10 Qualities of a Good Business Plan Explained

Two female entrepreneurs standing in the backroom of their shop looking at their business plan on a computer.

Eleanor Hecks

9 min. read

Updated October 27, 2023

According to the United States Small Business Administration, there are approximately 32.5 million small businesses at the moment. The number fluctuates from year to year with businesses coming and going. If you want to remain profitable and thrive, you must have a plan to move forward. 

A business plan does far more than help secure venture capital when you’re starting out. You’ll use a strong business plan throughout the life of a company. Use it to refocus your goals, refresh your memory on growth plans, and fulfill marketing goals. Share your plan with employees, shareholders, and investors, and refer back to it to see if you need to make adjustments along the way.

Having a solid business plan can help you successfully start, manage, and grow your business. But what are the qualities that make a business plan more than a document? What does it take to write a strong business plan?

  • What are the characteristics of a great business plan?

An excellent plan works for your company and keeps everyone on the same page. There isn’t a lot of ambiguity in it, and all things are listed in an orderly fashion that’s easy to absorb.

The format of the business plan may be almost as important as the words within it, so use bullet points, headers, bold print, and other tricks to keep the reader engaged.

Whether you already have a business plan written and want to edit it to perfection or you need to start from scratch , there are six characteristics every strong plan has.

1. Clear language

It might be tempting to throw in a bunch of industry jargon to show your knowledge of your niche. Unfortunately, most lenders won’t know what you mean. It’s much better to stick to language anyone can understand. You never know who you’ll need to share your business plan with.

Read over the plan several times for typos and clarity. Read out loud so you can “hear” the words. You’ll catch awkward phrasing by speaking the words. You can never have too many eyes on the plan. One person might catch a particular spelling error while another sees the grammatical errors.

Get feedback from your employees, family, mentor, and friends. You don’t have to follow every suggestion, but you should consider what everyone says and choose the things that make the most sense for your business model.

Look at the business plan through the eyes of someone outside the industry. Does everything make sense? Are there any phrases someone might have to stop and look up? You don’t want the reader to be thrown out of the flow of the text.

2. Employee recognition

Your business plan should include a layout for employee recognition. Developing a strong workplace culture benefits your brand in numerous ways, such as creating staff loyalty and retaining your best people. It’s difficult for a company to thrive and grow without focusing on its workers.

When employees receive recognition for their accomplishments, they are 82% happier in their jobs . They’ll outperform workers in a company without the plan for an excellent culture. If you aren’t quite sure what your company culture should be yet, just make some notes on the things you’ve loved about your favorite places to work.

Brought to you by

LivePlan Logo

Create a professional business plan

Using ai and step-by-step instructions.

Secure funding

Validate ideas

Build a strategy

3. Realistic goals

While you might love to run a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, most small businesses stay relatively small. That isn’t to say you can’t find great success as a small business owner, but make sure your goals are achievable .

As you work through the potential revenue numbers, pay attention to what others in your industry make in a year. You might be able to exceed that by 10%, but thinking you’ll make four times what your nearest competitor does may not be very realistic.

Making your goals too lofty may hurt your chances of securing financing, too. Those considering investing in your business may feel you don’t fully understand the typical earnings of your industry.

4. Great mission statement

The best business plans outline the purpose of your company. Why did you start the business in the first place, and how will you leave your mark with the brand?

For example, a small landscaping company called Massey Services shares its mission statement on its website. Their overall goal is total customer satisfaction . Everything else in their statement on their webpage ties into that philosophy. They also want to build long-term relationships, they want people to trust them, and they value truth and integrity.

When you have a strong mission statement , it drives everything else you do. If your focus is on building relationships, you’ll develop a company culture based on interactions with employees. Your mission statement might arguably be the thing about your company that never changes.

5. Methodology for results

Make sure your business plan has a way to track results over time. Lay out the methodology of any facts and figures used to estimate revenue or what your costs will be. Then, check against those assumptions from time to time to make sure you’re hitting the right beats.

For example, if you plan to hit a certain level of revenue by the end of the first year, how can you break that down into quarters, months, and weeks? What is the best way to make sure you achieve your goals?

You can’t fix mistakes or make adjustments if you don’t know where you are in the journey. Pay attention to how quickly the brand moves toward objectives and make adjustments as needed.

6. Foundation for marketing strategies

How do you plan to get the word out about your brand? You must have a marketing strategy that makes sense for your budget and your philosophies as a brand. Perhaps you plan to work exclusively with online influencers. How much will you allocate to the budget for influencer marketing?

Take time to study who your target audience is and create buyer personas representing the average person who’ll buy from you. While you might need to tweak your personas from time to time, a solid plan, in the beginning, gets things off on the right foot and helps you bring in new customers.

Figure out how much you’ll spend online and offline on marketing efforts. Where can you reach your average customer? Do they mainly hang out on Facebook? If so, much of your budget can go to Facebook ads. On the other hand, if they use TikTok and rarely visit Facebook, you might want to put more time, energy, and finances into building an audience on the newer platform.

7. It fits the need of your business

The best business plan for your company takes into account why you need a business plan in the first place. Are you going for funding, using the information to improve internal operations, pitching your concept to investors, or perhaps communicating your goals to employees?

There are many different reasons you’ll utilize a business plan. They aren’t one-size-fits-all . You may even find you need addendums or additional plans to match the needs of your business at any given time.

If you intend to use your plan in-house to motivate employees or stick to your goals, a one-page plan may be all you need. You can also use a shorter version to test ideas you have and see how they might match the goals of your company.

On the other hand, a traditional full-length plan works best if you need funding from a bank or want to pitch a concept to an outside investor. You can also use a longer plan to get feedback from a mentor or business coach.

8. Your strategy is realistic

In a recent Gartner Execution Gap Survey, approximately 40% of leaders said their enterprise accountability and leadership were not aligned on an execution strategy. If your business plan doesn’t lay out how the business operates, there may be too much room for interpretation that causes dissent within the company and makes people work against one another instead of as a cohesive unit.

Start by ensuring different operational milestones within your plan are attainable. For example, if you share a financial forecast, is it realistic? Based on current revenue, can you realistically achieve your goals? If you’ve brought in $200,000 per year in revenue for the last few years, don’t expect to jump to $400,000 in the next quarter. Make a plan for increasing revenue – but in increments that make sense and are achievable.

You don’t need an unrealistic plan. Company leaders and employees will only grow frustrated and discouraged if they’re unable to hit any target goals laid out in the plan.

9. Clearly identifies assumptions

When you’re writing out a business plan, you may not have all the answers. At best, some of the information is an assumption based on outside data, past performance, and any testing you’ve completed. There will be times when you make a mistake in your estimates.

Be upfront about what your assumptions are when writing out your plan. Did you assume the company will increase 10% in productivity this year because it did in the last few years? Share your thoughts on why you think this is achievable based on past factors, but also make it clear it’s a guess. In reality, the company may over-or-underperform on those expectations.

Show what is an assumption also point to what might need to be updated or refined after a few months. Consider these areas to revisit frequently for updates or to set new goals.

10. Easy to communicate with the right people

Who is your audience? Knowing who will look at your business plans allows you to create it in a format you can share with the right people. Consider factors such as how easily scannable the text is and what it looks like in different formats, such as a document or PDF file.

Who are you sharing it with, and how will they use it? For example, if you include any links, will the person be able to click on them and go directly to the page you want them to go to? Is the viewer likely to read the plan on a mobile device? How well does the format adapt?

Consider who you’re sharing it with and how they’ll need to use it to make sure you offer it in the best format for viewing by that individual. You may even want to save your business plan in a variety of different formats.

  • Keep your plan updated

Your business plan isn’t something you write once and then forget. To truly make yours work for your business model, you must refer back to it and see where you are with your predictions and goals. As you hit high notes, add new objectives and plan them out with measurable goals.

Over time, your business plan won’t look much like the one you used the day you opened your company’s doors. However, the mission statement will likely stay the same, and elements such as company culture won’t change much.

What will change is your knowledge of the industry and how well you can adapt to the challenges faced by all small business owners. With a plan for handling different situations, you’re certain to be one of the small businesses finding success past the 10-year mark.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine . She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.

what should be in a good business plan

Table of Contents

Related Articles

what should be in a good business plan

3 Min. Read

Celebrate National Write a Business Plan Month in December

what should be in a good business plan

4 Min. Read

10 Business Plan Myths That Hurt Your Business

what should be in a good business plan

6 Min. Read

11 Common Business Plan Mistakes You Should Avoid

what should be in a good business plan

8 Min. Read

Tools and Resources to Help You Write a Business Plan

The Bplans Newsletter

The Bplans Weekly

Subscribe now for weekly advice and free downloadable resources to help start and grow your business.

We care about your privacy. See our privacy policy .

Garrett's Bike Shop

The quickest way to turn a business idea into a business plan

Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.

No thanks, I prefer writing 40-page documents.

LivePlan pitch example

Discover the world’s #1 plan building software

what should be in a good business plan

  • Credit cards
  • View all credit cards
  • Banking guide
  • Loans guide
  • Insurance guide
  • Personal finance
  • View all personal finance
  • Small business
  • Small business guide
  • View all taxes

You’re our first priority. Every time.

We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.

So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Here is a list of our partners .

How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

What is a business plan?

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

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

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

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

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

what should be in a good business plan

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

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

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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

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

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

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

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

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

On a similar note...

Find small-business financing

Compare multiple lenders that fit your business

One blue credit card on a flat surface with coins on both sides.

How to make a business plan

Strategic planning in Miro

Table of Contents

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

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

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

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

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

What is a business plan?

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

Products or services

Target market

Competitors

Marketing and sales strategies

Financial plan

Management team

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

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

Business plan vs. business model canvas

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

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

Key partnerships

Key activities

Key propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

Key resources

Cost structure

Revenue streams

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

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

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

Why is a business plan important?

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

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

Helps to define the business goals and objectives

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

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

Guides decision-making

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

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

Attracts investors and secures funding

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

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

Identifies potential challenges and risks

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

Is there enough demand for my product or service?

Will I have enough capital to start my business?

Is the market oversaturated with too many competitors?

What will happen if my marketing strategy is ineffective?

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

Provides a basis for measuring success

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

Are we where we want to be at this point?

Did we achieve our goals?

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

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

How to make a business plan step by step

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

1. Create an executive summary

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

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

2. Write your company description

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

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

3. Conduct a market analysis

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

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

What does the current market look like?

Who are your competitors?

What are they offering?

What will give you a competitive advantage?

Who is your target market?

What are they looking for and why?

How will your product or service satisfy a need?

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

4. Describe your products and services

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

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

5. Design a marketing and sales strategy

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

Pricing strategy

Advertising and promotional tactics

Sales channels

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

6. Determine budget and financial projections

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

Some details to include in this section are:

Startup costs

Revenue projections

Profit and loss statement

Funding you have received or plan to receive

Strategy for raising funds

7. Set the organization and management structure

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

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

8. Make an action plan

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

Types of business plans

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

Startup business plan

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

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

Strategic business plan

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

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

Operational business plan

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

Organizational structure

Staffing plan

Production plan

Quality control

Inventory management

Supply chain

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

Growth-business plan

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

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

One-page business plan

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

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

Best practices for how to make a good business plan

Here are some additional tips for creating a business plan:

Use a template

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

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

Be practical

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

Be specific

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

Be thorough with your research

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

Get input from others

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

Review and revise regularly

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

Create a winning business plan to chart your path to success

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

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

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

Get on board in seconds

Join thousands of teams using Miro to do their best work yet.

Tailor-brands-White-transparent

How to Write a Professional Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

Header-How-to-Write-a-Business-Plan-with-Template

Home » Blog » How to Write a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

During financial uncertainty, many of us press pause on our entrepreneurial aspirations.

Wondering if now’s the right time to start our business . Doubting our ideas and worrying about the what-ifs and maybes! 

A business plan removes the uncertainty and what-ifs from the equation. It validates our business ideas, confirms our marketing strategies, and identifies potential problems before they arise.  

Replacing our doubts with positivity, ensuring we see the complete picture, and increasing our chances of success.

Because you could be starting and running your own business . But you’ll only know for sure it’s the right move for you when you write your business plan.

Here’s everything you need to know to create the perfect business plan.

What is a business plan?

What is a business plan

A well-written business plan contains the recipe for your new business’s growth and development. 

It’s your compass. 

It describes your goals and how you’ll achieve them by infusing the ingredients you need to turn your dream into a reality. 

  • Your business description- Tells readers about your idea, why it'll succeed, and how you'll make it happen.
  • A market analysis- That backs up your company description.
  • Your management and organization plan- Includes employees or contractors because even a one-person show may need a team's help on a contract basis, like bookkeeping services, graphic design, research, and if your business grows, with time, also full-time employees.
  • Your products or services descriptions- Explaining how they work, where you'll get them, and how much they`ll cost.
  • A target audience analysis- So, you know exactly who you`re selling to and what makes them buy what you`re offering.
  • Your marketing and sales plan- Proving your chosen niche is profitable and how you'll reach your customers.
  • A financial funding request/projections - What you need and how you'll get it.

Your business plan is like a GPS, guiding your business to its destination for the next 3 to 5 years. 

Why is a business plan important?

Here’s the short answer.

A business plan enables you to convey your vision to those who can help you make it a reality.  

It does it in 2 ways:

  • It empowers you to evaluate your goals and confirm their viability before entering a marketplace.
  • And equips you with the information, using a proven outline, that convinces others to help you achieve them.

A business plan does it by explaining who you are, what you are going to do, and how you’ll do it. It clarifies your strategies, identifies future roadblocks, and determines your immediate and future financial and resource needs.

Let’s look at what that means and why each part is important.

A business plan helps you evaluate your ideas

Do you have over one business idea or a range of products or services you believe you could bring to a single marketplace? 

If so, a business plan helps determine which is worth focusing on and where to apply your energy and resources by evaluating your idea’s possible market share and profitability before investing.

Clarifies your costs

Your chosen market determines your initial investment and future revenue. And it would be best if you knew those before you invest a dollar in your business idea.

With your chosen idea, your business plan can help you understand your set-up and running costs, the resources you’ll need, and the time it’ll take to get started.

It’s also where you’ll calculate your future sales and revenue goals to ensure they fit your budget and required breakeven point.  

And those are essential because every business needs a consistent cash flow to stay afloat!

Steers your business in the right direction

Your business plan guides you through every stage of starting and running your business . 

It acts as your GPS, giving you a course to steer. Ensuring your business stays on track, helping you achieve your goals every step of the way.  

Acts as your financial guide

As your new business grows, you might need to expand. 

But with expansion come big spending decisions, such as purchasing expensive equipment, leasing a new location, or hiring your first employees.

Your business plan’s financial forecast gives you a solid foundation to build on by clarifying when you’re ready to make those investments, ensuring you don’t overreach.

And when you are ready to employ staff, it helps you with that too!

Helps recruit the people you need

Your business is often only as good as its employees. A business plan helps you communicate your vision and pitch your dream to the best candidates. Building their confidence in your venture and encouraging them to join you.

It's essential if seeking a loan or investment

Do you need a loan from a bank or a venture capitalist/angel investor?

If so, you’ll need a business plan that shows your past and future financial trajectory so potential investors can evaluate your business’ feasibility to determine whether you’re worth the risk.

It's an asset if you want to sell your business

Owners of legal entities, such as LLCs, can sell all or part of their business to raise funds for other business ventures or expand their existing ones.

A solid business plan with proven financial recordings and realistic forecasts based on current performance can make your business more attractive to potential investors. 

