ the companies with a well-planned EPMO (Enterprise Project Management Office ) report is successfully able to meet almost 48% more than their initial goals and objectives.”

Project management software is becoming simpler to use and better integrated. It can be difficult to manage projects without project management because of the high workload and stress of working full-time.  As the workforce is changing constantly, new productivity and project management tools are putting an emphasis on the experience of startups and entrepreneurs.

Project Management Tools for Startups

Project Management Tools for Startups

Project management tools offer many high-level bucket features. Some of the things you can use a tool for:

  • Managing tasks
  • Keeping files and documents
  • Managing inventory
  • Resource scheduling
  • File-sharing
  • Bug reports
  • Budgeting and invoicing

With this in mind, here we’ll review some of the recommended best online project management tool that you can use during your startup journey to do away with chaos. With the detailed features, you can have a project management tool comparison to better pick the best one for your business.

1. ProofHub

ProofHub

ProofHub is one of the best project management tools that is a perfect fit for project managers looking for project management for startup companies. It is simple and intuitive with features that make it easy to better collaborate, organize, and deliver projects on time. It also allows integration with Google Drive and Dropbox. You can use free ProofHub Gantt charts software to have a real-time progress check of your projects and keep each individual accountable for the number of hours that a task will take.

ProofHub makes it possible for startups working with remote teams to collaborate effortlessly with their unique features such as – to-do’s, Gantt chart application, file sharing, project templates, timesheets, recurring tasks, proofing, reporting automatic notifications,  and document management.

The tool offers both a free and paid version. It supports many languages other than English, namely French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Danish, Dutch, Greek, Italian, Russian and German. Sign up now for free trial!

nTask is the smart task management software in the fierce market of software. It was designed to support collaboration, tracking, monitoring, time tracking , Gantt charts, task comments, scheduling meetings, project risk management, and more. nTask supports integration with Google Calendar and Outlook. Mobile applications for Android and iOS devices are also offered.

3. Droptask

Droptask is a simple and fluid way to get things done. With a unique visual interface and real-time collaboration functionality, users can attach an unlimited number of files, set reminders, and make a note of things to do. Used by some of the most influential names across the world, such as Harvard University, Coca-Cola, and Disney. It has a beautiful user-interface that equips you with all you need to plan, manage, and achieve anything. You can keep track of all the daily and monthly tasks you need to do. The app also offers affordable options and flexible deployment.

Using Hitask, you can quickly and easily set up new projects, share a centralized file library and calendar, and synchronize everything across all devices. With multiple features, this app makes it easy to manage tasks, users can organize tasks by project, and share it with their team members.

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Examples

Business Start-Up Project Plan

start up project business plan

Did you know? When you think about making a start-up business as a project, you must also come in handy with  a plan?  For any project like a business start-up or business-related projects you are thinking about, you must know that planning carefully is a part of it. Ask yourself this question: Why do I need a plan? We know that planning is part of it, but why do you need to do it? To get the answers you seek, let’s check out the examples of a business start-up  project plan  now. 

3+ Business Start-Up Project Plan Examples

1. business start-up project plan template.

Business Start-Up Project Plan Template

  • Google Docs

2. Business Start-Up Project Plan in PDF

Business Start-Up Project Plan in PDF

Size: 274 KB

3. Business Start-Up Projected Cash flow Plan

Business Start-Up Projected Cash flow Plan

Size: 60 KB

4. Simple Business Start-Up Project Plan

Simple Business Start-Up Project Plan

Size: 58 KB

What Is a Business Start-up Project Plan?

Business start-up project plans are defined as documents that are carefully managed, outlined, and thought out. They show a set of complete ideas and strategies to make the start-up project a success. Think of a business plan with strategies, outlines, and steps to make it work. Start-up plans work the same way but are more focused on the project of a business start-up. In addition, for a business start-up project to be successful, how you make the plan will also have its effects. For an effective business start-up project plan, let’s head over to the steps to writing one down.

How to Create an Effective Business Start-up Project Plan

What should be in an effective start up project plan ? To create an effective business start-up plan, you must have the following elements that make them up. We know that a vision and mission are a part of the plan, but did you know that it has more than just the ones mentioned? Check out the steps below to make an effective business start-up project plan.

Step 1: Create a Unique Vision and Mission Statement

Start with a unique vision and mission statement for your start-up business. Make your vision and mission statement as unique as the business start-up you are planning. Your vision and mission statements must be true to your business start-up plan.

Step 2: Write Down Your Start-up Executive Summary

The next step involves making your executive summary . The executive summary includes a short introduction of what your business is. In addition, your summary will also entail the services and products your business offers.

Step 3: Look For Resources for Your Start-up Project

Search for resources and financial partners to help with your start-up business. The more resources and partners you have, the better it is for the business. Searching for more than a single resource for your start-up business is normal and can also come in handy. Just as long as you are sure about the resources you are using for your business.

Step 4: Record Your Plan with Milestones

Lastly, record your outputs or the plan using milestones. These milestones can vary from weekly outputs, monthly outputs, or even quarterly outputs. They can also be used as a means of learning something every step of the way.

Why do you need a plan for a business start-up?

The reason is it acts as a guide. It acts as a road map for your business to flourish. It gives you the best roads to take to avoid any risks or problems that could cause your start-up to falter.

Can you use a checklist for a start-up business?

The short answer to the question is yes. You can use a start-up business checklist to use as a guide. See to it that all the steps you have taken are done exactly as you want them to be.

What can you do if your start-up business plan did not go as you plan it?

