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

AJ Beltis

Published: June 07, 2023

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

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

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

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

What is a business plan?

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

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

What is a business plan used for?

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

Business Plan Template [ Download Now ]

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

Purposes of a Business Plan

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

1. Securing financing from investors.

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

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

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

2. Documenting a company's strategy and goals.

A business plan should leave no stone unturned.

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

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

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

definition of business plan in entrepreneurship development

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

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

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

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

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

4. Getting an A in your business class.

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

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

What does a business plan need to include?

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

1. Business Plan Subtitle

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

2. Executive Summary

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

3. Company Description

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

4. The Business Opportunity

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

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5. Competitive Analysis

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

6. Target Market

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

7. Marketing Plan

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

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

8. Financial Summary

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

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

10. Funding Requirements

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

Types of Business Plans

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

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

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

1. Startup Business Plan

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

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

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

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

2. Feasibility Business Plan

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

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

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

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

3. Internal Business Plan

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

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

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

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

4. Strategic Business Plan

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

These types of business plans may include:

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

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

5. Business Acquisition Plan

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

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

A business plan for an existing company will explain:

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

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

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

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

6. Business Repositioning Plan

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

This plan will:

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

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

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

7. Expansion or Growth Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Started With Your Business Plan

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

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

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

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  • 11.4 The Business Plan
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Entrepreneurship Today
  • 1.2 Entrepreneurial Vision and Goals
  • 1.3 The Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • Review Questions
  • Discussion Questions
  • Case Questions
  • Suggested Resources
  • 2.1 Overview of the Entrepreneurial Journey
  • 2.2 The Process of Becoming an Entrepreneur
  • 2.3 Entrepreneurial Pathways
  • 2.4 Frameworks to Inform Your Entrepreneurial Path
  • 3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
  • 3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
  • 3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
  • 4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation
  • 4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ
  • 4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions
  • 5.1 Entrepreneurial Opportunity
  • 5.2 Researching Potential Business Opportunities
  • 5.3 Competitive Analysis
  • 6.1 Problem Solving to Find Entrepreneurial Solutions
  • 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
  • 6.3 Design Thinking
  • 6.4 Lean Processes
  • 7.1 Clarifying Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
  • 7.2 Sharing Your Entrepreneurial Story
  • 7.3 Developing Pitches for Various Audiences and Goals
  • 7.4 Protecting Your Idea and Polishing the Pitch through Feedback
  • 7.5 Reality Check: Contests and Competitions
  • 8.1 Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Marketing Mix
  • 8.2 Market Research, Market Opportunity Recognition, and Target Market
  • 8.3 Marketing Techniques and Tools for Entrepreneurs
  • 8.4 Entrepreneurial Branding
  • 8.5 Marketing Strategy and the Marketing Plan
  • 8.6 Sales and Customer Service
  • 9.1 Overview of Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting Strategies
  • 9.2 Special Funding Strategies
  • 9.3 Accounting Basics for Entrepreneurs
  • 9.4 Developing Startup Financial Statements and Projections
  • 10.1 Launching the Imperfect Business: Lean Startup
  • 10.2 Why Early Failure Can Lead to Success Later
  • 10.3 The Challenging Truth about Business Ownership
  • 10.4 Managing, Following, and Adjusting the Initial Plan
  • 10.5 Growth: Signs, Pains, and Cautions
  • 11.1 Avoiding the “Field of Dreams” Approach
  • 11.2 Designing the Business Model
  • 11.3 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
  • 12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
  • 12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
  • 12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
  • 13.1 Business Structures: Overview of Legal and Tax Considerations
  • 13.2 Corporations
  • 13.3 Partnerships and Joint Ventures
  • 13.4 Limited Liability Companies
  • 13.5 Sole Proprietorships
  • 13.6 Additional Considerations: Capital Acquisition, Business Domicile, and Technology
  • 13.7 Mitigating and Managing Risks
  • 14.1 Types of Resources
  • 14.2 Using the PEST Framework to Assess Resource Needs
  • 14.3 Managing Resources over the Venture Life Cycle
  • 15.1 Launching Your Venture
  • 15.2 Making Difficult Business Decisions in Response to Challenges
  • 15.3 Seeking Help or Support
  • 15.4 Now What? Serving as a Mentor, Consultant, or Champion
  • 15.5 Reflections: Documenting the Journey
  • A | Suggested Resources

Learning Objectives

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Overview

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

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

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

Purposes of a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Link to Learning

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

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

Types of Business Plans

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

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

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

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

Full Business Plan

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

Executive Summary

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

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

Business Description

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

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

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

Competitive Analysis

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

Operations and Management Plan

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

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

Marketing Plan

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

Financial Plan

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

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

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

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

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

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

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

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

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

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

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

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

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

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

Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
  • Authors: Michael Laverty, Chris Littel
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  • Book title: Entrepreneurship
  • Publication date: Jan 16, 2020
  • Location: Houston, Texas
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What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Planning Essentials Explained

Posted february 21, 2022 by kody wirth.

definition of business plan in entrepreneurship development

What is a business plan? It’s the roadmap for your business. The outline of your goals, objectives, and the steps you’ll take to get there. It describes the structure of your organization, how it operates, as well as the financial expectations and actual performance. 

A business plan can help you explore ideas, successfully start a business, manage operations, and pursue growth. In short, a business plan is a lot of different things. It’s more than just a stack of paper and can be one of your most effective tools as a business owner. 

Let’s explore the basics of business planning, the structure of a traditional plan, your planning options, and how you can use your plan to succeed. 

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that explains how your business operates. It summarizes your business structure, objectives, milestones, and financial performance. Again, it’s a guide that helps you, and anyone else, better understand how your business will succeed.  

Why do you need a business plan?

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

These benefits are directly connected to how writing a business plan makes you more informed and better prepares you for entrepreneurship. It helps you reduce risk and avoid pursuing potentially poor ideas. You’ll also be able to more easily uncover your business’s potential. By regularly returning to your plan you can understand what parts of your strategy are working and those that are not.

That just scratches the surface for why having a plan is valuable. Check out our full write-up for fifteen more reasons why you need a business plan .  

What can you do with your plan?

So what can you do with a business plan once you’ve created it? It can be all too easy to write a plan and just let it be. Here are just a few ways you can leverage your plan to benefit your business.

Test an idea

Writing a plan isn’t just for those that are ready to start a business. It’s just as valuable for those that have an idea and want to determine if it’s actually possible or not. By writing a plan to explore the validity of an idea, you are working through the process of understanding what it would take to be successful. 

The market and competitive research alone can tell you a lot about your idea. Is the marketplace too crowded? Is the solution you have in mind not really needed? Add in the exploration of milestones, potential expenses, and the sales needed to attain profitability and you can paint a pretty clear picture of the potential of your business.

Document your strategy and goals

For those starting or managing a business understanding where you’re going and how you’re going to get there are vital. Writing your plan helps you do that. It ensures that you are considering all aspects of your business, know what milestones you need to hit, and can effectively make adjustments if that doesn’t happen. 

With a plan in place, you’ll have an idea of where you want your business to go as well as how you’ve performed in the past. This alone better prepares you to take on challenges, review what you’ve done before, and make the right adjustments.

Pursue funding

Even if you do not intend to pursue funding right away, having a business plan will prepare you for it. It will ensure that you have all of the information necessary to submit a loan application and pitch to investors. So, rather than scrambling to gather documentation and write a cohesive plan once it’s relevant, you can instead keep your plan up-to-date and attempt to attain funding. Just add a use of funds report to your financial plan and you’ll be ready to go.

The benefits of having a plan don’t stop there. You can then use your business plan to help you manage the funding you receive. You’ll not only be able to easily track and forecast how you’ll use your funds but easily report on how it’s been used. 

Better manage your business

A solid business plan isn’t meant to be something you do once and forget about. Instead, it should be a useful tool that you can regularly use to analyze performance, make strategic decisions, and anticipate future scenarios. It’s a document that you should regularly update and adjust as you go to better fit the actual state of your business.

Doing so makes it easier to understand what’s working and what’s not. It helps you understand if you’re truly reaching your goals or if you need to make further adjustments. Having your plan in place makes that process quicker, more informative, and leaves you with far more time to actually spend running your business.

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What should your business plan include?

The content and structure of your business plan should include anything that will help you use it effectively. That being said, there are some key elements that you should cover and that investors will expect to see. 

Executive summary

The executive summary is a simple overview of your business and your overall plan. It should serve as a standalone document that provides enough detail for anyone—including yourself, team members, or investors—to fully understand your business strategy. Make sure to cover the problem you’re solving, a description of your product or service, your target market, organizational structure, a financial summary, and any necessary funding requirements.

This will be the first part of your plan but it’s easiest to write it after you’ve created your full plan.

Products & Services

When describing your products or services, you need to start by outlining the problem you’re solving and why what you offer is valuable. This is where you’ll also address current competition in the market and any competitive advantages your products or services bring to the table. Lastly, be sure to outline the steps or milestones that you’ll need to hit to successfully launch your business. If you’ve already hit some initial milestones, like taking pre-orders or early funding, be sure to include it here to further prove the validity of your business. 

Market analysis

A market analysis is a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the current market you’re entering or competing in. It helps you understand the overall state and potential of the industry, who your ideal customers are, the positioning of your competition, and how you intend to position your own business. This helps you better explore the long-term trends of the market, what challenges to expect, and how you will need to initially introduce and even price your products or services.

Check out our full guide for how to conduct a market analysis in just four easy steps .  

Marketing & sales

Here you detail how you intend to reach your target market. This includes your sales activities, general pricing plan, and the beginnings of your marketing strategy. If you have any branding elements, sample marketing campaigns, or messaging available—this is the place to add it. 

Additionally, it may be wise to include a SWOT analysis that demonstrates your business or specific product/service position. This will showcase how you intend to leverage sales and marketing channels to deal with competitive threats and take advantage of any opportunities.

Check out our full write-up to learn how to create a cohesive marketing strategy for your business. 

Organization & management

This section addresses the legal structure of your business, your current team, and any gaps that need to be filled. Depending on your business type and longevity, you’ll also need to include your location, ownership information, and business history. Basically, add any information that helps explain your organizational structure and how you operate. This section is particularly important for pitching to investors but should be included even if attempted funding is not in your immediate future.

Financial projections

Possibly the most important piece of your plan, your financials section is vital for showcasing the viability of your business. It also helps you establish a baseline to measure against and makes it easier to make ongoing strategic decisions as your business grows. This may seem complex on the surface, but it can be far easier than you think. 

Focus on building solid forecasts, keep your categories simple, and lean on assumptions. You can always return to this section to add more details and refine your financial statements as you operate. 

Here are the statements you should include in your financial plan:

  • Sales and revenue projections
  • Profit and loss statement
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheet

The appendix is where you add additional detail, documentation, or extended notes that support the other sections of your plan. Don’t worry about adding this section at first and only add documentation that you think will be beneficial for anyone reading your plan.

Types of business plans explained

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. So, to get the most out of your plan, it’s best to find a format that suits your needs. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering. 

Traditional business plan

The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used for external purposes. Typically this is the type of plan you’ll need when applying for funding or pitching to investors. It can also be used when training or hiring employees, working with vendors, or any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual. 

This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix. We recommend only starting with this business plan format if you plan to immediately pursue funding and already have a solid handle on your business information. 

Business model canvas

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

The structure ditches a linear structure in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It’s faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations. This is really best for those exploring their business idea for the first time, but keep in mind that it can be difficult to actually validate your idea this way as well as adapt it into a full plan.

One-page business plan

The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan. This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. It basically serves as a beefed-up pitch document and can be finished as quickly as the business model canvas.

By starting with a one-page plan, you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan. This plan type is useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Now, the option that we here at LivePlan recommend is the Lean Plan . This is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance.

It holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27-minutes . However, it’s even easier to convert into a full plan thanks to how heavily it’s tied to your financials. The overall goal of Lean Planning isn’t to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the Lean Planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and stable through times of crisis.

It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

Try the LivePlan Method for Lean Business Planning

Now that you know the basics of business planning, it’s time to get started. Again we recommend leveraging a Lean Plan for a faster, easier, and far more useful planning process. 

To get familiar with the Lean Plan format, you can download our free Lean Plan template . However, if you want to elevate your ability to create and use your lean plan even further, you may want to explore LivePlan. 

It features step-by-step guidance that ensures you cover everything necessary while reducing the time spent on formatting and presenting. You’ll also gain access to financial forecasting tools that propel you through the process. Finally, it will transform your plan into a management tool that will help you easily compare your forecasts to your actual results. 

Check out how LivePlan streamlines Lean Planning by downloading our Kickstart Your Business ebook .

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Kody Wirth

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Developing a Business Plan in Entrepreneurship: A Comprehensive Guide

  • Developing a Business Plan in Entrepreneurship: A Comprehensive Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on developing a business plan in entrepreneurship! Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out on your business journey, having a well-crafted business plan is essential for success. In this article, we will walk you through the process of creating a business plan from start to finish, providing valuable insights and expert advice along the way.

Table of Contents

☑️ 1. understanding the importance of a business plan, 👩‍💻 2. conducting market research: identifying your target audience, 🎯 3. defining your business goals and objectives, 🛠️ 4. crafting a unique value proposition, 👥 5. analyzing the competitive landscape, 🛗 6. developing a marketing and sales strategy, ⚙️ 7. creating an operational plan, 📈 8. building a financial plan: budgeting and forecasting, 💼 9. securing funding for your business, ⚖️ 10. legal and regulatory considerations, 📏 11. measuring success: key performance indicators (kpis), 🎛️ 12. adapting and evolving your business plan, ✨ conclusion.

💡 A business plan is more than just a document; it's your roadmap to entrepreneurial success. It guides you, step by step, on your journey towards building a thriving business. When you take the time to create a comprehensive business plan, you not only gain a deeper understanding of your vision and objectives, but you also show potential investors, partners, and stakeholders that you mean business.

💡 A well-crafted business plan allows you to present your business idea in a structured and organized way. Clearly outlining your products or services, target market, and unique selling proposition effectively communicates your concept to others and build trust in your vision.

💡 Additionally, a business plan helps you strategize and set realistic goals. It prompts you to analyze the market, assess competition, and identify opportunities and challenges. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions that minimize risks and increase your chances of success.

💡 Now let's talk finances. Financial projections are another vital aspect of a business plan. You can create a realistic financial forecast by thoroughly analyzing your costs, revenue streams, and cash flow. This not only helps you gauge the financial viability of your business, but it also provides essential information for potential investors evaluating your venture's profitability and sustainability.

💡 Moreover, a business plan is often required by external parties when seeking funding. But here's the thing: a well-structured and comprehensive plan showcases your professionalism, competence, and dedication to your venture. It boosts your credibility with potential investors who are more likely to invest in a business with a clear and well-thought-out plan.

💡 To sum it up, developing a business plan is a critical step in entrepreneurship. It helps you clarify your vision, effectively communicate your ideas, make informed decisions, and attract potential investors. So, take the time to craft a comprehensive business plan so you can establish a solid foundation for the success of your venture and demonstrate your commitment to its growth and sustainability.

Let's get started on that business plan and set yourself up for success !

You know what's essential for developing a successful business plan? Understanding your target audience. That's right, it's all about conducting thorough market research to gain valuable insights into the needs, preferences, and behaviors of your potential customers . This knowledge will empower you to customize your products or services to meet their specific demands, giving you a competitive edge in the market .

🔍 So, how do you go about this market research? Well, it involves gathering and analyzing data related to your industry, target market, and competition. It's a comprehensive process that allows you to identify and assess potential opportunities and challenges within your chosen market segment. You won't be relying on assumptions or guesswork. Instead, you'll make informed decisions based on reliable data.

👂 Let's talk about identifying your target audience . These are the individuals or groups who are most likely to be interested in and benefit from your products or services. To identify them, think about demographic factors such as age, gender, location, income level, and occupation. And don't forget to delve into psychographic factors too, like interests, values, lifestyles, and purchasing behaviors. The more detailed and specific you can be in defining your target audience, the better you'll be able to tailor your marketing strategies to effectively reach and engage them.

🎛️ Now, let's dive into the methods of market research. You can use surveys, interviews, focus groups, and analyze data from secondary sources. Surveys will provide you with quantitative data, giving you insights on a large scale. And when it comes to interviews and focus groups, you'll get qualitative data that takes you deeper into the thoughts, opinions, and motivations of your target audience. Secondary sources like industry reports, government publications, and online databases will provide you with valuable information about market trends, competitor analysis, and customer behavior.

📊 Once you have all this data, it's time to analyze it . Look for patterns, trends, and opportunities that will inform your business strategies. When you truly understand your target audience's needs, pain points, and preferences, you'll be able to develop products or services that truly resonate with them. And guess what? This customer-centric approach increases the likelihood of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and ultimately, business success.

🧐 But wait, there's more! Market research also helps you assess the competitive landscape . Take a close look at your competitors' strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning. This analysis will help you identify gaps and differentiation opportunities for your business. Armed with this knowledge, you can develop unique value propositions and effective marketing strategies that set you apart from the competition.

Ready to dive into market research and gain valuable insights? Let's get started and propel your business forward!

Welcome to the next step in developing your business plan: defining your goals and objectives. It is important to set clear and well-defined goals and objectives for your business. These goals serve as guideposts, directing and giving purpose to your entrepreneurial journey. With the SMART framework—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—you can set yourself up for success and ensure that your efforts are focused and effective.

With a clear roadmap in place, you are well-positioned to navigate the challenges and achieve the success you envision for your business.

Let's break down each element of the SMART framework:

✅ Specific: Your goals should be clear, concise, and well-defined. Instead of stating a vague objective like "increase revenue," let's be specific. For example, you could aim to "increase annual revenue by 20% within the next fiscal year."

✅ Measurable: It is important to establish metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs ) that allow you to track your progress. This enables you to measure the success of your strategies and determine whether you are on track to achieve your goals. For instance, if your goal is to expand your customer base, you can track the number of new customers acquired within a specific period.

✅ Attainable: While setting ambitious goals is important, they should also be realistic and attainable. Consider your available resources, market conditions, and industry trends when defining your objectives. Finding the balance between ambition and practicality is key to avoiding frustration and disappointment.

✅ Relevant: Ensure that your goals align with your overall vision, mission, and values. They should be relevant to your industry, target market, and the specific needs of your customers. Set relevant goals so you can stay focused on what truly matters for the growth and success of your business.

✅ Time-bound: Set specific timeframes or deadlines for achieving your objectives. This creates a sense of urgency, helps you prioritize tasks, and allows you to track your progress. Having a timeline ensures that your goals remain actionable and within reach.

Defining your business goals and objectives brings numerous benefits:

✔️ It keeps you focused and motivated, providing a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Goals serve as milestones, giving you a sense of achievement as you make progress toward them.

✔️ They also provide a framework for decision-making, enabling you to effectively prioritize tasks and allocate resources.

✔️ Moreover, clearly defined goals make it easier to communicate your vision and strategies to your team members, investors, and stakeholders. Alignment of efforts and shared purpose foster collaboration and synergy within your organization.

In the world of business, standing out from the competition is key to your success. In today's crowded marketplace, having a unique value proposition (UVP) is essential. Your UVP is what sets you apart and defines the special benefits and value your products or services offer to customers.

With a strong UVP, you can thrive in a crowded marketplace and build a loyal customer base that recognizes and appreciates what you bring to the table.

Let's dive into the steps of crafting a compelling UVP that will attract and retain customers , differentiate your business, and build a strong and sustainable brand.

Step 1: Identify your target audience. Get to know your customers inside and out. Understand their needs, desires, and pain points. This knowledge forms the foundation for creating a UVP that truly resonates with them.

Step 2: Analyze the competition. Take a closer look at your competitors and their value propositions. What are others offering? Can you identify gaps and opportunities in the market that you can leverage to set your business apart?

Step 3: Focus on differentiation. Determine what makes your offerings unique. What are the standout features, advantages, or benefits that set you apart? How do your products or services better address the specific needs of your target audience compared to the competition?

Step 4: Communicate the value. Craft a clear and concise statement that communicates the value customers can expect from choosing your business. Use compelling language to highlight the benefits and outcomes they can achieve by using your products or services.

Step 5: Make it memorable. Your UVP should be easy to understand and leave a lasting impression. Consider using a catchy slogan or tagline that captures the essence of your UVP and resonates with your target audience.

Step 6: Consistency is key. Keep your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) consistently communicated across all your marketing and communication channels. It should shine through on your website, social media presence, advertising materials, and customer interactions. Consistency builds trust and reinforces your brand identity.

