How to develop a strategic business plan for a new venture

by Jenny Bowes | Jul 01, 2021

develop a business plan for a new venture

A key aspect of launching any new business venture is planning – but truthfully, many would-be entrepreneurs aren’t sure where to start.

Business planning has had a revamp in recent years. The old business plan has undergone a massive makeover that reflects the contemporary pace of modern business. Now, your forecasts and proposals can be much more sophisticated and yield better results. When the OKR method is included in this process, you’ll have all the tools you need to get your new business venture off to a strong start.

So, how can you put a strategic business plan in place for a new venture, and where’s the best place to begin? We answer this question in this article.

What is a strategic business plan?

A strategic business plan goes a few steps further than a traditional business plan. Business planning previously focused mainly on numbers. However, a strategic business plan takes a holistic approach, encompassing business values, vision and a variety of goals concerning your business’ philosophy, ethos and methodology.

It also focuses on how best to use and optimise your existing resources in a controlled manner.  It’s essential to account for incremental growth so that you don’t exhaust your current resources too quickly. Of course, when setting up a new business venture you don’t have previous data to work from – so a strategic business plan will use industry insights and competitor analysis to shape your organisational objectives.

Why use a strategic business plan for a new venture?

New business ventures are exciting. They leave you buzzing with the prospect of fresh opportunities approached with abundant enthusiasm. It’s easy to get lost within all the excitement that comes along with starting a new business, but getting down to the nitty-gritty is even more important for fledgling companies. That’s where strategic business planning comes in.

This will help you to streamline your business planning process so that you boost your chances of long-term success. We’ve covered some of the other main benefits below…

How can strategic business planning benefit your new venture?

Focus is key when starting any new venture. Without a clear idea of where you’re headed and how you’re getting there, you’ll likely hit some bumps in the road. Many business owners also cite time management as one of their key challenges. Overwhelm can lead to a scattergun approach, which in turn, impairs productivity. If you can clearly see where you need to focus your time, money and efforts at each stage, you can be confident that nothing is being overlooked as you progress.

  • Proactivity over reactivity

When you anticipate the good and the bad, you’ll be prepared for whatever life throws at you. Business can be unpredictable and external influences are not always under your control. However, forward planning for unexpected events enables you to prepare for any unfavourable scenarios before they occur. This allows you to act accordingly and minimise any negative impact. The same can be said for positive, yet unanticipated occurrences such as a steep rise in sales. 

Creating a strategic business plan puts you one step ahead of the game and significantly increases your chances of success!

  • Increased efficiency

Streamlining is key for new ventures. Many new businesses waste a significant portion of their resources during their first few years, simply because they’re unable to adequately manage them. Operational efficiency is key for any new business especially as it grows and evolves.

  • Improved resilience

Markets change and events occur that are not within your control – take Covid, for instance. But, with strategic business planning, you can increase your long-term resilience by building a more adaptable and flexible organisation. 

Things to consider during the strategic business planning process

Strategic business plans are comprehensive and incorporate multiple elements. Therefore, you’ll need to gather some information and consider various different aspects of your business (both now and how you want it to look in the future) before you begin.

To start with, consider the following elements:

Your vision and values: Who are you, what do you do and most importantly, why? What makes you different? What do you stand for?

Your industry and competitors: Who else is doing what you do, and how do they do it? What’s their market share – and what should yours be? How are you contributing to, or evolving your industry?

Your clients and customers: What does your ideal client or customer look like? Who are they, what do they do? Creating an avatar for your ideal customer can be useful especially for marketing and branding going forward. Go into detail about their salary, lifestyle, likes and dislikes and what other companies (both competitor and non-competitor) they engage with. 

Your products and services: What exactly do you offer? List absolutely everything with a detailed description.

Outlining the above provides a firm foundation for starting the strategic business planning process.

How to make a strategic business plan

There’s no one size fits all approach to the strategic business planning process. Each industry and company is entirely different, so of course, their plans will be unique too! Using a sample strategic business plan could help to guide you through the process, especially if it’s your first time setting up a new business.

You might like to start by sitting everyone down and talking about your business. Verbally communicating what you do and how you do it without the pressure of documenting things formally can allow you to be really open and creative. Doing this with your team will also enable you to gain a variety of insights and perspectives. It can relieve that stagnant feeling that can come with strategic business planning, as you simply talk it out and discuss your company candidly in a safe setting.

In addition, competitor and target market research will be a key element for any new venture – as you’re not working with your own existing data. If you’re looking to disrupt the market you’re in, you’ll be using these insights in reverse.

Once you’ve gathered plenty of notes from your brainstorming session, begin bit by bit to fill in each section of your strategic business plan. Think of this as your first draft – it’ll go through several refinements during this process until you have something solid to work from.

If you’re still struggling to get it right, don’t worry. Getting expert support from strategic planning specialists may be the best way to go.

At There Be Giants we help organisations to execute their strategic plans by using OKRs . The OKR process and strategic planning process go hand in hand. Using both methods can help to boost your chances of achieving sustained business growth.

If you want to learn more about executing your strategic plans, speak to one of our Giants today to learn more about how we can help you.

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

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Steps

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

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

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

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

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

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

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

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

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

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

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

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

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

Step 1: Executive Summary

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

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

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

Step 2: Description of Business

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

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

Step 3: Market Analysis

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

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

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

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

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

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

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

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

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

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

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

Step 7: Marketing Plan

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

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

Step 8: Sales Plan

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

Start by answering the following questions:

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

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

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

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

Step 10: Financial Projections

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

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

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

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

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

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

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

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

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

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

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

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

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

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

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

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

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

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

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

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

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

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How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needing to write a business plan to get there.

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated February 2, 2024

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

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

  • The basics of business planning

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

You understand that planning helps you: 

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

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

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

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

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

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

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

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

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  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

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

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

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

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

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

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

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

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

Market analysis

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

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

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

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

Related: Target market examples

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

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

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

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing and sales plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key milestones and metrics

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

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

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

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

Possible milestones might be:

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

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

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

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

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

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

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

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

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

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

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

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

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

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

Financial plan

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

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

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

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

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

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

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

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

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

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

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

Your cover page should be simple and include:

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

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

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

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

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

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

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

Learn more: How to collaborate with AI on your business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

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

Determine why you are writing a business plan

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

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

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

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

Keep things concise

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

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

Have someone review your business plan

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template to get you started, download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

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

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

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use your business plan to manage your business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

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

What are the benefits of a business plan?

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

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

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

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

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

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

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

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

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

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

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

How long should a business plan be?

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

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

What are the different types of business plans?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content Author: Noah Parsons

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

Check out LivePlan

Table of Contents

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

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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.

Bizee

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

develop a business plan for a new venture

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?

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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...

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How to Write a Startup Business Plan

May 28, 2022 - 10 min read

Yuvika Iyer

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

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

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

What is a startup business plan?

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

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

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

Then ask yourself these questions:

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

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

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

What is a lean startup business plan?

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

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

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

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

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

Why do you need a small startup business plan?

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

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

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

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

product launch startup template

Obtain external funding

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

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

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

Understand your target market

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

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

Prioritize high ROI strategies

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

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

Accelerate financial health

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

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

How to write a small startup business plan

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

1. Clarify the startup vision, mission, and values

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

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

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

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

2. Outline the executive summary

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

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

3. Develop startup goals and milestones

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

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

4. Write a company description

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

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

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

develop a business plan for a new venture

5. Conduct market analysis

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

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

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

6. Develop startup partnerships and resources

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

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

7. Write a startup marketing plan and startup budget

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

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

Examples of startup business plans

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

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

Vision statement

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

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

Executive summary

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

Business structure

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

Marketing strategy and competitive advantages

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

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

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

Startup milestones

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

Startup business plan template

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

develop a business plan for a new venture

Top tips for writing a startup business plan

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

Know your audience

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

Have a simple and clear goal

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

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

Spend time researching

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

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

Build a startup toolkit

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

Keep it precise

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

Ensure tonal consistency

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

Add reference points

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

Be ready to pivot

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

How to create a business plan with Wrike

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

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

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

Yuvika Iyer

Yuvika Iyer

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

Related articles

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

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

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

Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

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

What Is a PMIS and How Does it Work?

What Is a PMIS and How Does it Work?

Discover how a PMIS can help your team deliver high-quality projects faster in this in-depth guide. Learn what is PMIS and how you can set one up.

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Start » startup, writing a business plan here’s how to do it, step by step.

At the foundation of every strong business is a solid business plan. Looking to develop a business plan for your new venture? Here’s what to include in each step.

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At the foundation of every strong business is a solid business plan. A business plan outlines important information regarding a company’s operations and goals, and serves as a blueprint for how to achieve those goals. This document not only helps entrepreneurs think through and research their venture thoroughly, it also demonstrates to investors the viability of the business idea.

If you’re looking to develop a business plan for your new venture, it’s important to include all the necessary information. Here are the nine sections to include in a strong business plan, step by step.

1. Executive summary.

Your business plan should begin with an executive summary, which outlines what your company is about and why it will succeed. This section includes your mission statement, a brief description of the product or service you are offering, a summary of your plans and basic logistical details about your team.

2. Company description.

Your company description should further detail the logistics of your business, such as its registered name, address and key people involved. Here, you should also provide specific information about your product or service, including who your business serves and what problem you solve for that population.

3. Market analysis.

Conducting thorough market research can help you understand the nature of your industry, as well as how to stand out from competitors. Include a summary of your research findings in this section. Consider any trends or themes that emerge, what other successful businesses in the field are doing (or failing to do) and how your business can do better.

[Read: How to Conduct a Market Analysis ]

4. Organization and management.

This section should include your business’s legal structure — for example, whether you are incorporating as an S or C corporation, forming a partnership or operating as an LLC or sole proprietor. Provide pertinent information on your leadership team and other key employees, including each relevant individual’s percent of ownership and extent of involvement.

Describe how you will attract and retain your customer base, including what makes you stand out from competitors, and detail the actual sales process.

5. Products/services.

Your product or service is the crux of your business idea, so you’ll want to ensure you make a strong case for it being on the market. Use this section to elaborate on your product or service throughout its life cycle, including how it works, who it serves, what it costs and why it is better than the competition. If you have any pending or current intellectual property, include this information here. You can also detail any research and development for your product or service in this section.

6. Marketing and sales.

In this section, you should explain what your marketing and sales strategies are, and how you will execute them. (Note that these strategies will likely evolve over time, and you can always make adjustments as needed.) Describe how you will attract and retain your customer base, including what makes you stand out from competitors, and detail the actual sales process.

[Read: 5 KPIs to Measure Your Business’s Marketing Success ]

7. Funding request.

If you’re seeking funding, this section is critical for investors to understand the level of funding you need. Specify what type of funding you need (debt or equity) and how much, as well as how that capital will be used. You should also include information on any future financial plans, such as selling your business or paying off debts.

8. Financial projections.

The goal of your financial projections section is to show that your business is viable and worth the investment. Offer a financial forecast for the next five years, using information from current or projected income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements to support it. Graphs and charts can be an especially helpful tool in visualizing your business’s finances.

9. Appendix.

Finally, use the appendix for any information that could not fit or did not apply to other sections of the document. Information such as employee resumes, permits, credit history and receipts are often included in this section. If you have a long appendix, consider adding a table of contents to make it easier for the reader.

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Developing a business plan for your new venture

Do you have an idea to evolve your business or maybe even starting something brand new? Turning your vision into a reality requires developing a business plan. Here’s how to get started.

developing a business plan

Many people are waiting for all the stars to align before taking the next leap in their business or starting an entirely  new company. Because of that hesitation, they never get around to fulfilling their dreams. But by getting rolling on developing your business plan, you can turn your dream into a reality faster. 

In 2022, industries will continue to shift in new ways, and now may be the perfect time to take your project to the next level. To get started, it’s important to know what is involved in venturing into new territory or starting a business, and that’s where a business plan comes in. 

Why is developing a business plan so important?

A business plan is a formal document that provides the roadmap for your company. It can help you navigate through tough decisions and can help you manage any challenges that may come your way. It will also help you stay focused on your end goal as you grow your business. And if you are starting a completely new venture, it’s essential to have one in place before applying for funding or securing partners. 

