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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started.

Why Are Business Plans Important?

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

1. Proves Your Business Viability

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

2. Guides You Throughout the Business Cycle

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

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

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

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

3. Helps You Make Better Business Decisions

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

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

4. Eliminates Big Mistakes

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

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

5. Secures Financing and Attracts Top Talents

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

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

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

Key Elements of Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

1. Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

Executive Summary of the Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Components of an Executive Summary

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

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

2. Business Description

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

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

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

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

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

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

Components of a Business Description

Your business description needs to contain these categories of information.

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

3. Market Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Components of Market Analysis

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

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

Market Analysis Factors

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

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

Components of the Market Analysis Section

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

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

4. Marketing Plan

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

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

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

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

Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan

5. Sales Strategy

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

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

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

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

Sales Strategy

6. Competitive Analysis

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

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

Competitive Analysis Framework

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

This section should define the following:

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

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

7. Management and Organization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Products and Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Operating Plan

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

The operating plan for your business should include:

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

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

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

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

10. Financial Projections and Assumptions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Request For Funding

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

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

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

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

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

12. Exhibits and Appendices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Essential Components of a Business Plan and How to Write Them

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Ayush Jalan

  • January 4, 2024

12 Min Read

10 Essential Business plan components and How to Write Them

A business plan is an essential document for any business, whether it’s a startup or an established enterprise. It’s the first thing any interested investor will ask for if they like your business idea and want to partner with you. 

That’s why it’s important to pay attention when writing your business plan and the components inside it. An incomplete business plan can give the impression that you’re unqualified—discouraging investors and lenders. 

A good business plan reduces ambiguity and communicates all essential details such as your financials, market analysis, competitive analysis, and a timeline for implementation of the plan. In this article, we’ll discuss the 10 important business plan components. 

10 Important Business Plan Components

A comprehensive and well-thought-out business plan acts as a roadmap that guides you in making sound decisions and taking the right actions at the right times. Here are its key components and what to include in them.

1. Executive summary

The executive summary is one of the most important parts of a business plan. It’s the first thing potential investors will read and should therefore provide a clear overview of your business and its goals.

In other words, it helps the reader get a better idea of what to expect from your company. So, when writing an executive summary of your business, don’t forget to mention your mission and vision statement.

Mission statement

A mission statement is a brief statement that outlines your objectives and what you want to achieve. It acts as a guiding principle that informs decisions and provides a clear direction for the organization to follow.

For instance, Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It’s short, inspiring, and immediately communicates what the company does.

A mission statement should be realistic, and hint towards a goal that is achievable in a reasonable amount of time with the resources you currently have or are going to acquire in the near future.

Vision statement

While a mission statement is more actionable and has an immediate effect on the daily activities of the company, a vision statement is more aspirational and has a much broader scope.

In other words, it highlights where the company aims to go in the future and the positive change it hopes to make in the world within its lifetime.

2. Company description

Company description Steps: 1) Overview 2) Products & Services 3) Company history

The second component of your business plan is the company description. Here, you provide a brief overview of your company, its products or services, and its history. You can also add any notable achievements if they are significant enough for an investor to know.

A company overview offers a quick bird’s-eye view of things such as your business model , operational capabilities, financials, business philosophy, size of the team, code of conduct, and short-term and long-term objectives.

Products and services

The products and services part of your company description explains what your business offers to its customers, how it’s delivered, and the costs involved in acquiring new customers and executing a sale.

Company History

Company history is the timeline of events that took place in your business from its origin to the present day. It includes a brief profile of the founder(s) and their background, the date the company was founded, any notable achievements and milestones, and other similar facts and details.

If you’re a startup, you’ll probably not have much of a history to write about. In that case, you can share stories of the challenges your startup faced during its inception and how your team overcame them.

3. Market analysis

Market analysis

The market analysis section of your business plan provides an in-depth analysis of the industry, target market, and competition. It should underline the risks and opportunities associated with your industry, and also comment on the attributes of your target customer.

Demographics and segmentation

Understanding the demographics of your customers plays a big role in how well you’re able to identify their traits and serve them.

By dividing your target audience into smaller and more manageable groups, you can tailor your services and products to better meet their needs.

You can use demographics such as age, gender, income, location, ethnicity, and education level to better understand the preferences and behaviors of each segment, and use that data to create more effective marketing strategies.     

Target market and size

Understanding your target market lies at the core of all your marketing endeavors. After all, if you don’t have a clear idea of who you’re serving, you won’t be able to serve well no matter how big your budget is.

For instance, Starbucks’ primary target market includes working professionals and office workers. The company has positioned itself such that many of its customers start their day with its coffee.

Estimating the market size helps you know how much scope there is to scale your business in the future. In other words, you’re trying to determine how much potential revenue exists in this market and if it’s worth the investment.

Market need

The next step is to figure out the market need, i.e., the prevalent pain points that people in that market experience. The easiest way to find these pain points is to read the negative reviews people leave on Amazon for products that are similar to yours.

The better your product solves those pain points, the better your chances of capturing that market. In addition, since your product is solving a problem that your rivals can’t, you can also charge a premium price.

To better identify the needs of your target customers, it helps to take into account things such as local cultural values, industry trends, buying habits, tastes and preferences, price elasticity, and more.

4. Product Summary

The product summary section of your business plan goes into detail about the features and benefits that your products and services offer, and how they differ from your competitors. It also outlines the manufacturing process, pricing, cost of production, inventory, packaging, and capital requirements.

5. Competitive analysis

Unless you’ve discovered an untapped market, you’re probably going to face serious competition and it’s only going to increase as you scale your business later down the line.

This is where the competitive analysis section helps; it gives an overview of the competitive landscape, introduces your immediate rivals, and highlights the current dominant companies and their market share.

In such an environment, it helps to have certain competitive advantages against your rivals so you can stand out in the market. Simply put, a competitive advantage is the additional value you can provide to your customers that your rivals can’t—perhaps via unique product features, excellent customer service, or more.

list at least ten components of a business plan

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6. Marketing and sales plan

list at least ten components of a business plan

The marketing and sales plan is one of the most important business plan components. It explains how you plan to penetrate the market, position your brand in the minds of the buyers, build brand loyalty, increase sales, and remain competitive in an ever-changing business environment.

Unique selling proposition

A unique selling proposition (USP) conveys how your products and services differ from those of your competitors, and the added value those differences provide.

A strong USP will stand out in a competitive market and make potential customers more likely to switch to your brand—essentially capturing the market share of your rivals.

Marketing Plan

Your product might be unique, but if people don’t even know that it exists, it won’t sell. That’s where marketing comes in.

A marketing plan outlines strategies for reaching your target market and achieving sales goals. It also outlines the budget required for advertising and promotion.

You may also include data on the target market, target demographics, objectives, strategies, a timeline, budget, and the metrics considered for evaluating success.

Sales and distribution plan

Once people are made aware of your product, the next step is to ensure it reaches them. This means having a competent sales and distribution plan and a strong supply chain.

Lay out strategies for reaching potential customers, such as online marketing, lead generation, retail distribution channels, or direct sales.

Your goal here is to minimize sales costs and address the risks involved with the distribution of your product. If you’re selling ice cream, for example, you would have to account for the costs of refrigeration and cold storage.

Pricing strategy

Pricing is a very sensitive yet important part of any business. When creating a pricing strategy , you need to consider factors such as market demand, cost of production, competitor prices, disposable income of target customers, and profitability goals.

Some businesses have a small profit margin but sell large volumes of their product, while others sell fewer units but with a massive markup. You will have to decide for yourself which approach you want to follow.

Before setting your marketing plans into action, you need a budget for them. This means writing down how much money you’ll need, how it will be used, and the potential return you are estimating on this investment.

A budget should be flexible, meaning that it should be open to changes as the market shifts and customer behavior evolves. The goal here is to make sure that the company is making the best use of its resources by minimizing the wastage of funds.

7. Operations plan

The operations plan section of your business plan provides an overview of how the business is run and its day-to-day operations. This section is especially important for manufacturing businesses.

It includes a description of your business structure, the roles and responsibilities of each team member, the resources needed, and the procedures you will use to ensure the smooth functioning of your business. The goal here is to maximize output whilst minimizing the wastage of raw material or human labor.

8. Management team

At the core of any successful business lies a dedicated, qualified, and experienced management team overlooking key business activities. 

This section provides an overview of the key members of your management team including their credentials, professional background, role and responsibilities, experience, and qualifications.

A lot of investors give special attention to this section as it helps them ascertain the competence and work ethic of the members involved.

Organizational structure

An organizational structure defines the roles, responsibilities, decision-making processes, and authority of each individual or department in an organization.

Having a clear organizational structure improves communication, increases efficiency, promotes collaboration, and makes it easier to delegate tasks. Startups usually have a flatter organizational hierarchy whereas established businesses have a more traditional structure of power and authority.

9. Financial Plan

Financials are usually the least fun thing to talk about, but they are important nonetheless as they provide an overview of your current financial position, capital requirements, projections, and plans for repayment of any loans. 

Your financial plan should also include an analysis of your startup costs, operating costs, administration costs, and sources of revenue.

Funding requirements

Once an investor has read through your business plan, it’s time to request funding. Investors will want to see an accurate and detailed breakdown of the funds required and an explanation of why the requested funds are necessary for the operation and expansion of your business.

10. Appendix

The appendix is the last section of your business plan and it includes additional supporting documents such as resumes of key team members, market research documents, financial statements, and legal documents. 

In other words, anything important or relevant that couldn’t fit in any of the former sections of your business plan goes in the appendix.

Write a Business Plan Worth Reading

Starting a business is never easy, but it’s a little less overwhelming if you have a well-made business plan. It helps you better navigate the industry, reduce risk, stay competitive, and make the best use of your time and money.

Remember, since every business is unique, every business plan is unique too, and must be regularly updated to keep up with changing industry trends. Also, it’s very likely that interested investors will give you feedback, so make sure to implement their recommendations as well.

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About the Author

list at least ten components of a business plan

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

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Elements of a Business Plan: What to Include to Turn Heads

June 26, 2019

by Mary Clare Novak

list at least ten components of a business plan

Good things come to those who wait.

No matter the business size , industry, or location, planning is necessary for any company. The standard business plan can seem mundane and unexciting, but those that choose to skip this step when starting a business can count on being disorganized, frazzled, and wishing they had made one in the first place.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document that contains the goals of a business and a timeline stating when they need to be achieved. Business plans also include details like the background of the business, financial projections, and strategies that will be used to achieve the goals.

Think of a business plan as a road map. They both show direction and need to include certain things to be considered valid. When laid out properly, a business plan can be used to create relationships with investors, employees, vendors, and interested partners.

While maps must show rivers, cities, and countries, a business plan has other requirements.

Elements of a business plan

  • Executive summary 

Company description

Market analysis, organization and management, product or service description.

  • Sales and marketing strategies

Funding requirements

Financial projections.

The length of your business plan doesn’t matter. As long as it includes those eight items, you should be good to go.

Business plan elements

Let’s take a closer look at what each of these business plan elements mean, and why they are important to the overall plan.

Executive summary

An executive summary is a brief summary of your plan. It gives readers a general idea of the most important parts of the business plan so they know what to expect.

While you want to keep it concise, as most summaries are, there are certain things you will need to include. Provide a brief history of the start of the business, describe the mission you wish to achieve, and briefly state a few goals you need to reach to get there.

It is usually best to write this last so you have time to get to know the business plan, which will help you properly summarize it.

The company description is self-explanatory: you describe your company. It is a good time to ask yourself some who, what, when, where, and why questions.

This background shows readers how you view your business and what you will choose to focus on.

Next, you will prove to your readers that you have properly analyzed your market before starting this business venture.

Conducting market research is a necessary step when starting a new business or restructuring an existing one. It gives you an idea of who your audience and competitors are so you can craft a product or service that is superior to others in the same market.

What is currently being offered? Where do you fit in the market? A good way to do this is with G2 Reports , which can show readers where you stand against your competitors based on un-biased, third party reviews. 

Beat Your Competition with G2 Reports →

This section of the business plan will show readers how you plan to organize business leadership, and who those leaders actually are.

workplace organization

Not only does nobody want to invest in or work for a company that has poor management and organization, but you need it to be successful in the first place. Highlight the qualifications of each team member and mention how they will contribute to the success of a business.

Show them what your team is made of and give them a reason to get involved.

The product or service description is where take a closer look at what it is you are selling. This is your opportunity to get people on board with your business. If they don’t like what is being offered themselves, they won’t have a reason to get involved.

Thoroughly describe what you are offering, the associated benefits, and why your product or service is, for lack of a better word, better than that of your competitors.

While you are probably convinced that your product or service is the best in the market, those reading your business plan will want proof. Data. Numbers. They don’t need to be exact, but providing some estimates will only help you prove your case further.

Marketing and sales strategies

After you give a thorough description of the product or service, which is the heart and soul of the business, it’s time to talk about sales and marketing. Think of sales and marketing as the voice of reason for your business. It explains why people should become involved with your business, in one way or another.

This section includes the nitty-gritty details of your business’ function. And the only way for a business to function is to make money. How do you plan on making a profit? Talk about how much your product or service costs to produce, and then how much you plan on selling it for. This is also known as your gross profit , which proves that your company is capable of making money.

It is also helpful to show readers that your business uses a software management tool, like G2 Track , to stay organized and avoid wasted Saas spending. 

Learn more →

In the competitive world that is the American economy, you not only need a product or service that stands out, but you also need some solid marketing to prove that to your audiences.

Include your marketing plan in this section. Describe your marketing strategies, tactics that will be used to carry them out, and what company goals you will achieve with marketing.

Now that you’ve shown readers the hypothetical money, it is time for you to ask for the real deal: funding .

Outline how much money you need to make your business a reality. Be realistic and honest. Don’t be afraid to throw out a big number if that is what it will take to get your business off the ground. Think of certain situations that will help or hinder your business and create a range of funding requirements based on their aftermaths.

Wrap up your plan with some financial projections. Put simply, financial projections are predictions of revenue and expenses.

You will want to include financial projections for both short, mid, and long term time periods. Break it down by month, quarter, and year.

Here are a couple of basics you should include to make sure your financial projections are thorough enough:

You will also want to include cash flow and a balance sheet .

Keeping your finances organized will help if you are looking to gain investors or receive a loan.

Prioritize planning

Whether you are just starting a small business or reworking your company, any new venture requires a strong business plan. Not only do they help keep you organized as the owner, but they give others a behind-the-scenes look at what the business is and why it matters, opening the doors for growth.

Want to start a business but don’t know where to begin? Check out the most profitable small businesses to get those ideas flowing. 

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Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 based in Burlington, Vermont, where she is currently exploring topics related to sales and customer relationship management. In her free time, you can find her doing a crossword puzzle, listening to cover bands, or eating fish tacos. (she/her/hers)

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Components of a Business Plan: An In-Depth Guide

Components of a Business Plan: An In-Depth Guide - Peak Plans

So, you decided to set up a business and now, it’s time to write your business plan. But where to start? What do you need? To answer these qestions in your mind, you need to know the parts, components of a business plan. Knowing the components of a business plan will give you guidance and keep you on track during writing your business plan. So, let’s have a look at the parts (in other words, components) of a business plan and define each part in detail. Click here to Access free resources for your business plan.

Click here to Access free resources for your business plan.

Part -1: Executive Summary

The executive summary is the opening section of your business plan. It is a summary and overview your entire business plan, expressing the vision and promise of your business, its goals, and its strategy. An executibe summary is the last written part of a business plan. So, write it after you finish every other part of your business plan.

Key components of an executive summary can include:

Business Name:

The official name of your business.

Business Type and Ownership:

Write the legal type of your business (LLC, C-Corpetc.) Write the owners and their percantage of shares in the business. Also indicate the location of your business.

Business Description:

Describe what your business does, define the problem it solves, and summarize the market needs it addresses. It’s the “elevator pitch” for your entire business.

Founding Team:

A short summary of founders’ backgrounds and relation with the business. Keep this 1-2 sentences short, you will give details in Management & Organization section later.

Industry Information and Market Opportunity:   

Provide a short information about the insdustry you are in (is it growing, is it shrinking, what is th CAGR, etc.) and your startup’s opportunity in going into this industry.  

Business Model:

A brief description of how your business will make money.