And it makes sense because when buyers understand your business model and its potential growth, they’ll see the value in it for them.  

All great reasons to write a business plan, don`t you agree?

Okay, here’s how you do it: 

The steps for creating a business plan

The steps for a creating a business plan

Most business plan templates are similar, containing several steps for writing a conclusive plan. If you’re interested in a very short plan, we prepared a lean (one-page) version, including a template . 

The perfect business plan isn’t one or the other; it’s the plan that meets your business needs.

That said, every business plan should contain crucial elements and essential details . And a rhythm to your outline that encourages action, growth, and investors to read it from start to finish. Our step-by-step guide, along with our template, will help you achieve both. 

But first, you must choose the style that works for you:

Pick a business plan format that works for you

You can tackle creating a business plan in different ways; one could be a long-form, more traditional approach or a one-page business plan that acts as a summarized road map.

Traditional business plans use a standard, industry-expected structure, with each section written in great detail. They require a lot of research because businesses often use them to gain investment, and they can be anywhere from 10 to 50 pages long. 

A one-page business plan uses a similar structure but summarizes each step by highlighting the key points. 

You can write a one-page plan in an hour and use it as a personal blueprint for running your business or as a guide to writing a future traditional plan.

Here are the core component that create a great business plan:

1.  An executive summary

2.  Your company’s description

3. Market analysis

4. management and organization outline, 5. products and service description, 6. target audience analysis, 7. marketing and sales plan.

8. Financial funding request 

9. Financial projections

10. an appendix, 1. an executive summary.

The first section of your business plan’s an executive summary that tells anyone reading in simple terms what your business is and why you believe it’ll be successful.

It’s the most crucial part of your plan because anyone reviewing it often decides whether to continue reading based on what’s in your executive summary.

Your executive should contain your mission statement (why you’re starting your business). A product/service description. Your leadership team and financial information.

Even though the first thing people read is your executive summary, it’s the last section you write. 

The next step is about you:

2. Your company's description

Here you sell yourself and your business by telling readers why you’re starting your business and know it’ll succeed.

You must be realistic, business-like, and detailed.  

Begin by explaining who you are, what you plan on doing, and how you’ll do it. Describe your future market, your target audience, and why they need your product/service. 

Elaborate on your unique selling point (USP) and how your competitive advantage will ensure your success. 

Describe your team, highlight their skills and technical expertise, and if you`re a brick-and-mortar business, discuss your location and why it’s right for your target audience or logistics. 

Now your market:

A great business idea is only as good as its future marketplace. Enter a declining market with an insufficient or uninterested audience, and you’ll be toast.

Choose one on an upward trajectory with people you understand and need your product, and you’ll be in business. 

That makes your market analysis a crucial step in your business plan outline. Here’s where you identify your target audience, competitors’ performance, strengths and weaknesses, and whether the market can sustain your business needs.

Your market analysis should include the following:

  • Your market description and outlook- Provide a detailed outline defining your market, including its size, trends, growth rate, and outlook.
  • Target Market- Describe your ideal customers, including their demographics such as age, gender, employment status, income level, and lifestyle preferences. Also, include your market size, what motivates your ideal clients, and how you'll reach them.
  • Competitive Analysis- Identify your main competitors and list their strengths and weaknesses. Also, highlight any potential roadblocks that might prevent you from entering your chosen marketplace.

Step 4 is where you tell readers how you’ll construct your business and who’ll run it.  

Describe your business’s legal structure, whether you’re a sole proprietor intending to form an LLC or a limited/general partnership with dreams of incorporating an S or C corps. 

Include your registered business name and any DBA brand name you have. And any member’s percentage ownership and managerial duties per your operating agreement.

And consider using a chart to show who runs what section of the business. Explain how each employee, manager, or owner’s experience and expertise will contribute to your venture’s success. And if you have them, include your team’s resumes and CVs.

Now you must get technical about what you plan to offer.

List your products or services and explain how they work. If in the development stage, describe the process and when you’ll be market ready.

Include the following product/service information:

  • Describe how your product/service will benefit your target audience.
  • Provide a breakdown of costs per unit made/sold, life cycle, and expected profit margins.
  • Explain your supply chain, order fulfillment, and sales strategy.
  • Include your plans for intellectual property, like trademarks and patents.

Your product and service description brings you to those who matter most. Your target audience:

The target audience section of your business plan is the most important one to get right. After all, your customers are your business. And the better you know them, the easier it’ll be to sell to them. 

To gain a clear picture of your ideal clients, learn about their demographics and create a client persona.

Those include: 

  • Their location
  • Education level
  • Employment status
  • Where they work
  • How much they earn
  • How they communicate
  • Preferred social media platforms
  • Common behavior patterns
  • Free time interests
  • And what their values and beliefs are

You need your target audience’s demographics to create a branding style that resonates with them. To build marketing strategies that engage their interest. And to identify where to spend your advertising dollars.

Target market’s persona in place, your next step is to describe how you’ll reach and sell to them:

Your marketing plan outlines your strategies to connect with and convert your ideal clients. 

Here’s where you explain how you’ll reach your audience, describe your sales funnel, and develop customer loyalty to keep customers.

Your business plan doesn’t require your complete marketing/sales plan but should answer basic questions like:

  • Who's your target market?
  • Which channels will you use to reach them? (Social media, email, website, traditional marketing, etc.)
  • What sales strategies will you use?
  • Which resources do you need to implement those strategies?
  • Do you have the resources, and if not, where will you get them?
  • What are the potential marketing obstacles, and how you'll overcome them?
  • What's your initial marketing campaign timeline and budget?
  • What your success metrics are, and how you'll measure them?

8. Financial funding request

This step applies if you require funding to start or grow your business.

Similar to the marketing plan step, including your entire financial plan is unnecessary. However, you’ll need to answer specific questions to explain how much investment you require and how you’ll use it.

The following financial funding outline will suffice:

  • Your current capital balance and how much future capital you'll need.
  • Specify whether you want equity or debt.
  • The terms and conditions you need and the duration of any loan repayments.
  • Provide a detailed description of why you need investment, IE., to pay salaries, buy equipment or stock, and what percentage will go where.

Start-ups that need investment must rely on something other than past sales and balance sheets. Here, you’ll need to use financial projections to persuade lenders you’ll generate enough profit to repay their loans. And that investors will get a worthwhile return. 

Your goal is to convince potential lenders or investors that your business will make enough profit to repay any loans or fulfill your equity promises.

Depending on your loan requirements and market, these projections can vary from 3 to 5 years. 

Financial projections aren’t an exact science; you’re forecasting the future! However, accuracy is essential (meaning your projected numbers must add up correctly). And while your goals should be positive, they must also be realistic.

What to include in your financial forecast:

  • Forecasted income statements.
  • Capital expenditures, fixed and variable.
  • Quarterly and annual balance sheets.
  • Projected cash flow statements.

Be specific with your projections and ensure they match your funding requests. And if you have collateral to put against a loan, include it at the end of your financial projections to improve your chances of approval. 

Also, consider using charts and graphs to tell your financial story, as visuals are great for conveying your message.

Use your appendix to list and provide supporting information, documents, or additional materials you couldn’t fit in elsewhere.

If the appendix is lengthy, start it with a table of contents.

What to include:

  • Key employee resumes.
  • Letters of reference.
  • Licenses and permits.
  • Intellectual property - patents or trademarks.
  • Legal documents.
  • Any current contracts.
  • Product pictures and information.
  • Bank statements/credit history.

Conclusion

Financial uncertainty shouldn`t stop you from following your dreams. In fact, recessions are often the best time to start a business . 

And your business plan is one of the main things that can help you make your dream of owning a business a reality.

Take it one step at a time, do your research, and use your business plan to remove the uncertainty of the unknown. 

Because then you’ll know if the time is right to start your business.

This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.

  • Search Search Please fill out this field.

What Is a Business Plan?

Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

what should be in a good business plan

A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
  • There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."

Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.

Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.

While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.

While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.

Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.

These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:

  • Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.

The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.

Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.

A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.

Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

  • How to Start a Business: A Comprehensive Guide and Essential Steps 1 of 25
  • How to Do Market Research, Types, and Example 2 of 25
  • Marketing Strategy: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Create One 3 of 25
  • Marketing in Business: Strategies and Types Explained 4 of 25
  • What Is a Marketing Plan? Types and How to Write One 5 of 25
  • Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps & Skills 6 of 25
  • Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One 7 of 25
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC): Meaning, Types, Impact 8 of 25
  • How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan 9 of 25
  • Business Startup Costs: It’s in the Details 10 of 25
  • Startup Capital Definition, Types, and Risks 11 of 25
  • Bootstrapping Definition, Strategies, and Pros/Cons 12 of 25
  • Crowdfunding: What It Is, How It Works, and Popular Websites 13 of 25
  • Starting a Business with No Money: How to Begin 14 of 25
  • A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing Business Credit 15 of 25
  • Equity Financing: What It Is, How It Works, Pros and Cons 16 of 25
  • Best Startup Business Loans 17 of 25
  • Sole Proprietorship: What It Is, Pros and Cons, and Differences From an LLC 18 of 25
  • Partnership: Definition, How It Works, Taxation, and Types 19 of 25
  • What Is an LLC? Limited Liability Company Structure and Benefits Defined 20 of 25
  • Corporation: What It Is and How to Form One 21 of 25
  • Starting a Small Business: Your Complete How-to Guide 22 of 25
  • Starting an Online Business: A Step-by-Step Guide 23 of 25
  • How to Start Your Own Bookkeeping Business: Essential Tips 24 of 25
  • How to Start a Successful Dropshipping Business: A Comprehensive Guide 25 of 25

what should be in a good business plan

  • Terms of Service
  • Editorial Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your Privacy Choices

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on LinkedIn

Link copied

A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:

  • Product goals and deadlines for each month
  • Monthly financials for the first two years
  • Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
  • Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years

Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.

While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.

For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .

Business Plan Steps

The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Description of business
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Description of organizational management
  • Description of product or services
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Funding details (or request for funding)
  • Financial projections

If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.

Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.

Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.

In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the vision and mission of the company?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?

See our  roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.

Step 2: Description of Business

The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:

  • What business are we in?
  • What does our business do?

Step 3: Market Analysis

In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:

  • Who is our customer? 
  • What does that customer value?

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:

  • Who is the competition? 
  • What do they do best? 
  • What is our unique value proposition?

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

  • What is the product or service?
  • How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?

Step 7: Marketing Plan

In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:

  • Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
  • What channels will you use to reach your target market?
  • What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
  • If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Step 8: Sales Plan

Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts. 

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the sales strategy?
  • What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
  • What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
  • What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
  • What are the metrics of success?

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
  • How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
  • What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?

Step 10: Financial Projections

Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years. 

While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:

  • How and when will the company first generate a profit?
  • How will the company maintain profit thereafter?

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.

For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy. 

If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.

Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .

  • Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. 
  • Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision. 
  • Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
  • Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
  • Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
  • Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
  • Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
  • Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
  • Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting. 
  • Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.

Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates . 

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.

While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:

  • Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
  • List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
  • Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
  • Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
  • Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.). 
  • Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
  • Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
  • Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.

See our wide variety of  startup business plan templates for more options.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.

In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.

  • Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
  • Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
  • Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
  • Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
  • Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”

Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.

Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.

“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”

Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.

Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships. 

Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.

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

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

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

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

Discover why over 90% of Fortune 100 companies trust Smartsheet to get work done.

  • Small Business Tax Prep

Small Business Services

  • Self-Employed

Small Business Owners

  • Block Advisors News Center
  • Build Your Business
  • Manage Your Business
  • All Categories

October 31, 2023

Block Advisors

How to Write a Business Plan Step-By-Step

October 31, 2023 • Block Advisors

QUICK ANSWER:

  • A business plan outlines your business’s goals, services, financing, and more.
  • Business plans vary in length and complexity but should always include an explanation of what your business will do and how it will do it.
  • Business plans serve as a guide for business owners and employees and are key to boosting investor confidence.

Whether you’re a serial entrepreneur or just getting your first small business idea off the ground, creating a business plan is an important step. Good business planning will help you clarify your goals and objectives, identify strategies, and note any potential issues or roadblocks you might face.

Not every business owner chooses to write a business plan, but many find it to be a valuable step to take when starting a business. Creating a business plan can seem daunting and confusing at first. But taking the time to plan and research can be very beneficial, especially for first-time small business owners.

If you want to learn how to create a business plan or if you feel you just need a little business plan help, read on!

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan serves as a comprehensive document that outlines your business’s goals, services, financing, leadership, and more details essential to its success. Think of the plan as the who, what, and why of your new business:

A small business owner learning how to write a business plan

Who are the major players in your business?

What goods or services do you offer and why are they important?

Why are you in business and why should customers choose you?

Business plans can range in complexity and length, but, at their core, all plans explain what the business will do and how it will do it. A business plan serves as a guide for business owners and employees and should boost investor confidence. Some important advantages of business plans include:

  • Shows investors you have an in-demand product or service, a solid team to achieve business goals, and the potential for growth and scalability.
  • Increases the likelihood of securing a business loan, locking in investments, or raising capital. >>Read: A Guide to Raising Capital as a Small Business Founder
  • Helps recognize partnership opportunities with other companies.
  • Identifies and defines competitors within your given industry.

Looking for an examples of a successful business plan? Check out the SBA’s business plan page for walkthroughs of different business plan outlines.

How to Write a Business Plan: 10 Simple Steps

Starting with a blank page is undoubtedly intimidating. So, begin with a structured business plan template including the key elements for each section. Once your outline is complete, it’ll be time to fill in the details. Don’t worry, you’ll know how to write a business plan in no time. We’ve broken each section down to help you write a business plan in a few simple steps.

1. Brainstorm and Draft an Executive Summary for Your Business Plan

This will be the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your business’ written elevator pitch. In this high level summary, include a mission statement, a short description of the products or services you will be providing, and a summary of your financial and growth projections.

This section will be the first part people read, but you may find it easier to write it last. Writing it after building out the rest of your plan may help you condense the most important information into a concise statement. You’ll need to streamline your thoughts from the other sections into a one page or less summary.

2. Create a Business Description

In this next section, describe your business. Add more specific details than the executive summary. You should include your business’s registered name, the address of your business’s location, basic information about your business structure , and the names of key people involved in the business.

The company description should also answer these two questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you plan to do?

Explain why you’re in business. Show how you are different from competitors. Tell investors why they should finance your company. This section is often more inspirational and emotional. Make sure you grab the reader’s attention. The goal is to get them to believe in your vision as much as you do.

What business structure is right for my company?

Answer these six questions to help you find your fit

3. Outline Your Business Goals

This section should serve as an objective statement. Explain what you want to accomplish and your timeline. Business goals and objectives give you a clear focus. They drive your business to success, so dream big. Include objectives that will help you reach each goal. Don’t forget to make your goals and objectives SMART – that is, they should be:

S pecific | M easurable | A ttainable | R elevant | T ime-bound

4. Conduct and Summarize Market Research

Next, outline your ideal customer with some research. Do the math to estimate the potential size of your target market. Make sure you are choosing the right market for your product, one with plenty of customers who want and need your product. Define your customer’s pain points. Explain your expertise in relation to the market. Show how your product or service fills an important gap and brings value to your customers. Use your findings to build out a value proposition statement.

5. Conduct a Competitive Analysis

In a similar way, you’ll also want to conduct and include a competitive analysis. The purpose of this analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of competitors in your market, strategies that will give you a competitive advantage, and how your company is different. Some people choose to conduct a competitive analysis using the SWOT method .

