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How to write a business plan

How to write a business plan | cfib.

A business plan is an indispensable road map for your business’ success. While many entrepreneurs only write a plan in hopes of securing financing, smart entrepreneurs invest the time to create a plan that can take their business into the future.

A business plan is a living document, generally planning 3-5 years ahead. It outlines the direction a business intends to take to establish a customer base and start earning profits.

The key elements of a strong business plan include:

  • Company Profile:   What is your business’s mission? What product or service do you offer? What is your competitive advantage in the market?
  • Market Research:  What are the current trends in your industry? What are the characteristics and traits of your target market and what is the market share opportunity for your business? 
  • Sales & Marketing:  What channels will you use to distribute your product? How are you going to reach your customers? Will the web and social media play a role in promoting your goods?
  • Operations:   What will you need to run your business (equipment, space, staff, etc)?  Will you handle your own books or hire an accountant?  How will the business be structured – incorporated or sole proprietor?
  • Financials:   How much money will you need to get your business off the ground? How will that money be allocated?  When do you expect to start earning money?

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What is a business plan and why do I need one?

A business plan is a written document that describes your business, its objectives and strategies, the market you are targeting and your financial forecast. It is important to have a business plan because it helps you set realistic goals, secure external funding, measure your success, clarify operational requirements and establish reasonable financial forecasts. Preparing your plan will also help you focus on how to operate your new business and give it the best chance for success.

Securing financial assistance to start your new business will be directly related to the strength of your business plan. To be considered a viable candidate to receive funds from a financial institution or investors, you must demonstrate that you understand every aspect of your business and its ability to generate profit.

A business plan is more than just something to show lenders and investors, it is also necessary to help you plan for the growth and progress of your business. Your business’s success can depend on your plans for the future.

Listed below are examples of questions to ask yourself when writing your business plan:

  • How will I generate a profit?
  • How will I run the business if sales are low or if profits are down?
  • Who is my competition, and how will we coexist?
  • Who is my target market?

What should be included in a business plan?

Although business plans can vary in length and scope, all successful business plans contain common elements. The following points should be included in any business plan:

  • Executive summary (business description)

Identifying your business opportunity

Marketing and sales strategy of a business plan, financial forecasts of a business plan, other useful documentation, the executive summary (business description).

The executive summary is an overview of the main points in your business plan and is often considered the most important section. It is positioned at the front of the plan and is usually the first section that a potential investor or lender will read. The summary should:

  • Include the main points from each of the other sections to explain the basics of your business
  • Be sufficiently interesting to motivate the reader to continue reading the rest of your business plan
  • Be brief and concise – no more than two pages long

Although the executive summary is the first section of the plan, it is a good idea to write it last – after the other parts of the plan have been finalized.

In this section of your business plan, you will describe what your business is about – its products and/or services – and your plans for the business. This section usually includes:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What you have to offer
  • What market you want to target

Remember that the person reading the plan may not understand your business and its products and services as well as you do, so try to avoid using complicated terms. It is also a good idea to get someone who is not involved in the business to read this section of your plan to make sure that anyone can understand it.

Some of the things you should explain in your plan include:

  • Whether it is a new business venture, a purchase of an existing business or the expansion of an existing business
  • The industry sector your business is in
  • The uniqueness of your product or service
  • The advantages that your business has over your competition
  • The main objectives of your business
  • Your legal business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation)

You can also include the date the business was registered/incorporated, the name of the business, its address and all contact information.

A strong business plan will include a section that describes specific activities that you will use to promote and sell your products or services. A strong sales and marketing section demonstrates that you have a clear idea of how you will get your product or service into market and can answer the following questions for the reader:

  • Who are your customers? Do some research and include details of the types of customers who have shown an interest in your product or service. You can describe how you are going to promote yourself to potential customers.  
  • How are you going to reach your customers? You should know your customers and the best methods to reach them. Research will help you identify the most effective way to connect with your selected audience, whether it is through the Internet, over the telephone or by in-person contact.  
  • Who is your competition? Once you understand this, you need to research their strengths and weaknesses and use this information to assess potential opportunities and threats to your business.  
  • How are you going to position your product or service? Describe what makes your product or service unique to the market you are trying to target.  
  • How are you going to price your product or service? This information will outline your pricing strategy, including incentives, bulk pricing and/or group sales.

Don't underestimate the importance of this part of your plan. Investors need to know that you and your staff have the necessary balance of skills, motivation and experience to succeed. This section describes the people working in your business and how you plan to manage your activities. Information in this section can include:

  • A brief organizational layout or chart of the business
  • Biographies of the managers (including yourself)
  • Who does what, with a brief job description of each position
  • The needed skills of each position
  • Any other relevant information related to personnel

It is also a good idea to outline any recruitment or training plans, including the cost and the amount of time required.

The operations section of your business plan will outline your daily operational requirements, facility requirements, management information systems, information technology requirements and any improvements you may have planned. This section usually includes information like:

  • Daily operations – descriptions of hours of operation, seasonality of business, suppliers and their credit terms, etc.  
  • Facility requirements – this includes things like size and location, information on lease agreements, supplier quotations and any licensing documentation    
  • Management information systems – inventory control, management of accounts, quality control and customer tracking  
  • Information technology (IT) requirements – your IT systems, any consultants or support service and an outline of any planned IT developments

Your financial forecast turns your plan into numbers. As part of any good business plan, you need to include financial projections for the business that provide a forecast for the next three to five years. The first 12 months of forecasts will have the most details about costs and revenues, so investors can understand your strategy.

Your financial forecasts should include:

  • Cash flow statements – cash balance and the cash flow pattern for the first 12-18 months, including working capital, salaries and sales
  • Profit and loss forecast – projected level of profit based on your projected sales, the costs of providing goods and services and your overhead costs
  • Sales forecast – the money you expect to make from sales of your product or service

Some other things to consider include:

  • How much capital do you need (if you are seeking external funding)?
  • What security can you offer to lenders?
  • How do you plan to repay your debts?
  • What are your sources of revenue and income?
  • Forecasts should be covering a range of scenarios
  • Reviewing risks and developing contingency plans to offset the risks
  • Reviewing industry benchmarks/averages for your type of business

It is important to do your research to find out how your business compares to other small businesses in your industry.

The following sections are not always required, but can enhance any business plan:

  • Implementation plan – this section lists estimated dates of completion for different aspects of your business plan, targets for your business and accomplishments. Appendices – these should include supporting material, such as licences and permits, agreements, contracts and other documentation that support your business plan.

Who should write my business plan?

Your business plan should be prepared by you, the entrepreneur. It is your business and your plan, but do not hesitate to ask for help from your management team, consultants, accountants, bookkeepers, copy editors or other experienced people.  

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Top business essentials

  • Business regulations guide
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  • Financing a business guide
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  • Starting a business
  • Taxation guide

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Creating a business plan.

A business plan is a crucial tool for any business owner. It can help you get started, keep you on track, and make decisions as your business grows. We have the expertise and resources to help walk you through it.

writing a business plan ontario

The basics of a business plan and how to get started.

