What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

AJ Beltis

Published: June 07, 2023

In an era where more than 20% of small enterprises fail in their first year, having a clear, defined, and well-thought-out business plan is a crucial first step for setting up a business for long-term success.

Business plan graphic with business owner, lightbulb, and pens to symbolize coming up with ideas and writing a business plan.

Business plans are a required tool for all entrepreneurs, business owners, business acquirers, and even business school students. But … what exactly is a business plan?

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In this post, we'll explain what a business plan is, the reasons why you'd need one, identify different types of business plans, and what you should include in yours.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them. It outlines a company's go-to-market plan, financial projections, market research, business purpose, and mission statement. Key staff who are responsible for achieving the goals may also be included in the business plan along with a timeline.

The business plan is an undeniably critical component to getting any company off the ground. It's key to securing financing, documenting your business model, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.

What is a business plan used for?

The purpose of a business plan is three-fold: It summarizes the organization’s strategy in order to execute it long term, secures financing from investors, and helps forecast future business demands.

Business Plan Template [ Download Now ]

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Working on your business plan? Try using our Business Plan Template . Pre-filled with the sections a great business plan needs, the template will give aspiring entrepreneurs a feel for what a business plan is, what should be in it, and how it can be used to establish and grow a business from the ground up.

Purposes of a Business Plan

Chances are, someone drafting a business plan will be doing so for one or more of the following reasons:

1. Securing financing from investors.

Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital. This document is an entrepreneur's way of showing potential investors or lenders how their capital will be put to work and how it will help the business thrive.

All banks, investors, and venture capital firms will want to see a business plan before handing over their money, and investors typically expect a 10% ROI or more from the capital they invest in a business.

Therefore, these investors need to know if — and when — they'll be making their money back (and then some). Additionally, they'll want to read about the process and strategy for how the business will reach those financial goals, which is where the context provided by sales, marketing, and operations plans come into play.

2. Documenting a company's strategy and goals.

A business plan should leave no stone unturned.

Business plans can span dozens or even hundreds of pages, affording their drafters the opportunity to explain what a business' goals are and how the business will achieve them.

To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies — from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.

These explanations should ultimately lead to a business' break-even point supported by a sales forecast and financial projections, with the business plan writer being able to speak to the why behind anything outlined in the plan.

identify two main purposes of a business plan

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Fill out the form to access your free business plan., 3. legitimizing a business idea..

Everyone's got a great idea for a company — until they put pen to paper and realize that it's not exactly feasible.

A business plan is an aspiring entrepreneur's way to prove that a business idea is actually worth pursuing.

As entrepreneurs document their go-to-market process, capital needs, and expected return on investment, entrepreneurs likely come across a few hiccups that will make them second guess their strategies and metrics — and that's exactly what the business plan is for.

It ensures an entrepreneur's ducks are in a row before bringing their business idea to the world and reassures the readers that whoever wrote the plan is serious about the idea, having put hours into thinking of the business idea, fleshing out growth tactics, and calculating financial projections.

4. Getting an A in your business class.

Speaking from personal experience, there's a chance you're here to get business plan ideas for your Business 101 class project.

If that's the case, might we suggest checking out this post on How to Write a Business Plan — providing a section-by-section guide on creating your plan?

What does a business plan need to include?

  • Business Plan Subtitle
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • The Business Opportunity
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Target Market
  • Marketing Plan
  • Financial Summary
  • Funding Requirements

1. Business Plan Subtitle

Every great business plan starts with a captivating title and subtitle. You’ll want to make it clear that the document is, in fact, a business plan, but the subtitle can help tell the story of your business in just a short sentence.

2. Executive Summary

Although this is the last part of the business plan that you’ll write, it’s the first section (and maybe the only section) that stakeholders will read. The executive summary of a business plan sets the stage for the rest of the document. It includes your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.

3. Company Description

This brief part of your business plan will detail your business name, years in operation, key offerings, and positioning statement. You might even add core values or a short history of the company. The company description’s role in a business plan is to introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way.

4. The Business Opportunity

The business opportunity should convince investors that your organization meets the needs of the market in a way that no other company can. This section explains the specific problem your business solves within the marketplace and how it solves them. It will include your value proposition as well as some high-level information about your target market.

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5. Competitive Analysis

Just about every industry has more than one player in the market. Even if your business owns the majority of the market share in your industry or your business concept is the first of its kind, you still have competition. In the competitive analysis section, you’ll take an objective look at the industry landscape to determine where your business fits. A SWOT analysis is an organized way to format this section.

6. Target Market

Who are the core customers of your business and why? The target market portion of your business plan outlines this in detail. The target market should explain the demographics, psychographics, behavioristics, and geographics of the ideal customer.

7. Marketing Plan

Marketing is expansive, and it’ll be tempting to cover every type of marketing possible, but a brief overview of how you’ll market your unique value proposition to your target audience, followed by a tactical plan will suffice.

Think broadly and narrow down from there: Will you focus on a slow-and-steady play where you make an upfront investment in organic customer acquisition? Or will you generate lots of quick customers using a pay-to-play advertising strategy? This kind of information should guide the marketing plan section of your business plan.

8. Financial Summary

Money doesn’t grow on trees and even the most digital, sustainable businesses have expenses. Outlining a financial summary of where your business is currently and where you’d like it to be in the future will substantiate this section. Consider including any monetary information that will give potential investors a glimpse into the financial health of your business. Assets, liabilities, expenses, debt, investments, revenue, and more are all useful adds here.

So, you’ve outlined some great goals, the business opportunity is valid, and the industry is ready for what you have to offer. Who’s responsible for turning all this high-level talk into results? The "team" section of your business plan answers that question by providing an overview of the roles responsible for each goal. Don’t worry if you don’t have every team member on board yet, knowing what roles to hire for is helpful as you seek funding from investors.

10. Funding Requirements

Remember that one of the goals of a business plan is to secure funding from investors, so you’ll need to include funding requirements you’d like them to fulfill. The amount your business needs, for what reasons, and for how long will meet the requirement for this section.

Types of Business Plans

  • Startup Business Plan
  • Feasibility Business Plan
  • Internal Business Plan
  • Strategic Business Plan
  • Business Acquisition Plan
  • Business Repositioning Plan
  • Expansion or Growth Business Plan

There’s no one size fits all business plan as there are several types of businesses in the market today. From startups with just one founder to historic household names that need to stay competitive, every type of business needs a business plan that’s tailored to its needs. Below are a few of the most common types of business plans.

For even more examples, check out these sample business plans to help you write your own .

1. Startup Business Plan

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As one of the most common types of business plans, a startup business plan is for new business ideas. This plan lays the foundation for the eventual success of a business.

The biggest challenge with the startup business plan is that it’s written completely from scratch. Startup business plans often reference existing industry data. They also explain unique business strategies and go-to-market plans.

Because startup business plans expand on an original idea, the contents will vary by the top priority goals.

For example, say a startup is looking for funding. If capital is a priority, this business plan might focus more on financial projections than marketing or company culture.

2. Feasibility Business Plan

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This type of business plan focuses on a single essential aspect of the business — the product or service. It may be part of a startup business plan or a standalone plan for an existing organization. This comprehensive plan may include:

  • A detailed product description
  • Market analysis
  • Technology needs
  • Production needs
  • Financial sources
  • Production operations

According to CBInsights research, 35% of startups fail because of a lack of market need. Another 10% fail because of mistimed products.

Some businesses will complete a feasibility study to explore ideas and narrow product plans to the best choice. They conduct these studies before completing the feasibility business plan. Then the feasibility plan centers on that one product or service.

3. Internal Business Plan

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Internal business plans help leaders communicate company goals, strategy, and performance. This helps the business align and work toward objectives more effectively.

Besides the typical elements in a startup business plan, an internal business plan may also include:

  • Department-specific budgets
  • Target demographic analysis
  • Market size and share of voice analysis
  • Action plans
  • Sustainability plans

Most external-facing business plans focus on raising capital and support for a business. But an internal business plan helps keep the business mission consistent in the face of change.

4. Strategic Business Plan

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Strategic business plans focus on long-term objectives for your business. They usually cover the first three to five years of operations. This is different from the typical startup business plan which focuses on the first one to three years. The audience for this plan is also primarily internal stakeholders.

These types of business plans may include:

  • Relevant data and analysis
  • Assessments of company resources
  • Vision and mission statements

It's important to remember that, while many businesses create a strategic plan before launching, some business owners just jump in. So, this business plan can add value by outlining how your business plans to reach specific goals. This type of planning can also help a business anticipate future challenges.

5. Business Acquisition Plan

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Investors use business plans to acquire existing businesses, too — not just new businesses.

A business acquisition plan may include costs, schedules, or management requirements. This data will come from an acquisition strategy.

A business plan for an existing company will explain:

  • How an acquisition will change its operating model
  • What will stay the same under new ownership
  • Why things will change or stay the same
  • Acquisition planning documentation
  • Timelines for acquisition

Additionally, the business plan should speak to the current state of the business and why it's up for sale.

For example, if someone is purchasing a failing business, the business plan should explain why the business is being purchased. It should also include:

  • What the new owner will do to turn the business around
  • Historic business metrics
  • Sales projections after the acquisition
  • Justification for those projections

6. Business Repositioning Plan

businessplan_6 (1)

When a business wants to avoid acquisition, reposition its brand, or try something new, CEOs or owners will develop a business repositioning plan.

This plan will:

  • Acknowledge the current state of the company.
  • State a vision for the future of the company.
  • Explain why the business needs to reposition itself.
  • Outline a process for how the company will adjust.

Companies planning for a business reposition often do so — proactively or retroactively — due to a shift in market trends and customer needs.

For example, shoe brand AllBirds plans to refocus its brand on core customers and shift its go-to-market strategy. These decisions are a reaction to lackluster sales following product changes and other missteps.

7. Expansion or Growth Business Plan

When your business is ready to expand, a growth business plan creates a useful structure for reaching specific targets.

For example, a successful business expanding into another location can use a growth business plan. This is because it may also mean the business needs to focus on a new target market or generate more capital.