There are going to be some risks even when you plan something out, and that is normal. What you can do is go back and assess the risk or the problem and figure out some solutions that can help you. Find ways and strategies that work best in any kind of scenario.

Did you know this fact? Planning is considered a huge help when it comes to start-up businesses. Carefully thought-out plans are always better than something being done on a whim. This is especially true as in business, there will always be some risks that can hurt or even damage. To avoid that from happening, creating a business start-up project plan is the key to go.

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65 Practical Startup Business Goals Examples To Craft Success in 2024

Sudarshan Somanathan

Head of Content

May 3, 2024

Launching a startup is an exciting prospect but comes with its fair share of challenges. Unlike established businesses with access to several resources, startups operate in an environment of constraints. As a result, they have to adapt and innovate constantly to stay ahead of the curve.

Navigating challenges becomes easier if you have a goal in mind. It is a marker of success and lines the path to the overarching business objective. We’re about to share a blueprint of startup goal-setting, along with real-world startup business goals examples to inspire you and illustrate their application.

Are you ready to chart a clear course for your startup’s success?

What’s a Business Goal?

Gives a sense of direction, helps measure progress, creates accountability, sustains team motivation, guides resource allocation, aids in risk mitigation, attracts investors and partners, supports strategic planning.

  • Define your mission and vision

Assess your current state

  • Define and prioritize business goals
  • Convert goals into actionable tasks

Track, monitor, and recalibrate progress

Celebrate milestones and achievements, learn and improve continuously, financial goals, employee retention goals, productivity goals, brand awareness and reputation goals, marketing strategy goals, sales and revenue goals, customer satisfaction and retention goals.

  • Project management software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform

  • Process mapping tool

Marketing and sales analytics

  • Financial management systems

ClickUp: Helping Startups Become Enterprises

Get, set, go(als), frequently asked questions (faq).

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Every business kickstarts in the pursuit of success.

A business goal is a marker or milestone on the road to this success.

It is a specific target or an outcome that organizations aim to achieve. It reflects a company’s vision and understanding of “success” in the short or the long term.

Although the concept of business goals is common across enterprises, its definition varies significantly.

For instance, an eCommerce store may view success through metrics like average order value or sales revenue. On the other hand, a social enterprise dedicated to safe drinking water accessibility may view success as the number of water filtration plants installed.

You might argue that such variation is obvious since these startup business goal examples concern two highly diverse sectors. However, even businesses operating in the same sector may employ different scales to mark their business goals.

For example, an online retailer focuses on web traffic, while brick-and-mortar stores are busy counting footfall. A SaaS-based startup may define business goals regarding customer acquisition, while an established counterpart may analyze subscription renewals!

Even though business goals differ, their primary function remains consistent—to serve as a guiding principle for informed decision-making.

The Importance of Setting Startup Business Goals

Your business goal is a North Star to guide your startup journey. Here’s how it contributes to the overall success and sustainability of your startup:

The business goal or objective outlines the company’s aspirations. While the objective is more short-term, the long-term business goal governs every business decision and strategy so that you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Naturally, the short-term objectives tie up to the overarching goal. For instance, increasing revenue through sales could help with long-term business objectives of growth and expansion.

Having such clarity of the short and long-term expectations offers a sense of direction to the team. Using this as their focus, they can plan key tasks or activities to realize such goals. It fuels concerted efforts through effective time, effort, and resource management.

clickup goals feature

Organizations can use SMART business goals as a measure of success. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. They convert goals from vague entities into quantifiable metrics to track progress.

Say your basic business goal is to increase website traffic. Then, as a SMART framework, it would read as ‘Increase organic website traffic by 30% within the next six months. ‘ Notice the difference? SMART business goals turn generic ideas into specific, measurable outcomes . They help you objectively assess your startup’s performance and tweak strategies using data-driven insights!

Given a startup’s dynamic environment, it is easier for priorities to shift. Similarly, daily tasks can eclipse the bigger picture and detract from the larger goal.

Startup business goals shield you from distractions and recenter your ideas, strategies, and actions. They cultivate a sense of accountability by acting as a yardstick for performance. At the same time, we’ve seen how they serve as quantifiable benchmarks to track progress toward achieving the broader vision. 

You may review your goals occasionally to get an idea of your startup’s growth while also identifying areas for improvement. Such a holistic overview allows you to prioritize impact-based activities and foster a greater sense of ownership and responsibility .

Business goals are a source of motivation for startup founders and team members. Having a clear shared objective to work towards and clarity on how it ties up with the larger goals drives collaboration and motivation. Plus, publicly shared goals promote transparency, which instills accountability . 

And when goals are reached, recognizing personal and organizational achievements improves team morale.

ClickUp 3.0 Timeline Local Workload view simplified

Setting business goals also involves task prioritization. Entrepreneurs may prioritize based on importance, impact, and urgency. Such weighted distribution of focus enables the smart allocation of limited resources , which is fairly common in a startup setup. 

With clearly articulated and prioritized business goals, you can effectively allocate resources like time, money, and staff to activate success.

This ensures that your startup can meet critical business objectives and launch minimum viable products (MVPs) that can kick-start growth while you secure funding for resource reinforcements!

ClickUp Risk Management Risk Register Template

Startups are highly vulnerable to risks. Identifying potential risks or challenges early on and addressing them or mitigating their impact is instrumental in a startup’s success.

To anticipate hurdles, goal-setting strategies often employ analytical tools and frameworks like SWOT analysis, risk matrices, etc. Knowing these beforehand allows entrepreneurs to prepare holistic risk management strategies and contingency plans that help navigate these challenges in a hands-on manner. This level of preparedness minimizes risks or, if not outright, eliminates them.

