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  • Online MBA Master Business Administration

Online Master's Degree in Business Administration (MBA)

Master of business administration overview.

The U.S. expects 883,900 new management jobs in the next decade. It’s time to earn your MBA and be ready to meet the growing demand.

  • Attain a degree you can be proud of — and that employers will respect — from Purdue’s online university for working adults.
  • Customize your online MBA by choosing from  seven optional concentrations .
  • Build relevant, practical skills you can use right away in your career.
  • Gain the real-world tools you need to take on leadership positions in a competitive marketplace.
  • Study a curriculum developed by a select panel of global business professionals featuring international business case studies as well as unique examples.

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See Notes and Conditions below for important information.

Education Abroad

Take part in a virtual or in-person international experience to grow global, marketable skills. Earn the internationally recognized  Global Competence Certificate (GCC) or a discipline-specific certificate in intercultural communication.

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Purdue Global’s business programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) .

The human resources concentration aligns with the Society for Human Resource Management's HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates .

Purdue Global Is Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

The HLC ( HLCommission.org ) is an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Admissions Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is required to enroll in a graduate program. You will need to provide an official transcript that shows completion of your bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, though an unofficial copy may be provided during the application process. Refer to the University Catalog or speak to an Advisor to learn more.

Purdue Global Career Outcomes 2020–2021

94% of graduates in Purdue Global's Master of Business Administration program were employed or continued their education within 18 months of graduation.

Each year, our Center for Career Advancement sends a NACE First Destination survey to our graduating class to learn more about their career choices and potential income within 18 months of graduation. We’re proud of our recent Purdue Global alumni accomplishments.

“Career Outcomes Rate” is not the same as an “employment rate” — it includes graduates who are: (1) employed (whether full or part time); (2) participating in a program of voluntary service, (3) serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, or (4) enrolled in a program of continuing education. This rate may also include graduates employed in jobs unrelated to their degree or who were employed while attending Purdue Global. (9,106 graduates surveyed across associate's, bachelor's, master's, JD, EJD, and DNP programs from July 1, 2019, to December 31, 2020. 7,803 of 9,106 replied.)

What Courses Will I Take?

Courses in the MBA program put a focus on the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to make sound business and management decisions.

Sample Courses

  • Business Analytics
  • Economics for Global Decision Makers
  • Managing the Value Chain
  • Leadership Strategies for a Changing World
  • Designing, Improving, and Implementing Processes

Program Requirements

Requirements with optional concentration, upcoming start dates.

We offer multiple start dates to give you flexibility in your education, life, and work schedules.

Optional MBA Degree Concentrations

Specialized knowledge and expertise can prepare you for leadership roles in today’s competitive business environments. Complete four or more additional courses in one of these MBA concentrations:

Analyze strategies for investing in various markets and explore mergers and acquisitions and financial management issues for international businesses.

Concentration Outcomes:

  • Evaluate the different types of financial institutions.
  • Examine theories of risk management and types of risk.
  • Analyze financial statements using standard financial ratios.
  • Evaluate business performance through analysis of financial statements.

Learn the practical and research-based competencies needed to understand the impact of differences in cultural, political, economic, and legal systems. This concentration includes a study abroad option that will allow students to participate either virtually or in person as they work with organizations and scholars outside of the U.S. This real-world experience will help prepare students with the critical knowledge and skills needed to pursue globally oriented management roles.

  • Explain the influence of cultural, political, legal, and economic differences on both international organizations and the wider global marketplace.
  • Recognize the unique skills necessary for the successful international manager, including culturally-focused methodologies related to leadership, communication, motivation and teamwork.
  • Evaluate critical decision points for the management of global corporate functions, including marketing, logistics, HRM, and finance.
  • Analyze the strategic factors that influence an organization's choice of entry mode into a global market.

Focus on navigating the changing health care field, including rigorous patient-privacy regulations, staffing challenges, and issues of cost control.

  • Evaluate business strategies for quality management and continuous improvement of operations.
  • Outline components of the American health care system regarding policies and procedures within major health-related issues.
  • Illustrate effective practices for employing marketing tools to specific situations in the healthcare environment.