When it comes to developing a robust and resilient business plan, understanding your competitors and their strategies is crucial.

Analyzing the competitive landscape involves a comprehensive examination of your direct and indirect competitors within your industry or market segment.

When you understand your competitors' strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning, you can identify opportunities, develop differentiated strategies, and gain a competitive edge. Regularly update your analysis to stay ahead of the competition and ensure your business remains relevant and successful in the ever-changing business landscape.

To begin, let's break down the key steps for effectively analyzing the competition:

Step 1: Identify your competitors Start by identifying your direct competitors—those businesses offering similar products or services to the same target audience. Additionally, consider indirect competitors—those providing alternative solutions that fulfill the same customer needs. This broader understanding will uncover both direct and indirect threats and opportunities.

Step 2: Gather information Collect as much information as possible about your competitors. Study their websites, social media presence, advertising campaigns, product offerings, pricing strategies, distribution channels, customer reviews, and any available market reports or industry publications. Utilize tools like SWOT analysis to organize and evaluate the data.

Step 3: Assess strengths and weaknesses Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Identify what they excel at, such as unique features, exceptional customer service, strong brand recognition, or extensive industry experience. Similarly, pinpoint their weaknesses, like limited product range, poor customer reviews, outdated technology, or inefficient processes. This assessment will highlight areas where you can leverage your strengths and differentiate yourself.

Step 4: Understand market positioning Examine how your competitors position themselves in the market. Consider their target audience, brand image, value propositions, and marketing messages. Identify the specific niche or market segment they focus on and determine if there are untapped opportunities for you to capitalize on. Positioning your business uniquely will attract customers who resonate with your specific value propositions.

Step 5: Identify opportunities and threats Through your analysis, identify potential opportunities and threats within the competitive landscape. Look for gaps in the market that your competitors have overlooked or underserved customer needs that you can address. Also, be on the lookout for emerging trends, technological advancements, or regulatory changes that may impact your business. This knowledge enables you to adapt and strategize effectively.

Step 6: Develop strategies for differentiation Based on your analysis, devise strategies that differentiate your business from the competition. Leverage your unique strengths and address customer pain points that your competitors haven't resolved. Focus on developing value-added features, delivering exceptional customer experiences, or offering innovative solutions that set you apart. Effective differentiation will give you a competitive edge and attract customers who appreciate your distinct offerings.

When it comes to growing and making your business profitable, having a well-defined and comprehensive marketing and sales strategy is key. It outlines the steps you'll take to promote your products or services, attract customers, and generate sales. An effective marketing and sales strategy in your business plan increases brand visibility, reaches a wider audience, and ultimately drives revenue.

With a well-designed marketing and sales strategy, you can establish a strong brand presence, attract customers, and achieve sustainable business growth.

Here are some important elements to consider as you develop your marketing and sales strategy:

  • Identify your target market: Start by clearly defining your target market and understanding their demographics, preferences, and buying behavior. This knowledge will help you tailor your marketing messages and promotional activities to effectively reach and engage your ideal customers.
  • Choose the right marketing channels: Determine the most suitable marketing channels to reach your target audience. This could include a mix of traditional and digital channels such as print media, television, radio, search engine marketing (SEM) , social media platforms, email marketing, and content marketing. Select the channels based on your target audience's preferences and behavior.
  • Leverage digital marketing techniques: Maximize your online presence and attract potential customers by leveraging digital marketing techniques. This includes search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your website's visibility in search engine results, social media marketing to engage with your audience and build brand awareness, and content marketing to provide valuable and relevant information that establishes your expertise and credibility.
  • Craft compelling marketing messages: Develop clear and compelling marketing messages that effectively communicate the unique value of your products or services. Highlight the key benefits, features, and solutions your offerings provide to address customer needs and pain points. Emphasize what sets your business apart from competitors and how customers stand to benefit by choosing your products or services.
  • Determine your pricing strategy: Align your pricing strategy with your target market, positioning, and business goals. Take into account factors such as production costs, market demand, perceived value, and competitor pricing. Striking the right balance between affordability and profitability is essential to attract customers while maintaining healthy profit margins.
  • Plan targeted promotional activities: Plan and execute targeted promotional activities to create awareness and generate interest in your offerings. This may include advertising campaigns, public relations efforts, participation in industry events, sponsorships, or partnerships with complementary businesses. Use both online and offline channels to reach a broader audience and maximize exposure.
  • Develop a sales forecast: Create a sales forecast that outlines your projected sales revenues based on your marketing and sales strategies. Consider factors such as market size, growth potential, customer acquisition rate, and conversion rates. This will provide you with a realistic view of your revenue goals and help you track your progress.
  • Monitor and evaluate: Continuously monitor the performance of your marketing and sales efforts and make necessary adjustments. Keep track of key metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, social media engagement, and sales revenue to gauge the effectiveness of your strategies. Use analytics tools to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences, allowing you to refine your marketing and sales approaches.

In this section, we'll explore the importance of an operational plan and provide you with valuable insights to help you create one that sets the stage for smooth and efficient business operations. Let's dive in!

An operational plan is a vital component of your business plan, serving as a guide for your day-to-day activities and processes. It covers various aspects of your operations, such as production, inventory management, supply chain logistics, quality control, and more. With a comprehensive operational plan, you will have seamless operations while being prepared to tackle challenges.

With a well-designed operational plan in place, you can confidently manage day-to-day activities and position your business for long-term success.

Here are key considerations for creating your plan:

  • Production processes: Start by describing the specific steps involved in producing your products or delivering your services. Outline the necessary resources, equipment, and manpower for each stage. Identify any bottlenecks or areas for improvement to streamline your processes and boost productivity.
  • Inventory management: Detail how you'll manage your inventory to meet customer demand while minimizing costs. Determine optimal inventory levels, establish tracking systems, and implement replenishment strategies for stock availability. This avoids stockouts or excess inventory, enhancing customer satisfaction and reducing expenses.
  • Supply chain logistics: Outline your supply chain logistics, including sourcing raw materials, managing suppliers, and coordinating distribution. Identify potential risks and develop contingency plans to mitigate disruptions. Streamline processes to minimize lead times, optimize transportation, and improve overall efficiency.
  • Quality control: Explain how you'll maintain quality standards and ensure consistency in your products or services. Define quality control measures, such as inspections, testing procedures, and adherence to industry standards. Implement feedback loops to capture customer input and continuously enhance your offerings.
  • Resource allocation: Determine how you'll allocate financial, human, and technological resources to support your operations. This involves budgeting, workforce planning, and identifying technology solutions that boost efficiency and productivity.
  • Risk management: Assess potential risks and develop strategies to minimize their impact on your operations. Identify key risks like supply chain disruptions, compliance issues, cybersecurity threats, or natural disasters. Establish contingency plans and protocols for business continuity.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: Make sure your operational plan considers legal and regulatory requirements. Familiarize yourself with applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards. Incorporate measures for compliance, such as obtaining licenses, implementing data protection policies, and adhering to health and safety guidelines.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the effectiveness of your operational plan. Consistently monitor and evaluate your operations against these metrics to identify areas for improvement. Continuously refine your plan based on feedback and changing business needs.

In this part, we'll explore the importance of budgeting and forecasting in developing a robust financial plan for your business. Focus on these key aspects so you can demonstrate your financial expertise to potential investors and lenders.

When you are able to build a comprehensive financial plan through budgeting and forecasting, you demonstrate your financial acumen to potential investors and lenders. This gives them a clear understanding of how you'll manage the financial aspects of your business, instilling confidence in your ability to achieve profitability and sustainable growth.

💰 Budgeting: Controlling Costs and Allocating Resources

When establishing your business's financial foundation, budgeting plays a pivotal role. It allows you to identify and estimate startup costs, ongoing expenses, and projected revenues. To efficiently allocate resources, optimize cash flow, and ensure long-term financial sustainability, meticulously track and control costs.

Here are some key steps to consider when creating your budget:

  • Identify startup costs: Start by determining the initial investments needed to launch your business, such as equipment purchases, lease agreements, legal fees, marketing collateral, and website development. Accurately estimating these costs will help you avoid unexpected financial burdens and ensure a smooth startup process.
  • Outline ongoing expenses: Once your business is up and running, consider the recurring expenses for day-to-day operations, such as rent, utilities, employee salaries, inventory costs, marketing expenses, insurance premiums, and loan repayments. Thoroughly identifying these expenses provides a comprehensive understanding of your financial commitments.
  • Project revenues: Forecast your expected revenues by conducting market research and analyzing industry trends. Consider factors like market demand, competition, and seasonality. Projecting revenues gives you insights into your business's financial viability and empowers you to make informed decisions.
  • Track and adjust: Remember, a budget is a dynamic tool that requires continuous monitoring and adjustment. Regularly compare your actual expenses and revenues against your budgeted figures. This enables you to identify deviations, make necessary adjustments, and maintain financial discipline. Stay vigilant and proactively address any financial challenges that may arise.

📈 Financial Forecasting: Anticipating Future Performance

Alongside budgeting, financial forecasting plays a critical role in your financial plan. It involves estimating future cash flows, financial performance, and potential risks. You can project the financial health of your business and make informed strategic decisions by forecasting.

Consider the following elements when conducting financial forecasting:

  • Sales projections: Develop realistic sales projections based on market research, industry trends, and historical data. Factor in customer demand, pricing strategies, marketing initiatives, and potential competition impact. These projections serve as a foundation for estimating future revenues.
  • Expense projections: Forecast ongoing expenses, considering factors like inflation, changes in supplier costs, and potential growth-related expenses. This helps you anticipate and plan for the financial resources required to support your business operations.
  • Cash flow analysis: Analyze projected cash inflows and outflows to assess your business's liquidity and solvency. Monitoring cash flow allows you to identify potential shortages and take proactive measures to ensure adequate working capital.
  • Financial ratios and indicators: Calculate key financial ratios and indicators to assess your business's performance, including profitability, liquidity, debt-to-equity, and return on investment (ROI). Analyzing these metrics provides valuable insights into your financial stability and growth potential.
  • Risk assessment: Identify potential risks that may impact your financial performance, such as market conditions, regulatory changes, or economic downturns. Develop contingency plans to mitigate these risks and ensure business continuity.

Turn your entrepreneurial vision into reality! Securing funding is vital for bringing your business plan to life. In this section, we'll explore funding options and strategies to help you obtain the financial resources you need. Let's get started!

  • Understand Your Funding Needs

Before diving into the world of funding, it's crucial to assess your business's financial requirements. Take the time to evaluate startup costs, working capital needs, and projected expenses. Consider factors such as equipment purchases, inventory costs, marketing campaigns, employee salaries, and overhead expenses. Understand your funding needs so you can develop a targeted approach to secure the necessary capital.

  • Explore Funding Options

There are numerous funding options available today. It's important to explore these options and select the ones that align with your business goals and industry requirements. Some common funding sources include:

  • Loans: Traditional bank loans, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, and MSME Financing Programs offer favorable interest rates and repayment terms for businesses with a solid credit history and collateral.
  • Grants: Research grants and government-sponsored programs provide non-repayable funds specific to your industry or business sector, supporting growth and development.
  • Venture Capital: Venture capital firms invest in high-growth potential businesses, providing capital, expertise, and industry connections to help your business thrive.
  • Angel Investors: Angel investors invest their own capital in startups or early-stage companies in exchange for equity. They often bring industry experience and valuable networks to the table.
  • Crowdfunding: Utilize online platforms to raise funds from individuals who believe in your business idea. Crowdfunding allows you to showcase your product or service and attract support from a broad audience.
  • Craft a Compelling Business Plan

A well-crafted and compelling business plan is crucial when seeking funding. Clearly articulate your value proposition, target market, competitive advantage, and growth potential. Include financial projections, market analysis, and a solid understanding of your industry. Present a persuasive case that highlights the profitability and viability of your venture. Your business plan should inspire confidence in potential investors and convince them of the potential returns on their investment.

  • Network and Build Relationships

Building strong relationships within your industry and entrepreneurial ecosystem can significantly enhance your funding prospects. Attend networking events, industry conferences, and pitch competitions to connect with potential investors and mentors. Join relevant industry associations and participate in community events to expand your network. Cultivating these relationships can open doors to funding opportunities and valuable advice from experienced professionals.

  • Demonstrate Your Commitment and Expertise

Investors want to see your dedication and ability to execute your business plan. Demonstrate your commitment by investing your own capital into the business and showcasing your industry expertise. Highlight your past achievements, relevant experience, and the skills that make you uniquely qualified to succeed. Investors are more likely to fund entrepreneurs who are passionate, knowledgeable, and committed to their business's success.

  • Be Prepared for Due Diligence

When investors show interest in your business, they will likely conduct due diligence to assess its viability and potential risks. Be prepared to provide detailed financial statements, legal documentation, market research, and any other relevant information. Show transparency and professionalism throughout the due diligence process to build trust with potential investors.

When developing your business plan, it is very important to consider the legal and regulatory requirements that apply to your industry and location. Adhering to these requirements not only ensures that your business operates within the boundaries of the law but also establishes trust with customers, investors, and other stakeholders. In this section, we will explore the key legal and regulatory considerations that you should address in your business plan.

Addressing legal and regulatory considerations in your business plan shows your commitment to operating ethically and lawfully. This instills confidence in stakeholders, assuring them that you've taken steps to safeguard your business and maintain compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Step 1: Research Applicable Laws and Regulations

Begin by conducting thorough research to identify the specific laws, regulations, licenses, and permits that apply to your industry and location. Laws and regulations can vary significantly depending on the nature of your business, whether it is a food service establishment, a healthcare provider, or an e-commerce platform. Stay up to date with any changes in legislation that may impact your business operations.

Step 2: Obtain the Necessary Licenses and Permits

Ensure that your business obtains all the required licenses and permits before starting operations. These may include business licenses, professional licenses, health and safety permits, environmental permits, and zoning permits. Failure to secure the necessary licenses and permits can result in fines, penalties, or even legal action that could jeopardize the viability of your business.

Step 3: Protect Intellectual Property

Safeguarding your intellectual property (IP) is crucial for protecting your business's unique assets and competitive advantage. Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, designs, logos, and artistic works. Depending on the type of IP you want to protect, consider applying for trademarks, copyrights, or patents. Addressing intellectual property considerations in your business plan demonstrates your commitment to safeguarding your innovations and brand.

Step 4: Ensure Compliance with Employment Laws

If you plan to hire employees, it is essential to understand and comply with employment laws and regulations. These laws govern aspects such as minimum wage, working hours, employee benefits, workplace safety, and anti-discrimination practices. Familiarize yourself with both federal and state employment laws to ensure fair treatment of your employees and avoid legal issues that could harm your business's reputation.

Step 5: Protect Consumer Rights and Privacy

Consumer protection and privacy laws are designed to safeguard the rights of your customers and their personal information. Ensure that your business follows best practices for data protection, privacy policies, and marketing practices. Incorporate compliance measures into your business plan to demonstrate your commitment to protecting consumer rights and privacy.

Step 6: Address Compliance and Risk Management

In your business plan, demonstrate your commitment to compliance and risk management by outlining the strategies and processes you will implement. This can include establishing internal controls, conducting regular audits, and addressing potential risks and mitigation measures. Proactively address compliance and risk management to show potential investors and partners that you prioritize responsible and ethical business practices.

Step 7: Seek Legal Counsel

Consider consulting with legal professionals experienced in your industry to ensure that your business plan accurately addresses all legal and regulatory considerations. They can provide guidance on specific legal requirements, review your business plan for compliance, and help you navigate any complex legal issues that may arise.

It's vital to have a clear understanding of how well your business is performing. That's where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come in. These quantifiable metrics allow you to measure the success and progress of your business. Identifying and tracking the right KPIs provides valuable insights into your strategies' effectiveness and empowers you to make informed growth-oriented decisions. In this section, we'll emphasize the significance of KPIs and assist you in selecting the most relevant ones for your business.

👉 Choosing the Right KPIs

Selecting the right KPIs is crucial for accurately measuring the success of your business. Let's go through some steps to help you choose the most relevant KPIs:

  • Define Your Business Goals: Start by clearly defining your business goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve? Whether it's revenue growth, customer acquisition, operational efficiency, or customer satisfaction, your KPIs should align with your overarching goals.
  • Identify Key Areas of Focus: Identify the key areas of your business that directly contribute to achieving your goals. These could include sales, marketing, customer service, production, or financial performance. Focus on KPIs that provide insights into these critical areas.
  • Quantify and Measure: Determine how you will quantify and measure each KPI. Ensure that the metrics are reliable, consistent, and easily measurable. Consider both lagging indicators (reflecting past performance) and leading indicators (predicting future outcomes) for a comprehensive view.
  • Be Specific and Relevant: Choose KPIs that are specific to your business and industry. Generic metrics may not accurately reflect the unique aspects and challenges of your business. Tailor your KPIs to measure the factors that drive success in your particular market.
  • Keep it Balanced: Select a mix of financial and non-financial KPIs to gain a holistic view of your business's performance. While financial metrics like revenue and profit are important, don't overlook other aspects such as customer satisfaction, employee engagement, or brand recognition.

📋 Examples of Common KPIs

Now, let's look at some examples of common KPIs that businesses track:

  • Revenue Growth Rate: Measures the percentage increase in revenue over a specific period.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): Calculates the cost required to acquire a new customer.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Estimates the total value a customer brings to your business over their lifetime.
  • Conversion Rate: Tracks the percentage of website visitors or leads that convert into customers.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Measures customer satisfaction and loyalty based on surveys.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Evaluates the profitability of an investment or marketing campaign.
  • Employee Turnover Rate: Measures the percentage of employees who leave your organization within a given period.

Congratulations on developing a solid business plan! However, it's important to remember that a business plan is not set in stone. In today's dynamic business environment, the ability to adapt and evolve is crucial for long-term success. In this section, we will explore why it's necessary to be flexible with your business plan and provide strategies for effectively adapting to changes.

🎚️ The Importance of Adaptation

The business landscape is ever-changing, shaped by technology, market trends, customer preferences, and competition. Holding onto an outdated plan can hinder progress and limit opportunities. Embracing adaptation keeps you ahead and fuels continued growth.

🤳 Embracing Market Trends

Market trends have a profound impact on your business's success. Stay ahead by monitoring industry trends, identifying opportunities, and anticipating threats. Stay informed through market research, industry publications, and networking with experts. Adapt your strategies to align with changes in consumer behavior, technology, and competition. Stay proactive and make necessary adjustments to ensure your business thrives.

👂 Listening to Customer Feedback

Your customers hold a wealth of valuable insights and feedback. Engage with them directly through surveys, focus groups, and social media. Listen attentively to their needs, preferences, and challenges. This feedback is a treasure trove of guidance to enhance your offerings and elevate the customer experience. Incorporating customer feedback into your business plan showcases your dedication to meeting their evolving needs. Let their voices shape your success.

💪 Remaining Agile and Flexible

In today's fast-paced business environment, agility and flexibility are essential. Be ready to make quick decisions and pivot when needed. This could mean adjusting marketing strategies, exploring new distribution channels, or even modifying your business model. Regularly assess performance and be willing to adapt based on insights gained. Stay nimble and open-minded, embracing change for your business's success.

🧿 Leveraging Emerging Opportunities

While navigating the business landscape, keep a keen eye out for emerging opportunities that align with your core competencies and goals. This could entail embracing new technologies, exploring untapped markets, or forging partnerships with complementary businesses. Actively seeking and seizing these opportunities positions your business for growth and differentiation. Stay vigilant and stay ahead in this dynamic journey!

There are three predicted trends of emerging change, worries, and hopes that we need to brace ourselves for. Read “ Future-proof Your Team in the New Normal ” blog post or watch the webinar replay for free to learn more.

🖥️ Monitoring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Continuously monitor and assess your KPIs to gauge the effectiveness of your strategies. Identify trends, patterns, and areas of improvement. Regularly review your KPIs to ensure their relevance and alignment with your evolving business goals. Use this data-driven approach to guide your decision-making process and make informed adjustments to your business plan.

📖 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQ 1: What is the purpose of a business plan in entrepreneurship?

A business plan plays a pivotal role in entrepreneurship by serving as a roadmap for your journey. It encompasses various elements such as your business idea, strategies, goals, and financial projections. The primary purpose of a business plan is to provide clarity and direction to your entrepreneurial endeavors. Documenting your vision and outlining the steps to achieve it helps you stay focused, make informed decisions, and effectively communicate your ideas to potential investors, partners, and stakeholders. A well-crafted business plan showcases your professionalism and strategic thinking, increasing your chances of success in the competitive business landscape.