6. Outline Your Marketing and Sales Strategies

Your marketing sales strategy can make or break your business. Your marketing plan should outline your current sales decisions as well as future marketing strategies. In this section, you should reiterate your value proposition, target markets, and customer segments. Then, include details such as:

  • A launch plan
  • Growth tactics and strategies
  • A customer retention plan
  • Advertising and promotion channels (i.e. social media, print, search engines, etc.)

7. Describe Your Product or Service

By this point, your products or services have probably been mentioned in several areas of the business plan. But it’s still important to include a separate section that outlines their key details. Describe what you’re offering and how it fits in the current market. Also include details about the benefits, production process, and life cycle of your products. If you have any trademarks or patents, include them here. This is also a good time to ask yourself, “Should my plan include visual aids?”

[ Read More Must-Have Tips to Start Your Small Business ]

8. Compile Financial Plans

Financial health is crucial to the success of any business. If you’re just starting your business, you likely won’t have financial data yet. However, you still need to prepare a budget and financial plan. If you have them, include income statements , balance sheets , and cash flow statements . You can also include reporting metrics such as net income and your ratio of liquidity to debt repayment ability.

If you haven’t launched your business yet, include realistic projections of the same information. Set clear financial goals and include projected milestones. Share information about the budget. What are the business operations costs? Ensure you are comprehensive when considering what costs you may need to prepare for.

9. Build a Management and Operations Plan

Identify your team members. Highlight their expertise and qualifications. Outline roles that still need to be filled now to establish your company and later as the business grows. Read More: 8 tax steps to take when hiring employees >>

Include a section detailing your logistics and operations plan. Consider all parts of your operation. Create a plan that provides details on suppliers, production, equipment, shipment and fulfillment, and inventory. This shows how your business will get done.

10. Create an Appendix – A Place for Additional Information and Documents

Lastly, assemble an organized appendix. This section can contain any other relevant information a reader might need to enhance their understanding of other sections. If you feel like the appendix is getting long, consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section. Appendices often include documents such as:

  • Licenses and permits
  • Bank statements
  • Resumes of key employees
  • Equipment leases

How to Create a Business Plan: The Bottom Line

A business plan helps you identify clear goals and provides your business direction. Many small business plans are 10-20 pages in length. But as long as the essentials are covered, feel empowered to build a plan that works for you and your company’s needs. Creating a business plan will help you identify your market and target customers, define business aims, and foster long-term financial health.

We’re ready to help you get your business started on the right foot today, and help you find long-term satisfaction as you pursue your business dream. Writing a business plan can be exciting. But if the steps to starting your business are feeling overwhelming, Block Advisors is here to help. Make an appointment today – our experts can assist you with tax prep , bookkeeping , payroll , business formation , and more .

Block Advisors by H&R Block logo

Recommended for you

Defining employee compensation and taxable wages, a guide to raising capital as a small business founder, how to onboard new employees for their first day, find tax help in your area..

How to Write a Business Plan in 2023 [Examples Included]

what should be in a good business plan

Table of contents

So you have come up with a business idea that will turn your company into a Forbes 500 enterprise? Sounds great!

However, you are going to need much more than an idea. You will need to do some comprehensive research, create operational standpoints, describe your product, define your goals, and pave out a road map for future growth.

In other words, you are going to need a business plan.

A business plan is a document that precisely explains how you are going to make your startup a success. Without it, your chances of attracting funding and investments significantly decrease.

Do you want to learn how to create a winning business plan that will take your company to the next level? We created a guide that will help you do just that.

Let’s dive in.

What Is a Business Plan?

Why and when do you need a business plan, types of business plans (what to include in each).

  • How Do You Write a Business Plan?

Best Practices for Writing a Winning Business Plan

Business plan examples.

  • Monitor the Performance of Your Business with Databox

marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_databox

A business plan is a comprehensive document that defines how a business will achieve its goals. It is essentially a road map for growth that includes operational standpoints from all the key departments such as marketing, financial, HR, and others.

Startups use business plans to describe who they are, what they plan to do, and how they plan to achieve it. This is an extremely valuable document for attracting investors.

However, they are valuable for the company members as well. A good business plan keeps executive teams on the same page regarding the strategies they should implement to achieve their set objectives.

Related : Reporting to Investors: 6 Best Practices to Help Increase Funding

While business plans are especially useful for startups, each business should include them. In the best-case scenario, this plan will be updated from time to time and reviewed whether the goals of the company have been met.

The main things that investors want to check out in the business plan are:

  • Product-market fit – Have you researched the market demand for your products and services?
  • Team efficiency – Does your startup have devoted professionals that will work on achieving your goals?
  • Scalability – How probable is growth in sales volumes without proportional growth or fixed costs?

An organized business plan is essentially a blueprint of your goals and it showcases your abilities as an entrepreneur.

Related : Business Report: What is it & How to Write a Great One? (With Examples)

If you want to persuade venture capitalists and banking institutions to invest in your startup, you won’t be able to do it without a solid business plan. Following a clear business plan format is crucial, as it structures your plan in a way that is easily understandable and demonstrates your business’s potential. 

A business plan is helpful in two ways – it allows you to focus on the specific goals you set for the future and it provides external parties with evidence that you have done your research in advance.

But don’t just take our word for it – here are some of the things that researchers from Bplans found out when they were analyzing the benefits of business plans with the University of Oregon.

  • Companies that use business plans have recorded a 30% faster growth compared to those that didn’t use them.
  • Getting investments and loans is twice as likely to happen with the help of business plans.
  • There is a 129% increased chance for entrepreneurs to go past the ‘startup’ phase through business plans.

You should create a business plan before you decide to quit your regular job. It can help you realize whether you are ready or not.

Also, creating a business plan is helpful when:

  • You want to attract investments or funding from external parties
  • You want to find a new partner or co-founder
  • You want to attract talented professionals to join your startup
  • You need to change things up due to the slow growth

While creating a business plan is an important step, you first have to know how to differentiate all the different types. This will help you choose the one that is most suitable for your business.

Here are the most common types of business plans and what you should include in each.

One-Pager Business Plan

Startup business plan, internal business plan, strategic business plan, feasibility business plan.

The one-pager is a business plan that only includes the most important aspects of your business. It is essentially a simplified version of a traditional business plan.

When creating the one-pager business plan, your primary focus should be on making it easily understandable.

Since this business plan is rather short, you should avoid using lengthy paragraphs. Each section should be around 1-2 sentences long.

The things you should include in a one-pager business plan are:

  • The problem – Describe a certain problem your customers have and support the claim with relevant data.
  • The solution – How your products/services can solve the issue.
  • Business model – Your plan on how to make money. Include production costs, selling costs, and the price of the product.
  • Target market – Describe your ideal customer persona. Start with a broad audience and narrow it down by using TAM, SAM, and SOM models. This lets investors in on your thought process. To understand these models better, check out, for example, the importance of proper TAM evaluation for B2B startups .
  • Competitive advantage – How are you different from your competitors?
  • Management team – Include your business’s management structure.
  • Financial summary – This part should revolve around the most significant financial metrics (profit, loss, cash flow, balance sheet, and sales forecast).
  • Required funding – Define how much money you need to make your project a success.

PRO TIP: How Well Are Your Marketing KPIs Performing?

Like most marketers and marketing managers, you want to know how well your efforts are translating into results each month. How much traffic and new contact conversions do you get? How many new contacts do you get from organic sessions? How are your email campaigns performing? How well are your landing pages converting? You might have to scramble to put all of this together in a single report, but now you can have it all at your fingertips in a single Databox dashboard.

Our Marketing Overview Dashboard includes data from Google Analytics 4 and HubSpot Marketing with key performance metrics like:

  • Sessions . The number of sessions can tell you how many times people are returning to your website. Obviously, the higher the better.
  • New Contacts from Sessions . How well is your campaign driving new contacts and customers?
  • Marketing Performance KPIs . Tracking the number of MQLs, SQLs, New Contacts and similar will help you identify how your marketing efforts contribute to sales.
  • Email Performance . Measure the success of your email campaigns from HubSpot. Keep an eye on your most important email marketing metrics such as number of sent emails, number of opened emails, open rate, email click-through rate, and more.
  • Blog Posts and Landing Pages . How many people have viewed your blog recently? How well are your landing pages performing?

Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for monitoring your leads. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!

marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_preview

You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.

To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Get the template 

Step 2: Connect your HubSpot and Google Analytics 4 accounts with Databox. 

Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.

Related : Check out our comprehensive guide on writing a marketing plan report .

New businesses use startup business plans to outline their launching ideas and strategies to attract funding and investment opportunities. When creating startup business plans, you should primarily focus on the financial aspect and provide evidence that supports it (e.g. market research).

These are some of the main things that should be included:

  • Vision statement – Explain your vision for the company and include the overall business goals you will try to achieve.
  • Executive summary – A quick overview of what your company is about and what will make it successful. Make sure to include your products/services, basic leadership information, employees, and location.
  • Company description – A detailed overview of your company. Talk about the problems you will solve and be specific about customers, organizations, and growth plans. This is the place where you should state your business’s main advantages.
  • Market Analysis – Show investors that you have a good understanding of your industry and target market by providing a detailed market analysis. Try to point out certain trends, themes, or patterns that support your objective.
  • Organization and management – This section explains the structure and the management hierarchy. Also, describe the legal structure of your business.
  • Service or product line – Go into detail about the products and services you are going to sell. Explain the benefits they bring and share your intellectual property plans.
  • Marketing and sales – Talk about your marketing strategy and describe how you plan to attract new customers.
  • Financial projections – This section should be about convincing your readers why the business will be a financial success. Create a prospective financial outlook for the next few years and it includes forecasts.

An internal business plan is a document that specifically focuses on the activities within your company. While external business plans focus on attracting investors, internal business plans keep your team aligned on achieving goals.

Related : Internal vs. External Reporting: What Are the Differences?

This business plan can differentiate based on how specific you want it to be. For example, you can focus on a specific part of the business (e.g. financial department) or on the overall goals of the whole company.

Nonetheless, here are some things that should universally be included in all internal business plans:

  • Mission statement – Focus on the practical, day-to-day activities that your employees can undertake to achieve overall objectives.
  • Objectives – Provide specific goals that you want your company to achieve. Make the objectives clear and explain in which way they can be reached. Focus more on short-term objectives and set reasonable deadlines.
  • Strategies – Talk about the general activities that will help your team reach the set objectives. Provide research that will describe how these strategies will be useful in the long term.
  • Action plans – These plans revolve around particular activities from your strategy. For example, you could include a new product that you want to create or a more efficient marketing plan.
  • Sustainability – This refers to the general probability of achieving the goals you set in the internal report. Sometimes, plans may seem overly ambitious and you are going to have to make amends with certain things.

A strategic business plan is the best way to gain a comprehensive outlook of your business. In this document, forecasts are examined even further and growth goals tend to be higher.

By creating a strategic business plan, you will have an easier time aligning your key stakeholders around the company’s priorities.

Here is a quick overview of what a strategic business plan should include:

  • Executive summary – Since strategic business plans are generally lengthy, not all executives will have time to go through it. This is why you should include a quick overview of the plan through an executive summary, you can also create an executive summary template to make the step easily repeatable.
  • Vision statement – Describe what you wish to achieve in the long term.
  • Company overview – This refers to past achievements, current products/services, recent sales performances, and important KPIs.
  • Core values – This section should provide an explanation of what drives the business to do what it does.
  • Strategic analysis of internal and external environments – Talk about the current organizational structure, mission statements, and department challenges.
  • Strategic objectives – Go into detail about the short-term objectives your team should reach in a specific period. Make sure the objectives are clear and understandable.
  • Overall goals – This section should include operational goals, marketing goals, and financial goals.

A feasibility business plan is also known as a feasibility study. It essentially provides a foundation for what would be a full and comprehensive business plan. The primary focus of a feasibility plan is research.

The things you should include in a feasibility plan are:

  • Product demand – Is there a high demand for your product? Would customers be interested in buying it?
  • Market conditions – Determine the customer persona that would be interested in buying your products. Include demographic factors.
  • Pricing – Compare your desired price with the current pricing of similar products. Which price would make your service profitable?
  • Risks – Determine the risks of launching this new business.
  • Success profitability – Is there a good way to overcome the risks and make your company profitable?

How Do You Write a Business Plan Report?

As we explained in the previous heading, there are a few different types of business plan. Depending on the audience you are referring to, the language you use in the plan should be adjusted accordingly.

Nonetheless, there are certain key elements that should be included in all business plans, the only thing that will vary is how detailed the sections will be.

Include these elements in your business plan.

Executive summary

Company description, market opportunity and analysis, competitive landscape, target audience, describe your product or service, develop a marketing and sales strategy, develop a logistics and operations plan, financial projections, explain your funding request, compile an appendix for official documents.

An executive summary is a quick overview of the document as a whole that allows investors and key stakeholders to quickly understand all the pain points from the report.

It is the best way to layout all the vital information about your business to bank officials and key stakeholders who don’t have the time to go through the whole business plan.

If you summarize the sections well, the potential investors will jump into the sections they are most interested in to acquire more details.

You should write the executive summary last since you will then have a better idea of what should be included.

A good executive summary answers these questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you sell?
  • How profitable is it?
  • How much money do you need?

This section of the business plan aims to introduce your company as a whole. The things you include in the company description can vary depending on if you are only starting a business or you already have a developed company.

The elements included in this section are:

  • Structure and ownership – Talk about who the key shareholders in your company are and provide a full list of names. Also, mention details such as where the company is registered and what the legal structure looks like. In most countries, this is a legal requirement for AML regulations.
  • History – This segment is if you already have an existing company. Use this section to show your credibility. Include company milestones, past difficulties, and a precise date for how long your company has been operating.
  • Objectives – Describe the overall objectives of your company and how you plan to reach them.

Market analysis refers to creating your ideal customer persona and explaining why they would be interested in buying your products.

Market opportunities are the gaps that you found in the current industries and creating a way for your product to fill those gaps.

The most important step in this section is to create a target market (persona) through demographic factors such as location, income, gender, education, age, profession, and hobbies.

Make sure that your target market isn’t too broad since it can put off potential investors.

A good idea is to also include a detailed analysis of your competitors – talk about their products, strengths, and weaknesses.

Related : 12 Best Tools Marketers Use for Market Research

Although you may include a competitive analysis in the market analysis section, this segment should provide a more detailed overview.

Identify other companies that sell similar products to yours and create a list of their advantages and disadvantages. Learning about your competitors may seem overwhelming, but it’s an indispensable part of a good business plan.

Include a comparison landscape as well that defines the things that set you apart from the competitors. Describe the strengths of your product and show which problems it could solve.

Related : How to Do an SEO Competitive Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Use the target audience section to fully describe the details of your ideal customer persona. Include both demographic and psychographic factors.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the demographic characteristics of the people who will buy my product?
  • What are their desires?
  • What makes my product valuable to them?

Make sure to answer all of these questions to get in the mindset of your customers.

If you need more details on how to identify your target audience , check our full expert guide.

When talking about your products and services, be as precise as possible. Mention your target audience and the marketing channels you use for targeting this audience.

This section should reveal the benefits, life cycle, and production process of your products/services. Also, it is a good idea to include some pictures of your products if possible.

When describing your products, you should highlight:

  • Unique features
  • Intellectual property rights
  • What makes the product beneficial

Marketing is the blood flow to your business’s body. Without a good marketing and sales strategy, the chances of your product succeeding are very slim.

It’s always best to already have a marketing plan in place before launching your business. By identifying the best marketing channels, you will show your investors that you researched this topic in detail.