To create a great business plan — whether for your startup, scaling business or mature enterprise — you’ll want to start with these steps:

Step One: Define your business goals

The first step in creating your business plan is determining the direction of your business (if you’re evolving into new territory) or what kind of company you want to start — along with your overall goals. For example, will you run a physical store, or do you prefer an online business? Do you want to sell a specific product or focus on services? Maybe you already have a hobby that you want to turn into a business, or you have an idea of an innovation you can bring to the market?

Once you define your ultimate goals, you’ll be able to start thinking about how you want to achieve those goals.

Step Two: Evaluate your business skills and knowledge

Many new business owners find it helpful to take classes in business to better grasp the intricacies of running a business. Online universities offer convenient solutions for those seeking to learn more about leadership, strategy, operations and general management.

If there are some areas of running a business that you aren’t well-versed in, you’ll want to leverage outside help or software that fills in the gaps. For example, if you’ve never managed payroll, software or apps can help. Many of these services provide same-day direct deposit, automation for payroll and payroll taxes, and time tracking.

Tired of waiting 90 days for payment? Try this instead.

Step Three: Define the structure of your business

Next, you’ll want to clearly define the best business structure for your venture. Incorporating rather than operating as a sole proprietorship does have its benefits. For example, if you form an LLC, you could be eligible for certain tax incentives, tax credits and business incentives. 

You will need a clear idea of what products you will sell at the time of the company launch and how your offering will evolve with time to keep up with industry trends and client demands. You will also need to know if you will be selling directly to consumers, acting as a wholesaler, or offering a B2B service for other businesses.

Step Four: Get your financials in order

An important part of creating a business plan is planning out the financing aspect. What cost structure will allow you to create your product or service and have it reach your final consumer? This would include all the physical production costs, supply chain, marketing, and personnel costs for your company structure.

Once you have all of the above information, you can bring it all together. Make financial projections of what your sales and profits would look like over the first few years and what startup costs and cash flow you need to finance to start the business.

Access to funding will be crucial in getting your venture up and running. Invoice factoring can help build working capital. 

Step Five: Research the market

The final step in creating a business plan is to research the competition . This will help you to avoid starting an unnecessary or unprofitable venture. Think of ways that make your company unique from other similar companies who are also competing for clients in this space. Answering the following questions will help guide your research:

  • What is different about your products and services that only you can provide?
  • Based on your product, costs, customer target, and competition, what would be the optimal price points for each of your products or services? 
  • How are you going to reach your consumers and let them know about your products? 

There are many resources online today that can help you establish a solid business plan. And once you have it on paper, you will see that it makes your vision come to life and gives you a base document that you can work with to approach investors or potential stakeholders in your business.

Up next:  Create a smart digital marketing plan on a budget

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develop a business plan for a new venture

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Knowledge at Wharton Podcast

How entrepreneurs can create effective business plans, march 2, 2010 • 16 min listen.

When an entrepreneur has identified a potential business opportunity, the next step is developing a business plan for the new venture. What exactly should the new plan contain? How can the entrepreneur ensure it has the substance to find interest among would-be investors? In this installment of a series of podcasts for the Wharton-CERT Business Plan Competition, Wharton management professor Ian MacMillan explains that business plans must contain several crucial elements: They must articulate a market need; identify products or services to fill that need; assess the resources required to produce those products or services; address the risks involved in the venture; and estimate the potential revenues and profits.

develop a business plan for a new venture

An edited transcript of the interview appears below:

Knowledge at Wharton: Professor MacMillan, thank you for speaking with us about the necessity of entrepreneurs writing business plans. To start with a basic question, what exactly is a business plan?

Ian MacMillan: A business plan to me is a 25-page, maximum 30-page, document, which is a description, analysis and evaluation of a venture that you want to get funded by somebody. It provides critical information to the reader — usually an investor — about you, the entrepreneur, about the market that you are going to enter, about the product that you want to enter with, your strategy for entry, what the prospects are financially, and what the risks are to anybody who invests in the project.

Knowledge at Wharton: Could you explain some of these elements in a little more detail and describe how entrepreneurs can develop an effective business plan?

MacMillan: Let me start by saying that you probably want to avoid developing a detailed business plan unless you have done some initial work. Basically what happens is that by doing a little bit of work, you earn the right to do more work. The first thing I would do before you start a business plan is think about a concept statement. A concept statement is about three to five pages that you put together and share with potential customers or investors just to see if they think it’s worth the energy and effort of doing more detailed work.

The concept statement has a few pieces to it. You are going to have a description of the market need that has to be fulfilled; a description of the products or services that you think are going to fulfill that need; a description of the key resources that you think are going to be needed to provide that product or service; a specification of what resources are currently available; an articulation of what you think the risks are; and then a sort of rough and ready estimate of what you think the profits and profitability will be.

The idea is to put together this concept document and begin to share it around with people who are going to have to support your venture if you take it forward. This allows you to rethink as a result of feedback that you get. You might get word back from the various stakeholders — like potential customers or distributors — that this really wasn’t such a good idea after all. That saves you the energy and effort of putting together a big business plan.

Knowledge at Wharton: Assuming the concept statement works out and you want to move towards the business plan, what else would you need? And where can you find the information? Some information can be hard to locate, especially about your competitors.

MacMillan: It’s really important to go out and speak to your potential customers. You need to find the people who you think will buy your product and talk to them about what dissatisfies them with their current offerings. You should get a sense from them about who is providing the alternative at the moment. Remember, the world has gone for maybe 100,000 years without your idea — and people are getting by; they’re not dying. Something out there is servicing their need. So what is the closest competitive alternative to what you want to offer?

That is what you need to find out — and that involves talking and listening. And for all the enthusiasm you have for your venture or your idea, you really need to listen to people who are eventually going to write a check for it.

Before you go on to write a business plan, you have to do some more work. If the concept statement looks good, then the next step is to do a 15- to 20-page feasibility analysis. This means we are now going to take this idea to the next level. We’ve learned from potential customers and distributors. We’ve learned who the major competitors are. We’ve shaped the idea more clearly, and now we’re digging deeper.

The next challenge you face is to say, well, if you start this business, what evidence do you have that the market actually wants it? Who do you think would write a check for your product? You need to articulate what makes your product or your service feasible. What has to be done in order to make this thing real? You need a description of how you intend to enter the market, a description of who the major competitors are, a preliminary plan — a very rough plan — which specifies what you think your revenues and profits are going to be, and an estimate of what you think the required investment will be. And only then, once you have articulated that, and once again shared it with your stakeholder community, will you perhaps be able to go and write a business plan.

Knowledge at Wharton: Once you have done your feasibility analysis and assuming you get the go ahead from your stakeholders, what is the next step?

MacMillan: The idea of the business plan is to convince the stakeholders. First, what we need to do in a business plan is show that we understand the needs — the unmet needs — of potential customers. Second, we need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the current most competitive offering out there. Third, we need to understand the skills and capabilities that you and your team have as entrepreneurs. Next we need to understand what the investors need to get out of their investment, because they have to put their money in and they need to have some kind of sense of what they are going to get in terms of returns. In addition, the investment needs to be competitive with alternative investments that the investors might make.

The most important idea in the business plan is to articulate and satisfy the different perspectives of various stakeholders. This process sets in motion some basic requirements in the business plan — to tee up right from the start — evidence that the customer will accept it. Probably a third of the ventures out there that fail are because some person came up with the right product that they thought the world would love and then found out that the customers couldn’t care less. What you want to try to do in a business plan is convince the reader that there are customers out there who will in fact buy the product — not because it’s a great product, but because they want it and they are willing to pay for it.

Moreover, you need to convince the reader that you have some kind of proprietary position that you can defend. You also need to convince your readers that you have an experienced and motivated management team and that you have the experience and the management capabilities to pull it off. You need to convince potential investors that they are going to get a better return than they could get elsewhere, so you need to estimate the net present value of this venture. You need to show that the risk they are taking will be accompanied by appropriate returns for that risk. If we look at the contents of a typical business plan, you need to be able to articulate all these issues in some 25 to 30 pages. People get tired if they have to read too much.

Now let’s look at the various components of the business plan document:

First, you need an executive summary that grabs the attention of the potential investor. This should be done in no more than two pages. The executive summary is meant to convince the potential investor to read further and say, “Wow! This is why I should read more about this business plan.”

Next, you need a market analysis. What is the market? How fast is it growing? How big is it? Who are the major players? In addition, you need a strategy section. It should address questions such as, “How are you going to get into this market? And how are you going to win in that marketplace against current competition?”

After that, you need a marketing plan. How are we going to segment the market? Which parts of the market are we going to attack? How are we going to get the attention of that market and attract it to our product or service?

You also need an operations plan that answers the question, “How are we going to make it happen?” And you need an organization plan, which shows who the people are who will take part in the venture.

You need to list the key events that will take place as the plan unfolds. What are the major things that are going to happen? If your plan happens to be about a physical product, are you going to have a prototype or a model? If it happens to be a software product, are you going to have a piece of software developed — a prototypical piece of software? What are the key milestones by which investors can judge what progress you are making in the investment? Remember that you will not get all your money up front. You will get your funds allocated contingent on your ability to achieve key milestones. So you may as well indicate what those milestones are.

You should also include a hard-nosed assessment of the key risks. For example, what are the market risks? What are the product risks? What are the financial risks? What are the competitive risks? To the extent that you are upfront and honest about it, you will convince your potential investors that you have done your homework. You need to also be able to indicate how you will mitigate these risks — because if you can’t mitigate them, investors are not going to put money into your venture.

After that, what you get down to is a financial plan where you basically do a five-year forecast of what you think the finances are going to be — maybe with quarterly data or projections for the first two years and annual for the next three years.

You need a pro forma profit and loss statement. You need a pro forma balance sheet if you have assets in the balance sheet. You need to have a pro forma cash flow. Your cash flow is important, because it is the cash flow that kills. You may have great profits on your books but you may run out of money — so you need a pro forma cash flow statement. And you need a financing plan that explains, as the project unfolds, what tranches of financing you will need and how will you go about raising that money.

Finally you need a financial evaluation that tells investors, if you make this investment, what is its value going to be to you as an investor. That is basically the structure of the plan.

Knowledge at Wharton: Let’s say you have written a business plan and presented it to your investors. How closely do you have to be tied to the plan? Does it mean that once you are executing against the plan, you should reject new opportunities you find because they are not part of your plan? Or should you build in some flexibility that allows you to explore emerging opportunities?

MacMillan: Is this an opportunity for me to speak about discovery-driven planning?

Knowledge at Wharton: Of course.

MacMillan: Okay. The thing about most entrepreneurial ventures is that your outcome is uncertain — because what you are doing is very new. It is very, very hard to predict what the actual outcome is going to be. One of the most fundamental flaws is that in the face of unfolding uncertainty, you single-mindedly and bloody-mindedly pursue the original objective.

The reality is that the true opportunity will emerge over time. What venture capitalists do is they will put a small amount of money into the project, allow the entrepreneur to enter that market space and then — contingent on performance and contingent on what apparent traction you can get in that market space — completely re-plan to find out what the true opportunity really is. It is insanity to insist that people actually meet their plan as it was originally written.

This doesn’t mean you compromise your objectives. The idea is that I want to keep on trying to meet my objectives, but how I meet them must change as the plan unfolds. That’s basically what led to all the work that Wharton has done in the last few years on discovery driven planning. It’s a way of thinking about planning that says, “I’m going to make small investments. If I’m wrong early, I can fail fast, fail cheap and move on. But as I find out what the true opportunity is, I can aggressively invest in what this opportunity is.”

Knowledge at Wharton: Could you give an example of a company that has used this discovery-driven planning process to take its business to the next level?

MacMillan: One company that has done the most in this area is Air Products. What they have been able to do is use discovery-driven planning to unfold completely different businesses from the ones that they were in. Air Products makes things like carbon dioxide and oxygen and nitrogen. It is a very old-line company. Using discovery-driven planning, they have been able to move aggressively into, for instance, the service sector. Once they recognized that they were able to deliver reliably and predictably in the face of uncertain demand, they developed a set of skills that allowed them to enter the service business where the return on investment and return on assets are far higher than putting a huge plant in place.

Knowledge at Wharton: Professor MacMillan, thanks so much.

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1.1: Chapter 1 – Developing a Business Plan

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  • Page ID 21274

  • Lee A. Swanson
  • University of Saskatchewan

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • Describe the purposes for business planning
  • Describe common business planning principles
  • Explain common business plan development guidelines and tools
  • List and explain the elements of the business plan development process
  • Explain the purposes of each element of the business plan development process
  • Explain how applying the business plan development process can aid in developing a business plan that will meet entrepreneurs’ goals

This chapter describes the purposes, principles, and the general concepts and tools for business planning, and the process for developing a business plan.

