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Seven sections your business plan should have.

Forbes Business Development Council

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Joseph is Director at  Wise Business Plans , a firm helping clients with professionally written business plans, branding, licensing and more.

To someone who’s never done it before, crafting a business plan can seem like a complicated, magical process that regular people are incapable of accomplishing. The finished product looks so complex and informative — who even knows what goes into something like that?

But, in reality, business plans are less like magic and more like baking. Gather the right ingredients, put them together in the proper order, and ta-da! The finished product is a road map for the company’s future success.

With a little help from a professional or the right recipe, even the newest small-business owner will be baking up business plans in no time.

So, what is that recipe for planning perfection? Like bread and pastry, every business plan has some flair of its own, from custom graphic design to unique financial information.

But some sections are universal and absolutely necessary if a business owner wants to be taken seriously by investors and banks.

1. An Executive Summary

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This concise, carefully written, first section of the plan offers an easy-to-follow introduction to the company, its purpose and its framework. This section sums up the information in your plan, so it can be helpful to go back and write it after the rest of the work is completed.

Pro Tip: In the opening statement, explain the business in one or two sentences. Once you have completed your business plan, write the Executive Summary last.

2. Company Overview

List the goods and services the company will provide, the market it will serve, short- and long-term goals for growth and a brief history of the company’s formation and past performance.

Pro Tip: Explain any momentum the company has made to date and future plans.

3. Products & Services

This section allows for a more complete explanation of the kinds of goods or services the business will be selling or providing. Make the descriptions compelling and engaging. 

Pro Tip: List a detailed description of your products or services and their competitive advantages over the competition.

4. Market Analysis

Use this as an opportunity to showcase the research and knowledge company leaders have to bring to the table with regard to the people and entities they hope to serve or sell to. Include information on the industry the company belongs to and the state of the competition locally, nationally and even internationally, if relevant. 

Pro Tip: Check out the census website  for statistics and demographics.

5. Marketing Strategy

How does the business intend to get the word out about what it has to offer? This section should list plans for all expected marketing channels, from traditional advertising to social media outreach efforts.

Pro Tip: The marketing budget and strategy should be a focal point of your plan. This will ultimately drive sales.

6. Organization & Management

This can be broken into separate sections, but both leadership and plans for employees must be addressed. This should include a basic visual “tree” showing the number of employees expected to be hired, as well as the reporting structure for those people. The management portion should contain an introduction to the company’s leaders and their expertise and career achievements. 

Pro Tip: Explain why you and your team are capable of executing the business goals and objectives.

7. Financials

Different kinds of plans will require slightly different financial information. However, every plan should show historical financial data, if available, and sensible projected expenditures and forecasted income. This section should also include an overview of the company’s current financial status.

Pro Tip: Every industry has a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). Benchmark your company against its peers in the market.

It’s a fact that a quality business plan contains complicated information about not only the business being built but also the market and industry the company plans to compete in. Looking at a business plan as a piece-by-piece process, rather than a completed whole, can make creating your own a little less daunting. Including the seven sections listed above is a great starting point for making a plan that will impress any investor or financial institution.

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Joseph Ferriolo

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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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Business Plans Made Easy

The Lean Business Plan: Your Strategic Roadmap to Launch Your Business and Confidently Exit the 9-to-5

7 Key Sections of a Business Plan: Your Success Blueprint

May 4, 2023

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Are you excited to dive into the world of business, but feeling a little overwhelmed by all the details you need to consider? Well, fear not, because today we’ll talk about one of the most important things you’ll need as you embark on this journey: a business plan. I’m going to break down the key sections of a business plan, so you can start dreaming big and making those revenue goals a reality.

Now, before you start groaning and rolling your eyes, let me tell you that creating a business plan can be a lot of fun (yes, I know, I’m a nerd).  

Not only does a business plan help you organize your thoughts and ideas, but it also gives you a clear roadmap for where you want your business to go.

Let’s get started!

What are the 7 Key Sections of a Business Plan ?

Executive summary.

The executive summary is a brief overview of your business plan that should capture the attention of potential investors or partners.

It should include a summary of your business concept , target market, products or services, and financial projections. 

Keep it concise and engaging, highlighting your unique selling proposition and why your business is a worthwhile investment.

The executive summary is like the grand finale of your writing performance!

It’s the last section you’ll get to dazzle your readers with, so give it your all! 

So, come back to this after completing the remaining key sections of the business plan.  

Company Description

The company description is like the opening act to your business’s big performance.

It’s your chance to introduce your business to the world and get the audience excited about what you have to offer.

This section should give readers an in-depth overview of your business.  

You’ll want to include information about your industry, how you solve their problem, what makes your product or service unique, and why you’re the best at what you do. 

Think of it as your business’s elevator pitch – you only have a few seconds to make a lasting impression, so make it count.

These are the things that make your business more than just a money-making machine. 

They’re the driving force behind what you do, and they’re what will keep you motivated when the going gets tough.

Your company description is your chance to shine, so make it a showstopper!

grab your free vision to action blueprint

Market Analysis

Alright, let’s talk about market analysis! 

This is where the detective work comes in. You need to do some research on your industry, competitors, and customers to understand the lay of the land.

Identifying Target Audience 

First things first – you’ll want to identify your target audience. 

  • Who are you trying to reach? 
  • What are their needs and preferences? 
  • How can you meet those needs uniquely and innovatively? 

Think of your target audience like your business’s group of friends – you want to get to know them well so you can create a product or service that they’ll love.

Competitive Analysis

Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to check out the competition. This is like doing some reconnaissance on your rivals. 

  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do they market themselves? 
  • What sets your business apart from theirs? 

This is where you get to show off your business’s secret weapons – the things that make you stand out in a crowded market.

7 key sections of a business plan infographic

How to Reach Target Audience 

Finally, you’ll want to think about how you plan to reach your target audience. 

This is like figuring out the best way to get the word out to your friends about a party you’re throwing. 

You’ll want to create a marketing strategy that speaks to your target audience and showcases what makes your business unique. 

This could involve social media, advertising, events, or any number of other creative approaches.

Products and Services

When starting a business, it’s important to clearly define your signature product or service. 

Your signature offer should be something that you’re passionate about and that aligns with your values and mission. 

It’s the foundation of your business and what your customers will come to know you for. 

Therefore, it’s essential to take the time to describe it in detail, highlighting its unique features, benefits, and value proposition. 

By doing so, you’ll be able to differentiate yourself from competitors and attract the right customers.

This is the one that you’ll promote heavily, and it should represent the core of your business.

Marketing and Sales Strategies

Building a successful business can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to marketing and sales. 

That’s why I’m here to give you some tips on how to streamline your efforts and create a marketing and sales strategy that resonates with your ideal client.

First and foremost, it’s important to choose one or two social media platforms that your ideal client frequents and focus on promoting your signature offer there. 

You don’t need to be on every social media platform to be successful – in fact, trying to be everywhere at once can be exhausting and ineffective. 

By focusing your efforts on one or two platforms, you can better engage with your audience and make meaningful connections.

But don’t stop there! 

Building an email list from the beginning is crucial for the long-term success of your business. 

By offering something of value to your audience in exchange for their email address, such as a free guide or discount code, you can start building a relationship with them and provide them with valuable content.

Ultimately, when you focus on creating one (yes, just one!) compelling lead magnet and promote it consistently across your website, social media, and email marketing, you’ll attract high-quality leads that are interested in what you have to offer.

Organization and Management

While it may feel overwhelming, the organizational section of your business plan will serve as a roadmap for your future growth.