While a strong mission statement lays the foundation for your startup, the goals guide your journey. Goals transcend brand building and market positioning and illustrate your understanding of success. Well-defined goals showcase your understanding of the market, target audience, and value proposition.

Imagine two startups: one laser-focused on explosive business growth with a series of fast-paced goals. Another that prioritizes scalability and sustainability through long-term goals spaced out over a considerable duration. In both cases, clear goals paint a picture for investors and partners.

Partners can evaluate if your startup is a good fit for a strategic partnership , while investors can calculate their anticipated return on investment (ROI). They can also adjudge whether the startup’s mission, vision, and values align with theirs. This alignment will attract meaningful partnerships and investor relations for mutual benefit.

Work Breakdown Structure Example in List view in ClickUp

Clear startup goals are pillars of strategic planning. They define your desired outcomes , establish a roadmap for success, and help you navigate the journey. Use them to devise short-term and long-term strategic plans. The cumulative and concentrated result of individualistic strategic plans will enable your startup to take on big, hairy, audacious goals that may have felt unsurmountable at one point. 

How to Set Effective Startup Business Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you understand the mission-critical role of business goals, especially in the context of startups, let’s learn how to set these. Below is a step-by-step guide to setting a business goal:

If you haven’t done it already, start by defining your startup’s mission and vision statement. 

The vision statement demonstrates the long-term aspirations of your business. On the other hand, the mission statement describes the driving force and guiding principles of your startup’s activities. The mission statement is a roadmap to the vision statement; think of the former as your business objectives and the latter as the goal.

Ensure that the two align with your company’s offerings and core values. 

For example, here’s how Amazon weaves its mission statement through its introduction:

Startup goals examples: Amazon's mission statement

Amazon’s goal of becoming the Earth’s most customer-centric company is evident from its trailblazing effort in personalizing the eCommerce sector and its expansive product range.

On the other hand, Apple showcases its workplace culture through personalized stories and anecdotes from its team members:

Startup goals examples: Apple's values

Apple’s mission statement, ‘We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it,’ will attract talent that aligns with this goal.

In this way, mission and vision statements reflect the company’s business model, aspirations, and culture.

Along these lines, articulate what stirs your passion and frame it as your mission and vision statements.

Once you’ve done the groundwork, analyze your current state. You may use any business analysis framework for a comprehensive and cross-sectional evaluation. We find the SWOT analysis to be a great starting point.

A SWOT analysis template highlights your startup’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). It sheds light on your internal strengths and weaknesses, such as team collaboration, skill or talent gaps, resource availability, etc. At the same time, you can visualize external opportunities and threats, such as target market conditions, customer demands, competitors, etc. 

Use the Small Business SWOT analysis template on ClickUp

Keeping all of this in mind, the ClickUp Small Business SWOT Analysis template is designed to help you strategize, plan, and make informed decisions. Such a well-rounded and holistic analysis helps set realistic and attainable business goals. It also lets you divide your analysis into different categories, such as Marketing, Operations, Finance, etc., to assess each aspect of your business.

ClickUp 3.0 Setting Task Priority

You now see your destination. You know where you currently stand. It’s time to bridge the two!

Identify the key focus areas to accelerate your journey to success. It could be through product innovation, brand recognition, operational efficiency, increasing market share, retaining customers, or a blend of all of these.

You might eventually come up with four or five desired goals. However, you may not have the resources and capacity to achieve these together. Hence, you should set priorities for your business goals and define them along SMART parameters.

Each goal must be clear, quantifiable, and time-bound to align with your startup’s business objectives. Be as specific as possible with your SMART goals, as granularity will improve your chances of achieving the goal.

To make this task easier, leverage readily available resources, such as goal-setting templates . 

Startup goals examples in ClickUp

The previous step may lead you to believe that your job is done. However, goal-setting is more than just documenting business goals—it is part planning and part implementation.

So, once you have your business goals ready, break them down into smaller, actionable steps. Continue this division until you reach the smallest task, activity, and timeline required to achieve each goal. Doing so will help you create a comprehensive and actionable roadmap for goal execution.

Work Breakdown Structure Example in ClickUp's Gantt View

When the work breakdown structure is ready, assign these tasks to specific departments, managers, or team members. Clearly defining roles, responsibilities, and expectations will keep your team accountable and focused on goal achievement.

ClickUp Dashboards Progress Tracking view

Business goals are your marker of success. So, use them for measuring progress.

Track the appropriate goals or their underlying metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Most project management tools, including ClickUp, feature an interactive dashboard that helps you visualize progress in real time. Map all the metrics and KPIs you wish to track onto this dashboard and view their progress and any deviations so you can take action in a time-bound manner.

These dashboards also allow you to review your business goals and update them instantly. Your business goal may have changed due to evolving priorities, shifting market conditions, customer feedback, new opportunities, etc. Update them on the fly to run a highly responsive, adaptable, and resilient startup!

We’ve already discussed how celebrating milestones and achievements helps improve team morale. It is also a tangible indicator of success and motivates the team to move on to the next item on the checklist.

Acknowledging individual or team efforts contributing to business objective attainment promotes a sense of belonging and community. The resulting engagement improves team cohesiveness. Therefore, celebrating milestones and achievements should be a part of your goal-setting strategy.

Finally, business goal setting is not a ‘set it and forget it’ job. Embracing a culture of continuous learning and improvement will help startups refine the business model with each cycle.