Purposes for Developing Business Plans

Business plans are developed for both internal and external purposes. Internally, entrepreneurs develop business plans to help put the pieces of their business together. Externally, the most common purpose is to raise capital.

Internal Purposes

As the road map for a business’s development, the business plan

  • Defines the vision for the company
  • Establishes the company’s strategy
  • Describes how the strategy will be implemented
  • Provides a framework for analysis of key issues
  • Provides a plan for the development of the business
  • Helps the entrepreneur develop and measure critical success factors
  • Helps the entrepreneur to be realistic and test theories

External Purposes

The business plan provides the most complete source of information for valuation of the business. Thus, it is often the main method of describing a company to external audiences such as potential sources for financing and key personnel being recruited. It should assist outside parties to understand the current status of the company, its opportunities, and its needs for resources such as capital and personnel.

Business Plan Development Principles

Hindle and Mainprize (2006) suggested that business plan writers must strive to effectively communicate their expectations about the nature of an uncertain future and to project credibility. The liabilities of newness make communicating the expected future of new ventures much more difficult than for existing businesses. Consequently, business plan writers should adhere to five specific communication principles .

First, business plans must be written to meet the expectations of targeted readers in terms of what they need to know to support the proposed business. They should also lay out the milestones that investors or other targeted readers need to know. Finally, writers must clearly outline the opportunity , the context within the proposed venture will operate (internal and external environment), and the business model (Hindle & Mainprize, 2006).

There are also five business plan credibility principles that writers should consider. Business plan writers should build and establish their credibility by highlighting important and relevant information about the venture team . Writers need to elaborate on the plans they outline in their document so that targeted readers have the information they need to assess the plan’s credibility. To build and establish credibility, they must integrate scenarios to show that the entrepreneur has made realistic assumptions and has effectively anticipated what the future holds for their proposed venture. Writers need to provide comprehensive and realistic financial links between all relevant components of the plan. Finally, they must outline the deal , or the value that targeted readers should expect to derive from their involvement with the venture (Hindle & Mainprize, 2006).

General Guidelines for Developing Business Plans

Many businesses must have a business plan to achieve their goals. Using a standard format helps the reader understand that the you have thought everything through, and that the returns justify the risk. The following are some basic guidelines for business plan development.

As You Write Your Business Plan

1. If appropriate, include nice, catchy, professional graphics on your title page to make it appealing to targeted readers, but don’t go overboard.

2. Bind your document so readers can go through it easily without it falling apart. You might use a three-ring binder, coil binding, or a similar method. Make sure the binding method you use does not obscure the information next to where it is bound.

3. Make certain all of your pages are ordered and numbered correctly.

4. The usual business plan convention is to number all major sections and subsections within your plan using the format as follows:

1. First main heading

1.1 First subheading under the first main heading

1.1.1. First sub-subheading under the first subheading

2. Second main heading

2.1 First subheading under the second main heading

Use the styles and references features in Word to automatically number and format your section titles and to generate your table of contents. Be sure that the last thing you do before printing your document is update your automatic numbering and automatically generated tables. If you fail to do this, your numbering may be incorrect.

5. Prior to submitting your plan, be 100% certain each of the following requirements are met:

  • Everything must be completely integrated. The written part must say exactly the same thing as the financial part.
  • All financial statements must be completely linked and valid. Make sure all of your balance sheets balance.
  • Everything must be correct. There should be NO spelling, grammar, sentence structure, referencing, or calculation errors.
  • Your document must be well organized and formatted. The layout you choose should make the document easy to read and comprehend. All of your diagrams, charts, statements, and other additions should be easy to find and be located in the parts of the plan best suited to them.
  • In some cases it can strengthen your business plan to show some information in both text and table or figure formats. You should avoid unnecessary repetition , however, as it is usually unnecessary—and even damaging—to state the same thing more than once.
  • You should include all the information necessary for readers to understand everything in your document.
  • The terms you use in your plan should be clear and consistent. For example, the following statement in a business plan would leave a reader completely confused: “There is a shortage of 100,000 units with competitors currently producing 25,000. We can help fill this huge gap in demand with our capacity to produce 5,000 units.”

How to launch a new business: Three approaches that work

COVID-19 and its ongoing repercussions have forced business leaders to reevaluate their priorities and strategies. One area where businesses across all regions have accelerated their commitments is around building new businesses. Leading growth businesses in particular have made this strategy a top priority, according to recent McKinsey research .

About the authors

This article was a collaborative effort by Ralf Dreischmeier , Philipp Hillenbrand , Jerome Königsfeld , Ari Libarikian , and Lukas Salomon, representing views from Leap by McKinsey, McKinsey’s business-building practice.

Yet despite the growing enthusiasm for business building, incumbents with good ideas, strong commitments, and big ambitions will frequently run headlong into a big question: How do we actually go about building a business? Getting the answer to this question right is crucial because it shapes the entire operating model of the business-building venture, with significant implications in terms of budget, organization, and strategic direction.

A leading industrial company learned this at a cost. When executives wanted to optimize operations in their factories, they believed setting up a fully independent start-up dedicated to developing new factory concepts was the only way to make it happen. Despite millions of dollars of investment, however, it didn’t work. The start-up struggled to access data and insights, failed to fully grasp the challenges of the core business, and did not attain sufficient support in the parent organization to test and implement changes. This example supports our research, which shows that fewer than a quarter of businesses launched ten years ago are viable large-scale enterprises today .

Figuring out the right approach to business building is especially important now as new opportunities for innovation surface. Prompted by the pandemic, new business-building archetypes have emerged, such as remote service provision, digital retail, and collaboration platforms.

As is true for many complex undertakings, there is no single right approach for launching a new business successfully. In addition, certain strategies will be important no matter which approach a company takes. Joint ventures and alliances, for example, can help to reach scale and enter new markets, and working with partners in ecosystems that, in some cases, include erstwhile competitors can expand offerings, access capabilities, and accelerate scale.

After analyzing more than 200 corporate business builds that we have supported, we have identified three major approaches that have proven successful. While other approaches can certainly work, the three we explore in this article have an established track record and clear conditions for success. The characteristics of each are unique, and so, too, are the criteria and conditions for success (Exhibit 1).

Would you like to learn more about Leap , our business-building practice?

1. internal vc-like incubator.

In this approach, incumbents develop a broad portfolio of ideas, with the goal of producing a few winners that can be successfully commercialized. Teams within the parent organization develop concepts for new businesses and pitch them to a dedicated venture-capital-style board comprising internal and external experts, who select the most promising ones. Successful teams receive milestone-based funding and resources to validate core assumptions and develop a minimum viable product (MVP)—a crucial governance necessity no matter what approach a business chooses (Exhibit 2).

The business has to be vigilant to ensure that the start-up culture “sticks” and that the legacy corporate culture doesn’t slowly start to take over. One way to do that is to assign an experienced business-building coach to each team to build up and nurture an agile test-and-learn culture.

Establishing an incubation approach is particularly suitable for incumbents that have a clear overall sense of the future direction of their business and sector, as well as a strong pipeline of promising early-stage ideas. They may, however, lack initial certainty on what the “winning concepts” will be and how they should be set up for the long term—as an internal division or an external spinout, for example. In our experience, the internal incubation approach works best when the new business is expected to focus on the parent’s core business.

A leading consumer food company achieved great success with this internal incubation approach. After a successful restructuring program, the company’s CEO and board first set a clear vision and ambition that new ventures should primarily benefit the core business and enable significant improvements in the top and bottom lines. Management then invited employees to form small teams that included a team lead and a management sponsor, such as the division head.

Over the course of six weeks, these teams then independently developed more than 100 ideas for new businesses aligned with the overall strategy. All teams scoped out MVPs and pitched their concepts to a newly created internal venture-capital (VC) board that included senior managers, external venture capitalists and technologists, sector experts, and strategic customers.

The VC board then provided initial funding to ten concepts that covered a wide range of applications, including IoT devices, process automation, data platforms, and resourcing marketplaces. Key decision criteria were resources required, path to scale, time to impact, expected overall P&L impact, and unique advantages of the parent company that could be leveraged to build the new businesses. Each initiative was assigned a delivery lead, an experienced business-building coach who helped employees to identify and de-risk the core assumptions first .

Over the course of the next six to ten weeks, these teams built out their MVPs to test core assumptions, such as market demand, required investment, and potential to scale. Those that were successful then approached the VC board and business-unit leadership for additional resources to scale the MVP. Within 16 months, the program to incubate the new businesses became self-funding.

Key success factors

  • Adopt a true VC mindset, and kill ideas without clear potential early on in order to cut losses and strengthen the organization’s focus and resources on concepts with high potential.
  • Include external experts on your VC board to increase objectivity and add important new perspectives.
  • Match venture teams with experienced delivery leads to provide crucial coaching and skill building to test and adapt quickly.

2. Scale-up factory

Frequently, an incumbent organization already has a strong pipeline of new-product and -business concepts that have been validated with first customers and partners. But because it lacks the specialized resources, talent, and expertise required to quickly and successfully scale an entirely new business, promising ideas wither.

A scale-up-factory approach can help address these issues. In this model, the parent sets up a fully owned “factory” that is exclusively dedicated to rapidly scaling promising concepts from the parent’s R&D pipeline into independent businesses. Typically, with this approach, the parent is the first and largest customer of the new businesses. In return, the factory’s new businesses can leverage the parent’s brand, reputation, and customer network. Importantly, providing employees with equity gives them “skin in the game” and helps attract and retain the best digital talent from start-ups and tech firms.

Despite a strong R&D pipeline, new ideas at a leading global energy player frequently did not reach sufficient scale to generate meaningful new revenue streams. To change this, the company used the scale-up-factory approach to address a key business goal: build and scale disruptive technologies and business models from the internal R&D into rapidly growing and revenue-generating businesses.

The new scale-up factory is located in a separate office and staffed with a dedicated team, most of whom were hired to meet the need for specialized skills and a “start-up mindset.” The new company is governed by its own leadership and a dedicated, internal board of directors, rather than by business-unit leaders. While senior group leaders dedicate significant time to strategic decision making and steering toward targets and milestones, they do not get involved in the scale-up factory’s day-to-day decision making.

After two years, the businesses developed by the scale-up factory have scaled to more than 100 employees and have already become a significant revenue-growth motor for the parent company.

  • A strong pipeline of “potential blockbuster” ideas within the parent company that have been validated and deemed commercially viable
  • Clear funding and governance to establish accountability for each project that has business-unit and factory representation, remove any ambiguity in approvals and funding (such as joint signatures between factory and business unit), and align up front on milestones for the release of further funding
  • Strong learning and pattern-recognition processes —the more scale-ups the factory executes, and the better team members become at collecting and codifying learnings, the more efficient the factory’s processes will become (a key insight from our latest research )

Why business building is the new priority for growth

Why business building is the new priority for growth

3. ‘clean slate’ business building.

In some cases, executives have identified a big, promising idea for a new business well beyond their organization’s core focus, such as leveraging a disruptive new technology or entering a new industry. In this case, a clean-slate approach works best, with the new business typically fully owned by the incumbent (or jointly owned with external investors) and all talent hired externally.

Similar to the scale-up factory, the new start-up enjoys organizational independence but has greater entrepreneurial latitude. Speed is more important than process perfection in areas such as HR, IT, and procurement. The new business develops its own tech stack, for example, and explores different business models, even working with traditional competitors. It has different compensation and hiring models than the parent company, as well as its own R&D and insights capability to aggressively test completely new markets. Incumbents that have been successful in driving growth via clean-slate business building often start to shift to adapting principles of the scale-up-factory approach described in the previous section.

“Acqui-hiring” talent (that is, hiring an entire team or acquiring a company to access its talent) can be used to turbocharge business builds in any of the three approaches outlined in this article, but it is particularly suitable for accelerating clean-slate builds when internal capabilities are limited. Acqui-hires provide incumbents with immediate access to a well-integrated team with relevant capabilities who can hit the ground running.

Acqui-hiring can work only if the new venture has a strong culture that can quickly and successfully integrate the acqui-hired team. Clear leadership communication and strong alignment of incentives—such as equity awards distributed to all members of the business-building team—are critical to bringing the new team on board and avoiding potential resentment from members from the incumbent organization.