This type of plan usually covers the next year or two of growth. It often references current sales, revenue, and successes. It may also include:

  • SWOT analysis
  • Growth opportunity studies
  • Financial goals and plans
  • Marketing plans
  • Capability planning

These types of business plans will vary by business, but they can help businesses quickly rally around new priorities to drive growth.

Getting Started With Your Business Plan

At the end of the day, a business plan is simply an explanation of a business idea and why it will be successful. The more detail and thought you put into it, the more successful your plan — and the business it outlines — will be.

When writing your business plan, you’ll benefit from extensive research, feedback from your team or board of directors, and a solid template to organize your thoughts. If you need one of these, download HubSpot's Free Business Plan Template below to get started.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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12.1: Purpose of Business Plan

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The business plan serves many purposes. The business plan presents a succinct overview of the what, how, when, and why of the business. First, it is used to communicate with investors. It provides investors with a concise overview of what the business is about and how investors can make money. In many ways, the business plan is a prototype of the business model. It is a scaled-down version that describes how the business will function. The business plan also serves as a platform for the business founders to communicate and it can be used as a blueprint for operating the business the first year.Sahlman (1997, July-August). It also helps mentors and consultants to identify weaknesses, missed opportunities, strange assumptions, and overly optimistic projections. Finally, the business plan also serves as a tool for educating new employees on how the business works and how they will fit into the business activities.

11.4 The Business Plan

Learning objectives.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the different purposes of a business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a brief business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a full business plan

Unlike the brief or lean formats introduced so far, the business plan is a formal document used for the long-range planning of a company’s operation. It typically includes background information, financial information, and a summary of the business. Investors nearly always request a formal business plan because it is an integral part of their evaluation of whether to invest in a company. Although nothing in business is permanent, a business plan typically has components that are more “set in stone” than a business model canvas , which is more commonly used as a first step in the planning process and throughout the early stages of a nascent business. A business plan is likely to describe the business and industry, market strategies, sales potential, and competitive analysis, as well as the company’s long-term goals and objectives. An in-depth formal business plan would follow at later stages after various iterations to business model canvases. The business plan usually projects financial data over a three-year period and is typically required by banks or other investors to secure funding. The business plan is a roadmap for the company to follow over multiple years.

Some entrepreneurs prefer to use the canvas process instead of the business plan, whereas others use a shorter version of the business plan, submitting it to investors after several iterations. There are also entrepreneurs who use the business plan earlier in the entrepreneurial process, either preceding or concurrently with a canvas. For instance, Chris Guillebeau has a one-page business plan template in his book The $100 Startup . 48 His version is basically an extension of a napkin sketch without the detail of a full business plan. As you progress, you can also consider a brief business plan (about two pages)—if you want to support a rapid business launch—and/or a standard business plan.

As with many aspects of entrepreneurship, there are no clear hard and fast rules to achieving entrepreneurial success. You may encounter different people who want different things (canvas, summary, full business plan), and you also have flexibility in following whatever tool works best for you. Like the canvas, the various versions of the business plan are tools that will aid you in your entrepreneurial endeavor.

Business Plan Overview

Most business plans have several distinct sections ( Figure 11.16 ). The business plan can range from a few pages to twenty-five pages or more, depending on the purpose and the intended audience. For our discussion, we’ll describe a brief business plan and a standard business plan. If you are able to successfully design a business model canvas, then you will have the structure for developing a clear business plan that you can submit for financial consideration.

Both types of business plans aim at providing a picture and roadmap to follow from conception to creation. If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept.

The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, dealing with the proverbial devil in the details. Developing a full business plan will assist those of you who need a more detailed and structured roadmap, or those of you with little to no background in business. The business planning process includes the business model, a feasibility analysis, and a full business plan, which we will discuss later in this section. Next, we explore how a business plan can meet several different needs.

Purposes of a Business Plan

A business plan can serve many different purposes—some internal, others external. As we discussed previously, you can use a business plan as an internal early planning device, an extension of a napkin sketch, and as a follow-up to one of the canvas tools. A business plan can be an organizational roadmap , that is, an internal planning tool and working plan that you can apply to your business in order to reach your desired goals over the course of several years. The business plan should be written by the owners of the venture, since it forces a firsthand examination of the business operations and allows them to focus on areas that need improvement.

Refer to the business venture throughout the document. Generally speaking, a business plan should not be written in the first person.

A major external purpose for the business plan is as an investment tool that outlines financial projections, becoming a document designed to attract investors. In many instances, a business plan can complement a formal investor’s pitch. In this context, the business plan is a presentation plan, intended for an outside audience that may or may not be familiar with your industry, your business, and your competitors.

You can also use your business plan as a contingency plan by outlining some “what-if” scenarios and exploring how you might respond if these scenarios unfold. Pretty Young Professional launched in November 2010 as an online resource to guide an emerging generation of female leaders. The site focused on recent female college graduates and current students searching for professional roles and those in their first professional roles. It was founded by four friends who were coworkers at the global consultancy firm McKinsey. But after positions and equity were decided among them, fundamental differences of opinion about the direction of the business emerged between two factions, according to the cofounder and former CEO Kathryn Minshew . “I think, naively, we assumed that if we kicked the can down the road on some of those things, we’d be able to sort them out,” Minshew said. Minshew went on to found a different professional site, The Muse , and took much of the editorial team of Pretty Young Professional with her. 49 Whereas greater planning potentially could have prevented the early demise of Pretty Young Professional, a change in planning led to overnight success for Joshua Esnard and The Cut Buddy team. Esnard invented and patented the plastic hair template that he was selling online out of his Fort Lauderdale garage while working a full-time job at Broward College and running a side business. Esnard had hundreds of boxes of Cut Buddies sitting in his home when he changed his marketing plan to enlist companies specializing in making videos go viral. It worked so well that a promotional video for the product garnered 8 million views in hours. The Cut Buddy sold over 4,000 products in a few hours when Esnard only had hundreds remaining. Demand greatly exceeded his supply, so Esnard had to scramble to increase manufacturing and offered customers two-for-one deals to make up for delays. This led to selling 55,000 units, generating $700,000 in sales in 2017. 50 After appearing on Shark Tank and landing a deal with Daymond John that gave the “shark” a 20-percent equity stake in return for $300,000, The Cut Buddy has added new distribution channels to include retail sales along with online commerce. Changing one aspect of a business plan—the marketing plan—yielded success for The Cut Buddy.

Link to Learning

Watch this video of Cut Buddy’s founder, Joshua Esnard, telling his company’s story to learn more.

If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept. This version is used to interest potential investors, employees, and other stakeholders, and will include a financial summary “box,” but it must have a disclaimer, and the founder/entrepreneur may need to have the people who receive it sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) . The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, providing supporting details, and would be required by financial institutions and others as they formally become stakeholders in the venture. Both are aimed at providing a picture and roadmap to go from conception to creation.

Types of Business Plans

The brief business plan is similar to an extended executive summary from the full business plan. This concise document provides a broad overview of your entrepreneurial concept, your team members, how and why you will execute on your plans, and why you are the ones to do so. You can think of a brief business plan as a scene setter or—since we began this chapter with a film reference—as a trailer to the full movie. The brief business plan is the commercial equivalent to a trailer for Field of Dreams , whereas the full plan is the full-length movie equivalent.

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

As the name implies, the brief business plan or executive summary summarizes key elements of the entire business plan, such as the business concept, financial features, and current business position. The executive summary version of the business plan is your opportunity to broadly articulate the overall concept and vision of the company for yourself, for prospective investors, and for current and future employees.

A typical executive summary is generally no longer than a page, but because the brief business plan is essentially an extended executive summary, the executive summary section is vital. This is the “ask” to an investor. You should begin by clearly stating what you are asking for in the summary.

In the business concept phase, you’ll describe the business, its product, and its markets. Describe the customer segment it serves and why your company will hold a competitive advantage. This section may align roughly with the customer segments and value-proposition segments of a canvas.

Next, highlight the important financial features, including sales, profits, cash flows, and return on investment. Like the financial portion of a feasibility analysis, the financial analysis component of a business plan may typically include items like a twelve-month profit and loss projection, a three- or four-year profit and loss projection, a cash-flow projection, a projected balance sheet, and a breakeven calculation. You can explore a feasibility study and financial projections in more depth in the formal business plan. Here, you want to focus on the big picture of your numbers and what they mean.

The current business position section can furnish relevant information about you and your team members and the company at large. This is your opportunity to tell the story of how you formed the company, to describe its legal status (form of operation), and to list the principal players. In one part of the extended executive summary, you can cover your reasons for starting the business: Here is an opportunity to clearly define the needs you think you can meet and perhaps get into the pains and gains of customers. You also can provide a summary of the overall strategic direction in which you intend to take the company. Describe the company’s mission, vision, goals and objectives, overall business model, and value proposition.

Rice University’s Student Business Plan Competition, one of the largest and overall best-regarded graduate school business-plan competitions (see Telling Your Entrepreneurial Story and Pitching the Idea ), requires an executive summary of up to five pages to apply. 51 , 52 Its suggested sections are shown in Table 11.2 .

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

Fill out a canvas of your choosing for a well-known startup: Uber, Netflix, Dropbox, Etsy, Airbnb, Bird/Lime, Warby Parker, or any of the companies featured throughout this chapter or one of your choice. Then create a brief business plan for that business. See if you can find a version of the company’s actual executive summary, business plan, or canvas. Compare and contrast your vision with what the company has articulated.

  • These companies are well established but is there a component of what you charted that you would advise the company to change to ensure future viability?
  • Map out a contingency plan for a “what-if” scenario if one key aspect of the company or the environment it operates in were drastically is altered?

Full Business Plan

Even full business plans can vary in length, scale, and scope. Rice University sets a ten-page cap on business plans submitted for the full competition. The IndUS Entrepreneurs , one of the largest global networks of entrepreneurs, also holds business plan competitions for students through its Tie Young Entrepreneurs program. In contrast, business plans submitted for that competition can usually be up to twenty-five pages. These are just two examples. Some components may differ slightly; common elements are typically found in a formal business plan outline. The next section will provide sample components of a full business plan for a fictional business.