So, treat goal setting as a continuous process that considers internal and external stakeholder feedback, product improvement and innovation, and experimentation to drive business growth.

This positive feedback loop will improve business goal-setting iteratively.

Setting goals for your startup:

  • Assess the current state
  • Track, monitor, recalibrate
  • Celebrate milestones
  • Learn and improve

65 Real-World Startup Business Goals Examples

This brings us to the end of all the theoretical aspects of business goal setting. Let’s now delve into some real-world examples to solidify your understanding of business goals and to inspire you. From financial to customer satisfaction goals, we’re about to discuss all the different types of business goals for startups, along with appropriate examples. And yes, we will describe each example as SMART goals as far as possible.

On that note, here’s a detailed list of business goals to add to your startup business plan template :

Financial business goals revolve around plans to boost revenue, improve profit margins, reduce costs, and acquire funding. They describe the desired financial performance or health of the company. Use this business objective to maximize revenue and minimize expenses to run a sustainable startup.

Here are some business goals examples to manage your finances better:

  • Increase net profit margins by 10% through effective cost-cutting measures
  • Improve cash flows by reducing outstanding AR (accounts receivable) by 30% in the next six months
  • Increase shareholder value by achieving an ROI (return on investment) of 20%
  • Secure funding of $1 billion from venture capital and angel investors in the next three months
  • Renegotiate terms with vendors to increase profit margins by 25%
  • Achieve financial stability with a 1:1 debt-to-equity ratio
  • Get to your startup’s break-even point within the first two years of operations
  • Reduce wasteful expenditure by 10% through smart, data-driven inventory management

Pro Tip : Track your startup’s financial goals using metrics like:

  • Profit margins
  • Cash outflow
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  • Quick ratio

As the name suggests, these business goals look to improve employee retention. Your employees are the target audience for these goals, so you should focus on driving employee satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty. Earning your employees’ goodwill reduces turnover rates and ensures continuity in workforce expertise.

Consider the following team goals to improve employee retention:

  • Cut down employee turnover rates by 30% within the next year by introducing attractive benefits and incentives
  • Employ regular feedback mechanisms and engagement initiatives to improve employee satisfaction rates by 20%
  • Establish a 6-month buddy system after onboarding fresh hires to maintain engagement and clarify expectations from day one
  • Offer 2 online skill development courses and 1 internal workshop per quarter
  • Organize monthly team-building exercises with a focus on activities that have more than 70% enrollment and participation rates
  • Launch a hybrid work policy in the next 2 months, allowing 3 days remote and 3 days in-office schedule post manager approval
  • Increase paid time off (PTO) allowance by an additional 3 days per year across all employee levels
  • Offer high-performing individuals a 40% appraisal by the end of the financial year
  • Build a work environment imbibing the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) principles to foster a sense of belonging
  • Conduct exit interviews to understand the main reasons behind employee churn
  • Conduct regular performance reviews to identify areas of improvement and mentorship to employees

Pro Tip : Track your startup’s employee retention goals using metrics like:

  • Employee turnover rate
  • Employee satisfaction surveys
  • Retention rate
  • Time to Hire
  • Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)
  • Absenteeism Rate

While the employee retention goal aims to retain talent, productivity business goals seek to enhance operational efficiency and output. As such, they revolve around day-to-day activities that can streamline productivity levels. You may set targets to optimize workflows, reduce waste, eliminate inefficiency, and increase per-employee output across the company.

Here are some examples of business goals that help achieve success by nurturing a highly productive workforce:

  • Introducing process optimization and automation to drive up productivity by 30% in a few months (3-6)
  • Streamline product development processes to reduce time-to-market by 30% for new products and 70% for product enhancements
  • Reducing server downtimes by 98% to improve the availability of online tools and resources
  • Implement project management software to enhance team collaboration, task management, and deadline adherence
  • Document SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to standardize business workflows and processes to introduce consistency, eliminate errors, and minimize rework
  • Share employee handbooks to define employee roles, responsibilities, and expectations clearly

Pro Tip : Track your startup’s employee productivity goals using metrics like:

  • Sales quota attainment
  • Tasks/projects completed
  • Bug fixes or code commits
  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Employee engagement
  • Meeting durations
  • Utilization rate

Remember to tweak this according to the employees’ department and expected deliverables.

Startups can grow by generating brand awareness and earning a solid reputation. This strategy focuses on forging a positive brand perception in the target audience’s minds. Businesses can achieve this by increasing brand visibility, earning trust and credibility, and running brand loyalty programs. 

Below are a few business goals examples to increase brand awareness and reputation:

  • Conduct market research to assess brand perception and generate awareness by 20% within 3 months by tracking social media imprints
  • Increase brand recognition and recall by 30% within a year among the target demographics
  • Invest in brand storytelling to communicate the startup’s values and identity
  • Obtain 20 positive customer testimonials and reviews on Google and G2 by Q2 to increase brand reputation
  • Partner with 12 industry experts and influencers to expand brand reach by 40% across LinkedIn, Instagram, and X within 6 months
  • Publish 8 blog posts on the company website to establish a reputable and credible digital presence
  • Use social listening and reputation management strategies to monitor, manage, and mold brand narrative and online chatter
  • Participate in 4 industry events, 8 conferences and webinars, and 2 trade shows to raise brand visibility and awareness in Q3 and Q4
  • Establish and standardize brand guidelines for a consistent and branded customer experience across all touchpoints
  • Launch a brand ambassador program with 40 loyal customers recruited as brand ambassadors in the first month to catalyze word-of-mouth marketing and increase advocacy by 12%

Pro Tip : Track your startup’s brand awareness and reputation goals using metrics like:

  • Impressions
  • Online traffic
  • Search volume
  • Customer reviews
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Brand mentions
  • Social media chatter

Business goals about marketing strategies explore ways to promote products or services, generate more leads, drive customer engagement, and forward highly qualified leads to sales. They guide marketing efforts by specifying outcomes such as boosting conversion rates, increasing brand awareness, unlocking web traffic, etc., to match the larger business goals.