FAQ 2: How do I identify my target audience for my business plan?

Identifying your target audience is crucial for developing a business plan that resonates with your customers. To do this, conduct thorough market research to gather valuable insights. Start by analyzing demographic information such as age, gender, location, and income level. Next, delve deeper into understanding their needs, preferences, and behaviors. Surveys, focus groups, and social media analytics are effective tools for gathering such information. If you understand your target audience, you can tailor your products or services to meet their specific demands, develop effective marketing strategies, and differentiate yourself from competitors. This understanding of your target audience will give you a competitive edge and increase your chances of success.

FAQ 3: Why is a unique value proposition important in a business plan?

A unique value proposition (UVP) is of paramount importance in a business plan as it sets your business apart from competitors. It encapsulates the unique benefits and value that your products or services offer to customers. In today's crowded marketplace, where consumers have numerous options, a compelling UVP helps you attract and retain customers. It communicates why customers should choose your business over others and highlights the distinct advantages you bring to the table. When crafting your UVP, emphasize the key features, advantages, and benefits that differentiate your offerings. When you clearly articulate your UVP in your business plan, you demonstrate your understanding of the market, customer needs, and how your business fulfills those needs better than others.

FAQ 4: How can I secure funding for my business?

Securing funding is often a critical aspect of developing a business plan. There are various avenues to explore, including loans, grants, venture capital, angel investors, and crowdfunding. It is essential to tailor your funding strategy based on your business needs and industry requirements. Start by thoroughly researching and identifying the funding options that align with your goals and vision. Craft a compelling business plan that highlights the profitability and viability of your venture, showcasing potential investors or lenders the potential return on their investment. Include detailed financial projections, market analysis, and a clear plan for utilizing the funds. Demonstrating your financial acumen and presenting a compelling case increases your chances of securing the necessary funding to turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

FAQ 5: Why is it important to adapt and evolve your business plan?

Adapting and evolving your business plan is essential because the business landscape is constantly changing. Market trends, technological advancements, consumer preferences, and competitive forces can impact your business significantly. Regularly review and update your business plan to align your strategies with the evolving market dynamics. This allows you to seize new opportunities, mitigate risks, and stay ahead of the competition. Additionally, customer feedback plays a vital role in adapting your business plan. Actively listening to your customers and incorporating their feedback into your strategies will continuously improve your offerings and enhance the customer experience. Adaptability and flexibility are key traits of successful entrepreneurs, enabling them to navigate challenges and capitalize on emerging trends.

FAQ 6: How can I measure the success of my business?

Measuring the success of your business requires the establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business goals. KPIs are measurable metrics that allow you to track and evaluate your performance over time. Examples of KPIs include revenue growth, customer acquisition rate, customer satisfaction, and market share. It's important to identify the KPIs that are most relevant to your business and industry. Regularly track and analyze these metrics to gain insights into your business's progress and performance. This data-driven approach enables you to make informed decisions, identify areas for improvement, and capitalize on your strengths. To measure your business's success objectively and make crucial adjustments, it's essential to consistently monitor and assess your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This enables you to stay on track and work towards your long-term goals.

You've reached the end of this comprehensive guide, and now you have the tools to create a business plan that leads to success. Your business plan is more than just a document—it's your roadmap on this entrepreneurial journey. So, let's summarize the key points you should keep in mind:

  • Understand the importance of a business plan: A well-crafted plan clarifies your vision and effectively communicates your ideas to stakeholders.
  • Conduct thorough market research: Identify your target audience's needs and preferences to tailor your products or services and gain a competitive edge.
  • Define SMART goals: Set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals to stay focused and motivated throughout your entrepreneurial journey.
  • Craft a unique value proposition: Highlight the unique benefits and value your offerings provide to differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace.
  • Analyze the competitive landscape: Understand your competitors and develop strategies to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Develop a marketing and sales strategy: Outline your marketing channels, pricing, promotions, and leverage digital marketing techniques to reach a wider audience.
  • Create a robust operational plan: Ensure smooth business operations by addressing aspects such as production processes, inventory management, and quality control.
  • Build a comprehensive financial plan: Demonstrate your financial acumen by creating a budget, conducting financial forecasting, and identifying potential risks.
  • Secure funding strategically: Explore various funding options and present a compelling case in your plan to attract investors.
  • Consider legal and regulatory requirements: Comply with applicable regulations and showcase your commitment to operating within the legal framework.
  • Measure success with KPIs: Establish relevant metrics to track and analyze your business's progress and make data-driven decisions.
  • Adapt and evolve your plan: Regularly review and update your strategies to align with market trends, customer feedback, and emerging opportunities.

Now, it's time for you to take action. Based on the insights you've gained from this guide, which key aspect of your business plan will you focus on improving? How do you think this refinement will contribute to the success of your venture?

For those who are just starting up a business, here's an additional question to consider:

As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, what initial steps will you take to validate your business idea and ensure its feasibility in the market? How will this validation process contribute to building a solid foundation for your business?

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Write your business plan

Business plans help you run your business.

A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through the key elements of your business.

Business plans can help you get funding or bring on new business partners. Investors want to feel confident they’ll see a return on their investment. Your business plan is the tool you’ll use to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.

Pick a business plan format that works for you

There’s no right or wrong way to write a business plan. What’s important is that your plan meets your needs.

Most business plans fall into one of two common categories: traditional or lean startup.

Traditional business plans are more common, use a standard structure, and encourage you to go into detail in each section. They tend to require more work upfront and can be dozens of pages long.

Lean startup business plans are less common but still use a standard structure. They focus on summarizing only the most important points of the key elements of your plan. They can take as little as one hour to make and are typically only one page.

Traditional business plan

write traditional plan

Lean startup plan

A lean business plan is quicker but high-level

Traditional business plan format

You might prefer a traditional business plan format if you’re very detail-oriented, want a comprehensive plan, or plan to request financing from traditional sources.

When you write your business plan, you don’t have to stick to the exact business plan outline. Instead, use the sections that make the most sense for your business and your needs. Traditional business plans use some combination of these nine sections.

Executive summary

Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful. Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company’s leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to ask for financing.

Company description

Use your company description to provide detailed information about your company. Go into detail about the problems your business solves. Be specific, and list out the consumers, organization, or businesses your company plans to serve.

Explain the competitive advantages that will make your business a success. Are there experts on your team? Have you found the perfect location for your store? Your company description is the place to boast about your strengths.

Market analysis

You'll need a good understanding of your industry outlook and target market. Competitive research will show you what other businesses are doing and what their strengths are. In your market research, look for trends and themes. What do successful competitors do? Why does it work? Can you do it better? Now's the time to answer these questions.

Organization and management

Tell your reader how your company will be structured and who will run it.

Describe the  legal structure  of your business. State whether you have or intend to incorporate your business as a C or an S corporation, form a general or limited partnership, or if you're a sole proprietor or limited liability company (LLC).

Use an organizational chart to lay out who's in charge of what in your company. Show how each person's unique experience will contribute to the success of your venture. Consider including resumes and CVs of key members of your team.

Service or product line

Describe what you sell or what service you offer. Explain how it benefits your customers and what the product lifecycle looks like. Share your plans for intellectual property, like copyright or patent filings. If you're doing  research and development  for your service or product, explain it in detail.

Marketing and sales

There's no single way to approach a marketing strategy. Your strategy should evolve and change to fit your unique needs.

Your goal in this section is to describe how you'll attract and retain customers. You'll also describe how a sale will actually happen. You'll refer to this section later when you make financial projections, so make sure to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales strategies.

Funding request

If you're asking for funding, this is where you'll outline your funding requirements. Your goal is to clearly explain how much funding you’ll need over the next five years and what you'll use it for.

Specify whether you want debt or equity, the terms you'd like applied, and the length of time your request will cover. Give a detailed description of how you'll use your funds. Specify if you need funds to buy equipment or materials, pay salaries, or cover specific bills until revenue increases. Always include a description of your future strategic financial plans, like paying off debt or selling your business.

Financial projections

Supplement your funding request with financial projections. Your goal is to convince the reader that your business is stable and will be a financial success.

If your business is already established, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the last three to five years. If you have other collateral you could put against a loan, make sure to list it now.

Provide a prospective financial outlook for the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and capital expenditure budgets. For the first year, be even more specific and use quarterly — or even monthly — projections. Make sure to clearly explain your projections, and match them to your funding requests.

This is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business.  

Use your appendix to provide supporting documents or other materials were specially requested. Common items to include are credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts.

Example traditional business plans

Before you write your business plan, read the following example business plans written by fictional business owners. Rebecca owns a consulting firm, and Andrew owns a toy company.

Lean startup format

You might prefer a lean startup format if you want to explain or start your business quickly, your business is relatively simple, or you plan to regularly change and refine your business plan.

Lean startup formats are charts that use only a handful of elements to describe your company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. They’re useful for visualizing tradeoffs and fundamental facts about your company.

There are different ways to develop a lean startup template. You can search the web to find free templates to build your business plan. We discuss nine components of a model business plan here:

Key partnerships

Note the other businesses or services you’ll work with to run your business. Think about suppliers, manufacturers, subcontractors, and similar strategic partners.

Key activities

List the ways your business will gain a competitive advantage. Highlight things like selling direct to consumers, or using technology to tap into the sharing economy.

Key resources

List any resource you’ll leverage to create value for your customer. Your most important assets could include staff, capital, or intellectual property. Don’t forget to leverage business resources that might be available to  women ,  veterans ,  Native Americans , and  HUBZone businesses .

Value proposition

Make a clear and compelling statement about the unique value your company brings to the market.

Customer relationships

Describe how customers will interact with your business. Is it automated or personal? In person or online? Think through the customer experience from start to finish.

Customer segments

Be specific when you name your target market. Your business won’t be for everybody, so it’s important to have a clear sense of whom your business will serve.

List the most important ways you’ll talk to your customers. Most businesses use a mix of channels and optimize them over time.

Cost structure

Will your company focus on reducing cost or maximizing value? Define your strategy, then list the most significant costs you’ll face pursuing it.

Revenue streams

Explain how your company will actually make money. Some examples are direct sales, memberships fees, and selling advertising space. If your company has multiple revenue streams, list them all.

Example lean business plan

Before you write your business plan, read this example business plan written by a fictional business owner, Andrew, who owns a toy company.

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Business Plan

By Entrepreneur Staff

Business Plan Definition:

A written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement

A business plan is also a road map that provides directions so a business can plan its future and helps it avoid bumps in the road. The time you spend making your business plan thorough and accurate, and keeping it up-to-date, is an investment that pays big dividends in the long term.

Your business plan should conform to generally accepted guidelines regarding form and content. Each section should include specific elements and address relevant questions that the people who read your plan will most likely ask. Generally, a business plan has the following components:

Title Page and Contents A business plan should be presented in a binder with a cover listing the name of the business, the name(s) of the principal(s), address, phone number, e-mail and website addresses, and the date. You don't have to spend a lot of money on a fancy binder or cover. Your readers want a plan that looks professional, is easy to read and is well-put-together.

Include the same information on the title page. If you have a logo, you can use it, too. A table of contents follows the executive summary or statement of purpose, so that readers can quickly find the information or financial data they need.

Executive Summary The executive summary, or statement of purpose, succinctly encapsulates your reason for writing the business plan. It tells the reader what you want and why, right up front. Are you looking for a $10,000 loan to remodel and refurbish your factory? A loan of $25,000 to expand your product line or buy new equipment? How will you repay your loan, and over what term? Would you like to find a partner to whom you'd sell 25 percent of the business? What's in it for him or her? The questions that pertain to your situation should be addressed here clearly and succinctly.

The summary or statement should be no more than half a page in length and should touch on the following key elements:

  • Business concept describes the business, its product, the market it serves and the business' competitive advantage.
  • Financial features include financial highlights, such as sales and profits.
  • Financial requirements state how much capital is needed for startup or expansion, how it will be used and what collateral is available.
  • Current business position furnishes relevant information about the company, its legal form of operation, when it was founded, the principal owners and key personnel.
  • Major achievements points out anything noteworthy, such as patents, prototypes, important contracts regarding product development, or results from test marketing that have been conducted.

Description of the Business The business description usually begins with a short explanation of the industry. When describing the industry, discuss what's going on now as well as the outlook for the future. Do the necessary research so you can provide information on all the various markets within the industry, including references to new products or developments that could benefit or hinder your business. Base your observations on reliable data and be sure to footnote and cite your sources of information when necessary. Remember that bankers and investors want to know hard facts--they won't risk money on assumptions or conjecture.

When describing your business, say which sector it falls into (wholesale, retail, food service, manufacturing, hospitality and so on), and whether the business is new or established. Then say whether the business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, C or Sub chapter S corporation. Next, list the business' principals and state what they bring to the business. Continue with information on who the business' customers are, how big the market is, and how the product or service is distributed and marketed.

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

When you describe your product or service, make sure your reader has a clear idea of what you're talking about. Explain how people use your product or service and talk about what makes your product or service different from others available in the market. Be specific about what sets your business apart from those of your competitors.

Then explain how your business will gain a competitive edge and why your business will be profitable. Describe the factors you think will make it successful. If your business plan will be used as a financing proposal, explain why the additional equity or debt will make your business more profitable. Give hard facts, such as "new equipment will create an income stream of $10,000 per year" and briefly describe how.

Other information to address here is a description of the experience of the other key people in the business. Whoever reads your business plan will want to know what suppliers or experts you've spoken to about your business and their response to your idea. They may even ask you to clarify your choice of location or reasons for selling this particular product.

Market Analysis A thorough market analysis will help you define your prospects as well as help you establish pricing, distribution, and promotional strategies that will allow your company to be successful vis-à-vis your competition, both in the short and long term.

Begin your market analysis by defining the market in terms of size, demographics, structure, growth prospects, trends, and sales potential. Next, determine how often your product or service will be purchased by your target market. Then figure out the potential annual purchase. Then figure out what percentage of this annual sum you either have or can attain. Keep in mind that no one gets 100 percent market share, and that a something as small as 25 percent is considered a dominant share. Your market share will be a benchmark that tells you how well you're doing in light of your market-planning projections.

You'll also have to describe your positioning strategy. How you differentiate your product or service from that of your competitors and then determine which market niche to fill is called "positioning." Positioning helps establish your product or service's identity within the eyes of the purchaser. A positioning statement for a business plan doesn't have to be long or elaborate, but it does need to point out who your target market is, how you'll reach them, what they're really buying from you, who your competitors are, and what your USP (unique selling proposition) is.

How you price your product or service is perhaps your most important marketing decision. It's also one of the most difficult to make for most small business owners, because there are no instant formulas. Many methods of establishing prices are available to you, but these are among the most common.

  • Cost-plus pricing is used mainly by manufacturers to assure that all costs, both fixed and variable, are covered and the desired profit percentage is attained.
  • Demand pricing is used by companies that sell their products through a variety of sources at differing prices based on demand.
  • Competitive pricing is used by companies that are entering a market where there's already an established price and it's difficult to differentiate one product from another.
  • Markup pricing is used mainly by retailers and is calculated by adding your desired profit to the cost of the product.

You'll also have to determine distribution, which includes the entire process of moving the product from the factory to the end user. Make sure to analyze your competitors' distribution channels before deciding whether to use the same type of channel or an alternative that may provide you with a strategic advantage.

Finally, your promotion strategy should include all the ways you communicate with your markets to make them aware of your products or services. To be successful, your promotion strategy should address advertising, packaging, public relations, sales promotions and personal sales.

Competitive Analysis The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine:

  • the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market.
  • strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage.
  • barriers that can be developed to prevent competition from entering your market.
  • any weaknesses that can be exploited in the product development cycle.

The first step in a competitor analysis is to identify both direct and indirect competition for your business, both now and in the future. Once you've grouped your competitors, start analyzing their marketing strategies and identifying their vulnerable areas by examining their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you determine your distinct competitive advantage.

Whoever reads your business plan should be very clear on who your target market is, what your market niche is, exactly how you'll stand apart from your competitors, and why you'll be successful doing so.

Operations and Management The operations and management component of your plan is designed to describe how the business functions on a continuing basis. The operations plan highlights the logistics of the organization, such as the responsibilities of the management team, the tasks assigned to each division within the company, and capital and expense requirements related to the operations of the business.

Financial Components of Your Business Plan After defining the product, market and operations, the next area to turn your attention to are the three financial statements that form the backbone of your business plan: the income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet.

The income statement is a simple and straightforward report on the business' cash-generating ability. It is a scorecard on the financial performance of your business that reflects when sales are made and when expenses are incurred. It draws information from the various financial models developed earlier such as revenue, expenses, capital (in the form of depreciation), and cost of goods. By combining these elements, the income statement illustrates just how much your company makes or loses during the year by subtracting cost of goods and expenses from revenue to arrive at a net result, which is either a profit or loss. In addition to the income statements, include a note analyzing the results. The analysis should be very short, emphasizing the key points of the income statement. Your CPA can help you craft this.

The cash flow statement is one of the most critical information tools for your business, since it shows how much cash you'll need to meet obligations, when you'll require it and where it will come from. The result is the profit or loss at the end of each month and year. The cash flow statement carries both profits and losses over to the next month to also show the cumulative amount. Running a loss on your cash flow statement is a major red flag that indicates not having enough cash to meet expenses-something that demands immediate attention and action.

The cash flow statement should be prepared on a monthly basis during the first year, on a quarterly basis for the second year, and annually for the third year. The following 17 items are listed in the order they need to appear on your cash flow statement. As with the income statement, you'll need to analyze the cash flow statement in a short summary in the business plan. Once again, the analysis doesn't have to be long and should cover highlights only. Ask your CPA for help.

The last financial statement you'll need is a balance sheet. Unlike the previous financial statements, the balance sheet is generated annually for the business plan and is, more or less, a summary of all the preceding financial information broken down into three areas: assets, liabilities and equity.

Balance sheets are used to calculate the net worth of a business or individual by measuring assets against liabilities. If your business plan is for an existing business, the balance sheet from your last reporting period should be included. If the business plan is for a new business, try to project what your assets and liabilities will be over the course of the business plan to determine what equity you may accumulate in the business. To obtain financing for a new business, you'll need to include a personal financial statement or balance sheet.

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

Supporting Documents In this section, include any other documents that are of interest to your reader, such as your resume; contracts with suppliers, customers, or clients, letters of reference, letters of intent, copy of your lease and any other legal documents, tax returns for the previous three years, and anything else relevant to your business plan.

Some people think you don't need a business plan unless you're trying to borrow money. Of course, it's true that you do need a good plan if you intend to approach a lender--whether a banker, a venture capitalist or any number of other sources--for startup capital. But a business plan is more than a pitch for financing; it's a guide to help you define and meet your business goals.

Just as you wouldn't start off on a cross-country drive without a road map, you should not embark on your new business without a business plan to guide you. A business plan won't automatically make you a success, but it will help you avoid some common causes of business failure, such as under-capitalization or lack of an adequate market.

As you research and prepare your business plan, you'll find weak spots in your business idea that you'll be able to repair. You'll also discover areas with potential you may not have thought about before--and ways to profit from them. Only by putting together a business plan can you decide whether your great idea is really worth your time and investment.

More from Business Plans

Financial projections.

Estimates of the future financial performance of a business

Financial Statement

A written report of the financial condition of a firm. Financial statements include the balance sheet, income statement, statement of changes in net worth and statement of cash flow.

Executive Summary

A nontechnical summary statement at the beginning of a business plan that's designed to encapsulate your reason for writing the plan

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23 Formulation of Business Plans

Monica Bansal

    1.  Learning Outcome:

After completing this module the students will be able to:

  • Understand the procedure of Formulation of a Business Plan.
  • To have the knowledge about advantages of Creating a Business Plan.
  • Describe the Nature and Scope of Business Plan.
  • Clear Understanding of the Features of a Successful Business Plan.
  • To know about the Procedure to Write a Business Plan
  • Knowledge about the Various Elements of a Business Plan
  • Understand how to Implement a Business Plan by the Entrepreneur

   2. Introduction

A business plan refers to a formal statement of plans of an enterprise. It explains business goals of the enterprise and means to achieve those goals. It seeks to address the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of starting a venture. The business plan differs from enterprise to enterprise depending on various factors, such as complexity in organizational structure, types of products and services, and demand for the product. However, the basic elements of a business plan remain the same. The business plan is often an integration of all the functional plans such as finance, marketing, manufacturing, and human resources. It helps the entrepreneur in both short term and long term decision making.