Executive Summary

The executive summary should provide an overview of your business with key points and issues. Because the summary is intended to summarize the entire document, it is most helpful to write this section last, even though it comes first in sequence. The writing in this section should be especially concise. Readers should be able to understand your needs and capabilities at first glance. The section should tell the reader what you want and your “ask” should be explicitly stated in the summary.

Describe your business, its product or service, and the intended customers. Explain what will be sold, who it will be sold to, and what competitive advantages the business has. Table 11.3 shows a sample executive summary for the fictional company La Vida Lola.

Business Description

This section describes the industry, your product, and the business and success factors. It should provide a current outlook as well as future trends and developments. You also should address your company’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives. Summarize your overall strategic direction, your reasons for starting the business, a description of your products and services, your business model, and your company’s value proposition. Consider including the Standard Industrial Classification/North American Industry Classification System (SIC/NAICS) code to specify the industry and insure correct identification. The industry extends beyond where the business is located and operates, and should include national and global dynamics. Table 11.4 shows a sample business description for La Vida Lola.

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

Here you should define your market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends, and sales potential. You’ll want to include your TAM and forecast the SAM . (Both these terms are discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis .) This is a place to address market segmentation strategies by geography, customer attributes, or product orientation. Describe your positioning relative to your competitors’ in terms of pricing, distribution, promotion plan, and sales potential. Table 11.5 shows an example industry analysis and market strategy for La Vida Lola.

Competitive Analysis

The competitive analysis is a statement of the business strategy as it relates to the competition. You want to be able to identify who are your major competitors and assess what are their market shares, markets served, strategies employed, and expected response to entry? You likely want to conduct a classic SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and complete a competitive-strength grid or competitive matrix. Outline your company’s competitive strengths relative to those of the competition in regard to product, distribution, pricing, promotion, and advertising. What are your company’s competitive advantages and their likely impacts on its success? The key is to construct it properly for the relevant features/benefits (by weight, according to customers) and how the startup compares to incumbents. The competitive matrix should show clearly how and why the startup has a clear (if not currently measurable) competitive advantage. Some common features in the example include price, benefits, quality, type of features, locations, and distribution/sales. Sample templates are shown in Figure 11.17 and Figure 11.18 . A competitive analysis helps you create a marketing strategy that will identify assets or skills that your competitors are lacking so you can plan to fill those gaps, giving you a distinct competitive advantage. When creating a competitor analysis, it is important to focus on the key features and elements that matter to customers, rather than focusing too heavily on the entrepreneur’s idea and desires.

Operations and Management Plan

In this section, outline how you will manage your company. Describe its organizational structure. Here you can address the form of ownership and, if warranted, include an organizational chart/structure. Highlight the backgrounds, experiences, qualifications, areas of expertise, and roles of members of the management team. This is also the place to mention any other stakeholders, such as a board of directors or advisory board(s), and their relevant relationship to the founder, experience and value to help make the venture successful, and professional service firms providing management support, such as accounting services and legal counsel.

Table 11.6 shows a sample operations and management plan for La Vida Lola.

Marketing Plan

Here you should outline and describe an effective overall marketing strategy for your venture, providing details regarding pricing, promotion, advertising, distribution, media usage, public relations, and a digital presence. Fully describe your sales management plan and the composition of your sales force, along with a comprehensive and detailed budget for the marketing plan. Table 11.7 shows a sample marketing plan for La Vida Lola.

Financial Plan

A financial plan seeks to forecast revenue and expenses; project a financial narrative; and estimate project costs, valuations, and cash flow projections. This section should present an accurate, realistic, and achievable financial plan for your venture (see Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting for detailed discussions about conducting these projections). Include sales forecasts and income projections, pro forma financial statements ( Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team , a breakeven analysis, and a capital budget. Identify your possible sources of financing (discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis ). Figure 11.19 shows a template of cash-flow needs for La Vida Lola.

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

Hugh Jackman ( Figure 11.20 ) may best be known for portraying a comic-book superhero who used his mutant abilities to protect the world from villains. But the Wolverine actor is also working to make the planet a better place for real, not through adamantium claws but through social entrepreneurship.

A love of java jolted Jackman into action in 2009, when he traveled to Ethiopia with a Christian humanitarian group to shoot a documentary about the impact of fair-trade certification on coffee growers there. He decided to launch a business and follow in the footsteps of the late Paul Newman, another famous actor turned philanthropist via food ventures.

Jackman launched Laughing Man Coffee two years later; he sold the line to Keurig in 2015. One Laughing Man Coffee café in New York continues to operate independently, investing its proceeds into charitable programs that support better housing, health, and educational initiatives within fair-trade farming communities. 55 Although the New York location is the only café, the coffee brand is still distributed, with Keurig donating an undisclosed portion of Laughing Man proceeds to those causes (whereas Jackman donates all his profits). The company initially donated its profits to World Vision, the Christian humanitarian group Jackman accompanied in 2009. In 2017, it created the Laughing Man Foundation to be more active with its money management and distribution.

  • You be the entrepreneur. If you were Jackman, would you have sold the company to Keurig? Why or why not?
  • Would you have started the Laughing Man Foundation?
  • What else can Jackman do to aid fair-trade practices for coffee growers?

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

Founded in 2014, Textbooks for Change uses a cross-compensation model, in which one customer segment pays for a product or service, and the profit from that revenue is used to provide the same product or service to another, underserved segment. Textbooks for Change partners with student organizations to collect used college textbooks, some of which are re-sold while others are donated to students in need at underserved universities across the globe. The organization has reused or recycled 250,000 textbooks, providing 220,000 students with access through seven campus partners in East Africa. This B-corp social enterprise tackles a problem and offers a solution that is directly relevant to college students like yourself. Have you observed a problem on your college campus or other campuses that is not being served properly? Could it result in a social enterprise?

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

A franchisee of East Coast Wings, a chain with dozens of restaurants in the United States, has decided to part ways with the chain. The new store will feature the same basic sports-bar-and-restaurant concept and serve the same basic foods: chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and the like. The new restaurant can’t rely on the same distributors and suppliers. A new business plan is needed.

  • What steps should the new restaurant take to create a new business plan?
  • Should it attempt to serve the same customers? Why or why not?

This New York Times video, “An Unlikely Business Plan,” describes entrepreneurial resurgence in Detroit, Michigan.

  • 48 Chris Guillebeau. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future . New York: Crown Business/Random House, 2012.
  • 49 Jonathan Chan. “What These 4 Startup Case Studies Can Teach You about Failure.” Foundr.com . July 12, 2015. https://foundr.com/4-startup-case-studies-failure/
  • 50 Amy Feldman. “Inventor of the Cut Buddy Paid YouTubers to Spark Sales. He Wasn’t Ready for a Video to Go Viral.” Forbes. February 15, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestreptalks/2017/02/15/inventor-of-the-cut-buddy-paid-youtubers-to-spark-sales-he-wasnt-ready-for-a-video-to-go-viral/#3eb540ce798a
  • 51 Jennifer Post. “National Business Plan Competitions for Entrepreneurs.” Business News Daily . August 30, 2018. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6902-business-plan-competitions-entrepreneurs.html
  • 52 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition . March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf
  • 53 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition. March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf; Based on 2019 RBPC Competition Rules and Format April 4–6, 2019. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2019-RBPC-Competition-Rules%20-Format.pdf
  • 54 Foodstart. http://foodstart.com
  • 55 “Hugh Jackman Journey to Starting a Social Enterprise Coffee Company.” Giving Compass. April 8, 2018. https://givingcompass.org/article/hugh-jackman-journey-to-starting-a-social-enterprise-coffee-company/

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Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
  • Authors: Michael Laverty, Chris Littel
  • Publisher/website: OpenStax
  • Book title: Entrepreneurship
  • Publication date: Jan 16, 2020
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
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Do you REALLY need a business plan?

The top three questions that I get asked most frequently as a professional business plan writer will probably not surprise you:

  • What is the purpose of a business plan – why is it really required?
  • How is it going to benefit my business if I write a business plan?
  • Is a business plan really that important – how can I actually use it?

Keep reading to get my take on what the most essential advantages of preparing a business plan are—and why you may (not) need to prepare one.

Business Plan Purpose and Importance

The importance, purpose and benefit of a business plan is in that it enables you to validate a business idea, secure funding, set strategic goals – and then take organized action on those goals by making decisions, managing resources, risk and change, while effectively communicating with stakeholders.

Let’s take a closer look at how each of the important business planning benefits can catapult your business forward:

1. Validate Your Business Idea

The process of writing your business plan will force you to ask the difficult questions about the major components of your business, including:

  • External: industry, target market of prospective customers, competitive landscape
  • Internal: business model, unique selling proposition, operations, marketing, finance

Business planning connects the dots to draw a big picture of the entire business.

And imagine how much time and money you would save if working through a business plan revealed that your business idea is untenable. You would be surprised how often that happens – an idea that once sounded so very promising may easily fall apart after you actually write down all the facts, details and numbers.

While you may be tempted to jump directly into start-up mode, writing a business plan is an essential first step to check the feasibility of a business before investing too much time and money into it. Business plans help to confirm that the idea you are so passionate and convinced about is solid from business point of view.

Take the time to do the necessary research and work through a proper business plan. The more you know, the higher the likelihood that your business will succeed.

2. Set and Track Goals

Successful businesses are dynamic and continuously evolve. And so are good business plans that allow you to:

  • Priorities: Regularly set goals, targets (e.g., sales revenues reached), milestones (e.g. number of employees hired), performance indicators and metrics for short, mid and long term
  • Accountability: Track your progress toward goals and benchmarks
  • Course-correction: make changes to your business as you learn more about your market and what works and what does not
  • Mission: Refer to a clear set of values to help steer your business through any times of trouble

Essentially, business plan is a blueprint and an important strategic tool that keeps you focused, motivated and accountable to keep your business on track. When used properly and consulted regularly, it can help you measure and manage what you are working so hard to create – your long-term vision.