Vision & Mission

Clearly state the vision and mission of your business. This gives readers a sense of the company’s direction and its core values.

Funding Needs:

Provide a short information about how much Money you need, in which form (equity, debt, loan, etc.) and provide information about the use of funds; why are you asking this Money?

Part-2: Company Description

Legal structure.

Explain whether your business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC.

Business History:

If you are not just starting up, summarize your business’ history shortly, discussing significant milestones and achievements.

Location & Facilities

Describe the location of your business, if you have or will have any facialities, give details about them.

Business Objectives:

Your business will have short-term and long-term goals for sure. Here is the best part to write them. For e.g. in short term, you can aim to be a profitable venture in your area. As a long term goal, you can aim to expand your business to more attractive areas.

Problem Statement:

Stare the problem you’re solving.

Solution:   

Clearly describe how your product or service solves the problem. This is the reason your business exists.

Target Market:

Who you are aiming to sell your products or services. These are your target customers and the blood cells of your business.

Part-3: Market Analysis

Industry overview:.

Give a brief overview of your business industry do not forget to include current trends, challenges, and outlook about your industry for the upcoming years.

Define the specific customers your business aims to serve. Give information about their demographics, psychographics, and buying behaviors.

Competitors:

Identify your main competitors and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. This helps in positioning your business strategically in the market.

SWOT Analysis:

Here is a good place to make your SWOT analysis if you would like to include it into your business plan.

Part-4: Marketing and Sales Strategy

Marketing strategy.

Detail how you intend to reach your target audience. This includes advertising, PR, content marketing, social media, and more.

Sales Strategy

Discuss how you plan to convert leads into paying customers. This includes your sales funnel, pricing strategy, and sales team structure.

Part-5: Products or Services

Provide a detailed description of your product or service, highlighting features, benefits, prices, costs and what sets it apart from competitors.

If applicable, discuss the lifecycle of your product or any research and development activities.

Part-6: Management & Organization

Organizational structure.

Ilustrate the structure of your business, identifying key roles and their responsibilities.

Management Team

Introduce your management team, providing a brief background of each member and their relevance to the business.

Personnel Plan

Include an overview of the personnel list, how many employees you will employ, what are their costs, etc.

Part-7: Financial Projections

Startup costs.

For new businesses, provide a list of the initial costs required to start the business, including equipment, inventory, and licensing.

Revenue & Profit Forecasts

Provide a projection of your revenue and profit for the next three to five years, with a clear explanation of your assumptions.

Cash Flow Statement

This is a snapshot of your business’s cash inflows and outflows over a period, giving an insight into its financial health.

Part-8: Funding Request

If you’re seeking external funding, detail the amount of funding required, its purpose, and the type of funding you’re seeking (e.g., equity, loan).

Part-9: Appendix

Provide the necessary documents such as proforma financial tables, projections, assumptions, location maps, charts, graphs, images, cv’s of founders, etc.

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7 Key Components of a Precise Business Plan (2024)

Learn the art of entrepreneurship with a business plan. Dive into executive summaries, discover templates, and understand what to include for a strategic edge.

list at least ten components of a business plan

Hadar Peretz

7 minute read

What is a business plan

Short answer

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a strategic document outlining a company's vision, objectives, market analysis, marketing and sales strategies, organizational structure, and financial projections to guide its growth.

Innovation in Planning: The Untold Ingredient to Business Success

In the turbulent landscape of entrepreneurship, where over 20% of small ventures falter in their early days , this blog post sheds light on the importance of a well-structured business plan.

It delves into the specifics of an executive summary, steps, what to include, and innovation in business planning , guiding businesses to thrive rather than become failure statistics.

3 Main Purposes of a Business Plan

Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey without a business plan is like sailing in turbulent waters without a map.

A business plan serves three pivotal roles that steer the helm of a startup toward the shores of success.

1) Navigation Tool: Direction for Your Business

A business plan is your business’s North Star, providing direction and ensuring you stay on course amidst the storm of uncertainties.

Let’s take the example of “Bean There Coffee Shop,” a start-up that envisioned being a community hub. Their business plan outlined their mission, target market, competition analysis, and financial forecasts.

This helped them navigate the competition and establish a loyal customer base by providing a cozy ambiance that encouraged customer interaction.

2) Attraction for Investments: Encouraging Potential Investors

Your business plan is your passport to the realm of investors. Bean There Coffee Shop required a modern interior to reflect its brand's personality.

The detailed business plan showcased their unique selling proposition to investors, who were enticed by the predicted ROI and agreed to fund the renovations.

3) Measurement of Success: Evaluating Progress and Growth

A business plan sets a baseline to measure progress. Bean There Coffee Shop sets quarterly targets for customer retention and revenue in its business plan.

By comparing actual performance with the plan, they gauged their success and identified areas for improvement.

6 Key Elements of a Business Plan

Drafting a business plan might seem daunting initially, but breaking it down into core components makes it manageable and effective.

It’s about telling your business’s story in a compelling way to garner support and guide your actions.

1) Executive Summary

The executive summary is your business narrative condensed into a snapshot. For instance, the executive summary of Bean There Coffee Shop encapsulated its vision, mission, the experience it aimed to provide, and financial aspirations succinctly, giving readers an essence of what to expect in the subsequent sections.

For more information on executive summary design, delve into the design aspects of an executive summary. To glean insights on crafting a compelling and visually appealing executive summary for your startup venture.

2) Company Description

Delve into the what and why of your business. Bean There Coffee Shop described its longing to foster community interactions, reflecting its ethos in its service and interior design, resonating with the locals and creating a clientele.

3) Market Analysis

Understanding your market landscape is crucial. Analyze your competitors, the preferences of your target audience, and market trends.

For Bean There Coffee Shop, studying coffee consumption trends and identifying a locale lacking a community-centric cafe was a game-changer.

4) Organization and Management

Outline your business structure and team. Investors want to know who steers the ship.

At Bean There Coffee Shop, the experienced baristas and a seasoned manager showcased a competent team, instilling confidence in potential investors.

5) Product Line

Describe your offerings. Bean There Coffee Shop highlighted its organic coffee and locally sourced pastries, striking a chord with environmentally conscious consumers.

6) Marketing and Sales

How you plan to lure customers and keep them coming back is vital. Bean There Coffee Shop’s loyalty programs and community events were a hit, creating a buzz and building a loyal customer base.

What is a Business Plan in Entrepreneurship?

In the realm of entrepreneurship, a business plan goes beyond being just a document—it is a vibrant testament to your business vision and the roadmap illustrating how you aim to overcome challenges and achieve your objectives.

It's like the script of your entrepreneurial saga waiting to unfold.

A Framework for Strategy

A business plan embodies the strategy and operations of your entrepreneurial endeavor. Here's a simplified breakdown of what it may encompass:

Market Analysis: A thorough exploration of the market including size, demographics, and consumer behaviors.

Competitor Analysis: A detailed examination of competitors, their strengths, weaknesses, and market position.

Marketing Strategy: Tactics and channels you plan to use to promote your business.

Financial Projections: Anticipated income, expenses, and profitability over a certain period.

Risk Management

Venturing into entrepreneurship is akin to navigating turbulent waters, where risks are inevitable. A business plan aids in:

Identifying Potential Risks: Whether it's market fluctuation or operational challenges, a business plan helps in foreseeing possible hurdles.

Devising Contingency Plans: Strategies to mitigate identified risks, ensuring the business stays on the right track.

For instance, a cafe's business plan might highlight the risk of decreased foot traffic during winter months and propose hosting indoor events or offering seasonal promotions to maintain revenue.

Communication with Stakeholders

A business plan serves as a conduit between entrepreneurs and stakeholders, articulating the business vision, goals, and strategies.

When seeking investments for expansion, a well-drafted business plan can effectively communicate the growth potential and return on investment to investors, facilitating the funding process.

7 Steps of a Business Plan

Creating a business plan is a blend of art and science, distilled into seven systematic steps to ensure your entrepreneurial venture is on a trajectory toward success.

1) Research, Research, and Research

Before you set pen to paper, immerse yourself in thorough research about your industry, market, and competition. This step lays the groundwork for informed decision-making as you progress through subsequent stages of business planning.

Industry Insights: Delve into current industry trends, challenges, and opportunities to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Market Dynamics: Explore market demographics, customer preferences, and purchasing behaviors to tailor your business approach.

Competitor Analysis: Assess the strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning of competitors to identify your business’s unique selling proposition.

2) Defining Your Business Objectives

Having clear objectives is crucial. Whether it's capturing market share, hitting revenue targets, or achieving expansion goals, defining these objectives paves the way for a focused strategy.

Establishing well-defined objectives also serves as a yardstick for measuring your business’s performance over time.

3) Company Description

Articulate the ethos, offerings, and unique value proposition of your business.

Providing a compelling company description helps stakeholders, including potential investors and employees, to grasp your business's mission and the problems it aims to solve

4) Market Analysis

Delve into market trends, customer behavior, and competition analysis to tailor your strategies.

A robust market analysis provides the data necessary to target your audience effectively and position your business for success in a competitive landscape.

5) Organization and Management

Detail your organizational structure, key team members, and their expertise.

Illustrating a solid organizational structure demonstrates your business’s capacity to execute its strategies and achieve its objectives.

6) Service or Product Line

Describe your products or services, highlighting the benefits to customers. Detailing the attributes and advantages of your offerings allows stakeholders to understand the value your business brings to the market.

7. Marketing and Sales

Illustrate your marketing and sales strategy to attract and retain customers.

Outlining clear strategies for marketing and sales is crucial for driving business growth and achieving your financial objectives.

Market Positioning: Define how your products or services will be positioned in the market and how you intend to differentiate your offerings from competitors.

Promotional Strategies: Outline the various promotional tactics you will employ, such as social media marketing, search engine optimization, and paid advertising.

Sales Process: Describe the steps of your sales process from lead generation to closing sales, and identify the metrics you will use to measure sales effectiveness.

Customer Retention: Highlight the strategies for customer retention such as loyalty programs, excellent customer service, and regular engagement to keep customers coming back.

Pricing Strategy: Determine the pricing strategy that will be most effective for your market, considering factors like cost, competition, and perceived value.

Time to Master Your Business Pitch

Now that you have a robust business plan, it’s time to translate it into a compelling business pitch.

The mastery of your pitch lies in knowing your audience, presenting data compellingly, and choosing the right format for resonance.

Understanding Audience Expectations

Understanding your audience is pivotal. Tailoring your pitch to meet the expectations of investors, potential partners, or customers enhances its effectiveness significantly.

Here’s our CEO, Itai Amoza, discussing the key elements that make a presentation engaging:

How to make a presentation engaging

Emphasizing Data Visualization for a Better Appeal

Visual presentation of data, through graphs or charts, can make complex information easily digestible.

Using the right data visualization tools can effectively narrate the story of your venture compellingly.

PDF (conservative) vs. Interactive

Choosing between a traditional PDF or interactive presentations like those on Storydoc or PowerPoint can significantly impact the engagement level of your audience.

Interactive formats allow for dynamic presentations with embedded videos and other multimedia elements making your pitch more engaging and memorable.

list at least ten components of a business plan

Consider Business Plan One-pager

Creating a one-page business plan rather than a multi-page business plan involves summarizing your business's essential aspects concisely.

This includes your value proposition, company overview, market analysis, the problem and solution, marketing strategy, financial projections, and a call to action for potential investors or partners.

Ready to Narrate Your Story? Begin with This Business Plan Template

Ah, the exhilarating journey of a startup. It's like crafting a story, with characters, plots, and a dash of suspense on what the next chapter brings.

Now, before you get swept away in this narrative, remember, that every good story needs a structured outline, and in the startup world, that outline is your business plan.

Pick a business plan one-pager template:

Create story from scratch

 business plan one pager presentation template

I am a Marketing Specialist at Storydoc, I research, analyze and write on our core topics of business presentations, sales, and fundraising. I love talking to clients about their successes and failures so I can get a rounded understanding of their world.

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Things you need in a business plan

8 Things You Need in a Business Plan

The Harvard Business Review says a good business plan is super important for entrepreneurs. It’s like a guide for them in the tricky world of business. The plan has different parts, and each part is like a piece of the puzzle for success.

components of business plan

For example, there’s the short and powerful Executive Summary that tells the most important things about the business. Then, there’s the smart Market Analysis that helps you understand what customers want.

All of these parts work together to make a strong plan. So, let’s take a closer look at these important pieces that help turn business dreams into successful reality.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a detailed document that explains how a business works and what it aims to achieve. It outlines the business’s goals, strategies , and resources. It’s like a roadmap for the business, helping it stay on course and navigate challenges.

 The plan typically includes sections about the business’s description , market research , marketing and sales strategies, operations, management, and financial projections .

 Entrepreneurs use it to clarify their vision, secure funding, and measure progress. It’s a crucial tool for anyone starting or running a business, helping them make informed decisions and work toward success.

Need assistance in writing a business plan?

Contact our award-winning business plan writers now!

Eight Key Components of Business Plans

Crafting a business plan is akin to laying the foundation for a grand architectural masterpiece. It’s your roadmap to success, a strategic blueprint that breathes life into your entrepreneurial dreams. Allow me to take you on a journey through the essential components of this vital document.

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Description
  • Market Analysis
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy
  • Operations Plan
  • Management and Organization
  • Financial Plan

1. Executive Summary

Picture this as the dazzling opening act of your business plan, where you showcase your vision, mission, and why your venture is destined for greatness. It’s a compelling glimpse into the heart and soul of your business.

It’s like a short summary of your business, including what it does and what makes it special.

  • Advice: Keep it concise and engaging. Think of it as a teaser that makes people want to read more. Highlight what makes your business unique.

2. Business Description

Here, we dive deep into the DNA of your business. You’ll spill the beans on what you do, your industry, your history, and your grand plans for the future. It’s a snapshot that captures the essence of your business.

This part explains your business in detail, like what it sells, the industry it’s in, and its history.

  • Advice: Be clear about what your business does and why it matters. Describe your industry and explain how your business fits into it.

Free Example Business Plans

Explore our free business plan samples now!

3. Market Analysis

This section is where we turn detective. We unearth market trends, study customer behaviors, and dissect your competitors. It’s a treasure trove of insights that helps you navigate the marketplace.

Here, you look at the market your business is in. You study things like customer behavior and what other businesses are doing.

  • Advice: Research thoroughly. Understand your customers’ needs and your competition. Show that you know your market inside and out.

4. Marketing and Sales Strategy

Imagine this as the stage where you reveal your magic tricks. Here, you outline how you’ll entice and retain your customers. It’s where the art of attracting and selling meets strategy.

This section talks about how you’ll get customers and sell your products or services.

  • Advice: Outline your plan for attracting customers and selling your products or services. Focus on how you’ll reach your target audience and convince them to buy from you.

5. Operations Plan

Ever wondered how the show runs backstage? This is where you spill the beans. From location to logistics, it’s the nitty-gritty of daily operations. It’s the backbone that keeps your business standing tall.

It’s about how your business will work day-to-day, like where you’ll be located and how you’ll make your products.

Advice: Detail how your business will operate day-to-day. Discuss your location, equipment, suppliers, and how you’ll ensure quality.

6. Management and Organization

Introducing the cast and crew of your business. Who’s in charge? What’s their expertise? It’s where you showcase your dream team and the hierarchy that keeps everything in check.

This part introduces the people running the business and how it’s organized.

  • Advice: Introduce your team and their qualifications. Explain who’s in charge and how your business is structured.

7. Financial Plan

This section is your crystal ball into the future. It predicts your financial performance, balances your books, and forecasts cash flows. Investors love it, and you will too.

It’s like a prediction of how much money your business will make and spend in the future.

Advice: Be realistic with your financial projections. Include income, expenses, and cash flow predictions. Show how you’ll make a profit.

8. Appendix

This is your secret stash. All those extra documents, licenses, contracts, and accolades find their home here. It’s the vault of credibility that adds weight to your plan.

This is where you put extra documents like licenses, contracts, and other important stuff.

  • Advice: Use this section for supporting documents. Include licenses, contracts, and anything that adds credibility to your plan.

Hire our professional business plan writing consultants now!

Remember, your business plan isn’t set in stone. It’s a living, breathing document that evolves with your journey. It’s your guiding star, your go-to reference, and your pitch to investors, all rolled into one.