Some examples of marketing strategy goals include:

  • Implement content marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) to drive website traffic by 50% in the next 12 months
  • Generate 1,000 new leads per month through targeted paid advertising
  • Boost email open and click-through rates by 20% and 15% by data-driven optimization of email marketing campaigns
  • Increase social media engagement by 25% and earn 3000 new followers in a month through carefully curated content and social media community management
  • Launch an attractive referral program to encourage existing customers and loyalists to refer new business
  • Optimize your marketing strategies using automation to nurture leads and drive conversions
  • Conduct focus group meetings and customer surveys to understand target audience preferences and needs
  • Form strategic partnerships with complementary businesses to break into new audiences
  • Increase marketing ROI by analyzing and optimizing marketing expenditure across various channels
  • Use segmentation and targeted marketing campaigns for a personalized customer experience

Pro Tip : Track your startup’s marketing goals using metrics like:

  • Website traffic
  • Lead generation rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Social media follower growth
  • Social media engagement rate
  • Email open rate
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

Sales and revenue goals are an extension of the marketing goals. They focus on attracting more sales or revenue in a time-bound fashion. The sales team may work on acquiring new customers, upselling and cross-selling activities, and other revenue-generating initiatives to infuse sustainability and profitability into your startup’s growth.

Here are a few examples of sales goals to get more sales:

  • Achieve $2 million in annual sales revenue by the end of the fiscal year
  • Bump up AOV (average order value) by 15% using product bundling
  • Drive conversion rates up by 20% through sales process optimization, automation, and training
  • Increase your customer base by acquiring 1200 new customers in the next six months
  • Improve customer lifetime value by 25% through upselling and cross-selling strategies
  • Expand market share by 20% by entering a new geographic or demographic segment
  • Launch an attractive sales incentive program to motivate and reward your sales team and their performance
  • Accelerate sales cycle by reducing timelines by 20% through improved lead qualification, workflow automation, and timely follow-ups
  • Enable the sales team with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool to track and quantify sales activities across various channels
  • Leverage AI-powered predictive models to enhance sales forecasting accuracy, effective resource allocation, and sharp inventory management
  • Introduce dynamic pricing to maximize profitability while also staying competitive

ClickUp Smart Tips : Track your startup’s sales and revenue goals using metrics like:

  • Total revenue
  • Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)
  • Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)
  • Sales cycle length
  • Sales conversion rate

These business goals focus on enhancing customer satisfaction and delivering memorable customer experiences to cultivate long-term customer relationships. Startups may aim to improve customer retention through various strategies, from loyalty programs to exceptional customer service to improving product quality.

Here are some goals that you can set to improve customer satisfaction:

  • Increase customer satisfaction scores by 30% through enhanced customer service and support
  • Improve customer retention rates by 20% through personalized re-engagement strategies and customer loyalty programs
  • Implement a customer feedback system to capture actionable first-hand insights and address customer pain points
  • Leverage proactive communication across preferred channels to share updates and notifications to increase trust and transparency
  • Address customer concerns and issues within a prescribed timeline and in the appropriate manner to improve customer satisfaction
  • Measure and track NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) score to get a realistic idea of customer satisfaction levels
  • Identify the KPIs to measure customer satisfaction and measure progress goals using them
  • Invest in training and development of customer-facing teams to improve service quality and add value to customer interactions
  • Offer perks or value-added services to incentivize repeat purchases and customer loyalty

Pro Tip : Track your startup’s customer satisfaction and retention goals using metrics like:

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)
  • Repeat Purchase Rate (RPR) 
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)
  • Customer churn rate
  • Customer engagement

Digital Tools To Help Meet Your Startup’s Business Goals

They say a goal is just a wish without a plan. In other words, you must cement your business goals with actionable plans and strategies to make them work.

To develop and execute a solid business plan, you will require the right tools, platforms, software solutions, and systems. These add structure to your plan and help you reach your goals faster .

Here is an overview of the various solutions you can use to meet the different types of business goals:

The project management software is the Swiss Army Knife of setting business goals.

ClickUp Dashboards Project Overview (List Overview)

Project management software helps set attainable goals by acting as a centralized platform dedicated to the efficient planning, organization, and execution of projects. To meet this objective, these platforms offer features for task management, project scheduling, collaborative working, team communication, etc.

These enable startups to logically break down long-term business goals into smaller, manageable objectives so that teams can prioritize work tasks . Such hands-on project management improves transparency and accountability, helps track progress, and manages risks and resources to deliver results per specification, timeline, and budget.

We’ll talk more about how you can use ClickUp for Startups in the later section to grant you practical exposure.

Using ClickUp as a CRM and managing customer data in ClickUp List view

CRM tools allow businesses to foster meaningful and enriching customer relationships to drive organizational growth.

CRM platforms centralize all customer data, communication channels, and interactions to offer you a well-rounded view of customer demands, preferences, and behaviors.

Using these insights, startups can curate personalized experiences to improve customer satisfaction and drive brand loyalty. Personalization could be achieved through unique marketing experiences, targeted sales campaigns, or improved customer service to delight customers throughout their journey.