In this section, I will walk you through the process of developing an effective organizational section tailored to your unique circumstances as a woman solo entrepreneur with no staff and limited revenue.

Let’s dive in!

Embrace Your Strengths and Define Your Role

As a woman entrepreneur, you are the driving force behind your business. 

Firstly, begin by embracing your strengths, expertise, and passion. 

Next, clearly define your role within the organization, acknowledging your responsibilities as the founder, visionary, and decision-maker. 

Your leadership skills will shape the trajectory of your business.

Outline Key Roles and Responsibilities

Even as a solo entrepreneur, it’s crucial to describe key roles and responsibilities within your business plan. 

Consider the various areas of your business that require attention, such as operations , marketing, finance, and customer service. 

Identify the specific tasks and responsibilities you’ll handle in each area, ensuring a well-rounded approach to your business’s operations.

Seek External Support

While you may not have staff at this stage, recognize the importance of seeking external support to fill skill gaps and expand your resources. 

Identify areas where you may need assistance, such as marketing, legal, or financial expertise. 

Consider partnering with consultants, freelancers, or mentors who can provide guidance and support in areas outside your expertise. 

Leverage their specialized knowledge to strengthen your business.

Address Growth Strategies

As a woman entrepreneur, it’s vital to showcase your growth strategies in the organizational section of your business plan. 

Outline your plans for future team expansion, such as hiring employees or collaborating with strategic partners. 

Highlight your vision for scaling your business while maintaining the quality and values that define your brand.

Showcase Your Commitment to Learning and Development

Demonstrate your dedication to continuous learning and professional development. 

Mention any relevant training programs, courses, or workshops you plan to undertake to enhance your skills and knowledge. 

Financial Projections

I know that starting a new business can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming, especially when it comes to the financial side of things. 

That’s why financial projections are so important – they can help you plan for the future and make informed decisions about your business.

So, what exactly are financial projections? 

Simply put, they’re estimates of your business’s income, expenses, and cash flow over a certain period. 

By projecting your finances, you can get a better idea of how much money you’ll need to get started, when you’ll start making a profit, and how much you can expect to earn over time.

There are a few key things you’ll need to include in your financial projections. 

First, you’ll want to create an income statement, which shows how much money you expect to make from sales, and how much you’ll need to spend on things like materials, labor, and overhead costs. 

This will help you understand your potential profits and losses.

You’ll also need to create a balance sheet, which is a snapshot of your business’s assets and liabilities at a specific point in time. 

This will help you understand your current financial position and can be helpful when seeking funding or making other financial decisions.

Another important part of your financial projections is the cash flow statement.  

This shows how much money is coming in and going out of your business regularly, and can help you identify potential cash flow problems before they become major issues.

Finally, you’ll want to do a break-even analysis. 

This will help you figure out how much you need to sell to cover your costs and start making a profit. 

This can be useful when setting prices or planning your marketing strategy.

I know, I know, crunching numbers and making projections isn’t exactly the most glamorous part of running a business. 

But, it’s a crucial step towards success. Approximately 62% of women entrepreneurs depend on their businesses for a full-time income.

To conclude, use projections as a guide and adjust accordingly as your business grows and evolves.

Key Sections of a Business Plan: Fundamentals To Know Conclusion 

Congratulations on taking the first step towards achieving your entrepreneurial dreams as a woman entrepreneur! Creating a business plan may seem daunting, but it is a crucial part of your journey to success. 

Your business plan is not just a document to secure funding; it is a roadmap that will guide you through the various stages of your business. 

Now it’s time to take action and start creating your perfect business plan. 

Let’s Chat! 

Tell me what is the first step you will take today to get your business planning started? 

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Please note that the advice provided in this content is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for legal or CPA advice. Every business is unique, and the laws and regulations governing them can vary depending on location and industry. It’s important to consult with a qualified legal or accounting professional who can provide tailored advice based on your specific circumstances. 

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May 17, 2023 at 6:33 PM

This post is so incredibly helpful to anyone who is working to create their own business plan! I always appreciate how comprehensive and easy-to-follow your posts are, especially when these things can feel so complicated. Amazing post, Kristina!!

Wishing you a wonderful rest of your week! 🙂

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May 17, 2023 at 7:36 PM

Thank you so much for your kind words! So glad it’s easy to follow. Enjoy the rest of your week!

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

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

What is a business plan?

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

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



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

7 sections of a business plan

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

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

How much do you need?

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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.

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What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

7 sections of a business plan

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

Key Takeaways

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

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Types of Business Plans

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

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

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

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

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

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

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

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

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

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

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

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7 sections of a business plan

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How To Write A Business Plan - 7 Essential Sections in Your Business Plan

How To Write A Business Plan – 7 Essential Sections in Your Business Plan

Wahidin Wong

Now that you have your business idea set up and ready to give it a go, it’s time to come up with a business plan to identify future steps. Business plan is a statement of your business strategies to achieve goals. It is where you defined your ideas, concepts, strategies and any appropriate information of how to make your business successful.

To make it simple, a business plan is a guidance or a roadmap for your business that describe business goals and how your plan to achieve these goals. There’s no absolute idea that business plan has to be formal and long. As long as you get the point and know which path to take, it is good to go.

Read about 5 Important Questions to Answer Before Writing A Business Plan .

However, there are some basic information you have to write down and need to describe clearly in the plan. Following is the list of seven essential sections to be included in your business plan. Let’s jump right in.

1. Executive Summary

This is usually the first section in your business plan, which outlines the ideas and clearly define what you actually want in this business venture. So if your business plan shall be read by others such as business partners, investors or appropriate team, it is easily understandable.

2. Business Information

This section defines which industry are you going to enter. And when we say industry, it normally become too general. So, you have to break down which niche within the industry are you going to shoot at. You need to write down all those description as detailed as possible.

  • The general business idea
  • The concept of your business
  • The detail product or service
  • The unique selling point or unique selling proposition (USP) of your products or services.

3. Market Strategies

When you came out with the business idea, you could have known which market you’re going to get in. In general, there are three market layers: low, medium and high. But this information may not enough. You have to go much deeper. You can go through this list to better defined the market.

  • Are you going to get into low, middle or high-end target market?
  • Describe much deeper by describing the right niche within your chosen target market.
  • Are you going to sell to a business (Business to Business – B2B) or selling directly to end user (Business to Consumer – B2C)?
  • What strategies are you going to use to penetrate the audiences?
  • Which advertising or promotional channels are you going to use to reach the market?

4. Competitive Analysis

The purpose of this section is to define the specific strengths and weaknesses of your business compared to the existing competitors within the market. So, roll up your sleeve and do your research. If there’s not much competitions in the industry, you have bigger chance to grab the market. But if there are already many players, you have to come out with the uniqueness, build your strategies and get tactical to steal market share. Not easy indeed, but there is always opportunity.

5. Development Plan

Development plan includes business strategies and development plan. It contains estimation of future business development and strategic point to achieve it. You can come out with tables or charts describing growth predictions of the business, usually yearly.

6. Management and Operational Resources

In order to run your business, you need management and operational plan. It is developed to describe how to manage and operate the business. Here are what you need to plan:

  • Who is in charge in the management team and who is the key person or CEO.
  • What are the responsibilities of the management team.
  • What are the responsibilities of the CEO.
  • Define how many team you need and how many people in each team.
  • What are the job description of each team and each person within the team.

If you are going to set up a team leader within each team, you need to describe his responsibilities in managing the team.

7. Financial Factors

In every business startup, financial plays an important role. You have to write down certain financial requirements as such:

  • Where is the location of your business and how much it will cost?
  • How many business tools do you need and how much are they going to cost?
  • How many human resources do you need and how much are they going to get paid.
  • How much is the operational cost?
  • And when sum up, how much do you need to run the business.