Using a clean-slate approach enabled one of the world’s leading engineering companies to quickly build a highly innovative IoT platform to sell software through an app store. Initial testing had validated the concept, which also had strong support from top management. Given the need to move quickly and lacking the right talent internally, the company set up a new start-up with strong financial backing, a separate office several hundred miles away from parent-company headquarters, and a leadership team hired from leading technology players.

Senior executives from the parent organization narrowed down the catalog of more than 1,000 rules, regulations, and governance processes that new divisions were typically required to implement to only about 50 that were essential. To establish the new business’s neutrality, the company set up a new industry alliance and collaborated with external partners—some of them direct competitors of the parent company—from day one.

To further accelerate this process, the company decided against gradually hiring developers or retraining staff. Instead, it acqui-hired a full development team of more than 30 people from a major software producer. This approach enabled the building of a highly complex digital solution and a thriving ecosystem with dozens of partners at record speed: first sales were generated less than 15 months after the acqui-hire had been completed.

  • Strong focus on culture through strong investment in regular team-building activities that are crucial to integrate teams and unite them behind a common goal
  • Foundations for an ecosystem of partners built early on by engaging with external partners—even competitors—as soon as the new business is set up, so that the market perceives it as a neutral player; then build out a large-scale ecosystem over time
  • A start-up CEO fully committed to the new venture, through incentives (equity, bonus structure, and so on) that are fully tied to the start-up’s fortunes and do not include a “safety net” in the form of guaranteed continued employment with the parent

Business building is increasingly a core strategic pillar for companies operating in a digital world. Selecting the approach that is right for any given business, based on an understanding of the necessary trade-offs, conditions, and criteria for success, is one of the most important decisions incumbents need to make, as it can unlock the opportunity for rapid growth.

Ralf Dreischmeier is a senior partner in McKinsey’s London office; Philipp Hillenbrand is a partner in the Berlin office; Jerome Königsfeld is an associate partner in the Cologne office; and Ari Libarikian is a senior partner in the New York office, where  Lukas Salomon  is a consultant.

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Derisking corporate business launches: Five steps to overcome the most common pitfalls

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Innovating from necessity: The business-building imperative in the current crisis

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How to Write a Business Plan for Raising Venture Capital

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Head with three gears looking a line with four dots leading to a bag of money

Are you looking for VC funding or funding from other potential investors?

You need a good business idea – and an excellent business plan.

Business planning and raising capital go hand-in-hand. An investor business plan is required for attracting a venture capital firm. And the desire to raise capital (whether from an individual “angel” investor or a venture capitalist) is often the key motivator in the business planning process.

Download the Ultimate VC Business Plan Template here

Writing an Investor-Ready Business Plan

Executive summary.

Goal of the executive summary : Stimulate and motivate the investor to learn more.

  • Hook them on the first page. Most investors are inundated with business plans. Your first page must make them want to keep reading.
  • Keep it simple. After reading the first page, investors often do not understand the business. If your business is truly complex, you can dive into the details later on.
  • Be brief. The executive summary should be 2 to 4 pages in length.

Company Analysis

Goal of the company analysis section: Educate the investor about your company’s history and explain why your team is perfect to execute on the business opportunity.

  • Give some history. Provide the background on the company, including date of formation, office location, legal structure, and stage of development.  
  • Show off your track record. Detail prior accomplishments, including funding rounds, product launches, milestones reached, and partnerships secured, among others.
  • Why you? Demonstrate your team’s unique unfair competitive advantage, whether it is technology, stellar management team, or key partnerships.

Industry Analysis

Goal of the industry analysis section: Prove that there is a real market for your product or service.

  • Demonstrate the need – rather than the desire – for your product. Ideally, people are willing to pay money to satisfy this need.
  • Cite credible sources when describing the size and growth of your market.
  • Use independent research. If possible, source research through an independent research firm to enhance your credibility. For general market sizes and trends, we suggest citing at least two independent research firms.
  • Focus on the “relevant” market size. For example, if you sell a portable biofeedback stress relief device, your relevant market is not the entire health care market. In determining the relevant market size, focus on the products or services that you will directly compete against.
  • It’s not just a research report – each fact, figure, and projection should support your company’s prospects for success.
  • Don’t ignore negative trends. Be sure to explain how your company would overcome potential negative trends. Such analysis will relieve investor concerns and enhance the plan’s credibility.
  • Be prepared for due diligence. It’s critical that the data you present is verifiable since any serious investor will conduct extensive due diligence.

Customer Analysis

Goal of customer analysis section: Convey the needs of your potential customers and show how your company’s products and services satisfy those needs.

  • Define your customers precisely. For example, it’s not adequate to say your company is targeting small businesses since there are several million of these.
  • Detail their demographics. How many customers fit the definition? Where are these customers located? What is their average income?
  • Identify the needs of these customers. Use data to demonstrate past actions (X% have purchased a similar product), future projections (X% said they would purchase the product), and/or implications (X% use a product/service which your product enhances).
  • Explain what drives their decisions. For example, is price more important than quality?
  • Detail the decision-making process. For example, will the customer seek multiple bids? Will the customer consult others in their organization before making a decision?

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And know it’s in the exact format that venture capitalists want?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template , you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Competitive Analysis

Goal of the competitive analysis section: Define the competition and demonstrate your competitive advantage.

  • List competitors. Many companies make the mistake of conveying that they have few or no real competitors. From an investor’s standpoint, a competitor is something that fulfills the same need as your product. If you claim you have no competitors, you are seriously undermining the credibility of your business plans.
  • Include direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors serve the same target market with similar products. Indirect competitors serve the same target market with different products or different target markets with similar products.
  • List public companies (when relevant, of course). A public company implies that the market size is big. This gives the assurance that if management executes well, the company has substantial profit and liquidity potential.
  • Don’t just list competitors. Carefully describe their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the key drivers of competitive differentiation in the marketplace. And when describing competitors’ weaknesses, be sure to use objective information (e.g. market research).
  • Demonstrate barriers to entry. In describing the competitive landscape, show how your business model creates competitive advantages, and – more importantly – defensible barriers to entry.

Marketing Plan

Goal of the marketing plan: Describe how your company will penetrate the market, deliver products/services, and retain customers.

  • Products. Detail all current and future products and services – but focus primarily on the short-to-intermediate time horizon.
  • Promotions. Explain exactly which marketing/advertising strategies will be used and why.
  • Price. Be sure to provide a clear rationale for your pricing strategy.
  • Place. Explain exactly how your products and services will be delivered to your customers.
  • Detail your customer retention plan. Explain how you will retain your customers, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) applications, building network externalities, introducing ongoing value-added services, or other means.
  • Define your partnerships. From an investor’s perspective, what partnership you have with whom is not nearly as important as the specific terms of the partnership. Be sure to document the specifics of the partnerships (e.g. how it will work, the financial terms, the types of customer leads expected from each partner, etc.).

Operations Plan

Goal of the operations plan: Present the action plan for executing your company’s vision.

  • Concept vs. reality. The operations plan transforms business plans from concept into reality. Investors do not invest in concepts; they invest in reality. And the operations plan proves that the management team can execute your concept better than anybody else.
  • Everyday processes. Detail the short-term processes and systems that provide your customers with your products and services.
  • Business milestones. Lay out the significant long-term business milestones for the company, and prove that the team will execute on the long-term vision. A great way to present the milestones is to organize them into a chart with key milestones on the left side and target dates on the right side.
  • Be consistent. Make sure that the milestone projections are consistent with the rest of the business plan – particularly the financial plan.
  • Be aggressive but credible. Presenting a plan in which the company grows too quickly will show the naiveté of the team while presenting too conservative a growth plan will often fail to excite an early stage investor (who typically looks for a 10X return on her investment).

Financial Plan

Goal of the financial plan: Explain how your business will generate returns for your investors.

  • Detail all revenue streams. Be sure to include all revenue streams. Depending on the type of business, these may include sales of products/services, referral revenues, advertising sales, licensing/royalty fees, and/or data sales.
  • Be consistent with your Pro-forma statements. Pro-forma statements are projected financial statements. It is critical that these projections reflect the other sections of your newly formed business plan.
  • Validate your assumptions and projections. The financial plan must detail your key assumptions, and it is critical that these assumptions are feasible. Be sure to use competitive research to validate your projections and assumptions versus the reality in your marketplace. Assessing and basing financial projections on those of similar firms will greatly validate the realism and maturity of the financial projections.
  • Detail the uses of funds. Understandably, investors want to know what, specifically, you plan to do with their money. Uses of funds could include expenses involved with marketing, staffing, technology development, office space, among other uses.
  • Provide a clear exit strategy. All investors are motivated by a clear picture of your exit strategy, or the timing and method through which they can “cash in” on their investment. Be sure to provide comparable examples of firms that have successfully exited. The most common exits are IPOs or acquisitions. And while the exact method is not always crucial, the investor wants to see this planning in order to better understand the management team’s motivation and commitment to building long-term value.

Above all, the business plan is a marketing document that helps to sell the investor on the business opportunity, the team, the strategy, and the potential for significant return on investment.

How to raise venture capital is a difficult and time-intensive challenge. There is no easy shortcut or silver bullet. However, you can greatly improve your chances of raising venture capital by writing a business plan that speaks directly to the investor’s perspective.

Finish Your VC Business Plan in 1 Day!

Raising venture capital faqs, what is the purpose of a business plan for raising venture capital.

The purpose of writing a business plan for raising venture capital is to convince investors that the proposed new or existing company has a good chance of being successful and can earn them a favorable return on investment (ROI).

What Does VC Funding Entail?

VC funding is a type of financial transaction in which the venture capital firm invests in startup companies or early-stage companies. The firm invests its own capital (which it receives from other entities that invest in the VC firm) in these nascent companies with the goal of rapidly expanding them. Generally, early-stage companies use bootstrapping, self-funding, bank loans, and/or angel investment before raising their first round of venture capital. Companies might receive several rounds of VC funding.

What is a Typical Amount of Capital to Raise?

Typically, the first round (Series A) of venture capital amounts to $2-10 million. To raise that amount from VCs at the very start of your company is often very difficult. Rather, you should consider approaching angel investors and banks to provide initial financing to get you to the point at which venture capitalists are interested in providing funding. Gaining customer traction is generally the point in which VCs are ready to provide Series A financing. VCs will provide Series B funding, Series C funding, etc. to help continue to fund a company’s growth if the company seems poised for success. These funding rounds are usually much larger than Series A rounds.

How Long Does It Take For Investors To Decide If My Business Is Worth Investing In?

It varies from investor to investor, but prepare yourself to wait up to three months before receiving a check from a VC. The process typically includes sending the VC a teaser email to get their interest, following up with a business plan, giving a pitch presentation, and negotiating the terms of the funding round.

How Do I Find Venture Capitalists?

There are many venture capital firms and virtually all of them have websites and are thus fairly easy to find. There are also directories of them available on the internet. You may also be able to find VCs through personal introductions or by attending industry events. 

Look for VCs that have funded companies in your industry/sector, at your stage of development and in your geographical area.

What Capital Raising Options are Available For a Business?

There are four broad options for raising money or venture capital when you run a business. These include venture capital firms, angel investors, loans and venture debt, or bootstrapping.

Venture Capitalists

A Venture Capitalist is an investor that provides equity financing for companies that have already achieved some traction but lack the financial resources to scale up their operations. Their investment objective is typically to grow the company so it can be sold or go public at a later date so the VC can exit or cash in on their success.

Angel Investors

Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest their own money into startup companies because they believe they will get an above-average return on their investment. They also invest if/when they like the entrepreneurs and/or management team, they are passionate about the concept, or if they’d like to get involved in an exciting new venture.

Loans and Venture Debt

Business loans or venture debt is money given to a company in return for interest and principal payments over time, but without the investor taking an ownership stake in the company. Such funding is typically issued by local banks. Debt funding is typically less expensive than equity financing, but it is much harder for early-stage companies to raise significant amounts of debt capital.

Bootstrapping

Bootstrapping is the process of a startup company funding its own growth from internal sources such as the founder's savings, loans from friends and family, or credit card debt.

Firms that are bootstrapped can grow at a more controlled rate while they achieve product-market fit before an angel investor or venture capital firm injects their money to scale up the company.

Bootstrapping is best for companies with low capital needs because there’s only so much you can raise in this manner. If you need millions of dollars, bootstrapping just won’t work and you’ll need to tap venture capital.