As humans, we work better when we have clear goals we can work towards. The everyday business hustle makes it challenging to keep an eye on the strategic priorities. The business planning process serves as a useful reminder.

3. Take Action

A business plan is also a plan of action . At its core, your plan identifies where you are now, where you want your business to go, and how you will get there.

Planning out exactly how you are going to turn your vision into a successful business is perhaps the most important step between an idea and reality. Success comes not only from having a vision but working towards that vision in a systematic and organized way.

A good business plan clearly outlines specific steps necessary to turn the business objectives into reality. Think of it as a roadmap to success. The strategy and tactics need to be in alignment to make sure that your day-to-day activities lead to the achievement of your business goals.

4. Manage Resources

A business plan also provides insight on how resources required for achieving your business goals will be structured and allocated according to their strategic priority. For example:

Large Spending Decisions

  • Assets: When and in what amount will the business commit resources to buy/lease new assets, such as computers or vehicles.
  • Human Resources: Objectives for hiring new employees, including not only their pay but how they will help the business grow and flourish.
  • Business Space: Information on costs of renting/buying space for offices, retail, manufacturing or other operations, for example when expanding to a new location.

Cash Flow It is essential that a business carefully plans and manages cash flows to ensure that there are optimal levels of cash in the bank at all times and avoid situations where the business could run out of cash and could not afford to pay its bills.

Revenues v. Expenses In addition, your business plan will compare your revenue forecasts to the budgeted costs to make sure that your financials are healthy and the business is set up for success.

5. Make Decisions

Whether you are starting a small business or expanding an existing one, a business plan is an important tool to help guide your decisions:

Sound decisions Gathering information for the business plan boosts your knowledge across many important areas of the business:

  • Industry, market, customers and competitors
  • Financial projections (e.g., revenue, expenses, assets, cash flow)
  • Operations, technology and logistics
  • Human resources (management and staff)
  • Creating value for your customer through products and services

Decision-making skills The business planning process involves thorough research and critical thinking about many intertwined and complex business issues. As a result, it solidifies the decision-making skills of the business owner and builds a solid foundation for strategic planning , prioritization and sound decision making in your business. The more you understand, the better your decisions will be.

Planning Thorough planning allows you to determine the answer to some of the most critical business decisions ahead of time , prepare for anticipate problems before they arise, and ensure that any tactical solutions are in line with the overall strategy and goals.

If you do not take time to plan, you risk becoming overwhelmed by countless options and conflicting directions because you are not unclear about the mission , vision and strategy for your business.

6. Manage Risk

Some level of uncertainty is inherent in every business, but there is a lot you can do to reduce and manage the risk, starting with a business plan to uncover your weak spots.

You will need to take a realistic and pragmatic look at the hard facts and identify:

  • Major risks , challenges and obstacles that you can expect on the way – so you can prepare to deal with them.
  • Weaknesses in your business idea, business model and strategy – so you can fix them.
  • Critical mistakes before they arise – so you can avoid them.

Essentially, the business plan is your safety net . Naturally, business plan cannot entirely eliminate risk, but it can significantly reduce it and prepare you for any challenges you may encounter.

7. Communicate Internally

Attract talent For a business to succeed, attracting talented workers and partners is of vital importance.

A business plan can be used as a communication tool to attract the right talent at all levels, from skilled staff to executive management, to work for your business by explaining the direction and growth potential of the business in a presentable format.

Align performance Sharing your business plan with all team members helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the long-term vision and strategy.

You need their buy-in from the beginning, because aligning your team with your priorities will increase the efficiency of your business as everyone is working towards a common goal .

If everyone on your team understands that their piece of work matters and how it fits into the big picture, they are more invested in achieving the objectives of the business.

It also makes it easier to track and communicate on your progress.

Share and explain business objectives with your management team, employees and new hires. Make selected portions of your business plan part of your new employee training.

8. Communicate Externally

Alliances If you are interested in partnerships or joint ventures, you may share selected sections of your plan with the potential business partners in order to develop new alliances.

Suppliers A business plan can play a part in attracting reliable suppliers and getting approved for business credit from suppliers. Suppliers who feel confident that your business will succeed (e.g., sales projections) will be much more likely to extend credit.

In addition, suppliers may want to ensure their products are being represented in the right way .

Professional Services Having a business plan in place allows you to easily share relevant sections with those you rely on to support the organization, including attorneys, accountants, and other professional consultants as needed, to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Advisors Share the plan with experts and professionals who are in a position to give you valuable advice.

Landlord Some landlords and property managers require businesses to submit a business plan to be considered for a lease to prove that your business will have sufficient cash flows to pay the rent.

Customers The business plan may also function as a prospectus for potential customers, especially when it comes to large corporate accounts and exclusive customer relationships.

9. Secure Funding

If you intend to seek outside financing for your business, you are likely going to need a business plan.

Whether you are seeking debt financing (e.g. loan or credit line) from a lender (e.g., bank or financial institution) or equity capital financing from investors (e.g., venture or angel capital), a business plan can make the difference between whether or not – and how much – someone decides to invest.

Investors and financiers are always looking at the risk of default and the earning potential based on facts and figures. Understandably, anyone who is interested in supporting your business will want to check that you know what you are doing, that their money is in good hands, and that the venture is viable in the long run.

Business plans tend to be the most effective ways of proving that. A presentation may pique their interest , but they will most probably request a well-written document they can study in detail before they will be prepared to make any financial commitment.

That is why a business plan can often be the single most important document you can present to potential investors/financiers that will provide the structure and confidence that they need to make decisions about funding and supporting your company.

Be prepared to have your business plan scrutinized . Investors and financiers will conduct extensive checks and analyses to be certain that what is written in your business plan faithful representation of the truth.

10. Grow and Change

It is a very common misconception that a business plan is a static document that a new business prepares once in the start-up phase and then happily forgets about.

But businesses are not static. And neither are business plans. The business plan for any business will change over time as the company evolves and expands .

In the growth phase, an updated business plan is particularly useful for:

Raising additional capital for expansion

  • Seeking financing for new assets , such as equipment or property
  • Securing financing to support steady cash flows (e.g., seasonality, market downturns, timing of sale/purchase invoices)
  • Forecasting to allocate resources according to strategic priority and operational needs
  • Valuation (e.g., mergers & acquisitions, tax issues, transactions related to divorce, inheritance, estate planning)

Keeping the business plan updated gives established businesses better chance of getting the money they need to grow or even keep operating.

Business plan is also an excellent tool for planning an exit as it would include the strategy and timelines for a transfer to new ownership or dissolution of the company.

Also, if you ever make the decision to sell your business or position yourself for a merger or an acquisition , a strong business plan in hand is going to help you to maximize the business valuation.

Valuation is the process of establishing the worth of a business by a valuation expert who will draw on professional experience as well as a business plan that will outline what you have, what it’s worth now and how much will it likely produce in the future.

Your business is likely to be worth more to a buyer if they clearly understand your business model, your market, your assets and your overall potential to grow and scale .

Related Questions

Business plan purpose: what is the purpose of a business plan.

The purpose of a business plan is to articulate a strategy for starting a new business or growing an existing one by identifying where the business is going and how it will get there to test the viability of a business idea and maximize the chances of securing funding and achieving business goals and success.

Business Plan Benefits: What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan benefits businesses by serving as a strategic tool outlining the steps and resources required to achieve goals and make business ideas succeed, as well as a communication tool allowing businesses to articulate their strategy to stakeholders that support the business.

Business Plan Importance: Why is business plan important?

The importance of a business plan lies in it being a roadmap that guides the decisions of a business on the road to success, providing clarity on all aspects of its operations. This blueprint outlines the goals of the business and what exactly is needed to achieve them through effective management.

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What Is A Business Plan (& Do I Really Need One?)

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The term "business plan" is a familiar one, often bandied about in entrepreneurial circles. Yet, despite its ubiquity, it's remarkable how much mystery and confusion can surround this essential business tool.

What exactly is a business plan? What purpose does it serve? How is it structured? This article aims to lift the veil, demystifying the business plan and revealing its multifaceted nature.

Business Plan Definition

A business plan is a document that describes a company's objectives and its marketing, financial, and operational strategies for achieving them. It's more than a mere document; it's a structured communication tool designed to articulate the vision of the business, allowing stakeholders to easily find the information they seek.

The business plan is a tangible reflection of the strategic planning that has gone into the business's future. While the plan is a static document, the planning is a dynamic process, capturing the strategic thinking and decision-making that shape the business's direction.

Purposes of a Business Plan

1. attracting funding opportunities.

A well-crafted business plan illustrates the company's potential for growth and profitability. It outlines the company's vision, mission, and strategies, providing a clear roadmap for success. A potential investor, whether venture capitalists or angel investors, can see how capital will be utilized, fostering trust and confidence in the business venture. A bank or financial institution can assess your company's ability to meet debt service obligations and compliance with strict financial accounting to meet underwriting requirements.

2. Aligning Organizational Objectives

A business plan acts as a unifying document that aligns the team with the company's goals and strategies. It ensures that everyone is on the same page, working towards common objectives. This alignment fosters collaboration and efficiency, driving the business towards its targets.

3. Validating the Business Concept

Before launching, a business plan helps in validating the feasibility of the business idea. It's a rigorous process that tests the concept against real-world scenarios, ensuring that the idea is not only innovative but also practical and sustainable. This validation builds credibility and prepares the business for the challenges ahead. For an existing business, a business plan can help address a possible merger and acquisition (M&A), rolling out a new business product or location, or expanding the target market.

4. Facilitating Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Whether it's securing a visa for international operations or meeting other regulatory requirements, a business plan can be an essential tool. It provides the necessary information in a structured format, demonstrating compliance with legal and regulatory standards. This can streamline processes and prevent potential legal hurdles.

5. Articulating and Formalizing the Business Vision

The business plan is more than a set of numbers and projections; it's the embodiment of the business vision. It communicates the essence of the business to stakeholders, turning abstract ideas into a concrete operational plan. It's a vital tool for leadership to articulate and formalize the vision, setting the stage for strategic execution.