Explore recruitment and hiring practices, employee training, corporate policies, change management, and executive leadership.

  • Determine the manager’s role in establishing and maintaining sound employee relations in an organization.
  • Construct an effective training program.
  • Evaluate the relationship between strategic reward systems and an organization’s ability to achieve business objectives.
  • Assess the implications of current models of talent management.

Examine critical concepts relevant to the IT professional including systems analysis and design and the management of technology in a business environment.

  • Analyze emerging technologies as solutions to real-world business problems and as strategic resources.

Apply marketing research methods and techniques to analyze and implement strategic advertising and develop the skills to manage a sales force.

  • Synthesize advertising concepts effectively by creating an integrated advertising campaign.
  • Analyze measurement, instrument development, and sample design techniques for obtaining reliable market research results.
  • Apply theories related to building and organizing an effective sales force.
  • Analyze application of the four types of consumer behavior situational influences in marketing strategy.

Strategize, plan, schedule, implement, and determine project deliverables and milestones, and address business needs and manage costs.

  • Integrate process groups and knowledge areas in project development.
  • Evaluate the integration of project management plans according to industry standards.
  • Evaluate strategies to ensure effective resource allocation.
  • Create a structured plan for the closing phase of the project life cycle.

Accelerate Your MBA Degree With ExcelTrack®

ExcelTrack® is a personalized, competency-based degree path that gives you more control over how you learn—allowing you to earn your online MBA faster, for less money. Build off your existing knowledge and experience and concentrate only on the skills you need to learn.

  • Why Should You Earn an MBA?

mba business planning

Ways to Save on Time and Tuition

Purdue Global works with students to find ways to reduce costs and make education more accessible. Contact us to learn about opportunities to save on your educational costs.

Earn credit for prior coursework completed at eligible institutions.

Learn about federal financial aid programs available for many of our degree programs.

Employees of Purdue Global partner organizations may be eligible for special tuition reductions .

Graduate tuition savings for military include a 17–30% reduction per credit for current servicemembers and, 14% per credit for veterans for graduate programs.

Earn credit for your military training . We offer credit for ACE-evaluated training and CLEP and DANTES examinations.

International students living outside of the United States are eligible for a 25% international student tuition reduction .

View the total cost of attendance for your program.

This professionally focused program is designed to provide you with knowledge and skills to become a more effective leader and more valued employee in your current career. As a graduate of Purdue Global’s online MBA program, you can pursue employment opportunities in areas such as finance, marketing, operations, management of information systems, and human resources.

Average Salary

In Your State

General labor market and salary data are provided by Lightcast and may not represent the outcomes experienced by Purdue Global graduates in these programs. Purdue Global graduates in these programs may earn salaries substantially different or less than the amounts listed above. Salary and employment outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience, education, and opportunities for employment that are outside of Purdue Global's control.

Purdue Global does not guarantee employment placement, salary level, or career advancement.

Why Choose an MBA

Learn how an online MBA can help you grow your career while you’re still working.

You have many options when it comes to your education. Learn what you should consider when choosing an online MBA program.

Employers are increasingly requiring more education. An online master’s degree in business administration can help you gain the marketable skills they look for in candidates.

Is an online MBA worth it? Most people who earn an MBA say it grew their skills and network to create better career opportunities.

Knowledge of how different cultures operate is key in today’s global business economy. Education abroad can help you gain fluency in global business skills.

Earn a Law Degree 1 Year Sooner

Upon graduating, you can apply some of your courses toward an Executive Juris Doctor (EJD) degree at Purdue Global Law School . Save up to $14,250 in tuition and graduate a year sooner. You could earn both a master’s and EJD degree in as few as 4 years. See which courses transfer .

Unlike the JD, which prepares you to sit for the bar exam and practice law, the online EJD is designed to help you build legal expertise to use in your career.

Download the Program Brochure

Download our brochure to learn more about the online Master of Business Administration and the benefits of earning your degree at Purdue Global.

Prepare yourself for success with a master’s degree in business administration.

Get to Know Our Faculty

Purdue Global faculty members are real-world practitioners who bring knowledge gained through the powerful combination of higher learning and industry experience.