In the words of Tariq Siddique, “If you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail.” The definition explains the importance of a plan to succeed.

David Gumpert has defined a business plan as, “It’s a document that convincingly demonstrates that your business can sell enough of its product or services to make a satisfactory profit and to be attractive to potential backers.” In the view of Gumpert, a business plan is essentially a selling document that convinces the key investors that the venture has a real potential to be successful.

The advantages of creating a business plan are as follows:

  • Encourages individuals to take into consideration all the aspects of business .
  • Helps in obtaining the opinion of trusted and experienced external advisors on initial plans. It helps to identify the weaknesses, missed opportunities, and unsupportable assumptions, which further help in improving the prospects, reducing the probability of rejections, and chances of operational failure.
  • Helps in formulating a proposed budget, as it involves proper financial forecasting. This further helps in matching the results with projections and inducing corrective measures on time.
  • Forms an important document for creditors and investors, as they would always refer the business plan before investing. An investor looks into the following 5Cs of an entrepreneurial venture while evaluating the business plan:
  • Capital: Refers to the amount of money invested in the business by the entrepreneur
  • Capacity: States whether the financial budget is realistic and sufficient
  • Collateral: Refers to the security provided by the entrepreneurs
  • Character: Refers to the trustworthiness of the entrepreneur
  • Conditions: Signifies whether the environment is conducive for the purposed business.
  • Helps in obtaining statutory permissions/approvals for starting a business.

    Thus, it is essential for an entrepreneur to create a realistic business plan. The business plan should ideally be prepared by the entrepreneur. However, he/she may consult advisors, such as lawyers, accountants, marketing consultants, and engineers, to prepare an accurate plan.

3.  Nature and Scope of Business Plan

A well-prepared business plan helps in gaining the trust of suppliers and various other parties and securing favorable credit terms. It states the vision, future plans of the enterprise, and products and services offered by it. This helps investors and lenders to take interest in the enterprise as both of them use the business plan to understand the new venture and relate it with the current market opportunities. Mark Steven, an advisor to small businesses aptly expressed the importance of the business plan in dealing with investors. In his words, “If you are inclined to view the business plan as just another piece of useless paperwork, it’s time for an attitude change. When you are starting out, investors will justifiably want to know a lot about you and  your qualification for running a business and will want to see a step-by-step plan for how you intend to make it success .”

However, the business plan is not a legal document for raising the required capital. When it comes to a solicit investment, a memorandum is also needed. An entrepreneur uses the business plan to create interest of investors in the enterprise and then follow up with a formal offering of memorandum to investors, who are willing to invest in the enterprise. Furthermore, it helps in communicating the entrepreneur’s vision to current and prospective employees of the enterprise. Thus, a business plan is used by both the insiders and outsiders, as shown in the following Figure:

Figure: Users of a Business Plan

Features of a Successful Business Plan

  • Containing an executive summary, a table of contents, and chapters in the right order
  • Exhibiting the right appearance and the right length-not too long and too short, not too fancy and too plain
  • Providing a clear idea of what the founders and the enterprise expect to accomplish in the future
  • Explaining the benefits of products and services to be given to customers
  • Presenting hard evidence of the marketability of products or services
  • Justifying the means that is selected to sell products or services
  • Explaining and justifying the level of product development
  • Providing the details of the manufacturing process and associated costs
  • Portraying the partners as a team of experienced managers with complementary business skills
  • Stating clearly how the entrepreneurs’ products are better than that of its competitors
  • Mentioning the superiority of the team members
  • Containing realistic financial projections
  • Providing a well-organized oral presentation

    4.  Writing a Business Plan

Creating a business plan is the first step of the planning process of an enterprise. An enterprise needs to conduct lot of research to develop an effective business plan. Figure shows the essentials of an effective business plan:

Figure: Elements of a Business Plan

The elements of an effective business plan (as shown in Figure) are explained in the next sections:

The title page of a business plan includes the name of the business, date, and the name, address, and contact number of the entrepreneur or the concerned person. The cover page can be simple or complex depending upon the choice of the entrepreneur.

  • Table of Contents

The structure of the table of contents may vary from one enterprise to another depending upon the scale and nature of business operation. An entrepreneur generally prepares the table of  content after adding all the features of the business plan. The table of content consists of main headings and sub-headings with related page numbers.

  • Executive Summary

The executive summary is a brief summary of the entire plan, highlighting all important aspects of the plan in a concise and appealing manner. It contains basic information, such as the name of an enterprise and its location, nature of business, types of product or services, and financial requirements. The executive summary may also contain important points or news about the enterprise, which attract investors, suppliers, and other target audience. It is the most critical section from readers’ point of view because people generally go through this to decide whether to read other sections. The executive summary should not exceed 3-4 pages and should be short and comprehendible. It should provide the technical, marketing, managerial, and financial details of the venture.

  • Description of the Business

The business description presents the details of the business opportunity and the strategy to capture that opportunity. It contains a detail description of enterprise’s background, country of origin, strengths of employees, stakeholders, products, and portfolio. The description of the enterprise comprises the historical background and current status of the enterprise as well as details about its products and services.

Different components of strategic management, such as enterprise’s vision, mission, profile, and external environmental objectives, need to be considered before creating a business plan. A comprehensive study of these components helps in designing effective plans for the future of the enterprise. A process of building these components in a systematic manner is called strategic intent.

Concept of Strategic Intent

Strategic intent is a process that helps the management team to set priorities, make decisions, and achieve the goals of the enterprise. These priorities, decisions, and goals are integrated to form the vision and mission statements of the enterprise. Following figure shows the process of strategic intent in an enterprise:

Figure: Strategic Intent

The importance of vision and mission statement is drawn in the following points:

  • Infuses a common purpose throughout the enterprise. This statement helps in providing the direction of enterprise’s goal to managers and employees.
  • Enables superiors to delegate authority to subordinates and ensure whether the targets are fulfilled.

    Product description involves information about the products or services offered by the enterprise. It helps customers to understand whether the product or service is as per their expectations. Important points to be included in product description are as follows:

  • Product Specification: Includes characteristics of the product related to a particular industry. For example, if a product relates to the manufacturing industry, it should be contain the ISO trademark. The product specification includes information about patents, copyrights, and trademarks owned by the enterprise.
  • Production Process: Includes information about the type of products manufactured by the enterprise. It also involves information related to inputs used to get the required output.
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Refers to the competitive advantage or uniqueness of a product that would help in attracting customers.
  • Quality Assurance: Refers to the process of inspecting the quality of the product through various quality management system standards, such as ISI marks, ISO 9000:2000, Agmark, and Hallmark.
  • Market Plan

A market plan describes how the product or service would be distributed, priced, and promoted. It involves the analysis the current market conditions and trends. The market plan involves critical marketing decision strategies and sales forecasting. Potential investors view the marketing plan as critical to the success of the new venture. Thus, the market plan should be comprehensive and detailed as much as possible, so that investors can clearly understand the goals of the enterprise and the strategies to be implemented to achieve these goals effectively. Marketing planning is an ongoing requirement for the entrepreneur, which serves as a road map for short-term decision making.

  • Equipment and Material Description

An entrepreneur needs to provide a clear description of the equipment and materials required to carry on the operations of the enterprise. Equipment and materials include plant, machinery, and raw materials that act as inputs to produce the output (product). They form the most expensive purchases of an enterprise. An entrepreneur makes an advance payment to get customized some parts of the machinery as per his/her requirements. He/she should aim to achieve cost minimization and timely delivery of the materials while purchasing the materials and equipment. An entrepreneur should have good bargaining skills to get customized machinery at optimal cost.

  • Operations Plan

An operations plan involves actions that need to be taken to make the efficient use of resources and processes. It includes information about the following:

  • Capacity Planning: Determines the maximum amount of work that an enterprise can do in a given period of time. Generally, enterprises forecast the capacity utilization over the years and make targets to attain the final capacity utilization level. For instance, if an enterprise’s current capacity is 40% within one year and it aims to attain 60% of the capacity, then it needs to perform proper capacity planning and make judicious use of resources.
  • Personnel: Refers to the human capital of an organization. The success or failure of an enterprise depends on the efficiency of its human resource. Therefore, the enterprise strives to adopt efficient human resource management system, so that the growth and development of employee is possible.

Therefore, operations planning provide a map for resource and personnel planning.

  • Management and Organizational Plan

Management and organizational plan provides information background, skills, abilities, and competencies of an entrepreneur or the management team. It also contains information regarding the form of ownership of the enterprise and its organizational structure. For example, if an enterprise is running in partnership, the details of its partners, their names, and designations must  be provided in the management and organizational plan. In addition, the management and organizational plan should also contain description about roles, responsibilities, and authorities of individuals in the enterprise. This can be explained easily with the help of a tool called organizational chart.

Management plan also includes human resource policy and its strategies, such as recruitment and selection policy, promotion and increment, retention policy incentives, or motivation. Thus, management and ownership forms the most essential part without which the process of planning in an organization cannot be implemented.

  • Financial Plan

A financial plan constitutes an important component of the business plan. It provides financial information and startup timeline for the business. An entrepreneur needs to raise sufficient amount of capital for starting a business. Businesses require capital to purchase fixed assets, such as land and machines, and to meet day-to-day expenses. In case of small enterprises, funds can be raised through own savings; however, in case of large enterprises, funds have to be raised by public, commercial banks, and financial institutions. Therefore, the entrepreneur is required to generate financial forecasts to raise finances. These forecasts help in calculating the amount of funds and debt financing required to carry on the business. These further help in planning the potential return on investment.

The financial portion of a business plan must be examined closely by all the partners and investors. Thus, accurate financial projections attract investors, lenders, and serve as a guide to future business decisions.

The importance of financial planning is shown in the following points:

  • Acts as an integral part of corporate planning for the business
  • Ensures adequate funds from various sources for smooth conduct of business
  • Attempts to achieve a balance between the inflow and outflow of funds
  • Ensures adequate liquidity throughout the year
  • Leads to minimization of waste of resources

    Financing any new venture can be done in the following two ways:

  • Debt Financing: Refers to an interest bearing investment that needs collateral security, for example, loans
  • Equity Financing: Offers investor’s ownership to the extent of size of investment and does not need collateral security, for example, shares

    Financial decisions are required with respect to the following:

  • The amount of long-term capital required
  • The cost of raising funds
  • Determination of optimum capital structure
  • The estimation of return on investment

    Thus, these decisions involve making financial forecasts that require projections for three to five years. These projections include:

  • Income Statement: Refers to a profit and loss statement, which shows the cash management of the enterprise by subtracting expenses from receipts.
  • Cash Flow Statement: Shows all cash receipts and expenses. Cash flow is crucial for the survival of any business.
  • Balance Sheet: Shows assets, liabilities, and retained earnings. It indicates the value of the cash position and owner’s equity at a given point.
  • Break-even Analysis: Shows the volume of revenue from sales that are needed to balance the fixed and variable expenses. It is a no loss-no profit point.
  • Key Financial Assumptions: Includes assumptions about expected cash flow in an organization, market share, and rate of return. For example, an enterprise can assume that its product would be able to capture 40% of the market and then can make plans and decisions about the investment and marketing strategies.

Financial forecasts are mostly set up on yearly basis. The yearly plans are divided into quarterly or monthly plans. These projections and forecasts form an essential part of a financial portfolio; therefore, it is required to make sure that they are valid, realistic, and accurate.

  • Contingency Plan

A contingency plan mentions all the anticipated risks associated with a business and ways to mitigate those risks. One of the most important characteristic of an entrepreneur is that they are risk takers. Risks are the most important part of the business. Ignorance of the risks may lead to a negative impact on the operations or profitability of business. Risks can arise from the following two types of factors:

  • Internal Factors: Refers to the controllable factors of an organization. For example, if the manufacturing plants of an enterprise are not operating at optimum efficiency, then the enterprise can correct it by revamping the operational structure of plants. These factors can be identified and corrected easily.
  • External Factors: Refers to the factors that are beyond the control of an enterprise and may affect its financial condition. For example, threat of new entrants in business and uncertainties, such as natural disasters.

Every entrepreneur should have the ability to identify the risks and have readymade solutions to avoid the risks. The various types of risks faced by an entrepreneur are as follows:

  • Economy Risks: Refer to the risk associated with the economy in which business operates. For example, inflation and recession.
  • Industry Risks: Refer to the risk associated with the industry in which business operates. For example, competition and change in government policies
  • Internal Risks: Refer to the risk unique to the business and are controllable in nature. For example, lack of funds and managerial skills.

The different measures taken by enterprise to mitigate risks are as follows:

  • Risk Avoidance: Implies avoiding the activities involving risk. For example, an entrepreneur avoids the liability that he/she feels may affect negatively in future, if he/she is unable to pay it back.
  • Risk Reduction: Implies using various methods to reduce risks. It lessens the possibility of loss from occurring. For example, enterprises use fire extinguishers to reduce the risk of loss arising from fire .
  • Risk Transfer: Implies transferring the risk to the other person or party. It can be done by the purchase of an insurance contract, which helps in transferring the risk. For example, marine insurance covers the loss of damage of ships, cargo, and any transport or property by which cargo is transferred.
  • Risk Retention: Implies accepting the loss when it occurs. All types of risks that cannot be avoided or transferred are retained, by default. This includes risks that are so large that they cannot be insured. For example, emergence of a war can lead to loss of property, which has to be retained by individuals. In most of the cases, property is not insured against war .

Every business involves a certain amount of risk. Therefore, an entrepreneur should have the ability to identify the risks, evaluate the critical risks, and make realistic contingency plans.

5.  Implementing a Business Plan

After developing the business plan, the next important step is to execute it. An enterprise communicates the progress of activities carried according to the plan, to its employees. This helps the enterprise to achieve its key objectives and mission. A business plan guides the entrepreneur throughout the entrepreneurial process. In the implementation phase, the entrepreneur arranges the essential resources, such as men, machine, and material, to achieve the set objectives. Next, he/she assigns tasks to employees to meet the goals and ensures that the assigned tasks are performed efficiently. Lastly, the entrepreneur ensures that objectives projected in the business plan are achieved effectively.

6.  Summary

In this module, you have learned the importance of developing a business idea before setting up an enterprise. An entrepreneur needs to take into consideration various factors, such as size and  location of the enterprise, before setting up an enterprise. In addition, the module has detailed upon the significance of generating a business plan and the procedure of implementing it. The various elements of a business plan are discussed in detail.

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  • articles.bplans.com/writing-a-business-plan/
  • A business plan refers to a formal statement of plans of an enterprise. It explains business goals of the enterprise and means to achieve those goals.
  • A well-prepared business plan helps in gaining the trust of suppliers and various other parties and securing favorable credit terms. It states the vision, future plans of the enterprise, and products and services offered by it.
  • Creating a business plan is the first step of the planning process of an enterprise. An enterprise needs to conduct lot of research to develop an effective business plan.
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Business LibreTexts

1.1: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Entrepreneurship

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  • Lee A. Swanson
  • University of Saskatchewan

Whilst there is no universally accepted definition of entrepreneurship, it is fair to say that it is multi-dimensional. It involves analyzing people and their actions together with the ways in which they interact with their environments, be these social, economic, or political, and the institutional, policy, and legal frameworks that help define and legitimize human activities. – Blackburn (2011, p. xiii)

Entrepreneurship involves such a range of activities and levels of analysis that no single definition is definitive. – Lichtenstein (2011, p. 472)

It is complex, chaotic, and lacks any notion of linearity. As educators, we have the responsibility to develop our students’ discovery, reasoning, and implementation skills so they may excel in highly uncertain environments. – Neck and Greene (2011, p. 55)

Learning Objectives

  • Examine the challenges associated with defining the concepts of entrepreneur and entrepreneurship
  • Discuss how the evolution of entrepreneurship thought has influenced how we view the concept of entrepreneurship today
  • Discuss how the list of basic questions in entrepreneurship research can be expanded to include research inquiries that are important in today’s world
  • Discuss how the concepts of entrepreneurial uniqueness, entrepreneurial personality traits, and entrepreneurial cognitions can help society improve its support for entrepreneurship
  • Apply the general venturing script to the study of entrepreneurship

This chapter provides you with an overview of entrepreneurship and of the language of entrepreneurship. The challenges associated with defining entrepreneur and entrepreneurship are explored, as is an overview of how entrepreneurship can be studied.

The objective is to enable you to apply current concepts in entrepreneurship to the evaluation of entrepreneurs, their ventures, and the venturing environment. You will develop skills, including the capability to add value in the new venture sector of the economy. You will acquire and practice evaluation skills useful in consulting, advising, and making new venture decisions.

Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship

Considerations influencing definitions of entrepreneur and entrepreneurship.

It is necessary to be able to determine exactly who entrepreneurs are before we can, among other things, study them, count them, provide special loans for them, and calculate how and how much they contribute to our economy.

  • Does someone need to start a business from scratch to be called an entrepreneur?
  • Can we call someone an entrepreneur if they bought an ongoing business from someone else or took over the operations of a family business from their parents?
  • If someone starts a small business and never needs to hire employees, can they be called an entrepreneur?
  • If someone buys a business but hires professional managers to run it so they don’t have to be involved in the operations, are they an entrepreneur?
  • Is someone an entrepreneur if they buy into a franchise so they can follow a well-established formula for running the operation?
  • Is someone an entrepreneur because of what they do or because of how they think?
  • Can someone be an entrepreneur without owning their own business?
  • Can a person be an entrepreneur because of the nature of the work that they do within a large corporation?

It is also necessary to fully understand what we mean by entrepreneurship before we can study the concept.

Gartner (1990) identified 90 attributes that showed up in definitions of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship provided by entrepreneurs and other experts in the field. The following are a few of these attributes:

  • Innovation – Does a person need to be innovative to be considered an entrepreneur? Can an activity be considered to be entrepreneurial if it is not innovative?
  • Activities – What activities does a person need to do to be considered an entrepreneur?
  • Creation of a new business – Does someone need to start a new business to be considered to be an entrepreneur, or can someone who buys a business, buys into a franchise, or takes over an existing family business be considered an entrepreneur?
  • Starts an innovative venture within an established organization – Can someone who works within an existing organization that they don’t own be considered an entrepreneur if they start an innovative venture for their organization?
  • Creation of a not-for-profit business – Can a venture be considered to be entrepreneurial if it is a not-for-profit, or should only for-profit businesses be considered entrepreneurial?

After identifying the 90 attributes, Gartner (1990) went back to the entrepreneurs and other experts for help in clustering the attributes into themes that would help summarize what people concerned with entrepreneurship thought about the concept. He ended up with the following eight entrepreneurship themes:

1. The Entrepreneur – The entrepreneur theme is the idea that entrepreneurship involves individuals with unique personality characteristics and abilities (e.g., risk-taking, locus of control, autonomy, perseverance, commitment, vision, creativity). Almost 50% of the respondents rated these characteristics as not important to a definition of entrepreneurship (Gartner, 1990, p. 21, 24).

  • “The question that needs to be addressed is: Does entrepreneurship involve entrepreneurs (individuals with unique characteristics)?” (Gartner, 1990, p. 25).

2. Innovation – The innovation theme is characterized as doing something new as an idea, product, service, market, or technology in a new or established organization. The innovation theme suggests that innovation is not limited to new ventures, but recognized as something which older and/or larger organizations may undertake as well (Gartner, 1990, p. 25). Some of the experts Gartner questioned believed that it was important to include innovation in definitions of entrepreneurship and others did not think it was as important.

  • “Does entrepreneurship involve innovation?” (Gartner, 1990, p. 25).

3. Organization Creation – The organization creation theme describes the behaviors involved in creating organizations. This theme described acquiring and integrating resource attributes (e.g., Brings resources to bear, integrates opportunities with resources, mobilizes resources, gathers resources) and attributes that described creating organizations (new venture development and the creation of a business that adds value). (Gartner, 1990, p. 25)

  • “Does entrepreneurship involve resource acquisition and integration (new venture creation activities)?” (Gartner, 1990, p. 25)

4. Creating Value – This theme articulated the idea that entrepreneurship creates value. The attributes in this factor indicated that value creation might be represented by transforming a business, creating a new business growing a business, creating wealth, or destroying the status quo.

  • “Does entrepreneurship involve creating value?” (Gartner, 1990, p. 25).

5. Profit or Nonprofit

  • “Does entrepreneurship involve profit-making organizations only” (Gartner, 1990, p. 25)?
  • Should a focus on growth be a characteristic of entrepreneurship?