When you have written down all the financial aspects of your business, you need to know where to find this capital. There are some sources where you can try to such as:

  • Personal savings
  • Business partners
  • Private investors
  • Venture capitals

So, here they are, 7 essential sections to be included in your business plan. If you have other thoughts, do submit them in the following comment box. And if you find this business blog post useful, please share. Sharing knowledge is always a good thing.

Wahidin Wong

Wahidin Wong is a digital marketer at and an editor at He is also a jazz and bossa lover.

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7 sections of a business plan

The 7 Best Business Plan Examples (2024)

As an aspiring entrepreneur gearing up to start your own business , you likely know the importance of drafting a business plan. However, you might not be entirely sure where to begin or what specific details to include. That’s where examining business plan examples can be beneficial. Sample business plans serve as real-world templates to help you craft your own plan with confidence. They also provide insight into the key sections that make up a business plan, as well as demonstrate how to structure and present your ideas effectively.

7 sections of a business plan

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7 sections of a business plan

Example business plan

To understand how to write a business plan, let’s study an example structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick overview of those parts:

  • Executive summary: A quick overview of your business and the contents of your business plan.
  • Company description: More info about your company, its goals and mission, and why you started it in the first place.
  • Market analysis: Research about the market and industry your business will operate in, including a competitive analysis about the companies you’ll be up against.
  • Products and services: A detailed description of what you’ll be selling to your customers.
  • Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market.
  • Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background.
  • Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even long-term) financial goals and the costs to run the business. If you’re looking for funding, this is the place to discuss your request and needs.

7 business plan examples (section by section)

In this section, you’ll find hypothetical and real-world examples of each aspect of a business plan to show you how the whole thing comes together. 

  • Executive summary

Your executive summary offers a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. You’ll want to include a brief description of your company, market research, competitor analysis, and financial information. 

In this free business plan template, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:

  • Company description

You might go more in-depth with your company description and include the following sections:

  • Nature of the business. Mention the general category of business you fall under. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of your products?
  • Background information. Talk about your past experiences and skills, and how you’ve combined them to fill in the market. 
  • Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your company —as a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC, or other business type.
  • Industry. Which business sector do you operate in? The answer might be technology, merchandising, or another industry.
  • Team. Whether you’re the sole full-time employee of your business or you have contractors to support your daily workflow, this is your chance to put them under the spotlight.

You can also repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business. Hair extensions brand Luxy Hair has a blurb on it’s About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan. 

company description business plan

  • Market analysis

Market analysis comprises research on product supply and demand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. You might do a SWOT analysis to learn where you stand and identify market gaps that you could exploit to establish your footing. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis for a hypothetical ecommerce business: 

marketing swot example

You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component of your business plan. This will show you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to gain an edge over the competition. 

  • Products and services

This part of your business plan describes your product or service, how it will be priced, and the ways it will compete against similar offerings in the market. Don’t go into too much detail here—a few lines are enough to introduce your item to the reader.

  • Marketing plan

Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. So it’s essential to build a marketing plan that highlights the promotion and customer acquisition strategies you’re planning to adopt. 

Most marketing plans focus on the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. However, it’s easier when you break it down by the different marketing channels . Mention how you intend to promote your business using blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing. 

Here’s an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website:

marketing section template for business plan

Logistics and operations

This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.

Financial plan

The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit, and other financial metrics. You’ll want to include all the numbers and concrete data to project your current and projected financial state.

In this business plan example, the financial statement for ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy includes forecasted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.

financial plan example

It then goes deeper into the financials, citing:

  • Funding needs
  • Project cash-flow statement
  • Project profit-and-loss statement
  • Projected balance sheet

You can use Shopify’s financial plan template to create your own income statement, cash-flow statement, and balance sheet. 

Types of business plans (and what to write for each)

A one-page business plan is a pared down version of a standard business plan that’s easy for potential investors and partners to understand. You’ll want to include all of these sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized:

  • Logistics and operations plan
  • Financials 

A startup business plan is meant to secure outside funding for a new business. Typically, there’s a big focus on the financials, as well as other sections that help determine the viability of your business idea—market analysis, for example. Shopify has a great business plan template for startups that include all the below points:

  • Market research: in depth
  • Financials: in depth


Your internal business plan acts as the enforcer of your company’s vision. It reminds your team of the long-term objective and keeps them strategically aligned toward the same goal. Be sure to include:

  • Market research


A feasibility business plan is essentially a feasibility study that helps you evaluate whether your product or idea is worthy of a full business plan. Include the following sections:

A strategic (or growth) business plan lays out your long-term vision and goals. This means your predictions stretch further into the future, and you aim for greater growth and revenue. While crafting this document, you use all the parts of a usual business plan but add more to each one:

  • Products and services: for launch and expansion
  • Market analysis: detailed analysis
  • Marketing plan: detailed strategy
  • Logistics and operations plan: detailed plan
  • Financials: detailed projections

Free business plan templates

Now that you’re familiar with what’s included and how to format a business plan, let’s go over a few templates you can fill out or draw inspiration from.

Bplans’ free business plan template

7 sections of a business plan

Bplans’ free business plan template focuses a lot on the financial side of running a business. It has many pages just for your financial plan and statements. Once you fill it out, you’ll see exactly where your business stands financially and what you need to do to keep it on track or make it better.

PandaDoc’s free business plan template

7 sections of a business plan

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is detailed and guides you through every section, so you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Filling it out, you’ll grasp the ins and outs of your business and how each part fits together. It’s also handy because it connects to PandaDoc’s e-signature for easy signing, ideal for businesses with partners or a board.

Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template

Miro's business model canvas template

Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template helps you map out the essentials of your business, like partnerships, core activities, and what makes you different. It’s a collaborative tool for you and your team to learn how everything in your business is linked.

Better business planning equals better business outcomes

Building a business plan is key to establishing a clear direction and strategy for your venture. With a solid plan in hand, you’ll know what steps to take for achieving each of your business goals. Kickstart your business planning and set yourself up for success with a defined roadmap—utilizing the sample business plans above to inform your approach.

Business plan FAQ

What are the 3 main points of a business plan.

  • Concept. Explain what your business does and the main idea behind it. This is where you tell people what you plan to achieve with your business.
  • Contents. Explain what you’re selling or offering. Point out who you’re selling to and who else is selling something similar. This part concerns your products or services, who will buy them, and who you’re up against.
  • Cash flow. Explain how money will move in and out of your business. Discuss the money you need to start and keep the business going, the costs of running your business, and how much money you expect to make.

How do I write a simple business plan?

To create a simple business plan, start with an executive summary that details your business vision and objectives. Follow this with a concise description of your company’s structure, your market analysis, and information about your products or services. Conclude your plan with financial projections that outline your expected revenue, expenses, and profitability.

What is the best format to write a business plan?

The optimal format for a business plan arranges your plan in a clear and structured way, helping potential investors get a quick grasp of what your business is about and what you aim to achieve. Always start with a summary of your plan and finish with the financial details or any extra information at the end.

Want to learn more?

  • Question: Are You a Business Owner or an Entrepreneur?
  • Bootstrapping a Business: 10 Tips to Help You Succeed
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset: 20 Ways to Think Like an Entrepreneur
  • 101+ Best Small Business Software Programs 

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7 Different Types of Business Plans Explained

Apples and oranges. Representing different business plan types and how they are similar and different at the same time.

11 min. read

Updated November 30, 2023

Business plans go by many names: Strategic plans, traditional plans , operational plans, feasibility plans, internal plans, growth plans, and more.