Watch this video to learn how answering five key questions can help you start your business plan. Turn your answers into a winning blueprint that you can use to build your business, access funding, and more.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a living document that defines your goals, and how you will achieve them. It covers all major aspects of your business, including your financial plan, operations plan, marketing plan, and more. A business plan has 2 main purposes: it’s both your roadmap and your pitch.

Your business plan is your roadmap

Your business plan establishes goals that will guide your decisions as your business grows. You can return to it and update it to ensure that your choices align with your strategy and goals.

Your business plan is your pitch

Your business plan is also for the benefit of others. It tells the story of your company to help potential investors and lenders understand how you intend to use their funds. It should persuade them that you are well-prepared and should demonstrate to them that you have the experience and commitment to develop a detailed plan as well as the communication skills to write and present it.

Your business plan is invaluable, no matter how new or established your business. Use your business plan to:

  • Guide your business activities
  • Get financing or investors
  • Plan for future growth
  • Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
  • Track your performance
  • Plan your exit or succession from your business

writing a business plan ontario

When should I create a business plan?

Start as early as possible. Your final plan might be quite different from the first draft—your business plan will change and grow as you learn. To avoid being caught off guard later, make sure you’ve researched and planned for all the important aspects of starting a business.

A business plan does not have to be a massive document when you first start out. To begin, create a simple one-page plan. This will assist you in organizing your thoughts before creating a full plan. Throughout the year, Business Link hosts several workshops that can assist you in developing a one-page business plan. Attend one of our “Bring Your Business Idea to Life” or “Business Model Canvas” workshops to learn how to do so. Visit our events page to find out when and where the next workshop will be. Our interactive Business Plan Builder is also a great resource to help you get started.

How do I build a complete business plan?

Our FREE interactive Business Plan Builder makes writing a business plan easier. This online tool helps you write a full business plan and make updates and changes easily. It includes samples and short help videos throughout. In addition, our team of in-house experts can help you research , plan, and review your business plan .  Contact us today!

writing a business plan ontario

Additional business planning supports for Indigenous or immigrant entrepreneurs.

Indigenous Business Planning Workbook A workbook designed for our clients in Indigenous communities, but a great resource for any entrepreneur wishing to create a business plan. It provides vast information on evaluating your idea, analyzing your competition, and developing an operational plan.

Business Planning Guidebook for immigrant entrepreneurs This guidebook provides immigrant entrepreneurs with the basic steps of business planning in Alberta. You can use this guidebook to complete a business and marketing plan. Although this guidebook gives you what you need to start as an Alberta business owner, it does not have all the details. Each business will have unique characteristics. You will need to adapt what you learn in this guidebook to your specific circumstances.

Explore resources for other business functions.

There are some tasks that almost every small business owner needs to complete before they get off the ground. These pages will educate you on some of those essentials to help get you on your way.

Financing Your Business

Licenses, Permits & Regulations

Finding & Hiring Employees

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  • Explore strategies to be successful in starting or running your business
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How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needi

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated May 7, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. 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 use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

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  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

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
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

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

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: 10 AI prompts you need to write a business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

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

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

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

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information to include in a business plan is sometimes not quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

There are plenty of great options available (we’ve rounded up our 8 favorites to streamline your search).

But, if you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template , you can get one right now; download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

Kickstart your business plan writing with one of our free business plan templates or recommended tools.

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Free business plan template

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

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

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

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

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

Check out LivePlan

Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

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Starting your business with a plan and support

On this page skip this page navigation, introduction.

Everyone needs a business plan. It does not matter whether you are starting your very first business or growing an existing one, you always need a plan.

It is also important to know whether entrepreneurship is right for you and where to find the services and support available to help you get started.

In this section you will learn:

  • if entrepreneurship is right for you and available support services
  • why you need a business plan
  • the key elements of a business plan
  • how to research the information you need for your plan
  • where to find support for your business

Is entrepreneurship right for you?

Take a few minutes to learn more about the reality of being your own boss and what it takes to succeed. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs ( OMAFRA ) and the Government of Canada have information that could help you decide. To learn more, see:

  • Starting a Business in Canada

Even experienced business owners can benefit from coaching or counseling. If you are ready to take the next steps and want some support, try these resources:

Business development centres and consultants

Do you need help writing your business plan, doing your research, or developing the skills you need to be a business owner? Small business development centres or a consultant can help. Make sure you do your research and select a consultant that is right for you and your business. You may need to spend some time before contacting a consultant to identify your business needs and your budget for this service.

Here are a few resources to help you get started:

  • Small Business Access
  • Community Futures Ontario
  • Business and Industry
  • Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario

You’ll find more resources in Appendix A .

Seminars and workshops

You may be interested in attending seminars or workshops on how to start up a new business. Many are free or cost very little. Topics include taxes, business planning and marketing. To find one, check with groups like these:

  • Banks and other lenders (for example, Business Development Bank of Canada or Farm Credit Canada)
  • Ontario Small Business Enterprise Centres
  • Food sector associations (for example, Food and Beverage Ontario or Baking Association of Canada)
  • Industry conferences and tradeshows
  • Food festivals and events
  • Government agencies
  • Regional economic development organizations
  • Manufacturing organizations (for example, Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters)
  • Chambers of Commerce

You may also find other helpful tutorials and webinars by searching the Internet.

Job shadowing

One of the best ways to learn about the food processing industry is to work in it. Consider volunteering, job shadowing or working as an intern. This will give you valuable experience and connections. To find a position, get in touch with an industry association or a career and placement centre.

Business incubators and commercial kitchens

A business incubator is an organization that offers a wide range of services and resources to help grow your new business. These include physical locations, mentoring assistance, management assistance, business counseling and advisory services, technical information, financial advice, training, networks and more.

Some incubators are general in nature and will accept new clients from a variety of sectors, while others focus on specific industries or technologies.

A commercial kitchen is a food production facility that has all the licenses required to produce safe food. It is also inspected regularly by a health authority depending on the type of food that can be produced in the kitchen (that is, municipal, provincial and federal food safety requirements). They generally offer for rent a food production kitchen as well as dry, cold and freezer storage among other services.

To find a business incubator and/or commercial kitchen, see Appendix A .

Think you are ready to run a business? Now it is time to learn more about why you need a business plan.

Why you need a business plan

A business plan is a critical management tool for the creation or expansion of any business. It is a game plan — a concise, written record of objectives and how to obtain them. It describes, at a minimum, a product or service, customers, competition, management and financial arrangements. It should also outline production and marketing plans. It will outline the steps needed to start and grow a successful business, identify necessary resources, resolve potential problems before they occur and highlight areas where you need financing.

Others expect you to have a plan

If you need money to help get your business going, investors, the bank and any government funding programs will require a plan.

Planning takes research — lots of it

Writing your business plan will take a lot of research. The more research you do, the better. Research can show you the hurdles you need to overcome, identify unexpected costs, and help you avoid spending time and money on a project with little or no chance of success.