Some of the things you should include are:

  • Reach – Explain why a specific channel will be able to reach your target market
  • Cost – Is the marketing strategy going to be cost-effective? How much money do you plan on spending on the strategy?
  • Competition – Are your competitors already using this channel? If so, what will make your product stand out?
  • Implementation – Who will be taking care of the implementation process? Is it a marketing expert? Which suppliers did you reach out to?

Related : 14 Reasons Sales And Marketing Alignment Is Crucial for Skyrocketing Company Growth

This section should explain the details of how exactly your company is going to operate.

These are the things you should include:

  • Personnel plan – Define how many people you plan to employ and their roles. Also, if you plan on increasing your staff, you should explain what would be the cause of that.
  • Key assets – This refers to assets that will be crucial for your company’s operation.
  • Suppliers – Mention who your suppliers will be and what kind of relationship you have with them. Your investors will be interested in this part of the section since they want to be reassured that you are cooperating with respectable counterparties.

The financial projections section is one of the most important parts of your business plan. It includes a detailed overview of expected sales, revenue, profit, expenses, and all the other important financial metrics .

You should show your investors that your business will be profitable, stable, and that it has huge potential for cash generation.

Monthly numbers for the first year are crucial since this will be the most critical year of your company.

At the very least, you should provide:

  • Funding needs
  • Profit-and-loss statement forecast
  • Balance sheet forecast
  • Cash-flow statement forecast

Related : How to Write a Great Financial Report? Tips and Best Practices

When providing the funding request, be realistic. Explain why you need that exact amount of money and where it will be allocated.

Also, create both a best-case and worst-case scenario. New companies don’t have a history of generating profits which is why you will probably have to sell equity in the early years to raise enough capital.

This will be the final section of your business plan. Include any material or piece of information that investors can use to analyze the data in your report. 

Things that could be helpful are:

  • Local permits
  • Legal documents
  • Certifications that boost credibility
  • Intellectual properties or patents
  • Purchase orders and customer contracts

After reading the previous heading, you should have a clear idea of how to write a compelling business plan.

But, just to be sure, we prepared some additional information that can be very helpful.

Here are some of the best practices you should implement in your business plan according to the most successful companies.

Keep it brief

Make it understandable, be meticulous about money, design is important.

Generally, business plans will be around 10-20 pages long. Your main focus should be to cover the essentials that we talked about, but you don’t want to overdo it by including unnecessary and overwhelming information.

In business plan, less is more.

Create a good organizational outline of your sections. This will allow investors to easily navigate to the parts they are most interested in reading.

Avoid using jargon – everyone should be able to easily understand your business plan without having to Google certain terms. 

Make a list of all the expenses your business incurs. Financial information should be maximally precise since it will directly impact the investor’s decision to fund your business idea.

After you wrap up your business plan, take a day off and read it again. Fix any typos or grammatical errors that you overlooked the first time.

Make sure to use a professional layout, printing, and branding of your business plan. This is an important first impression for the readers of the document.

Now you know what a business plan is, how you can write it, and some of the best practices you can use to make it even better.

But, if you are still having certain difficulties coming up with a great business plan, here are a few examples that may be helpful.

HubSpot’s One-Page Business Plan

Bplan’s free business plan template, small business administration free business plan template.

This One-Page Business Plan was created by HubSpot and it can be a great way to start off your business plan journey on the right foot.

You already have fields such as Implementation Timeline, Required Funding, and Company Description created so you will just need to provide your specific information.

HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

This free business plan template highlights the financial points of the startup. If your primary focus will be your business’ financial plan and financial statements, you can use this template to save up some time.

It can also be useful for making sure everyone in your company understands the current financial health and what they can do to improve it.

BPlan’s Free Business Plan Template

If you need additional inspiration to kick start your own business plan, you can check out this free template by small business administration .

You just have to decide which type of plan you want to create and then review the format of how it should look like.

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Monitor and Report on the Performance of Your Business with Databox

Tracking your company’s performance is an indispensable part of quality decision-making. It is crucial that you know how your business strategy is performing and whether it needs to be optimized in certain areas.

However, doing this manually will undoubtedly take a hefty amount of your valuable time. You will have to log into all of the different tools, copy-paste the data into your reports, and then analyze it. And this isn’t a one-time thing – you have to do it at least once a month.

Luckily, Databox can lend a helping hand.

By using customizable dashboards from Databox, you will be able to connect data from all your different tools into one comprehensive report. Not only that, but you can also visualize the most important metrics to make your presentation to shareholders immensely more impactful.

Did you spend a lot of time cutting and pasting? Say ‘no more’ to that. You will be able to use that time to better analyze your business performances and monitor any significant changes that occur.

Leave the grueling business reporting process in the past and sign up for a free trial with Databox.

Share on Twitter

Get practical strategies that drive consistent growth

12 Tips for Developing a Successful Data Analytics Strategy

what should be in a good business plan

What Is Data Reporting and How to Create Data Reports for Your Business

what should be in a good business plan

What Is KPI Reporting? KPI Report Examples, Tips, and Best Practices

' src=

Build your first dashboard in 5 minutes or less

Latest from our blog

  • Playmaker Spotlight: Tory Ferrall, Director of Revenue Operations March 27, 2024
  • New in Databox: Safeguard Your Data With Advanced Security Settings March 18, 2024
  • Metrics & KPIs
  • vs. Tableau
  • vs. Looker Studio
  • vs. Klipfolio
  • vs. Power BI
  • vs. Whatagraph
  • vs. AgencyAnalytics
  • Product & Engineering
  • Inside Databox
  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy
  • Talent Resources
  • We're Hiring!
  • Help Center
  • API Documentation

Pledge 1%

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

  • 3 years ago

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

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

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

Get a Business Idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conduct Market Analysis

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

Product and Service Demand

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

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

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

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

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

Identify Demographics of Target Market

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

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan

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

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

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

SWOT Analysis

  • Competitor Data
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Marketing Expenses Strategy 

Pricing Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike told us,

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

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

It consists of three basic parts:

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

Example of an informal executive summary 

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

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

What should I include in an executive summary for investors?

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

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

Successful business plan examples

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

Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:

When to write an executive summary?

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

What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description

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

  • Mission statement
  • Philosophy and vision
  • Company goals

Target market

  • Legal structure

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

Mission Statement

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

Company Philosophy and Vision

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

What makes your company different?

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

Examples of core values

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

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

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

What is a vision statement?

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

Example vision statements

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

A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.

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

Business Goals

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

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

How far in advance should a business plan?

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

Example of great business goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry resources

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

  • Trade Associations
  • Federal Reserve
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Legal Structure

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

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

Partnerships

Corporations.

  • Franchises.

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

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

Sole Proprietorship

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

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

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions to answer about your products and services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SWOT Examples

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

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

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

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

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

Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan

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

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

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

Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

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

Advertising Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some common pricing strategies are:

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

HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.

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

Distribution Plan

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

Supply Chain Examples

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

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

Examples of Supply Chains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quality Control

  • Legal environment

Let’s look at each for some insight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements 

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

Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan

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

Mike gave the following advice in his interview:

Financial Forecasting Mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ways to get funding for a small business

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

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

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

How funding will be used

When asking for business financing make sure to include:

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Resources

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

  • Sample plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon Boushy

Brandon Boushy lives to improve people’s lives by helping them become successful entrepreneurs. His journey started nearly 30 years ago. He consistently excelled at everything he did, but preferred to make the rules rather than follow him. His exploration of self and knowledge has helped him to get an engineering degree, MBA, and countless certifications. When freelancing and rideshare came onto the scene, he recognized the opportunity to play by his own rules. Since 2017, he has helped businesses across all industries achieve more with his research, writing, and marketing strategies. Since 2021, he has been the Lead Writer for UpFlip where he has published over 170 articles on small business success.

Related posts

  • September 27, 2023

How to Start a Business: The Ultimate Guide (2024)

  • August 3, 2022

Free Business Plan Template (With Examples)

  • May 3, 2022

How to Get a Business License (In 3 Steps)

Join the discussion cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

2 thoughts on “How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)”

My Name is PRETTY NGOMANE. A south African female. Aspiring to do farming. And finding a home away from home for the differently abled persons in their daily needs.

nice work https://binarychemist.com/

Compare listings

Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.

  • Sources of Business Finance
  • Small Business Loans
  • Small Business Grants
  • Crowdfunding Sites
  • How to Get a Business Loan
  • Small Business Insurance Providers
  • Best Factoring Companies
  • Types of Bank Accounts
  • Best Banks for Small Business
  • Best Business Bank Accounts
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Bank Accounts for Small Businesses
  • Free Business Checking Accounts
  • Best Business Credit Cards
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit
  • Build Business Credit Fast
  • Business Loan Eligibility Criteria
  • Small-Business Bookkeeping Basics
  • How to Set Financial Goals
  • Business Loan Calculators
  • How to Calculate ROI
  • Calculate Net Income
  • Calculate Working Capital
  • Calculate Operating Income
  • Calculate Net Present Value (NPV)
  • Calculate Payroll Tax

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

' src=

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

Was This Article Helpful?

Martin luenendonk.

' src=

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.

what should be in a good business plan

  • Case Studies
  • Flexible Products

what should be in a good business plan

  • Expert Insights
  • Research Studies

what should be in a good business plan

  • Creativity and Culture
  • Management and Leadership
  • Business Solutions

what should be in a good business plan

  • Member Spotlight
  • Employee Spotlight

How to write a business plan in seven simple steps

When written effectively, a business plan can help raise capital, inform decisions, and draw new talent.

WeWork 511 West 25th St in New York.

Companies of all sizes have one thing in common: They all began as small businesses.  Starting small  is the corner for those just getting off the ground. Learn about how to make that first hire, deal with all things administrative, and set yourself up for success.

Writing a business plan is often the first step in transforming your business from an idea into something tangible . As you write, your thoughts begin to solidify into strategy, and a path forward starts to emerge. But a business plan is not only the realm of startups; established companies can also benefit from revisiting and rewriting theirs. In any case, the formal documentation can provide the clarity needed to motivate staff , woo investors, or inform future decisions.  

No matter your industry or the size of your team, the task of writing a business plan—a document filled with so much detail and documentation—can feel daunting. Don’t let that stop you, however; there are easy steps to getting started. 

What is a business plan and why does it matter? 

A business plan is a formal document outlining the goals, direction, finances, team, and future planning of your business. It can be geared toward investors, in a bid to raise capital, or used as an internal document to align teams and provide direction. It typically includes extensive market research, competitor analysis, financial documentation, and an overview of your business and marketing strategy. When written effectively, a business plan can help prescribe action and keep business owners on track to meeting business goals. 

Who needs a business plan?

A business plan can be particularly helpful during a company’s initial growth and serve as a guiding force amid the uncertainty, distractions, and at-times rapid developments involved in starting a business . For enterprise companies, a business plan should be a living, breathing document that guides decision-making and facilitates intentional growth.

“You should have a game plan for every major commitment you’ll have, from early-stage founder agreements to onboarding legal professionals,” says Colin Keogh, CEO of the Rapid Foundation—a company that brings technology and training to communities in need—and a WeWork Labs mentor in the UK . “You can’t go out on funding rounds or take part in accelerators without any planning.”

How to make a business plan and seven components every plan needs

While there is no set format for writing a business plan, there are several elements that are typically included. Here’s what’s important to consider when writing your business plan. 

1. Executive summary 

No longer than half a page, the executive summary should briefly introduce your business and describe the purpose of the business plan. Are you writing the plan to attract capital? If so, specify how much money you hope to raise, and how you’re going to repay the loan. If you’re writing the plan to align your team and provide direction, explain at a high level what you hope to achieve with this alignment, as well as the size and state of your existing team.

The executive summary should explain what your business does, and provide an introductory overview of your financial health and major achievements to date.  

2. Company description 

To properly introduce your company, it’s important to also describe the wider industry. What is the financial worth of your market? Are there market trends that will affect the success of your company? What is the state of the industry and its future potential? Use data to support your claims and be sure to include the full gamut of information—both positive and negative—to provide investors and your employees a complete and accurate portrayal of your company’s milieu. 

Go on to describe your company and what it provides your customers. Are you a sole proprietor , LLC, partnership, or corporation? Are you an established company or a budding startup? What does your leadership team look like and how many employees do you have? This section should provide both historical and future context around your business, including its founding story, mission statement , and vision for the future. 

It’s essential to showcase your point of difference in your company description, as well as any advantages you may have in terms of expert talent or leading technology. This is typically one of the first pieces of the plan to be written.

3. Market analysis and opportunity

Research is key in completing a business plan and, ideally, more time should be spent on research and analysis than writing the plan itself. Understanding the size, growth, history, future potential, and current risks inherent to the wider market is essential for the success of your business, and these considerations should be described here. 

In addition to this, it’s important to include research into the target demographic of your product or service. This might be in the form of fictional customer personas, or a broader overview of the income, location, age, gender, and buying habits of your existing and potential customers. 

Though the research should be objective, the analysis in this section is a good place to reiterate your point of difference and the ways you plan to capture the market and surpass your competition.

4. Competitive analysis 

Beyond explaining the elements that differentiate you from your competition, it’s important to provide an in-depth analysis of your competitors themselves.

This research should delve into the operations, financials, history, leadership, and distribution channels of your direct and indirect competitors. It should explore the value propositions of these competitors, and explain the ways you can compete with, or exploit, their strengths and weaknesses. 

5. Execution plan: operations, development, management 

This segment provides details around how you’re going to do the work necessary to fulfill this plan. It should include information about your organizational structure and the everyday operations of your team, contractors, and physical and digital assets.

Consider including your company’s organizational chart, as well as more in-depth information on the leadership team: Who are they? What are their backgrounds? What do they bring to the table? Potentially include the résumés of key people on your team. 

For startups, your execution plan should include how long it will take to begin operations, and then how much longer to reach profitability. For established companies, it’s a good idea to outline how long it will take to execute your plan, and the ways in which you will change existing operations.

If applicable, it’s also beneficial to include your strategy for hiring new team members and scaling into different markets. 

6. Marketing plan 

It’s essential to have a comprehensive marketing plan in place as you scale operations or kick off a new strategy—and this should be shared with your stakeholders and employees. This segment of your business plan should show how you’re going to promote your business, attract customers, and retain existing clients.

Include brand messaging, marketing assets, and the timeline and budget for engaging consumers across different channels. Potentially include a marketing SWOT analysis into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Evaluate the way your competitors market themselves, and how your target audience responds—or doesn’t respond—to these messages.

WeWork 222 Exhibition Street in Melbourne, Australia.

7. Financial history and projections  

It’s essential to disclose all finances involved in running your company within your business plan. This is so your shareholders properly understand how you’re projected to perform going forward, and the progress you’ve made so far. 

You should include your income statement, which outlines annual net profits or losses; a cash flow statement, which shows how much money you need to launch or scale operations; and a balance sheet that shows financial liabilities and assets. 

“An income statement is the measure of your financial results for a certain period and the most accurate report of business activities during that time, [whereas a balance sheet] presents your assets, liabilities, and equity,” Amit Perry, a corporate finance expert, explained at a WeWork Labs educational session in Israel.

It’s crucial to understand the terms correctly so you know how to present your finances when you’re speaking to investors. Amit Perry, CEO and founder of Perryllion Ltd.

In addition, if you’re asking for funding, you will need to outline exactly how much money you need as well as where this money will go and how you plan to pay it back. 

12 quick tips for writing a business plan 

Now that you know what components are traditionally included in a business plan, it’s time to consider how you’ll actually construct the document.

Here are 12 key factors to keep in mind when writing a business plan. These overarching principles will help you write a business plan that serves its purpose (whatever that may be) and becomes an easy reference in the years ahead. 