Different situations call for different types of plans. 

But what makes each type of plan unique? And why should you consider one type over another?

In this article, we’ll uncover a quick process to find the right type of business plan, along with an overview of each option. 

Let’s help you find the right planning format.

  • What type of business plan do you need?

The short answer is… it depends. 

Your current business stage, intended audience, and how you’ll use the plan will all impact what format works best. 

Remember, just the act of planning will improve your chances of success . It’s important to land on an option that will support your needs. Don’t get too hung up on making the right choice and delay writing your plan.

So, how do you choose?

1. Know why you need a business plan

What are you creating a business plan for ? Are you pitching to potential investors? Applying for a loan? Trying to understand if your business idea is feasible?

You may need a business plan for one or multiple reasons. What you intend to do with it will inform what type of plan you need.

For example: A more robust and detailed plan may be necessary if you seek investment . But a shorter format could be more useful and less time-consuming if you’re just testing an idea.

2. Become familiar with your options

You don’t need to become a planning expert and understand every detail about every type of plan. You just need to know the basics:

  • What makes this type of plan unique?
  • What are its benefits?
  • What are its drawbacks?
  • Which types of businesses typically use it?

By taking the time to review, you’ll understand what you’re getting into and be more likely to complete your plan. Plus, you’ll come away with a document built with your use case(s) in mind—meaning you won’t have to restart to make it a valuable tool.

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3. Start small and grow

When choosing a business plan format, a good tactic is to opt for a shorter option and build from there. You’ll save time and effort and still come away with a working business plan.

Plus, you’ll better understand what further planning you may need to do. And you won’t be starting from scratch.

Read More: How to identify the right type of plan for your business

Again, the type of business plan you need fully depends on your situation and use case. But running through this quick exercise will help you narrow down your options. 

Now let’s look at the common business plan types you can choose from.

Types of business plans include internal, traditional, one-page plan, 5-year business plan, growth plan, and lean plan.

  • Traditional business plan

The traditional (or standard) business plan is an in-depth document covering every aspect of your business. It’s the most common plan type you’ll come across. 

A traditional business plan is broken up into 10 sections:

  • Executive summary
  • Description of products and services
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Marketing and sales plan
  • Business operations
  • Key milestones and metrics
  • Organization and management team
  • Financial plan
  • Appendix 

Why use this type of plan?

A traditional business plan is best for anyone approaching specific business planning events—such as presenting a business plan to a bank or investor for funding.

A traditional plan can also be useful if you need to add more details around specific business areas. 

For example: You start as a solopreneur and don’t immediately need to define your team structure. But eventually you hit a threshold where you need more staff in order to keep growing. A great way to explore which roles you need and how they will function is by fleshing out the organization and management section .

That’s the unseen value of a more detailed plan like this. While you can follow the structure outlined above and create an in-depth plan ready for funding, you can also choose which sections to prioritize. 

Read More: How to write a traditional business plan  

  • One-page plan

The one-page business plan is a simplified (but just as useful) version of a traditional business plan. It follows the same structure, but is far easier to create. It can even be used as a pitch document.

Here’s how you’ll organize information when using a one-page plan:

  • Value proposition
  • Market need
  • Your solution
  • Competition
  • Target market
  • Sales and marketing
  • Budget and sales goals
  • Team summary
  • Key partners
  • Funding needs

A one-page plan is faster and easier to assemble than a traditional plan. You can write a one-page plan in as little as 30 minutes . 

You’ll still cover the crucial details found in a traditional plan, but in a more manageable format.

So, if you’re exploring a business idea for the first time or updating your strategy—a one-page plan is ideal. You can review and update your entire plan in just a few minutes.

Applying for a loan with this type of plan probably wouldn’t make sense. Lenders typically want to see a more detailed plan to accurately assess potential risk. 

However, it is a great option to send to investors. 

“Investors these days are much less likely to look at a detailed plan,” says Palo Alto Software COO Noah Parsons. “An executive summary or one-page plan, pitch presentation, and financials are all a VC is likely to look at.”

Creating a more detailed plan is as much about being prepared as anything else. If you don’t dig into everything a traditional plan covers, you’ll struggle to land your pitch . 

If you don’t intend to seek funding, a one-page plan is often all you need. The key is regularly revisiting it to stay on top of your business. 

Let’s explore two unique processes to help you do that: 

Read More: How to write a one-page business plan

Lean planning process

Lean planning is a process that uses your one-page plan as a testing tool. The goal is to create a plan and immediately put it into action to see if your ideas actually work. You’ll typically be focusing on one (or all) of the following areas: 

  • Strategy – What you will do
  • Tactics – How you will do it
  • Business Model – How you make money
  • Schedule – Who is responsible and when will it happen

Why use this process?

Lean planning is best for businesses that need to move fast, test assumptions, revise, and get moving again. It’s short and simple, and meant to get everyone on the same page as quickly as possible. 

That’s why it’s so popular for startups. They don’t necessarily need a detailed plan, since they’re mostly focused on determining whether or not they have a viable business idea .

The only drawback is that this planning process is built primarily around early-stage businesses. It can be a useful tool for established businesses looking to test a strategy, but it may not be as helpful for ongoing management.

Read More: The fundamentals of lean planning

Growth planning

Growth planning is a financials-focused planning process designed to help you make quick and strategic decisions.

Again, it starts with a one-page plan outlining your strategy, tactics, business model, and schedule. The next step is to create a working financial forecast that includes projected sales, expenses, and cash flows.

From there, you run your business. 

As you go, track your actual financial performance and carve out time to compare it to your forecasts . If you spot any differences, these discrepancies may indicate problems or opportunities that call for adjusting your current strategy.

Growth planning combines the simplicity of the one-page plan and the speed of lean planning, with the power of financial forecasting. 

This makes the process useful for every business stage and even allows you to skip to the forecasting step if you already have a plan.

With growth planning, you’ll:

  • Regularly revisit your financials
  • Better understand how your business operates 
  • Make quick and confident decisions

This process focuses on growing your business. If diving into your financials isn’t a priority right now, that’s okay. Start with a one-page plan instead, and revisit growth planning when you’re ready.

Read More: How to write a growth-oriented business plan

  • Internal plan

Sometimes you just need a business plan that works as an internal management tool. 

Something to help you: 

  • Set business goals
  • Provide a high-level overview of operations
  • Prepare to create budgets and financial projections

You don’t need an overly long and detailed business plan for this. Just a document that is easy to create, useful for developing or revisiting your strategy, and able to get everyone up to speed.

The internal plan is a great option if you’re not planning to present your plan to anyone outside your business. Especially if you’re an up-and-running business that may have created a plan previously. You might just need something simple for day-to-day use.

Read More: 8 steps to write a useful internal business plan

  • 5-year business plan

Some investors or stakeholders may request a long-term plan stretching up to five years. They typically want to understand your vision for the future and see your long-term goals or milestones.  

To be honest, creating a detailed long-term business plan is typically a waste of time. There are a few exceptions:

  • A long-term plan is specifically asked for
  • You want to outline your long-term vision
  • Real estate development
  • Medical product manufacturing
  • Transportation, automotive, aviation, or aerospace development

The reality is, you can’t predict what will happen in the next month, let alone the next one, three, or five years.

So, when creating a long-term plan, don’t dig too deep into the details. Focus on establishing long-term goals , annual growth targets, and aspirational milestones you’d like to hit.

Then supplement these with a more focused one-page plan that actually describes your current business, which you can use in your business right now.