Identifying the Right Type of Business Plan

Once you understand who your business plan is for and what specific needs it must address, you can identify the type of plan that best suits your situation. Business plans can be categorized into two main types: traditional and lean, each serveing its own unique purpose.

Traditional Business Plan

The Traditional Business Plan is a detailed and comprehensive document, often used by a new business, especially those seeking significant funding. It provides a complete picture of the company's vision, strategies, and operations. A traditional business plan leaves no stone unturned, offering a robust tool that communicates the business's entire vision and plan to stakeholders.

Lean Business Plan

In contrast, the Lean Business Plan is an abbreviated structure that still emphasizes the key elements of a Traditional Business Plan, but in less detail. It's suitable for early-stage startups, small businesses, or situations where agility and speed are essential. The Lean Business Plan focuses on the essentials, providing a quick overview without overwhelming details. It's a flexible and adaptable tool that can evolve with the business. One of the primary distinctions between it and a Traditional Business Plan is that a Lean Business Plan does not typically include financial planning, or if it does, it's a simple financial forecast or cash burn.

Components of a Business Plan

There are many places online where you can buy a business plan template. Often, those documents are just an outline of the sections of the business plan and what is included in each. If that's what you're looking for, here's a good business plan outline:

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is the first section read but often the last written, as it encapsulates the entire plan. If the company has a mission statement, it's typically included here. When used for funding, it includes the ask or uses of funds, and for investment, it may contain an investor proposition. It's a concise overview that sets the tone, summarizing each section that follows.

Company Overview

The Company Overview is the foundation of the business, articulating how it operates, generates revenue, and delivers unique value to its customers. This section defines products and/or service the business sells, as well as the company’s business model and unique value proposition. It covers key partners, pricing strategy, revenue model, and other essential business activities. 

Market Analysis Summary

The Market Analysis is the business intelligence portion of the plan. It comprises an industry analysis, market segments, target customers, competitive analysis, competitive advantage. This section provides insights into the market landscape, identifying opportunities, challenges, and how the business positions itself uniquely within the industry.

Strategy & Implementation Summary

Here, the business plan should outline the short-term and long-term objectives, marketing strategy and sales approach. It's a roadmap that details how the business will achieve its goals, including tactical steps, timelines, and resources. In a business plan for investors, the inclusion of an exit strategy can provide a vision for the future, considering various potential outcomes.

Management Summary

The Management Summary offers profiles of key personnel, their qualifications, roles, and plans to fill talent gaps. It's a snapshot of the leadership team, providing assurance that the right people are in place to execute the business plan successfully.

Financial Projections

This section includes standard financial statements like the profit & loss statement (P&L), the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement. It offers a detailed financial blueprint, illustrating the company’s revenue drivers and unit assumptions, income statement, a break-even analysis, and a sensitivity analysis to examine how changes in variables affect outcomes. For businesses with complex structures, framing the revenue in terms of market share can offer additional insight into the viability and feasibility of the financial projections.

The Appendices often include year 1 and year 2 monthly financial statements, intellectual property like patents and trademarks, construction blueprints, and other essential documentation. It's a repository for supporting information that adds depth and context to the main sections of the plan.

Do I Need a Business Plan?

The question "Do I need a business plan?" is one that many entrepreneurs and business leaders grapple with. The answer, however, is not as straightforward as it might seem. While not every business requires a traditional business plan, the strategic planning process is essential for all. 

In some cases, a traditional business plan is required. Applying for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan , obtaining a entrepreneurship visa , or meeting specific investor requirements may mandate a comprehensive business plan.

However a traditional business plan isn’t always necessary. For example, in early-stage investor funding, particularly in industries like SaaS, a lean business plan accompanied by a pitch deck presentation will often suffice. The focus here is on agility and essential information rather than exhaustive detail.

Every Business Needs Business Planning

Unlike the traditional business plan, which may or may not be required depending on the situation, business planning as a process is indispensable for every business, regardless of size or stage.

Business planning is a dynamic, continuous process. It's not confined to a single document but evolves with the business, adapting to changes, challenges, and opportunities. Effective strategic planning ensures internal alignment with both long-term vision and short-term objectives. It's a holistic approach that guides business goal-setting decision-making, resource allocation, and strategic direction. It often serves as the basis for a fully developed marketing plan.

Every business, from a small startup to a large corporation, benefits from strategic planning. It's a practice that fosters growth, innovation, and resilience, providing a roadmap for success.

Not every business needs a traditional business plan as a document, but all businesses need to engage in business planning as a process. While the traditional business plan serves specific purposes and audiences, business planning is a universal practice that guides and grows the business.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders must assess their specific needs, recognizing that the traditional business plan is just one tool among many. The true value of the business plan lies in continuous planning, adapting, and aligning with the unique vision and goals of the business.

How to Write a Management Summary for Your Business Plan

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Going Beyond Writing: The Multifaceted Role of Business Plan Consultants

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identify two main purposes of a business plan

In this post we cover:

A business plan is used to help manage an organisation by stating ambitions, how they will be achieved, and exactly when. The plan will also help summarise what the business is about, why it exists, and where it will get to.

Your business plan will serve as a key point of reference for investors, partners, employees and management to gauge progress against objectives.

Provide a road map

A detailed plan will help you as the owner and founder to manage your business effectively. Writing down and illustrating both your ideas and tactics will establish a path and course of action, akin to a road map. This will give you something concrete by which to monitor and assess the progress you make.

It may seem like an odd suggestion but you should look to work with your accountant on this task even at an early stage. Why? Well, a quality professional advisor will have helped many early stage businesses. Given how close a good accountant is to the operations and strategic direction of a company, they’ll be able to draw upon their experience of what’s worked and what hasn’t with other clients. 

This means they’ll be well placed to help you test your assumptions. Remember you want your business concept to be as well thought through as possible. Having a fresh set of eyes reviewing your ideas from a different perspective could make all the difference as to the viability of your business model . An accountant will know what success looks like along with what’s required and when to achieve it.

In charting a potential course of action you may find your business is faced with multiple different potential paths. It would therefore be wise to plot the most likely scenarios and strategies for these different circumstances. If, for example, your business is heavily reliant upon exporting then you may need to consider potential global and political events. How would that impact on currencies in your chosen markets in the near future?

What does a 10% currency appreciation or depreciation mean for sales, revenues, profits and cashflow? Working through this with your accountant will ensure you can ascertain the impact of such events from a financial perspective. You’ll then be able to craft solutions accordingly to deal with such events.

Developing a clear plan and strategy will focus your mind. What resources will you need and when to achieve each of your goals? This provides you with clarity as to how much needs to be invested at each stage of the business lifecycle . You'll then know when you're going to need cash injections based on likely cashflow.

Understand what to focus on

As an entrepreneur, where should your efforts and concentrations be centred on? It’s a common issue. The early days of starting out can be very chaotic. There’s so much to set up, think about, implement and develop. It’s an emotional roller coaster of mass excitement and sharp shots of anxiety. Amid all this and with an ever mounting in-tray of to do’s, you can fast lose track of what’s important.

When writing a business plan you’re defining exactly what your organisation is today and then intends to become tomorrow. This coherence concerning the purpose of your business and direction in which you’re heading is invaluable. Doing this means you’ll understand what needs to be implemented to move forward.

As an example, your plan should describe your ideal customer and include their needs and wants. Then you’d expand on this as to how your products or services address their requirements. How are you going to market to these potential customers? How will you get your name out there? What approach will you adopt to make sales and generate revenue?

These are vital matters to address early on. Growth primarily comes through new customers and achieving repeat custom. This then determines your progress towards profitability. By mapping this all out on paper you’re giving yourself yardsticks to work towards. This means all tasks that you as the entrepreneur should focus on should be geared towards achieving your next goal. In a nutshell that’s where your focus should be.

Projections and the need for an accountant

Raise finance.

The likelihood is to support your growth will require an injection of funding. That's unless you have an extremely cash generative business model. More often than not you probably won’t have enough customers and thus free cash flow to finance the next opportunity. You'll have a working capital requirement and thus need investment beyond the reach of your business.

You’ll likely have to approach potential sources of finance and they’ll want to assess the your income statements/profit and loss statements, and business plan. If you’re still at concept stage, or haven’t begun making sales, then their decision will rest solely on the strength of you and your business plan.

The statements help prospective lenders and investors understand the history of the organisation to date. The business plan provides them with a view of your future direction. They’ll look for many things in your plan. Ultimately their interest will focus on whether the expansion or development of your business will generate sufficient cash to both operate effectively while also fulfilling debt obligations.

This means you’re going to need to detail both profit and cashflow projections. Good forecasting and planning is seen as a way of understanding income and expenditure. This is particularly useful as a means to prevent payment issues over things like suppliers and staff wages. Many businesses close when such issues arise.

The likelihood is unless you’ve done this before, and know what you’re doing, then you’re going to need the help of an accountant. They’ll work with you to model the probable amount of cash in the business over time. This will then act as evidence to potential investors and financiers. They'll see if sufficient money will be generated by the activities of the business, to both fund future growth, while meeting financial commitments.

Manage your business effectively

The usefulness of a cashflow forecast doesn’t end there though. Managing your cash position , as you may have already gathered, is fundamental to the long term future of your business. There’s a common quote that “most businesses fail because they run out of money”. This means they’re no longer able to pay their debts when they’re due.

You should reference your cashflow projections in your business plan regularly. When you invest in your business, there will be significant out flows of money before any cash comes in. The timing of your investments thus needs to be considered against your projections and statements. Consider trading patterns, seasonal variations and the likely impact on cash flows.

If, for example, you sell through a credit extension then you’re going to receive payment in the future. That means after the goods or services have changed hands. The likelihood then is you’ll have to make payments in relation to the usual operations of your business before that income comes in from your customer.

So you can then see how poor cash management creates real issues. Make sure you work with your accountant, in the creation of your business plan and monitoring performance in relation to it. The documentation of well thought through ideas, combined with a shrewd strategy, and carefully planned projections will markedly improve your chances of long term survival and growth.