How exactly will your small business persuade these potential investors to sign a check? Once you know what type of capital you are trying to raise, you can develop business plans to suit their exact requirements.

Need help with your business plan?

Speak with one of our professional business plan consultants or contact our private placement memorandum experts.

Or, if you’re developing your own PPM, consider using Growthink’s new private placement memorandum template .

Other Helpful Funding & Business Plan Articles

The Ultimate Guide to Angel Investors

How to Plan & Grow a Business Venture

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How to Write a Sales Business Plan

How to hide & unhide the taskbar, how to find a dsl modem's ip address.

  • How to Pitch a Business Plan
  • How to Derive a Coherent Strategy

The objective of business planning is to develop a logical series of steps to help your business grow or a blueprint for constructing a venture that has the best chance of succeeding in a competitive marketplace. The cost of implementing these steps is projected, along with projected revenues. These forecast numbers are periodically compared to actual results in order to measure the company’s progress toward its goals and to address revenue shortfalls through a change in strategies and tactics.

Plan a Business Venture

Create your vision. Envision how large a company you intend to build, and what your venture will have achieved three to five years down the road. A retail store owner’s vision might be to build a mini-chain of ten stores within that time.

Define market need. Estimate the size of your market, or the population of potential customers. Define the benefits of your products or services to customers. Make sure you are bringing products and services to the market that customers will have a strong desire to purchase because the benefits are so significant relative to what competitors can provide.

Formulate a business model. Describe the various revenue streams your company will have and structural factors about your company that will lead to profitability. A manufacturing company could have additional revenue streams from the service and repair of products. Structural factors include low overhead, and a lower than average cost of goods sold.

Analyze your competition. Gather information about what they are doing well, or the core of their competitive advantage, and what their weaknesses might be.

Develop a strategic marketing plan. Describe the marketing methods you will use to make customers aware of your company, and the sales tactics you will use to encourage them to purchase from you.

Create a personnel plan. Determine the human resources needed to accomplish the company’s objectives. Identify the skills and experience you need your team, as a group, to have in order to effectively run the company.

Prepare a financial plan. The financial plan, or forecast, is prepared using spreadsheet software. Conduct a month-by-month projection of revenues and expenses.

Grow a Business Venture

Assess your progress. Take a critical look at your company’s overall performance at least once a year. Identify areas that are most important to improve in order to further grow the business.

Seek out new opportunities. Think of new target markets for your products or services, innovations to improve them, and new products or services you could market to your base of loyal customers.

Improve operational efficiency. Continually upgrade your level of customer service, which will bring about repeat business from these satisfied customers. Devise ways to operate the company in a leaner, more efficient manner both from a capital and human resource standpoint.

  • Small Business Administration: Write a Business Plan
  • Let other staff members and members of your management team provide input during the planning process.
  • Invest in your future. Prioritize expenditures that need to be made to enable the company to compete more effectively. Reinvesting earnings in growth-oriented strategies pays off in the long run.
  • Success and growth make the management challenge even more difficult. As the business grows, management becomes more complex and you have more people to supervise. Make sure you bring in highly skilled individuals to fill in any management gaps that develop, and upgrade your existing employees’ skills.

Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."

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Venture Capital Business Plan: A Guide for Entrepreneurs

AUG.01, 2023

Venture Capital Business Plan

Are you looking for VC funding or funding from other potential investors? You need a good business idea – and an excellent business plan. Business planning and raising capital go hand-in-hand. An investor business plan is required to attract a venture capital firm. And the desire to raise capital (whether from an individual “angel” investor or a venture capitalist) is often the key motivator in business planning.

What is a venture capitalist?

A venture capitalist, often referred to as a VC, strategically allocates financial capital to early-stage, high-potential startup companies to foster exponential growth and catalyze groundbreaking innovation. By leveraging their investments, venture capitalists secure partial ownership and wield a profound influence over critical strategic decisions and operational facets. Furthermore, they impart invaluable guidance and mentorship and harness their extensive network of influential contacts and abundant resources.

Venture capitalists aim to attain considerable returns on their investments through the strategic divestment of their ownership stake in the company at a subsequent stage, commonly facilitated through an IPO or a trade sale, encompassing mergers or acquisitions. Given the inherent risks associated with their investment endeavors, venture capitalists adopt an exceptionally discerning approach, meticulously selecting a mere fraction of the myriad companies that seek their sought-after financial backing.

Their active pursuit centers around identifying enterprises that epitomize disruptive technologies or trailblazing business models, thrive within expansive and rapidly evolving markets, exhibit a significant competitive edge, and are steered by an adept and fervent management team. These are the essential elements of a compelling Business Plan for Investors that can attract the attention and support of venture capitalists.

What is a Venture Capital Firm?

Venture capital firms (VCs) are money companies that put money in and help new and scalable startups. VCs get funds from different investors and then give them to startups they think can change or make new markets. VCs use a team of experts who check the chance of new companies. These experts have different backgrounds and skills in different businesses, and they use their ideas to help VCs pick companies that are likely to do well.

Besides giving money, VCs also give their companies other benefits, such as advice and access to their network of people, which can be very important to early-stage companies.

Types of Venture Capital Investments

Venture capital investments can be classified into different types based on the company’s development stage. The main types are:

1. Seed Capital

Seed capital is the earliest funding given to an innovator or group with a vision for a novel product or service but has yet to transform it into a feasible business. Seed capital is typically used for market exploration, product creation, prototype evaluation, customer verification, etc. Seed capital is very precarious because there is no assurance that the vision will work or that there will be a market appetite for it. However, seed capital can also generate very high rewards if the vision becomes successful and attracts more funding.

develop a business plan for a new venture

2. Startup Capital

Startup capital is the funding given to a company that has created its product or service and has introduced it in the market but has yet to generate substantial revenue or profit. Startup capital is typically used for promotion, sales, distribution, customer acquisition, etc. Startup capital is less precarious than seed capital because there is some indication of product-market fit and traction. However, startup capital can also be challenging to obtain because there is still uncertainty about the scalability and sustainability of the business model.

3. Early Stage Capital

Early-stage capital is the funding granted to a company that has validated its product or service in the market and has begun generating revenue and profit but has yet to attain its full potential. Early-stage capital is typically used to diversify the product or service portfolio, penetrate new segments, recruit more talent, optimize operations, etc. Early-stage capital is less precarious than startup capital because there is more evidence and traction of the business. However, early-stage capital can also be challenging and demanding because there are more expectations and pressure from the investors.

4. Expansion Capital

Expansion capital is the funding given to a company that has attained a significant market presence, revenue, and profit growth and is ready to scale up its business to the next level. Expansion capital is usually used to acquire other entities, develop new products or services, open new outlets, increase production capability, etc. Expansion capital is less perilous than early-stage capital because the business has more stability and predictability. However, expansion capital can also be costly and dilutive because more investors are engaged, and more equity is surrendered.

5. Late Stage Capital

Late-stage capital is the funding bestowed to a company that has reached a mature stage of development and growth and is preparing for an exit event such as an IPO or a trade sale. Late-stage capital is usually used to enhance the company’s valuation, reputation, and visibility, improve financial performance, strengthen governance, etc. Late-stage capital is less perilous than expansion capital because there is more certainty and credibility in the business. However, late-stage capital can also be complex and restrictive because more regulations and obligations are involved. However, a SBA Business Plan can help late-stage companies comply with the requirements and expectations of investors.

6. Bridge Financing

Bridge financing is the interim funding granted to a company that requires short-term capital to fill an urgent need or gap until it obtains a lasting or stable source of financing. Bridge financing is typically utilized for satisfying payroll, settling bills, accomplishing a project, etc. Bridge financing is perilous because there is no assurance that the firm can secure lasting or stable financing. However, bridge financing can also be beneficial and adaptable because it can offer swift and effortless access to cash.

The following table compares the different types of venture capital investments based on their stage, amount, risk, return, and purpose:

Venture Capital and VC Funding Methods

Venture capital is a source of funding for entrepreneurs who need money to grow their businesses. VC funding methods are the terms and conditions venture capitalists agree on when investing in the companies they support. Different methods of making a venture capital deal exist based on the people involved, worth, chance, and choices. The main methods are:

1. Common stock

This is the most straightforward form of VC funding method. It involves issuing shares of common stock to investors in exchange for capital. A common stock gives the investors voting rights and dividends (if any) in proportion to their ownership stake. Common stock is usually preferred by early-stage companies with low valuation and high risk.

2. Preferred stock

This is a more complex and sophisticated form of VC funding method. It involves issuing shares of preferred stock to investors in exchange for capital. Preferred stock gives the investors preference over common stockholders regarding dividends, liquidation, and conversion rights. Preferred stock is usually preferred by later-stage companies that have higher valuations and lower risk.

3. Convertible debt

This is a mixed form of VC funding method. It means giving the investors a debt instrument that can be converted into shares later or when some conditions are satisfied. Convertible debt pays the investors interest and money back until it gets converted. Early companies with unclear worth and a high chance of failure often choose convertible debt.

4. SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity)

This is a newer and simpler form of VC funding method. It means making a deal with the investors that lets them get shares in the future at a fixed worth or lower price. SAFE only involves issuing shares or debt instruments to the investors once a future financing event occurs. SAFE is usually preferred by seed-stage companies that have uncertain valuations and high risk.

Main Sections of a Venture Capital Business Plan

A venture business plan is a document describing your business idea, market opportunity, competitive advantage, financial projections, and funding needs. It is a tool that helps you communicate your vision and strategy to potential investors and partners. A venture business plan sample should include the following sections:

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is pivotal in your venture business plan, serving as the primary section that demands attention. It aims to present a concise yet comprehensive overview of your business idea, target market, unique value proposition, traction and milestones, financial summary, and funding request. It is vital to draft the executive summary clearly and compellingly that captivates readers and incites their curiosity to explore your venture further.

2. Company Analysis

The company analysis section delves deeper into your company’s narrative, providing a detailed account of its history, mission, vision, values, goals, objectives, team, culture, and legal structure. This section highlights your company’s noteworthy achievements and inherent strengths while addressing the potential challenges and risks it faces. Moreover, it presents a compelling case for the qualifications and capabilities of your team, demonstrating their aptitude in executing the business plan.

3. Industry Analysis

The industry analysis section demonstrates your understanding of the market you operate in or plan to enter. It should provide relevant information about your industry’s size, growth, trends, drivers, challenges, opportunities, and outlook. It should also identify and analyze your industry’s key segments and sub-segments.

4. Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section is important as it outlines and describes your target market and various customer segments. It should encompass a detailed profile of your ideal customers, covering their demographics, psychographics, behaviors, needs, pains, desires, preferences, and purchasing patterns. Furthermore, this section should include an estimation of your product or service’s total addressable market (TAM), serviceable available market (SAM), and serviceable obtainable market (SOM).

5. Competitive Analysis

The competitive analysis section is crucial in identifying and evaluating direct and indirect competitors. It thoroughly assesses their strengths, weaknesses, strategies, products, services, prices, features, benefits, market share, customer satisfaction, and distinctive factors. Additionally, this section explains your market positioning strategy, emphasizing your competitive advantages and unique selling points.

6. Marketing Plan

The marketing plan section outlines your marketing strategy and tactics for reaching and attracting your target customers and generating sales and revenue. It should cover the following elements:

  • Product and service
  • Distribution
  • Marketing process
  • Marketing Physical Evidence

7. Operations Plan

The operations plan section describes how you will run and manage your business daily. It should cover the following aspects:

  • Human Resources
  • Legal issues and requirements

8. Financial Plan

The financial plan section provides a detailed projection of your financial performance and position for three to five years. It should include the following components:

  • Income Statement
  • Cash Flow Statement
  • Balance Sheet
  • Break-Even Analysis
  • Funding Request
  • Funding Sources
  • Exit Strategy

OGSCapital for Your Venture Capital Business Plan

Are you looking for an answer to: How to write a venture capital business plan? Our business plan experts at OGSCapital can help. We have a team of professional business plan writers with over 15 years of experience offering business plan writing services. We have helped over 5,000 clients attract more than $2.7 billion in financing. Here are some of the reasons why you should choose OGSCapital for your venture capital business plan:

OGSCapital can provide you with the following benefits:

  • A customized and high-quality business plan
  • Comprehensive and in-depth market research and analysis
  • A realistic and accurate financial model and projections
  • A persuasive and compelling executive summary
  • A professional and attractive design and layout of your business plan
  • Fast and reliable delivery within 10 to 15 days
  • A revision after receiving the first draft of your business plan

If you’re also confused about how to write a business plan for venture capital that stands out from the crowd and increases your chances of getting funded, contact our experts at OGSCapital today.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do venture capitalists look for in a business plan?