Read More: How to write a five-year business plan

  • Nonprofit business plan

A nonprofit business plan is not too different from a traditional plan. You should still cover all of the sections I listed above to help you build a sustainable business. 

The main differences in a nonprofit plan are tied to funding and awareness. You need to account for:

  • Fundraising sources and activities.
  • Alliances and partnerships.
  • Promotion and outreach strategies.

You also need to set goals, track performance, and demonstrate that you have the right team to run a fiscally healthy organization. You’re just not pursuing profits, you’re trying to fulfill a mission. But you cannot serve your community if your organization isn’t financially stable.

If you can use your business plan to show that you’re a well-organized nonprofit organization, you are more likely to attract donors and convince investors to provide funding.

Read More: How to write a nonprofit business plan

Resources to help write your business plan

Don’t get too hung up on the type of business plan you choose. Remember, you can always start small and expand if you need to.

To help you do that, I recommend downloading our free one-page business plan template . It’s especially useful if you’re exploring an idea and need a quick way to document how your business will operate.

If you know you’ll pursue funding, download our free traditional business plan template . It’s already in an SBA-lender-approved format and provides detailed instructions for each section.

Lastly, check out our library of over 550 sample business plans if you need inspiration. These can provide specific insight into what you should focus on in a given industry.

Remember, just by deciding to write a business plan, you are increasing your likelihood of success. Pick a format and start writing!

Types of business plans FAQ

Which type of planning should be done for a business?

The type of planning fully depends on your business stage and how you intend to use the plan. Generally, whatever format you choose should help you outline your strategy, business model, tactics, and timeline.

How many types of business plans are there?

There are seven common types of business plans, including: traditional, one-page, lean, growth, internal, 5-year, and nonprofit plans.

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

Content Author: Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started.

Why Are Business Plans Important?

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

1. Proves Your Business Viability

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

2. Guides You Throughout the Business Cycle

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

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

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

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

3. Helps You Make Better Business Decisions

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

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

4. Eliminates Big Mistakes

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

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

5. Secures Financing and Attracts Top Talents

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

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

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

Key Elements of Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

1. Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

Executive Summary of the Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Components of an Executive Summary

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

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

2. Business Description

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

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

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

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

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

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

Components of a Business Description

Your business description needs to contain these categories of information.

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

3. Market Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Components of Market Analysis

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

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

Market Analysis Factors

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

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

Components of the Market Analysis Section

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

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

4. Marketing Plan

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

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

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

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

Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan

5. Sales Strategy

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

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

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

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

Sales Strategy

6. Competitive Analysis

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

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

Competitive Analysis Framework

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

This section should define the following:

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

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

7. Management and Organization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Products and Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Operating Plan

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

The operating plan for your business should include:

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

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

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

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

10. Financial Projections and Assumptions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Request For Funding

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

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

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

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

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

12. Exhibits and Appendices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1.7: Chapter 7 – Finishing the Business Plan

  • Last updated
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  • Page ID 21281

  • Lee A. Swanson
  • University of Saskatchewan

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • Develop the final draft of the business plan

The previous stages of business plan development focused on helping the business plan writer (1) start on the plan, (2) develop a reasonably complete and comprehensive first draft of the plan by focusing on developing the initial story without obsessing about its realism, (3) convert that into a second draft by adding realism, and (4) develop a third draft by preserving the realism and making needed changes designed to make the plan appealing to the entrepreneur and desirable to targeted investors. This stage is where the business plan writer puts the finishing touches on the plan to prepare it for use.


Figure 12 – Finishing the Business Plan (Illustration by Lee A. Swanson)

First Things Last

Finalize major goals.

As contradictory as it might sound, it is only after the business plan is almost finished that the Major Goals section near the start of the plan should be completed. Replace the preliminary goals you have in that section with a limited set of goals, perhaps five to ten, which perfectly describe the outcomes you projected in certain sections of your plan. Write goals that will further improve the appeal of your plan for targeted investors and other important potential readers.

Your major goals should be substantive and relevant. They should also be written using a format designed to maximize their impact for targeted readers. The RUMBA formula (realistic, understandable, measurable, believable, and achievable) provides a useful guideline for developing major goals. The following is an example of a relevant major goal that follows that formula:

We will secure a $56,050 short-term loan in September, 20 20, to finance inventory purchases needed to satisfy our projected increase in Christmas sales that year .

Write your Executive Summary

The last part of your business plan that you should write is the E xec u tive S ummary . Unlike most other types of documents, the executive summary at the start of a business plan can be up to about three pages in length.

As the executive summary might be the first section that targeted readers go through, it must be written to appeal to them. It should provide those readers with information that will encourage them to seriously consider taking the desired action, like investing in the venture. If they are not interested by the contents of the executive summary, they will not likely read any other part of the plan, and they won’t act—usually by investing in the business—as the business plan writer hopes they will.

Polish it Up!

Thoroughly proofread the completed business plan and fix all errors before submitting it to anyone. It is usually best to have other people proofread your work as they will catch errors that you will miss.

Never underestimate the negative consequences that can occur from distributing poor quality work.

Write A Letter of Transmittal

A letter of transmittal is to a business plan what a cover letter is to a resume. A letter of transmittal should briefly introduce the business plan accompanying it to the intended recipient and persuasively, but briefly, communicate the reasons why they should read it.

Chapter Summary

After all of the hard work involved with developing a high-power business plan, it must be finished properly to have the intended impact with its targeted readers. Before distributing it to targeted investors and other recipients, a limited number of major goals should be included in the Major Goals section near the start of the plan. Those goals should be carefully crafted to appeal to intended readers. The final writing task is to develop an executive summary that will entice targeted readers to examine the rest of the plan in detail for the purpose of deciding whether to potentially take the action—usually to invest in the venture—desired by the business plan writer. After that, the plan should be thoroughly proofread and revised to ensure that all errors are eliminated before the plan is used. After writing a customizedletter of transmittal to introduce the plan, it can be put to use.

Business Planning

How to Write a Business Plan That Encompasses Your Vision

Date Updated: Mar 16 2023

Read Time: 5 min


What Is a Business Plan?

How to write a business plan, 1. executive summary, 2. business description/overview, 3. market analysis, 4. products & services, 5. marketing strategy, 6. operations & management, 7. financial planning, business plan examples, make your business a success story.

an infographic explaining how to start a business

Learning how to write a business plan is a major step for any budding entrepreneur. Business plans can be a great way to track and predict your growth. In fact, business owners that create and use a business plan experience an average of 33.4% more growth than those who don’t. Perhaps you’ve heard of this type of document before but never looked into exactly how to write a business plan. However, it’s a vital component of success, and the benefits of creating one before you start a business and revisiting it each year are invaluable. Read on to learn more about how to create a business plan outline and see examples.

A business plan is the foundation of your business, and it serves as a guide to how to structure, run, and grow your entity. This document will often end up being more than 20 pages by the end of your research. However, business plans allow owners, stakeholders, and investors to discover whether the venture idea is likely to succeed, predict profits, and much more.

The purpose of business planning

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” Business planning is an essential tool that will allow you to make sound decisions, help you identify potential weaknesses, communicate your ideas with key people, and meet your business goals.

By going through this process, you will save time, money, and resources. With a business plan, you will quickly find out if your idea is strong enough to survive the market or requires more resources.

three people pointing business plan examples on a table with rulers a coffee cup and laptop near them

Writing a business plan is easier than you may think. You can follow a business plan outline (traditional format) that will make this process simple and effective. It will ensure no stone is left unturned. By reading through all of the possible sections to include in this document, you can quickly decide which are applicable to your business.

Read on to see business plan outline examples that contain only the parts that apply to the business type. For now, let’s begin by analyzing the first part of any plan, the Executive Summary.