Business plan

This post was created on 03/11/2016 and updated on 24/02/2022.

Please be aware that information provided by this blog is subject to regular legal and regulatory change. We recommend that you do not take any information held within our website or guides (eBooks) as a definitive guide to the law on the relevant matter being discussed. We suggest your course of action should be to seek legal or professional advice where necessary rather than relying on the content supplied by the author(s) of this blog.

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What Are the Functions of a Business Plan?

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What are the two functions of an entrepreneur, the disadvantages of business planning.

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It's not one of "those" dirty words, but "business plan" has assumed a distinctive place in the vernacular of many small-business owners. They're told they need one, try to muster the enthusiasm to write one, but inevitably put it off – sometimes until someone in a position of authority (like a banker) demands one.

Of all the planning documents an entrepreneur is advised to draft, a business plan is arguably the most critical of all. The irony is that it's usually the one small-business owners end up consulting most often – not just in the early days but also as the business grows and confronts challenges the owner could never anticipate. You may be resisting the exercise, as business owners understandably do because they want to expend their valuable energy on selling and winning over new clients. It may be time to upend this paradigm and let the merits of a business plan sell you.

Embrace the Role of a Business Plan

For a document that can span (brace yourself) dozens of pages, every section of a business plan should go to the heart of addressing two crucial questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish with my new business?
  • How am I going to accomplish it?

The questions belie the depth of the exercise, for a business plan probes the structure, organization, management and processes of a new venture in great detail – or at least as much detail as the new business owner has at his disposal at the moment.

Two may be a lucky number because the successful entrepreneurs at SCORE , who mentor so many others, reduce the purposes of a business plan to:

  • Providing a cohesive vision for a small-business owner. This road map keeps a business owner focused on the journey ahead by providing clarity and focus, steering away from diversions that tempt many entrepreneurs in the early days.
  • Demonstrating to lenders that the venture is different from others in the workplace, primed for success, and otherwise worth the risk.

The U.S. Small Business Administration invokes the road map analogy, too, saying: "You wouldn't drive 2,000 miles without a map, so don’t start a business without writing a business plan; it's your road map to success!"

Owners Value Role of a Business Plan

Though well-intentioned, the advice sidesteps an important reality: Most entrepreneurs don't rely on a bank loan to fund their startups. According to Small Biz Genius:

  • 32 percent use their own cash.
  • 13 percent dip into their retirement accounts.
  • 12 percent turn to friends and family.

Only 24 percent rely on loans, which suggests that the first function of a business plan is the more important of the two. Put another way, you may not need that road map when things are going well, but running a small business is nothing if not an adventure, filled with unexpected challenges, detours and the occasional accident. It's at these junctures that the road map becomes an indispensable guide to regaining your bearings and getting back on track.

A study of 1,000 entrepreneurs by the Harvard Business Review bears this out. It found that the most successful ones wrote their business plan within six and 12 months of deciding to start their own business. It's precisely when they are starting to sell and win over clients that writing the plan comes into sharper focus. The HBR found that committing a plan to paper increases a startup's chance of viability by 27 percent.

Business Plan Areas Cover the Bases

At some point, you may want to take out a loan to pay for new equipment or to fund an expansion. Then a business plan becomes a necessity. Until then, Nolo says it plays a role in the financial future of your business by:

  • Analyzing the competition so it can outmaneuver it
  • Outlining a winning marketing strategy and tactics
  • Providing revenue and expense estimates
  • Crystallizing how the business will turn a profit
  • Anticipating risks and opportunities
  • Forecasting its financial future

This is a wide load to superimpose on any road map, but it's a completely attainable one when you consider the format of a business plan advocated by the U.S. Small Business Administration . It sets you up for success with a sensible, nine section progression of ideas:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Organization and management
  • Product line or service
  • Sales and marketing
  • Financial projections

Many business experts agree that a business plan should consist of at least 50 pages to cover these topics thoroughly. However, as with many undertakings, it's quality, not quantity, that matters most. This is why the Harvard Business Review says it found that those successful entrepreneurs devoted about three months to writing their business plan – a realistic amount of time to scrub this once dirty word from anybody's vocabulary.

  • SCORE: What Is the Purpose of a Business Plan?
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration: SBA Learning Center
  • Small Biz Genius: 39 Entrepreneur Statistics You Need to Know in 2021
  • Harvard Business Review: When Should Entrepreneurs Write Their Business Plans?
  • Nolo: Why You Need to Write a Business Plan
  • U.S. Small Business Administration: Write Your Business Plan

Mary Wroblewski earned a master's degree with high honors in communications and has worked as a reporter and editor in two Chicago newsrooms. Then she launched her own small business, which specialized in assisting small business owners with “all things marketing” – from drafting a marketing plan and writing website copy to crafting media plans and developing email campaigns. Mary writes extensively about small business issues and especially “all things marketing.”

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Professional Business Plan Specialists

News and articles, the purpose of a business plan summarised in 5 steps.

Dr Thommie Burger is the Founder of JTB Consulting

  • Thommie Burger
  • July 24, 2023

The Purpose of a Business Plan in 5 Summarised Steps - JTB Consulting Explores

When starting a new business, it can be hard to know where to begin. What should you do first? Where do you get started? How do you know if your idea will work? For most people, creating a new business is one of the riskiest things they will ever do. You have probably heard all the statistics about how much startup businesses fail. Many entrepreneurs still take that leap of faith and go for it anyway. Writing a business plan is one of the earliest and perhaps most essential steps in starting any new venture. But what is the Purpose of a Business Plan?

The Purpose of a Business Plan Summarised in 5 Steps. JTB Consulting

The Purpose of a Business Plan: Your Guiding Light in Starting a New Venture!

It’s not just about coming up with fantastic ideas and brainstorming; it’s about creating a realistic document detailing how to implement those ideas into a profitable business venture with a good chance of long-term success.

The Purpose of a Business Plan ― What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a written document that outlines all aspects of your business in great detail. A business plan is essentially a roadmap for success. A good business plan will include the following:

  • An Overview of the Business ― This is where you provide the readers with an overview of what the business is, what it does, who it is for, and the general nature of the company.
  • Company Description ― This section gives readers an in-depth description of your business. You should discuss the products or services you plan to sell, how much you expect to charge for them, your target market, and your overall business strategy.
  • Company Management ― In this section, you briefly overview your management team’s key members and discuss each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. You should also include a short biography for each key management team member.
  • Marketing Strategy ― In this section, you discuss how you plan to promote your business and generate new customers. You should discuss the methods you plan to generate new business and each technique’s expected cost. You should also consult your business’s positioning in the marketplace.

The Purpose of a Business Plan ― Why You Should Write a Business Plan?

A good business plan is an essential part of any new venture. It allows you to explore every aspect of your business idea and helps you anticipate potential problems before they happen. When writing your plan, you should adopt the same mindset an investor would have when reviewing your proposal. You should critically examine every aspect of your project and determine its viability. The purpose of a Business Plan can be summarised in the following five steps:

The Purpose of a Business Plan ― Step 1: Research Your Target Market

When writing a business plan, you should research your target market extensively. To be successful, any new business must first understand its customers. You need to know your target market and why they would buy from you. You must also be able to identify the needs of your target market and how your business satisfies those needs.

One of the best research methods is to interview your potential customers. Get in touch with people who fit your target demographic and ask them questions about their buying habits and what they look for when purchasing products and services like those you plan to sell.

You should also read online reviews and talk with current and potential business partners similar to the types of businesses you want to start. By conducting this research, you’ll understand your target market and what they are looking for in a product or service like the one you plan to offer.

The Purpose of a Business Plan ― Step 2: Determine Your Company’s Unique Value

Next, you should determine your company’s unique value. You must identify what makes your company different from all the others. What do you do that makes you stand out among your competitors? What value do you offer that others do not? You must fully understand what it is that makes your company different. This must be inherent in your business. You cannot rely on something superficial like a catchy slogan or a flashy logo. It must be genuinely inherent to the core of your business.

For example, if you plan on opening a coffee shop, your value might be in providing your customers with a high-quality coffee experience. You might also offer coffee-related products for purchase, such as coffee gift baskets or coffee-making appliances.

The Purpose of a Business Plan ― Step 3: Estimate the Costs of Running Your Business

After determining your company’s unique value, you must now estimate the costs of running your business. This includes overhead expenses like utility bills, payroll, and rent, more indirect costs like marketing and advertising, and research and development for new products or services. You must be completely honest with yourself and understand that any new business venture will incur some startup costs.

There is no way around it. There are some ways, however, that you can minimise these costs. One of the best ways to do this is to find a cheap place to rent and furnish it cheaply. You can also minimise your advertising costs using social media, cheap or free online advertising, and word-of-mouth marketing.

The Purpose of a Business Plan ― Step 4: Create a Marketing Strategy

Next, you should create a marketing strategy. This is the plan you will use to sell your product or service. This marketing strategy must be consistent with the image you want your company to portray. It must also directly relate to the value you offer your customers. No marketing strategy works for everyone, so you must find the marketing strategy that best suits your target market. You must also put in the time and effort to ensure your marketing strategy is successful.

You will not see an immediate return on your investment, so you must be willing to put in the time and effort it takes to make your marketing strategy successful over the long term. No amount of strategising or marketing will help your business succeed if you are unwilling to work and see the results over time.

The Purpose of a Business Plan ― Step 5: Conclusion

Finally, you must write a conclusion to your business plan. You should discuss what you learned from your research, how your unique value relates to your customer’s needs, and how your company’s costs affect your ability to turn a profit. You must also discuss the marketing strategy you plan to implement and how it will help you achieve the success you want for your business.

To write a good business plan, you must be sincere and understand that any new business venture will incur a particular risk. There is no way around it. There are some ways, however, that you can minimise this risk. One of the best ways to do this is to create a business plan and follow it as closely as possible. A business plan is your roadmap to success. It allows you to explore every aspect of your new business idea and helps you anticipate potential problems before they happen.