Research can be the difference between seeing your business being successful or your being business being exposed to risk.

Key elements of your business plan

Business plans come in many different forms and lengths, but they all contain the same core information. You can find many business plan templates online.

Futurpreneur Canada has detailed information and resources on writing a business plan. Also, see Appendix A for links to business planning software available for purchase.

Your business plan should include:

Executive summary

An executive summary of your business plan can be one to two pages in length. Investors especially will look at this section to see if they are interested in learning more about your business. Everything here is detailed elsewhere in your plan, so keep it brief.

The executive summary should include:

  • a general description of your product
  • the market(s) in which you are entering
  • what differentiates your product from your competition
  • short-and-long term goals for your business (start up, growth potential, new markets and expected income)
  • ownership structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and the management team)
  • financial highlights and other financial requirements

The executive summary is the first thing readers see, but it is typically the last piece of the business plan that is written.

Business description

Include a general description about your business, such as:

  • vision, mission and values
  • goals and objectives — what are the timelines to accomplish your goals and objectives
  • ownership structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation) — outline share ownership if multiple investors are involved
  • leadership and/or management team — what experience, credential and expertise do they bring to the business and how will they contribute to the success of the business?
  • business location — where is the business located? Are facilities being leased or is the business co-packing or just starting and using a commercial kitchen/incubator?

Also, see Setting up your business .

Industry overview

Demonstrate the potential success of your business by discussing the size and growth of your industry and the key markets within it. Be sure to include:

  • market research, gap analysis and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the market
  • major players in your industry including competitors, your customers and potential consumers of your product
  • relevance and key attributes of your product, that is, unique selling proposition ( USP )
  • industry and economic trends affecting your industry — this is also sometimes referred to as a PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal) analysis
  • certifications, insurance and industry or government regulations required
  • overall growth potential of your industry

Also, see Stages of business growth for food and beverage companies.

Product(s) description

Go into details about your product(s) including:

  • features and benefits
  • competitive advantages
  • how and where your products will be produced and packaged
  • where your product is going to be sold

Also, see Developing your product prototype .

Marketing strategy

Include the four Ps of marketing — product, price, promotion and place (distribution).

Consider describing:

  • competitive advantage — does it fill a niche or specific market demand
  • price point — based on costs, competition, or what the market will bear
  • SWOT analysis — identify and outline strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relating to the business (internal) and the market (external)
  • identify and understand the competitors and consumers of the product(s)
  • implications of change, trends, new technologies, new products, different lifestyles, ability of customers to afford the product
  • targeted geographic area where marketing tactics will be focused
  • product distribution — how will you get your product(s) to customer

Refer to the following sections of this guide:

  • Promotion strategy
  • Placement strategy
  • Pricing strategy

Operations plan

Prepare a brief outline of how you plan to operate your business, including:

  • how the product will be manufactured — for example, your own plant, co-manufacturing and commercial kitchen use
  • where ingredients and supplies will be purchased and how the product will be packaged, warehoused and shipped
  • what, if any, land, buildings and equipment will be needed
  • business location — proximity to consumers, suppliers, transportation (include costs) and location of competitors
  • production capacity that can be achieved (how you will react to market demand)
  • how will the business meet food safety requirements and other mandatory regulations

Human resources plan

Human resources management is a critical component to the success of any business. Consider including details about:

  • the key people currently involved in your business — include your management team and outline their experience, credentials and expertise and how they will contribute to the success of the business
  • your plan to attract, retain and train employees
  • additional skills needed to implement your plan and when you will need them
  • how key areas will be handled and by whom. An organizational chart is recommended
  • strengths and weaknesses in the management team and a strategy to overcome them
  • salary and compensation of managers and employees

Financial plan

Some believe this is the most important part of a plan. The financial plan is an essential part of any business plan and will be a requirement for creditors and/or government agencies when evaluating your business needs and use of funds. Include at least three years’ worth of projected financial statements.

Your financial plan should include:

  • income statement — discloses annual revenues and expenses of a business over the time period covered by the plan.
  • cashflow summary — forecast how much money will come in and out of the business. This projection will budget what you can afford and predict when expenditures will be made. It will show how to keep the business operating on a month-to-month basis and indicates the projected bank loan requirements during the year.
  • balance sheet — describes the assets, liabilities and equity of the business at a point in time. It is a widely used accounting statement that indicates the economic resources of the business organization and the claim on those resources by creditors. This information will allow owners, partners and creditors to compare the estimates against past performance and industry averages.
  • capital sales and purchases — supply detailed information on the capital purchases of land, buildings and equipment that are anticipated during the planning period and disclose information on how these assets are to be financed and their life expectancy.
  • financing schedule — snapshot overview including name of financial institutions for existing and new loans.

Be sure to document all the assumptions you used in forecasting your revenues and expenses (see Financing your food and beverage business ).

Now that you know some of the key elements required in a business plan, it is time to start your research.

Researching information for your business plan

Invest the time required to research the information needed for your business plan. This is a key step and critical to your success. One great place to start your research is by looking at other food and beverage manufacturing businesses to see what they make, how they make it, their target market and more.

Conduct your own search of trade associations specific to your product or reach out to OMAFRA through the Agricultural Information Contact Centre ( AICC ) via e-mail at [email protected] or phone at 1-877-424-1300 , and the AICC will direct you to an economic and business advisors who will be able to assist you. They can provide you with industry or sector reports or put you in contact with the right players.

For details and statistics on Canada’s food and beverage processing industry, it is recommended that you read the Government of Canada's information about food and beverage processing .

Learn about Ontario’s food and beverage industry on Ontario's Food and beverage statistics webpage .

Also, see Appendix A for links to other online resources and industry information.

Food product databases

Look for research, consumer surveys, business trends and developing technologies from all over the world on a wide variety of food product databases.

You can access some for free on the Internet. Others are available through data services for a fee.

Make a list of key words that describe the industry, the business and the topics you are researching. Examples include:

  • company names
  • individuals

Learn from example

It helps to know how other entrepreneurs started their businesses. Keep informed through resources such as the Business Development Bank of Canada’s characteristics of entrepreneurs .

Once you have completed your research, you should talk to an expert who can help you finish your plan and provide advice and support for your business.

Finding support

Now that you have done your research, you know about the demand for your product, how to make it unique and what it will take to get it produced. You are ready to speak to experts or others working in the industry for more advice and guidance.

This support can come from a wide variety of sources.

Industry associations

Industry associations are made up of businesses that operate in a specific industry. You can contact the associations for more information about your industry or to become a member to get regular updates on topics that will affect your business and the key factors for success. Some examples include:

  • Food and Beverage Ontario
  • Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processors Association
  • Meat and Poultry Ontario
  • Canadian Sugar Institute
  • Baking Association of Canada

Advisory board/food industry mentors

Many successful businesses have advisory boards. These are made up of experienced people who give the business owners advice and guidance. You might want to create your own advisory board or find a mentor to advise you. Look for someone with food industry experience who is willing to share what they know with you. Potential mentors, or board members, could be:

  • retired/previous owners or managers of similar businesses
  • non-competing business owners
  • potential customers
  • key suppliers
  • accountants
  • financial planners
  • technical experts

Successful businesspeople in non-food related sectors can also provide valuable advice on how to start up and manage your new business. Tips and experience from one type of business often work just as well for another.