When business planning, the first section should be the executive summary. This section clearly describes what your business is and explains why it will be successful. It should illustrate to the people reading the document how and why you’ll find success.

Each executive summary should also include:

  • Your mission statement
  • A description of your product or service
  • Information about the leadership team
  • An explanation of ideal employees
  • Information about the location and why it was chosen

Include financial information and any growth plans you may have as well, in case if you plan on acquiring financing for the business.

After reading the executive summary, your business overview will provide more context. Here you have the opportunity to explain what problems your company solves, who your audience/consumer is, and how you fulfill their needs.

You will also want to explain in detail:

  • Your competitive advantages
  • All of the strengths your entity possesses (List your location, team member expertise, unique position, etc.)

This is the section to truly convey to others why your idea is sure to be a success.

You won’t be able to write a business plan without a target market analysis . This step will allow you to obtain data that will identify trends and themes. Some of the items you will need to complete are:

  • Competitor Analysis: What are your competitors doing, and how can you deliver more value?
  • Industry Analysis: What is the industry outlook?
  • Audience Research: What is your target market?

After this vital step, you should have a clear idea of who is likely to buy the type of product or service you offer, how you can add more value within your industry, and what you’ll need to do to beat your competitors.

Without a winning product or service, you’ll lose time and money and the business can collapse. In this section, describe what the product or service you offer is and how it will directly benefit its intended customer. If you plan to patent a product or copyright work, it’s important to include that information in this section too. It’s beneficial to align your business plan with the type of work your business will be doing. For instance, consider your product sourcing strategy for your industry ahead of time.

Without sales, a company won’t be able to earn revenue. The marketing strategy helps business owners describe how they intend to reach their potential clients and how to retain them. It is important to truly understand your audience. This will help you create a marketing plan to get the most success from a given budget.

Explain who will run your company and how it will be structured. The legal structure of the entity will be important in describing why various key roles/positions are needed and how each person’s experience will contribute to the overall success of your venture.

Feel free to include resumes of key personnel in this section. You will also want to brush up on great ways to improve operational strategy and select what you feel would work best for your company.

a CEO using a large flip chart to show a business plan outline to the employees in the conference room

Proper business planning requires accurate forecasting. Financial planning will be a necessary component to success, particularly in the first few years of a business.

Ideally, you want to forecast what the next five years will look like financially. A few items to include or discuss projections about are:

  • Balance sheets
  • Cash flow statements
  • Income statements
  • Capital expenditure budgets

This is the perfect time to include graphs and charts for clarity. Finances can make or break an organization so it’s best to sort out the financial planning early on. You can do this by consulting with an independent accounting firm or by performing a cash flow analysis for your own projections.

There are thousands of business plan examples online. If you want to get a feel for how this looks and comes together, one of the best resources to use is HubSpot. The samples are unique and offer great design ideas to spruce up your plan once the research is finalized.

Now that you have learned how to write a business plan, it’s time to get started. There is no time to waste! Create a business plan outline using the sections above and start backing your idea up with hard data. Various studies show that business owners who plan often achieve a much higher rate of success. Feel confident that your idea can not only survive but thrive in the market by conducting the research necessary to identify all of its strengths and weaknesses. Good luck!

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Brontë is a UX/UI designer and marketer based in Los Angeles, CA. She's been creating and promoting content for over 4 years, covering a range of topics in the payment processing industry. Brontë is currently the Director of Marketing at PaymentCloud, a merchant services provider that offers business solutions for companies in all industries - no matter the risk.

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  • The best retirement plans for individuals
  • Best employer-sponsored retirement plans
  • Best retirement plans for self-employed individuals and small businesses
  • Which retirement plan is best for you?
  • Why You Should Trust Us

Best Retirement Plans in April 2024

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The best retirement plan depends on your situation. You'll probably qualify for multiple retirement savings vehicles if you have taxable income or work for an employer. And even if you don't work, you'll still have options.

You can set up most retirement accounts through employers, but you'll also be able to open and manage your retirement accounts.

Best Retirement Plans

The primary types of retirement accounts are:

  • Traditional IRAs : a tax-advantaged savings account that lets your funds grow tax-deferred
  • Roth IRAs : a tax-advantaged savings account of after-tax funds (money that you've already paid taxes on)
  • Spousal IRAs: spouses earning a low (or no) annual income may open a separate IRA in their spouse's name 
  • Rollover IRAs: funds moved over from a former employer 401(k) plan into an IRA
  • 401(k) plans : traditional or Roth, typically offered by for-profit employers
  • 403(b) plans : available to most non-profit employees
  • 457(b) plans: reserved for government employees
  • Thrift savings plans : reserved for government employees

7 sections of a business plan

Additional individual retirement accounts include nondeductible IRAs or self-directed IRAs (more on that below). Investors also have the option to invest in precious metals with gold IRAs and silver IRAs. The best gold IRAs offer liquidity, low spread fees, account flexibility, low account minimums, and human advisor access. 

You can't use the traditional 401(k) account if you're self-employed. Instead, you'll have to pick a solo 401(k) or SEP IRA (you can supplement either account with an IRA if you choose).

Here are the options for small business retirement accounts:


  • Payroll deduction IRAs

Wealthfront Wealthfront IRA

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0.25%; 0.06 - 0.13% for low-cost investment funds

Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP IRAs

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Low annual fee for investment accounts; crypto trust investments available
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Tax-loss harvesting
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Mobile app and investing and retirement tools
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Offers traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. You need at least $100,000 to utilize additional investment strategies
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. No human advisor access

Wealthfront is one of the best robo-advisor options if you're in search of low-cost automated portfolio management, and one of the best socially responsible investing apps for features like tax-loss harvesting, US direct indexing, and crypto trusts.

  • Consider it if: You're looking for goal-based strategies for retirement and other savings goals.
  • App store rating: 4.8 iOS/4.6 Android

Best Retirement Plans for Individuals

One of the most appealing components of independent retirement plans like IRAs is that you can open one as long as you've got taxable (earned) income. And even if you have an employer-sponsored retirement account, you can usually set up a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and other independent retirement accounts.

Traditional vs. Roth IRAs

Traditional IRAs let you save with pre-tax contributions, while Roth IRAs allow you to contribute after-tax dollars toward your retirement savings. As long as you're eligible (more on that below), experts generally recommend Roth IRAs for early-career workers who expect to be in a higher tax bracket in the future when they're making withdrawals  and traditional IRAs for higher-income workers who could use a tax deduction today.

Traditional and Roth IRAs share the same contribution and catch-up contribution limits. The 2024 contribution limit is $7,000, with up to $1,000 in catch-up contributions. The biggest difference between the two is tax advantages and income limitations. The Roth IRA limits who can contribute and how much.

For Roth IRAs, single filers can only contribute the maximum amount in 2024 if their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than 146,000. You can still contribute less if you earn a little more, though.

You can find your MAGI by calculating your gross (before tax) income and subtracting any tax deductions from that amount to get your adjusted gross income (AGI). To calculate MAGI, you'll need to add back certain allowable deductions.

Allowable deductions that can be added back include passive income or losses, deductions for IRA contributions, rental losses, deductions for student loan interest, and more. Alternatively, you can ask your accountant or use an online calculator like the one below:

Married couples must earn less than $230,000 annually to contribute the full amount in 2024.

You don't have to worry about income limits for traditional IRAs. However, if a retirement plan at work covers you or your spouse, you must consider the income limits for tax-deductible contributions. Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are funded with pre-tax dollars.