The Purpose of a Business Plan Summarised in 5 Steps. JTB Consulting

Something Extra! Why is a Business Plan Important to Your Startup’s Future Success?

‍Starting a business from scratch can be an intimidating process. With so many moving parts and details to manage, it’s easy for first-time entrepreneurs to get tripped up along the way. To help your new venture avoid roadblocks, it’s essential to have an organised plan. A business plan is a document that outlines the goals of your company, its market strategy, and financial projections. It also serves as a document you can refer to at any time to check your progress or track your growth. As you begin this new journey, here are some reasons why having a business plan is vital to your startup’s future success.

Why Business Planning is Important ― Set Course for Future Growth and Development

A business plan outlines the company’s future goals and helps you keep the company on track while growing. It outlines the company’s goals, target market, strategies to achieve those goals, and financial forecast. This information allows you to set a course for future growth and development. This document will help you stay focused in times of change. This is especially important for startups that may experience growing pains.

Why Business Planning is Important ― Create a Roadmap for Marketing Strategies

Determining which marketing strategies will help you achieve your long-term goals would be best. You may want to consider which avenues will be most beneficial for your company and which will reach your target audience. Sitting down and outlining these marketing strategies will help you stay on track and achieve your goals.

It will also make it easier to identify when to pivot or change your strategies as the business changes. When it comes to marketing strategies, it’s essential to keep in mind that these may change as the business grows. You may consider having several processes in place to change course as needed.

Why Business Planning is Important ― Help You Determine Product Mix and Offerings

Another important aspect of your business plan is outlining the product or service mix that you plan to offer. This will help you determine which products or services will be provided as part of your business. Depending on your industry and your target market, you may want to consider having various product offerings. These could include anything from physical products to services.

If you are considering offering various products and services, outline what each will entail. This will make it easier to determine prices and help you stay organised moving forward.

Why Business Planning is Important ― Serves as a Marketing Tool

One of the best things about having a business plan is that it can be a marketing tool. A business plan will make it easier to approach potential investors or lenders. It will also make pitching your business to customers and investors easier. One of the best ways to use your business plan as a marketing tool is to have it printed and bound. This will make it easier to read and reference when needed.

A printed business plan will also help you stand out among other entrepreneurs. It will make it easier to impress potential investors and lenders. Having a printed business plan also makes it easier to keep track of your progress as you move along in the process.

Why Business Planning is Important ― Establish your Company’s Financial footing.

A business plan is also essential because it will help establish your company’s financial footing. This will help you determine how much money you will need to start and operate the business in the early days. This will also help you determine how much money you need to break even. It’s important to note that the financial forecast you put in your business plan will not always be 100% accurate.

Things often take longer than anticipated or cost more than expected. A business plan helps you determine the general ballpark of these figures.

Why Business Planning is Important ― Conclusion

In short, a business plan is essential to any new business. It will help you outline your goals, determine the best strategies, and forecast your company’s financial situation. A business plan will help you stay organised and keep your company on track as it grows.

When starting a business, it can seem like there is a never-ending list of things you need to take care of. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of tasks and invest time in market research because it doesn’t seem as crucial as other activities.

Something Extra! Market Research and Why it is Important to Have a Business Plan.

Market research isn’t as exciting as brainstorming ideas or developing fresh marketing strategies. However, this process is something that every entrepreneur needs. It is not enough to have brilliant ideas; they must be executed wisely to make a profitable venture. Market research provides critical insights about your target customers and the market in general. It gives you the information to make intelligent decisions about your business venture.

Why it is Important to Have a Business Plan ― What is Market Research?

Market research collects and analyses data about your target audience, the market landscape, and competitors. It aims to answer critical questions about your business idea, such as the demand for your product or service and potential roadblocks you may face. It is an essential part of the business planning process.

This data can then be used to make critical strategic decisions about your business model, marketing strategies, and more. Market research can be conducted through a variety of methods. The type of research you work on will depend on your business and industry, your goals, and the questions you want to be answered. There are several ways to conduct market research. They include conducting interviews, polls, focus groups, and surveys, performing secondary research, and using analytics and other data.

Why it is Important to Have a Business Plan ― Why is market research important for entrepreneurs?

Marketing strategies and business models are built on customer insights and market trends. This type of information cannot be made up or guessed at. It has to be researched and assessed with facts. This data helps you to understand your customers’ needs and expectations. It also lets you see how your business might fit into the marketplace and find out if there are any significant obstacles ahead of you.

Knowing these things helps you create a profitable business that will provide excellent customer value and have a strong chance at success. Without this information, you might be making a product or service that few people want or trying to sell your products in an unlikely effective way.

Why it is Important to Have a Business Plan ― Why is it hard for entrepreneurs to research the market?

Marketing and business trends change over time. This means that the data from a few years ago might not be relevant to your situation now. Therefore, it has to be up-to-date. However, many entrepreneurs tend to skip the market research step. They might be under the false assumption that it is unnecessary when they have a great business idea or that it will take a lot of time and effort.

In reality, market research should be done at the very beginning of the business planning process. It is an investment in the future success of your venture. A researcher cannot conduct research for you. You have to understand and follow their instructions carefully to receive accurate data. You have to be able to put aside biases and misconceptions to find the information that is most useful for your business.

Why is it Important to Have a Business Plan ― How to make market research easier?

If you have never conducted market research, the process may make you feel a little daunted. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be an expert to understand your customers. You need to follow a few simple steps. Before you begin collecting research, you need to decide what you want to know and why. What are your business goals?

What are the general trends in your industry? Which customers are you hoping to reach? How do they like to be communicated with? Once you have a clear idea of what you want to learn and why you can collect the data. There are various data collection methods, ranging from quick online surveys to in-depth interviews. You can choose the way that best applies to your situation.

Why it is Important to Have a Business Plan ― Problem identification through market research

While market research is about gaining insights that will lead to better business decisions, it can also be used to identify problems within your industry. For example, you can research your competitors if you are in the restaurant business. You can find out what meals they serve when they are busiest and how many customers they have on average. This can give you insight into what your customers want and how they like to be served. It can help you to avoid making costly mistakes.

For example, if your competitors are busy during lunch, you might consider offering a meal that takes less time to prepare. This can help you avoid long wait times and losing customers in a rush. Market research can also help you to understand how customers view your brand. Do they think highly of it? What do they like or dislike about it?

Why it is Important to Have a Business Plan ― Customer Insights from market research

Understanding your customers lets you know how to reach them best. You can see their preferences, how they like to be communicated with, and what pains they experience. This knowledge can help you to create a successful business model.

For example, if you are providing a financial service, you might find that most of your customers are older people who don’t have time to manage their finances. This can help you to focus your campaigns on that specific audience. It will help you to save time and money by avoiding marketing to people who are unlikely to use your services. Understanding your customers also allows you to avoid making mistakes. You can avoid offending people or creating products and services that no one wants.

Why it is Important to Have a Business Plan ― Discover your customers’ unmet needs.

Successful entrepreneurs continuously look for ways to improve their products and services. They recognise particular unmet needs among their customers and aim to solve them. Market research can help you to identify these needs. Let’s say that you work for a software company. You have a product that helps people organise their finances.

However, after researching, you discover that many of your customers would also like help saving for retirement. This unmet need is something that you can solve by including retirement planning tools in your original product. This will help you to retain customers and gain new ones.

Why it is Important to Have a Business Plan ― Business model identification through market research

Every business model has to be profitable. This means that you have to earn more than you spend, which lets you keep the company afloat. This is important because if you are constantly losing money, it is unlikely that you will be able to save your company open for long. Market research helps you to identify how your business model will work.

It can help you understand your operation cost and how you will earn money. This information helps you to make intelligent decisions and avoid costly mistakes. For example, if you want to start a bakery and sell muffins, you have a few options. You could sell muffins in person, make and sell them online, or offer a mixture of both. Each of these options has different costs. This data can help you to identify the best business model for your situation. It can help you to avoid costly mistakes, like trying to sell your muffins online when you don’t have the resources to do it properly.

There are many benefits to engaging in market research from the very beginning of the planning process. It allows you to understand customer needs, avoid common pitfalls, and create a successful business model. However, it is often a task that entrepreneurs prevent because they don’t know where to start or feel they don’t have the resources to do it properly. Remember that market research doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. If you follow these guidelines and prioritise market research, you can avoid costly mistakes, better reach your intended audience, and create a profitable business model.

Established in 2006, we have successfully written hundreds of bankable and world-class Business Plans  for clients across 25 countries. As South Africa’s Leading Business Plan Company , we are confident that we would be able to assist you too. Kindly note that we also offer “Investor Pitch Decks”, “Excel-based Financial Models”, and “Proposal/Tender Writing Services” in addition to our Custom Business Plan Writing Service . Please visit our Services  page for more information.

We look forward to being of service to you. Please feel free to contact our Founder, Dr Thommie Burger, on +27 79 300 8984 should you have any questions. He is also available via email and LinkedIn .

JTB – Your Business Planning Partner.

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Nine reasons why you need a business plan

Building a great business plan helps you plan, strategize and succeed. Presented by Chase for Business .

identify two main purposes of a business plan

Making the decision to create a new business is an exciting yet stressful experience. Starting a business involves many tasks and obstacles, so it’s important to focus before you take action. A solid business plan can provide direction, help you attract investors and ensure you maintain momentum.

No matter what industry you plan on going into, a business plan is the first step for any successful enterprise. Building your business plan helps you figure out where you want your business to go and identify the necessary steps to get you there. This is a key document for your company to both guide your actions and track your progress.

What is the purpose of a business plan?

Think of a business plan like a roadmap. It enables you to solve problems and make key business decisions, such as marketing and competitive analysis, customer and market analysis and logistics and operations plans.

It can also help you organize your thoughts and goals, as well as give you a better idea of how your company will work. Good planning is often the difference between success and failure.

Here are nine reasons your company needs a business plan.

1. Prove your idea is viable

Through the process of writing a business plan, you can assess whether your company will be successful. Understanding market dynamics, as well as competitors, will help determine if your idea is viable.