With a well-crafted business plan, you’re equipped to clarify your vision, rally support from investors, and steer your venture to success. So, let’s get started on your masterpiece!

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Elements of a Business Plan There are seven major sections of a business plan, and each one is a complex document. Read this selection from our business plan tutorial to fully understand these components.

Now that you understand why you need a business plan and you've spent some time doing your homework gathering the information you need to create one, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get everything down on paper. The following pages will describe in detail the seven essential sections of a business plan: what you should include, what you shouldn't include, how to work the numbers and additional resources you can turn to for help. With that in mind, jump right in.

Executive Summary

Within the overall outline of the business plan, the executive summary will follow the title page. The summary should tell the reader what you want. This is very important. All too often, what the business owner desires is buried on page eight. Clearly state what you're asking for in the summary.

The statement should be kept short and businesslike, probably no more than half a page. It could be longer, depending on how complicated the use of funds may be, but the summary of a business plan, like the summary of a loan application, is generally no longer than one page. Within that space, you'll need to provide a synopsis of your entire business plan. Key elements that should be included are:

  • Business concept. Describes the business, its product and the market it will serve. It should point out just exactly what will be sold, to whom and why the business will hold a competitive advantage.
  • Financial features. Highlights the important financial points of the business including sales, profits, cash flows and return on investment.
  • Financial requirements. Clearly states the capital needed to start the business and to expand. It should detail how the capital will be used, and the equity, if any, that will be provided for funding. If the loan for initial capital will be based on security instead of equity, you should also specify the source of collateral.
  • Current business position. Furnishes relevant information about the company, its legal form of operation, when it was formed, the principal owners and key personnel.
  • Major achievements. Details any developments within the company that are essential to the success of the business. Major achievements include items like patents, prototypes, location of a facility, any crucial contracts that need to be in place for product development, or results from any test marketing that has been conducted.

When writing your statement of purpose, don't waste words. If the statement of purpose is eight pages, nobody's going to read it because it'll be very clear that the business, no matter what its merits, won't be a good investment because the principals are indecisive and don't really know what they want. Make it easy for the reader to realize at first glance both your needs and capabilities.

Business Description

Tell them all about it.

The business description usually begins with a short description of the industry. When describing the industry, discuss the present outlook as well as future possibilities. You should also provide information on all the various markets within the industry, including any new products or developments that will benefit or adversely affect your business. Base all of your observations on reliable data and be sure to footnote sources of information as appropriate. This is important if you're seeking funding; the investor will want to know just how dependable your information is, and won't risk money on assumptions or conjecture.

When describing your business, the first thing you need to concentrate on is its structure. By structure we mean the type of operation, i.e. wholesale, retail, food service, manufacturing or service-oriented. Also state whether the business is new or already established.

In addition to structure, legal form should be reiterated once again. Detail whether the business is a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation, who its principals are, and what they will bring to the business.

You should also mention who you will sell to, how the product will be distributed, and the business's support systems. Support may come in the form of advertising, promotions and customer service.

Once you've described the business, you need to describe the products or services you intend to market. The product description statement should be complete enough to give the reader a clear idea of your intentions. You may want to emphasize any unique features or variations from concepts that can typically be found in the industry.

Be specific in showing how you will give your business a competitive edge. For example, your business will be better because you will supply a full line of products; competitor A doesn't have a full line. You're going to provide service after the sale; competitor B doesn't support anything he sells. Your merchandise will be of higher quality. You'll give a money-back guarantee. Competitor C has the reputation for selling the best French fries in town; you're going to sell the best Thousand Island dressing.

How Will I Profit?

Now you must be a classic capitalist and ask yourself, "How can I turn a buck? And why do I think I can make a profit that way?" Answer that question for yourself, and then convey that answer to others in the business concept section. You don't have to write 25 pages on why your business will be profitable. Just explain the factors you think will make it successful, like the following: it's a well-organized business, it will have state-of-the-art equipment, its location is exceptional, the market is ready for it, and it's a dynamite product at a fair price.

If you're using your business plan as a document for financial purposes, explain why the added equity or debt money is going to make your business more profitable.

Show how you will expand your business or be able to create something by using that money.

Show why your business is going to be profitable. A potential lender is going to want to know how successful you're going to be in this particular business. Factors that support your claims for success can be mentioned briefly; they will be detailed later. Give the reader an idea of the experience of the other key people in the business. They'll want to know what suppliers or experts you've spoken to about your business and their response to your idea. They may even ask you to clarify your choice of location or reasons for selling this particular product.

The business description can be a few paragraphs in length to a few pages, depending on the complexity of your plan. If your plan isn't too complicated, keep your business description short, describing the industry in one paragraph, the product in another, and the business and its success factors in three or four paragraphs that will end the statement.

While you may need to have a lengthy business description in some cases, it's our opinion that a short statement conveys the required information in a much more effective manner. It doesn't attempt to hold the reader's attention for an extended period of time, and this is important if you're presenting to a potential investor who will have other plans he or she will need to read as well. If the business description is long and drawn-out, you'll lose the reader's attention, and possibly any chance of receiving the necessary funding for the project.

Market Strategies

Define your market.

Market strategies are the result of a meticulous market analysis. A market analysis forces the entrepreneur to become familiar with all aspects of the market so that the target market can be defined and the company can be positioned in order to garner its share of sales. A market analysis also enables the entrepreneur to establish pricing, distribution and promotional strategies that will allow the company to become profitable within a competitive environment. In addition, it provides an indication of the growth potential within the industry, and this will allow you to develop your own estimates for the future of your business.

Begin your market analysis by defining the market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends and sales potential.

The total aggregate sales of your competitors will provide you with a fairly accurate estimate of the total potential market. Once the size of the market has been determined, the next step is to define the target market. The target market narrows down the total market by concentrating on segmentation factors that will determine the total addressable market--the total number of users within the sphere of the business's influence. The segmentation factors can be geographic, customer attributes or product-oriented.

For instance, if the distribution of your product is confined to a specific geographic area, then you want to further define the target market to reflect the number of users or sales of that product within that geographic segment.

Once the target market has been detailed, it needs to be further defined to determine the total feasible market. This can be done in several ways, but most professional planners will delineate the feasible market by concentrating on product segmentation factors that may produce gaps within the market. In the case of a microbrewery that plans to brew a premium lager beer, the total feasible market could be defined by determining how many drinkers of premium pilsner beers there are in the target market.

It's important to understand that the total feasible market is the portion of the market that can be captured provided every condition within the environment is perfect and there is very little competition. In most industries this is simply not the case. There are other factors that will affect the share of the feasible market a business can reasonably obtain. These factors are usually tied to the structure of the industry, the impact of competition, strategies for market penetration and continued growth, and the amount of capital the business is willing to spend in order to increase its market share.

Projecting Market Share

Arriving at a projection of the market share for a business plan is very much a subjective estimate. It's based on not only an analysis of the market but on highly targeted and competitive distribution, pricing and promotional strategies. For instance, even though there may be a sizable number of premium pilsner drinkers to form the total feasible market, you need to be able to reach them through your distribution network at a price point that's competitive, and then you have to let them know it's available and where they can buy it. How effectively you can achieve your distribution, pricing and promotional goals determines the extent to which you will be able to garner market share.

For a business plan, you must be able to estimate market share for the time period the plan will cover. In order to project market share over the time frame of the business plan, you'll need to consider two factors:

  • Industry growth which will increase the total number of users. Most projections utilize a minimum of two growth models by defining different industry sales scenarios. The industry sales scenarios should be based on leading indicators of industry sales, which will most likely include industry sales, industry segment sales, demographic data and historical precedence.
  • Conversion of users from the total feasible market. This is based on a sales cycle similar to a product life cycle where you have five distinct stages: early pioneer users, early users, early majority users, late majority users and late users. Using conversion rates, market growth will continue to increase your market share during the period from early pioneers to early majority users, level off through late majority users, and decline with late users.

Defining the market is but one step in your analysis. With the information you've gained through market research, you need to develop strategies that will allow you to fulfill your objectives.

Positioning Your Business

When discussing market strategy, it's inevitable that positioning will be brought up. A company's positioning strategy is affected by a number of variables that are closely tied to the motivations and requirements of target customers within as well as the actions of primary competitors.

Before a product can be positioned, you need to answer several strategic questions such as:

  • How are your competitors positioning themselves?
  • What specific attributes does your product have that your competitors' don't?
  • What customer needs does your product fulfill?

Once you've answered your strategic questions based on research of the market, you can then begin to develop your positioning strategy and illustrate that in your business plan. A positioning statement for a business plan doesn't have to be long or elaborate. It should merely point out exactly how you want your product perceived by both customers and the competition.

How you price your product is important because it will have a direct effect on the success of your business. Though pricing strategy and computations can be complex, the basic rules of pricing are straightforward:

  • All prices must cover costs.
  • The best and most effective way of lowering your sales prices is to lower costs.
  • Your prices must reflect the dynamics of cost, demand, changes in the market and response to your competition.
  • Prices must be established to assure sales. Don't price against a competitive operation alone. Rather, price to sell.
  • Product utility, longevity, maintenance and end use must be judged continually, and target prices adjusted accordingly.
  • Prices must be set to preserve order in the marketplace.

There are many methods of establishing prices available to you:

  • Cost-plus pricing. Used mainly by manufacturers, cost-plus pricing assures that all costs, both fixed and variable, are covered and the desired profit percentage is attained.
  • Demand pricing. Used by companies that sell their product through a variety of sources at differing prices based on demand.
  • Competitive pricing. Used by companies that are entering a market where there is already an established price and it is difficult to differentiate one product from another.
  • Markup pricing. Used mainly by retailers, markup pricing is calculated by adding your desired profit to the cost of the product. Each method listed above has its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Distribution

Distribution includes the entire process of moving the product from the factory to the end user. The type of distribution network you choose will depend upon the industry and the size of the market. A good way to make your decision is to analyze your competitors to determine the channels they are using, then decide whether to use the same type of channel or an alternative that may provide you with a strategic advantage.

Some of the more common distribution channels include:

  • Direct sales. The most effective distribution channel is to sell directly to the end-user.
  • OEM (original equipment manufacturer) sales. When your product is sold to the OEM, it is incorporated into their finished product and it is distributed to the end user.
  • Manufacturer's representatives. One of the best ways to distribute a product, manufacturer's reps, as they are known, are salespeople who operate out of agencies that handle an assortment of complementary products and divide their selling time among them.
  • Wholesale distributors. Using this channel, a manufacturer sells to a wholesaler, who in turn sells it to a retailer or other agent for further distribution through the channel until it reaches the end user.
  • Brokers. Third-party distributors who often buy directly from the distributor or wholesaler and sell to retailers or end users.
  • Retail distributors. Distributing a product through this channel is important if the end user of your product is the general consuming public.
  • Direct Mail. Selling to the end user using a direct mail campaign.

As we've mentioned already, the distribution strategy you choose for your product will be based on several factors that include the channels being used by your competition, your pricing strategy and your own internal resources.

Promotion Plan

With a distribution strategy formed, you must develop a promotion plan. The promotion strategy in its most basic form is the controlled distribution of communication designed to sell your product or service. In order to accomplish this, the promotion strategy encompasses every marketing tool utilized in the communication effort. This includes:

  • Advertising. Includes the advertising budget, creative message(s), and at least the first quarter's media schedule.
  • Packaging. Provides a description of the packaging strategy. If available, mockups of any labels, trademarks or service marks should be included.
  • Public relations. A complete account of the publicity strategy including a list of media that will be approached as well as a schedule of planned events.
  • Sales promotions. Establishes the strategies used to support the sales message. This includes a description of collateral marketing material as well as a schedule of planned promotional activities such as special sales, coupons, contests and premium awards.
  • Personal sales. An outline of the sales strategy including pricing procedures, returns and adjustment rules, sales presentation methods, lead generation, customer service policies, salesperson compensation, and salesperson market responsibilities.

Sales Potential

Once the market has been researched and analyzed, conclusions need to be developed that will supply a quantitative outlook concerning the potential of the business. The first financial projection within the business plan must be formed utilizing the information drawn from defining the market, positioning the product, pricing, distribution, and strategies for sales. The sales or revenue model charts the potential for the product, as well as the business, over a set period of time. Most business plans will project revenue for up to three years, although five-year projections are becoming increasingly popular among lenders.

When developing the revenue model for the business plan, the equation used to project sales is fairly simple. It consists of the total number of customers and the average revenue from each customer. In the equation, "T" represents the total number of people, "A" represents the average revenue per customer, and "S" represents the sales projection. The equation for projecting sales is: (T)(A) = S

Using this equation, the annual sales for each year projected within the business plan can be developed. Of course, there are other factors that you'll need to evaluate from the revenue model. Since the revenue model is a table illustrating the source for all income, every segment of the target market that is treated differently must be accounted for. In order to determine any differences, the various strategies utilized in order to sell the product have to be considered. As we've already mentioned, those strategies include distribution, pricing and promotion.

Competitive Analysis

Identify and analyze your competition.

The competitive analysis is a statement of the business strategy and how it relates to the competition. The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle.

The first step in a competitor analysis is to identify the current and potential competition. There are essentially two ways you can identify competitors. The first is to look at the market from the customer's viewpoint and group all your competitors by the degree to which they contend for the buyer's dollar. The second method is to group competitors according to their various competitive strategies so you understand what motivates them.

Once you've grouped your competitors, you can start to analyze their strategies and identify the areas where they're most vulnerable. This can be done through an examination of your competitors' weaknesses and strengths. A competitor's strengths and weaknesses are usually based on the presence and absence of key assets and skills needed to compete in the market.

To determine just what constitutes a key asset or skill within an industry, David A. Aaker in his book, Developing Business Strategies , suggests concentrating your efforts in four areas:

  • The reasons behind successful as well as unsuccessful firms
  • Prime customer motivators
  • Major component costs
  • Industry mobility barriers

According to theory, the performance of a company within a market is directly related to the possession of key assets and skills. Therefore, an analysis of strong performers should reveal the causes behind such a successful track record. This analysis, in conjunction with an examination of unsuccessful companies and the reasons behind their failure, should provide a good idea of just what key assets and skills are needed to be successful within a given industry and market segment.

Through your competitor analysis, you will also have to create a marketing strategy that will generate an asset or skill competitors don't have, which will provide you with a distinct and enduring competitive advantage. Since competitive advantages are developed from key assets and skills, you should sit down and put together a competitive strength grid. This is a scale that lists all your major competitors or strategic groups based upon their applicable assets and skills and how your own company fits on this scale.

Create a Competitive Strength Grid

To put together a competitive strength grid, list all the key assets and skills down the left margin of a piece of paper. Along the top, write down two column headers: "weakness" and "strength." In each asset or skill category, place all the competitors that have weaknesses in that particular category under the weakness column, and all those that have strengths in that specific category in the strength column. After you've finished, you'll be able to determine just where you stand in relation to the other firms competing in your industry.

Once you've established the key assets and skills necessary to succeed in this business and have defined your distinct competitive advantage, you need to communicate them in a strategic form that will attract market share as well as defend it. Competitive strategies usually fall into these five areas:

  • Advertising

Many of the factors leading to the formation of a strategy should already have been highlighted in previous sections, specifically in marketing strategies. Strategies primarily revolve around establishing the point of entry in the product life cycle and an endurable competitive advantage. As we've already discussed, this involves defining the elements that will set your product or service apart from your competitors or strategic groups. You need to establish this competitive advantage clearly so the reader understands not only how you will accomplish your goals, but also why your strategy will work.

Design and Development Plan

What you'll cover in this section.

The purpose of the design and development plan section is to provide investors with a description of the product's design, chart its development within the context of production, marketing and the company itself, and create a development budget that will enable the company to reach its goals.

There are generally three areas you'll cover in the development plan section:

  • Product development
  • Market development
  • Organizational development

Each of these elements needs to be examined from the funding of the plan to the point where the business begins to experience a continuous income. Although these elements will differ in nature concerning their content, each will be based on structure and goals.

The first step in the development process is setting goals for the overall development plan. From your analysis of the market and competition, most of the product, market and organizational development goals will be readily apparent. Each goal you define should have certain characteristics. Your goals should be quantifiable in order to set up time lines, directed so they relate to the success of the business, consequential so they have impact upon the company, and feasible so that they aren't beyond the bounds of actual completion.