Peer networks

Look for local or internet-based business professional and entrepreneurial networks that will share their support and information. These networks do not need to be food related. Peer networks are great for learning best practices, making industry connections, developing potential customers and promoting your business. These are some examples of peer networks:

  • local food groups
  • women in business networks
  • young entrepreneur networks
  • I can describe my business concept (what my idea is) in one minute.
  • I have set up a folder to file my information.
  • I have gathered research information on my market and sector.
  • I understand my product positioning ( USP ) and can describe the customer that would buy my product.
  • I understand the demand for my product.
  • I can list my competition and have begun gathering information on them.
  • I know what makes my product better or different.
  • I have researched other food and beverage manufacturers to see how they succeeded or failed.
  • I have contacted industry associations to find experts who can advise me.
  • I have a business plan template and have made progress in filling it in.
  • Sources of Business Finance
  • Small Business Loans
  • Small Business Grants
  • Crowdfunding Sites
  • How to Get a Business Loan
  • Small Business Insurance Providers
  • Best Factoring Companies
  • Types of Bank Accounts
  • Best Banks for Small Business
  • Best Business Bank Accounts
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Bank Accounts for Small Businesses
  • Free Business Checking Accounts
  • Best Business Credit Cards
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit
  • Build Business Credit Fast
  • Business Loan Eligibility Criteria
  • Small-Business Bookkeeping Basics
  • How to Set Financial Goals
  • Business Loan Calculators
  • How to Calculate ROI
  • Calculate Net Income
  • Calculate Working Capital
  • Calculate Operating Income
  • Calculate Net Present Value (NPV)
  • Calculate Payroll Tax

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 luenendonk.

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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.

Toronto Business Plan Writer

We write custom business plans that get toronto entrepreneurs funded..

business plan writer in toronto.

Are you from Toronto or the surrounding area, and looking to start a business? If you need a business plan but don’t know where to start, we can help! Bsbcon will create a customized business plan to help you secure financing, launch or expand your business.

Toronto continues to climb in international rankings of startup ecosystems and is considered among the top spots in the world to launch a business. Toronto-based companies contributed seven of the top 10 companies in LinkedIn’s Top Startups in Canada list last year.

What makes this city and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) so good for new business?

The GTA is a hugely attractive destination for hardworking, educated migrants from all over Canada as well as immigrants from the USA and overseas. The city of Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, technology and arts. It is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world with over 250 ethnicities found in the GTA. Many entrepreneurs cite the quality of higher education. With Ontario universities home to 450,000 undergrads and 68,000 postgraduate students, the talent pool runs deep.

The growth in the Toronto tech sector continues. Not only is Toronto the top tech hub in Canada but also ranks 4th in North America. Ecommerce and social media focused firms have prospered – even through the Covid pandemic – with expansion too for the more specialised sectors of cybersecurity, gaming, work-from-home platforms and IT infrastructure.

Financial Services

Toronto is the biggest financial centre in Canada and 2nd only to New York in North America. It is home to headquarters and major offices of the top Canadian and international banks, insurance companies and financial institutions. The startup scene is this sector benefits from the synergies with and cross-over from the tech sector. Fintech is where the market is at.

Life Sciences

Innovation and business success in life sciences depends on an ecosystem of hospitals, research centres, universities, bio-science graduates, technology incubators, and multinationals. Toronto has the highest quality ecosystem for the launch, nurture and growth of new life sciences firms.

Food and Beverage

We all have to eat. With a total population approaching 10 million in the GTA, the opportunities are clear for startups in the food and beverage industry in Toronto. From craft brewing to coffee roasting, from online gourmet food markets to ecommerce for restaurant deliveries, Toronto has it all – with room for more.

Startup Finance in Toronto

While most agree that Toronto is a great place for start-up businesses there is one recurring issue raised by entrepreneurs. The attractiveness of the city for startups can make it difficult to secure funding. Competition is fierce. Your business plan needs to be of the highest quality to stand out from the crowd and win serious consideration from banks, VCs and business angels.

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Toronto has become a thriving centre for startup businesses, resulting in a rising demand for business plan consultants, as evidenced by research. However, startup owners often face financial limitations, prompting them to explore alternative options. In response to this need, there are various resources available, such as business plan writer tool , business plan templates , and guides, specifically tailored to the requirements and regulations of the Canadian business landscape. These tools streamline the process and provide a structured framework for creating comprehensive business plans.

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or a budding entrepreneur in Toronto, having a comprehensive and professional business plan is essential. On this page, we will explore the distinctions between business plan templates, business plan writers, and the Futurpreneur program in terms of their roles in the development of a business plan.

In Toronto, entrepreneurs have a wide selection of pre-designed business plan templates or samples at their disposal. These templates provide a structured framework for creating a business plan and offer a variety of options to suit different needs and industries.

Advantages 

Accessibility: The pre-designed templates are easily accessible and can be downloaded or purchased quickly.

Cost-effective: Using a template can be a cost-effective option, as they are often inexpensive or even free.

Structure: The business plan templates offer a standardized structure, which can help entrepreneurs organize their thoughts and ensure all key components are addressed.

Limitations

Lack of customization: These templates may not be tailored to specific industries, business models, or unique circumstances.

Limited expertise: The business plan templates do not provide expert insights or guidance in creating a comprehensive and compelling business plan.

Time-consuming: Entrepreneurs may still need to invest significant time and effort to adapt and fill in the template with their business-specific information.

Business plan writers are professional consultants or experts who specialize in creating customized business plans for entrepreneurs. They collaborate with business owners to understand their vision, goals, and target audience , and then craft a personalized business plan that effectively communicates the business concept, strategies, and financial projections.

Expertise and experience: The business plan consultants have extensive knowledge in business planning and can provide valuable insights and recommendations.

Customization: The business plan writers tailor the business plan to specific industries, target markets, and investor requirements.

Professional presentation: The expert business plan writers create well-structured and compelling business plans that can impress potential investors or lenders.

Cost: The collaboration with a professional business plan writer can be a significant investment for entrepreneurs, especially for startups with limited resources.

Reliance on external expertise: Some entrepreneurs may prefer to have a deeper understanding of their business plan and be more involved in the process.

The Futurpreneur program is a comprehensive support system for young entrepreneurs, offering resources, mentorship, and financing options. It provides guidance throughout the business planning process and beyond, assisting entrepreneurs in launching and scaling their businesses.

Mentorship and guidance: The Futurpreneur Canada provides access to experienced mentors who can provide valuable advice and support throughout the entrepreneurial journey.

Financing options: The program offers low-interest loans to eligible entrepreneurs, helping them secure funding to start or grow their businesses.