Additionally, its pipeline management features allow startups to track leads, opportunities, and deals to enhance conversions and revenue.

ClickUp functions as both a project management software and CRM, an all-in-one platform designed to streamline various workflows. 

Visualize and manage sales pipelines with over 15+ ClickUp Views , benefit from email integrations, build a customer database, analyze customer data, and much more— all on ClickUp. 

ClickUp List View

So, if your business goals revolve around acquiring new customers or retaining existing ones, then investing in a CRM platform like ClickUp is a smart move.

Whether it is through the loss of employee productivity or by eating into revenues—inefficient processes cost businesses. While established businesses might be able to absorb some cost overheads, the same could be disastrous for startups. After all, they are often resource-strapped as it is!

Startups may turn to process mapping tools to mitigate risks . Use them to visualize, analyze, and optimize business processes and workflows. They allow you to conduct a thorough analysis of the current processes to identify bottlenecks, inefficiency, and areas of improvement. Understanding these hurdles helps formulate effective solutions and optimization initiatives . They also standardize processes to maintain consistency, quality, and compliance across teams and departments.

Pro Tip : Leverage ClickUp as your process mapping tool. ClickUp Whiteboards and mind maps help visualize business processes.

Such a dynamic approach to optimizing processes drives operational excellence and increases profit margins.

You will require a robust data analytics tool to analyze your marketing and sales performance.  They make these two mission-critical activities measurable and more accurate. Most importantly, they are compatible with high volumes of data to help you manage campaigns on the fly.

Leverage these tools to gain insights into market trends, campaign effectiveness, customer behavior, and conversion rates. Tracking these variables helps identify untapped opportunities, recalibrate strategies, and allocate resources effectively to achieve sales and marketing business goals. From personalizing business messaging to benchmarking performance, marketing and sales analytics tools help startups achieve their growth goals . 

Pro Tip : Use ClickUp Dashboards to track sales and marketing metrics in real time, implement strategies, and benchmark performance.

Financial management systems are crucial for startups to meet their financial goals. It helps startups manage budgets and finances effectively, improve shareholder value, maintain healthy profit margins, and ensure compliance. They may even come equipped with AI tools that help with revenue forecasting, demand-supply prediction, and budget utilization with heightened accuracy.

They help maintain accurate financial records and reports. Such well-documented insights fuel informed decisions while managing cash flows, tracking and controlling costs, and optimizing resources. Additionally, they help maintain legal and regulatory compliance by maintaining an auditable log of all financial decisions. 

By improving financial visibility , these systems maintain transparency and accountability while maintaining financial stability.

Pro Tip : Deploy ClickUp as your account and finance management software to stay ahead of your financial goals.

ClickUp is every startup’s friend. After all, we’re a startup ourselves, and we know how challenging—and exhilarating—the startup journey can be. ClickUp is our attempt to make this journey less stressful for innovative startups.

So, here’s a look at how ClickUp helps in setting business goals:

  • Goal tracking : ClickUp Goals help create SMART goals that align with your project requirements. Apart from setting specific and measurable goals along a timeline, ClickUp allows you to track their progress in real time so that you always know where you stand

Startup goals examples: Execute and track progress

  • Strategic task management : Achievable goals must be broken down into specific projects and tasks. Entrepreneurs can use ClickUp to organize, prioritize, and monitor these tasks. You can even dig in deeper to divide tasks into subtasks. Organize tasks in task lists, filter by priorities, owner, and due dates, set up reminders and notifications, and add task dependencies to ensure that every task is completed on time
  • Dynamic resource allocation : ClickUp supports dynamic resource allocation by offering a one-stop view of all activities. Plus, you have workload management and time-tracking features to help you understand how resources are utilized. Having such an overview makes it easier for managers to assign or redistribute resources based on the priority, impact, and urgency of any task or activity

ClickUp 3.0 Workload view simplified

  • Collaboration and communication : ClickUp is the ultimate hub for collaborative working. From an assortment of synchronous and asynchronous communication channels to live editing of shared documents—teams can use ClickUp to stay in touch and on track. Use the ClickUp Chat View to exchange messages in real time, assign comments to escalate issues or draw attention, and create, edit, and manage documents collaboratively using ClickUp Docs .  Share ideas, brainstorm, and work together to meet your business goals 
  • Interactive dashboards : ClickUp Dashboards possess potent data analytics and reporting capabilities that allow startups to monitor KPIs, track progress, and analyze performance. These dashboards share data-driven insights on the current state of the project, which allows you to develop strategic plans, corrective measures, and informed decisions to get to your desired state 

Startup goals examples: ClickUp 3.0 Dashboard showing Team Goals

  • Integration ecosystem : Use ClickUp with various third-party tools, apps, and platforms to build a value-loaded interconnected network. Whether it is incorporating file storage platforms like Google Drive or customer support solutions like Zendesk, you can integrate these into the ClickUp ecosystem to build a comprehensive, one-stop platform for all your startup needs

ClickUp 3.0 Apps and integrations simplified

  • Rich templates : With ClickUp, you get a rich library of highly configurable templates to help you work smart. From detailed Standard Operating Procedures to the Business Plan Template on ClickUp ensures faster time-to-market as you don’t have to build things from scratch

One of ClickUp’s greatest USPs is that it is highly customizable to meet your specific needs. You can use it as a project management platform, a task management tool for HR and other teams, and a campaign and customer management platform for marketing and customer support—the possibilities are endless.

So, leverage its versatility to meet your different business goals without spreading them across multiple tools and platforms. As we often say, one is all you need!