7. Uniqueness – This theme suggested that entrepreneurship must involve uniqueness. Uniqueness was characterized by attributes such as a special way of thinking, a vision of accomplishment, ability to see situations in terms of unmet needs, and creates a unique combination.

  • “Does entrepreneurship involve uniqueness?” (Gartner, 1990, p. 26).

8. The Owner-Manager – Some of the respondents questioned by Gartner (1990) did not believe that small mom-and-pop types of businesses should be considered to be entrepreneurial. Some respondents felt that an important element of a definition of entrepreneurship was that a venture be owner-managed.

  • To be entrepreneurial, does a venture need to be owner-managed?

Examples of Definitions of Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur can be described as “one who creates a new business in the face of risk and uncertainty for the purpose of achieving profit and growth by identifying significant opportunities and assembling the necessary resources to capitalize on them” (Zimmerer & Scarborough, 2008, p. 5).

An entrepreneur is “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise” (Entrepreneur, n.d.).

Examples of Definitions of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship can be defined as a field of business that

seeks to understand how opportunities to create something new (e.g., new products or services, new markets, new production processes or raw materials, new ways of organizing existing technologies) arise and are discovered or created by specific persons, who then use various means to exploit or develop them, thus producing a wide range of effects (Baron, Shane, & Reuber, 2008, p. 4)

A concise definition of entrepreneurship “is that it is the process of pursuing opportunities without limitation by resources currently in hand” (Brooks, 2009, p. 3) and “the process of doing something new and something different for the purpose of creating wealth for the individual and adding value to society” (Kao, 1993, p. 70)

The Evolution of Entrepreneurship Thought

This section includes an overview of how entrepreneurship has evolved to the present day.

The following timeline shows some of the most influential entrepreneurship scholars and the schools of thought (French, English, American, German, and Austrian) their perspectives helped influence and from which their ideas evolved. Schools of thought are essentially groups of people who might or might not have personally known each other, but who shared common beliefs or philosophies.

image1.png

Figure 1 – Historical and Evolutionary Entrepreneurship Thought (Illustration by Lee A. Swanson)

The Earliest Entrepreneurship

The function, if not the name, of the entrepreneur is probably as old as the institutions of barter and exchange. But only after economic markets became an intrusive element of society did the concept take on pivotal importance. Many economists have recognized the pivotal role of the entrepreneur in a market economy. Yet despite his central importance in economic activity, the entrepreneur has been a shadowy and elusive figure in the history of economic theory (Hebert & Link, 2009, p. 1).

Historically those who acted similarly to the ways we associate with modern day entrepreneurs – namely those who strategically assume risks to seek economic (or other) gains – were military leaders, royalty, or merchants. Military leaders planned their campaigns and battles while assuming significant risks, but by doing so they also stood to gain economic benefits if their strategies were successful. Merchants, like Marco Polo who sailed out of Venice in the late 1200s to search for a trade route to the Orient, also assumed substantial risks in the hope of becoming wealthy (Hebert & Link, 2009).

The entrepreneur, who was also called adventurer , projector , and undertaker during the eighteenth century, was not always viewed in a positive light (Hebert & Link, 2009).

Development of Entrepreneurship as a Concept

Risk and uncertainty.

Richard Cantillon (1680-1734) was born in France and belonged to the French School of thought although he was an Irish economist. He appears to be the person who introduced the term entrepreneur to the world. “According to Cantillon, the entrepreneur is a specialist in taking on risk, ‘insuring’ workers by buying their output for resale before consumers have indicated how much they are willing to pay for it” (Casson & Godley, 2005p. 26). The workers’ incomes are mostly stable, but the entrepreneur risks a loss if market prices fluctuate.

Cantillon distinguished entrepreneurs from two other classes of economic agents; landowners, who were financially independent, and hirelings (employees) who did not partake in the decision-making in exchange for relatively stable incomes through employment contracts. He was the first writer to provide a relatively refined meaning for the term entrepreneurship . Cantillon described entrepreneurs as individuals who generated profits through exchanges. In the face of uncertainty, particularly over future prices, they exercise business judgment. They purchase resources at one price and sell their product at a price that is uncertain, with the difference representing their profit (Chell, 2008; Hebert & Link, 2009).

Farmers were the most prominent entrepreneurs during Cantillon’s lifetime, and they interacted with “arbitrageurs” – or middlemen between farmers and the end consumers – who also faced uncertain incomes, and who were also, therefore, entrepreneurs. These intermediaries facilitated the movement of products from the farms to the cities where more than half of the farm output was consumed. Cantillon observed that consumers were willing to pay a higher price per unit to be able to purchase products in the smaller quantities they wanted, which created the opportunities for the intermediaries to make profits. Profits were the rewards for assuming the risks arising from uncertain conditions. The markets in which profits were earned were characterized by incomplete information (Chell, 2008; Hebert & Link, 2009).

Adolph Reidel (1809-1872), form the German School of thought, picked up on Cantillon’s notion of uncertainty and extended it to theorize that entrepreneurs take on uncertainty so others, namely income earners, do not have to be subject to the same uncertainty. Entrepreneurs provide a service to risk-averse income earners by assuming risk on their behalf. In exchange, entrepreneurs are rewarded when they can foresee the impacts of the uncertainty and sell their products at a price that exceeds their input costs (including the fixed costs of the wages they commit to paying) (Hebert & Link, 2009).

Frank Knight (1885-1972) founded the Chicago School of Economics and belonged to the American School of thought. He refined Cantillon’s perspective on entrepreneurs and risk by distinguishing insurable risk as something that is separate from uncertainty, which is not insurable. Some risks can be insurable because they have occurred enough times in the past that the expected loss from such risks can be calculated. Uncertainty, on the other hand, is not subject to probability calculations. According to Knight, entrepreneurs can’t share the risk of loss by insuring themselves against uncertain events, so they bear these kinds of risks themselves, and profit is the reward that entrepreneurs get from assuming uninsurable risks (Casson & Godley, 2005).

Distinction Between Entrepreneur and Manager

Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832), also from the French School, advanced Cantillon’s work, but added that entrepreneurship was essentially a form of management. Say “put the entrepreneur at the core of the entire process of production and distribution” (Hebert & Link, 2009, p. 17). Say’s work resulted in something similar to a general theory of entrepreneurship with three distinct functions; “scientific knowledge of the product; entrepreneurial industry – the application of knowledge to useful purpose; and productive industry – the manufacture of the item by manual labour” (Chell, 2008, p. 20).

Frank Knight made several contributions to entrepreneurship theory, but another of note is how he distinguished an entrepreneur from a manager. He suggested that a manager crosses the line to become an entrepreneur “when the exercise of his/her judgment is liable to error and s/he assumes the responsibility for its correctness” (Chell, 2008, p. 33). Knight said that entrepreneurs calculate the risks associated with uncertain business situations and make informed judgments and decisions with the expectation that – if they assessed the situation and made the correct decisions – they would be rewarded by earning a profit. Those who elect to avoid taking these risks choose the relative security of being employees (Chell, 2008).

Alfred Marshall (1842-1924), from the English School of thought, was one of the founders of neoclassical economics. His research involved distinguishing between the terms capitalist, entrepreneur, and manager. Marshall saw capitalists as individuals who “committed themselves to the capacity and honesty of others, when he by himself had incurred the risks for having contributed with the capital” (Zaratiegui & Rabade, 2005, p. 775). An entrepreneur took control of money provided by capitalists in an effort to leverage it to create more money; but would lose less if something went wrong then would the capitalists. An entrepreneur, however, risked his own reputation and the other gains he could have made by pursuing a different opportunity.

Let us suppose that two men are carrying on smaller businesses, the one working with his own, the other chiefly with borrowed capital. There is one set of risks which is common to both; which may be described as the trade risks of the particular business … But there is another set of risks, the burden of which has to be borne by the man working with borrowed capital, and not by the other; and we may call them personal risks (Marshall, 1961, p. 590; Zaratiegui & Rabade, 2005, p. 776).

Marshall recognized that the reward capitalists received for contributing capital was interest income and the reward entrepreneurs earned was profits. Managers received a salary and, according to Marshall, fulfilled a different function than either capitalists or entrepreneurs – although in some cases, particularly in smaller firms, one person might be both an entrepreneur and a manager. Managers “were more inclined to avoid challenges, innovations and what Schumpeter called the ‘perennial torment of creative destruction’ in favour of a more tranquil life” (Zaratiegui & Rabade, 2005, p. 781). The main risks they faced from firm failure were to their reputations or to their employment status. Managers had little incentive to strive to maximize profits (Zaratiegui & Rabade, 2005).

Amasa Walker (1799-1875) and his son Francis Walker (1840-1897) were from the American School of thought, and they helped shape an American perspective of entrepreneurship following the Civil War of 1861-1865. These scholars claimed that entrepreneurs created wealth, and thus played a different role than capitalists. They believed that entrepreneurs had the power of foresight and leadership qualities that enabled them to organize resources and inject energy into activities that create wealth (Chell, 2008).

Entrepreneurship versus Entrepreneur

Adam Smith (1723-1790), from the English School of thought, published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776. In a departure from the previous thought into entrepreneurship and economics, Smith did not dwell on a particular class of individual. He was concerned with studying how all people fit into the economic system. Smith contended that the economy was driven by self-interest in the marketplace (Chell, 2008).

Also from the English School, David Ricardo (1772-1823) was influenced by Smith, Say, and others. His work focused on how the capitalist system worked. He explained how manufacturers must invest their capital in response to the demand for the products they produce. If demand decreases, manufacturers should borrow less and reduce their workforces. When demand is high, they should do the reverse (Chell, 2008).

Carl Menger (1840-1921), from the Austrian School of thought, ranked goods according to their causal connections to human satisfaction. Lower order goods include items like bread that directly satisfy a human want or need like hunger. Higher order goods are those more removed from satisfying a human need. A second order good is the flour that was used to make the bread. The grain used to make the flour is an even higher order good. Entrepreneurs coordinate these factors of production to turn higher order goods into lower order goods that more directly satisfy human wants and needs (Hebert & Link, 2009).

Menger (1950 [1871], p. 160) established that entrepreneurial activity includes: (a) obtaining information about the economic situation, (b) economic calculation – all the various computations that must be made if a production process is to be efficient, (c) the act of will by which goods of higher order are assigned to a particular production process, and (d) supervising the execution of the production plan so that it may be carried through as economically as possible (Hebert & Link, 2009, p. 43).

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), from the English School of thought, considered entrepreneurs to be innovators. They “depart from routine, discover new markets, find new sources of supply, improve existing products and lower the costs of production” (Chell, 2008).

Joseph Schumpeter’s (1883-1950) parents were Austrian, he studied at the University of Vienna, conducted research at the University of Graz, served as Austria’s Minister of Finance, and was the president of a bank in the country. Because of the rise of Hitler in Europe, he went to the United States and conducted research at Harvard until he retired in 1949. Because of this, he is sometimes associated with the American School of thought on entrepreneurship (Chell, 2008).

Whereas Menger saw entrepreneurship as occurring because of economic progress, Schumpeter took the opposite stance. Schumpeter saw economic activity as leading to economic development (Hebert & Link, 2009). Entrepreneurs play a central role in Schumpeter’s theory of economic development, and economic development can occur when the factors of production are assembled in new combinations .

Schumpeter (1934) viewed innovation as arising from new combinations of materials and forces. He provided the following five cases of new combinations.

  • The introduction of a new good – that is one with which consumers are not yet familiar – or of a new quality of good.
  • The introduction of a new method of production, that is one not yet tested by experience in the branch of manufacture concerned, which need by no means be founded upon a discovery scientifically new, and can also exist in a new way of handling a commodity commercially.
  • The opening of a new market, that is a market into which the particular branch of manufacture of the country in question has not previously entered, whether or not this market has existed before.
  • The conquest of a new source of supply of raw materials or half-manufactured goods, again irrespective of whether this source already exists or whether it has first to be created.
  • The carrying out of the new organisation of any industry, like the creation of a monopoly position … or the breaking up of a monopoly position (Schumpeter, 1934, p. 66).

Another concept popularized by Schumpeter – in addition to the notion of new combinations – was creative destruction . This was meant to indicate that the existing ways of doing things need to be dismantled – to be destroyed – to enable a transformation through innovation to a new way of doing things. Entrepreneurs use innovation to disrupt how things are done and to establish a better way of doing those things.

Basic Questions in Entrepreneurship Research

According to Baron (2004a), there are three basic questions of interest in the field of entrepreneurship:

  • Why do some persons but not others choose to become entrepreneurs?
  • Why do some persons but not others recognize opportunities for new products or services that can be profitably exploited?
  • Why are some entrepreneurs so much more successful than others (Baron, 2004a, p. 221)?

To understand where these foundational research questions came from and what their relevance is today, it is useful to study what entrepreneurship research has uncovered so far.

Entrepreneurial Uniqueness

Efforts to teach entrepreneurship have included descriptions of entrepreneurial uniqueness based on personality, behavioural, and cognitive traits (Chell, 2008; Duening, 2010).

  • Need for achievement
  • Internal locus of control (a belief by an individual that they are in control of their own destiny)
  • Risk-taking propensity
  • Behavioural traits
  • Cognitive skills of successful entrepreneurs

Past studies of personality characteristics and behavioural traits have not been overly successful at identifying entrepreneurial uniqueness.

As it turned out, years of painstaking research along this line has not borne significant fruit. It appears that there are simply not any personality characteristics that are either essential to, or defining of, entrepreneurs that differ systematically from non-entrepreneurs…. Again, investigators proposed a number of behavioural candidates as emblematic of entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, this line of research also resulted in a series of dead ends as examples of successful entrepreneurial behaviours had equal counterparts among samples of non-entrepreneurs. As with the personality characteristic school of thought before it, the behavioural trait school of thought became increasingly difficult to support (Duening, 2010, p. 4-5).

This shed doubt on the value of trying to change personality characteristics or implant new entrepreneurial behaviours through educational programs in an effort to promote entrepreneurship.

New research, however, has resurrected the idea that there might be some value in revisiting personality traits as a topic of study. Additionally, Duening (2010) and has suggested that an important approach to teaching and learning about entrepreneurship is to focus on the “cognitive skills that successful entrepreneurs seem uniquely to possess and deploy” (p. 2). In the next sections we consider the new research on entrepreneurial personality traits and on entrepreneurial cognitions.

Entrepreneurial Personality Traits

While acknowledging that research had yet to validate the value of considering personality and behaviour traits as ways to distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs or unsuccessful ones, Chell (2008) suggested that researchers turn their attention to new sets of traits including: “the proactive personality, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, perseverance and intuitive decision-making style. Other traits that require further work include social competence and the need for independence” (p. 140).

In more recent years scholars have considered how the Big Five personality traits – extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism (sometimes presented as emotional stability ), and openness to experience (sometimes referred to as intellect) – might be used to better understand entrepreneurs. It appears that the Big Five traits might be of some use in predicting entrepreneurial success. Research is ongoing in this area, but in one example, Caliendo, Fossen, and Kritikos (2014) studied whether personality constructs might “influence entrepreneurial decisions at different points in time” (p. 807), and found that “high values in three factors of the Big Five approach—openness to experience, extraversion, and emotional stability (the latter only when we do not control for further personality characteristics)—increase the probability of entry into self-employment” (p. 807). They also found “that some specific personality characteristics, namely risk tolerance, locus of control, and trust, have strong partial effects on the entry decision” (p. 807). They also found that people who scored higher on agreeableness were more likely to exit their businesses, possibly meaning that people with lower agreeableness scores might prevail longer as entrepreneurs. When it came to specific personality traits, their conclusions indicated that those with an external locus of control were more likely to stop being self-employed after they had run their businesses for a while. There are several implications for research like this, including the potential to better understand why some entrepreneurs behave as they do based upon their personality types and the chance to improve entrepreneurship education and support services.

Entrepreneurial Cognitions

It is only fairly recently that entrepreneurship scholars have focused on cognitive skills as a primary factor that differentiates successful entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs and less successful entrepreneurs. This approach deals with how entrepreneurs think differently than non-entrepreneurs (Duening, 2010; Mitchell et al., 2007).

Entrepreneurial cognitions are the knowledge structures that people use to make assessments, judgments or decisions involving opportunity evaluation and venture creation and growth. In other words, research in entrepreneurial cognition is about understanding how entrepreneurs use simplifying mental models to piece together previously unconnected information that helps them to identify and invent new products or services, and to assemble the necessary resources to start and grow businesses (Mitchell, Busenitz, et al., 2002, p. 97).

Mitchell, Smith, et al. (2002) provided the example of how the decision to create a new venture (dependent variable) was influenced by three sets of cognitions (independent variables). They described these cognitions as follows:

Arrangements cognitions are the mental maps about the contacts, relationships, resources, and assets necessary to engage in entrepreneurial activity; willingness cognitions are the mental maps that support commitment to venturing and receptivity to the idea of starting a venture; ability cognitions consist of the knowledge structures or scripts (Glaser, 1984) that individuals have to support the capabilities, skills, norms, and attitudes required to create a venture (Mitchell et al., 2000). These variables draw on the idea that cognitions are structured in the minds of individuals (Read, 1987), and that these knowledge structures act as “scripts” that are the antecedents of decision making (Leddo & Abelson, 1986, p. 121; Mitchell, Smith, et al., 2002, p. 10)

Cognitive Perspective to Understanding Entrepreneurship

According to Baron (2004a), by taking a cognitive perspective, we might better understand entrepreneurs and the role they play in the entrepreneurial process.

The cognitive perspective emphasizes the fact that everything we think, say, or do is influenced by mental processes—the cognitive mechanisms through which we acquire store, transform, and use information. It is suggested here that this perspective can be highly useful to the field of entrepreneurship. Specifically, it can assist the field in answering three basic questions it has long addressed: (1) Why do some persons but not others choose to become entrepreneurs? (2) Why do some persons but not others recognize opportunities for new products or services that can be profitably exploited? And (3) Why are some entrepreneurs so much more successful than others (Baron, 2004a, p. 221-222)?

Baron (2004a), illustrated how cognitive differences between people might explain why some people end up pursuing entrepreneurial pursuits and others do not. For example, prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1977) and other decision-making or behavioural theories might be useful in this regard. Research into cognitive biases might also help explain why some people become entrepreneurs.

Baron (2004a) also revealed ways in which cognitive concepts like signal detection theory, regulation theory, and entrepreneurial might help explain why some people are better at entrepreneurial opportunity recognition. He also illustrated how some cognitive models and theories – like risk perception, counterfactual thinking, processing style, and susceptibility to cognitive errors – might help explain why some entrepreneurs are more successful than others.

Cognitive Perspective and the Three Questions

  • Prospect Theory
  • Cognitive Biases
  • Signal Detection Theory
  • Regulation Theory
  • Entrepreneurial Alertness
  • Risk Perception
  • Counterfactual Thinking
  • Processing Style
  • Susceptibility to Cognitive Errors

Entrepreneurial Scripts

  • “Cognition has emerged as an important theoretical perspective for understanding and explaining human behavior and action” (Dutta & Thornhill, 2008, p. 309).
  • Cognitions are all processes by which sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used (Neisser, 1976).
  • Cognitions lead to the acquisition of knowledge, and involve human information processing.
  • Is a mental model, or information processing short-cut that can give information form and meaning, and enable subsequent interpretation and action.
  • The subsequent interpretation and actions can result in expert performance … they can also result in thinking errors.
  • the processes that transfer expertise, and
  • the actual expertise itself.
  • Scripts are generally framed as a linear sequence of steps, usually with feedback loops, that can explain how to achieve a particular task – perhaps like developing a business plan.
  • Sometimes scripts can be embedded within other scripts. For example, within a general venturing script that outlines the sequences of activities that can lead to a successful business launch, there will probably be sub-scripts describing how entrepreneurs can search for ideas, screen those ideas until one is selected, plan how to launch a sustainable business based upon that idea and including securing the needed financial resources, setting up the business, starting it, effectively managing its ongoing operations, and managing the venture such that that entrepreneur can extract the value that they desire from the enterprise at the times and in the ways they want it.
  • The most effective scripts include an indication of the norms that outline performance standards and indicate how to determine when any step in the sequence has been properly completed.

General Venturing Script

Generally, entrepreneurship is considered to consist of the following elements, or subscripts (Brooks, 2009; Mitchell, 2000).