1. Don’t be long-winded

Use clear, concise language and avoid jargon. When business plans are too long-winded, they’re less likely to be used as intended and more likely to be forgotten or glazed over by stakeholders. 

2. Show why you care

Let your passion for your business shine through; show employees and investors why you care (and why they should too). 

3. Provide supporting documents

Don’t be afraid to have an extensive list of appendices, including the CVs of team members, built-out customer personas, product demonstrations, and examples of internal or external messaging. 

4. Reference data

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

5. Research, research, research

The research that goes into your business plan should take you longer than the writing itself. Consider tracking your research as supporting documentation. 

6. Clearly demonstrate your points of difference

At every opportunity, it’s important to drive home the way your product or service differentiates you from your competition and helps solve a problem for your target audience. Don’t shy away from reiterating these differentiating factors throughout the plan. 

7. Be objective in your research

As important as it is to showcase your company and the benefits you provide your customers, it’s also important to be objective in the data and research you reference. Showcase the good and the bad when it comes to market research and your financials; you want your shareholders to know you’ve thought through every possible contingency. 

8. Know the purpose of your plan

It’s important you understand the purpose of your plan before you begin researching and writing. Be clear about whether you’re writing this plan to attract investment, align teams, or provide direction. 

9. Identify your audience

The same way your business plan must have a clearly defined purpose, you must have a clearly defined audience. To whom are you writing? New investors? Current employees? Potential collaborators? Existing shareholders? 

Related articles

what should be in a good business plan

10. Avoid jargon

Avoid using industry-specific jargon, unless completely unavoidable, and try making your business plan as easy to understand as possible—for all potential stakeholders. 

11. Don’t be afraid to change it

Your business plan should evolve with your company’s growth, which means your business plan document should evolve as well. Revisit and rework your business plan as needed, and remember the most important factor: having a plan in place, even if it changes.

A business plan shouldn’t just be a line on your to-do list; it should be referenced and used as intended going forward. Keep your business plan close, and use it to inform decisions and guide your team in the years ahead. 

Creating a business plan is an important step in growing your company 

Whether you’re just starting out or running an existing operation, writing an effective business plan can be a key predictor of future success. It can be a foundational document from which you grow and thrive . It can serve as a constant reminder to employees and clients about what you stand for, and the direction in which you’re moving. Or, it can prove to investors that your business, team, and vision are worth their investment. 

No matter the size or stage of your business, WeWork can help you fulfill the objectives outlined in your business plan—and WeWork’s coworking spaces can be a hotbed for finding talent and investors, too. The benefits of coworking spaces include intentionally designed lounges, conference rooms, and private offices that foster connection and bolster creativity, while a global network of professionals allows you to expand your reach and meet new collaborators. 

Using these steps to write a business plan will put you in good stead to not only create a document that fulfills a purpose but one that also helps to more clearly understand your market, competition, point of difference, and plan for the future. 

For more tips on growing teams and building a business, check out all our articles on  Ideas by WeWork.

Caitlin Bishop is a writer for WeWork’s  Ideas by WeWork , based in New York City. Previously, she was a journalist and editor at  Mamamia  in Sydney, Australia, and a contributing reporter at  Gotham Gazette .

what should be in a good business plan

Learn the differences between Class A, Class B, and Class C buildings based on their visual appeal, location, and amenities to see which of them best suits your business.

what should be in a good business plan

Short-term leases can offer startups and established companies some much-needed flexibility

Deducting taxes from employee paychecks.

From federal taxes to 401(k)s, figuring out payroll deductions can be a headache. Here’s how to get started

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Generative AI
  • Business Operations
  • Cloud Computing
  • Data Center
  • Data Management
  • Emerging Technology
  • Enterprise Applications
  • IT Leadership
  • Digital Transformation
  • IT Strategy
  • IT Management
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • IT Operations
  • Project Management
  • Software Development
  • Vendors and Providers
  • Enterprise Buyer’s Guides
  • United States
  • Middle East
  • Italia (Italy)
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
  • Data Analytics & AI
  • Newsletters
  • Foundry Careers
  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy
  • Cookie Policy
  • Copyright Notice
  • Member Preferences
  • About AdChoices
  • Your California Privacy Rights

Our Network

  • Computerworld
  • Network World

6 essential elements of a good business plan

Entrepreneurs, executives and venture capitalists discuss how to craft a business plan that will impress investors and be a good road map for your company.

road map travel salesman

Whether you are just starting out and need startup investment or are looking to expand your business and raise capital, a business plan is a must. Indeed, a business plan is not only essential if you want to get people to invest in your idea, it can help you articulate what it is you hope to accomplish with your business – your mission, goal(s) and values – and plot the company’s growth trajectory.

However, to be successful, a business plan cannot just be a bulleted list of an entrepreneur’s thoughts and musings, hopes and dreams. It needs to be a serious business document with the following six elements.

1. Executive summary

“An executive summary is the ‘elevator pitch’ of your business plan,” explains David Mercer, founder, SME Pals , a blog dedicated to helping entrepreneurs. “More often than not, landing a new investor relies on hooking them with a great elevator pitch. Without grabbing their attention, your business plan, no matter how well researched and presented, may not stand out enough.”

The executive summary should, in brief, describe the “problem you are going to solve, and why that problem needs to be solved right now,” by you, says Peter Arvai, CEO, Prezi presentation software. “If you aren’t able to communicate that deeper purpose to others, you will have a very hard time convincing investors to fund your idea and people to join your team.” 

Tip: Write the Executive Summary last, after you’ve done all your research and put everything down on paper.

[ Related: 12 tips for creating a must-read business blog ]

2. Description and bios of your leadership/executive team

“The entrepreneur should clearly demonstrate what they are bringing to this venture – the idea, the technical ability or the passion,” says Hossein Rahnama, founder & CEO, Flybits . “Investors want to understand how you will execute using your personal strength.”

You should also “talk about the leadership team,” says Andrew Witkin, CEO, StickerYou . “If the leadership team has a previous track record of building and delivering businesses, this should be highlighted. Business plans serve multiple purposes, but one of them is to build trust, and the team is as important as the product to potential investors and partners.”

“Investors bet on jockeys, not horses, and knowing about who will execute on an idea is key to an investor making an investment decision,” says Richard J. Foster, president, Foster Management & Holdings. “Very frequently I’ll see multiple companies with the same idea, but the one to invest in is the one with the team who has the experience and the credentials to succeed. Having the best idea with the wrong team is a recipe for failure, but proving that your team is the [right] one to execute [your idea] can make all of the difference.”

3. Description of your product(s) or service(s)

“When developing a business plan, it’s crucial to clearly [explain] the need your product or service is trying to address,” says Elena Filimonova, senior vice president, global marketing and strategy, CGS . “Your business plan should highlight how the product or service will address the need, what is unique about your offering and why it would be difficult to replicate. To do this, you should outline key differentiators, features and why the product or service is something that stands out in the market.”

[ Related: 11 ways to build your online brand ]

4. Market/competitive analysis

“Every business plan should have a section that defines the target sales market – who you are selling to,” says Victor Clarke, owner, Clarke Inc. “This is the part that requires considerable research into areas such as industry sales data related to the service or product you are selling and trends within the industry. You should look at competitors and see who they are targeting, look at your current customer base and create a profile of an ideal customer or client for your product.”

“For a business plan to be effective and attractive to investors and partners, you must be able to provide tangible data and information that supports the notion that your demographic is strong and growing, and that market trends support the continued need for your service or product offering,” says Brock Murray, cofounder & COO, seoplus+ .

[ Related: 7 attributes of a successful CMO in the digital age ]

“Sequoia Capital has a great framework that every business plan should use: separate your Total Addressable Market (everyone who conceivably needs your product category), Serviceable Addressable Market (everyone who needs your specific product or service, limited by factors like where you can do business) and Serviceable Obtainable Market (the portion of the market you can realistically capture),” says Christopher S. Penn, vice president, Marketing Technology, SHIFT Communications . “For example, lots of companies say everyone is a customer, and while that may be a TAM, if the company has only one salesperson, their SOM is significantly smaller. VCs and investors especially want to understand what’s realistically obtainable, and splitting out your addressable markets… shows them you’re not just presenting pipe dreams.”

Also be sure to “include a competitive analysis section,” says Bryan Robertson, founder & chief revenue officer, Mindyra . “Every business has competition, so it’s a good idea to research companies in your industry who are fighting for the same customers. You should include specific details about their strengths and weaknesses. This forces you to become very familiar with your market. It also encourages you to think of ways to differentiate your business [from] the competition.”

5. Financials (how much cash you need and when you’ll pay it back)

“Make sure that the plan goes into exacting detail about how much startup capital will be needed, where it will come from and how it will be paid back,” says Bruce Stetar, executive director, Graduate Business Programs, SNHU .  “Equal importance should be given to how you [plan to] pay back capital as how you acquire it. Investors want to know when they will see a return.  Failing to plan adequately for capital acquisition and payback is one of the chief reasons that new businesses fail.” 

“Whether you’re hoping to receive funding to build a brick-and-mortar shop or a technology venture, you must have your numbers straight,” says Erica Swallow, founder & CEO, Southern Swallow . “For tech entrepreneurs, I’m a big fan of the  startup financial model template  developed by startup investor David Teten, in collaboration with a couple of colleagues. Based in a nearly fully-automated Excel worksheet, it enables early-stage entrepreneurs to map out their financial plan, without being too overwhelming. It’s the best startup financial model I’ve encountered over the past five years.”

6. Marketing plan

“It is critical to have a plan [for] how you are going to spend your marketing budget,” says Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation . “Assess different options (paid search, salespeople, flyers, [social media], etc.) and the associated ROI with each.”

“The plan should cover both sales and advertising strategies and costs,” says Stetar, as well as customer acquisition costs. “Be conservative here since you will look good if your over achieve but it will cost you investor confidence if you under achieve.”

A successful business plan is one is easy to read and follow

You need to make your business plan easy to read and follow. “There’s nothing more daunting than to receive an all-text business plan, 30 pages in length,” says Swallow. “Keep your potential investors engaged by including product and user photos, team headshots, colorful headings, financial graphs, charts, tables, anything to make reading more of a pleasure. Even bullet points help.”

Indeed, “don’t underestimate the importance of visuals,” says Arvai. “Researchers have found that presentations using visual aids are, on average,  43 percent more persuasive  than those without.”

Finally, before you go public with your plan, “have trusted mentors and expert peers look over it [and give you] their feedback,” says Sam Lundin, CEO, Vimbly . “Having [someone] review your business plan [before you present it to investors] is crucial.”

Related content

Rocket mortgage lays foundation for generative ai success, 10 fastest growing us tech hubs for it talent, 4 lessons healthcare can teach us about successful applications of ai, white house requires agencies to create ai safeguards, appoint caios, from our editors straight to your inbox, show me more, robust remote access security for the utilities sector advances with zero trust.

Image

NetSuite adds more Text Enhance gen AI capabilities

Image

7 tips for leading without authority

Image

CIO Leadership Live Middle East with Faisal Ali, Group CIO, Gargash Group

Image

CIO Leadership Live Middle East with Bruno Ascencio, Head of Data Transformation at First Abu Dhabi Bank

Image

CIO Leadership Live Canada with Giovanni Pizzoferrato, Chief Technology Officer, Kinaxis

Image

Sponsored Links

  • Digital infrastructure plays a big role in business outcomes. Read this IDC report to learn more.
  • IDC report: Life-cycle services can help align technology, operational, and business outcomes.

Full Scale

What Should a Business Plan Include?

A business plan serves as a roadmap to successfully launch a business. It helps you overcome the challenges you might experience in your industry. Learn how to create and use a business plan for your startup.

One of the most fatal mistakes that aspiring entrepreneurs make in launching a startup is forgetting a business plan . You wouldn’t launch a ship at sea without establishing its routes and the direction you’ll steer it to. Without proper planning, your ship will end up adrift or worst, dramatically sink when the tides hit. And in a volatile commercial industry, the tides are constantly changing.

Avoid common startup mistakes by creating a business plan. A business plan not only strengthens your foundation but also helps you navigate the ever-changing field of business. Chances are your customers’ preferences will change over time and you have to keep up with them. Hence, a business plan also changes accordingly.

But how exactly do you create a business plan ? Is there a template to follow? Should you enlist the help of other experts to write it? Today, we’ll look into what should be included in your business plan and how it should be written. The first step is by understanding what it is and what it is for.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is an official company document that breaks down all the goals of a business and how to achieve them. It basically lays out the groundwork for your idea to come alive. It’s often referred to as the “blueprint of the business”, summarizing your goals.

Although there are many ways to write it, its key point usually discusses the financial, marketing, and operational strategies of the business.   

What is it for?

A business plan serves as a guide for a growing company. It’s a consistent reference for business owners and stakeholders to base critical decisions on. It’s especially useful for early-stage startups to attract investors. When a company doesn’t have a proven track record, it can lay out its full potential instead.

Not only is the business plan useful for the initial launching of a business, but it also helps with pivotal changes. Since the market is perpetually changing, it’s crucial that your plan also evolves with it. Hence, the goals and methods of achieving will be updated. In some cases, a whole new plan is created if the company wants to drastically move in a new direction.   

What’s included in a Business Plan

Although there’s no fixed formula for writing a business plan, there are some identifiable key points. These are generally the items factored in its creation:

1.     Executive Summary

The executive summary outlines the whole plan. You start with a clear introduction of who you are, what you sell, and what your ambitions are as a business. This section includes your mission statement, product description, and the basic overview of your company’s structure. It should also include your financial plans.   

2.     Business Description

The business description provides detailed information about your industry. It must describe its current outlook as well as its profit potential. You will go into detail about your target market and other organizations or businesses you cater to. Also, this section briefly discusses what problem the business is trying to solve.  

3.     Market Analysis

A business must have a firm understanding of its target market and should be able to prove its sustainability. The market analysis provides trends and studies about the target consumers—their size, demographics, buying power, and frequent activities. This section also touches briefly on the competitors.

4.     Product Development

Investors need a clear idea of how you would create and maintain your product. The development plan section contains the details of the product’s design; its production methods, lifecycle, marketing, and development budget. This includes the overall strategy of how it will be sold in the market.

5.     Marketing Strategies

The product is only as good as how much it will sell. Therefore, this section describes how you will present your products and services to the market. This will discuss your marketing campaigns, distribution channels, and types of media you’ll tap into. You will summarize how you intend to reach your customers and pitch your products to them.

6.     Operations and Management

Your investors need an overview of how the business functions. The operations plan highlights the logistics of the company such as team responsibilities, division tasks, and operational expenses. This helps track down who is responsible for certain areas of the business.  

7.     Financial Plans

Money mobilizes the idea. Hence, it’s important to keep an accurate record of where it’s going. This section shows the company’s monetary plans and its future projections. This includes financial statements, balance sheets, and third-party business transactions. For startups, it will mostly contain the target profit and estimates of expenses.    

Tips on Writing a Business Plan

Now that we have an idea of the business plan template , it’s time to learn how to write it effectively. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re writing one for your business.

  • Keep it concise. It serve as a guide for the company and the investors. It needs to be easy to understand and direct to the point. You can’t afford to waste a reader’s time by creating a 100-page business plan. Instead, aim for a summarized version of your plan, only highlighting the important points and outlining the rest.
  • Avoid jargon. Ensure that everyone, especially investors, can understand your business plan. Do not include complex jargon in your content. Save the technicalities for the experts and simplify the terms in explaining your ideas.
  • Keep it up-to-date. As previously mentioned, business plans are not static. Over time, a lot of things in the industry will change and might make your original plans obsolete. Frequently update your business plan according to what’s new in the field and with new methods you’re employing. Remember, a business plan is only useful if it’s still relevant.  