This is also the time to develop financial projections for your business plan, like estimated startup costs, a profit and loss forecast, a break-even analysis and a cash flow statement . By taking time to investigate the viability of your idea, you can build goals and strategies to support your path to success.

A proper business plan proves to all interested parties—including potential investors, customers, employees, partners and most importantly yourself — that you are serious about your business.

2. Set important goals

As a business owner, the bulk of your time will mostly likely be spent managing day-to-day tasks. As a result, it might be hard to find time after you launch your business to set goals and milestones. Writing a business plan allows you to lay out significant goals for yourself ahead of time for three or even five years down the road. Create both short- and long-term business goals. 

3. Reduce potential risks

Prevent your business from falling victim to unexpected dangers by researching before you break ground. A business plan opens your eyes to potential risks that your business could face. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions that may need research and analysis to answer. This is also good practice in how your business would actually manage issues when they arise. Incorporate a contingency plan that identifies risks and how you would respond to them effectively.

The most common reasons businesses fail include:

  • Lack of capital
  • Lack of market impact or need
  • Unresearched pricing (too high or low)
  • Explosive growth that drains all your capital
  • Stiff competition

Lack of capital is the most prevalent reason why businesses fail. To best alleviate this problem, take time to determine how your business will generate revenue. Build a comprehensive model to help mitigate future risks and long-term pain points. This can be turned into a tool to manage growth and expansion.

4. Secure investments

Whether you’re planning to apply for an SBA loan , build a relationship with angel investors or seek venture capital funding, you need more than just an elevator pitch to get funding. All credible investors will want to review your business plan. Although investors will focus on the financial aspects of the plan, they will also want to see if you’ve spent time researching your industry, developed a viable product or service and created a strong marketing strategy.

While building your business plan, think about how much raised capital you need to get your idea off the ground. Determine exactly how much funding you’ll need and what you will use it for. This is essential for raising and employing capital.

5. Allot resources and plan purchases

You will have many investments to make at the launch of your business, such as product and services development, new technology, hiring, operations, sales and marketing. Resource planning is an important part of your business plan. It gives you an idea of how much you’ll need to spend on resources and it ensures your business will manage those resources effectively.  

A business plan provides clarity about necessary assets and investment for each item. A good business plan can also determine when it is feasible to expand to a larger store or workspace.

In your plan, include research on new products and services, where you can buy reliable equipment and what technologies you may need. Allocate capital and plan how you’ll fund major purchases, such as with a Chase small business checking account or business credit card .

6. Build your team

From seasoned executives to skilled labor, a compelling business plan can help you attract top-tier talent, ideally inspiring management and employees long after hiring. Business plans include an overview of your executive team as well as the different roles you need filled immediately and further down the line.

Small businesses often employ specialized consultants, contractors and freelancers for individual tasks such as marketing, accounting and legal assistance. Sharing a business plan helps the larger team work collectively in the same direction. 

This will also come into play when you begin working with any new partners. As a new business, a potential partner may ask to see your business plan. Building partnerships takes time and money, and with a solid business plan you have the opportunity to attract and work with the type of partners your new business needs.

7. Share your vision 

When you start a business, it's easy to assume you'll be available to guide your team. A business plan helps your team and investors understand your vision for the company. Your plan will outline your goals and can help your team make decisions or take action on your behalf. Share your business plan with employees to align your full staff toward a collective goal or objective for the company.  Consider employee and stakeholder ownership as a compelling and motivating force. 

8. Develop a marketing strategy

A marketing strategy details how you will reach your customers and build brand awareness. The clearer your brand positioning is to investors, customers, partners and employees, the more successful your business will be.

Important questions to consider as you build your marketing strategy include:

  • What industry segments are we pursuing?
  • What is the value proposition of the products or services we plan to offer?
  • Who are our customers?
  • How will we retain our customers and keep them engaged with our products or services and marketing?
  • What is our advertising budget?
  • What price will we charge?
  • What is the overall look and feel of our brand? What are our brand guidelines?
  • Will we need to hire marketing experts to help us create our brand?
  • Who are our competitors? What marketing strategies have worked (or not worked) for them?

With a thoughtful marketing strategy integrated into your business plan, your company goals are significantly more in reach.

9. Focus your energy

Your business plan determines which areas of your business to focus on while also avoiding possible distractions. It provides a roadmap for critical tradeoffs and resource allocation.

As a business owner, you will feel the urge to solve all of your internal and customers’ problems, but it is important to maintain focus. Keep your priorities at the top of your mind as you set off to build your company.

As a small business owner, writing a business plan should be one of your first priorities. Read our checklist for starting a business, and learn how to take your business from a plan to reality. When you’re ready to get started, talk with a Chase business banker to open a Chase business checking or savings account today.

For Informational/Educational Purposes Only: The views expressed in this article may differ from other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions and consult the appropriate professional(s). Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender, ©2023 JPMorgan Chase & Co

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COMMENTS

  1. What Are the Main Purposes of a Business Plan?

    A business plan will help executive talent see your business vision and determine whether or not your company is a worthwhile investment of time and resources. References. Resources. Writer Bio ...

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

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

  3. What is a business plan? Definition, Purpose, & Types

    In the world of business, a well-thought-out plan is often the key to success. This plan, known as a business plan, is a comprehensive document that outlines a company's goals, strategies, and financial projections.Whether you're starting a new business or looking to expand an existing one, a business plan is an essential tool.. As a business plan writer and consultant, I've crafted over ...

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

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  5. What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

    Purposes of a Business Plan. Chances are, someone drafting a business plan will be doing so for one or more of the following reasons: 1. Securing financing from investors. Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital.

  6. What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Essentials Explained

    The primary purpose of a business plan is to help you understand the direction of your business and the steps it will take to get there. Having a solid business plan can help you grow up to 30% faster and according to our own 2021 Small Business research working on a business plan increases confidence regarding business health—even in the ...

  7. What is a Business Plan? Definition + Resources

    A business plan lays out a strategic roadmap for any new or growing business. Any entrepreneur with a great idea for a business needs to conduct market research, analyze their competitors, validate their idea by talking to potential customers, and define their unique value proposition. The business plan captures that opportunity you see for ...

  8. 12.1: Purpose of Business Plan

    In many ways, the business plan is a prototype of the business model. It is a scaled-down version that describes how the business will function. The business plan also serves as a platform for the business founders to communicate and it can be used as a blueprint for operating the business the first year.Sahlman (1997, July-August).

  9. 11.4 The Business Plan

    Create a Brief Business Plan. Fill out a canvas of your choosing for a well-known startup: Uber, Netflix, Dropbox, Etsy, Airbnb, Bird/Lime, Warby Parker, or any of the companies featured throughout this chapter or one of your choice. Then create a brief business plan for that business.

  10. How to Write a Business Plan in 2023: Step by Step Guide

    The following will take you to online business plan guides and templates for specific countries. United States Small Business Administration (SBA) - The "write your business plan page" includes traditional and lean startup business plan formats, three downloadable sample business plans, a template, and a step-by-step build a business plan ...

  11. 11 Important Business Plan Benefits & Purposes

    Let's take a closer look at how each of the important business planning benefits can catapult your business forward: 1. Validate Your Business Idea. The process of writing your business plan will force you to ask the difficult questions about the major components of your business, including: External: industry, target market of prospective ...

  12. What Is A Business Plan (& Do I Really Need One?)

    Identifying the Right Type of Business Plan. Once you understand who your business plan is for and what specific needs it must address, you can identify the type of plan that best suits your situation. Business plans can be categorized into two main types: traditional and lean, each serveing its own unique purpose. Traditional Business Plan

  13. Business Plan: What It Is + How to Write One

    1. Executive summary. This is a short section that introduces the business plan as a whole to the people who will be reading it, including investors, lenders, or other members of your team. Start with a sentence or two about your business, your goals for developing it, and why it will be successful. If you are seeking funding, summarize the ...

  14. 14 Critical Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan

    Here's every reason why you need a business plan. 1. Business planning is proven to help you grow 30 percent faster. Writing a business plan isn't about producing a document that accurately predicts the future of your company. The process of writing your plan is what's important. Writing your plan and reviewing it regularly gives you a ...

  15. What is the purpose of a business plan?

    A business plan is used to help manage an organisation by stating ambitions, how they will be achieved, and exactly when. The plan will also help summarise what the business is about, why it exists, and where it will get to. Your business plan will serve as a key point of reference for investors, partners, employees and management to gauge ...

  16. What Are the Functions of a Business Plan?

    Then a business plan becomes a necessity. Until then, Nolo says it plays a role in the financial future of your business by: Analyzing the competition so it can outmaneuver it. Outlining a winning ...

  17. 12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)

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

  18. 10 Important Components of an Effective Business Plan

    Effective business plans contain several key components that cover various aspects of a company's goals. The most important parts of a business plan include: 1. Executive summary. The executive summary is the first and one of the most critical parts of a business plan. This summary provides an overview of the business plan as a whole and ...

  19. The Purpose of a Business Plan Summarised in 5 Steps

    The Purpose of a Business Plan ― Step 1: Research Your Target Market. When writing a business plan, you should research your target market extensively. To be successful, any new business must first understand its customers. You need to know your target market and why they would buy from you.

  20. Nine reasons why you need a business plan

    Writing a business plan allows you to lay out significant goals for yourself ahead of time for three or even five years down the road. Create both short- and long-term business goals. 3. Reduce potential risks. Prevent your business from falling victim to unexpected dangers by researching before you break ground.

  21. 20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2024

    1. To Prove That You're Serious About Your Business. A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties — employees, investors, partners and yourself — that you are committed to building the business. Creating your plan forces you to think through and select the strategies that will propel your growth. 2.

  22. Identify Two Main Purposes Of A Business Plan

    Identify Two Main Purposes Of A Business Plan - About Writer. Nursing Business and Economics Management Psychology +94 "Essay - The Challenges of Black Students..." Review > 4.7/5 (415) 520-5258. Level: College, University, High School, Master's, PHD, Undergraduate, Regular writer.