Networking opportunities: Entrepreneurs can connect with like-minded individuals, industry experts, and potential partners through Futurpreneur’s events and community.

Limitations 

Eligibility criteria: The program is specifically designed for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39, which may limit its accessibility for older or younger individuals.

Program availability: The program’s resources and services may vary depending on the region and the availability of local partners and support networks.

To effectively plan, business startups in Toronto should gain a clear understanding of the roles of business plan templates, business plan writers, and the Futurpreneur program in developing a solid business plan. While business plan templates are popular online, they have limitations and may not capture the unique aspects of your business.

If you are a startup business in Toronto, collaborating with a business plan writer is still the best option as it can enhance the process. These professional writers have expertise in the local market dynamics, regulations, and investor expectations, allowing them to create a business plan that resonates with the target audience. A business plan writer can refine the business model, identify compelling value propositions, and communicate the competitive advantage effectively.

For ambitious business owners looking to secure funding, attract investors, and navigate their industry with confidence, choosing the right business pl an service company in Toronto is crucial. Consider the following factors when making your selection.

Tailored Expertise

While online templates may offer convenience, they lack the personalized touch that a business plan consultant can provide. From understanding customer segments to analyzing competitive landscapes, our Toronto business plan writers will ensure that your business plan resonates with your target audience and sets you apart from the competition.

Investor Attraction

When it comes to securing funding for your startup, a professionally crafted business plan can make all the difference. Investors are inundated with countless proposals, and standing out from the crowd is crucial. Our consultants in Toronto are well-versed in the art of capturing investors’ attention. They know what key elements to highlight, what financial projections to include, and how to articulate your value proposition effectively. By enlisting our services, you’ll increase your chances of securing the funding you need to turn your vision into a reality.

Strategic Guidance

Our business plan writers in Toronto offer more than just impressive documents. We provide valuable strategic guidance that goes beyond templates. By partnering with us, we can refine your strategies, anticipate challenges, and create actionable plans that align with your long-term objectives. We are dedicated partners committed to your success, not just consultants. Reach out to us today to get started.

The province of Toronto has become a thriving centre for startup businesses, resulting in a rising demand for business plan consultants, as evidenced by research. However, startup owners often face financial limitations, prompting them to explore alternative options. In response to this need, there are various resources available, such as business plan writer tool , business plan templates , and guides, specifically tailored to the requirements and regulations of the Canadian business landscape. These tools streamline the process and provide a structured framework for creating comprehensive business plans.

Popular Types of Business Plan from Bsbcon

Business Plans for Investors

Attracting investors is competitive at the best of times. You need a clear, concise business plan to accurately and effectively outline your unique business idea. A business plan from Bsbcon will maximise your chances of success with Vancouver VCs and investors.

Business Plans as a Management Tool

Business plans are the foundation of your business success. The right goals pave the way for the right investments which underscores the right direction for your business. Your bespoke BSBCON business plan will act as a road map for your business.

Business Plans for Bank Loans

First impressions count, especially when it comes to raising capital. Put your best foot forward with a professional, tailored business plan written with bank loan requirements at top of mind.

Business Plans for Immigration

We use language that reflects the legalities of immigration, covering all the statutory requirements. You receive a business plan that uncomplicates the immigration process. We write plans both for Federal visa programs and the Ontario Immigration Provincial Nominee Program.

Bottom Line

Bsbcon excels in providing business plan writing services for Toronto entrepreneurs and SMEs. Our dedicated team of professionals will develop a plan that meets the needs of your business and helps you maximize profits. If you are looking for a professional service for your business, we are here to help you. Call us or fill out the form below to achieve your business goals with a successful business plan.

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Writing a business plan for a Ontario based business

writing a business plan ontario

Small businesses form the backbone of the Ontario economy. However, running a small business comes with its own set of challenges, especially during the initial stages. Often, the most pressing issue is the availability of funding to grow the business, purchase equipment, or hire new employees. Fortunately, the Ontario government has multiple grants available to support small businesses. In this article, we will take a look at how to get a small business grant in Ontario.

Step 1: Determine eligibility criteria

Before applying for a small business grant in Ontario, the first step is to determine whether your business meets the eligibility criteria. Generally, eligibility criteria vary depending on the type of grant you are applying for. However, some of the common eligibility criteria for small business grants in Ontario include the following: – Be a registered business in Ontario – Have a specific number of employees, ranging from one to 500, depending on the grant – Have a specific type of business, such as manufacturing, agriculture, or environmental services

Step 2: Conduct research

Once you have determined that your business meets the eligibility criteria, the next step is to conduct research to find the grants that fit your business’s specific needs. By conducting thorough research, you can identify the appropriate grants and determine whether you qualify for them. Some of the reliable sources for searching and identifying small business grants in Ontario include government websites, industry associations, and special interest groups.

Step 3: Prepare a business plan

The next step is to prepare a comprehensive business plan for your small business. A business plan is a blueprint that outlines your business’s goals, strategies, and challenges. It provides a detailed overview of your business’s prospects, financial projections, and marketing strategies. A strong business plan is essential to securing a small business grant in Ontario since it showcases your business’s potential and demonstrates that you have a clear vision for growth.

Step 4: Apply for the grant

After identifying the appropriate grant and preparing a business plan, the next step is to apply for it. Applying for a small business grant in Ontario often requires completing an application form, submitting supporting documentation, and presenting your business plan to a panel of judges. While the application process may be challenging, it is crucial to submit a well-organized application that highlights your business’s potential and how the grant funds will be used.

Step 5: Follow up and comply with regulations

If your application for a small business grant in Ontario is successful, the next step is to follow up and comply with the regulations. Depending on the grant, you may be required to submit periodic reports, undergo an audit, or present your business’s progress to a panel of judges. It is essential to maintain good records and comply with all the requirements to avoid losing the grant.

In summary, getting a small business grant in Ontario requires determination, research, and preparation. The good news is that the Ontario government has numerous grants available to help small businesses grow and expand. By following the steps outlined above, you can increase your chances of securing a small business grant and take your business to the next level.

Recent Posts

  • No Income? No Problem: A Detailed Guide to Secure Government Funding.
  • Demystifying the Path to Financial Support for New Entrepreneurs
  • 10 Tips to Master Grants in Ontario
  • Secrets to Free Government Funding in Ontario: A Guide for Entrepreneurs
  • Navigating Government Funding in Ontario: A Comprehensive Guide for Entrepreneurs Seeking Free Grants

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Plan2Profit

Professional Business Plan Writers

We will tailor a business plan around your unique business idea and work with you at every step so that you completely understand it. The end result will be a business plan that will serve as a roadmap and help you secure funding for your venture.

We will tailor a business plan around your unique business idea and work with you at every step so that you completely understand it.

Meet Paul Morgan

Business plan writer.

Paul is a professional business plan writer, business developer and the owner of Plan2Profit. His business ownership career started in the early 1990s with the launch of a successful clothing store and restaurant.

Paul has since written thousands of business plans for business owners across Canada like you. His clients have received millions of dollars in both small business loans and large capital investments.