Goals For Product Development

Goals for product development should center on the technical as well as the marketing aspects of the product so that you have a focused outline from which the development team can work. For example, a goal for product development of a microbrewed beer might be "Produce recipe for premium lager beer" or "Create packaging for premium lager beer." In terms of market development, a goal might be, "Develop collateral marketing material." Organizational goals would center on the acquisition of expertise in order to attain your product and market-development goals. This expertise usually needs to be present in areas of key assets that provide a competitive advantage. Without the necessary expertise, the chances of bringing a product successfully to market diminish.

With your goals set and expertise in place, you need to form a set of procedural tasks or work assignments for each area of the development plan. Procedures will have to be developed for product development, market development, and organization development. In some cases, product and organization can be combined if the list of procedures is short enough.

Procedures should include how resources will be allocated, who is in charge of accomplishing each goal, and how everything will interact. For example, to produce a recipe for a premium lager beer, you would need to do the following:

  • Gather ingredients.
  • Determine optimum malting process.
  • Gauge mashing temperature.
  • Boil wort and evaluate which hops provide the best flavor.
  • Determine yeast amounts and fermentation period.
  • Determine aging period.
  • Carbonate the beer.
  • Decide whether or not to pasteurize the beer.

The development of procedures provides a list of work assignments that need to be accomplished, but one thing it doesn't provide are the stages of development that coordinate the work assignments within the overall development plan. To do this, you first need to amend the work assignments created in the procedures section so that all the individual work elements are accounted for in the development plan. The next stage involves setting deliverable dates for components as well as the finished product for testing purposes. There are primarily three steps you need to go through before the product is ready for final delivery:

  • Preliminary product review . All the product's features and specifications are checked.
  • Critical product review . All the key elements of the product are checked and gauged against the development schedule to make sure everything is going according to plan.
  • Final product review . All elements of the product are checked against goals to assure the integrity of the prototype.

Scheduling and Costs

This is one of the most important elements in the development plan. Scheduling includes all of the key work elements as well as the stages the product must pass through before customer delivery. It should also be tied to the development budget so that expenses can be tracked. But its main purpose is to establish time frames for completion of all work assignments and juxtapose them within the stages through which the product must pass. When producing the schedule, provide a column for each procedural task, how long it takes, start date and stop date. If you want to provide a number for each task, include a column in the schedule for the task number.

Development Budget

That leads us into a discussion of the development budget. When forming your development budget, you need to take into account all the expenses required to design the product and to take it from prototype to production.

Costs that should be included in the development budget include:

  • Material . All raw materials used in the development of the product.
  • Direct labor . All labor costs associated with the development of the product.
  • Overhead . All overhead expenses required to operate the business during the development phase such as taxes, rent, phone, utilities, office supplies, etc.
  • G&A costs . The salaries of executive and administrative personnel along with any other office support functions.
  • Marketing & sales . The salaries of marketing personnel required to develop pre-promotional materials and plan the marketing campaign that should begin prior to delivery of the product.
  • Professional services . Those costs associated with the consultation of outside experts such as accountants, lawyers, and business consultants.
  • Miscellaneous Costs . Costs that are related to product development.
  • Capital equipment . To determine the capital requirements for the development budget, you first have to establish what type of equipment you will need, whether you will acquire the equipment or use outside contractors, and finally, if you decide to acquire the equipment, whether you will lease or purchase it.

As we mentioned already, the company has to have the proper expertise in key areas to succeed; however, not every company will start a business with the expertise required in every key area. Therefore, the proper personnel have to be recruited, integrated into the development process, and managed so that everyone forms a team focused on the achievement of the development goals.

Before you begin recruiting, however, you should determine which areas within the development process will require the addition of personnel. This can be done by reviewing the goals of your development plan to establish key areas that need attention. After you have an idea of the positions that need to be filled, you should produce a job description and job specification.

Once you've hired the proper personnel, you need to integrate them into the development process by assigning tasks from the work assignments you've developed. Finally, the whole team needs to know what their role is within the company and how each interrelates with every position within the development team. In order to do this, you should develop an organizational chart for your development team.

Assessing Risks

Finally, the risks involved in developing the product should be assessed and a plan developed to address each one. The risks during the development stage will usually center on technical development of the product, marketing, personnel requirements, and financial problems. By identifying and addressing each of the perceived risks during the development period, you will allay some of your major fears concerning the project and those of investors as well.

Operations & Management

The operations and management plan is designed to describe just how the business functions on a continuing basis. The operations plan will highlight the logistics of the organization such as the various responsibilities of the management team, the tasks assigned to each division within the company, and capital and expense requirements related to the operations of the business. In fact, within the operations plan you'll develop the next set of financial tables that will supply the foundation for the "Financial Components" section.

The financial tables that you'll develop within the operations plan include:

  • The operating expense table
  • The capital requirements table
  • The cost of goods table

There are two areas that need to be accounted for when planning the operations of your company. The first area is the organizational structure of the company, and the second is the expense and capital requirements associated with its operation.

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure of the company is an essential element within a business plan because it provides a basis from which to project operating expenses. This is critical to the formation of financial statements, which are heavily scrutinized by investors; therefore, the organizational structure has to be well-defined and based within a realistic framework given the parameters of the business.

Although every company will differ in its organizational structure, most can be divided into several broad areas that include:

  • Marketing and sales (includes customer relations and service)
  • Production (including quality assurance)
  • Research and development
  • Administration

These are very broad classifications and it's important to keep in mind that not every business can be divided in this manner. In fact, every business is different, and each one must be structured according to its own requirements and goals.

The four stages for organizing a business are:

Calculate Your Personnel Numbers

Once you've structured your business, however, you need to consider your overall goals and the number of personnel required to reach those goals. In order to determine the number of employees you'll need to meet the goals you've set for your business, you'll need to apply the following equation to each department listed in your organizational structure: C / S = P

In this equation, C represents the total number of customers, S represents the total number of customers that can be served by each employee, and P represents the personnel requirements. For instance, if the number of customers for first year sales is projected at 10,110 and one marketing employee is required for every 200 customers, you would need 51 employees within the marketing department: 10,110 / 200 = 51

Once you calculate the number of employees that you'll need for your organization, you'll need to determine the labor expense. The factors that need to be considered when calculating labor expense (LE) are the personnel requirements (P) for each department multiplied by the employee salary level (SL). Therefore, the equation would be: P * SL = LE

Using the marketing example from above, the labor expense for that department would be: 51 * $40,000 = $2,040,000

Calculate Overhead Expenses

Once the organization's operations have been planned, the expenses associated with the operation of the business can be developed. These are usually referred to as overhead expenses. Overhead expenses refer to all non-labor expenses required to operate the business. Expenses can be divided into fixed (those that must be paid, usually at the same rate, regardless of the volume of business) and variable or semivariable (those which change according to the amount of business).

Overhead expenses usually include the following:

  • Maintenance and repair
  • Equipment leases
  • Advertising & promotion
  • Packaging & shipping
  • Payroll taxes and benefits
  • Uncollectible receivables
  • Professional services
  • Loan payments
  • Depreciation

In order to develop the overhead expenses for the expense table used in this portion of the business plan, you need to multiply the number of employees by the expenses associated with each employee. Therefore, if NE represents the number of employees and EE is the expense per employee, the following equation can be used to calculate the sum of each overhead (OH) expense: OH = NE * EE

Develop a Capital Requirements Table

In addition to the expense table, you'll also need to develop a capital requirements table that depicts the amount of money necessary to purchase the equipment you'll use to establish and continue operations. It also illustrates the amount of depreciation your company will incur based on all equipment elements purchased with a lifetime of more than one year.

In order to generate the capital requirements table, you first have to establish the various elements within the business that will require capital investment. For service businesses, capital is usually tied to the various pieces of equipment used to service customers.

Capital for manufacturing companies, on the other hand, is based on the equipment required in order to produce the product. Manufacturing equipment usually falls into three categories: testing equipment, assembly equipment and packaging equipment.

With these capital elements in mind, you need to determine the number of units or customers, in terms of sales, that each equipment item can adequately handle. This is important because capital requirements are a product of income, which is produced through unit sales. In order to meet sales projections, a business usually has to invest money to increase production or supply better service. In the business plan, capital requirements are tied to projected sales as illustrated in the revenue model shown earlier in this chapter.

For instance, if the capital equipment required is capable of handling the needs of 10,000 customers at an average sale of $10 each, that would be $100,000 in sales, at which point additional capital will be required in order to purchase more equipment should the company grow beyond this point. This leads us to another factor within the capital requirements equation, and that is equipment cost.

If you multiply the cost of equipment by the number of customers it can support in terms of sales, it would result in the capital requirements for that particular equipment element. Therefore, you can use an equation in which capital requirements (CR) equals sales (S) divided by number of customers (NC) supported by each equipment element, multiplied by the average sale (AS), which is then multiplied by the capital cost (CC) of the equipment element. Given these parameters, your equation would look like the following: CR = [(S / NC) * AS] * CC

The capital requirements table is formed by adding all your equipment elements to generate the total new capital for that year. During the first year, total new capital is also the total capital required. For each successive year thereafter, total capital (TC) required is the sum of total new capital (NC) plus total capital (PC) from the previous year, less depreciation (D), once again, from the previous year. Therefore, your equation to arrive at total capital for each year portrayed in the capital requirements model would be: TC = NC + PC - D

Keep in mind that depreciation is an expense that shows the decrease in value of the equipment throughout its effective lifetime. For many businesses, depreciation is based upon schedules that are tied to the lifetime of the equipment. Be careful when choosing the schedule that best fits your business. Depreciation is also the basis for a tax deduction as well as the flow of money for new capital. You may need to seek consultation from an expert in this area.

Create a Cost of Goods Table

The last table that needs to be generated in the operations and management section of your business plan is the cost of goods table. This table is used only for businesses where the product is placed into inventory. For a retail or wholesale business, cost of goods sold --or cost of sales --refers to the purchase of products for resale, i.e. the inventory. The products that are sold are logged into cost of goods as an expense of the sale, while those that aren't sold remain in inventory.

For a manufacturing firm, cost of goods is the cost incurred by the company to manufacture its product. This usually consists of three elements:

As in retail, the merchandise that is sold is expensed as a cost of goods , while merchandise that isn't sold is placed in inventory. Cost of goods has to be accounted for in the operations of a business. It is an important yardstick for measuring the firm's profitability for the cash-flow statement and income statement.

In the income statement, the last stage of the manufacturing process is the item expensed as cost of goods, but it is important to document the inventory still in various stages of the manufacturing process because it represents assets to the company. This is important to determining cash flow and to generating the balance sheet.

That is what the cost of goods table does. It's one of the most complicated tables you'll have to develop for your business plan, but it's an integral part of portraying the flow of inventory through your operations, the placement of assets within the company, and the rate at which your inventory turns.

In order to generate the cost of goods table, you need a little more information in addition to what your labor and material cost is per unit. You also need to know the total number of units sold for the year, the percentage of units which will be fully assembled, the percentage which will be partially assembled, and the percentage which will be in unassembled inventory. Much of these figures will depend on the capacity of your equipment as well as on the inventory control system you develop. Along with these factors, you also need to know at what stage the majority of the labor is performed.

Financial Components

Financial statements to include.

Financial data is always at the back of the business plan, but that doesn't mean it's any less important than up-front material such as the business concept and the management team. Astute investors look carefully at the charts, tables, formulas and spreadsheets in the financial section, because they know that this information is like the pulse, respiration rate and blood pressure in a human--it shows whether the patient is alive and what the odds are for continued survival.

Financial statements, like bad news, come in threes. The news in financial statements isn't always bad, of course, but taken together it provides an accurate picture of a company's current value, plus its ability to pay its bills today and earn a profit going forward.

The three common statements are a cash flow statement, an income statement and a balance sheet. Most entrepreneurs should provide them and leave it at that. But not all do. But this is a case of the more, the less merry. As a rule, stick with the big three: income, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

These three statements are interlinked, with changes in one necessarily altering the others, but they measure quite different aspects of a company's financial health. It's hard to say that one of these is more important than another. But of the three, the income statement may be the best place to start.

Income Statement

The income statement is a simple and straightforward report on the proposed business's cash-generating ability. It's a score card on the financial performance of your business that reflects when sales are made and when expenses are incurred. It draws information from the various financial models developed earlier such as revenue, expenses, capital (in the form of depreciation), and cost of goods. By combining these elements, the income statement illustrates just how much your company makes or loses during the year by subtracting cost of goods and expenses from revenue to arrive at a net result--which is either a profit or a loss.

For a business plan, the income statement should be generated on a monthly basis during the first year, quarterly for the second, and annually for each year thereafter. It's formed by listing your financial projections in the following manner:

  • Income . Includes all the income generated by the business and its sources.
  • Cost of goods . Includes all the costs related to the sale of products in inventory.
  • Gross profit margin . The difference between revenue and cost of goods. Gross profit margin can be expressed in dollars, as a percentage, or both. As a percentage, the GP margin is always stated as a percentage of revenue.
  • Operating expenses . Includes all overhead and labor expenses associated with the operations of the business.
  • Total expenses . The sum of all overhead and labor expenses required to operate the business.
  • Net profit . The difference between gross profit margin and total expenses, the net income depicts the business's debt and capital capabilities.
  • Depreciation . Reflects the decrease in value of capital assets used to generate income. Also used as the basis for a tax deduction and an indicator of the flow of money into new capital.
  • Net profit before interest . The difference between net profit and depreciation.
  • Interest . Includes all interest derived from debts, both short-term and long-term. Interest is determined by the amount of investment within the company.
  • Net profit before taxes . The difference between net profit before interest and interest.
  • Taxes . Includes all taxes on the business.
  • Profit after taxes . The difference between net profit before taxes and the taxes accrued. Profit after taxes is the bottom line for any company.

Following the income statement is a short note analyzing the statement. The analysis statement should be very short, emphasizing key points within the income statement.

Cash Flow Statement

The cash-flow statement is one of the most critical information tools for your business, showing how much cash will be needed to meet obligations, when it is going to be required, and from where it will come. It shows a schedule of the money coming into the business and expenses that need to be paid. The result is the profit or loss at the end of the month or year. In a cash-flow statement, both profits and losses are carried over to the next column to show the cumulative amount. Keep in mind that if you run a loss on your cash-flow statement, it is a strong indicator that you will need additional cash in order to meet expenses.

Like the income statement, the cash-flow statement takes advantage of previous financial tables developed during the course of the business plan. The cash-flow statement begins with cash on hand and the revenue sources. The next item it lists is expenses, including those accumulated during the manufacture of a product. The capital requirements are then logged as a negative after expenses. The cash-flow statement ends with the net cash flow.

The cash-flow statement should be prepared on a monthly basis during the first year, on a quarterly basis during the second year, and on an annual basis thereafter. Items that you'll need to include in the cash-flow statement and the order in which they should appear are as follows:

  • Cash sales . Income derived from sales paid for by cash.
  • Receivables . Income derived from the collection of receivables.
  • Other income . Income derived from investments, interest on loans that have been extended, and the liquidation of any assets.
  • Total income . The sum of total cash, cash sales, receivables, and other income.
  • Material/merchandise . The raw material used in the manufacture of a product (for manufacturing operations only), the cash outlay for merchandise inventory (for merchandisers such as wholesalers and retailers), or the supplies used in the performance of a service.
  • Production labor . The labor required to manufacture a product (for manufacturing operations only) or to perform a service.
  • Overhead . All fixed and variable expenses required for the production of the product and the operations of the business.
  • Marketing/sales . All salaries, commissions, and other direct costs associated with the marketing and sales departments.
  • R&D . All the labor expenses required to support the research and development operations of the business.
  • G&A . All the labor expenses required to support the administrative functions of the business.
  • Taxes . All taxes, except payroll, paid to the appropriate government institutions.
  • Capital . The capital required to obtain any equipment elements that are needed for the generation of income.
  • Loan payment . The total of all payments made to reduce any long-term debts.
  • Total expenses . The sum of material, direct labor, overhead expenses, marketing, sales, G&A, taxes, capital and loan payments.
  • Cash flow . The difference between total income and total expenses. This amount is carried over to the next period as beginning cash.
  • Cumulative cash flow . The difference between current cash flow and cash flow from the previous period.