  • Idea Screening
  • Planning and Financing
  • Ongoing Operations

Searching (also called idea formulation or opportunity recognition)

  • This script begins when a person decides they might be a potential entrepreneur (or when an existing entrepreneur decides they need more ideas in their idea pool ).
  • This script ends when there are a sufficient number of ideas in the idea pool.
  • overcome mental blockages to creativity which might hinder this person’s ability to identify viable ideas;
  • implement steps to identify a sufficient number of ideas (most likely 5 or more) which the person is interested in investigating to determine whether they might be viable given general criteria such as this person’s personal interests and capabilities;

Idea Screening (also called concept development)

  • This script begins when the person with the idea pool is no longer focusing on adding new ideas to it; but is instead taking steps to choose the best idea for them given a full range of specific criteria .
  • This script ends when one idea is chosen from among those in the idea pool.
  • Evaluate the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal climates
  • Evaluate the degree of competitiveness in the industry, the threat of substitutes emerging, the threat of new entrants to the industry, the degree of bargaining power of buyers, and the degree of bargaining power of suppliers.
  • Do a market profile analysis to assess the attractiveness of the position within the industry that the potential venture will occupy.
  • Formulate and evaluate potential strategies to leverage organizational strengths, overcome/minimize weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities, and overcome/minimize threats;
  • Complete financial projections and analyze them to evaluate financial attractiveness;
  • Assess the founder fit with the ideas;
  • Evaluate the core competencies of the organization relative to the idea;
  • Assess advice solicited from trusted advisers

Planning and Financing (also called resource determination and acquisition)

  • This script begins when the idea screening script ends and when the person begins making the plans to implement the single idea chosen from the idea pool, which is done in concert with securing financing to implement the venture idea.
  • This script ends when sufficient business planning has been done and when adequate financing has been arranged.
  • The scripting process involves a logical flow of steps to develop a business plan and secure adequate financing to start the business.

Set-Up (also called launch)

  • This script begins when the planning and financing script ends and when the person begins implementing the plans needed to start the business.
  • This script ends when the business is ready to start-up.
  • The scripting process involves a logical flow of steps, including purchasing and installing equipment, securing the venture location and finishing all the needed renovations, recruiting and hiring any staff needed for start-up, and the many other steps needed to prepare for start-up.
  • Start-Up (also called launch)
  • This script begins when the set-up script ends and when the business opens and begins making sales.
  • This script ends when the business has moved beyond the point where the entrepreneur must continually fight for the business’s survival and persistence. It ends when the entrepreneur can instead shift emphasis toward business growth or maintaining the venture’s stability.
  • The scripting process involves a logical flow of steps needed to establish a new venture.

Ongoing Operations (also called venture growth)

  • This script begins when the start-up script ends and when the business has established persistence and is implementing growth (or maintenance) strategies.
  • This script ends when the entrepreneur chooses to harvest the value they generated with the venture.
  • The scripting process involves a logical flow of steps needed to grow (or maintain) a venture.

Studying Entrepreneurship

The following quotations from two preeminent entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education researchers indicate the growing interest in studies in this field.

Entrepreneurship has emerged over the last two decades as arguably the most potent economic force the world has ever experienced. With that expansion has come a similar increase in the field of entrepreneurship education. The recent growth and development in the curricula and programs devoted to entrepreneurship and new-venture creation have been remarkable. The number of colleges and universities that offer courses related to entrepreneurship has grown from a handful in the 1970s to over 1,600 in 2005 (Kuratko, 2005, p. 577).

Interest in entrepreneurship has heightened in recent years, especially in business schools. Much of this interest is driven by student demand for courses in entrepreneurship, either because of genuine interest in the subject, or because students see entrepreneurship education as a useful hedge given uncertain corporate careers (Venkataraman, 1997, p. 119).

Approaches to Studying Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a discipline, which means an individual can learn about it, and about how to be an effective entrepreneur. It is a myth that people are born entrepreneurs and that others cannot learn to become entrepreneurs (Drucker, 1985). Kuratko (2005) asserted that the belief previously held by some that entrepreneurship cannot be taught has been debunked, and the focus has shifted to what topics should be taught and how they should be covered.

Solomon (2007) summarized some of the research on what should be covered in entrepreneurship courses, and how it should be taught. While the initial focus was on actions like developing business plans and being exposed to real entrepreneurs, more recently this approach has been supplemented by an emphasis on technical, industry, and personal experience. “It requires critical thinking and ethical assessment and is based on the premise that successful entrepreneurial activities are a function of human, venture and environmental conditions” (p. 172). Another approach “calls for courses to be structured around a series of strategic development challenges including opportunity identification and feasibility analysis; new venture planning, financing and operating; new market development and expansion strategies; and institutionalizing innovation” (p. 172). This involves having students interact with entrepreneurs by interviewing them, having them act as mentors, and learning about their experiences and approaches through class discussions.

Sources of Information for Studying Entrepreneurship

According to Kuratko (2005), “three major sources of information supply the data related to the entrepreneurial process or perspective” (p. 579).

  • Academic journals like Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice , Journal of Business Venturing , and Journal of Small Business Management
  • Proceedings of conferences like Proceedings of the Academy of Management and Proceedings of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada
  • Textbooks on entrepreneurship
  • Books about entrepreneurship
  • Biographies or autobiographies of entrepreneurs
  • News periodicals like Canadian Business and Profit
  • Trade periodicals like Entrepreneur and Family Business
  • Government publications available through sources like the Enterprise Saskatchewan and Canada-Saskatchewan Business Service Centre (CSBSC) websites and through various government resource centers
  • Data might be collected from entrepreneurs and about entrepreneurs through surveys, interviews, or other methods applied by researchers.
  • Speeches and presentations by practicing entrepreneurs
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definition of business plan in entrepreneurship development

What is Entrepreneurship: How To Become an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is a dynamic and exciting field that drives economic growth, fosters innovation, and empowers individuals to transform their ideas into successful businesses.

Aspiring entrepreneurs are overflowing, with the likes of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and many more having inspired a generation. Not only this, they've also proved that you don't need to have attended Harvard Business School to be a business owner and succeed in launching your next innovative idea.

However, in today's ever-changing landscape, understanding the fundamentals of entrepreneurship is crucial for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners.

In this article, we will explore the definition of an entrepreneur, the key traits and skills of successful entrepreneurs, the pros and cons of entrepreneurship, reasons why entrepreneurs fail, the most common types of entrepreneurs, and how to become a successful entrepreneur.

What is the Definition of an Entrepreneur?

At its core, an entrepreneur is an individual who identifies and exploits opportunities to create new business ventures.

The definition of entrepreneurship goes beyond just starting a small business. Entrepreneurs are driven by their passion for innovation and the desire to make a positive impact on society. They possess a unique ability to spot gaps in the market and develop creative solutions to address them.

Entrepreneurs often take calculated risks and are willing to invest their time, resources, and capital to turn their vision into reality.

What makes a successful entrepreneur

What Makes a Successful Entrepreneur?

Successful entrepreneurs possess a combination of traits, skills, and experiences that contribute to their achievements. While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success, some common attributes are often associated with thriving entrepreneurs:

Visionary Thinking: Successful entrepreneurs are natural innovators and have a clear vision of what they want to achieve and possess the ability to think strategically, setting long-term goals for their businesses.

Passion and Persistence: Passion fuels an entrepreneur's drive and determination to overcome obstacles and persevere in the face of challenges. Successful entrepreneurs possess an unwavering commitment to their goals and are willing to put in the hard work required to succeed.

Adaptability and Resilience: Entrepreneurship is a dynamic journey filled with uncertainty. Successful entrepreneurs are adaptable and resilient, readily adjusting their strategies to navigate changing market conditions and setbacks.

Strong Leadership: Entrepreneurs are often responsible for guiding their teams and making critical decisions. Effective leadership skills, including communication, delegation, and motivation, are essential for creating a cohesive and productive work environment.

Networking and Relationship Building: Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of building a strong network of contacts. They actively seek opportunities to connect with industry experts, mentors, potential partners, and customers, leveraging these relationships for business growth and support.

In the next section we'll be discussing what skills are required to become an entrepreneur in todays world.

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What skills does an entrepreneur need

What Skills Does an Entrepreneur Need?

In addition to the traits mentioned above, entrepreneurs must develop a wide range of skills to thrive in the competitive business landscape. Here are some key skills that entrepreneurs should cultivate:

Creativity and Innovation: Entrepreneurs need the ability to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas that differentiate their businesses from the competition.

Problem Solving: Entrepreneurship often involves facing complex challenges. Strong problem-solving skills enable entrepreneurs to identify and implement effective solutions.

Financial Management: Understanding financial concepts, such as budgeting, cash flow management, and investment strategies, is crucial for entrepreneurs to make informed decisions and ensure the financial health of their businesses.

Marketing and Sales: Entrepreneurs must be skilled in promoting their products or services, identifying target markets, and developing effective marketing strategies to attract customers and generate revenue.

Communication and Negotiation: Effective communication skills are vital for entrepreneurs to convey their ideas, pitch to investors, negotiate deals, and build relationships with stakeholders.

Learn how to develop the most in-demand skills for your future career!

Discover how you can acquire the most in-demand skills with our free report, and open the doors to a successful career. 

Now you know the set of skills you should obtain to successfully navigate your entrepreneurial journey, let's touch on the qualities of a good entrepreneur.

What are the qualities of a good entrepreneur

What are the Qualities of a Good Entrepreneur?

Apart from specific skills, there are certain qualities that set successful entrepreneurs apart:

Self-Motivation and Discipline: Entrepreneurs often face a lack of external structure and must be self-driven to stay focused and productive.

Risk-Taking: Successful entrepreneurs are comfortable with taking calculated risks, recognizing that opportunities often come with inherent uncertainty

Resourcefulness: Entrepreneurs must be resourceful, finding creative solutions to problems and leveraging available resources to achieve their goals.

Flexibility: Entrepreneurship often requires flexibility, adaptability, and a willingness to pivot when necessary to respond to changes in the market or business environment.

Perseverance: Building a successful business takes time, effort, and dedication. Entrepreneurs must be persistent in pursuing their goals, even when faced with obstacles or setbacks.

What are the Pros and Cons of Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship offers many benefits, including the ability to pursue one's passions, the potential for financial independence, and the opportunity to make a positive impact on society. However, there are also challenges and risks associated with starting and running a business. Here are some of the main pros and cons of entrepreneurship:

Control: Entrepreneurs have the freedom to make their own decisions, set their own schedules, and choose their own projects.

Fulfillment: Entrepreneurship offers the opportunity to pursue one's passions and make a positive impact on society.

Financial Independence: Successful entrepreneurs can achieve financial independence, building wealth through their businesses.

Personal Growth: Entrepreneurship provides opportunities for personal growth and development, challenging individuals to learn new skills and take on new responsibilities.

Risk: Starting a business involves inherent risks, including financial, legal, and market risks.

Uncertainty: Entrepreneurship is inherently unpredictable, with no guarantee of success or stability. This can make the road to entrepreneurship particularly challenging.

Time Commitment: Starting and running a business requires a significant time commitment, often demanding long hours and sacrificing work-life balance.

Financial Instability: Entrepreneurship can be financially unstable, with inconsistent income streams and the need to invest significant resources in the business.

What are the reason why entrepreneurs fail

What are the Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Fail?

Entrepreneurship is a challenging journey that requires a combination of skills, traits, and experiences to succeed. Despite best efforts, many entrepreneurs fail for various reasons, including:

Lack of Market Demand: Entrepreneurs may have a great idea, but if there is no market demand for their product or service, the business is unlikely to succeed.

Poor Financial Management: Financial risk is inherent to being an entrepreneur. Inadequate financial planning, budgeting, or cash flow management can quickly lead to financial instability and business failure.

Ineffective Marketing: Poor marketing strategies, ineffective sales processes, or inadequate branding can make it challenging for entrepreneurs to attract and retain customers.

Lack of Focus: Entrepreneurs may struggle with focusing on their core business activities, leading to distractions and wasted resources.

Inability to Adapt: Entrepreneurs who fail to adapt to changing market conditions or customer needs are at risk of falling behind their competitors and losing their market share.

Now that we've discussed the most common reasons why a startup entrepreneur can fail, you can safely navigate around these obstacles.

Let's learn more about the 4 types of entrepreneurship in the next section.

What is the Most Common Type of Entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship encompasses a wide range of business activities, from starting a small business to creating innovative products and services. Some common types of entrepreneurs include:

Small Business Entrepreneurs: These entrepreneurs start and run small businesses, such as local shops, restaurants, or service providers.

Social Entrepreneurs: Social entrepreneurs use business strategies to address social problems, creating businesses with a social impact, to help change the world for the better. A business focused on social entrepreneurship can take the form of a nonprofit organization, a for-profit enterprise, or a combination of the two.

Serial Entrepreneurs: Serial entrepreneurs are individuals who start multiple businesses over their careers, leveraging their experiences and skills to achieve success.

Large Company Entrepreneurs: Large company entrepreneurs are individuals who work within established companies but drive innovation and growth through new product development or business ventures.

Now that we've discussed the types of entrepreneurship that exists, let's focus on how you can become one!

How Do I Become a Successful Entrepreneur?

Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires dedication, hard work, and a willingness to learn from both successes and failures. Here are some steps aspiring entrepreneurs can take to increase their chances of success:

Develop a Business Idea: Identify a need in the market or a problem to solve and develop a unique business idea.

Conduct Market Research: Research the market, competition, and potential customers to validate the business idea and identify opportunities for growth.

Create a Business Plan: Develop a comprehensive business plan that outlines the business idea, target market, marketing strategies, financial projections, and operational plan.

Secure Funding: Identify funding sources, such as venture capital, loans, or grants, and secure the necessary funding to start and grow the business.

Build a Team: Assemble a team of talented and dedicated individuals with the necessary skills and experience to support the business.

Implement Strategies: Implement marketing, sales, and operational strategies to grow the business, attract customers, and achieve financial stability.

Embrace Innovation: Embrace innovation and stay current with market trends and technologies to remain competitive and drive growth.

Learn from Mistakes: Accept that mistakes will happen, but view them as opportunities to learn and improve.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, at the core of entrepreneurship, it is the process of identifying a need in the market or a problem to solve and creating a unique business idea to meet that need.

Successful entrepreneurs possess a combination of skills, traits, and experiences, including creativity, risk-taking, resourcefulness, flexibility, and perseverance.

While entrepreneurship offers many benefits, it also comes with challenges and risks, including financial instability, uncertainty, and a significant time commitment.

To increase the chances of success, aspiring entrepreneurs should develop a solid business idea, conduct thorough market research, create a comprehensive business plan, secure funding, build a talented team, implement effective strategies, embrace innovation, and learn from mistakes... Oh and maintain that strong entrepreneurial flare.

With dedication, hard work, and a willingness to learn, anyone can become a successful entrepreneur and make a positive impact on society.

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Entrepreneurship: A Working Definition

  • Tom Eisenmann

Being clear on what it means is not just an academic exercise.

What is entrepreneurship? You probably think that the answer is obvious, and that only an academic would bother to ask this question. As a professor, I suppose I am guilty of mincing words. But like the terms “strategy” and “business model,” the word “entrepreneurship” is elastic. For some, it refers to venture capital-backed startups and their kin; for others, to any small business. For some, “corporate entrepreneurship” is a rallying cry; for others, an oxymoron.

definition of business plan in entrepreneurship development

  • Tom Eisenmann is the Howard H. Stevenson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, the Peter O. Crisp Faculty Chair of the Harvard Innovation Labs, and the author of Why Startups Fail: A New Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success (Currency, 2021).

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  • Entrepreneurship /

Entrepreneurship Development

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Entrepreneurship Development

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett. Entrepreneurs are a pivotal part of any economy and are considered more of a national asset because of the immense contribution they make, be it bringing new employment opportunities or adding to the growth and development of a nation. They possess the potential to transform the way we live as well as work through their innovative ventures. ( Theclickreader )

As a field of study, Entrepreneurship has become a prominent discipline in the present world as more and more students are getting interested in understanding its nuisances of it. One such specialisation concerned with this domain, Entrepreneurship Development is concerned with assisting budding entrepreneurs to boost their existing skills and abilities to become more proficient in handling their businesses. Through this blog, we will be exploring entrepreneurship development in detail, the courses offered, top universities as well as career prospects you can avail.

What is Entrepreneurship Development?

Entrepreneurship Development is defined as a process of enhancing the skillset and knowledge of entrepreneurs regarding the development, management and organization of a business venture while keeping in mind the risks associated with it. This is carried out through training programs and sessions which are aimed at accentuating entrepreneurial acumen. Pursuing this field as a career, you will be working towards facilitating skill development amongst budding entrepreneurs and assisting them to tackle their struggles with building their businesses.

Don’t Forget To Check Out: Career Lessons From Top Women Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship Development: Process

Entrepreneurship development is a strategic process which incorporates various tools that concentrate on skill development of the individual in an array of ways. Given below is a detailed guide of creating an effective entrepreneurship development program to help you understand what it’s all about:

Related Read: Types Of Entrepreneurs You Must Know About!

Setting an Objective of the Program

Before starting the entrepreneurship development program , it is imperative to set a clear objective and draft a plan as to what the program is aiming to accomplish. As someone who is organising this program, having a clear direction and objectives play an important role in making it a success. The absence of both will result in loss of time, money, effort and most of all, valuable potential of the individual.

Finding the Right Mentors/Training Professionals

The entrepreneurship development program’s main purpose is to help aspiring entrepreneurs furnish their talents and learn the intricacies of operating a business. For, this you will require trained professionals who are experienced in this domain and can impart their own life lessons to those who are just starting or facing difficulties. Seek help from established entrepreneurs around you and ask them if they can conduct a session or find those who have pursued a professional qualification in this field and enrol them for the session.

Identify Potential Local Talents and Markets

The entrepreneurship development process has been efficient and effective in the local markets and on the local entrepreneurs who know about it. If you have planning to conduct sessions and programs related to this, the best way to begin is to reach out to local markets. These localities can understand and absorb the knowledge more quickly and can apply it in the current scenario, the effects of the program can easily and quickly be seen within the community.

Choosing the right location to conduct the program

For any successful event, the choice of location and resources plays an imperative role. These developmental programs must be launched in the areas where the program can attract a large number of people, who want to take advantage of the program.

Tie Up with Institutions

In order to give a real-world experience to the aspirants and cater to people in various different fields, many a time these entrepreneurship development programmes involve tie-ups with several NGOs, private institutions and universities. This will help you organise better set-ups for the entrepreneurs to meet, communicate and exchange their ideas.

Assess Effectiveness & Seek Feedback

At the conclusion of your entrepreneurship development session, ensure that you ask people for their honest feedback and how it could have been better. Analyse how effective it has been to help budding entrepreneurs find solutions to their issues. Be open to constructive criticism and try to incorporate important pointers into the next program.

Entrepreneurship Development Concepts

The evolution of entrepreneurship is linked to a number of major ideas. These include taking risks, innovating, being creative, and being sustainable. For businesspeople to succeed, they must understand each of these ideas.

Objectives of Entrepreneurship Development Programme

Here is a list of the program’s goals for entrepreneurship development:

  • to provide information on numerous initiatives undertaken by the different governments (federal, state, or regional governmental organisations), as well as various taxes imposed on businesses.
  • to foster entrepreneurial traits and behaviours in the next generation of young people with the aid of appropriate instruction and professional guidance.
  • to encourage entrepreneurship and the expansion of small enterprises to create jobs and opportunities for self-employment.
  • to look for and pinpoint the top business possibilities and concepts, both present and future.
  • Develop and implement a variety of programmes to promote entrepreneurship in rural communities and small towns.
  • encouraging and assisting diverse people in starting their startups and new enterprises. Consequently, contributes to the economy
  • to achieve risk reduction for the nation’s young.

Entrepreneurship Courses & Universities

There are numerous courses offered in Entrepreneurship and its specialised fields across the globe that one can choose from. Below we have listed some of the major bachelor’s and master’s degree courses that you must consider to establish your career in Entrepreneurship Development:

Also Read: Entrepreneur Development Programmes

The process of entrepreneurship development helps people get more knowledge about starting a firm. Additionally, it helps the current business owners assess their expertise and experience and learn fresh methods and concepts.

The five stages of the entrepreneurial process—idea development, opportunity appraisal, planning, firm formation/launch, and growth—help understand how it works.