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For your business plan services.

We are different from other business plan writers that you may speak with. We are not analysts or accountants who are filling in the blanks on a template. We are not interns or recent graduates who are learning as they go. We are real business people with over 30 years of actual hands-on experience in business planning.

Having a quality business plan is one thing; being able to pitch, defend and execute it is another. This is why we include you in the development of your plan. We teach you things along the way such as: How to price your goods or services, How to market your business and How to develop a monetization strategy that will position your business for growth. Your experience with us will not only get you funded, it will prepare you for business ownership.

your business plan

Lenders and investors read thousands of business plans each year. Their time is limited so you can’t afford to waste it with irrelevant facts and meaningless filler. This is why we  develop a clear, concise business plan that consists of six key components. Simply speaking, we outline your business idea, detail you and your supporting team’s experience and roles in the business, demonstrate how you will be profitable and show the reader why you and your team are the best people to make it all work.

Business Overview & Concept Summary

5-Year Financial Forecast Summary

Sales & Marketing Strategy

First 2-year Detailed Financial Forecast

Start-Up Costs Summary

Ownership and Team Summary

BUSINESS TYPES THAT WE HAVE HELPED RECENTLY

  • Accounting and Bookkeeping
  • Tourism and Travel
  • Agriculture and Farming
  • Digital App
  • Building Development
  • Construction
  • Contracting
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Event Center
  • Film Production
  • Fitness and Gym
  • Health and Wellness
  • Home Inspection
  • Home Stager
  • Human Resources
  • Immigration
  • Non-profit and Not for Profit
  • Oil and Gas
  • Pet Service
  • Photography
  • Property Management
  • Real Estate
  • Rehabilitation
  • Resorts and Hotels
  • Salon and Spa
  • Sports and Recreational
  • Transportation
  • Waste Disposal

Call 1-844-752-6776 To Talk About Your Business

Business Plan Experts Logo

Business Plan Experts will help plan, fund and grow your business.

Tony maslenikov.

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Plan, fund, and grow your business.

Business Plan Experts will write a customized business plan that fits your unique business idea. You get a business plan that not only serves as a roadmap for your venture but also helps secure funding for your business.

Professional Business Plan Writers 

Business plan experts.

Business Plan Experts has been rated the MOST TRUSTED Business Plan writing service provider in Canada for the past 15 years. Since 2006 our company has been professionally and successfully creating business plans for startups, new business and existing business in order to help them achieve strategic and financial goals. We create customized successful business plans for: Business Financing , Business Immigration , Licensing , Business Investment , Government Proposals , Franchising , IPO/RTO and more.

Besides professional business plan writing for small and large businesses, we help entrepreneurs and business owners with unsecured business loans , commercial Government funding (SBL) and venture capital fundraising. Our clients appreciate our expertise in understanding the specific needs and requirements of lenders and investors. Our advanced ROI-focused approach results in compelling project presentations and enhances potential for our customers in raising capital for their projects.

Our Services 

Business plan writing.

Customized and funding ready business plans created by professional business plan writers.

Business Financing

Financing assistance for startups and established business seeking to expand or acquire an existing one.

Feasibility Study

Comprehensive feasibility study for your project, encompassing market analysis, operational assessment, and financial viability.

Market Research

Detailed market research for startups, focusing on economic, industry, and competitive trends analysis.

Financial Forecast

Financial forecast provides in-depth revenue projections, cost analysis, and profitability assessments for you business.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

RFP outlines the buying company’s requirements and criteria for the product or service they need.

Marketing Plan

Marketing plans based on detailed business analysis, outlining market approach strategies and effective promotional techniques.

Investor presentation is a concise overview of your business plan, designed for showcasing to prospective investors.

Business Consulting

Check out our business plans pricing and packages, business financing options to meet your needs.

At Business Plan Experts, we recognize the challenges startups face in securing financing. To ease this process, we provide comprehensive support and guidance. Our team is dedicated to helping you navigate the business funding options. We’ll assist you in identifying the most suitable lenders and investors for your business, ensuring you’re well-informed every step of the way. From selecting the right lenders to preparing and submitting your application, our experts are here to increase your chances of obtaining financing successfully. We specialize in various financing types, tailored to meet your specific business needs:

import export loan

IMPORT/EXPORT LOAN

commercial property financing

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY FINANCING

Business line of credit

BUSINESS LINE OF CREDIT

CSBFL Canada small business financing loan

CSBFL (CANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING LOAN)

cashflow loan

CASHFLOW LOAN

equipment-based financing

EQUIPMENT-BASED FINANCING

business purchase loan

BUSINESS PURCHASE LOAN

startup loan

STARTUP LOAN

business expansion loan

BUSINESS EXPANSION LOAN

Testimonials 

Thank you BPE for the CSBFL approval we could never done it without your help as only you know how to communicate with the Canadian banks the best! Thank you so much!!!!
The most professional business planning team i have ever worked with! Highly recommend
Thank you for the Government grant approval.

Latest Posts

By business plan experts.

Our blog posts consist of success stories, latest news and more importantly learning material to help you improve your knowledge, your business while getting to know us better. Register for our newsletter to receive our blog posts directly in your Inbox.

Making an impactful pitch deck.

Pitch Perfect: Crafting an Irresistible Pitch Deck

By orange | 2024-02-01T15:16:05+00:00 January 30th, 2024 | Categories: Business Plan |

Are you an entrepreneur looking to obtain funding for your startup? You need a well-crafted pitch deck to persuade potential investors. A pitch deck is [...]

Your Success Story Starts Here

Business Plan Experts, where your business vision becomes a reality. Specializing in professional business plan writing services , business financing solutions, and startup consulting, our team is committed to supporting your business on every step of the way from startup to expansion. With our expert guidance, winning detailed business plans, and strategic funding assistance, we empower your entrepreneurial dreams. Contact us today and take the first step towards turning your business idea into action plan.

Get in Touch! Business Plan Experts

Chat with us: 416-566-0387, email us: [email protected], visit us: 8750 jane st unit 16, vaughan, on l4k 2m9, organizations that have accepted our plans.

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References We Use For Our Business Plans

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WhatsApp us

Business Case Writing 1 Day workshop in Ontario, CA on Jun 25th, 2024

Business Case Writing 1 Day workshop in Ontario, CA on Jun 25th, 2024

Offers: Group of 5 - 10 people 10% Discount, Group of 11 - 20 people 15% Discount

Date and time

For venue details reach us at [email protected], PH: +1 469 666 9332

Refund Policy

Introducing the Business Case

Business Writing Skills

Writing a Business Case

About this event

Certificate: Course Completion Certificate

Language: English

Duration: 1 Day

Refreshments: Snacks, Beverages and Lunch included in a classroom session

Course Delivery: Classroom

Course Overview:

Business Strategy execution depends upon developing and implementing the best solution. Success however, relies upon basing the solution on the right requirements, drawn from a sound and robust Business Case.