Build your Business

Business plans are important when you’re starting your business from scratch. However, the success of your business still heavily relies on their execution. A lot of startups fail because they can’t push through with what was proposed in the business plans.

More than just articulating your ideas, you need to do a lot more to make them come to life. For one, you’ll need the capital to kick things off and make everything operational. Second, you’ll need to hire the best people to run your operations. Lastly, you have to find investors to sustain your business.

One way to ensure that your business plan is properly executed is by enlisting the help of business experts. Full Scale is an offshore software development company that specializes in helping startups.

We can provide the talent and resources needed to begin your operations. Whether you need project managers, marketing specialists, or technical experts; we’ve got them all. We’ll take care of all the processes of recruitment and management so you can focus on your core competencies.

Ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey? Get your FREE consultation today!

Learn More about Offshore Development

Copyright 2024 © Full Scale

More From Forbes

It Takes More Than A Great Business Idea To Succeed

  • Share to Facebook
  • Share to Twitter
  • Share to Linkedin

The timeless adage "I have a great business idea" has ignited the flames of many entrepreneurs, but the path from concept to profitable business is filled with challenges.

It’s not enough to have a good business idea. You need to know how to run a business.

Running a business comes much responsibility and requires you to be multi-talented. Understanding how to balance the books, manage teams, cultivate customer relationships, and stay compliant with regulations are just the beginning of the journey.

Without this multifaceted expertise, even the most innovative idea may falter before reaching its potential. The reality is that a good business concept must have good management to succeed in a competitive market.

Here are the steps you need to cover to get your business positioned for success:

1. laying the groundwork.

The excitement of a new venture can sometimes cloud a crucial question of whether your business is a viable idea. Before moving forward, you must ensure there's a market for the product or service you want to offer.

Best High-Yield Savings Accounts Of 2024

Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024.

Market viability hinges on various factors, including having a clear understanding of who your customers are, their needs, and their purchasing habits. This involves conducting surveys, interviews, and observing consumer behavior in your niche.

2. Drafting a business plan

With a confirmed business idea in hand, the next step is to write a comprehensive business plan . The business plan will serve as your roadmap, consolidating your vision, mission, and strategy into a coherent plan that demonstrates how you will make your business successful.

3. Financing your business idea

Capital is the lifeblood of any business, and securing the right financing is often one of the most challenging tasks for new entrepreneurs. When looking to fund your startup, consider bootstrapping. Utilize your savings, personal loans, or credit cards to fund your business. This approach gives you complete control in your business.

If you must raise capital, remember to show potential investors what makes your business different and how profitable it can be. High-growth potential startups may attract venture capitalists. VC firms provide financial support in exchange for equity, but the demands for returns can be substantial.

Don’t forget to consider other means of capital such as angel investors , crowdfunding, small business loans and grants.

4. Legal considerations and business structure

Choosing the right legal structure for your business is important. You need to consider liability protection, tax implications, and operational flexibility. The most common business structures include sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and LLC.

Your business structure determines the kind of taxes you'll pay, how you'll manage liability, and your ability to raise capital. Consult with a legal professional or accountant to ensure you select the appropriate structure for your needs.

5. Branding and marketing

A brand is the face of your business, conveying its personality, values, and why customers should choose you. Branding is about creating a compelling narrative that resonates with your target market. From your website copy to your customer service interactions, every touchpoint should reinforce your brand's message.

Marketing is how you'll get that brand message out into the world. From content marketing to social media, advertising, and public relations, your marketing plan should be as intentional and cohesive as your branding strategy.

6. Launching your business

Once the groundwork is laid, it's time for the grand opening. A successful launch is all about generating momentum and establishing a positive image in the market. Ensure that your offer is ready for prime time. Both the product or service itself and its delivery should meet or exceed customer expectations.

Leverage your networks, both professional and personal, to generate excitement. Host a launch event, offer exclusive deals, or collaborate with influencers in your industry. Launch aggressive marketing and sales campaigns that are tailored to attract and convert your target audience. And collect feedback. Early customer feedback can be invaluable. Use this time to listen and tweak your approach based on what you learn.

Transforming a business idea into a successful reality involves a mix of creativity, strategic planning, and relentless execution. Every step, from confirming the idea's viability to launching and growing the business, requires deliberate action and continuous learning.

The bottom line is that while the path to entrepreneurial success is filled with challenges, it's also marked by the immense satisfaction that comes from creating something meaningful, turning your idea into a thriving, impactful business. By approaching your journey with resilience, foresight, and curiosity, you can turn your business idea into a legacy that endures.

Melissa Houston, CPA is the author of Cash Confident: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating a Profitable Business . She is the founder of She Means Profit, which is a podcast and blog . As a Finance Strategist for small business owners, Melissa helps successful business owners increase their profit margins so that they keep more money in their pocket and increase their net worth.

The opinions expressed in this article are not intended to replace any professional or expert accounting and/or tax advice whatsoever.

Melissa Houston

  • Editorial Standards
  • Reprints & Permissions
  • Donald Trump

Why Is Trump’s Truth Social Worth Billions? Experts Have Theories

Former President Donald Trump Attends Pre-Trial Hearing In New York Hush Money Case

O n the cusp of a financial crisis, Donald Trump got help from an unlikely source: His struggling social media platform. Investors approved a plan on Friday to take Truth Social public, increasing his net worth by billions as he’s drowning in legal expenses and owes New York state half a billion dollars in a civil fraud case. The company started trading on the ​​Nasdaq exchange on Tuesday.

But the financial statements of Trump’s firm show scant evidence of a booming business worthy of the $4.7 to $5.6 billion market capitalization reported on Monday. Trump Media & Technology Group, which owns Truth Social, lost money last year, according to regulatory filings. 

The company’s trajectory has led many to wonder how it could have scored such a high valuation. To close observers of American finance, it’s less a sign that Wall Street investors are buoyed by Trump’s social media platform than they are bullish on his chances of returning to the White House.

“It's a barometer for how he's doing in the election,” says Kristi Marvin, the finance guru who founded SPACInsider. “There are definitely people who like Trump and want to support him. They're probably buying the stock. And there's probably other people thinking: If he wins the presidency, who knows?”

Truth Social’s rally began earlier this year. As Trump notched primary victories over the winter, the Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) created to merge with his fledgling social media platform issued millions of new shares. 

In early January, Digital World Acquisition Corporation (DWAC) had 163 shares and closed at $17.32. After Trump clinched the Iowa caucuses, the firm had 8 million shares and closed at $22.35. The next week saw more growth. After Trump won New Hampshire, DWAC had 29.5 million shares and closed at $49.69. 

Some are speculating that the company's valuation will crash after Trump's firm replaces Digital World in the stock market under its new ticker, DJT. Others fear what it would mean for investors if Trump were to sell his shares, especially before the election.  

Last week’s initial public offering, Marvin says, was a signal that investors think Truth Social will garner more users and soar in value if Trump beats President Joe Biden in November. Trump currently leads Biden in some national polls and swing states likely to determine the election outcome.

But the election is still eight months away and Biden has been gaining ground. It also isn't clear that Truth Social would become an omnipresent platform even with Trump in office. He would still have other avenues to amplify his message and there’s little reason to believe that non-MAGA Americans would ever subscribe to the app.

Some investors may have other incentives. The largest institutional investor of the shell company that merged with Truth Social is Susquehanna International Group, the trading firm owned by GOP megadonor and billionaire Jeffrey Yass. According to a December regulatory filing, Susquehanna owned two percent of DWAC, roughly 22 million shares based on its share price.

“It looks like there's an opportunity to influence a candidate,” says Virginia Canter, the chief ethics counsel for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). That infusion of cash “may have provided him some level of access or influence that he might not otherwise have gotten.”

There are already signs that Yass has endeared himself to Trump. After the two recently met, Trump reversed his position on legislation that could lead to a TikTok ban. Yass’s investment company has a 15% stake in ByteDance, the China-based firm that owns the popular video-sharing app. Trump also recently struck a rapprochement with the conservative anti-tax group Club for Growth, of which Yass is its biggest benefactor. “We’re back in love,” Trump told a gathering of its donors, according to Politico, after the organization spent millions over the primary cycle in a failed attempt to crush his campaign. 

“I think it's a way to speculate on his political viability,” says Canter, a former ethics adviser for the International Monetary Fund. “The more successful he is as a politician, the more they’re anticipating success that Truth Social will have as a business entity.”

It’s not the first time that markets have embraced social media companies at levels that appear to exceed their value, according to Karen Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics. Other examples she cites include Uber and WeWork.

“These kinds of valuations that seem insane are surprisingly common,” says Petrou, “They're less common than they used to be when interest rates were low. All sorts of firms have been financed significantly, or capitalized through IPO, well above their estimated value. Some of them had no revenues for years. But the markets were chasing yield.”

In other words: they were taking high risks they thought could lead to high rewards. That could also be the case with the lagging Truth Social, where shareholders are betting that a Trump victory could boost their bottom line. Says Petrou: “Some of this may be people hoping he succeeds.” 

More Must-Reads From TIME

  • Jane Fonda Champions Climate Action for Every Generation
  • Biden’s Campaign Is In Trouble. Will the Turnaround Plan Work?
  • Why We're Spending So Much Money Now
  • The Financial Influencers Women Actually Want to Listen To
  • Breaker Sunny Choi Is Heading to Paris
  • Why TV Can’t Stop Making Silly Shows About Lady Journalists
  • The Case for Wearing Shoes in the House
  • Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time

Contact us at [email protected]

You May Also Like

For more audio journalism and storytelling, download New York Times Audio , a new iOS app available for news subscribers.

The Daily logo

  • March 29, 2024   •   48:42 Hamas Took Her, and Still Has Her Husband
  • March 28, 2024   •   33:40 The Newest Tech Start-Up Billionaire? Donald Trump.
  • March 27, 2024   •   28:06 Democrats’ Plan to Save the Republican House Speaker
  • March 26, 2024   •   29:13 The United States vs. the iPhone
  • March 25, 2024   •   25:59 A Terrorist Attack in Russia
  • March 24, 2024   •   21:39 The Sunday Read: ‘My Goldendoodle Spent a Week at Some Luxury Dog ‘Hotels.’ I Tagged Along.’
  • March 22, 2024   •   35:30 Chuck Schumer on His Campaign to Oust Israel’s Leader
  • March 21, 2024   •   27:18 The Caitlin Clark Phenomenon
  • March 20, 2024   •   25:58 The Bombshell Case That Will Transform the Housing Market
  • March 19, 2024   •   27:29 Trump’s Plan to Take Away Biden’s Biggest Advantage
  • March 18, 2024   •   23:18 Your Car May Be Spying on You
  • March 17, 2024 The Sunday Read: ‘Sure, It Won an Oscar. But Is It Criterion?’

Hamas Took Her, and Still Has Her Husband

The story of one family at the center of the war in gaza..

  • Share full article

Hosted by Sabrina Tavernise

Produced by Lynsea Garrison and Mooj Zadie

With Rikki Novetsky and Shannon Lin

Edited by Michael Benoist

Original music by Marion Lozano ,  Dan Powell ,  Diane Wong and Elisheba Ittoop

Engineered by Alyssa Moxley

Listen and follow The Daily Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music

Warning: this episode contains descriptions of violence.

It’s been nearly six months since the Hamas-led attacks on Israel, when militants took more than 200 hostages into Gaza.

In a village called Nir Oz, near the border, one quarter of residents were either killed or taken hostage. Yocheved Lifshitz and her husband, Oded Lifshitz, were among those taken.

Today, Yocheved and her daughter Sharone tell their story.

On today’s episode

Yocheved Lifshitz, a former hostage.

Sharone Lifshitz, daughter of Yocheved and Oded Lifshitz.

A group of people are holding up signs in Hebrew with photos of a man. In the front is a woman with short hair and glasses.

Background reading

Yocheved Lifshitz was beaten and held in tunnels built by Hamas for 17 days.

There are a lot of ways to listen to The Daily. Here’s how.

We aim to make transcripts available the next workday after an episode’s publication. You can find them at the top of the page.

Fact-checking by Susan Lee .

Additional music by Oded Lifshitz.

Translations by Gabby Sobelman .

Special thanks to Menachem Rosenberg, Gershom Gorenberg , Gabby Sobelman , Yotam Shabtie, and Patrick Kingsley .

The Daily is made by Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Dan Powell, Sydney Harper, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens, Rowan Niemisto, Jody Becker, Rikki Novetsky, John Ketchum, Nina Feldman, Will Reid, Carlos Prieto, Ben Calhoun, Susan Lee, Lexie Diao, Mary Wilson, Alex Stern, Dan Farrell, Sophia Lanman, Shannon Lin, Diane Wong, Devon Taylor, Alyssa Moxley, Summer Thomad, Olivia Natt, Daniel Ramirez and Brendan Klinkenberg.

Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Paula Szuchman, Lisa Tobin, Larissa Anderson, Julia Simon, Sofia Milan, Mahima Chablani, Elizabeth Davis-Moorer, Jeffrey Miranda, Renan Borelli, Maddy Masiello, Isabella Anderson and Nina Lassam.

Advertisement

Are banks, post offices, UPS and FedEx open on Good Friday? Here's what to know

what should be in a good business plan

This upcoming weekend is Easter weekend, meaning Friday, March 29 is Good Friday .

Good Friday is the day in which Christian and Catholic churches across the world commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. "From the early days of Christianity, Good Friday was observed as a day of sorrow, penance, and fasting," Britannica notes.

Easter falls on Sunday, March 31 this year, and it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and follows a 40-day period known as Lent. The date the holidays are celebrated changes depending on the year because Easter is one of several "moveable feasts" in the liturgical year, according to the History Channel. Other examples of "moveable feasts" include  Ash Wednesday  and Palm Sunday.

Here's what to know about bank, mail and shipping operations on Good Friday.

What is Good Friday?: What the holy day means for Christians around the world

Is the post office open on Good Friday? Will mail be delivered?

U.S. Postal Service facilities will have normal operations on Friday, March 29, meaning USPS facilities will be open for retail transactions and mail will be delivered as usual, the agency confirmed to USA TODAY.

Are banks open on Good Friday?

Bank branches will largely be open on Good Friday.

Capital One, Bank of America, CitiBank and JPMorgan Chase, among others, confirmed to USA TODAY branches would be open on Friday.

Is UPS open on Good Friday? Will packages be delivered?

UPS pickup and delivery services are available and UPS Store locations will be open on Friday, according to the company's website .

Is FedEx open on Good Friday? Will packages be delivered?

FedEx pickup and delivery services are available and FedEx Office locations will be open on Friday, according to the company's website .

Gabe Hauari is a national trending news reporter at USA TODAY. You can follow him on X  @GabeHauari  or email him at [email protected].

  • The best retirement plans for individuals
  • Best employer-sponsored retirement plans
  • Best retirement plans for self-employed individuals and small businesses
  • Which retirement plan is best for you?
  • Why You Should Trust Us

Best Retirement Plans in April 2024

Affiliate links for the products on this page are from partners that compensate us and terms apply to offers listed (see our advertiser disclosure with our list of partners for more details). However, our opinions are our own. See how we rate products and services to help you make smart decisions with your money.

The best retirement plan depends on your situation. You'll probably qualify for multiple retirement savings vehicles if you have taxable income or work for an employer. And even if you don't work, you'll still have options.

You can set up most retirement accounts through employers, but you'll also be able to open and manage your retirement accounts.