A business plan to raise venture capital should demonstrate a great business idea, a talented and experienced team, a unique and valuable product or service, a market validation, a huge and expanding market, and a good deal and exit strategy. Plus, it should be clear, concise, well-researched and realistic.

2. What is the golden rule for venture capitalists?

For venture capitalists, people matter more than ideas. They look for entrepreneurs and managers with passion, dedication, flexibility, and willingness to learn from feedback. Venture capitalists believe these are the essential qualities that make or break a venture.

Download Venture Capital Business Plan Sample in PDF

OGSCapital’s team has assisted thousands of entrepreneurs with top-rate business plan development, consultancy and analysis. They’ve helped thousands of SME owners secure more than $1.5 billion in funding, and they can do the same for you.

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Developing a Business Plan

Developing a Business Plan

An important task in starting a new venture is to develop a business plan. As the phrase suggests, a business plan is a "road map" to guide the future of the business or venture. The elements of the business plan will impact the daily decisions of the business and provide direction for expansion, diversification, and future evaluation of the business.

This publication will assist in drafting your own business plan. It includes a discussion of the makeup of the plan and the information needed to develop a business plan. Business plans are traditionally developed and written by the owner with input from family members and the members of the business team. Business plans are "living" documents that should be reviewed and updated every year or if an opportunity for change presents itself. Reviews reinforce the thoughts and plans of the owner and the business and are a key item in the evaluation process. For an established venture, evaluation determines if the business is in need of change or if it is meeting the expectations of the owners.

Using the Proper Format

The format and appearance of the plan should be as professional as possible to portray your business in a positive manner. When dealing with a lender or possible investor, the plan will be reviewed for accuracy and suggestions for changes to the plan may be offered. The decision to recommend a loan for approval will be largely based on your business plan. Often loan officers will not know a great deal about the proposed venture, but they will know the correct structure of a business plan.

Investors will make their decision based on the plan and the integrity of the owner. For this reason, it is necessary to use a professional format. After loan officers complete their evaluations, the loan committee will further review the business plan and make a decision. The committee members often spend limited time reviewing the document, focusing on the message of the executive summary and financial statements to make their determination. They will refer to other sections of the plan for details and clarification. Because of this, these portions need to be the strongest parts of the plan and based on sound in-depth research and analysis.

Sections of the Business Plan

A business plan should be structured like a book with the title or cover page, followed by a table of contents. Following these two pages, the body of the plan normally appears in this order: executive summary, business mission statement, goals and objectives, background information, organizational matters, marketing plan, and financial plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is placed at the front of the business plan, but it should be the last part written. The summary should identify the type of business and describe the proposed business, or changes to the existing business. Research findings and recommendations should be summarized concisely to provide the reader with the information required to make any decisions. The summary outlines the direction and future plans or goals of the business, as well as the methods that will be used to achieve these goals. The summary should include adequate background information to support these recommendations.

The final financial analysis and the assumptions used are also a part of the executive summary. The analysis should show how proposed changes will ensure the sustainability of the current or proposed business. All challenges facing the existing business or proposed venture should be discussed in this section. Identifying such challenges shows the reader that all possibilities have been explored and taken into account during the research process.

Overview, Mission, and Goals and Objectives

This section has three separate portions. It begins with a brief overview that includes a general description of the existing or planned business. The overview is followed by the mission statement of the business. You should try to limit the mission statement to three sentences if possible and include only the key ideas about why the business exists. An example of a mission statement for a produce farm might be: The mission of XYZ Produce is to provide fresh, healthy produce to our customers, and to provide a safe, friendly working environment for our employees. If you have more than three sentences, you should be as concise as possible.

The final portion sets the business's goals and objectives. There are at least two schools of thought about goals and objectives. Goals and objectives should show the reader what the business wishes to accomplish, and the steps needed to obtain the desired results. Conducting a SWOT analysis will assist your team when developing goals and objectives. SWOT in an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and is covered more in-depth later in the publication. You may want to include marketing topics in the SWOT or conduct two SWOT analyses, one for the entire business and one for the marketing plan.

Goals should follow the acronym DRIVE, which stands for D irectional, R easonable, I nspiring, V isible, and E ventual. The definitions of DRIVE are:

  • Directional: It should guide you to follow your vision.
  • Reasonable: You should be able to reach the goal, and it should be related to your business.
  • Inspiring: Make sure the goal is positive but should challenge the business to grow into the goal.
  • Visible: You and your employees should be able to easily recognize the goal. Goals should be posted where everyone sees them every day.
  • Eventual: The goals should focus on the future and be structured to provide motivation to all to strive towards the goals.

Objectives should follow the acronym SMART, which stands for S pecific, M easurable, A ttainable, R ewarding, and T imed. Objectives are the building blocks to achieve the goals and stand for:

  • Specific: Each objective should focus on one building block to reach the goal.
  • Measurable: You should be able to determine if your progress is going in the right direction.
  • Attainable: You should be able to complete the objective with an appropriate amount of work.
  • Rewarding: Reaching the objective should be something to celebrate and provide positive reinforcement to the business.
  • Timed: You must have a deadline for the objective to be achieved. You do not want to have the objectives linger for too long. Not reaching the objectives delays reaching the goals. Not achieving goals is detrimental to the morale of the business.

Goals and objectives should follow these formats to allow for evaluation of the entire process and provide valuable feedback along the way. The business owner should continually evaluate the outcomes of decisions and practices to determine if the goals or objectives are being met and make modifications when needed.

Background Information

Background information should come from the research conducted during the writing process. This portion should include information regarding the history of the industry, the current state of the industry, and information from reputable sources concerning the future of the industry.

This portion of the business plan requires the most investment of time by the writer, with information gathered from multiple sources to prevent bias or undue optimism. The writer should take all aspects of the industry (past, present, and future) and business into account. If there are concerns or questions about the viability of the industry or business, these must be addressed. In writing this portion of the plan, information may be obtained from your local public library, periodicals, industry personnel, trusted sources on the Internet, and publications such as the Penn State Extension Agricultural Alternatives series . Industry periodicals are another excellent source of up-to-date information. The more varied the sources, the better the evaluation of the industry and the business, and the greater the opportunity to have a viable plan.

The business owner must first choose an appropriate legal structure for the business. The business structure will have an impact on the future, including potential expansion and exit from the business. If the proper legal structure is not chosen, the business may be negatively impacted down the road. Only after the decision is made about the type of business can the detailed planning begin.

Organizational Matters

This section of the plan describes the current or planned business structure, the management team, and risk-management strategies. There are several forms of business structure to choose from, including sole proprietorship, partnership, corporations (subchapter S or subchapter C), cooperative, and limited liability corporation or partnership (LLC or LLP). These business structures are discussed in Agricultural Alternatives: Starting or Diversifying an Agricultural Business .

The type of business structure is an important decision and often requires the advice of an attorney (and an accountant). The business structure should fit the management skills and style(s) of the owner(s) and take into account the risk management needs (both liability and financial) of the business. For example, if there is more than one owner (or multiple investors), a sole proprietorship is not an option because more than one person has invested time and/or money into the business. In this case a partnership, cooperative, corporation, LLC, or LLP would be the proper choice.

Another consideration for the type of business structure is the transfer of the business to the next generation or the dissolution of the business. There are benefits and drawbacks for each type of structure covering the transition of ownership. If the business has a high exposure to risk or liability, then an LLC might be preferred over a partnership or sole proprietorship.

If the business is not a sole proprietorship, the management team should be described in the business plan. The management team should consist of all parties involved in the decisions and activities of the business. The strengths and backgrounds of the management team members should be discussed to highlight the positive aspects of the team. Even if the business is a sole proprietorship, usually more than one person (often a spouse, child, relative, or other trusted person) will have input into the decisions, and so should be included as team members.

Regardless of the business structure, all businesses should also have an external management support team. This external management support team should consist of the business's lawyer, accountant, insurance agent or broker, and possibly a mentor. These external members are an integral part of the management team. Many large businesses have these experts on staff or on retainer. For small businesses, the external management team replaces full-time experts; the business owner(s) should consult with this external team on a regular basis (at least once a year) to determine if the business is complying with all rules and regulations. Listing the management team in the business plan allows the reader to know that the business owner has developed a network of experts to provide advice.

The risk-management portion of the business plan provides a description of how the business will handle unexpected or unusual events. For example, if the business engages in agricultural production, will the business purchase crop insurance? Does the business have adequate liability insurance? Is the business diversified to protect against the unexpected, rather than "putting all its eggs in one basket"? If the business has employees, does the business carry adequate workers' compensation insurance? All of these questions should be answered in the risk-management portion of the business plan. More information on how liability can affect your business and on the use of insurance as a risk-management tool can be found in Agricultural Alternatives: Agricultural Business Insurance and Agricultural Alternatives: Understanding Agricultural Liability . The business structure will also determine a portion of the risk-management strategy because the way that a business is structured carries varying levels of risk to the owner and/or owners. All opportunities carry a degree of risk that must be evaluated, and mitigation strategies should be included in this portion of the plan.

Marketing Plan

Every purchase decision that a consumer makes is influenced by the marketing strategy or plan of the company selling the product or service. Products are usually purchased based on consumer preferences, including brand name, price, and perceived quality attributes. Consumer preferences develop (and change) over time and an effective marketing plan takes these preferences into account. This makes the marketing plan an important part of the overall business plan.

In order to be viable, the marketing plan must coincide with the production activities. The marketing plan must address consumer desires and needs. For example, if a perishable or seasonal crop (such as strawberries) will be produced, the marketing plan should not include sales of locally grown berries in January if the business is in northeastern United States. If the business plans to purchase berries in the off-season from other sources to market, this information needs to be included. In this way, the marketing plan must fit the production capabilities (or the capability to obtain products from other sources).

A complete marketing plan should identify target customers, including where they live, work, and purchase the product or service you are providing. This portion of the plan contains a description of the characteristics and advantages of your product or service. Identifying a "niche" market will be of great value to your business.

Products may be sold directly to the consumer (retail) or through another business (wholesale) or a combination of both. Whichever marketing avenue you choose, if you are starting a new enterprise or expanding an existing one, you will need to decide if the market can bear more of what you plan to produce. Your industry research will assist in this determination. The plan must also address the challenges of the proposed marketing strategy.

Other variables to consider are sales location, market location, promotion, advertising, pricing, staffing, and the costs associated with all of these. All of these aspects of the marketing plan will take time to develop and should not be taken lightly. Further discussion on marketing fruits and vegetables can be found in Agricultural Alternatives: Fruit and Vegetable Marketing for Small-Scale and Part-Time Growers .

SWOT Analysis

An adequate way of determining the answers to business and marketing issues is to conduct a SWOT analysis. The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths represent internal attributes and may include aspects like previous experience in the business. Experience in sales or marketing would be an area of strength for a retail farm market. Weaknesses are also internal and may include aspects such as the time, cost, and effort needed to introduce a new product or service to the marketplace.

Opportunities are external aspects that will help your business to take off and be sustained. If no one is offering identical products or services in your immediate area, you may have the opportunity to capture the market. Threats are external and may include aspects like other businesses offering the same product in close proximity to your business or government regulations impacting business practices and cost.

Financial Plan

The financial plan and assumptions are crucial to the success of the business and should be included in the business plan. One of the foremost reasons new businesses fail is because they do not have enough start-up capital to cover all expenses to make a profit. The scope of your business will be determined by the financial resources you can acquire. Because of this, you will need to develop a financial plan and create the supporting documents to substantiate it.

The financial plan has its basis in historical data (if you are an existing business) or from projections (for a proposed business). The first issue to address is recordkeeping. You should indicate who will keep the necessary records and how these records will be used. Internal controls, such as who will sign checks and handle any funds, should also be addressed. A good rule to follow for businesses that are not sole proprietorships is having at least two people sign all checks.

The next portion of the financial plan should detail where funding will come from. This includes if (and when) the business will need additional capital, how much capital will be needed, and how these funds will be obtained. If start-up capital is needed, this information should be included in this portion. Personal contributions should be included, along with other funding sources. The amount of money and repayment terms should be listed. One common mistake affecting many new businesses is under-funding at start-up. Many start-up businesses do not evaluate all areas of expense and underestimate the amount of capital needed to see a new business through the development stages (including personal living expenses, if off-farm income is not available).