This one-day program will introduce participants to the principles of developing an effective Business Case, within the context of an interactive course driven by a case study. This workshop will provide participants with a working knowledge of the principles of writing an effective, comprehensive, and compelling Business Case. The course is driven by participation in a case study, promoting immediate workplace transference.

Target Audience:

There is no Eligibility Criteria for this training, anyone can attend this training

Learning Objectives:

  • Implement the most appropriate solution for the issue or opportunity, increasing the return on investment.
  • Provide the solid foundation for projects to generate results.
  • Allow organisations to begin to create a reputation for consistently successful delivery of project initiatives, through the enhanced capabilities of their Project Managers and Business Analysts.
  • Participants’ requirements will be comprehensive and measurable, assisting executives with good decision making, increasing the rate of successful implementation and returns to the business.
  • Participants will leave the workshop with a thorough understanding of the process and disciplines which facilitate the delivery of objective requirements with measurable benefits.
  • Participants will be provided with tools, templates and guidance for immediate use back in the workplace.

Prerequisites:

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Materials:

Students will receive a course manual with presentation slides and reference materials.

Examination:

There is no exam.

Technical Requirements:

For eBooks:

Internet for downloading the eBook

Laptop, tablet, Smartphone, eReader (No Kindle)

Adobe DRM supported software (e.g. Digital Editions, Bluefire Reader)

eBook download and activation instructions

We also offer a variety of other courses:-

Agile For Product Owner Training: When an organization makes the decision to adopt agile, it takes much more than pulling together a development team and allowing them to work in an iterative manner. Agile is a true shift in how individuals collaborate, communicate and operate. Agile requires an all in mindset from both business and technology where all individuals work together to deliver business value in the form of working software.

The Agile for Product Owners course will provide the knowledge to understand and apply the principles of agile. At the end of the course, participants will be able to effectively plan, prioritize and manage a product roadmap to deliver business value, understand the role of the Product Owner and the development team within an iterative process, and gain the skills necessary to become an agile leader to drive your organization to the next level.

Business Etiquette Workshop: These Business Etiquette training have been developed to help ensure the people in your organisation are aware of the importance of meeting common workplace standards. You may not be aware how certain behaviours affect others within the organisation, and indeed how that affects the business as a whole. Alternatively, it might be that people need to have honest conversations with each other to ensure they work together collaboratively.

The session will help you to build self-awareness and will highlight the important parts of business etiquette and why it’s such an important topic.

Business Writing Workshop: Writing is a key method of communication for most people, and it”s one that many people struggle with. Writing and communication skills have degraded with more and more people communicating through email and text messaging. Developing writing skills is still important is the business world as creating proper documents (such as proposals, reports, and agendas), giving you that extra edge in the workplace.

Elements of Risk Management Workshop: The mission of every organization is affected by today’s global economy and the digital era. Organizations are critically dependent on information technology (IT) to better support their business Goals. Risk Management plays a critical role in protecting an organization’s information assets, and its mission therein, from IT-related Risk. An effective Risk Management Process is an important component of a successful IT security program. The principal goal of an organization’s Risk Management Process should be to protect the organization and its ability to perform their mission, not just its IT assets. Therefore, the Risk Management Process should not be treated primarily as a technical function carried out by the IT experts who operate and manage the IT system, but as an essential Management function of the organization.

Business Analyst Bootcamp : This 4-day Business Analyst Bootcamp will give you hands-on experience with the latest proven techniques for identifying a project’s scope, developing and discovering requirements and uses cases, and documenting them expertly. Lively lectures combined with insightful demonstrations and realistic practice exercises will provide you with the competence and confidence to improve project outcomes through better requirements elicitation and use case development.

Business Ethics Workshop: A company”s ethics will determine its reputation. Good business ethics are essential for the long-term success of an organization. Implementing an ethical program will foster a successful company culture and increase profitability. Developing a Business Ethics program takes time and effort, but doing so will do more than improve business, it will change lives.

A company”s ethics will have an influence on all levels of business. It will influence all who interact with the company including customers, employees, suppliers, competitors, etc. All of these groups will have an effect on the way a company”s ethics are developed. It is a two-way street; the influence goes both ways, which makes understanding ethics a very important part of doing business today. Ethics is very important, as news can now spread faster and farther than ever before.

Business Networking Workshop: These networking skills training will help you to build a professional reputation and develop a network of connections through the two key methods available to you; face-to-face and online.

You will discover how to effectively combine these two approaches and create a strategy for networking success that will generate your own community and actively grow your personal network. This will result in an improved performance in your approach to networking and consequently provide opportunities and prospects that will increase your business success.

The training provides you with the tools and techniques to both plan a successful, strategic approach to networking and develop your personal communication skills, which will ensure you build effective business relationships.

Marketing Essentials Workshop: This Training, ‘Marketing Essentials’ cover the basics of marketing and are intended not only for people who are new to a marketing role, but just about anybody in the organisation. A basic understanding of the subject is particularly valuable to people in management, selling and customer service roles.

Agile Scrum Master Training: The EXIN Agile Scrum Master certification validates participants’ skills and knowledge of the Agile framework and Scrum methodology.

Agile Scrum is about working together to successfully reach a goal. Agile methodologies are popular approaches in software development and are increasingly being used in other areas. Scrum practices include establishing cross-functional and self-managed teams, producing a working deliverable at the end of each iteration or Sprint. This certification focuses on adopting Agile or Scrum in the workplace and taking on the role of Scrum Master.

Internet Marketing Fundamentals Workshop: Marketing has changed dramatically over the last decade. Marketing is all about communicating, and the Internet has completely changed the way people communicate. The Internet is a marketer”s dream come true, especially with Social Media, as you have a low cost marketing tool that can reach a large audience.

Internet Marketing Fundamentals will provide your participants with a great set of skills to market your business online. Content is the king of Internet marketing, and your participants will need to know how to utilize your great content. If you want your business to grow then your participants need to understand Internet Marketing Fundamentals.

Early Bird Fee

Standard fee, frequently asked questions.

We provide Course Materials, Lunch, Beverages and Course Completion Certificate.

You can reach us at [email protected] or enroll through our website.

We host the training through both the platform, Online and Classroom. The virtual training option can be chosen by busy professionals.

The duration of the training is 8 hours. The training will run from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Yes, we do provide great discount for the group registration. To enquire, reach us at [email protected]

Once you complete the training, you will receive a globally recognized Course Completion Certificate.

Yes. You can switch your registration to a different course with a week prior notice.

Our subject matter experts are from relevant industries and are certified.

You will be credited with 8 PDUs on completion of this training.