As with the income statement, you will need to analyze the cash-flow statement in a short summary in the business plan. Once again, the analysis statement doesn't have to be long and should cover only key points derived from the cash-flow statement.

The Balance Sheet

The last financial statement you'll need to develop is the balance sheet. Like the income and cash-flow statements, the balance sheet uses information from all of the financial models developed in earlier sections of the business plan; however, unlike the previous statements, the balance sheet is generated solely on an annual basis for the business plan and is, more or less, a summary of all the preceding financial information broken down into three areas:

To obtain financing for a new business, you may need to provide a projection of the balance sheet over the period of time the business plan covers. More importantly, you'll need to include a personal financial statement or balance sheet instead of one that describes the business. A personal balance sheet is generated in the same manner as one for a business.

As mentioned, the balance sheet is divided into three sections. The top portion of the balance sheet lists your company's assets. Assets are classified as current assets and long-term or fixed assets. Current assets are assets that will be converted to cash or will be used by the business in a year or less. Current assets include:

  • Cash . The cash on hand at the time books are closed at the end of the fiscal year.
  • Accounts receivable . The income derived from credit accounts. For the balance sheet, it's the total amount of income to be received that is logged into the books at the close of the fiscal year.
  • Inventory . This is derived from the cost of goods table. It's the inventory of material used to manufacture a product not yet sold.
  • Total current assets . The sum of cash, accounts receivable, inventory, and supplies.

Other assets that appear in the balance sheet are called long-term or fixed assets. They are called long-term because they are durable and will last more than one year. Examples of this type of asset include:

  • Capital and plant . The book value of all capital equipment and property (if you own the land and building), less depreciation.
  • Investment . All investments by the company that cannot be converted to cash in less than one year. For the most part, companies just starting out have not accumulated long-term investments.
  • Miscellaneous assets . All other long-term assets that are not "capital and plant" or "investments."
  • Total long-term assets . The sum of capital and plant, investments, and miscellaneous assets.
  • Total assets . The sum of total current assets and total long-term assets.

After the assets are listed, you need to account for the liabilities of your business. Like assets, liabilities are classified as current or long-term. If the debts are due in one year or less, they are classified as a current liabilities. If they are due in more than one year, they are long-term liabilities. Examples of current liabilities are as follows:

  • Accounts payable . All expenses derived from purchasing items from regular creditors on an open account, which are due and payable.
  • Accrued liabilities . All expenses incurred by the business which are required for operation but have not been paid at the time the books are closed. These expenses are usually the company's overhead and salaries.
  • Taxes . These are taxes that are still due and payable at the time the books are closed.
  • Total current liabilities . The sum of accounts payable, accrued liabilities, and taxes.

Long-term liabilities include:

  • Bonds payable . The total of all bonds at the end of the year that are due and payable over a period exceeding one year.
  • Mortgage payable . Loans taken out for the purchase of real property that are repaid over a long-term period. The mortgage payable is that amount still due at the close of books for the year.
  • Notes payable . The amount still owed on any long-term debts that will not be repaid during the current fiscal year.
  • Total long-term liabilities . The sum of bonds payable, mortgage payable, and notes payable.
  • Total liabilities . The sum of total current and long-term liabilities.

Once the liabilities have been listed, the final portion of the balance sheet-owner's equity-needs to be calculated. The amount attributed to owner's equity is the difference between total assets and total liabilities. The amount of equity the owner has in the business is an important yardstick used by investors when evaluating the company. Many times it determines the amount of capital they feel they can safely invest in the business.

In the business plan, you'll need to create an analysis statement for the balance sheet just as you need to do for the income and cash flow statements. The analysis of the balance sheet should be kept short and cover key points about the company.

Source: The Small Business Encyclopedia , Business Plans Made Easy, Start Your Own Business and Entrepreneur magazine.

Business Plan Guide

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9 essential components of a business plan.

9 Essential Components of a Business Plan

Maybe you’re a small business owner that has been in business for years. Or, you could be going through the process of starting a business. Regardless of where you’re at with your career, tasks and responsibilities will come at you quickly.

You need to worry about to-do lists, scheduled meetings, accounting processes and everything in between. When are you supposed to find the time to put your business plan together? It can be an intimidating process to go through, but having a well-thought-out business plan is incredibly important.

There’s no perfect recipe for a business plan, but one of the best things that you can do is write it before you start your business. It can act as a roadmap for where your business is going in the future and how you’re going to get there. So, where do you start?

Let’s take a look at everything that you need to know for writing a business plan that can get you ahead.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What Is a Business Plan?

Tips to make your business plan stand out, 9 components of a business plan, key takeaways.

Think about the last time you needed to get somewhere you hadn’t been before. You might drive, ride your bike or take the train. But no matter the way you get there, you first need to know how to get there. You might put the directions into a GPS, follow a bike path or look up the train schedules.

A business plan works in the exact same way, only it’s a roadmap for your business. It’s a comprehensive document that outlines how your small business is going to grow and develop.

Throughout a business plan, you’re going to communicate who your business is, what you plan on doing and how you plan on doing it. This can give valuable insights into your business for potential investors or hiring new talent.

That all said, a business plan is completely different from a general business concept or business idea. A business plan acts as a blueprint for your business and will highlight who you are. Most banking institutions and venture capitalists won’t invest in a small business unless they have a good business plan.

Potential investors are going to want to know that you have a product or service that fits in the market with a good team in place. Plus, it can show the scalability of your business and how you will grow sales volume.

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When Do You Need a Business Plan?

First and foremost, a business plan is important to have regardless of the industry you’re in or the products you offer your customers. It will not only keep you focused and efficient, but a well-written business plan can have other benefits.

A business plan can be helpful when:

  • You need new investments, funding or loans
  • You are searching for a new partner for your business
  • You are attracting and retaining top talent
  • You are experiencing slower growth than expected and want a change

Every business plan is going to be a little different compared to others. This is since your business is unique and your business plan is going to reflect that. But, if your plan is badly written or missing key bits of information then it won’t be as attractive to potential investors.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your business plan and make it stand out.

  • Make it as easy to read as possible. Investors want something that’s easily scannable and is divided into distinct sections. This way, they can quickly look through the plan and spot the key information.
  • Keep it brief. Most business plans are going to range anywhere from 10 – 20 pages. But, as long as you cover the essentials and highlight the key points, less can often be more.
  • Make sure you proofread and edit. Always double-check for grammatical errors and that it’s formatted properly. Typos and mistakes are not going to reflect positively for your business.
  • Have a quality design. Make sure you have the proper layout, formatting and brand messaging throughout. Bookbinding your business plan can make it look more professional.
  • Know all your business margins. Include each and every cost that your business incurs. You can make sure that you’re organizing and assigning those costs to the right product or service you offer.

One of the best things that you can do before writing your business plan is to determine who your audience is going to be. Are you pitching to a room full of potential investors? Do you have a meeting with your local financial institution’s venture funding department? Or, do you just want to create an internal document to help guide your business forward?

Being able to define who your audience is going to be will help you figure out how to write your business plan. For example, the language in your business plan might be different depending on who you want to highlight your business to.

Here are the 9 essential components of a business plan.

1. Executive Summary

Your executive summary is going to be at the front of your plan and be one of the first things that someone reads. But, writing the executive summary should be the last thing that you do, even though it’s first on the list. For now, you can leave your executive summary blank.

Why? Because it lays out every piece of vital information that’s included in your business plan, usually in one page or less. It’s basically a high-level summary of each of the sections in the plan. This means you can’t really write the executive summary first.

2. Company Description

This is where you’re going to highlight your business and what you do. Your company description will include three different things: a mission statement, company history and business objectives.

First, let’s look at your mission statement .

A mission statement is basically the main reason why you’re in business. It’s not necessarily about what you do or the products or services that you sell. Rather, it’s all about why your business does what it does.

Try and make your mission statement inspirational, motivational and even emotional. It’s going to be the foundation on which your business is built. Put some thought into the things that motivate you and the reasons why you started your business in the first place. What do you want to get out of it? Why are you doing it?

You can also think about the causes or different experiences which led you to start your business and the problems it can solve for your customers.

Next, let’s look at your company history .

This doesn’t need to be a long or in-depth section, but more of a highlight of what your business has done in the past and where you stand today. To help make things easier, you can even write about your company history in the form of a profile. Here’s some of the important information you can include in your company history.

  • The date you founded or started your business
  • Any major milestones worth highlighting
  • Your business location, or locations
  • How many employees you have
  • Your executive leadership and the roles that they have within your company
  • The flagship services or products that you offer your customers

Finally, let’s look at your business objectives .

Your business objectives are your guiding lights. They’re the goals that you plan on achieving and they will outline how you plan on getting there. When developing your business objectives, base them on the process of SMART goals.

These are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Basically, each objective gets tied to the key results you want to achieve. If you don’t clearly define your business objectives, it can make it more difficult for your employees to work efficiently towards a common goal.

3. Market Research and Business Potential

This is the section of your business plan where you outline your target demographic and ideal customer base. You’re also going to do research into the potential and actual size of the market you’re going to enter into. Target markets are going to identify specific information about your customers.

Usually, you can research and find the following information for your target customers:

  • Location and average income
  • Age and gender
  • Education level and profession
  • Any activities or hobbies that are relevant

Getting as specific as possible will allow you to illustrate your expertise and get a sense of confidence when it comes to your business. For example, if your target market is extremely broad, it will show investors that it might be more difficult to generate revenue.

4. Competitive Analysis

What is your competition doing? Competitor research is going to start by identifying any companies that are currently in the market you want to enter into. Understanding everything you can about your competition can seem overwhelming and intimidating.

But having this information is extremely useful and will help you make more informed business decisions in the future. Here are a few common questions that you can ask yourself when you’re doing competitive research.

  • Where are they investing most in marketing and advertising?
  • Do they get any press coverage? If they do, how are they getting it?
  • What is their customer service like? Does your customer service stack up against theirs?
  • What are their pricing strategies and what are their sales?
  • Do they have good reviews on third-party rating platforms?

One of the best ways to do competitive research is to check out your competition’s website. Read through their About Us page or their value and mission statements. This will give you a better understanding of who they are, what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

Being able to distinguish your business from your competition is a critical element of any business plan. Take some time to think about what sets your business apart and how you’re going to provide a solution to a problem.

5. Describe You Products or Services

What do you offer your customers? What product or service is your business built on? This section of your business plan is going to detail everything about your product or service. Plus, it’s going to highlight why what your business offers is better than the competition.

Touch on the benefits that your product or service offers, the production process and the product life cycle.

When you’re describing the benefits, try and focus on things like unique features and how they translate into benefits. You can also highlight intellectual property rights or patents that differentiate your products.

For the production process, you can explain how you create your existing or new products or services and how you source the raw materials. Other things such as quality control, quality assurance and supply chain logistics can get included.

With your product life cycle, you can highlight any cross-sells, down-sells or upsells. As well as your future plans for research and development.

list at least ten components of a business plan

6. Marketing and Sales Strategy

You could spend weeks putting together an in-depth business plan that highlights your company and what you do. But, if you don’t have a solid marketing and sales strategy in place then it won’t matter how good your business plan is. You still need to know how you’re going to generate sales.

This part of your plan is entirely dependant on the type of products or services that you offer. You can include your company’s value proposition, ideal target market and your existing customer segments. Then, you can start with some more specifics.

What’s the launch plan that you have in place to help attract new business? What are your growth tactics to help your business expand in the future? Do you have any retention strategies in place, such as customer loyalty or referral programs? What about advertising across print, social media, search engines or television?

These are all good questions to ask yourself when putting together your sales and marketing strategy. You can use this part of the business plan to highlight your business strengths and how you differentiate from the competition.

7. Business Financials

If you are just starting your business then you aren’t going to have much financial data. You won’t have things like financial statements or an income statement. But, you still need to put together some type of financial plan and budget. If you have been operating for a while, you will have some important information to include, such as:

  • Profit and loss statements
  • Income statements
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheets
  • Revenue vs net income
  • The ratio of liquidity to debt repayment

Make sure that the data and figures that you include are accurate. For example, things like costs, profit margins and sale prices can be closely linked together. If you don’t have access to historical data, you can put together financial projections.

8. Management and Organization

The people that you have working for your business are the driving force behind your overall success. Without the right people in place, your business won’t likely be successful. This is the part of your business plan where you’re going to highlight your team.

Identify the members of your team and explain how they are going to help turn your business idea into a reality. Plus, you can highlight the qualifications and expertise of each team member. This will position your business as one that’s worth potentially investing in.

9. Include an Appendix

This is where you’re going to compile and include everything that both investors and your team will need access to. Include everything that’s useful for an investor to conduct due diligence.

Here are some of the most common official documents you can include in a well-organized appendix.

  • Any legal documents, local permits or deeds
  • Professional licenses or business registries
  • Any patents or intellectual property
  • Any industry memberships or associations
  • Your business identification numbers or codes
  • Any key purchase orders or customer contracts that you have in place

It can also be helpful to include a table of contents in your appendix. This can make it easier to find the right information or allow you to highlight the most important documents.

It’s worth noting that a business plan doesn’t just have to be a way to attract potential investors. There are several other reasons why having a business plan is important.

You can better clarify the goals and objections that you want your business to accomplish and you can gain insights into your target market. Team members can have a much better sense as to the direction the business is going and how they can contribute to its success and growth. Plus, you can establish and define the roles of each team member, all while setting achievable benchmarks.

Creating a business plan will act as a roadmap for your business. It’s going to highlight the goals and objectives you have. As well as touch on things like marketing, advertising, your management team and financials. Here’s a quick review of the 9 essential components of a business plan.

  • Executive summary, which you will write after you have completed steps 2 – 9
  • Company description, including a mission statement, company history and business objectives
  • Competitive analysis
  • Market research and business potential
  • Your products or services
  • Marketing and sales strategy
  • Business financials
  • Management and organization

Follow the 9 components outlined in this article to help you develop a business plan. You can clearly define your business goals and have a roadmap to help your business be successful.

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8 Components of a Business Plan

Back to Business Plans

Written by: Carolyn Young

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by: David Lepeska

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

Published on February 19, 2023 Updated on February 27, 2024

8 Components of a Business Plan

A key part of the business startup process is putting together a business plan , particularly if you’d like to raise capital. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s absolutely essential, and an invaluable learning tool. 

Creating a business plan early helps you think through every aspect of your business, from operations and financing to growth and vision. In the end, the knowledge you’ll gain could be the difference between success and failure. 

But what exactly does a business plan consist of? There are eight essential components, all of which are detailed in this handy guide.

1. Executive Summary 

The executive summary opens your business plan , but it’s the section you’ll write last. It summarizes the key points and highlights the most important aspects of your plan. Often investors and lenders will only read the executive summary; if it doesn’t capture their interest they’ll stop reading, so it’s important to make it as compelling as possible.

The components touched upon should include:

  • The business opportunity – what problem are you solving in the market?
  • Your idea, meaning the product or service you’re planning to offer, and why it solves the problem in the market better than other solutions.
  • The history of the business so far – what have you done to this point? When you’re just getting started, this may be nothing more than coming up with the idea, choosing a business name , and forming a business entity.
  • A summary of the industry, market size, your target customers, and the competition.
  • A strong statement about how your company is going to stand out in the market – what will be your competitive advantage?
  • A list of specific goals that you plan to achieve in the short term, such as developing your product, launching a marketing campaign, or hiring a key person. 
  • A summary of your financial plan including cost and sales projections and a break-even analysis.
  • A summary of your management team, their roles, and the relevant experience that they have to serve in those roles.
  • Your “ask”, if applicable, meaning what you’re requesting from the investor or lender. You’ll include the amount you’d like and how it will be spent, such as “We are seeking $50,000 in seed funding to develop our beta product”. 

Remember that if you’re seeking capital, the executive summary could make or break your venture. Take your time and make sure it illustrates how your business is unique in the market and why you’ll succeed.

The executive summary should be no more than two pages long, so it’s important to capture the reader’s interest from the start. 

  • 2. Company Description/Overview

In this section, you’ll detail your full company history, such as how you came up with the idea for your business and any milestones or achievements. 

You’ll also include your mission and vision statements. A mission statement explains what you’d like your business to achieve, its driving force, while a vision statement lays out your long-term plan in terms of growth. 