Typically, a balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, and partial budget or enterprise budgets are included in a business plan. More information on agricultural budgets can be found in Agricultural Alternatives: Budgeting for Agricultural Decision Making . These documents will display the financial information in a form that lending institutions are used to seeing. If these are not prepared by an accountant, having one review them will ensure that the proper format has been used.

Financial projections should be completed for at least two years and, ideally, for five years. In agricultural businesses, five-year projections are sometimes difficult to make because of variability in prices, weather, and other aspects affecting production. One way to illustrate these risks is to develop several projection scenarios covering a range of production assumptions. This attention to detail will often result in a positive experience with lenders because they realize that the plan covers several possible circumstances and provides insight into how the business plans to manage risk. More information on financing agricultural businesses can be found in the publication Agricultural Alternatives: Financing Small-Scale and Part-Time Farms .

Financial Statements

To keep personal assets and liabilities separate from business assets and liabilities, it is beneficial to create both business and personal financial statements. A lender will need to see both, but the separation will show how the business will support the family or how the off-farm income will support the business.

Cash Flow Statement

A cash flow statement is the predicted flow of cash into and out of a business over a year. Cash flow statements are prepared by showing the total amounts predicted for each item of income or expense. This total is then broken down by month to show when surpluses and shortfalls in cash will occur. In this way, the cash flow statement can be used to predict when additional cash is needed and when the business will have a surplus to pay back any debt. This monthly prediction allows the owner(s) to better evaluate the cash needs of the business, taking out applicable loans and repaying outstanding debts. The cash flow statement often uses the same categories as the income statement plus additional categories to cover debt payments and borrowing.

After these financial statements are completed, the business plan writer will have an accurate picture of how the business has performed and can project how the business will perform in the coming year(s). With such information, the owner—and any readers of the business plan—will be able to evaluate the viability of the business and will have an accurate understanding of actions and activities that will contribute to its sustainability. This understanding will enable them to make better informed decisions regarding loans or investments in the business.

Income Statement

The income statement is a summary of the income (revenue) and expenses for a given accounting cycle. If the balance sheet is a "snapshot" of the financial health of the business, the income statement is a "motion picture" of the financial health of the business over a specific time period. An income statement is constructed by listing the income (or revenue) at the top of the page and the expenses (and the resulting profit or loss) at the bottom of the page.

Revenue is any income realized by the sale of crops or livestock, government payments, and any other income the business may have (including such items as fuel tax refunds, patronage dividends, and custom work). Other items impacting revenues are changes in inventory and accounts receivable between the start of the time period and the end—even if these changes are negative.

Expenses include any expense the business has incurred from the production of the products sold. Examples of expenses include feed, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel, labor, maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes, utilities, and any changes in accounts payable. Depreciation, which is the calculated wear and tear on assets (excluding land), is included as an expense for accounting purposes. Interest is considered an expense, but any principal payments related to loans are not an expense. Repayment of principal is recorded on the balance sheet under "Loans Payable."

As the income statement is created, the desired outcome is to have more income than expenses, so the income statement shows a profit. If not, the final number is shown in parentheses (signifying a negative number). Another name for this financial record is a Profit and Loss Statement. Income statements are one way to clearly show how the farm is making progress from one year to the next and may show a much more optimistic view of sustainability than can be seen by looking at a single year's balance sheet.

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet is a snapshot of a business’s assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity at a specific point in time. A balance sheet can be prepared at any time, but is usually done at the end of the fiscal year (for many businesses, this is the end of the calendar year). Evaluating the business by using the balance sheet requires several years of balance sheets to tell the true story of the business’s progress over time. A balance sheet is typically constructed by listing assets on the left and liabilities and owner’s equity on the right. The difference between the assets and liabilities of the business is called the "owner's equity" and provides an estimate of how much of the business is owned outright.

Assets are anything owned by, or owed to, the business. These include cash (and checking account balances), accounts receivable (money owed to the business), inventory (any crops or supplies that the business has stored on farm), land, equipment, and buildings. This may also include machinery, breeding stock, small-fruit bushes or canes, and fruit trees. Sometimes assets are listed as current (those easily converted to cash) and fixed (those that are required for the business to continue). Assets are basically anything of value to the business. Some valuations of assets are not easily determined for items such as breeding stock, small-fruit bushes or canes, and fruit trees and may require the use of a certified appraiser familiar with the items.

Balance sheets may use a market-basis or a cost-basis to calculate the value of assets. A market-basis balance sheet better reflects the current economic conditions because it relies on current or market value for the assets, rather than what those assets originally cost. Market values are more difficult to obtain because of the difficulty in finding accurate current prices of assets and often results in the inflation of the value of assets. Cost-basis balance sheets are more conservative because the values are often from prior years. For example, a cost-basis balance sheet would use the original purchase price of land, rather than what selling that land would bring today. Because purchase records are easily obtained, constructing a cost-basis balance sheet is easier. Depreciable assets such as buildings, tractors, and equipment are listed on the cost-basis balance sheet at purchase price less accumulated depreciation. Most accountants use the cost-basis balance sheet method. Whether you choose to use market-basis or cost-basis, it is critical that you remain consistent over the years to allow for accurate comparison.

Liabilities are what the business owes on the date the balance sheet is prepared. Liabilities include both current liabilities (accounts payable, any account the business has with a supplier, short-term notes, operating loans, and the current portion of long-term debt), which are payable within the current year, and noncurrent liabilities (mortgages and loans with a term that extends over one year).

Owner's equity is what remains after all liabilities have been subtracted from all assets. It represents money that the owner(s) have invested in the business, profits that are retained in the business, and changes caused by fluctuating market values (on a market-basis balance sheet). Owner’s equity will be affected whenever there are changes in capital contributed to the business or retained earnings, so if your practice is to use all earnings as your "paycheck," rather than reinvesting them in the business, your owner's equity will be impacted. On the balance sheet, owner’s equity plus liabilities equals assets. Or stated another way, all of the assets less the amount owed (liabilities) equals the owner’s equity (sometimes referred to as "net worth"). Owner's equity provides the "balance" in a balance sheet.

Putting It All Together

After the mission, background information, organization, and marketing and financial plans are complete, an executive summary can then be prepared. Armed with the research results and information in the other sections, the business will come alive through this section. Research results can be included in an appendix if desired. The next step is to share this plan with others whose opinions you respect. Have them ask you the hard questions—make you defend an opinion you have expressed or challenge you to describe what you plan to do in more detail. Often, people are hesitant to share what they have written with their families or friends because they fear the plan will not be taken seriously. However, it is much better to receive constructive criticism from family and friends (and gain the opportunity to strengthen your plan) than it is to take it immediately to the lender, only to have any problems pointed out and receive a rejection.

Once all parts of the business plan have been written, you will have a document that will enable you to analyze your business and determine which, if any, changes need to be made. Changes on paper take time and effort but are not as expensive as changing a business practice only to find that the chosen method is not viable. For a proposed venture, if the written plan points to the business not being viable, large sums of money have not been invested and possibly lost. In short, challenges are better faced on paper than with investment capital.

Remember, a business plan is a "road map" that will guide the future of the business. The best business plan is a document in continual change, reacting to the influence of the outside world on the business. Having the basis of a written plan will give you the confidence to consider changes in the business to remain competitive. Once the plan is in place, the business will have a better chance of future success.

For More Information

Publications.

Abrams, R. The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies (Successful Business Plan Secrets and Strategies) . Palo Alto, Calif.: Planning Shop, 2014.

Becker, J. C., L. F. Kime, J. K. Harper, and R. Pifer. Agricultural Alternatives: Understanding Agricultural Liability . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2011.

Dethomas, A., and L. and S. Derammelaere. Writing a Convincing Business Plan (Barron's Business Library) . Hauppauge, N.Y.: Barron's Educational Series. 2015.

Dunn, J., J. K. Harper, and L. F. Kime. Agricultural Alternatives: Fruit and Vegetable Marketing for Small-scale and Part-time Growers . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2009.

Grant, W. How to Write a Winning Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide for Startup Entrepreneurs to Build a Solid Foundation, Attract Investors and Achieve Success with a Bulletproof Business Plan (Business 101). Independently published. 2020.

Harper, J. K., S. Cornelisse, L. F. Kime, and J. Hyde. Agricultural Alternatives: Budgeting for Agricultural Decision Making . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2019.

Kime, L. F., J. A. Adamik, E. E. Gantz, and J. K. Harper. Agricultural Alternatives: Agricultural Business Insurance . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2019.

Kime, L. F., S. Cornelisse, and J. K. Harper. Agricultural Alternatives: Starting or Diversifying an Agricultural Business . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2018.

Lesonsky, R. Start Your Own Business Fifth Edition: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need.  Irvine, Calif.: Entrepreneur Media Inc., 2010.

Shelton, H. The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Plan That Gets Results. Rockville, Md.: Summit Valley Press, 2017.

Stokes, J. S., G. D. Hanson, J. K. Harper, and L. F. Kime.  Agricultural Alternatives: Financing Small-scale and Part-time Farms . University Park: Penn State Extension, 2005.

Online Course

Starting a Farm: Business Planning  

Periodicals

  • American Agriculturist Magazine Farm Progress Companies Inc. 5482 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 260 Los Angeles, CA 90036
  • Businessweek Magazine
  • Fortune Magazine
  • Kiplinger's Personal Finance
  • Money Magazine
  • BizPlanit - Virtual Business Plan
  • PA Business One-Stop Shop
  • Small Business Administration
  • SCORE—volunteer business assistance
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Starting a Business in Pennsylvania—A Guide to Pennsylvania Taxes
  • The Pennsylvania State University Agricultural Alternative Tools
  • The Pennsylvania State University Conducting a SWOT Analysis
  • The Pennsylvania State University Happy Valley Launch Box

Prepared by Lynn F. Kime, senior extension associate; Linda Falcone, extension educator in Wyoming County, Jayson K. Harper, professor of agricultural economics; and Winifred W. McGee, retired extension educator in Dauphin County

Additional financial support for this publication was provided by the Risk Management Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

This publication was developed by the Small-scale and Part-time Farming Project at Penn State with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Extension Service.

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Kickstart your venture: Your go-to business launch checklist for 2024

I f you’re ready to jump into entrepreneurship and start your own business, this guide will act as your comprehensive companion to ensure you cover all the essential steps and considerations. Whether you're an up-and-coming entrepreneur with a spark of an idea or already fine-tuning your business plan, this checklist will streamline the path from inception to the thrilling start of your own company.

Crafted by experts in the realm of entrepreneurship, this guide is a tried and tested collection of core insights and actionable steps. We'll traverse through the main milestones together, starting with understanding market research and crafting a rock-solid business plan. At the same time, we'll explore the steps of securing funding, choosing an impactful business name, and addressing the nitty-gritty of setting up your business legally. With an eye on effective marketing strategies and the importance of a strong online presence, we'll also delve into how to pick the best website builder and its role as the backbone of your marketing efforts.

Ready to get your new business idea off the ground in 2024? Let’s begin…

How to start your own company: Quick checklist

Starting up your own business involves several careful steps and considerations. Here's a concise checklist of everything you need to do, and everything we will cover in this article: 

  • Market research : In this first section, we will help you understand why market research is crucial and offer insight into the most effective research strategies.
  • Create a business plan : Here, we'll talk about the importance of a comprehensive business plan and its fundamental components.
  • Decide on funding : After coming up with a business plan, you'll want to explore funding options and weigh the pros and cons of each, from self-funding options to seeking investors.
  • Pick a business name : We'll cover the significance of selecting a memorable business name and tips for doing so.
  • Handle legal and tax obligations : Although this can be dull, diving into the legal aspects, tax obligations, licenses, permits, and setting up a business bank account is essential.
  • Marketing your business : Finally, we'll emphasize the significance of marketing and explore various marketing avenues, with a special focus on leveraging a website as a main marketing tool.

Having outlined the main stages, let's dig deeper into each aspect, aiding you in navigating the intricate path toward a successful business inception.

Step 1: Conduct market research

Before you start your journey, you need to know the landscape. This is where market research comes in. 

Market research serves as the bedrock for a soon-to-be successful business, allowing you to make wise decisions by understanding your target audience, industry trends, and chief competitors.