Startup business goals are your compass for venturing into the seas of entrepreneurship.

 Goals give a sense of direction, act as a marker of progress, generate accountability, motivate teams, support strategic planning, and attract investors and partners. Each of these benefits propels your startup one step closer to success.

We highly recommend the startup business goal examples above, as they will inspire you to set SMART goals for your company. All that remains is to use suitable tools and platforms to execute and track these goals. You can choose from various solutions ranging from CRM to process mapping tools and beyond.

On the other hand, you can select ClickUp and replace the disparate tech stack with a centralized one. ClickUp promises flexibility and scalability that will grow along with your startup.

Sign up for free and explore!

How do I prioritize business goals?

Setting priorities for your business goals involves assessing the importance, urgency, and impact of these goals on your startup’s core objectives. Identify those that tightly couple with the mission, vision, and strategic priorities of your startup and place them first. Then, consider factors like potential risks or setbacks, dependencies, and resource availability to meet these goals. Finally, use prioritization techniques like the MoSCoW method or the Eisenhower matrix to assign weighted priorities to your goals.

How often should I review and update my startup’s business goals?

Review and update your startup’s business goals to keep up with evolving priorities, emerging opportunities, and shifting market conditions. Since startups are more dynamic, you may review your business goals every 3-6 months to stay responsive to volatility. Upon business consolidation, you can perform this exercise annually.

Which tools can help me achieve my business goals?

You can achieve your business goals using the following tools:

  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform
  • Marketing and analytics solutions

What happens when we don’t achieve all of our startup business goals?

Don’t treat falling short of your startup business goals as a failure. On the contrary, think of it as a learning opportunity through which you can:

  • Analyze the reasons why you couldn’t meet specific goals
  • Optimize your strategies to facilitate goal attainment
  • Celebrate the goals or milestones that you managed to achieve
  • Identify areas where your startup performed beyond expectations and templatize such success
  • Recalibrate your goals to make them more realistic and in line with external factors

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Microsoft planner.

Originally starting from Included now starting from Included

Included Included

in Microsoft 365

Planner in Microsoft 365 includes:

Real-time collaboration, commenting, and sharing using the Planner app in Microsoft Teams or the Planner web app

Creation and management of content-rich tasks with features including files, checklists, and labels

Tasks organized by My Day, My Tasks, and Assigned to me

Basic plan templates

Ability to view reports and dashboards

List, Grid, and Board views

Ability to view task dependencies

Security, compliance, data privacy, accessibility, and Microsoft 365 customer support

Planner Plan 1

Originally starting from $10.00 now starting from $10.00

$10.00 $10.00

(Annual subscription auto-renews) *

Includes everything in Planner in Microsoft 365, plus:

Project goals

Backlogs and sprints

Premium plan templates

Timeline (Gantt) view

Task dependencies

Customization and integration

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$30.00 $30.00

Includes everything in Planner Plan 1, plus:

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Task history

Baselines and critical path

Resources request capabilities

Program management

Project financials, budgeting, and costing

  • Advanced dependencies with lead and lag

Project Online desktop client

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Project Plan 5

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Includes everything in Project Plan 3, plus:

Portfolio management

Enterprise resource management and allocation

Project Standard 2021

Originally starting from $679.99 now starting from $679.99

$679.99 $679.99

(one-time purchase)

On-premises project management for those who do not need collaboration tools and other advanced features. 11

Project Professional 2021

Originally starting from $1,129.99 now starting from $1,129.99

$1,129.99 $1,129.99

A comprehensive on-premises project management solution. 11

Project Server

A flexible, scalable on-premises solution for project portfolio management and everyday project and work management.

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  • [1] After your one-month free trial, you’ll be charged the applicable subscription fee. A credit card is required. Cancel any time to stop future charges.
  • [2] Requires a Power BI subscription.
  • [3] While final pricing for Copilot in Planner has not been announced, users with a Project Plan 3 or Project Plan 5 license will be able to preview Copilot in Planner capabilities once it is rolled out to their organization.
  • [4] Requires a Microsoft 365 subscription to use Microsoft Teams​.
  • [5] Requires a Viva Goals subscription.
  • [6] Requires a Power Automate subscription.
  • [7] See detailed information about Project .
  • [8] See detailed information about Project for the web .
  • [9] See detailed information about Project Online .
  • [10] See detailed information about the Project Online desktop client .
  • [11] Both Project Standard 2021 and Project Professional 2021 support Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC).
  • [*] Subscription prices shown are per month. If you’re a global or billing administrator, an annual commitment is required to purchase online. You can choose to pay monthly or annually. Within the Microsoft 365 admin center, global and billing administrators can choose either annual or monthly commitment plans. All others may purchase a monthly subscription online.​

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IMAGES

  1. Free business plan templates and examples for your startup

    start up project business plan

  2. How to write a business plan for a startup company

    start up project business plan

  3. Startup Business Plan: Keys to a Successful Launch

    start up project business plan

  4. Business Start-Up Project Plan Template in Google Docs, Word, Apple

    start up project business plan

  5. 13+ Startup Business Plan Templates To Foster Your Company

    start up project business plan

  6. Free Startup Business Plan Templates

    start up project business plan

VIDEO

  1. Start up Project part 2, Kaydi Benjamin 501116390

  2. Midterm project

  3. FINAL PROJECT BUSINESS PLAN "MEGAMI SHOP"

  4. STID3154 IT ENTREPRENEURSHIP (GROUP B)

  5. Disposable Paper Plate Manufacturing Project Business Plan in Hindi

  6. 📚 Entrepreneur's Business Plan guide🏅

COMMENTS

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

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  2. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It's also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. After completing your plan, you can ...