A mission statement might be “Our company aims to make life easier for business owners with intuitive payroll software”, while a vision statement could be “Our objective is to become the go-to comprehensive HR software provider for companies around the globe.”

In this section, you’ll want to list your objectives – specific short-term goals. Examples might include “complete initial product development by ‘date’” or “hire two qualified sales people” or “launch the first version of the product”. 

It’s best to divide this section into subsections – company history, mission and vision, and objectives.

3. Products/Services Offered 

Here you’ll go into detail about what you’re offering, how it solves a problem in the market, and how it’s unique. Don’t be afraid to share information that is proprietary – investors and lenders are not out to steal your ideas. 

Also specify how your product is developed or sourced. Are you manufacturing it or does it require technical development? Are you purchasing a product from a manufacturer or wholesaler? 

You’ll also want to specify how you’ll sell your product or service. Will it be a subscription service or a one time purchase?  What is your target pricing? On what channels do you plan to sell your product or service, such as online or by direct sales in a store? 

Basically, you’re describing what you’re going to sell and how you’ll make money.

  • 4. Market Analysis 

The market analysis is where you’re going to spend most of your time because it involves a lot of research. You should divide it into four sections.

Industry analysis 

You’ll want to find out exactly what’s happening in your industry, such as its growth rate, market size, and any specific trends that are occurring. Where is the industry predicted to be in 10 years? Cite your sources where you can by providing links. 

Then describe your company’s place in the market. Is your product going to fit a certain niche? Is there a sub-industry your company will fit within? How will you keep up with industry changes? 

Competitor analysis 

Now you’ll dig into your competition. Detail your main competitors and how they differentiate themselves in the market. For example, one competitor may advertise convenience while another may tout superior quality. Also highlight your competitors’ weaknesses.

Next, describe how you’ll stand out. Detail your competitive advantages and how you’ll sustain them. This section is extremely important and will be a focus for investors and lenders. 

Target market analysis 

Here you’ll describe your target market and whether it’s different from your competitors’.  For example, maybe you have a younger demographic in mind? 

You’ll need to know more about your target market than demographics, though. You’ll want to explain the needs and wants of your ideal customers, how your offering solves their problem, and why they will choose your company. 

You should also lay out where you’ll find them, where to place your marketing and where to sell your products. Learning this kind of detail requires going to the source – your potential customers. You can do online surveys or even in-person focus groups. 

Your goal will be to uncover as much about these people as possible. When you start selling, you’ll want to keep learning about your customers. You may end up selling to a different target market than you originally thought, which could lead to a marketing shift. 

SWOT analysis 

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and it’s one of the more common and helpful business planning tools.   

First describe all the specific strengths of your company, such as the quality of your product or some unique feature, such as the experience of your management team. Talk about the elements that will make your company successful.

Next, acknowledge and explore possible weaknesses. You can’t say “none”, because no company is perfect, especially at the start. Maybe you lack funds or face a massive competitor. Whatever it is, detail how you will surmount this hurdle. 

Next, talk about the opportunities your company has in the market. Perhaps you’re going to target an underserved segment, or have a technology plan that will help you surge past the competition. 

Finally, examine potential threats. It could be a competitor that might try to replicate your product or rapidly advancing technology in your industry. Again, discuss your plans to handle such threats if they come to pass. 

5. Marketing and Sales Strategies

Now it’s time to explain how you’re going to find potential customers and convert them into paying customers.  

Marketing and advertising plan

When you did your target market analysis, you should have learned a lot about your potential customers, including where to find them. This should help you determine where to advertise. 

Maybe you found that your target customers favor TikTok over Instagram and decided to spend more marketing dollars on TikTok. Detail all the marketing channels you plan to use and why.

Your target market analysis should also have given you information about what kind of message will resonate with your target customers. You should understand their needs and wants and how your product solves their problem, then convey that in your marketing. 

Start by creating a value proposition, which should be no more than two sentences long and answer the following questions:

  • What are you offering
  • Whose problem does it solve
  • What problem does it solve
  • What benefits does it provide
  • How is it better than competitor products

An example might be “Payroll software that will handle all the payroll needs of small business owners, making life easier for less.”

Whatever your value proposition, it should be at the heart of all of your marketing.

Sales strategy and tactics 

Your sales strategy is a vision to persuade customers to buy, including where you’ll sell and how. For example, you may plan to sell only on your own website, or you may sell from both a physical location and online. On the other hand, you may have a sales team that will make direct sales calls to potential customers, which is more common in business-to-business sales.

Sales tactics are more about how you’re going to get them to buy after they reach your sales channel. Even when selling online, you need something on your site that’s going to get them to go from a site visitor to a paying customer. 

By the same token, if you’re going to have a sales team making direct sales, what message are they going to deliver that will entice a sale? It’s best for sales tactics to focus on the customer’s pain point and what value you’re bringing to the table, rather than being aggressively promotional about the greatness of your product and your business. 

Pricing strategy

Pricing is not an exact science and should depend on several factors. First, consider how you want your product or service to be perceived in the market. If your differentiator is to be the lowest price, position your company as the “discount” option. Think Walmart, and price your products lower than the competition. 

If, on the other hand, you want to be the Mercedes of the market, then you’ll position your product as the luxury option. Of course you’ll have to back this up with superior quality, but being the luxury option allows you to command higher prices.

You can, of course, fall somewhere in the middle, but the point is that pricing is a matter of perception. How you position your product in the market compared to the competition is a big factor in determining your price.

Of course, you’ll have to consider your costs, as well as competitor prices. Obviously, your prices must cover your costs and allow you to make a good profit margin. 

Whatever pricing strategy you choose, you’ll justify it in this section of your plan.

  • 6. Operations and Management 

This section is the real nuts and bolts of your business – how it operates on a day-to-day basis and who is operating it. Again, this section should be divided into subsections.

Operational plan

Your plan of operations should be specific , detailed and mainly logistical. Who will be doing what on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis? How will the business be managed and how will quality be assured? Be sure to detail your suppliers and how and when you’ll order raw materials. 

This should also include the roles that will be filled and the various processes that will be part of everyday business operations . Just consider all the critical functions that must be handled for your business to be able to operate on an ongoing basis. 

Technology plan

If your product involves technical development, you’ll describe your tech development plan with specific goals and milestones. The plan will also include how many people will be working on this development, and what needs to be done for goals to be met.

If your company is not a technology company, you’ll describe what technologies you plan to use to run your business or make your business more efficient. It could be process automation software, payroll software, or just laptops and tablets for your staff. 

Management and organizational structure 

Now you’ll describe who’s running the show. It may be just you when you’re starting out, so you’ll detail what your role will be and summarize your background. You’ll also go into detail about any managers that you plan to hire and when that will occur.

Essentially, you’re explaining your management structure and detailing why your strategy will enable smooth and efficient operations. 

Ideally, at some point, you’ll have an organizational structure that is a hierarchy of your staff. Describe what you envision your organizational structure to be. 

Personnel plan 

Detail who you’ve hired or plan to hire and for which roles. For example, you might have a developer, two sales people, and one customer service representative.

Describe each role and what qualifications are needed to perform those roles. 

  • 7. Financial Plan 

Now, you’ll enter the dreaded world of finance. Many entrepreneurs struggle with this part, so you might want to engage a financial professional to help you. A financial plan has five key elements.

Startup Costs

Detail in a spreadsheet every cost you’ll incur before you open your doors. This should determine how much capital you’ll need to launch your business. 

Financial projections 

Creating financial projections, like many facets of business, is not an exact science. If your company has no history, financial projections can only be an educated guess. 

First, come up with realistic sales projections. How much do you expect to sell each month? Lay out at least three years of sales projections, detailing monthly sales growth for the first year, then annually thereafter. 

Calculate your monthly costs, keeping in mind that some costs will grow along with sales. 

Once you have your numbers projected and calculated, use them to create these three key financial statements: 

  • Profit and Loss Statement , also known as an income statement. This shows projected revenue and lists all costs, which are then deducted to show net profit or loss. 
  • Cash Flow Statement. This shows how much cash you have on hand at any given time. It will have a starting balance, projections of cash coming in, and cash going out, which will be used to calculate cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.
  • Balance Sheet. This shows the net worth of the business, which is the assets of the business minus debts. Assets include equipment, cash, accounts receivables, inventory, and more. Debts include outstanding loan balances and accounts payable.

You’ll need monthly projected versions of each statement for the first year, then annual projections for the following two years.

Break-even analysis

The break-even point for your business is when costs and revenue are equal. Most startups operate at a loss for a period of time before they break even and start to make a profit. Your break-even analysis will project when your break-even point will occur, and will be informed by your profit and loss statement. 

Funding requirements and sources 

Lay out the funding you’ll need, when, and where you’ll get it. You’ll also explain what those funds will be used for at various points. If you’re in a high growth industry that can attract investors, you’ll likely need various rounds of funding to launch and grow. 

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

KPIs measure your company’s performance and can determine success. Many entrepreneurs only focus on the bottom line, but measuring specific KPIs helps find areas of improvement. Every business has certain crucial metrics. 

If you sell only online, one of your key metrics might be your visitor conversion rate. You might do an analysis to learn why just one out of ten site visitors makes a purchase. 

Perhaps the purchase process is too complicated or your product descriptions are vague. The point is, learning why your conversion rate is low gives you a chance to improve it and boost sales. 

8. Appendices

In the appendices, you can attach documents such as manager resumes or any other documents that support your business plan.

As you can see, a business plan has many components, so it’s not an afternoon project. It will likely take you several weeks and a great deal of work to complete. Unless you’re a finance guru, you may also want some help from a financial professional. 

Keep in mind that for a small business owner, there may be no better learning experience than writing a detailed and compelling business plan. It shouldn’t be viewed as a hassle, but as an opportunity! 

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Written by Amy Rigby | April 5, 2019

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list at least ten components of a business plan

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Starting a business is an inherently optimistic endeavor. Despite the odds , we entrepreneurs do everything in our power to set ourselves up for success, hoping that our business will defy the statistics and be among the minority that makes it past the 10-year mark.

But if we’re so concerned about success, why is it that so many of us place so much intense focus on our online business ideas , but ignore the tried-and-true business plan ? Research has shown that having a business plan can boost your average annual growth by 30%  and increase your chances of succeeding by 16% !

There’s a lot of debate in the entrepreneurial world about whether business plans are valuable , and while we at Foundr are certainly all about execution, we’re not about to argue with what the research clearly shows about the benefits of proper planning.

And before you think, “I’m just starting out—what good is a business plan for me?” I feel you.

When I started my business in 2013, I didn’t have a plan, much less a formal business plan. And guess what? Three months into it, I ran out of money. I didn’t know who my clients were or how to find them because I had never put much thought into it. I flip-flopped among several seemingly unrelated services (videography, photography, copywriting, and more).

Thankfully, I have since streamlined my services and am about to celebrate six years in business, but I think I could’ve avoided many mistakes if I had at least made a simple business plan for myself when I started.

To help you have the best chances of succeeding in your business, I’ll walk you through the basic components of a business plan.

What Is a Business Plan and Why Do You Need One?

A business plan is a roadmap for where you want your business to go. It can be one page or multiple pages, but at its core, it answers:

  • What is your business?
  • Who does it serve?
  • What does it sell?
  • How will it make money?
  • How will it stand out in the market?
  • What are its plans for growth?

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

  • It can help you get bank loans.  Before approving you for a business loan, banks will want to see that your business is legitimate and able to repay the loan. This will usually require that you provide them with a business plan to review.
  • It can help you win over investors.  Similar to the banks above, investors want to know that they’re making a promising investment when they lend you money.
  • It can help you stay focused. Having a business plan that outlines your target audience, your mission, the services you offer, and more, can help you make sure you’re staying focused on your overall goals for your business. For example, maybe you’re a content marketing agency and you’re toying with the idea of adding on branding as a service you provide. A quick glance at your business plan might remind you that that’s not why you started this business. Your business plan can prevent you from wasting time and resources on something that isn’t aligned with your business goals.
  • It can help your business succeed.  One study of more than 1,000 aspiring entrepreneurs   over a six-year period found that those who created a formal business plan were 16% more likely to achieve viability than those who didn’t plan.

As you can see, planning can pay off—especially if you’re seeking funding .

Who Are You Writing Your Business Plan for?

Before you begin writing your business plan, consider your audience. A business plan will be written differently depending on who’s going to end up reading it. Bankers, for instance, have different motivations than equity investors (venture capital fund managers and angel investors).

In this review of the literature , researchers found that bankers are most concerned about whether you can repay the loan; therefore, they’re more likely to scrutinize the financial section, looking for good cash flow and the opportunity for taking collateral.

VCs and angel investors, on the other hand, are more interested in potential growth and return on investment; so they’ll likely focus on your capabilities, the service you’re offering or the product you’re selling, and the market you want to enter.

If you’re simply creating a business plan to help you stay focused on your business goals, then you’re more likely to write about your plans for the future and milestones you want to reach, rather than any history or track record.

Basic Components of a Business Plan

Business plans vary depending on the business and its audience, but below are some of the basic components of a business plan that apply across the board.

Executive Summary

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

Here’s an excerpt from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s example consulting business plan :

We Can Do It Consulting provides consultation services to small- and medium-sized companies. Our services include office management and business process re engineering to improve efficiency and reduce administrative costs.

Business Description

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

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

Here’s an example of an ecommerce business’ mission :

Liquid Culture’s mission is to present consumers with designs, styling and clothes that energizes any outdoor activity. Whether it be snowboarding, running along the beach, or drifting down a river, Liquid Culture has comfortable, durable clothing that will look and feel wonderful.

Market Analysis

Before starting a business, you want to make sure you understand the market you’re entering. Is your target market large enough that you can make enough money? Is the market already saturated with products and services like yours? How will you stand out? Investors will be interested in seeing what you put here because this will help them become confident that you know what you’re getting into and that your business has the potential to grow.

The market analysis section will answer:

  • Who are your competitors?  Do your research and find out who your competitors are . This is important, because it will help you understand your market and know how you’ll differentiate your business from similar ones out there.
  • What’s your unique value proposition?  Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the thing that makes you stand out from your competitors. This is your key to success. If you don’t have a UVP, you don’t have a way to take on competitors who are already in this space. Here’s an example of an ecommerce internet business plan  outlining their competitive edge:

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

  • Who’s your target audience? This describes the people you serve and sell your product to. Be careful not to go too broad here, thus falling into the common entrepreneurial trap of trying to sell to everyone and thereby not differentiating yourself enough to survive the competition. Below is an excerpt of a market analysis section from this sample consulting business plan . Notice how detailed it gets, including specifying the target customer’s business worth and growth rate.

The target customer owns a small business, and is generally dissatisfied with the revenue that the business is generating, or is dissatisfied with the daily management of their business. The customer is likely to operate a business worth between $200K and $10 million, with growth rates of between 1-10%, or even a negative growth rate.

Products and Services

Writing this section is pretty straightforward, detailing exactly what you’ll be selling.

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

In this section, you’ll outline your marketing strategy to ensure you have a plan to get clients and customers and make money.

  • How will you get new clients and customers? Will it involve social media, blogging, cold calling, email marketing, paid advertising, referrals? Here’s an excerpt from a custom printed T-shirt business plan sample , in which the company has identified advertising as part of its marketing and sales strategy:

Your T-Shirt! will run ads in several teen/young adult magazines whose readership demographics are similar to Your T-Shirt!’s.

  • How will you retain clients and customers? Do you have a plan for increasing your customer loyalty to keep them coming back to you?
  • What’s your marketing budget?

This section is particularly important if you wish to secure a bank loan or investors’ money. If you’ve been in business for a while, you can include past revenue. If you’re brand new, you’ll have to forecast your revenue .

The financial section can include many types of forecasting and graphs, but a few common ones are:

  • Profit & Loss (P&L) statement  – This details your income and expenses over a given period.
  • Expenses – List the expenses you expect your business to incur.
  • Cash flow statement   – Similar to the P&L, but this one will show all cash that flows into and out of the business each month.

Business Plan Templates and Examples

To better understand what you need to put into each component of your business plan, it can help to look at examples. Here are some free resources that can help:

  • PandaDoc  has some free business plan templates that include descriptions of what to put in each section.