To conduct solid market research, start by identifying your target audience. This involves pinpointing the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics of your potential customers. Interviews and the best survey tools can help you collect this crucial data.

It’s also smart to stay updated on industry trends by keeping an eye on market reports, industry publications, attending conferences, and following industry leaders. Even something as simple as setting up Google Alerts for key industry terms can offer valuable insight into what people are talking about in your niche. 

Understanding the competition’s strengths, weaknesses, market positioning, and strategies is equally important. Conducting this analysis can help you identify gaps in the market that your business can fill or areas where you can make yourself stand out. Using a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a great way to make this process simple and effective. 

You can also utilize platforms like Google Trends, social media analytics, and industry-specific forums to gather real-time insights into consumer trends and market shifts.

Step 2: Create a business plan

A well-crafted business plan will act as a roadmap, outlining your business goals, strategies, and operational schemes. Taking the time to create one will help you, your partners, and employees remain focused on what matters most to the business. It is also a powerful tool for investor relations, showing potential investors exactly how you plan on achieving your business goals. 

Your business plan should encompass a clear executive summary, defining your business concept, target market analysis, marketing strategies, operational procedures, financial projections, and an actionable timeline.

To create a good business plan, start by defining your mission, vision, and goals. Outline your product or service offerings and how they meet consumer demands. Moreover, delve deeper into your marketing and sales plans, how your business operates, and your projected financial outlook.

Also, make it a habit to regularly revisit and update your business plan to adapt to market changes.

Read our full guide to creating a business plan for more information. 

Step 3: Decide on funding

Regardless of the type of business you are starting, you will need to secure some level of funding to get it off the ground. Even those who plan on bootstrapping their start up will need to cover basic admin and equipment costs to get started. 

To select the right funding method, assess the array of options available, including avenues like self-funding, investor support, bank loans, or government grants. Each of these comes with distinct pros and cons:

  • Self-funding : Start your business using personal savings or assets. While this preserves your autonomy and minimizes debt, it might limit your starting capital.
  • Investors : Seeking investors injects capital into your venture but often involves ceding a portion of ownership or enduring pressure to meet investor expectations.
  • Bank loans : Acquiring a loan from financial institutions is a common method. It offers financial leverage but can burden your business with interest payments. This approach is similar to using a credit card to fund your startup. 
  • Government grants : Explore government grants for specific industries or initiatives. They offer non-repayable financial aid but may have stringent eligibility criteria.
  • Other grants : Some Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) also offer grants to small and start up businesses. These may be specific to certain industries or more generic in nature, a quick online search should help you find your options. 

It’s important to opt for a financing approach aligned with your long-term goals while also considering potential downsides. 

Step 4: Pick a business name

Choosing a catchy business name that matches your brand is critical before you start your own business. Your business name is your first impression - a reflection of your brand values, identity, and aspirations. A well-crafted name acts as a cornerstone of your brand identity, setting the tone for your business and helping establish a strong connection with your audience.

To pick out a memorable business name ensure:

  • It aligns with your brand's identity, vision, and values. It should convey what your business stands for.
  • It’s a straightforward and easy-to-understand name that’s effortless to recall and recognize.
  • It stands out in the crowd by being unique, eye-catching, and memorable.
  • The name addresses your target audience - it should resonate with their preferences and ambitions.
  • You’ve tested the name's appeal among a small focus group or through surveys to assess its impact and relevance.
  • It isn’t identical or very similar to others within your industry, this will help limit confusion 

Since your business name is a critical asset in your entrepreneurial journey, invest time and thought into this decision. When picking a name it is also important to check the availability of associated domains. Although an exact match isn’t always necessary, finding a short and memorable domain is essential. 

Step 5: Do the boring (but essential) stuff

While terribly tedious, setting up your business in a legal framework is the backbone of its stability. Understanding the business structures such as sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, and so forth will help you shape your enterprise. 

Next, you have to figure out your tax responsibilities and ensure compliance by learning about tax filing, deductions, and obligations specific to your business structure.  Also, check the necessary licenses and permits for your industry to ensure regulatory compliance and safeguard your business from legal challenges.

Lastly, separate personal and business finances. By opening a business bank account you'll successfully streamline financial management and also create a clear boundary between personal and professional assets. This encourages financial transparency and accountability, which is crucial for business success.

Step 6: Develop a marketing plan

Marketing is the lifeblood of a startup, fostering brand recognition, and boosting customer outreach. In this competitive landscape, utilizing diverse marketing strategies - from social media engagement to content marketing and SEO - will help you improve visibility and engagement.

Creating a marketing strategy is all about understanding your audience, crafting a compelling value proposition, and then delivering it to them in areas where their attention is already focused. 

Dedicate a section of your marketing plan to deciding which tools you will use to make your life easier. This could include using the best email marketing tools to help automate customer emails or the best social media management tools to help you schedule great content for your social media channels. You should even go as far as deciding what the best web hosting provider is for your website.

Start your own business: Summary

In a nutshell, understanding how to start your own business is a balanced mix of enthusiasm and strategic groundwork. This quick guide has walked you through the core steps necessary to confidently initiate the launch of your dream business.

From conducting thorough market research to discerning the optimal funding options and coming up with an attention-grabbing business name, each step in this journey is as significant as the others. Now that you’re armed with know-how, you can kick off the process and start your own business right now.

The content included in this guide should not be interpreted as financial or legal advice or recommendations. Seeking professional financial and legal guidance is highly recommended before making any decisions for your startup.

Why do I need a business plan?

In short, a business plan serves as a strategic blueprint for your enterprise. It's a crucial tool that articulates your vision, market analysis, and operational strategies. It not only guides your actions but also provides clarity for potential investors or stakeholders. 

How do I finance my business?

To support your business you can opt for self-funding, explore external investments, contemplate bank loans, or investigate opportunities for grants. Each of these avenues bear its advantages and disadvantages.

How can I pick out a perfect name for my business?

Choose an easy-to-memorize name that matches your brand's vision while being appealing to your target audience. You should consider factors such as uniqueness, relevance, and brand image the name conveys. After all, it’s an opportunity to encapsulate your business's identity and values in a concise yet impactful way.

 Kickstart your venture: Your go-to business launch checklist for 2024

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Week 4 - Assgnment 1 Strategic Business Plan for a New Venture

Profile image of Kennedy Mukuka

This strategic business plan details a structured plan of an investment in an African country, Zambia for the manufacture of plastic lumber from recycled plastic waste. The plan is in line with the strategy of XY Investments Inc. to diversify into untapped areas offshore without XY Investments Inc. footprint. This will ensure continued enhancements of human capital development, corporate social responsibility (CSR), enhanced robust risk management platform, treasury and accounting function. In this regard, a subsidiary company XY Poly Ltd. has been incorporated in Zambia as a vehicle through which the holding company, XY Investments Inc. will spread its corporate footprint into Africa as part of its grand strategy to meet long term objectives and a generic strategy to meet strategy in the short term.

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Excel India Publishers

Bupe G Mwanza, PhD

Plastic waste recycling continues to contribute to sustainable management of resources. Over the past 60 years, the manufacture of plastic packaged products has increased. Majority of plastic products manufactured for the packaging industry have substantive short life spans. These observations indicate the current utilisation of resources (petroleum) for the manufacture of plastic materials is unsustainable. Recycling is one element of the 3Rs (reduce, recycle, reuse) that continues to contribute to resource utilisation in the plastic industry. Opportunities to reduce quantities of Plastic Solid Wastes (PSWs) disposal, carbon dioxide emissions and oil usage are provided through recycling. Despite the existence of plastic recycling for many decades, quantities that are recycled vary contextually depending on the application and plastic type. In many developed economies, high recycling rates for PSWs can be attributed to a number of factors such as technology, regulations and value chain systems. Advanced technologies for recycling such mechanical, feedstock, chemical, pyrolysis and glycolysis have contributed to high recycling rates in developed economies. However, recycling rates in developing economies are still low and a number of factors have contributed. The purpose of this research was; to assess the current status of technology in the industry in Zambia. The objectives of the research were to; determine the types of plastics recycled, products manufactured from recycled PSWs, the types of technology used in recycling PSWs and the technological drivers for improving recycling. Using the database of companies listed by the Manufacturing Sector of Zambia and the Google Search Engine, a list of plastic manufacturing and recycling companies in Zambia were identified. A descriptive research was conducted since the research required understanding the current status on the subject matter. A total of 30 companies were identified in Zambia and a structured questionnaire was designed and distributed to companies using sampling without replacement. 22 companies answered the questionnaires. The results reveal that, plastic products are manufactured by 95.5% of the companies and only 45.5% recycle PSWs. More than 42000 tons of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polyethylene (PE, LLDPE, HDPE) and Polypropylene (PP) is recycled per annual. The major recycling technology used by the companies is mechanical recycling and majority of PSWs are recycled into plastic bottles and containers. Assessment of the technological drivers for improving recycling, majority indicated ensuring material applicability in recycling processes. This research presents the current state on the application of different types of recycling technologies for plastic recycling as well as providing the way forward on improving recycling from a technological perspective. To plastic recycling companies, the research has proved insights on the different types of recycling technologies for consideration. To policy makers and future entrepreneurs in the field of sustainability, the research presents insights on the different forms of recyclable plastics and the technology that can be implemented. Finally, the research shows that, there is need to improve on the application of advanced recycling technologies in plastic recycling companies of Zambia.

Sustainable Resources Management Journal (SRMJ) , Weston Sakala

The purpose of this research was to determine the contribution of solid waste recycling companies to the job market in Zambia. A comprehensive database of patents and company registration agency for thirty-four companies working with waste recycling in Zambia was used. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders. The results revealed that recycling companies create job opportunities and environmental benefits. The study has also established that recycling industry is growing rapidly. However, the sector has a lot of challenges e.g. the poor status of machinery. Old technologies have made the industry structure more costly to operate at full capacity. There was no significant difference (p >.05) in job creation between companies using old and new technologies (p = 0.635). Similarly, there was no significant difference (p >.05) in contribution to job creation between paper and plastic recycling (p = 0.456). However, there was a significant (p<.05) difference in efficiency between old and new technologies.

OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, Ontario International Development Agency, Canada

Reginald Kwizela , Abel Dugange , David Watako

Social return on investment (SROI) of water sanitation and hygiene projects has not received the attention that projects in other sectors have received primarily because of perceived difficulties in quantifying benefits yet it is an approach that should be mandatory to all projects as it assesses contributions of an investment beyond economic benefits. SROI denotes a methodology that measures return on a project or investment based on experiences or appreciations of stakeholders and the people affected by a particular investment or project. This paper is an expose of benefits created by liquid and solid waste project in Temeke Municipal council of Tanzania. The project “building entrepreneurship capacity for liquid and solid waste businesses’ is primarily focusing on building entrepreneurship skills for liquid and solid waste businesses using a soft loan facility. Core initiatives include but not exclusively limited to constructing a decentralized waste treatment (DEWAT) facility, supporting small scale entrepreneurs (SSE) in the development of market strategy and creating awareness on liquid and solid waste management

Habitat International

Bas van vliet

Local Economy: The Journal of the Local Economy Policy Unit

Marlin Hoffman , Catherina Schenck

Introduction: Value chains in their entirety, within the South African context, have not been the focus of much research thus far. A plethora of research has been done on the various actors within the value chain, but the rest of the value chain has not been dentified and depicted. Failing to understand and describe the entire value chain of polyethylene terephthalate plastics has led to many unanswered questions and misunderstood impacts on the plastics waste economy. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to document and depict the value chain and its activities within the polyethylene terephthalate waste economy in South Africa, which, according to the available literature, has not been done before. The documentation of the value chain and its activities will assist in identifying the possibilities of job creation within the waste economy, which could impact the diversion of waste from the landfill. Method: A qualitative research approach with an exploratory research design was followed, and the data collection was done by means of a workshop. The participants in the workshop included captains of industry, entrepreneurs, academics, government, environmental groups and environmental non-governmental organizations. The workshop was recorded audio-visually, and concepts and discussions were documented for this purpose. All information was transcribed and documented in a final document. Results: The value chain and its activities were documented. Conclusion: The information collected is a starting point for more research within the waste economy, as the process will be followed with other waste streams. Job creation gaps have been identified and further research has started creating a better understanding of the value chain, which will influence policy.

ioana sauluc

Analysis for Action

Thomas Orbach

kunle babaremu

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1.2 VENTURE CREATION & BUSINESS PLAN

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  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 ...

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  4. 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.

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