  3. Free Startup Business Plan Templates

    Download Startup Business Plan Template - Word. Word | Smartsheet. This startup business plan template contains the essential components you need to convey your business idea and strategy to investors and stakeholders, but you can customize this template to fit your needs. The template provides room to include an executive summary, a financial ...

  4. How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

    1. Create Your Executive Summary. The executive summary is a snapshot of your business or a high-level overview of your business purposes and plans. Although the executive summary is the first section in your business plan, most people write it last. The length of the executive summary is not more than two pages.

  5. How to Write a Startup Business Plan

    Begin by writing a one-sentence startup business plan introduction that showcases the core customer need/pain point and how you propose to solve it. 3. Develop startup goals and milestones. Next, write down the milestones and goals for your startup business plan. This is a crucial step that many entrepreneurs forget when they're starting out.

  6. How To Make A Business Plan: Step By Step Guide

    The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include. 1. Create an executive summary. Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

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

    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:

  8. Startup Business Plans 101: Your Path to Success

    A startup business plan is crucial for a startup because it provides a framework for strategic decision-making, facilitates financial planning, helps assess risks, aligns teams, communicates your vision, and ensures effective resource allocation. 2. What should a startup business plan include? A startup business plan should include:

  9. Free Business Plan Template

    Using Asana's free business plan template is simple. Start by creating a new project with our free template. From there, add relevant information for your specific business plan in the sections provided in our template. If there's more information you want to include in your business plan, you're free to add sections, custom fields, or ...

  10. Startup Business Plan Template for Word, PDF

    This simple template was designed to help someone new to the business world to easily put together a professional plan describing a new venture. Keep your startup plan short. As your business matures, you can adapt the plan to include additional detail. You can create different iterations of it for different audiences.

  11. 550+ Sample Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own

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

  12. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    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.

  13. Simple Business Plan Template (2024)

    This section of your simple business plan template explores how to structure and operate your business. Details include the type of business organization your startup will take, roles and ...

  14. How to Write a Business Plan for a Startup (with Pictures)

    Make the business plan look as professional as possible. Open a word processing document and set the font to Times New Roman or Garamond. [13] Add a cover page to your document. You can title it " [Company Name]'s Business Plan" or "Business Plan for [Your Name].". If you have a logo, include that too.

  15. Top 4 Business Plan Examples

    Keep in mind that these startup business plan examples are not a uniform guide for every business, and some information may vary. You may need a 5-year business plan template, or perhaps just some business plan examples for students. Make sure to remember this as you start writing your business plan, and comment below to let us know if these ...

  16. Project Management Business Plan Template [Updated 2024]

    Starting a project management business is easy with these 14 steps: Choose the Name for Your Project Management Business. Create Your Project Management Business Plan. Choose the Legal Structure for Your Project Management Business. Secure Startup Funding for Your Project Management Business (If Needed) Secure a Location for Your Business.

  17. Project Plan Template for Business Startup

    Enter ClickUp's Startup Project Plan Template. This template makes it easy for startup executives and project managers to stay on top of their projects and: Organize tasks and subtasks in one centralized location. Prioritize tasks based on importance, timeline, and budget. Keep teams motivated with real-time progress tracking.

  18. Simple Business Plan Template For Startup Founders

    The executive summary is a short section that summarizes every aspect of the business plan. So, first, write the entire plan. THEN write the executive summary. 3. Supplement the business plan with supporting documents. While simple business plans are fast and effective, they leave out a lot of information by nature.

  19. 6 Free Startup

    Kick start your business with our hand-curated collection of ready-to-use templates. A collection of professionally designed Startup | Business Plans templates available for PDF. Download, customize, and send in minutes.

  20. The Complete Guide to Project Management for Startups

    1. ProofHub. ProofHub is one of the best project management tools that is a perfect fit for project managers looking for project management for startup companies. It is simple and intuitive with features that make it easy to better collaborate, organize, and deliver projects on time.

  21. Business Start-Up Project Plan

    Start-up plans work the same way but are more focused on the project of a business start-up. In addition, for a business start-up project to be successful, how you make the plan will also have its effects. For an effective business start-up project plan, let's head over to the steps to writing one down.

  22. Free editable and printable business plan templates

    709 templates. Create a blank Business Plan. Beige Aesthetic Modern Business Plan A4 Document. Document by Rise & Roar Design. Green Professional Strategic Business Plan Executive Summary. Document by Antler. Startup Business Plan. Document by Maea Studio. Blue White Corporate Business Plan Cover Document.

  23. 65 Startup Business Goals Examples to Set in 2024

    Digital Tools To Help Meet Your Startup's Business Goals. They say a goal is just a wish without a plan. In other words, you must cement your business goals with actionable plans and strategies to make them work. To develop and execute a solid business plan, you will require the right tools, platforms, software solutions, and systems.

  24. Start-Up Business Plan

    The purpose of the Start-Up Business Plan Event is to provide an opportunity for the participant to develop and present a proposal to form a business. The event provides an opportunity for a participant to develop and demonstrate mastery of essential knowledge and skills as they apply to the analysis of a business opportunity. Participants.

  25. Compare All Planner Options and Prices| Microsoft Planner

    Manage and optimize your project portfolios to prioritize initiatives and drive effective resource management. Includes the Project Online desktop client and Project Online. Generate new plans, set goals, track status, and react to changes as projects evolve with Copilot in Planner (preview ...