U.S SBA has example business plans that you can look at for inspiration

  • Bplans  has a library of more than 500 sample business plans for almost every industry.

Final Thoughts on Creating a Business Plan

  • Don’t let creating a business plan hold you back from actually starting your business.  If you find you’re getting stuck on perfecting your document, opt for a simple one-page business plan —and then get to work.
  • Remember, business plans are not a requirement for starting a business. They’re only truly essential if a bank or investor is asking to see one.
  • Ask people to review your business plan.  It can be helpful to have an extra set of eyes on your business plan to make sure it’s in the best shape possible. Be sure to ask someone who knows your business, such as a mentor or business partner.
  • Businesses change—business plans can too! While, yes, a business plan should guide you as you grow your business, it should not restrict you or dictate your every move. For example, you may find that your mission has changed; in that case, you can and should modify your business plan to reflect that.

Ready to Write Your Business Plan?

By now, I hope you’re ready to blast through creating your business plan so you can move on to the fun part: building your business.

To recap, here are the basic components of a business plan:

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Market analysis

Remember, the purpose of a business plan is to secure funding or serve as a guide for you (or both). Don’t get stuck on this step. You can always revisit and revise your business plan later. What’s most important is that you take action now.

Have you created a business plan? Share any advice you have for your fellow entrepreneurs in the comments below!

list at least ten components of a business plan

About Amy Rigby

Amy Rigby is a freelance writer who specializes in content marketing and copywriting for startups. She's written for ABCNews.com , GoDaddy , Outdoorsy , and Trello . Connect with Amy on LinkedIn

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The 5 Key Elements Of A Good Business Plan

22 January 2020

Although some Founders are sceptical about planning too far ahead for their businesses, preparing a solid business plan is necessary for many purposes.

list at least ten components of a business plan

As any founder knows, the only sure thing about running a growing company is change.

In fact, your business plan is perhaps the thing that will change most often throughout your entrepreneurial journey.

Although some Founders are sceptical about planning too far ahead for their businesses, preparing a solid business plan is necessary for many purposes, including, but not limited to:

  • Raising finance through investment;
  • Applying for a business loan;
  • Budgeting for the long and short term;
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of how your business works.

Perhaps even more important than preparing a business plan, is making sure that this is updated for each of the small and big changes that your company will go through as it grows and evolves.

Different companies require different types of business plan. Depending on your business model, your revenue structure and many other factors.

However, there are 5 elements of a business plan that are absolutely key to making sure that the reader understands how your company works and plans on growing.

Download our editable Business Plan Template

It includes a complete structure , detailed instructions on how to write each section and tips on how to tweak it for each specific use .

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1. Executive Summary

The Executive Summary represents the reader’s first impression of your business

The Executive Summary is the first section of your business plan, and also the last one you should write. It represents the reader’s first impression of your business . As a result, it will likely define their opinion as they continue reading the business plan.

A good Executive Summary includes key facts about your business such as:

  • Business & product description;
  • Current positioning & targeting;
  • Financial outlook & requirements;
  • Past and future achievements & goals.

However, the most important function that a great Executive Summary serves is communicating to the reader why they should read the rest of the business plan , and why you want them to.

2. Business Overview

After the Executive Summary, a business plan starts with a comprehensive explanation of what your business proposition is and how it relates to the market where your company operates.

In this section of the business plan, you should explain precisely:

  • what your company does;
  • what are its products or services;
  • in which market it operates;
  • who are its customers.

When describing your business, you should make sure to that the reader knows what kind of market environment your business operates in, but also how it can thrive in such an environment from a competitive point of view.

For some very niche or particularly innovative sectors, this may mean that you need to inform the readers about specific market dynamics .

In these cases, make sure that you clarify what is considered ‘the industry standard ‘ in your sector, the selling points that current players are competing on and how your business is positioned relative to them.

Make sure to include:

  • Your mission statement;
  • The philosophy, vision and goals of your company;
  • Your industry and target audience;
  • The structure of your business, detailing your customers, suppliers, partners and competitors;
  • Your products and services and the problem they solve;
  • Unique Selling Point(s).

If the company already has a well-defined product or service, this section can be divided into Company Description and Products & Services .

3. Sales & Marketing Strategy

This section of the business plan requires a deep understanding of your market space and how your business positions itself within its niche and competes with existing players .

Within your Sales & Marketing strategy, you should outline:

  • A definition of your target market – include its size, existing and emerging trends and your projected market share;
  • An assessment of your market – this should summarise how attractive your target market is to your company and why, Porter’s Five Forces or the more recent Six Forces Model are useful tools to define this;
  • Threats & Opportunities – you can use a SWOT Analysis to present these;
  • Product/Service Features – once you have thoroughly described your product/service, make sure to highlight its Unique Selling Points, as well as any complementary offerings and after-sale services;
  • Target Consumers – whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, it’s a good idea to include an ideal customer profile to describe exactly what niche(s) you are going to target;
  • Key Competitors – research and analyse any other players inside or outside your market whose offering might compete with you directly or indirectly;
  • Positioning – explain in a short paragraph how your company differentiates from your competitors and how it presents itself to your target niche;
  • Marketing Plan & Budget – outline the marketing and advertising tactics you will use to promote your business, giving an overview of your brand and of the communication elements that support it;
  • Pricing – explain how your pricing strategy fits within the competition and how it relates to your positioning;

A very common mistake that should be avoided is writing that you have no competition. Instead, you should show your efforts in researching your competitors and assessing how they could threaten your business .

4. Operations & Management

This section gives you the opportunity to explain to the reader how your company does things differently .

The people and processes that are allow your business to operate on a daily basis are the key to your competitive advantage . In fact, they help you build a better product, deliver it more efficiently or at a lower costs. Your Operations & Management must be able to successfully realise what you ‘promised’ in the previous sections.

Here, you must demonstrate how much you know about your business, so don’t leave out any relevant detail. Be concise but thorough, focus on two main points:

  • Production or Service Delivery;
  • Quality Control;
  • Credit policies;
  • Legal environment;
  • Organisational Structure – this is an overview of all the people involved in your business and their position in relation to each other. You should detail the experience of the existing team, as well as the roles that haven’t been filled yet. Include advisors and non-executive directors . Investors and banks will also look at this section to get an idea of salary costs. As these are normally a significant cost centre, don’t overestimate your staff needs.

5. Financial Plan

Your Financial Plan is possibly the most important element of your business plan . This is especially true if the business plan is aimed at investors or lenders.

This section includes projections, budgets and goals that are unique to each business. In particular, you should focus on explaining the assumptions on which you based your forecasts , more than on the forecasts themselves. Every good Financial Plan will include:

  • 12-month Profit & Loss Projection – A month-by-month forecast of sales, operating costs, tax and profits for the following year. Sometimes three years.
  • Cash Flow Statement & Forecast – This financial statement tracks the amount of cash that leaves or enters the business at any given time.
  • Breakeven Analysis – This is a cornerstone of your business plan. Here you should show what level of projected sales allows the business to cover its costs.
  • Capital Requirements – This point is fundamental as it shows investors what their money will be spent on. It should contain a summary of all the expenses for big purchases and day-to-day running costs.

The Financial Plan is usually followed by the Appendices. Here you should include detailed spreadsheets and calculations used to prepare the financial statements.

We help Founders write a solid business plan by supporting them with financial planning and forecasting .

Request a call to find out how we can help you.

The information available on this page is of a general nature and is not intended to provide specific advice to any individuals or entities. We work hard to ensure this information is accurate at the time of publishing, although there is no guarantee that such information is accurate at the time you read this. We recommend individuals and companies seek professional advice on their circumstances and matters.

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8 Essential Components of a Successful Business Plan

Laptop on a work desk with accessories against a white background

Today we are talking about the 8 components of creating a business plan. Starting a business is both exciting and challenging. You can design your own career, be your own boss, and pursue your passion. But, according to the Small Business Administration, only two-thirds of businesses survive at least two years. About half survive at least five years.

Want to know the secret to start off on the right foot?  It’s a killer business plan. You need to define your strategy and tactics for establishing a business with a strong financial foundation.

Are you feeling unsure or overwhelmed about how to get started? Don’t worry. Momentum CFO can help. Let’s start by learning the 8 essential components of a killer business plan. 

Table of Contents

1 | Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is the first section of your business plan. It’s a concise and compelling summary of all the other  sections of your plan. It’s the first content section of your business plan, but it should be the last thing you write. Make it short and sweet. Give the reader the big picture of what your business is all about.

2 | Business Description and Mission

Second, describe your business and its mission. Why are you starting the business? When will you launch it? What is your mission? Your vision? Describe your business goals. Make sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound.

Provide this information, along with facts about where your business is located, how it’s organized as a legal entity, and your contact information.

3 | Products and Services

Third, the Products and Services section is where you describe the products and/or services you’ll sell. What is their purpose? Why are they unique? How will you price them? 

New business owners often initially set their prices by “gut feel”.  They don’t do the research and analysis required to ensure that their pricing is profitable. Pricing analysis is complex. But, it’s also crucial to the success of your business. Engage an experienced CFO to develop a profitable pricing framework.

4 | Market Research and Competitive Analysis

Fourth, use the Market Research section to describe a problem or need exists in your industry and how your business addresses it. What are the key attributes of your ideal customer? Be specific. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to design a targeted marketing and sales strategy.

Analyze your main competitors. How long have they been in business? What is their market share? What advantages do they have over your business and vice versa?

5 | Marketing and Sales Strategy

Fifth, the Marketing and Sales Strategy section details your plan for acquiring new customers. New business owners are often overly optimistic about how many customers they can bring on in their first year. That’s why is vital to develop a comprehensive sales and marketing strategy.

In this section, describe your overall marketing strategy. Explain the specific tactics you’ll use to drive brand awareness and sales.  How will you reach your target customers? What advertising and promotion channels will you use? Will you develop an awesome website? Ensure it’s optimized for search? Run social media marketing campaigns? Use print or online ads? 

Think about this carefully. You need enough customers to have a viable business.

6 | Organization and Management

The Organization and Management section is up next. Provide information about yourself and your leadership team here. Lenders and investors want to be assured that leadership is competent.

Describe your education and experience. What are your notable achievements? Are you a member of relevant professional organizations? What makes you suited to run this business? Highlight your accomplishments. Next, do the same for other key leaders in your organization.

7 | Financials

The Financials section is an extremely important part of your business plan. How will you fund your business? 

Some business owners “bootstrap”, putting their own money into the business. Others seek funds from friends and family. Business owners with larger capital requirements may seek angel or private equity investment. Still others will apply for small business or personal loans.

Are you seeking capital from outside sources? Know that lenders and investors will scrutinize the Financials section. It helps them decide whether to lend to you or invest in your business. Include schedules such as a profit and loss projection and a cash flow projection.

There are several important parts of the Financials section. Don’t have a financial background? Engage a CFO to help. It’s important to get this section right. You can’t run a profitable business without a detailed financial plan.

8 | Finishing Touches: Table of Contents and Appendix

The final subject in our 8 components of a business plan: include a Table of Contents at the beginning of your business plan. Add an Appendix section at the end. Next, include important supporting documents. These may include your financial projections, business licenses, the resumes of you and your leadership team, etc.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, starting a new business is exciting! It takes careful planning to do it well.  Momentum CFO’s startup planning and implementation services put you on the path to achieving long-term success. 

Our Smart Start Strategy service includes a tailor-made road map for successfully starting your business. It covers:

  • Smart Start checklist of crucial startup tasks
  • One-on-one financial strategy sessions 
  • A comprehensive written business plan 
  • Financial projections for your first year in business
  • Recommendations for financing your business

Ready to get started? Book a free consultation today! BOOK YOUR CONSULTATION

Be sure to check out our other resources for small business: https://momentumcfo.com/cfo-resources/embed/#?secret=DrIUkEHE8W

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list at least ten components of a business plan

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  • Jul 6, 2022

The 5 Core Components of any Business Plan

list at least ten components of a business plan

Whether you have a business plan, have decided you don't want one, or are "starting to tomorrow", it's important to know what should be in a business plan.

We're experts in writing business plans so we've come to learn what the 5 critical components of a business plan are.

So, in this blog we want to give you some insight into what these key components are, and the most important information you want to include in each section of your business plan.

Here's our top 5 components of a business plan:

Management and organizational summary

Environmental scan

Sales and marketing plan

Operations model

Financial model

#1 - Management and organizational summary

The number one section that we always recommend is the management and organizational summary.

More specifically, have the organizational structure and organizational chart in your business plan.

Use a simple tool like Canva (no, we're not sponsored, we just love Canva), to make an organizational chart, sort of like this:

list at least ten components of a business plan

It's super easy to make and (clearly) doesn't have to be the most beautiful thing in the world.

That said, it's very important to not only highlight what the organizational structure looks like, in addition to describing what each key role entails, as well as the approximate compensation strategy.

This will give whoever reads the business plan (investors, lenders, partners, staff, etc.) an idea of what the company structure will be.

#2 - Environmental scan

An environmental scan is a fancy way of saying "market research" for a business plan. However, this is just a bit more targeted.

"Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing." – Wernher von Braun

An environmental scan is a compilation of research that understands some of these topics:

Consumer demographics,

Potential size of the target market,

The geographic and location details of your target market,

Considerations for the area,

Opportunities or gaps within the market,

Competitor details.

Some of this info can be highlighted in other sections like the marketing, sales, and even risk sections of a business plan, but here is a great spot to include all this info about the market, and prove that you know your stuff.

#3 - Sales and marketing plan

What is a business plan without sales and marketing?

Empty. That's what we think at least.

But this is arguably one of the most important parts of a business plan because for a lack of better words, this describes how you're going to make money.

Some of the important concepts and info with regards to sales and marketing to include in your business plan are:

Sales forecast,

Sales channels,

Marketing channels,

Digital marketings strategy,

Rollout plan for marketing and sales,

Target consumers and demographics.

In a nutshell, you want to tell whoever is reading the business plan how you're going to reach people, how you're going to make money, and who you're going to sell and market your products and services to.

Because this is such an important part of a business plan, it's really important you know exactly how to format this.

If you're not too sure, reach out and send us an email and we can chat about your business plan.

#4 - Operations model

An operations model can be a finicky part of a business plan, but it's important nonetheless.

Why it can be tricky is because there's a lot of different ways that you can write this, and a lot of different pieces of information that you can include.

Commonly, here are the things that you may find in an operations model:

Product & service rollout plan,

Logistics and supply chain model,

Value chain model,

Inventory management systems,

Product & service delivery model (how you're going to get things to your customers).

It's important in the operations section of your business plan to include only what's relevant to your business.

If you don't have inventory, and only offer services, then the best option may be to include a delivery and value chain model, or even a service rollout plan to demonstrate the timeframe of when you plan on offering your products and services to customers.

#5 - Financial model

You often see people say "cash is king".

Well, so is the financial model.

Generally, on a business plan you want to include a few different models:

A P&L model, or "profit and loss", to show income and expenses,

A forecast, to demonstrate revenue and profit in a few different scenarios for the future,

A balance sheet.

At ASC, we aren't accountants or financial gurus... But we know some!

It's always a good idea to consult with an accountant or financial professional if you're learning how to prepare these financial models and documents.

That said, even if you prepare rough estimates for your business, it is going to look great on your business plan.

A little bonus...

Since you've made it this far. Something that is always necessary on a business plan is an Executive Summary.

This is the summary at the start of a business plan that essentially summarizes the entire document in just 1 page.

Yes. The whole thing, in one page.

Think of it as a TL;DR for investors, banks, or other interested parties.

How we always recommend writing the executive summary is to take each section of a business plan, and summarize the key points and ideas into one paragraph. This way, you'll have 5-7 small paragraphs on a page summarizing your entire business.

These can be tough to write, just like the rest of a business plan if you're unfamiliar with them.

So, our best recommendation is to talk to an expert... Not to toot our own horn, but like us! The folks at ASC has over 7 years of experience writing and perfecting business plans, so we know how to speak to them, and we know the nuances of them!

If you want to get your business plan started the right way book your free consultation with us, and let's get started.

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President Biden Outlines Vision for Higher, More Complicated Taxes in State of the Union Address and FY 2025 Budget

Latest updates.

  • Updated to reflect the latest details in President Biden's FY 2025 budget.
  • Originally published following President Biden's 2024 State of the Union Address.