Faculty members who have advanced degrees

Faculty members who hold a doctorate

Faculty publications in 2022–2023

Professional development hours logged by faculty in 2022–2023

Statistics include all Purdue Global faculty members and are not school- or program-specific calculations. Source: Purdue Global Office of Reporting and Analysis, July 2023. 2022–2023 academic year.

Your Path to Success Begins Here

Connect with an Advisor to explore program requirements, curriculum, credit for prior learning process, and financial aid options.

*Average Completion Time: Completion time based on a full-time schedule. Programs will take longer for part-time students to complete.

Employment and Career Advancement: Purdue Global does not guarantee employment placement or career advancement. Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience, and opportunities for employment. Prior experience may be required for leadership roles. Certain finance positions may require further certification and/or licensing by individual states. Programs were not designed to meet any specific state’s requirements for licensure or certification, and Purdue Global makes no representations or warranties as to whether the degree or any individual courses meet such requirements. Refer to Purdue Global's State Licensure and Certifications page for state-specific information on licensure and state authorizations.

Job Growth: Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Management Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/ . National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Most Innovative: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/innovative . Rankings apply to Purdue University West Lafayette and not to Purdue Global.

Most Innovative Companies: https://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/list . Ranking applies to Purdue University West Lafayette and not to Purdue Global.

Purdue Global Law School EJD Degree: Purdue Global alumni are eligible for a 20% tuition reduction on Purdue Global Law School programs. Tuition savings calculated as 36 credit hours x reduced per credit tuition rate of $412 = $14,832. Savings will vary based on the courses completed in the student’s master’s degree program. Credits apply toward open elective and/or specialty electives in the EJD program. Time savings based on a student who applies 36 credit hours from the MBA with a concentration in human resources toward the 3-year EJD program; remaining 36 credits can be completed in 2 years of study. MBA with a concentration in human resources can be completed in 2 years of study when adhering to the recommended course-load each term, taking courses in sequence, and without interruptions such as a leave of absence.

Testimonial: Testimonials obtained by Purdue Global. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individual; student experiences may vary.

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

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

What is a business plan?

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

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

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

mba business planning

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

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

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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

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

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

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

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

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

On a similar note...

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Top Business Schools for Strategy or Business Development 2023

Top Business Schools for Strategy or Business Development 2023

An MBA in Strategy or Business Development can help students diagnose business problems and develop the best solution. 

And indeed, from meeting organizational objectives to carrying out individual projects, managers need to think strategically at all levels. A handful of business schools offer specialized MBA programs in Strategy; others offer MBA specializations in Business Development, Strategic Management, and related fields. Virtually all MBA programs offer strategy courses as part of their core curriculums. 

MBA grads can find strategy jobs in a wide range of industries, or can work as strategy or business development consultants. Those interested in strategy functions in consulting firms might also be interested in the best MBA programs for Consulting.

See the Top 10 MBA programs for Strategy or Business Development below. 

UC Berkeley - Haas

With an MBA specialization and strong ties to global strategy and consulting firms, Haas is a strong choice for strategy-minded students. In recent years, the school has reported that almost 18 percent of its MBA classes have landed jobs in either strategy or business-development role, depending on the year. 

For students interested in strategic management in China, the Guanghua MBA is a great option. The program offers specialized electives in subjects such as “Emerging Topics in Chinese Strategy,” which is offered in partnership with McKinsey & Company. Typically, some 8-10 percent of the school’s MBA class goes into strategic planning positions. 

In terms of research, Rotman’s focus in strategy is diverse, leveraging insights from various disciplines like sociology and other fields. Although the school doesn’t offer a specific MBA track in Strategy, it does offer numerous elective courses, such as “Strategy and Competitive Advantage,” and “Strategic Change and Implementation.” 


With its annual Strategy Research Conference and a strong research output, Harvard has become a hub for strategy-oriented academics. The MBA curriculum offers a rich offering of strategy-related electives.

St. Gallen

The MBA program leverages insights from the school's well-regarded flagship master's program in Strategy and International Management. 