For instance, in 2023, single filers can deduct the maximum contribution amount ($6,500) if they make $73,000 a year or less. Married couples filing jointly can also make full deductions if they make $116,000 a year or less. The amount you can deduct phases out or decreases if your income exceeds these limits.

While you can contribute to a 401(k) and traditional IRA simultaneously, your ability to take a tax deduction for these contributions — across both accounts, combined — ends once you hit those income limits.

Spousal IRAs

There's also an option for married couples where one spouse doesn't earn taxable income. Spousal IRAs allow both spouses to contribute to a separate IRA as long as one spouse is employed and earns taxable income. This account allows the nonworking spouse to fund their own IRA. 

In 2024, each can contribute $7,000 (or $8,000 if they are 50 or older) for up to $16,000 per year.

Rollover IRAs

The best rollover IRAs let you convert your existing employer-sponsored retirement plan into an IRA, something experts generally recommend doing when you leave a job for a few reasons — primarily because you have more control over the investment options in an IRA than in a 401(k), and also because it's easier to consolidate your accounts for record-keeping.

Many online brokerages and financial institutions offer rollover IRAs; some will even pay you to transfer your employer-sponsored plan to the IRA.

Self-directed IRAs (SDIRAs)

You can fund a self-directed IRA using traditional or Roth contributions (meaning the $6,500 and $7,500 contribution limits in 2023 are the same across all three — the 2024 limits of $7,000 and $8,000 are the same, too). But the difference between these accounts is mainly one of account custody and investment choices.

Unlike traditional and Roth IRAs, the IRS requires that all SDIRAs have a certified custodian or trustee who manages the account. These third parties handle the setup process and administrative duties of the IRA (e.g., executing transactions and assisting with account maintenance).

SDIRAs also give investors access to a wider range of investment options. With traditional and Roth IRAs, you're limited to mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, and other traditional investments. But, SDIRAs allow you to invest in alternative assets like real estate, precious metals, and cryptocurrencies .

Nondeductible IRAs

Nondeductible IRAs are great for those who don't meet the income limits of Roth IRAs or make too much to qualify for a traditional IRA. For example, suppose you're filing taxes as an individual. In that case, you won't be eligible for a Roth IRA (even discounted contributions) if your MAGI exceeds $161,000 in 2023 or $240,000 for a married couple filing jointly.

Contributions for these accounts aren't tax deductible, meaning you'll be funding your IRA with post-tax dollars like a Roth IRA. The difference is that you'll still have to pay taxes on any earnings or interest from the account once you withdraw at age 59 and a half.

Best Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

Employer-sponsored retirement plans are savings vehicles your employer provides. There are several types — including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, and thrift savings plans — and in some instances, your employer will match a percentage of your annual contributions.

For-profit companies generally offer these plans, and most companies give you the choice between two versions: the traditional 401(k) or the Roth 401(k). Traditional 401(k)s grow with pre-tax dollars, but Roth 401(k)s rely on after-tax contributions, just like they do with IRAs.

This means that you can either choose to pay taxes on your contributions upfront or take a potential tax deduction now and pay them later when you withdraw funds from your retirement account.

You can contribute up to $23,000 in 2024, and individuals age 50 and older can contribute additional "catch-up" contributions of $7,500. The maximum limit for employer and employee contributions is $69,000 in 2024. Therefore, the maximum amount those 50 and older can contribute is $76,500 in 2024.

Many employers also offer a 401(k) match. This means that your company may match a certain percentage of your annual contributions. These matches vary for each employer, ranging from 3% to 6%. For instance, if you make $50,000 per year, and your company matches 50% of your 401(k) contributions up to 5% of your salary, your employer can contribute up to $1,250 a year.

However, if you're employer matched 100% of your contributions up to 5%, you'd earn the other $1,250 a year, resulting in a $2,500 total from your employer. 

No matter how big the match, experts generally consider it to be "free money" and recommend taking advantage wherever possible, even if you only contribute enough to get the full match and nothing more.

Also referred to as tax-sheltered annuities, these retirement plans are typically designated for employees of public schools, 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, churches, and other non-profit companies. Like 401(k)s, 403(b)s may include employer matches, pre-tax contribution options, and after-tax (Roth) contribution options.

If you're under 50, you can contribute up to $23,000 in 2024. Those aged 50 and above can contribute an additional $7,500.

In addition to pre-tax and after-tax contributions, you can also contribute to your 403(b) by allowing your employer to withhold money from your paycheck to deposit into the account.

State and local governments and certain tax-exempt organizations can open 457(b)s for their employees. As 403(b)s, you can also contribute to these accounts by asking your employer to set aside portions of your paychecks for your retirement plan. And in some cases, employers may allow you to make Roth — or after-tax — contributions. 

Like 401(k)s and 403(b)s, the catch-up contribution limit is $7,500.

Thrift Savings Plans

Thrift savings plans (TSPs) are retirement accounts for federal and uniformed services employees. Like 401(k)s, these plans let you contribute either pre- or post-tax dollars. But, unlike many 401(k) employer matches, most TSPs offer a full 5% contribution match. This means your employer will match your contributions up to 5% of your salary.

The annual contribution limit for 2024 is 23,000. The catch-up contribution limit is $7,500. You can make up to $69,000 in 2024.

Best Retirement Plans For Self-Employed Individuals and Small Businesses

If you're self-employed or a business owner with fewer than 100 employees, you'll have multiple retirement savings plans to choose from. Each plan has unique contribution limits and eligibility requirements. Take a closer look at your options below.

Solo 401(k)s

Solo 401(k)s are an option for self-employed individuals or business owners without full-time employees. Self-employed individuals can only contribute in one capacity, but business owners can contribute as both an employer and employee (and spouses of business owners may be able to contribute as well), meaning they can contribute twice as much. You can also make pre- or post-tax (Roth) contributions to your account. 

In 2024, the limit increases to $23,000 with up to $7,500 in catch-up contributions. You can earn up to $69,000 in annual contributions. Those aged 50 or older can contribute $76,500.

Simplified employee pension (SEP) IRAs are retirement vehicles managed by small businesses or self-employed individuals. According to the IRS, employees (including self-employed individuals) are eligible if they meet the following requirements:

  • Have reached age 21
  • Have worked for the employer in at least three of the last five years
  • Received at least $750 in compensation in 2022

SEP IRAs also require that all contributions to the plan are 100% vested. This means that each employee holds immediate and complete ownership over all contributions to their account, including any employer match.

Vesting protects employees against financial loss. For instance, according to the IRS, an employer can forfeit amounts of an employee's account balance that isn't fully vested if that employee hasn't worked more than 500 hours in a year for five years.

You can contribute up to $69,000 or 25% of your employee's compensation in 2024. However, unlike the solo 401(k), you can't make Roth (after-tax) or catch-up contributions.

SIMPLE IRAs are available to self-employed individuals or small businesses with no more than 100 employees. According to the IRS, these retirement plans require employers to match each employee's contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to 3% of the employee's salary.

To qualify, employees (and self-employed individuals) must have made at least $5,000 in the last two years and expect to receive that same amount during the current year. But once you meet this requirement, you'll be 100% vested in all your SIMPLE IRA's earnings, meaning you have immediate ownership over both your and your employer's contributions. 

Unlike other retirement plans, SIMPLE IRAs and SEP IRAs give you total control over your retirement account. If you work for a small business that offers either of these plans, this prevents your employer from taking back its contributions or an employer match in the event of your leave or termination.

Employees can contribute up to $16,000 in 2024. You can also add on a catch-up contribution of $3,500 if you're 50 or older.