  • United States Events
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  • Things to do in Ontario, CA
  • Ontario Classes
  • Ontario Business Classes
  • #management
  • #unitedstates
  • #businesscasewriting
  • #academyforpros

Organized by

IMAGES

  1. How To Write A Business Plan In 9 Steps Template And Examples

    writing a business plan ontario

  2. Steps Involved on How to Write a Business Plan to Suit your Desire

    writing a business plan ontario

  3. Guide to Writing a Business Plan

    writing a business plan ontario

  4. Small Business 4

    writing a business plan ontario

  5. How to Write a Business Plan

    writing a business plan ontario

  6. How To Create A Plan On A Page In Powerpoint

    writing a business plan ontario

VIDEO

  1. Top 10 Business Plan Software for General Contractors (2024)

  2. Wake Up Wednesday

  3. Business model for writing Business plan

  4. How to write a Business Plan?

  5. Writing Business Plan

  6. How To Write A Business Plan?

COMMENTS

  1. How to write a business plan

    4. Financials. Include a cash flow forecast, usually broken down on a monthly basis and presented as a spreadsheet. Also add your financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement and statement of retained earnings). And if you're a new business, list start-up costs.

  2. 2. Prepare business plan

    2. Prepare business plan. A business plan explains your business idea, short and long-term business goals and what resources are available to start and operate your business. If you need help writing a business plan: contact your local Small Business Enterprise Centre or, if you are a technology or innovation company, a Regional Innovation Centre.

  3. How to Write a Business Plan + Templates

    Learn how to write a business plan for your small business today. Download our business plan template and follow our 10-step plan with easy-to-ready samples. Whether you're a founder, a new owner, or just beginning to think about starting a business , demands come at you fast. Tasks, to-do lists, meetings, and more.

  4. Planning a business

    Assessing your readiness, choosing a business structure, market research and writing a business plan. Services and information. Developing your business idea. Turning your idea into a profitable business model. Types of business ownership. Determining whether incorporation, partnership or sole proprietorship is right for your business.

  5. Sample business plans and templates

    Business development organizations and Canadian banks have free templates, writing guides, sample plans, and even interactive tools available online. These resources allow you to walk through a plan line by line. You will get a sense of the information you might be asked to provide when you are looking for financing, for example.

  6. How to write a business plan

    A business plan is an indispensable road map for your business' success. While many entrepreneurs only write a plan in hopes of securing financing, smart entrepreneurs invest the time to create a plan that can take their business into the future. A business plan is a living document, generally planning 3-5 years ahead.

  7. Business plan writer

    We understand that writing a business plan can feel daunting, there's so many pieces it's hard to know where to start. So, to help you get started we've created a business plan example that includes insights and rationale from Dominik Loncar. He's our Entrepreneur-in-Residence and he's reviewed 100s of business plans from entrepreneurs.

  8. Business plan writer

    Business plan writer. The interactive Futurpreneur business plan writer is designed to simplify the business planning process by allowing you to customize your plan. We also provide tips & tricks, and plenty of examples to guide you as you write. Start writing.

  9. Business plan guide

    A business plan is a written document that describes your business, its objectives and strategies, the market you are targeting and your financial forecast. It is important to have a business plan because it helps you set realistic goals, secure external funding, measure your success, clarify operational requirements and establish reasonable ...

  10. Writing a Business Plan

    Our FREE interactive Business Plan Builder makes writing a business plan easier. This online tool helps you write a full business plan and make updates and changes easily. It includes samples and short help videos throughout. In addition, our team of in-house experts can help you research, plan, and review your business plan .

  11. 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 ...

  12. How to Start a Business in Ontario: The 12-Step Checklist

    Plans are available for ongoing corporation management, which can save you time and money. 5. Purchase a domain name and set up social media accounts. With your business name and structure set, it's time to purchase a domain for your business page and set up social media accounts.

  13. Starting your business with a plan and support

    You can find many business plan templates online. Futurpreneur Canada has detailed information and resources on writing a business plan. Also, see Appendix A for links to business planning software available for purchase. Your business plan should include: Executive summary. An executive summary of your business plan can be one to two pages in ...

  14. Build a Winning Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide for Canadian

    Creating a business plan is a crucial step for any entrepreneur looking to start a business, regardless of whether you are Canadian or not. Specifically in Canada, having a comprehensive business plan is important for obtaining financing from banks and investors, as well as meeting regulatory requirements.

  15. 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.

  16. How To Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (2024)

    While your plan will be unique to your business and goals, keep these tips in mind as you write. 1. Know your audience. When you know who will be reading your plan—even if you're just writing it for yourself to clarify your ideas—you can tailor the language and level of detail to them.

  17. Writing a Business Plan for Success

    To give your business the best opportunity for success. To gain insight into your business, industry and potential clients. To focus on goals and objectives of your new business. Writing your Business Plan as a new entrepreneur is one of the best planning tools available for you as you start your business . The plan gives you the structure to ...

  18. How to Write a Business Plan: Beginner's Guide (& Templates)

    Step #3: Conduct Your Market Analysis. Step #4: Research Your Competition. Step #5: Outline Your Products or Services. Step #6: Summarize Your Financial Plan. Step #7: Determine Your Marketing Strategy. Step #8: Showcase Your Organizational Chart. 14 Business Plan Templates to Help You Get Started.

  19. Business Plan Writing Services Toronto

    Business Plans for Immigration. We use language that reflects the legalities of immigration, covering all the statutory requirements. You receive a business plan that uncomplicates the immigration process. We write plans both for Federal visa programs and the Ontario Immigration Provincial Nominee Program.

  20. Writing a business plan for a Ontario based business

    A strong business plan is essential to securing a small business grant in Ontario since it showcases your business's potential and demonstrates that you have a clear vision for growth. Step 4: Apply for the grant . After identifying the appropriate grant and preparing a business plan, the next step is to apply for it.

  21. Professional Business Plan Writer

    in Canada. We will tailor a business plan around your unique business idea and work with you at every step so that you completely understand it. The end result will be a business plan that will serve as a roadmap and help you secure funding for your venture. Call 1-844-752-6776 To Discuss Your Business.

  22. Business Plan Experts

    With our expert guidance, winning detailed business plans, and strategic funding assistance, we empower your entrepreneurial dreams. Contact us today and take the first step towards turning your business idea into action plan. Get in Touch! Business Plan Experts. Chat with us: 416-566-0387.

  23. PDF Invest Ontario Annual Business Plan 2022-2027

    It was then continued on April 27, 2021, under the Invest Ontario Act, 2021. In addition to the objects set out in legislation, the Minister issues an annual mandate letter setting out government priorities. In October 2021, the Minister issued a consolidated mandate letter for both 2021- 2022 and 2022-2023.

  24. PDF Publication 61 Starting a Farm in Ontario

    or [email protected]. Looking for more business, crop or livestock information in Ontario, check out the OMAFRA website at: ontario.ca/agbusiness. ontario.ca/crops . ... Preparing a Business Plan for the Farm ..... 16 What to Include in a Business Plan..... 17 Executive Summary and

  25. Business Case Writing 1 Day workshop in Ontario, CA on Jun 25th, 2024

    Eventbrite - Academy for Pros presents Business Case Writing 1 Day workshop in Ontario, CA on Jun 25th, 2024 - Tuesday, June 25, 2024 at For venue details reach us at [email protected], PH: +1 469 666 9332, Ontario, CA. Find event and ticket information.