The various functions of entrepreneurship are  Innovation and creativity, Risk-taking and achievement and organization and management, Catalyst of Economic Development, Overcoming Resistance to Change and Research

Hence, we hope that this blog has helped you gain clarity regarding the varied features of Entrepreneurship Development. If you are struggling with your career choices, take the benefit of our exclusive 30-minute counselling session at Leverage Edu and we’ll guide you throughout the process of mapping your skills and abilities through a psychometric test thus helping you excel in your career in the best way possible.

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Business Plan

The article discusses the business plan, essential elements, types, and business plan format. As planning is a key factor in entrepreneurship, the concept is well explained with the help of business plan examples.

Table of Content

Any entrepreneurial venture needs systematic planning. A business plan helps in the identification of the resources for successful implementation. It crisply outlines the purpose of the business, the creation of the business, organisational structure, and responsibilities. It highlights the strategies that need to be adopted to achieve organisational goals. A business plan also helps identify the potential risks and threats the business may encounter and their solutions. Generally, investment-seeking entrepreneurs use business plans to propose their business vision to potential investors. It also presents different financial aspects, like income, cash-flow statements, financial ratios, etc.

Business Plan Details

The business plan contains different elements. There are mainly three parts to a business plan.

Business Concept

It discusses the structure of the business like the related products and services, the structural framework of the organisation, and other relevant details.

Marketplace section

This section is primarily about the target customers of the business, the competitors in the market, the potential threats and risks, strategies to overcome these threats, and plans regarding how to establish the business in the competitive market.

Financial Section

This section is related to income, investments, returns, and other financial details.

The length of the business plan can vary from 15 pages to even 100 pages. It primarily depends upon the complexity of the venture.

Business Plan Format

A business plan format has several components. It includes a cover page, title page, and contents page. The main features of the business plan are:

Executive Summary

It has the purpose statement of the business and other information like the leadership and ownership details, the location of the company, the operational procedure, number of employees, etc.

Business Description

The business description, products and services, pricing and lifespan, consumer benefits, production and manufacturing processes, different patents and technology, research and development initiatives are discussed here. This section must include a detailed business model, revenue stream, cost structure, key partners, activities, customer segments, etc.

Market Strategies

The detailed strategy regarding attracting the customers, increasing reach, distribution channel, different campaigns for advertising and marketing, etc., are specified here. Other market trends affect businesses, recovery options, and strategies. Must also be included in this section.

Competitive Analysis

This section discusses the details regarding the current market scenario, existing competitors, potential risks and threats, the position of the market, strengths and weaknesses, etc. In short, it presents an overview of the target market and the competition in the market. It must be based on deep research and analysis.

Design and Development Plan

The design of the business processes, how they are to be developed and operated, etc., are included in this section of the business plan.

Operations and Management Plan

The aspects related to the operation of the business and the management section are presented here.

Financial Factors

The estimated budget of the business, associated costs for staffing, marketing campaigns, production, and other processes are included in the financial factors. Further financial information like the financial statement, balance sheets, expected returns, potential investors, plans, and expectations from the business, are discussed in this section.

Purpose of Business Plan

Analysing different business plan examples, it can be concluded that the primary purpose of business plans is Internal or External. As far as internal purpose is concerned, a business plan is a roadmap for the venture. It can be considered an internal planning tool that helps the organisation achieve its goals and objectives. Besides, it can also act as a contingency plan that can be referred to if there is a risk of any unforeseen circumstances or potential threats. Different solutions mentioned in the plan can be referred to when required.

The external purpose of the plan is to attract potential investors and present them with a clear idea related to the business. Strategically planned businesses can easily attract investments. Presenting the detailed aspects of the business help can help in pitching better.

Business Plan and Entrepreneurship

Business plans are crucial for entrepreneurial ventures. It helps businesses to identify possible problems and design practical solutions. It helps in critical decision-making. This is a pragmatic approach and helps the business in the long run. Another critical aspect of a business plan is it helps in identifying short-term goals and long-term goals. It sets up the targets and creates a vision.

It helps in planning the resources and allocating them optimally for better results. They help assess the feasibility of different processes and whether they will be beneficial. It also establishes the business’s structural framework and helps present the business better. It makes it easier for entrepreneurs to approach investors.

Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to the CBSE CLASS 12 Examination Preparation.

Is a business plan a legal document?

Answer : No, a business plan is not a legal document. 

What is the mission statement in a business plan?

Is a marketing plan a subset of the business plan.

Answer : Yes, a marketing plan is a subset of the business plan.

How long should an ideal business plan be?

Answer : It defines the purpose of the existence of the business shortly.

Answer : There is no fixed length of the business plan . Most plans are between 15 and 20 pages. But, there are even business plans as long as a hundred pages.

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CBSE Class 12 Exam Pattern

Cbse class 12 results 2023, cbse class 12 syllabus, related articles, working capital of a business.

Working capital financing refers to the amount of funds that are used to cover all of a business's short-term expenditure that is payable within a year.

Vestibule Training

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Understand the meaning of selection

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Understand the limitations of planning.

Both for-profit and non-profit enterprises require planning. Some people believe that there are certain limitations of planning that you must know.

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What Is an Entrepreneur?

Why are entrepreneurs important, what are different types of entrepreneurs, 4 types of entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, how to become an entrepreneur, entrepreneurship financing, 7 characteristics of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship in economics, questions for entrepreneurs, the bottom line.

  • Business Essentials

Entrepreneur: What It Means to Be One and How to Get Started

Learn about the challenges facing entrepreneurs as they start new businesses

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.

definition of business plan in entrepreneurship development

Natalya Yashina is a CPA, DASM with over 12 years of experience in accounting including public accounting, financial reporting, and accounting policies.

definition of business plan in entrepreneurship development

Katrina Ávila Munichiello is an experienced editor, writer, fact-checker, and proofreader with more than fourteen years of experience working with print and online publications.

definition of business plan in entrepreneurship development

An entrepreneur is an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards. The process of setting up a business is known as entrepreneurship .

Entrepreneurs play a key role in any economy, using the skills and initiative necessary to anticipate needs and bring new ideas to market . Entrepreneurship that proves to be successful in taking on the risks of creating a startup is rewarded with profits and growth opportunities.

Key Takeaways

  • A person who undertakes the risk of starting a new business venture is called an entrepreneur.
  • An entrepreneur creates a firm to realize their idea, known as entrepreneurship, which aggregates capital and labor in order to produce goods or services for profit.
  • Entrepreneurship is highly risky but also can be highly rewarding, as it serves to generate economic wealth, growth, and innovation.
  • Ensuring funding is key for entrepreneurs: Financing resources include Small Business Administration loans and crowdfunding.
  • The way entrepreneurs file and pay taxes will depend on how the business is set up in terms of structure.

Investopedia / Yurle Villegas

Entrepreneurship is one of the resources economists categorize as integral to production, the other three being land/natural resources, labor, and capital. An entrepreneur combines the first three of these to manufacture goods or provide services. They typically create a business plan , hire labor, acquire resources and financing, and provide leadership and management for the business.

Economists have never had a consistent definition of "entrepreneur" or "entrepreneurship" (the word "entrepreneur" comes from the French verb entreprendre , meaning "to undertake"). Though the concept of an entrepreneur existed and was known for centuries, the classical and neoclassical economists left entrepreneurs out of their formal models. They assumed that perfect information would be known to fully rational actors, leaving no room for risk-taking or discovery. It wasn't until the middle of the 20th century that economists seriously attempted to incorporate entrepreneurship into their models.

Three thinkers were central to the inclusion of entrepreneurs: Joseph Schumpeter, Frank Knight, and Israel Kirzner. Schumpeter suggested that entrepreneurs—not just companies—were responsible for the creation of new things in the search for profit. Knight focused on entrepreneurs as the bearers of uncertainty and believed they were responsible for risk premiums in financial markets . Kirzner thought of entrepreneurship as a process that led to the discovery of opportunities.

Fast-forward to today, entrepreneurs commonly face many obstacles when building their companies. The three that many of them cite as the most challenging include overcoming bureaucracy, hiring talent, and obtaining financing.

Not every entrepreneur is the same and not all have the same goals. Here are a few types of entrepreneurs:

Builders seek to create scalable businesses within a short time frame. Builders typically pass $5 million in revenue in the first two to four years and continue to build up until $100 million or beyond. These individuals seek to build out a strong infrastructure by hiring the best talent and seeking the best investors. Sometimes, they have temperamental personalities that are suited to the fast growth they desire but may make personal and business relationships difficult.

Opportunist

Opportunistic entrepreneurs are optimistic individuals with the ability to pick out financial opportunities, get in at the right time, stay on board during the time of growth, and exit when a business hits its peak.

These types of entrepreneurs are concerned with profits and the wealth they will build, so they are attracted to ideas where they can create residual or renewal income. Because they are looking to find well-timed opportunities, opportunistic entrepreneurs can be impulsive.

Innovators are those rare individuals that come up with a great idea or product that no one has thought of before. Think of Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. These individuals worked on what they loved and found business opportunities through their vision and ideas.

Rather than focusing on money, innovators tend to care more about the impact that their products and services have on society. These individuals are not the best at running a business as they are idea-generating individuals, so they often leave the day-to-day operations to those more capable in that respect.

These individuals are analytical and risk-averse. They have a strong skill set in a specific area obtained through education or apprenticeship. A specialist entrepreneur will build out their business through networking and referrals, sometimes resulting in slower growth than a builder entrepreneur.

As there are different types of entrepreneurs, there are also different types of businesses they create. Below are the main different types of entrepreneurship.

Small-business

Small business entrepreneurship refers to opening a business without turning it into a large conglomerate or opening many chains. A single-location restaurant, one grocery shop, or a retail shop to sell goods or services would all be examples of small business entrepreneurship.

These people usually invest their own money and succeed if their businesses turn a profit, which serves as their income. Sometimes, they don't have outside investors and will only take a loan if it helps continue the business.

Scalable startup

These are companies that start with a unique idea that can be built to a large scale—think Silicon Valley. The hopes are to innovate with a unique product or service and continue growing the company, continuously scaling up over time. These types of companies often require investors and large amounts of capital to grow their idea and expand into multiple markets.

Large-company

Large company entrepreneurship is a new business division created within an existing company. The existing company may be well placed to branch out into other sectors or it may be positioned well to become involved in new technology.

CEOs of these companies either foresee a new market for the company or individuals within the company generate ideas that they bring to senior management to start the process and development.

The goal of social entrepreneurship is to create a benefit to society and humankind. This form of business focuses on helping communities or the environment through their products and services. They are not driven by profits but rather by helping the world around them.

After retiring her professional dancing shoes, Judi Sheppard Missett became an entrepreneur by teaching a dance class in order to earn some extra cash. But she soon learned that women who came to her studio were less interested in learning precise steps than they were in losing weight and toning up. Sheppard Missett then trained instructors to teach her routines to the masses, and Jazzercise was born. Soon, a franchise deal followed and today, the company has more than 8,300 locations worldwide.

Following an ice cream–making correspondence course, two entrepreneurs, Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen, paired $8,000 in savings with a $4,000 loan, leased a Burlington, Vt., gas station, and purchased equipment to create uniquely flavored ice cream for the local market. Today, Ben & Jerry’s hauls in millions in annual revenue.

In the 21st century, the example of Internet giants like Alphabet, the parent company to Google ( GOOG), and Meta ( META ; formerly Facebook), both of which have made their founders wildly wealthy, have been clear examples of the lasting impact of entrepreneurs on society.

Unlike traditional professions, where there is often a defined path to follow, the road to entrepreneurship is mystifying to most. What works for one entrepreneur might not work for the next and vice versa. That said, there are seven general steps that many successful entrepreneurs have followed:

Ensure financial stability

This first step is not a strict requirement but is definitely recommended. While entrepreneurs have built successful businesses while being less than financially flush, starting out with an adequate cash supply and stable ongoing funding is a great foundation.

This increases an entrepreneur's personal financial runway and gives them more time to work on building a successful business, rather than worrying about having to keep raising money or paying back short-term loans.

Build a diverse skill set

Once a person has strong finances, it is important to build a diverse set of skills and then apply those skills in the real world. The beauty of step two is it can be done concurrently with step one.

Building a skill set can be achieved through learning and trying new tasks in real-world settings. For example, if an aspiring entrepreneur has a background in finance, they can move into a sales role at their existing company to learn the soft skills necessary to be successful. Once a diverse skill set is built, it gives an entrepreneur a toolkit that they can rely on when they are faced with the inevitability of tough situations.

Much has been discussed about whether going to college is necessary to become a successful entrepreneur. Many well-known entrepreneurs are famous for having dropped out of college: Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Ellison, to name a few.

Though going to college isn't necessary to build a successful business, it can teach young individuals a lot about the world in many other ways. And these famous college dropouts are the exception rather than the norm. College may not be for everyone and the choice is personal, but it is something to think about, especially with the high price tag of a college education in the U.S.

Consume content across multiple channels

As important as developing a diverse skill set is, the need to consume a diverse array of information and knowledge-building materials is equally so. This content can be in the form of podcasts, books, articles, or lectures. The important thing is that the content, no matter the channel, should be varied in what it covers. Aspiring entrepreneurs should always familiarize themselves with the world around them so they can look at industries with a fresh perspective, giving them the ability to build a business around a specific sector .

Identify a problem to solve

Through the consumption of content across multiple channels, an aspiring entrepreneur is able to identify various problems in need of solutions. One business adage dictates that a company's product or service needs to solve a specific pain point, either for another business or for a consumer group. Through the identification of a problem, an aspiring entrepreneur is able to build a business around solving that problem.

It is important to combine steps three and four so it is possible to identify a problem to solve by looking at various industries as an outsider. This often provides an aspiring entrepreneur with the ability to see a problem others might not.

Solve That Problem

Successful startups solve a specific pain point for other companies or for the public. This is known as "adding value within the problem." Only through adding value to a specific problem or pain point does an entrepreneur become successful.

Say, for example, you identify that the process for making a dental appointment is complicated for patients, and dentists are losing customers as a result. The value could be to build an online appointment system that makes it easier to book appointments.

Network like crazy

Most entrepreneurs can't do it alone. The business world is a cutthroat one and getting any help you can will likely help and reduce the time it takes to achieve a successful business. Networking is critical for any new entrepreneur. Meeting the right people who can introduce you to contacts in your industry, such as the right suppliers, financiers, and even mentors, can mean the difference between success and failure.

Attending conferences, emailing and calling people in the industry, speaking to your cousin's friend's brother who is in a similar business, will help you get out into the world and discover people who can guide you. Once you have your foot in the door with the right people, conducting a business becomes easier.

Lead by example

Every entrepreneur needs to be a leader within their company. Simply doing the day-to-day requirements will not lead to success . A leader needs to work hard, motivate, and inspire their employees to reach their best potential, which will lead to the success of the company.

Look at some of the greatest and most successful companies; all of them have had great leaders. Apple and Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Microsoft, Bob Iger and Disney, are just a few examples. Study these people and read their books to see how to be a great leader and become the leader that your employees can follow by the example you set.

Given the riskiness of a new venture, the acquisition of capital funding is particularly challenging, and many entrepreneurs deal with it via bootstrapping: financing a business using methods such as using their own money, providing sweat equity to reduce labor costs, minimizing inventory, and factoring receivables.

While some entrepreneurs are lone players struggling to get small businesses off the ground on a shoestring , others take on partners armed with greater access to capital and other resources. In these situations, new firms may acquire financing from venture capitalists, angel investors, hedge funds, crowdfunding, or through more traditional sources such as bank loans.

Resources for entrepreneurs

There are a variety of financing resources for entrepreneurs starting their own businesses. Obtaining a small business loan through the Small Business Administration (SBA) can help entrepreneurs get the business off the ground with affordable loans. Here, the SBA helps connect businesses to loan providers.

If entrepreneurs are willing to give up a piece of equity in their business, then they may find financing in the form of angel investors and venture capitalists. These types of investors also provide guidance, mentorship, and connections in addition to capital.

Crowdfunding has also become a popular way for entrepreneurs to raise capital, particularly through Kickstarter or Indiegogo . In this way, an entrepreneur creates a page for their product and a monetary goal to reach while promising certain givebacks to those who donate, such as products or experiences.

Bootstrapping for entrepreneurs

Bootstrapping refers to building a company solely from your savings as an entrepreneur as well as from the initial sales made from your business. This is a difficult process as all the financial risk is placed on the entrepreneur and there is little room for error. If the business fails, the entrepreneur also may lose all of their life savings.

The advantage of bootstrapping is that an entrepreneur can run the business with their own vision and no outside interference or investors demanding quick profits. That being said, sometimes having an outsider's assistance can help a business rather than hurt it. Many companies have succeeded with a bootstrapping strategy, but it is a difficult path.

Small business vs. entrepreneurship

A small business and entrepreneurship have a lot in common but they are different. A small business is a company—usually, a sole-proprietorship or partnership—that is not a medium-sized or large-sized business, operates locally, and does not have access to a vast amount of resources or capital.

Entrepreneurship is when an individual who has an idea acts on that idea, usually to disrupt the current market with a new product or service. Entrepreneurship usually starts as a small business but the long-term vision is much greater, to seek high profits and capture market share with an innovative new idea.

How entrepreneurs make money

Entrepreneurs seek to generate revenues that are greater than costs. Increasing revenues is the goal and that can be achieved through marketing, word-of-mouth, and networking. Keeping costs low is also critical as it results in higher profit margins . This can be achieved through efficient operations and eventually economies of scale .

How do taxes work for entrepreneurs?

The taxes you will pay as an entrepreneur will depend on how you structure your business.

Sole proprietorship: A business set up this way is an extension of the individual. Business income and expenses are filed on Schedule C on your U.S. personal tax return and you are taxed at your individual tax rate.

Partnership: For tax purposes, a partnership functions the same way as a sole proprietorship in the U.S., with the only difference being that income and expenses are split amongst the partners.

Entrepreneurs operating as sole proprietors can deduct any legitimate business expenses from their income to lower their tax bill. This includes expenses such as their home office and utilities, mileage for business travel, advertising, and travel expenses.

C-corporation: A C-corporation is a separate legal entity and has separate taxes filed with the IRS from the entrepreneur. The business income will be taxed at the corporate tax rate rather than the personal income tax rate.

Limited liability company (LLC) or S-corporation: These two options are taxed in the same manner as a C-corporation but usually at lower amounts.

What else do entrepreneurial success stories have in common? They invariably involve industrious people diving into things they’re naturally passionate about.

Giving credence to the adage, “find a way to get paid for the job you’d do for free,” passion is arguably the most important attribute entrepreneurs must have, and every edge helps.

While the prospect of becoming your own boss and raking in a fortune is alluring to entrepreneurial dreamers, the possible downside to hanging out one’s own shingle is vast. Income isn’t guaranteed, employer-sponsored benefits go by the wayside, and when your business loses money, your personal assets can take a hit; it's not a corporation’s bottom line. But adhering to a few tried and true principles can go a long way in diffusing risk. The following are a few characteristics required to be a successful entrepreneur.

1. Versatility

When starting out, it’s essential to personally handle sales and other customer interactions whenever possible. Direct client contact is the clearest path to obtaining honest feedback about what the target market likes and what you could be doing better. If it’s not always practical to be the sole customer interface, entrepreneurs should train employees to invite customer comments as a matter of course. Not only does this make customers feel empowered, but happier clients are more likely to recommend businesses to others.

Personally answering phones is one of the most significant competitive edges home-based entrepreneurs hold over their larger competitors. In a time of high-tech backlash, where customers are frustrated with automated responses and touch-tone menus, hearing a human voice is one surefire way to entice new customers and make existing ones feel appreciated—an important fact, given that a significant percentage of business is generated from repeat customers.

Paradoxically, while customers value high-touch telephone access, they also expect a highly polished website. Even if your business isn’t in a high-tech industry, entrepreneurs still must exploit internet technology to get their message across. A startup garage-based business can have a superior website to an established company valued at $100 million. Just make sure a live human being is on the other end of the phone number listed.

2. Flexibility

Few successful business owners find perfect formulas straight out of the gate. On the contrary: ideas must morph over time. Whether tweaking product design or altering food items on a menu, finding the perfect sweet spot takes trial and error.

Former Starbucks Chair and CEO Howard Schultz initially thought playing Italian opera music over store speakers would accentuate the Italian coffeehouse experience he was attempting to replicate. But customers saw things differently and didn’t seem to like arias with their espressos. As a result, Schultz jettisoned the opera and introduced comfortable chairs instead.