Payroll Deduction IRAs

There's an even simpler way for small businesses to set up IRAs for employees. With payroll deduction IRAs, businesses delegate most of the hard work to banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. Self-employed people can also set up these retirement accounts.

In other words, employees can set up payroll deductions with those institutions to fund their IRAs. But you'll first need to consult your employer to determine which institutions it has partnered with. These accounts are generally best for employees who don't have access to other employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s and 457(b)s.

For 2024, you can contribute up to $7,000 in annual contributions and up to $1,000 in annual catch-up contributions for employees aged 50 or older. This means you can set aside up to $8,000 if you're at least 50 years old. 

Retirement Plans — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are better retirement plans than a 401(k) for people looking for lower account fees, more investment options, and increased flexibility. If you don't have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) or similar plan, then an IRA may be a good option. 

IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k) plans and 403(b)s are the best ways to save for retirement. The best retirement plan for you depends on the kind of tax advantages you're looking for (pre-tax benefits or after-tax benefits) and whether or not you have access to an employer-sponsored plan with matching benefits. 

$200 a month can be a good amount to contribute toward your retirement, depending on your current age and how long you have until you reach retirement age. You may not be able to contribute much, but contributing a little toward retirement is better than not contributing at all due to compound interest. 

Why You Should Trust Us: Our Expert Panel For The Best Retirement Plans

We interviewed the following investing experts to see what they had to say about retirement savings plans. 

  • Sandra Cho , RIA, wealth manager, and CEO of Pointwealth Capital Management
  • Tessa Campbell , Investment and retirement reporter at Personal Finance Insider

What are the advantages/disadvantages of investing in a retirement plan?

Sandra Cho:

"The main advantage is the tax implications of the account. Depending on the account, taxes will either be deferred or not included at all. For employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s, contributions to the plan are made with pre-tax funds, and the account grows tax-deferred. Taxes are then owed upon withdrawal.

"Roth IRAs, on the other hand, are contributed to with post-tax funds but grow tax-free. Both should be included in an investor's portfolio. Another advantage is that 401(k)s often have an employer matching component. That is, an employer will match your contributions up to a certain point (usually around 3% of your salary). 

"The disadvantage is that retirement accounts have a max contribution limit. Another disadvantage is that these funds cannot be used until age 59 1/2. For younger investors, that can be a long time wait."

Tessa Campbell: 

"Tax benefits and compound interest are two of the major advantages of contribution to a retirement savings plan like a 401(k) or individual IRA. Depending on the kind of plan you open (traditional or Roth), you can benefit from contributions after- or post-tax dollars. In addition, some 401(k) plans are eligible for employer-sponsored matches, which are essentially free money.

"The disadvantage of a retirement plan is that you won't be able to access the funds in your account penalty-free until you're at least 59 1/2 years old. Unless there are no other options, early withdraws from a retirement savings plan isn't advised."

Who should consider opening a retirement plan?

"Every individual should be investing through a retirement plan if they have the financial capability to. At the minimum, investors should try to contribute up to the matching amount for their 401(k) and the maximum amount for their Roth IRA. The growth in these funds compounds over time, helping to enhance the long-term return."

Tessa Campbell:

"I can't think of a single person that wouldn't benefit from a retirement savings plan, other than maybe someone that is already well into retirement. Although some younger individuals don't feel the need to start contributing quite yet, it's actually better to open an account as soon as possible and take advantage of compound interest growth capabilities."

Is there any advice you'd offer someone who's considering opening a retirement plan?

"I would advise them to work with a financial advisor or trusted professional. This will give them insight into where they should be investing their money, whether that be a 401(k), Roth IRA, or another vehicle. There are plenty of people and sources out there who provide important information and can help you create a strong financial future."

"Don't contribute huge portions of your salary if it doesn't make sense with your budget. While contributing to a retirement savings plan is important, you must still afford your monthly expenses and pay down an existing debt. If you're having trouble establishing a reasonable budget, consult a financial advisor or planner for professional help."

Which Retirement Plan is Best For You?

If you're not a small-business owner or self-employed individual, the best retirement plan for you usually depends on your type of employer, marital status, and short- and long-term savings goals. If you're employed, you'll still only have so much control since your employer determines which types of plans you can open.

However, for most employer-sponsored retirement accounts, you can decide whether to make pre-tax or post-tax (Roth) contributions to your account. Roth contributions are best for those who expect to pay more in taxes as they age, but you should consider pre-tax contributions if you don't mind paying taxes when you withdraw money from your account in retirement.

You can boost your retirement savings even more by opening a separate IRA in addition to your employer-sponsored plan (you can still save toward retirement with an IRA if you're unemployed).

Self-employed individuals and small business owners also have a range of options. Solo 401(k)s and SEP IRAs are best for self-employed individuals and small businesses looking to maximize their annual retirement savings (you can make up to $66,000 in total annual contributions or $69,000 in 2024, excluding the catch-up contribution). SIMPLE IRAs and payroll deduction IRAs are better options for small businesses that don't mind offering employees smaller annual contribution limits.

7 sections of a business plan

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Grand River Valley wineries plan Eclipse Wine…

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Grand river valley wineries plan eclipse wine trail, three-day collaboration leads up to big event on april 8.


The Grand River Valley wine region is in the path of totality for the April 8 solar eclipse, and 14 of its wineries have developed a Total Eclipse Wine Trail running April 5 through 7. They’re each pairing an eclipse-themed small plate with two samples of wine. The cost is $10 per person at each winery.

Many of the wineries are hosting watch parties for the eclipse and have created commemorative wines.

The Eclipse Wine Trail is being marketed to those who booked weekend hotel rooms in the area for the eclipse.

Participating wineries:

Grand River Cellars: 5750 S. Madison Road, Madison; 440-298-9838; ; appetizer — “To the Moon, Alice!” Bacon, Gouda Mac & Cheese.

Debonné Vineyards: 7840 Doty Road, Madison; 440-466-3485; ; appetizer — Corona Chicken Sliders with Solar Flare Sauce.

Cask 307: 7259 Warner Road, Madison; 440-307-9586; ; appetizer — Black & White Cookies.

South River Vineyards: 6062 S, River Road, Geneva Township; 440-466-6676;; appetizer — Galaxy F Bomb Truffles.

Kosicek Vineyards: 636 Route 534, Geneva; 440-361-4573;; appetizer — Cosmic Pasta Salad.

Harpersfield Vineyard: 6387 Route 307; Harpersfield Township; 440-466-4739; ; appetizer — Moonshine-Roasted Mushrooms & Meatballs.

Stonegait Winery: 4275 Bates Road, Madison; 440-307-9571; ; appetizer — Space Balls Cocktail Meatballs.

Rosabella Winery: 3951 Route Austinburg Township; 440-275-5218; ; appetizer — Total Eclipse of the Cheesecake Tart.

The Winery at Spring Hill : 6062 S. Ridge Road W., Geneva; 440-466-0626;; appetizer — Path of Totality Trail Mix

Virant Family Winery: 541 Atkins Road, Geneva; 440-466-6279; ; appetizer: Potato Moon Soup.

Laurello Vineyards: 4573 Route 307 E., Geneva; 440-415-0661; ; appetizer — Dark Chocolate Bean Dip & Crackers.

Ferranté Winery: 5585 Route 307, Geneva Township; 440-466-8466; ; appetizer: Casa Lunar Ravioli.

Silver Crest Cellars: 4511 Bates Road, Harpersfield Township; 440-428-0677; ; appetizer — Chocolate Eclipse .

Hundley Cellars: 6451 Route 307, Harpersfield Township; 440-361-3088;; appetizer — Moon Over My Hammy.

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