Best Retirement Plans

The primary types of retirement accounts are:

  • Traditional IRAs : a tax-advantaged savings account that lets your funds grow tax-deferred
  • Roth IRAs : a tax-advantaged savings account of after-tax funds (money that you've already paid taxes on)
  • Spousal IRAs: spouses earning a low (or no) annual income may open a separate IRA in their spouse's name 
  • Rollover IRAs: funds moved over from a former employer 401(k) plan into an IRA
  • 401(k) plans : traditional or Roth, typically offered by for-profit employers
  • 403(b) plans : available to most non-profit employees
  • 457(b) plans: reserved for government employees
  • Thrift savings plans : reserved for government employees

what should be in a good business plan

Additional individual retirement accounts include nondeductible IRAs or self-directed IRAs (more on that below). Investors also have the option to invest in precious metals with gold IRAs and silver IRAs. The best gold IRAs offer liquidity, low spread fees, account flexibility, low account minimums, and human advisor access. 

You can't use the traditional 401(k) account if you're self-employed. Instead, you'll have to pick a solo 401(k) or SEP IRA (you can supplement either account with an IRA if you choose).

Here are the options for small business retirement accounts:

SIMPLE IRAs

  • Payroll deduction IRAs

Wealthfront Wealthfront IRA

Wealthfront's investment services feature a 0.25% annual fee and $500 minimum deposit, the robo-advisor offers a wide range of account types and investment strategies.

0.25%; 0.06 - 0.13% for low-cost investment funds

Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP IRAs

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Low annual fee for investment accounts; crypto trust investments available
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Tax-loss harvesting
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Mobile app and investing and retirement tools
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Offers traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. You need at least $100,000 to utilize additional investment strategies
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. No human advisor access

Wealthfront is one of the best robo-advisor options if you're in search of low-cost automated portfolio management, and one of the best socially responsible investing apps for features like tax-loss harvesting, US direct indexing, and crypto trusts.

  • Consider it if: You're looking for goal-based strategies for retirement and other savings goals.
  • App store rating: 4.8 iOS/4.6 Android

Best Retirement Plans for Individuals

One of the most appealing components of independent retirement plans like IRAs is that you can open one as long as you've got taxable (earned) income. And even if you have an employer-sponsored retirement account, you can usually set up a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and other independent retirement accounts.

Traditional vs. Roth IRAs

Traditional IRAs let you save with pre-tax contributions, while Roth IRAs allow you to contribute after-tax dollars toward your retirement savings. As long as you're eligible (more on that below), experts generally recommend Roth IRAs for early-career workers who expect to be in a higher tax bracket in the future when they're making withdrawals  and traditional IRAs for higher-income workers who could use a tax deduction today.

Traditional and Roth IRAs share the same contribution and catch-up contribution limits. The 2024 contribution limit is $7,000, with up to $1,000 in catch-up contributions. The biggest difference between the two is tax advantages and income limitations. The Roth IRA limits who can contribute and how much.

For Roth IRAs, single filers can only contribute the maximum amount in 2024 if their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than 146,000. You can still contribute less if you earn a little more, though.

You can find your MAGI by calculating your gross (before tax) income and subtracting any tax deductions from that amount to get your adjusted gross income (AGI). To calculate MAGI, you'll need to add back certain allowable deductions.

Allowable deductions that can be added back include passive income or losses, deductions for IRA contributions, rental losses, deductions for student loan interest, and more. Alternatively, you can ask your accountant or use an online calculator like the one below:

Married couples must earn less than $230,000 annually to contribute the full amount in 2024.

You don't have to worry about income limits for traditional IRAs. However, if a retirement plan at work covers you or your spouse, you must consider the income limits for tax-deductible contributions. Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are funded with pre-tax dollars.

For instance, in 2023, single filers can deduct the maximum contribution amount ($6,500) if they make $73,000 a year or less. Married couples filing jointly can also make full deductions if they make $116,000 a year or less. The amount you can deduct phases out or decreases if your income exceeds these limits.

While you can contribute to a 401(k) and traditional IRA simultaneously, your ability to take a tax deduction for these contributions — across both accounts, combined — ends once you hit those income limits.

Spousal IRAs

There's also an option for married couples where one spouse doesn't earn taxable income. Spousal IRAs allow both spouses to contribute to a separate IRA as long as one spouse is employed and earns taxable income. This account allows the nonworking spouse to fund their own IRA. 

In 2024, each can contribute $7,000 (or $8,000 if they are 50 or older) for up to $16,000 per year.

Rollover IRAs

The best rollover IRAs let you convert your existing employer-sponsored retirement plan into an IRA, something experts generally recommend doing when you leave a job for a few reasons — primarily because you have more control over the investment options in an IRA than in a 401(k), and also because it's easier to consolidate your accounts for record-keeping.

Many online brokerages and financial institutions offer rollover IRAs; some will even pay you to transfer your employer-sponsored plan to the IRA.

Self-directed IRAs (SDIRAs)

You can fund a self-directed IRA using traditional or Roth contributions (meaning the $6,500 and $7,500 contribution limits in 2023 are the same across all three — the 2024 limits of $7,000 and $8,000 are the same, too). But the difference between these accounts is mainly one of account custody and investment choices.

Unlike traditional and Roth IRAs, the IRS requires that all SDIRAs have a certified custodian or trustee who manages the account. These third parties handle the setup process and administrative duties of the IRA (e.g., executing transactions and assisting with account maintenance).

SDIRAs also give investors access to a wider range of investment options. With traditional and Roth IRAs, you're limited to mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, and other traditional investments. But, SDIRAs allow you to invest in alternative assets like real estate, precious metals, and cryptocurrencies .

Nondeductible IRAs

Nondeductible IRAs are great for those who don't meet the income limits of Roth IRAs or make too much to qualify for a traditional IRA. For example, suppose you're filing taxes as an individual. In that case, you won't be eligible for a Roth IRA (even discounted contributions) if your MAGI exceeds $161,000 in 2023 or $240,000 for a married couple filing jointly.

Contributions for these accounts aren't tax deductible, meaning you'll be funding your IRA with post-tax dollars like a Roth IRA. The difference is that you'll still have to pay taxes on any earnings or interest from the account once you withdraw at age 59 and a half.

Best Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

Employer-sponsored retirement plans are savings vehicles your employer provides. There are several types — including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, and thrift savings plans — and in some instances, your employer will match a percentage of your annual contributions.

For-profit companies generally offer these plans, and most companies give you the choice between two versions: the traditional 401(k) or the Roth 401(k). Traditional 401(k)s grow with pre-tax dollars, but Roth 401(k)s rely on after-tax contributions, just like they do with IRAs.

This means that you can either choose to pay taxes on your contributions upfront or take a potential tax deduction now and pay them later when you withdraw funds from your retirement account.

You can contribute up to $23,000 in 2024, and individuals age 50 and older can contribute additional "catch-up" contributions of $7,500. The maximum limit for employer and employee contributions is $69,000 in 2024. Therefore, the maximum amount those 50 and older can contribute is $76,500 in 2024.

Many employers also offer a 401(k) match. This means that your company may match a certain percentage of your annual contributions. These matches vary for each employer, ranging from 3% to 6%. For instance, if you make $50,000 per year, and your company matches 50% of your 401(k) contributions up to 5% of your salary, your employer can contribute up to $1,250 a year.

However, if you're employer matched 100% of your contributions up to 5%, you'd earn the other $1,250 a year, resulting in a $2,500 total from your employer. 

No matter how big the match, experts generally consider it to be "free money" and recommend taking advantage wherever possible, even if you only contribute enough to get the full match and nothing more.

Also referred to as tax-sheltered annuities, these retirement plans are typically designated for employees of public schools, 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, churches, and other non-profit companies. Like 401(k)s, 403(b)s may include employer matches, pre-tax contribution options, and after-tax (Roth) contribution options.

If you're under 50, you can contribute up to $23,000 in 2024. Those aged 50 and above can contribute an additional $7,500.

In addition to pre-tax and after-tax contributions, you can also contribute to your 403(b) by allowing your employer to withhold money from your paycheck to deposit into the account.

State and local governments and certain tax-exempt organizations can open 457(b)s for their employees. As 403(b)s, you can also contribute to these accounts by asking your employer to set aside portions of your paychecks for your retirement plan. And in some cases, employers may allow you to make Roth — or after-tax — contributions. 

Like 401(k)s and 403(b)s, the catch-up contribution limit is $7,500.

Thrift Savings Plans

Thrift savings plans (TSPs) are retirement accounts for federal and uniformed services employees. Like 401(k)s, these plans let you contribute either pre- or post-tax dollars. But, unlike many 401(k) employer matches, most TSPs offer a full 5% contribution match. This means your employer will match your contributions up to 5% of your salary.

The annual contribution limit for 2024 is 23,000. The catch-up contribution limit is $7,500. You can make up to $69,000 in 2024.

Best Retirement Plans For Self-Employed Individuals and Small Businesses

If you're self-employed or a business owner with fewer than 100 employees, you'll have multiple retirement savings plans to choose from. Each plan has unique contribution limits and eligibility requirements. Take a closer look at your options below.

Solo 401(k)s

Solo 401(k)s are an option for self-employed individuals or business owners without full-time employees. Self-employed individuals can only contribute in one capacity, but business owners can contribute as both an employer and employee (and spouses of business owners may be able to contribute as well), meaning they can contribute twice as much. You can also make pre- or post-tax (Roth) contributions to your account. 

In 2024, the limit increases to $23,000 with up to $7,500 in catch-up contributions. You can earn up to $69,000 in annual contributions. Those aged 50 or older can contribute $76,500.

Simplified employee pension (SEP) IRAs are retirement vehicles managed by small businesses or self-employed individuals. According to the IRS, employees (including self-employed individuals) are eligible if they meet the following requirements:

  • Have reached age 21
  • Have worked for the employer in at least three of the last five years
  • Received at least $750 in compensation in 2022

SEP IRAs also require that all contributions to the plan are 100% vested. This means that each employee holds immediate and complete ownership over all contributions to their account, including any employer match.

Vesting protects employees against financial loss. For instance, according to the IRS, an employer can forfeit amounts of an employee's account balance that isn't fully vested if that employee hasn't worked more than 500 hours in a year for five years.

You can contribute up to $69,000 or 25% of your employee's compensation in 2024. However, unlike the solo 401(k), you can't make Roth (after-tax) or catch-up contributions.

SIMPLE IRAs are available to self-employed individuals or small businesses with no more than 100 employees. According to the IRS, these retirement plans require employers to match each employee's contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to 3% of the employee's salary.

To qualify, employees (and self-employed individuals) must have made at least $5,000 in the last two years and expect to receive that same amount during the current year. But once you meet this requirement, you'll be 100% vested in all your SIMPLE IRA's earnings, meaning you have immediate ownership over both your and your employer's contributions. 

Unlike other retirement plans, SIMPLE IRAs and SEP IRAs give you total control over your retirement account. If you work for a small business that offers either of these plans, this prevents your employer from taking back its contributions or an employer match in the event of your leave or termination.

Employees can contribute up to $16,000 in 2024. You can also add on a catch-up contribution of $3,500 if you're 50 or older.

Payroll Deduction IRAs

There's an even simpler way for small businesses to set up IRAs for employees. With payroll deduction IRAs, businesses delegate most of the hard work to banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. Self-employed people can also set up these retirement accounts.

In other words, employees can set up payroll deductions with those institutions to fund their IRAs. But you'll first need to consult your employer to determine which institutions it has partnered with. These accounts are generally best for employees who don't have access to other employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s and 457(b)s.

For 2024, you can contribute up to $7,000 in annual contributions and up to $1,000 in annual catch-up contributions for employees aged 50 or older. This means you can set aside up to $8,000 if you're at least 50 years old. 

Retirement Plans — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are better retirement plans than a 401(k) for people looking for lower account fees, more investment options, and increased flexibility. If you don't have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) or similar plan, then an IRA may be a good option. 

IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k) plans and 403(b)s are the best ways to save for retirement. The best retirement plan for you depends on the kind of tax advantages you're looking for (pre-tax benefits or after-tax benefits) and whether or not you have access to an employer-sponsored plan with matching benefits. 

$200 a month can be a good amount to contribute toward your retirement, depending on your current age and how long you have until you reach retirement age. You may not be able to contribute much, but contributing a little toward retirement is better than not contributing at all due to compound interest. 

Why You Should Trust Us: Our Expert Panel For The Best Retirement Plans

We interviewed the following investing experts to see what they had to say about retirement savings plans. 

  • Sandra Cho , RIA, wealth manager, and CEO of Pointwealth Capital Management
  • Tessa Campbell , Investment and retirement reporter at Personal Finance Insider

What are the advantages/disadvantages of investing in a retirement plan?

Sandra Cho:

"The main advantage is the tax implications of the account. Depending on the account, taxes will either be deferred or not included at all. For employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s, contributions to the plan are made with pre-tax funds, and the account grows tax-deferred. Taxes are then owed upon withdrawal.

"Roth IRAs, on the other hand, are contributed to with post-tax funds but grow tax-free. Both should be included in an investor's portfolio. Another advantage is that 401(k)s often have an employer matching component. That is, an employer will match your contributions up to a certain point (usually around 3% of your salary). 

"The disadvantage is that retirement accounts have a max contribution limit. Another disadvantage is that these funds cannot be used until age 59 1/2. For younger investors, that can be a long time wait."

Tessa Campbell: 

"Tax benefits and compound interest are two of the major advantages of contribution to a retirement savings plan like a 401(k) or individual IRA. Depending on the kind of plan you open (traditional or Roth), you can benefit from contributions after- or post-tax dollars. In addition, some 401(k) plans are eligible for employer-sponsored matches, which are essentially free money.

"The disadvantage of a retirement plan is that you won't be able to access the funds in your account penalty-free until you're at least 59 1/2 years old. Unless there are no other options, early withdraws from a retirement savings plan isn't advised."

Who should consider opening a retirement plan?

"Every individual should be investing through a retirement plan if they have the financial capability to. At the minimum, investors should try to contribute up to the matching amount for their 401(k) and the maximum amount for their Roth IRA. The growth in these funds compounds over time, helping to enhance the long-term return."

Tessa Campbell:

"I can't think of a single person that wouldn't benefit from a retirement savings plan, other than maybe someone that is already well into retirement. Although some younger individuals don't feel the need to start contributing quite yet, it's actually better to open an account as soon as possible and take advantage of compound interest growth capabilities."

Is there any advice you'd offer someone who's considering opening a retirement plan?

"I would advise them to work with a financial advisor or trusted professional. This will give them insight into where they should be investing their money, whether that be a 401(k), Roth IRA, or another vehicle. There are plenty of people and sources out there who provide important information and can help you create a strong financial future."

"Don't contribute huge portions of your salary if it doesn't make sense with your budget. While contributing to a retirement savings plan is important, you must still afford your monthly expenses and pay down an existing debt. If you're having trouble establishing a reasonable budget, consult a financial advisor or planner for professional help."

Which Retirement Plan is Best For You?

If you're not a small-business owner or self-employed individual, the best retirement plan for you usually depends on your type of employer, marital status, and short- and long-term savings goals. If you're employed, you'll still only have so much control since your employer determines which types of plans you can open.

However, for most employer-sponsored retirement accounts, you can decide whether to make pre-tax or post-tax (Roth) contributions to your account. Roth contributions are best for those who expect to pay more in taxes as they age, but you should consider pre-tax contributions if you don't mind paying taxes when you withdraw money from your account in retirement.