Last week, President Biden’s 2024 State of the Union Address presented a vision of higher taxes for American businesses and high earners combined with carveouts, credits, and more complex rules for taxpayers at all income levels. On Monday, the president released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2025 outlining how the White House would implement the president’s tax A tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. vision, amounting to a gross tax hike exceeding $5.1 trillion over 10 years.

Rather than aiming for a simpler tax code that broadly encourages investment, saving, and work in the United States , the president has promised higher taxes that would decrease economic output and incomes, reduce U.S. competitiveness, and further complicate the tax code.

While the Biden budget claims to reduce deficits as a share of the economy over the next decade, that claim is based on several unrealistic assumptions, including:

  • No extension of the individual and estate tax An estate tax is imposed on the net value of an individual’s taxable estate, after any exclusions or credits , at the time of death. The tax is paid by the estate itself before assets are distributed to heirs. cuts from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( TCJA ) that are set to expire at the end of 2025, despite signaling interest in extending the tax cuts for people earning under $400,000, which would cost at least $1.4 trillion over the 10-year budget window
  • No extension of the administration’s proposed expansion of the child tax credit beyond 2025, which would cost more than $1 trillion over the budget window
  • Economic growth well in excess of what is forecast by the Congressional Budget Office ( CBO )

The FY 2025 Biden budget includes the following major changes, beginning in 2024 unless otherwise noted:

Major Business Tax Provisions in Biden Budget

  • Increase the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent
  • Increase the corporate alternative minimum tax (CAMT) on book income Book income is the amount of income corporations publicly report on their financial statements to shareholders. This measure is useful for assessing the financial health of a business but often does not reflect economic reality and can result in a firm appearing profitable while paying little or no income tax. tax rate from 15 percent to 21 percent
  • Disallow deductions for employee compensation above $1 million
  • Quadruple the stock buyback tax from 1 percent to 4 percent
  • Make permanent the excess business loss limitation for pass-through businesses
  • Eliminate the foreign-derived intangible deduction ( FDII ) and replace it with unspecified research & development (R&D) incentives
  • Repeal the base erosion and anti-abuse tax ( BEAT ) and replace it with an undertaxed profits rule ( UTPR ) consistent with the OECD/G20 global minimum tax model rules
  • Raise taxes on fossil fuel companies and oil extraction

Major Individual, Capital Gains, and Estate Tax Provisions in Biden Budget

  • Expand the base of the net investment income tax (NIIT) to include nonpassive business income and increase the rates for the NIIT and the additional Medicare tax to reach 5 percent on income above $400,000
  • Increase top individual income tax An individual income tax (or personal income tax) is levied on the wages, salaries, investments, or other forms of income an individual or household earns. The U.S. imposes a progressive income tax where rates increase with income. The Federal Income Tax was established in 1913 with the ratification of the 16th Amendment . Though barely 100 years old, individual income taxes are the largest source of tax revenue in the U.S. rate to 39.6 percent on income above $400,000 for single filers and $450,000 for joint filers
  • Tax long-term capital gains and qualified dividends at ordinary income tax rates for taxable income Taxable income is the amount of income subject to tax, after deductions and exemptions. For both individuals and corporations, taxable income differs from—and is less than—gross income. above $1 million and tax unrealized capital gains at death above a $5 million exemption ($10 million for joint filers)
  • Create a 25 percent “ billionaire minimum tax ” to tax unrealized capital gains of high-net-worth taxpayers
  • Limit retirement account contributions for high-income taxpayers with large individual retirement account (IRA) balances
  • Tax carried interest as ordinary income for those earning over $400,000
  • Limit 1031 like-kind exchanges to $500,000 in gains
  • Tighten estate and generation-skipping tax (GST) rules
  • Tighten tax rules for digital assets, including cryptocurrency, and impose a new 30 percent excise tax An excise tax is a tax imposed on a specific good or activity. Excise taxes are commonly levied on cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, soda , gasoline , insurance premiums, amusement activities, and betting, and typically make up a relatively small and volatile portion of state and local and, to a lesser extent, federal tax collections. on electricity costs associated with digital asset mining

Major Tax Credit A tax credit is a provision that reduces a taxpayer’s final tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. A tax credit differs from deductions and exemptions, which reduce taxable income, rather than the taxpayer’s tax bill directly. Provisions in Biden Budget

  • Extend the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) child tax credit (CTC) through 2025 and make the CTC fully refundable on a permanent basis (effective 2023)
  • Permanently extend the ARPA earned income tax credit (EITC) expansion for workers without qualifying children (effective 2023)
  • Permanently extend the ARPA premium tax credits expansion
  • Make permanent the new markets housing tax credit and provide new tax credits for home buying and selling

Additional Major Provisions in Biden Budget

  • Expand federal rules on drug pricing provisions
  • Make permanent the exclusion of student loan forgiveness from income tax

Note : In a forthcoming update, we will estimate the economic, revenue, and distributional effects of the major tax proposals in the FY 2025 budget.

The tax changes Biden proposes fall under three main categories: additional taxes on high earners, higher taxes on U.S. businesses—including increasing taxes that Biden enacted with the Inflation Inflation is when the general price of goods and services increases across the economy, reducing the purchasing power of a currency and the value of certain assets. The same paycheck covers less goods, services, and bills. It is sometimes referred to as a “ hidden tax ,” as it leaves taxpayers less well-off due to higher costs and “bracket creep,” while increasing the government’s spending power. Reduction Act ( IRA )—and more tax credits for a variety of taxpayers and activities. The combination of policies would move the tax code further away from simplicity, transparency, and neutrality.

President Biden reintroduced his proposal to raise the effective tax rates paid by households with net worth over $100 million. The proposal requires these households to pay a 25 percent minimum tax rate on an expanded definition of income that includes unrealized capital gains. This means these households would pay tax on capital gains even if the underlying asset has not yet been sold, operating as a prepayment for future capital gains tax A capital gains tax is levied on the profit made from selling an asset and is often in addition to corporate income taxes, frequently resulting in double taxation. These taxes create a bias against saving, leading to a lower level of national income by encouraging present consumption over investment. liability.

The billionaire minimum tax, as it is commonly known, would increase the complexity of the tax code by using a non-traditional and difficult-to-measure definition of income. It would require formulaic rules for valuing different types of assets, payment periods that vary by asset type, and a separate tax system to deal with illiquid assets. This tax design goes well beyond international norms , where capital gains are taxed when realized and at lower rates than the U.S. in many cases.

Aiming to address Medicare’s growing budgetary shortfalls , the president would raise the hospital insurance (HI) payroll tax A payroll tax is a tax paid on the wages and salaries of employees to finance social insurance programs like Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance. Payroll taxes are social insurance taxes that comprise 24.8 percent of combined federal, state, and local government revenue, the second largest source of that combined tax revenue. for those earning over $400,000 from 0.9 percent to 2.1 percent. The net investment income tax (NIIT), a 3.8 percent tax on passive investment income for those earning over $200,000 (single) or $250,000 (joint), would be expanded to include active business income. This change would raise top tax rates on labor and business income while not doing enough to put entitlements on a path toward solvency.

President Biden also committed to preserving the additional funding appropriated to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden argues this would help raise revenue from higher earners who evade taxes and would also improve taxpayer services. Much of this new revenue may take time to appear as the IRS trains new staff and spends time identifying evasion and enforcing the tax law. However, the other components of Biden’s tax plan will push the code in a more complex direction, making the job of the IRS to enforce the law more difficult.

President Biden proposed to raise the corporate income tax A corporate income tax (CIT) is levied by federal and state governments on business profits. Many companies are not subject to the CIT because they are taxed as pass-through businesses , with income reportable under the individual income tax . rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, a policy he has pushed for since the 2020 campaign. The corporate income tax is the most harmful tax for economic growth and its many problems have led countries around the world to reduce corporate tax rates considerably over the last 40 years to an average of about 23 percent as of 2023. The U.S. had the highest corporate tax rate in the OECD prior to the TCJA, which lowered the U.S. corporate tax rate to be roughly average among OECD countries. Recent studies have determined that lowering the corporate tax rate significantly boosted investment in the United States, a long-term process that continues to yield economic benefits, including gains in workers’ wages.

Raising the corporate tax rate from the current 21 percent to 28 percent, combined with the average state-level corporate tax rate, would give the U.S. the second-highest combined corporate tax rate in the OECD, significantly worsening the competitive position of U.S. businesses and reducing prospects for business investment and workers.

US corporate tax rate proposed by President Biden Budget 2025

On top of a higher statutory corporate tax rate, Biden has proposed increasing the rate of the new corporate alternative minimum tax on book income from 15 percent to 21 percent. The tax was enacted in August 2022 as part of the IRA and scheduled to go into effect starting in 2023, but the IRS postponed its implementation because of the complexity of enforcing it . Taxpayers are still awaiting guidance on several significant questions related to the CAMT, and it remains questionable whether the tax is even feasible. It has certainly failed thus far as an effective minimum tax.

Biden also proposed quadrupling the IRA’s 1 percent excise tax on stock buybacks. Stock buybacks are one of the ways businesses return value to their shareholders. Companies can return earnings to shareholders by issuing dividends (namely cash payments) or with stock buybacks (purchasing shares of their own company). As much as 95 percent of the money returned to shareholders from stock buybacks subsequently gets reinvested in other public companies. Quadrupling the tax rate would likely discourage firms from pursuing stock buybacks, potentially tilting toward more dividend issuances instead, and could discourage investment.

As a new proposal, Biden would expand the cap on deductions for employee compensation above $1 million (Section 162m). The cap currently applies to the CEO, CFO, and the next three highest-paid employees of a corporation, and due to ARPA is already scheduled to expand to the next five additional highest-paid employees beginning after 2026.

Biden’s proposal would expand the cap to cover all employees, raising the cost of compensating employees and making it costlier for corporations to attract and retain top talent. It would mean both the corporate and individual top tax rates would apply to wages, resulting in top tax rates of 70 percent or more including state taxes. If the $1 million threshold is not indexed to inflation, over time the tax would hit more than just the C-suite.

Biden has called for several proposals to subsidize home purchases and boost the low-income housing tax credit, including a tax credit worth $5,000 per year for two years for middle-class, first-time homebuyers. The president would also offer a one-year tax credit worth up to $10,000 for middle-class households who sell a starter home to help improve starter home availability. Finally, the president proposes to provide up to $25,000 in down payment assistance for first-generation homebuyers.

Boosting demand through subsidies is likely to cause housing prices to increase further. What is needed is a greater supply of housing, which would be best accomplished at the state and local level by reforming zoning rules and at the federal level by reforming tax depreciation Depreciation is a measurement of the “useful life” of a business asset, such as machinery or a factory, to determine the multiyear period over which the cost of that asset can be deducted from taxable income . Instead of allowing businesses to deduct the cost of investments immediately (i.e., full expensing ), depreciation requires deductions to be taken over time, reducing their value and discouraging investment. rules for residential structures .

For developers, the president would expand the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and create a new neighborhood homes tax credit to build or renovate affordable houses. This approach would be an inefficient way to build new homes as the existing LIHTC is expensive for the homes produced, with much of the credit value going to developers and financing agencies .

President Biden would renew the expanded child tax credit from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, which would raise the CTC value from $2,000 to a maximum value of $3,600 while removing work and income requirements. This CTC expansion would have major fiscal costs totaling over $1 trillion over 10 years above the current-policy CTC. If we include the underlying CTC expansion from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that expires at the end of 2025 , the cost approaches $2 trillion over 10 years.

In addition to the CTC expansion, the president would expand the EITC and make permanent the expanded Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium tax credits that are scheduled to expire at the end of 2025.

Finally, the president recommitted to not raising taxes on those earning under $400,000, arguing that he would fully pay for expiring TCJA individual tax changes with “ additional reforms ” that would further raise taxes on high earners and businesses. These unspecified reforms would need to total at least $1.4 trillion to cover TCJA extension for people earning under $400,000.

The president’s tax policy proposals as outlined in the State of the Union address would make the tax code more complicated, unstable, and anti-growth, while also expanding the amount of spending in the tax code for a variety of policy goals not related to revenue collection.

The White House estimates the FY 2025 Biden budget would reduce the budget deficit by $3.2 trillion over 10 years. However, this estimate does not include the cost of their intended extension of the TCJA tax cuts for those earning less than $400,000 or for the proposed expanded CTC post-2025. These tax changes alone would wipe out most of the touted deficit reduction.

The Biden budget also assumes an unrealistically high rate of growth in the economy, especially considering the large tax increases proposed on businesses and high earners that will slow growth. The budget assumes real GDP will grow at 2.2 percent annually in the last 5 years of the budget window, while the CBO assumes real GDP will grow about 1.9 percent annually over this period.

In sum, President Biden is proposing extraordinarily large tax hikes on businesses and the top 1 percent of earners that would put the U.S. in a distinctly uncompetitive international position and threaten the health of the U.S. economy. The Biden budget ignores or makes unrealistic assumptions about the fiscal cost of major proposals as well as economic growth under this plan, concealing what is likely to be a substantial cost borne by American workers and taxpayers.

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  1. 12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)

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  2. Typical components of a business plan

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  3. 7 Essential Elements of a Winning Business Plan [Infographic]

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  4. 7 Key Elements to a Business Plan

    list at least ten components of a business plan

  5. The 4 Must-Have Components of a Business Plan

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  6. The Essential Guide to Making a Business Plan

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  4. Business Studies Grade 10 Business Plan and Components Video 1 Seg 3

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COMMENTS

  1. 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 ...

  2. The 10 Components of a Business Plan

    Above all, the numbers should help answer why your business can do it better. 4. Competitive Analysis. A good business plan will present a clear comparison of your business vs your direct and indirect competitors. This is where you prove your knowledge of the industry by breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.

  3. The 12 Key Components of a Business Plan (2023)

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

  4. 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.

  5. 10 Essential Business Plan Components + Free Template

    Here are its key components and what to include in them. 1. Executive summary. The executive summary is one of the most important parts of a business plan. It's the first thing potential investors will read and should therefore provide a clear overview of your business and its goals.

  6. 13 Key Business Plan Components

    13 Key Business Plan Components. We've built a comprehensive guide to the major parts of a business plan for you. From elements like the executive summary to product descriptions, traction, and financials, we'll guide you on all of the key sections you should include in your business plan. As is the case with most big projects, crafting a ...

  7. The 10 Key Components of a Business Plan

    The 10 sections or elements of a business plan that you must include are as follows: 1. Executive Summary. The executive summary provides a succinct synopsis of the business plan, and highlights the key points raised within. It often includes the company's mission statement and description of the products and services.

  8. 32 Components of a Business Plan

    A business plan is a formal proposal to launch a business or invest in an existing business. These typically include a schedule, plan and budget along with an analysis of finances, customers, markets, competition and risks. The following are common components of a business plan. Executive Summary.

  9. 10 Top Components of a Business Plan to Lead You to Success

    What is a business plan and what are the components of a business plan? Think of a business plan as a roadmap for your business. It should cover the who, what, when, where, why and how. In order for your business plan to be effective, it needs to include specific components. There are numerous resources available that provide templates and ...

  10. Elements of a Business Plan: What to Include to Turn Heads

    Company description. Market analysis. Organization and management. Product or service description. Sales and marketing strategies. Funding requirements. Financial projections. The length of your business plan doesn't matter. As long as it includes those eight items, you should be good to go.

  11. Components of a Business Plan: An In-Depth Guide

    Knowing the components of a business plan will give you guidance and keep you on track during writing your business plan. So, let's have a look at the parts (in other words, components) of a business plan and define each part in detail. Click here to Access free resources for your business plan. Click here to Access free resources for your ...

  12. 10 key components of a successful business plan

    Key components of a successful business plan. 1. Executive summary. If you ask us about one business plan component that is the most important, we would say it is the executive summary. The executive summary is the first component that is included in your plan. It is important as it tells your readers (aka investors) what your business is, in a ...

  13. 7 Key Components of a Precise Business Plan (2024)

    A business plan embodies the strategy and operations of your entrepreneurial endeavor. Here's a simplified breakdown of what it may encompass: Market Analysis: A thorough exploration of the market including size, demographics, and consumer behaviors. Competitor Analysis: A detailed examination of competitors, their strengths, weaknesses, and ...

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