Although the school doesn’t offer a specialized MBA in Strategy, its MBA offers, as part of its core curriculum, classes such as “Competitive Strategy” and “Strategic Marketing and Management.” It also offers a handful of strategy courses as part of its elective selections. According to the school, in recent years, over one-quarter of HKU's MBA class have gone into functional roles in strategy, planning, or consulting.

Cambridge - Judge

Some 10 percent of Cambridge’s MBA class of 2021 went into business development roles, and 6 percent went into related corporate planning / strategy positions. The school offers an MBA concentration in Strategy, as well as some strategy-themed courses as part of its core curriculum. 


Fudan does not offer a specialized MBA in Strategy; however, it does include some elective courses covering topics in strategy, including “Global Strategic Marketing” and “Enterprise Development Management.” In recent years, some 14-16 percent of Fudan’s MBA classes have gone into strategy or business development roles.


Although the school does not offer an MBA specialization area in strategy, there are plenty of strategy-oriented courses in the core curriculum, such as “Strategic Planning for International Markets” and “Strategy Implementation.” According to the school, over one-fifth of MBA grads have gone into business development roles. 

USC - Marshall

Marshall MBA students can choose to pursue strategy-oriented electives from the school’s department of management and organization. Marshall MBAs also have the option of pursing a Graduate Certificate in Strategy and Management Consulting, which covers the tools, concepts, and frameworks that will help them develop their strategic skills. Of the school’s 2021 MBA class, 20 percent went into functional roles in consulting, which includes strategic planning positions. 

Related MBA News

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May 26, 2020

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The business school designed for leaders, where networks take shape and impact thrives.

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Offers one- and two-year MBA programs. Ranked in the Financial Times.

HHL Leipzig

HHL is the oldest business school in Germany. Fast-track MBA can be completed in 15 months

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The 10 Most Popular MBA Specializations

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Students and employers are demanding curriculum changes, but could niche knowledge become obsolete in an era of rapid change?

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Master of Business Administration

An Online MBA Degree That Prepares You to be a Successful Business Leader

You're ready to become a leader and rise to the next level in business. A master's degree in business administration is the step you need to take you further in your professional career and potentially earn a higher salary. A reputable online MBA degree program can be the difference-maker for your future by helping you understand business practices and management skills. This master's in business administration is focused on equipping you with skills and credentials that helps distinguish your value in the business world.

Compare this degree:  Also considering the MSML degree program?  This article can help you understand the differences .

mba business planning

Graduates can finish within 

WGU lets you set a schedule so you can finish your MBA in just one year. You are in control of the schedule and timing for your online MBA program.

*WGU Internal Data

Tuition per six-month term is

See what your online MBA will cost at our university. Tuition charged per term—rather than per credit—helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. Finish faster, pay less!

Average salary increase

Master of Business Administration graduates report an average salary increase of $14,025 after completing their WGU degree.

Ready to Start Your WGU Journey?

Next Start Date: {{startdate}}

Start Dates the 1st of Every Month

MBA Courses

Program consists of 11 courses

At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to help you show that you know your stuff.

This program is composed of the following business and management courses. You will typically complete them one at a time as you make your way through your program, working with your Program Mentor each term to build your personalized degree plan. You’ll work through each course as quickly as you can study and master the material. As soon as you’re ready, you’ll pass the assessment, complete the course, and move on. This means you can finish as many courses as you're able in a term at no additional cost.  One year MBA students can complete all of their coursework in just two WGU terms. You will set a schedule with your Program Mentor to enable you to finish your program quickly.  Learn more about the one year MBA program at WGU. 

To ensure WGU graduates acquire the knowledge and skills sought by today’s employers, our Master of Business Administration—like all of WGU's School of Business programs—was developed with significant input from experts and business leaders who serve on our Business Program Council.

This course covers principles of effective management and leadership that maximize organizational performance. The following topics are included: the role and functions of a manager, analysis of personal leadership styles, approaches to self-awareness and self-assessment, and application of foundational leadership and management skills.

This course focuses on strategies and tools that managers use to maximize employee contribution and create organizational excellence. You will learn talent management strategies to motivate and develop employees as well as best practices to manage performance for added value.

This course prepares students for the communication challenges in organizations. Topics examined include theories and strategies of communication, persuasion, conflict management, and ethics that enhance communication to various audiences.