3. Money savviness

At the heart of any successful new business, is steady cash flow, which is essential for purchasing inventory, paying rent, maintaining equipment, and promoting the business. The key to staying in the black is rigorous, regular cash flow management. And since most new businesses don’t make a profit within the first year, by setting money aside for this contingency, entrepreneurs can help mitigate the risk of falling short of funds. Related to this, it’s essential to keep personal and business costs separate, and never dip into business funds to cover the costs of daily living.

Of course, it’s important to pay yourself a realistic salary that allows you to cover essentials, but not much more—especially where investors are involved. Of course, such sacrifices can strain relationships with loved ones who may need to adjust to lower standards of living and endure worry over risking family assets. For this reason, entrepreneurs should communicate these issues well ahead of time, and make sure significant loved ones are on board.

4. Resiliency

Running your own business is extremely difficult, especially getting one started from scratch. It requires a lot of time, dedication, and often failure. A successful entrepreneur must show resilience to all the difficulties on the road ahead. Whenever they meet with failure or rejection they must keep pushing forward.

Starting your business is a learning process and any learning process comes with a learning curve, which can be frustrating, especially when money is on the line. It's important never to give up through the difficult times if you want to succeed.

Similar to resilience, a successful entrepreneur must stay focused and eliminate the noise and doubts that come with running a business. Becoming sidetracked, not believing in your instincts and ideas, and losing sight of the end goal is a recipe for failure. A successful entrepreneur must always remember why they started the business and remain on course to see it through.

6. Business smarts

Knowing how to manage money and understanding financial statements are critical for anyone running their own business. Knowing your revenues, your costs, and how to increase or decrease them, respectively, is important. Making sure you don't burn through cash will allow you to keep the business alive.

Implementing a sound business strategy, knowing your target market, your competitors, and your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to maneuver the difficult landscape of running your business.

7. Communication skills

Successful communication is important in almost every facet of life, regardless of what you do. It is also of the utmost importance in running a business. From conveying your ideas and strategies to potential investors to sharing your business plan with your employees and negotiating contracts with suppliers—all require successful communication.

In economist-speak, an entrepreneur acts as a coordinating agent in a capitalist economy . This coordination takes the form of resources being diverted toward new potential profit opportunities. The entrepreneur moves various resources, both tangible and intangible, promoting capital formation.

In a market full of uncertainty, it is the entrepreneur who can actually help clear up uncertainty, as they make judgments or assume risk. To the extent that capitalism is a dynamic profit-and-loss system, entrepreneurs drive efficient discovery and consistently reveal knowledge.

Established firms face increased competition and challenges from entrepreneurs, which often spurs them toward research and development efforts as well. In technical economic terms, the entrepreneur disrupts the course toward steady-state equilibrium .

In 2022, there were 33.2 million small businesses in the United States.

How entrepreneurship helps economies

Nurturing entrepreneurship can have a positive impact on an economy and society in several ways. For starters, entrepreneurs create new businesses. They invent goods and services, resulting in employment, and often create a ripple effect, resulting in more and more development. For example, after a few information technology companies began in India in the 1990s, businesses in associated industries, like call center operations and hardware providers, began to develop too, offering support services and products.

Entrepreneurs add to the gross national income . Existing businesses may remain confined to their markets and eventually hit an income ceiling. But new products or technologies create new markets and new wealth. Additionally, increased employment and higher earnings contribute to a nation’s tax base, enabling greater government spending on public projects.

Entrepreneurs create social change. They break tradition with unique inventions that reduce dependence on existing methods and systems, sometimes rendering them obsolete. Smartphones and their apps, for example, have revolutionized work and play across the globe.

Entrepreneurs invest in community projects and help charities and other non-profit organizations, supporting causes beyond their own. Bill Gates , for example, has used his considerable wealth for education and public health initiatives.

Entrepreneurial ecosystems

Research shows that high levels of self-employment can stall economic development: Entrepreneurship, if not properly regulated, can lead to unfair market practices and corruption, and too many entrepreneurs can create income inequalities in society. Overall, though, entrepreneurship is a critical driver of innovation and economic growth. Therefore, fostering entrepreneurship is an important part of the economic growth strategies of many local and national governments around the world.

To this end, governments commonly assist in the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems, which may include entrepreneurs themselves, government-sponsored assistance programs, and venture capitalists. They may also include non-government organizations, such as entrepreneurs' associations, business incubators, and education programs.

California's Silicon Valley is often cited as an example of a well-functioning entrepreneurial ecosystem. The region has a well-developed venture capital base, a large pool of well-educated talent, especially in technical fields, and a wide range of government and non-government programs fostering new ventures and providing information and support to entrepreneurs.

Embarking on the entrepreneurial career path to “being your own boss” is exciting. But along with all your research, make sure to do your homework about yourself and your situation.

A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I have the personality, temperament, and mindset of taking on the world on my own terms?
  • Do I have the required resources to devote all my time to my venture?
  • Do I have an exit plan ready with a clearly defined timeline in case my venture does not work?
  • Do I have a concrete plan for the next "x" number of months or will I face challenges midway due to family, financial, or other commitments? Do I have a mitigation plan for those challenges?
  • Do I have the required network to seek help and advice as needed?
  • Have I identified and built bridges with experienced mentors to learn from their expertise?
  • Have I prepared the rough draft of a complete risk assessment, including dependencies on external factors?
  • Have I realistically assessed the potential of my offering and how it will figure in the existing market?
  • If my offering is going to replace an existing product in the market, how will my competitors react?
  • To keep my offering secure, will it make sense to get a patent? Do I have the capacity to wait until I receive it?
  • Have I identified my target customer base for the initial phase? Do I have scalability plans ready for larger markets?
  • Have I identified sales and distribution channels?

Questions that delve into external factors:

  • Does my entrepreneurial venture meet local regulations and laws? If not feasible locally, can I and should I relocate to another region?
  • How long does it take to get the necessary license or permissions from concerned authorities? Can I survive that long?
  • Do I have a plan for getting the necessary resources and skilled employees, and have I made cost considerations for the same?
  • What are the tentative timelines for bringing the first prototype to market or for services to be operational?
  • Who are my primary customers?
  • Who are the funding sources I may need to approach to make this big? Is my venture good enough to convince potential stakeholders?
  • What technical infrastructure do I need?
  • Once the business is established, will I have sufficient funds to get resources and take it to the next level? Will other big firms copy my model and kill my operation?

What Does It Mean to Be an Entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is an individual who starts their own business based on an idea they have or a product they have created while assuming most of the risks and reaping most of the rewards of the business.

What Is the Best Definition of Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is the process of setting up a business, taking it from an idea to realization.

What Are the Four Types of Entrepreneurs?

Four types of entrepreneurs include builders, opportunists, innovators, and specialists.

What Are the Seven Characteristics of Entrepreneurs?

Seven primary characteristics among entrepreneurs include versatility, resilience, flexibility, money-savviness, business smarts, focus, and having strong communication skills.

An entrepreneur is an individual who takes an idea or product and creates a business, a process known as entrepreneurship. Creating a business requires a lot of work and dedication, which not everyone is cut out for. Entrepreneurs are often young , highly motivated risk-takers who have a vision and often sacrifice a lot to achieve that vision.

Entrepreneurs enter the market because they love what they do, believe their product will have a positive impact, and hope to make profits from their efforts. The steps entrepreneurs take fuel the economy; they create businesses that employ people and make products and services that consumers buy today.

Van Praag, C. Mirjam. "Some Classic Views on Entrepreneurship."  De Economist, Vol. 147, No. 3. 1999. Pp. 311-335.

Forbes. " The 4 Types of Entrepreneurs - - Which Are You? "

Jazzercise. " About Us ."

Ben & Jerry's. " Our History ."

Internal Revenue Service. " Instructions for Schedule C ."

Internal Revenue Service. " Publication 535, Business Expenses ."

Internal Revenue Service. " Forming a Corporation ."

Internal Revenue Service. " S Corporations ."

U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy. " Advocacy Releases 2022 Small Business Profiles for States ."

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Becky Center is the CEO of Indiegogo the crowdfunding platform that unites innovators with early adopters.

A query of U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that through 2023, Americans submitted nearly 62% more applications for new businesses than the same time period in 2019. The post-pandemic drivers for this are well documented . Many have determined now is the time to follow their entrepreneurial dreams.

If this is you, this article serves as your guide to understanding the biggest challenges for starting a business and strategies for how to overcome them.

Focus on the problem — then research, research, research.

Having an idea is the fun part, but while market demand will seem obvious to you, consider first looking at the problem you are solving instead of the benefits you will provide. Take a deep dive into researching what consumers are doing now to solve a particular problem, and what the shortcomings are with the current approach. Gathering this insight will inform all your next steps.

Find a co-founder, ideally someone who has done it before.

One of the most productive ways to sidestep some of the challenges of starting a business is to partner with someone who has already been through the process. The wisdom they gained while starting a previous business will help you avoid unnecessary trial and error and failures.

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Choose carefully—you don’t want someone who agrees or disagrees with everything you say or do. Rather you want someone who offers different perspectives that creates a good balance that will net a stronger product or service for your customer.

Bootstrap initial funding through personal funds, friends and family, angels or crowdfunding.

Create a forecast. This is a detailed strategic financial plan that helps you make decisions about your business. This should include money you have, money you need and any expected costs. Some resources I’ve found that work well include Financial Forecasting, Analysis and Modeling and Term Sheets & Valuations .

Next, outsource. It’s a fact of life: you can’t do everything yourself. There are plenty of subject matter experts out there who can help with things like marketing, accounting and legal advice, and relying on them will let you focus on bringing your product to life.

Then, there's funding. A lot of people use personal savings or get investments from friends and family members in the early stages. Angel investors are another idea, but know that they’ll invest in exchange for equity in your company. Banks will generally give out small business loans, but pay attention to the interest rates.

I'm biased, of course, as the CEO if Indiegogo, but crowdfunding is a great way to get those initial investors. If you run a successful campaign, you’ll be able to get your business off the ground while conducting additional product research and creating passionate fans.

Finally, build your MVP—your minimum viable product. It's something that has enough features to attract those all-important early-adopter customers who will help you validate your product idea. It may not have all the bells and whistles that you’d like it to have, but once you get your MVP into customers’ hands, you can collect data on improvements for the next round.

Create product/marketing launch plans.

Marketing is one of the make-or-break challenges of starting a business. You might have a world-changing product, but if nobody knows about it, then it will never catch on. Develop the channels for how you will get the word out. Perhaps set aside funds to work with an online influencer, or align with a like-minded organization where you can share contacts.

You will need to identify an ecommerce platform to drive interested customers. One of the great things about crowdfunding platforms is that they will handle financial transactions for you.

Secure first paying customers and learn from them.

Learn from your first paying customers. Collect feedback and reward those who take a moment to share their thoughts. Perhaps create a Facebook group and invite your early customers to join. Consider sending out emails with surveys or include a feedback request in the package with a fulfilled order. However you choose to do it, make sure you’re asking for feedback and demonstrate when you’ve implemented it back to these early adopters.

Raise the first institutional round.

Now that you have proven that the product has traction and will sell in your chosen market, you’ve crossed one of the biggest hurdles for Series A funding. Here is what VCs are looking for in your pitch deck:

• Industry/marketing opportunity: VCs want high growth potential and high verticality.

• Good management: A management team that’s good at execution, well-networked, forward thinking and has a strong track record

• An addressable market: Your target audience should be large and growing.

• Market penetration: If you’re able to show VCs that your product is already being adopted, they’ll be more likely to invest in you.

• Business model/value proposition: Is your business scalable and extensible? Does it provide a high value to the end user? Quantify this in any and all ways that you can.

• Technology risk: Do you have something that’s robust and scalable, or is the tech going to break if it’s put under the stress of growth?

• Competitive threats: Are new entrants into the field or new technology going to make you yesterday’s news any time soon?

Closing thoughts

While these aren’t the only challenges of starting a business, this list should help you anticipate hurdles. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

Becky Center

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What Is an MBA? About the Degree, Programs, Jobs, and More

Learn about this graduate-level business degree, how to get one, and what you can do with it.

[Featured image] Smiling woman in a business suit sitting at a table with her laptop and smartphone.

What does “MBA” stand for?

A Master of Business Administration, or MBA degree , is a graduate-level business and management degree with a focus on leadership and managerial skills. By earning this degree, you can equip yourself with the skills and knowledge to accelerate your career, transition to new industries, or even launch your own businesses. 

It’s the most common and one of the most versatile graduate degrees available.

Who should get an MBA?

MBA students may enter their programs from a variety of backgrounds, and there are different types of programs to suit a range of needs. Typically, MBA students enter their programs after gaining a few years of work experience (in nearly any field) and have long-term goals of working in any area of business, and particularly in leadership roles.

MBA degrees are not the only type of advanced business degrees. Some students instead pursue a Master of Science (MS) business degree. Learn more about deciding whether an MBA or MS is right for you .

Types of MBA programs

An MBA degree program isn’t one-size-fits-all. Consider your lifestyle, career goals, and current employment situation to decide which program is right for you. Here’s a look at some common types of MBA degrees :

Full-time MBA: Traditional two-year programs typically involve taking a full course load, much like an undergraduate degree. These programs are best suited to students who don’t have to work full time and can comfortably fund their degree without bringing in a regular paycheck. 

Part-time MBA: Part-time MBA programs, sometimes called professional MBAs, offer flexibility and enhanced work-life balance for students who wish to pursue a degree over several years while working or raising a family. Students with an established career can continue earning valuable work experience while learning job skills that can be applied right away. Some employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement for employees who pursue a graduate degree while working. 

Executive MBA: Executive MBA programs, also known as EMBAs, are two-year programs geared toward leaders and executives with several years of managerial experience. Since most students in these programs are working professionals, the format tends to be part time with classes on evenings and weekends. Expect a faster-paced learning environment with less immersion than a typical program. With the skills you learn from an EMBA, you can often build off of your work experience to maximize your impact in your organization.

Global MBA: Global MBAs (sometimes called international MBAs) are similar to traditional two-year MBAs but with a focus on international business principles and strategies. Students tend to come from countries around the world. This could be a good option for students who wish to work at international companies. Sometimes global MBA programs offer or require a study abroad component. 

Learn more about the different types of MBA programs and how long they take to complete .

Earning your MBA online vs. on campus

No matter which type of degree you decide to pursue, you might have the option to complete your coursework on a college campus, online, or a hybrid of the two. Each method comes with its own set of benefits. This decision is all about how an MBA program best fits into your lifestyle.

Online MBAs

Online MBA programs through accredited universities, like the iMBA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , offer access to the same professors and learning materials as on-campus programs with the added benefit of a flexible schedule. You can learn from virtually anywhere on a desktop or mobile device—no need to quit your job or relocate to attend a highly ranked business school.

These programs are sometimes less expensive than their on-campus counterparts. Since you can learn at your own pace, you’ll have the option to work full time (and bring in a regular paycheck). 

“If a student is comfortable in joining and being fully engaged in an online setting, then an online degree will provide them with more opportunities to establish connections,” says Fataneh Taghaboni-Dutta , Clinical Professor of Business Administration at the University of Illinois. “I say more because in terms of time needed to ‘speak’ or ‘meet’ others in an online environment, it’s less taxing than doing the same for in-person settings.”

On-campus MBAs

If you choose to pursue an on-campus MBA, you’ll typically attend classes in person on a fixed schedule. These traditional MBA programs often attract candidates who want to take advantage of the facilities, extracurricular activities, and overall community of a university campus. 

Networking often takes place face to face, both with professors and other students. But you may have to consider relocating, particularly if you have your eye on a specific school or specialization. 

MBA coursework

As you pursue an MBA, you can learn a wide variety of business fundamentals, including economics, marketing, finance, strategy, organizational behavior, and accounting. Outside the core curriculum, you can typically customize your experience through concentrations, elective classes, and internships with actual companies. This can help you to develop some of the leadership skills necessary to run a business—and these skills transfer to many career paths. 

While curriculums vary from school to school, here’s a look at some classes you might see in an MBA curriculum:

Digital marketing

Foundations of leadership

Business strategy

Organizational management

Managerial accounting

Operations management

Investments

Corporate finance

Cultural psychology

Business ethics

Common MBA concentrations

MBA concentrations , also called specializations or majors, are focus areas that you pursue as part of your degree. To complete a concentration, you'll typically need to pass a series of courses in your desired focus area. Though not all MBA programs require that students choose a concentration, they can help demonstrate deeper knowledge in your focus area and set you up for success in that area of business.

Some common MBA concentrations include:

Business analytics

MBA jobs: What can you do with an MBA?

By earning this degree, you can build a foundation for a new career or prepare yourself for better, often higher-paying opportunities. You can gain functional job skills and a well-recognized credential to potentially attract recruiters and hiring managers in a variety of fields.

MBA graduates can work across a variety of industries, though a 2023 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) survey of corporate recruiters found that there is high demand for MBA graduates in the energy, consulting, products and services, and manufacturing industries [ 1 ].

Some jobs you may be qualified to pursue with an MBA include:

Financial analyst

Human resources manager

Operations manager

Management consultant

Marketing manager

Business development manager

MBA degree salary

People with an MBA degree tend to earn more money than people who don't hold the credential, and people who earn an MBA tend to receive a salary increase upon completing their program. According to a GMAC survey, the median starting salary projected for 2023 MBA graduates in the US was $125,000 [ 1 ].

Factors that can influence your post-graduate salary include your industry, location, school attended, and total years of work experience.

Learn more about MBA degree salaries .

Is an MBA worth it?

Pursuing an MBA can be a significant financial commitment. It’s important to define your goals when deciding whether the investment is right for you. Through an MBA program, you’ll have the opportunity to expand your professional network, elevate your career prospects, and increase your earning potential.

Weighing the cost against the return, most MBA graduates agree that earning their MBA was worth it. In a 2022 survey from GMAC, over 85 percent of MBA graduates reported a positive return on investment from their graduate education. A majority found their business school education to be professionally, personally, and financially rewarding (84, 72, and 68 percent, respectively) [ 2 ].

“The training you receive in an MBA Program prepares you to deal with ambiguity and provides a buffer against uncertainty,” says Hayden Noel , Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Illinois. “You would be better equipped to take advantage of changing opportunities post-COVID. You will also become more effective as a leader and better understand the different functions of your organization. This leads to more positive outcomes in your current job.”

The training you receive in an MBA Program prepares you to deal with ambiguity and provides a buffer against uncertainty.

Learn more: Is an MBA Worth It?

Do I need an MBA degree?

While there are plenty of good  reasons to pursue an MBA degree , not every person (or professional field) requires one. Be sure to find out what hiring managers in your desired field are looking for by checking out current job postings on sites like LinkedIn or Indeed.

If you’re planning to pivot into a new industry, you might find less expensive, less time-consuming ways to build the skills you need. Consider if alternatives like individual courses,  professional certificates , or bootcamps might be a better fit. If you’re feeling unsure, some online MBA programs let you try out a course (sometimes for academic credit) before committing to the full degree.

MBA application requirements

Admission requirements vary by school, but applications may require the following:

Academic transcripts

Resume to show professional experience

GRE or GMAT test scores

Essay or personal statement

Letters of professional recommendation

In-person or video interview

While professional experience is not always necessary, some programs have specific work experience requirements. Previous experience could help you better gauge what you want from your degree and equip you to apply what you’re learning to your career. Other programs may allow recent graduates or even current bachelor’s students to participate in a combined Bachelor's and MBA program if they are looking to launch their careers quickly.

Standardized test scores, including the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) and the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), were once standard, heavily weighted requirements. Today, more and more schools are moving to a test-optional policy, particularly for executive and online MBA programs.

Some programs, like the iMBA from the University of Illinois and the Global MBA from Macquarie University , allow students to enroll through a performance-based admission process. Learners who want to try out the program or are unsure if they meet the minimum requirements can take classes and earn academic credit before fully enrolling as a degree-seeking student.

Learn more about how to get an MBA degree .

Get started with Coursera

You’ve learned about what an MBA degree is and what you can do with it. Now it’s time to take the next step on your career journey:

Learn more about earning your business degree online .

Hear what program graduates have to say .

Try an open course from the University of Illinois or Macquarie University to see if an MBA is right for you.

Give your team access to a catalog of 8,000+ engaging courses and hands-on Guided Projects to help them develop impactful skills. Learn more about  Coursera for Business .

Article sources

Graduate Management Admission Council. " Corporate Recruiters Survey: 2023 Summary Report " Accessed August 4, 2023.

Graduate Management Admission Council. " The Value of Graduate Management Education: From the Candidate's Perspective " Accessed August 4, 2023.

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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