You can boost your retirement savings even more by opening a separate IRA in addition to your employer-sponsored plan (you can still save toward retirement with an IRA if you're unemployed).

Self-employed individuals and small business owners also have a range of options. Solo 401(k)s and SEP IRAs are best for self-employed individuals and small businesses looking to maximize their annual retirement savings (you can make up to $66,000 in total annual contributions or $69,000 in 2024, excluding the catch-up contribution). SIMPLE IRAs and payroll deduction IRAs are better options for small businesses that don't mind offering employees smaller annual contribution limits.

what should be in a good business plan

  • Main content

What the National Association of Realtors' settlement means for consumers and real estate brokers

A groundbreaking $418 million settlement announced Friday by the powerful National Association of Realtors is set to usher in the most sweeping reforms the American real estate market has seen in a century. It could dramatically drive down homebuyers’ costs — and push some real estate brokers out of business.

Here’s a look at how we got here and what to expect in the months ahead.

NAR already lost a big case

For decades, the NAR has required home sale listing brokers to provide an offer of compensation to a buyer’s agent up front. That usually comes out to about 6%, split between a seller’s broker and a buyer’s agent.

But that model has come under intensifying scrutiny from critics who have likened it to a cartel . Late last year, a jury in a Kansas City federal court found the longstanding practice to be a form of collusion that artificially inflated real estate fees, awarding a massive $1. 7 8 billion judgment against NAR .

What changes now for homebuyers and sellers

If the settlement announced Friday is approved by a federal court, the standard 6% commission goes away. Sellers would no longer have to make a compensation proposal to prospective buyers and their agents. Critics have said the encouraged brokers to push their clients toward more expensive properties.

Another new rule would see homebuyers having to sign an explicit deal with a broker before they start working with one — something experts say would lead many homebuyers to forgo using brokers entirely.

The new rules would kick in within months of approval, currently expected around mid-July.

What about the next few months?

Everyone involved in the market should expect “a certain amount of uncertainty for the coming months,” said Marty Green, principal at mortgage law firm Polunsky Beitel Green.

“The industry will be in transition as everyone digests the settlements and market forces begin working,” he predicted. “We will begin to see some creative buyer’s agent arrangements that may have been harder to get traction on before.”

Home buyers and their agents will need to decide on a commission and put it in writing. Sellers, likewise, will need to work carefully with their listing agents as the new rules come into effect.

U.S. consumers might save in the long run ...

The changes could mean buyers will save on commissions, eventually bringing U.S. fees more in line with the much lower transaction costs seen in other residential property markets around the world.

Some commissions could even be cut in half, Jaret Seiberg, housing policy analyst for TD Cowen Washington Research Group, told clients in a note Friday.

The new rules “should lead to commissions falling 25% to 50%, which we view as benefiting online real estate brokers,” Seiberg wrote, but he warned it’s too early to declare “the end of local real estate agents given their local expertise and reputation in neighborhoods. It is why we do not see this following the travel agency model in which online eclipsed local offices.”

... but buyers could face more confusion

Holden Lewis, a home and mortgage expert at NerdWallet, warned of a “potential negative trade-off”: “Buyer-seller negotiations will become more complex, and buyers with plenty of cash might navigate the process more easily than buyers who don’t have a lot of savings,” he said. Seiberg flagged a similar concern in his note, saying it could particularly affect first-time buyers with limited means to pay for an agent.

Brokers and agents have come out against the settlement, saying it will make the home-buying process more byzantine for consumers and discounts the important role agents play in helping them navigate it.

“I’m a full-service real estate agent, so when I go to list my client’s house, I align their goals with my goal, and that goal is selling for the highest amount possible,” said Roy Remick, a realtor based in Northern Virginia, who said he often pays thousands of dollars of his own for services like staging homes to aid the sale process.

“This is ultimately someone saying, ‘You guys make too much money,’ which I don’t think is right for someone to dictate,” he said.

Buyers’ agents will be left “flying blind” since they won’t know how much they’ll end up making from a given home, Remick warned. “We’ll have to make a bunch of phone calls, because now we don’t know what [the commission] is because we can’t see it in the MLS. But we’ve already got an agreement with buyer how much they’ll be able to compensate us.”

what should be in a good business plan

Christine Romans is the senior business correspondent at NBC News.

what should be in a good business plan

Rob Wile is a breaking business news reporter for NBC News Digital.

See how the Key Bridge collapse will disrupt the supply of cars, coal and tofu

The port of baltimore is the top port in the nation for automobile shipments.

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday cut off access to much of the city’s port — causing a suspension of vessel traffic that will disrupt a key trade lane and threaten to further tangle already-stressed supply chains.

The Port of Baltimore was the 17th largest in the nation by total tons in 2021 and an important artery for the movement of autos, construction machinery and coal. It handled 52.3 million tons of foreign cargo worth nearly $81 billion in 2023, according to Maryland data, and creates more than 15,000 jobs.

what should be in a good business plan

Top 10 imports and exports to the Port

of Baltimore in 2023

2023 total: $59B

electronics

commodities

2023 total: $22B

Iron, steel

Seeds, grains,

fruits, plants

Air and space

craft, parts

Coal, oil and

natural gas

Note: not seasonally adjusted. Vehicles excluding railways

and tramways. Nickel, aluminium, paper and wood include

derivatives of those commodities

Source: Census Bureau

what should be in a good business plan

Top ten imports and exports to the Port of Baltimore in 2023

Electronic machinery

and electronics

farmwork and

construction

Iron and steel

spacecraft, parts

Note: not seasonally adjusted. Vehicles excluding railways and tramways. Nickel, aluminium,

paper and wood include derivatives of those commodities

what should be in a good business plan

spacecraft,

bedding, lights

Note: not seasonally adjusted. Vehicles excluding railways and tramways. Nickel, aluminium, paper and wood include

On Tuesday, the Port of Baltimore said that vessel traffic would be suspended in and out of the port until further notice, but trucks would still be processed in its terminals.

“Baltimore’s not one of the biggest ports in the United States, but it’s a good moderate-sized port,” said Campbell University maritime historian Sal Mercogliano. It has five public and 12 private terminals to handle port traffic.

what should be in a good business plan

North Locust

Point Marine

Ports and terminals

Baltimore Port

Truck Plaza

Seagirt Marine

Dundalk Marine

Shipping channels

CSX Coal Pier

Francis Scott

Hawkins Point

Marine Terminal

what should be in a good business plan

“It does cars, it does bulk carriers, it does containers, it does passengers.” said Mercogliano. “So this is going to be a big impact.”

Baltimore’s the top port in the nation for automobile shipments, having imported and exported more than 750,000 vehicles in 2022, according to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an industry group.

About three-quarters of the autos that travel through the port are imports, dominated by big-name brands, including Mazda and Mercedes-Benz. Most of the top companies have enough inventory sitting on U.S. dealer lots that any immediate impact on supply is unlikely, said Ambrose Conroy, chief executive of the consulting firm Seraph.

“It’s too early to say what impact this incident will have on the auto business, but there will certainly be a disruption,” said John Bozzella, president of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

The port ranked second in the country for exporting coal last year, according to the state of Maryland. But it’s not a huge global supplier of thermal coal, and the disruption can likely be made up by replacements from Australia or Indonesia if needed, said Alexis Ellender, lead analyst at global trade intelligence company Kpler.

Baltimore is also a niche port for the soybean trade, focusing mostly on high-value soy used in tofu, miso, tempeh and organic products, according to Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition. Most of those exports are destined for Asia, but Steenhoek doesn’t expect a big spike in tofu prices because several other U.S. ports also ship this sort of soy, including Norfolk, Va., Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C.

All East Coast ports have become more important in recent years as the United States attempts to boost its trade with friendly nations and reduce geopolitical risks related to trade with China, which generally happens via West Coast ports, said Tinglong Dai, a Johns Hopkins Carey Business School professor and expert on global supply chains.

Baltimore port’s suspension is “one more disruption in an already-stressed system” for the global supply chain, said Abe Eshkenazi, chief executive of the Association for Supply Chain Management. Cargo will now have to be rerouted to other ports, which means figuring out where there is enough capacity to move things.

what should be in a good business plan

East Coast ports and shipping density

Ship traffic

Philadelphia

of Baltimore

5th-largest port

on the East Coast

for foreign trade

Newport News

Morehead City

what should be in a good business plan

East Coast ports

and shipping density

PENNSYLVANIA

The Port of Baltimore

5th-largest port on the

East Coast for foreign trade

Coal shipments will need to be rerouted to other ports, Kpler’s Ellender said. And Ryan Petersen, chief executive of the logistics company Flexport, posted on X that the company currently has 800 containers on a slew of ships heading for the port that will need to be rerouted, likely to Philadelphia or Norfolk.

The biggest problem Steenhoek sees from Baltimore’s shuttering is the knock-on effect to other ports. Many ships stuck in the port were destined to make stops at other U.S. ports to load and unload goods before heading overseas, a complicated logistical dance now scrambled by the bridge collapse.

“It just shows how you throw a wrench in the supply chain and the impact is not just confined to that one port,” Steenhoek said.

Tim Meko, Justine McDaniel and David J. Lynch contributed to this report. Editing by Kate Rabinowitz and Karly Domb Sadof.

Baltimore bridge collapse

Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after being hit by a cargo ship , sending at least eight people from a construction crew into the water. Follow live updates and see photos from the scene .

How it happened: The container ship lost power shortly before hitting the bridge, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) said. Video shows the bridge collapse in under 40 seconds.

Victims: Divers recovered the bodies of two construction workers who died , while finding other vehicles trapped and probably containing the other victims, officials said. They were fathers, husbands and hard workers . The entire crew aboard the container ship Dali survived . First responders shut down most traffic on the four-lane bridge after the crew issued an urgent mayday call. It saved lives, Moore said.

Economic impact: The collapse of the bridge, which severed ocean links to the Port of Baltimore, adds a fresh headache to already struggling global supply chains . See how the collapse will disrupt the supply of cars, coal and other goods .

History: The Key Bridge was built in the 1970s and spanned the Patapsco River. Rebuilding the bridge will probably take years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, experts said.

  • Baltimore begins massive and dangerous cleanup after bridge collapse Earlier today Baltimore begins massive and dangerous cleanup after bridge collapse Earlier today
  • Baltimore port workers are ‘living in a dream’ as harbor remains blocked March 28, 2024 Baltimore port workers are ‘living in a dream’ as harbor remains blocked March 28, 2024
  • Rebuilding Baltimore’s Key Bridge will likely take years, experts say March 27, 2024 Rebuilding Baltimore’s Key Bridge will likely take years, experts say March 27, 2024

what should be in a good business plan

COMMENTS

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

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

  2. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It's also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. After completing your plan, you can ...

  3. 10 Qualities That Make a Good Business Plan

    3. Realistic goals. While you might love to run a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, most small businesses stay relatively small. That isn't to say you can't find great success as a small business owner, but make sure your goals are achievable.. As you work through the potential revenue numbers, pay attention to what others in your industry make in a year.

  4. Business Plan: What it Is, How to Write One

    Learn about the best business plan software. 1. Write an executive summary. This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your ...

  5. How To Make A Business Plan: Step By Step Guide

    The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include. 1. Create an executive summary. Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

  6. How to Write a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

    Management and organization outline. Step 4 is where you tell readers how you'll construct your business and who'll run it. Describe your business's legal structure, whether you're a sole proprietor intending to form an LLC or a limited/general partnership with dreams of incorporating an S or C corps.

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

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

  8. How to Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Step 7: Financial Analysis and Projections. It doesn't matter if you include a request for funding in your plan, you will want to include a financial analysis here. You'll want to do two things here: Paint a picture of your business's performance in the past and show it will grow in the future.

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

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

  10. Create an Effective Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Step 1: Write an executive summary. Your executive summary is a concise overview of the key elements of your business plan. It summarizes the business concept, market analysis, competitive advantage, target market, financial projections, and overall strategy.

  11. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    Write the Executive Summary. This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what's in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. Add a Company Overview. Document the larger company mission and vision.

  12. How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

    A good business plan delves into each of the above categories, but it should also accomplish other objectives. Most of all, a good business plan is convincing . It proves a case.

  13. How to Write a Business Plan in 10 Steps

    Don't worry, you'll know how to write a business plan in no time. We've broken each section down to help you write a business plan in a few simple steps. 1. Brainstorm and Draft an Executive Summary for Your Business Plan. This will be the first page of your business plan.

  14. How to Write a Business Plan in 2023 [Examples Included]

    A good business plan keeps executive teams on the same page regarding the strategies they should implement to achieve their set objectives. Related: Reporting to Investors: 6 Best Practices to Help Increase Funding. While business plans are especially useful for startups, each business should include them.

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

    How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page. The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions. A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:

  16. 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.

  17. How To Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Revenue streams: This is where the plan states how the business will make money. All revenue streams should be listed. Every business starts with a vision and a mission, and either a traditional or lean startup business plan can help communicate those details. A strong business plan will outline short-term and long-term goals.

  18. 10 Important Components of an Effective Business Plan

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

  19. How to write a business plan in seven simple steps

    This is typically one of the first pieces of the plan to be written. 3. Market analysis and opportunity. Research is key in completing a business plan and, ideally, more time should be spent on research and analysis than writing the plan itself. Understanding the size, growth, history, future potential, and current risks inherent to the wider ...

  20. 6 essential elements of a good business plan

    It needs to be a serious business document with the following six elements. 1. Executive summary. "An executive summary is the 'elevator pitch' of your business plan," explains David ...

  21. What Should a Business Plan Include?

    1. Executive Summary. The executive summary outlines the whole plan. You start with a clear introduction of who you are, what you sell, and what your ambitions are as a business. This section includes your mission statement, product description, and the basic overview of your company's structure. It should also include your financial plans.

  22. It Takes More Than A Great Business Idea To Succeed

    3. Financing your business idea. Capital is the lifeblood of any business, and securing the right financing is often one of the most challenging tasks for new entrepreneurs. When looking to fund ...

  23. Why Is Trump's Truth Social Worth Billions? The Top Theories

    Investors approved a plan on Friday to take Truth ... But the financial statements of Trump's firm show scant evidence of a booming business worthy of the $4.7 to $5.6 billion market ...

  24. Dave Calhoun, Boeing CEO, to Step Down in Management Reshuffle

    The company's chief executive, Dave Calhoun, said he would leave at the end of the year. Stan Deal, Boeing's head of commercial planes, departed immediately.

  25. Hamas Took Her, and Still Has Her Husband

    The story of one family at the center of the war in Gaza. March 29, 2024, 6:00 a.m. ET. Hosted by Sabrina Tavernise. Produced by Lynsea Garrison and Mooj Zadie. With Rikki Novetsky and Shannon Lin ...

  26. Are banks, post offices, UPS and FedEx open on Good Friday?

    Is the post office open on Good Friday? Will mail be delivered? U.S. Postal Service facilities will have normal operations on Friday, March 29, meaning USPS facilities will be open for retail ...

  27. Best Retirement Plans in April 2024

    Solo 401 (k)s and SEP IRAs are best for self-employed individuals and small businesses looking to maximize their annual retirement savings (you can make up to $66,000 in total annual contributions ...

  28. What the National Association of Realtors' settlement means

    March 15, 2024, 2:42 PM PDT. By Christine Romans and Rob Wile. A groundbreaking $418 million settlement announced Friday by the powerful National Association of Realtors is set to usher in the ...

  29. How the Baltimore bridge collapse will impact supply chains, economy

    Economic impact: The collapse of the bridge, which severed ocean links to the city's port, adds a fresh headache to already struggling global supply chains. History: The Key Bridge was built in ...