This course focuses on the strategic importance of operations management to overall performance. This course also emphasizes principles of supply chain management relevant to a variety of business operations ranging from manufacturing goods to retail services. You will examine the various planning, control, and decision-making tools and techniques of the operations function.

This course examines how economic tools, techniques, and indicators can be used for solving organizational problems related to competitiveness, productivity, and growth. You will explore the management implications of a variety of economic concepts and effective strategies to make decisions within a global context.

Marketing Fundamentals introduces students to principles of the marketing environment, social media, consumer behavior, marketing research, and market segmentation. Students will also explore marketing strategies that are related to products and services, distribution channels, promotions, sales, and pricing.

This course provides you with the accounting knowledge and skills to assess and manage a business. Topics include the accounting cycle, financial statements, taxes, and budgeting. This course will improve students’ ability to understand reports and use accounting information to plan and make sound business decisions.

This course examines the ethical issues and dilemmas managers face. This course provides a framework for analysis of management-related ethical issues and decision-making action required for satisfactory resolution of these issues.

This course covers practical approaches to analysis and decision-making in the administration of corporate funds, including capital budgeting, working capital management, and cost of capital. Topics include financial planning, management of working capital, analysis of investment opportunities, sources of long-term financing, government regulations, and global influences. This course will improve students’ ability to interpret financial statements and manage corporate finances.

This course presents critical problem-solving methodologies, including field research and data collection methods that enhance organizational performance. Topics include quantitative analysis, statistical and quality tools. You will improve your ability to use data to make informed decisions.

MBA Capstone is the culminating course in the MBA program that provides an integrative experience with all competencies and assessment topics throughout the program. Students synthesize concepts from previously completed coursework and demonstrate an understanding of responsible practices for growing and running a business. This course promotes a meaningful connection between the academic work and career experience.

Program consists of 11 courses

Capstone Project

Special requirements for this program

At the end of your program, you will complete a capstone project that represents the culmination of all your hard work—a project that allows you to take what you’ve learned and apply it to a real-world situation, proposing a solution to an actual issue you face in your place of business.

Skills For Your Résumé

As part of this program, you will develop a range of valuable skills that employers are looking for. 

  • Management: Identified and determined the resources required to effectively support an organization or process, ensuring optimal functionality and efficiency.
  • Operations: Developed comprehensive systems with standard operating procedures (SOPs) for distinct parts of a business, promoting consistency, compliance, and operational excellence.
  • Communication: Leveraged appropriate communication techniques to effectively persuade and guide outcomes.
  • Data Analysis:  Applied analytical and logical reasoning skills to uncover valuable information crucial for decision-making processes.
  • Written Communication:  Addressed internal and external stakeholders using the most suitable written communication strategy for each audience, fostering effective communication and engagement.
  • Business Development:  Developed strategic plans for acquiring new business and expanding existing business in collaboration with the business development team.

“Because of WGU's competency-based program, I didn't have to get into things that I already knew. Instead I was able to use that for the things that were more challenging for me to learn.”

—Alvyn Joy Halili MBA

WGU vs. Traditional Universities Compare the Difference

Traditional Universities


Per credit hour

Flat rate per 6-month term

Schedule and wait days or even weeks to meet with one of many counselors

Simply email or call to connect with your designated Program Mentor who supports you from day one

Scheduled time

Whenever you feel ready

Professor led lectures at a certain time and place

Courses available anytime, from anywhere


Approximately 2 years, minimal acceleration options

As quickly as you can master the material, can finish programs in 1 year

mba business planning

Earning Potential

After graduation, WGU MBA master's degree graduates report earning $16,200 more per year*. Are you ready to make more money?

mba business planning

Entirely Online

Competency-based education means you can move as quickly through your degree as you can master the material. You don't have to log in to classes at a certain time—you are truly in the driver's seat of your education.  

mba business planning

The Master of Business Administration degree at WGU is 100% online, which means it works wherever you are. You can do your coursework at night after working at your full-time job, on weekends, while you're traveling the world or on vacation—it's entirely up to you.

Accredited, Respected, Recognized™

One important measure of a degree’s value is the reputation of the university where it was earned. When employers, industry leaders, and academic experts hold your alma mater in high esteem, you reap the benefits of that respect. WGU is a pioneer in reinventing higher education for the 21st century, and our quality has been recognized.

Accreditation Council For Business Schools and Programs


Affordable Online Degree Programs

By charging per term rather than per credit—and empowering students to accelerate through material they know well or learn quickly—WGU helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. The faster you complete your program, the less you pay for your degree.

A College Degree Within Reach

There is help available to make paying for school possible for you:

mba business planning

The average student loan debt of WGU graduates in 2022 (among those who borrowed) was less than half* the national average.

mba business planning

Most WGU students qualify for financial aid, and WGU is approved for federal financial aid and U.S. veterans benefits. 

mba business planning

Many scholarship opportunities are available. Find out what you might be eligible for.

* WGU undergraduate students have approximately half the debt at graduation compared to the national average, according to the Institute for College Access and Success (2022).

Flexible schedule, you control where, when, and how fast you learn and graduate.

Schedules are tight and often unpredictable for busy professionals. That’s why we offer a flexible, personalized approach to how education should be. No interruptions to your work and family obligations. No rigid class schedules. No barriers to earning your degree on your own terms. Just a solid, career-focused online MBA program that meshes seamlessly with your current lifestyle.

"I was fortunate enough to finish my WGU degree program in six months because I was able to show what I knew and not have to sit in needless classes. I was able to showcase my strengths and still have plenty of time to work on my weaknesses, which really helped me finish my degree. I couldn't have done this anywhere else.”

—David Burks MBA

mba business planning


A Respected MBA Degree That Can Prepare You for a Successful Management Career

Goldman Sachs. Google. MGM. Microsoft. Apple. These giant organizations are changing the world, and WGU MBA graduates are there in the thick of it—making decisions as key leaders in top organizations. An online MBA degree from WGU has prepared these graduates to stand out from the competition, to take charge, and to make change. And a master's in business administration degree could do the same thing for you. Get an MBA online that is focused on helping you excel as a business leader and reach all your career aspirations.

WGU’s online MBA degree is designed for business professionals who are ready to advance their career. It is a university program that focuses on management, strategy, and business skills that are vital to your success as a leader. Earn an online MBA that gives you the skills to become the impactful business leader your organization needs.

Return on Your Investment

On average, wgu graduates see an increase in income post-graduation.

Average income increase from all degrees in annual salary vs. pre-enrollment salary. Source:  2023 Harris Poll Survey  of 1,655 WGU graduates.

Survey was sent to a representative sample of WGU graduates from all colleges. Respondents received at least one WGU degree since 2017.

Employment of top executives is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031.

—U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

MBAs from WGU Are Leading Teams and Businesses in Diverse Industries

Problem-solving leaders are required in every industry, and strategic thinking is necessary at every successful company. If you're ready to broaden your business knowledge and advance your career, WGU's MBA program online can prepare you to be an effective leader and produce successful results wherever you go. Your business management career starts here! Our 5,300-plus MBA grads have great jobs and satisfying careers.

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Executive director
  • Chief strategic officer

Top Industries

  • Private companies
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Colleges and universities

Top Employers

  • American Airlines
  • Edward Jones
  • Intermountain Healthcare
  • Mayo Clinic

WGU Grads Hold Positions With Top Employers


MBA Admission Requirements

To be considered for this program, you must:

  • Submit a transcript verifying receipt of your bachelor’s degree from a recognized, accredited institution.

NOTE: You do not need to take the GRE or GMAT to be admitted to this program.  Learn why we don't require these tests.

Transfer Credits

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Get Your Enrollment Checklist

Download your step-by-step guide to enrollment.

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Get Your Questions Answered

Talk to an WGU Enrollment Counselor.


The One-Year MBA

WGU's unique competency-based model allows you to move faster through your degree program. This online Master of Business Administration degree gives you the flexibility you need to earn your degree on your terms. You don't have to leave your job to pursue a master's in business administration—something you and your employer will both appreciate. No logging in, no set class times—you are in the driver's seat of your education.

WGU's one-year* MBA allows you to finish your Master in Business Administration program in only 12 months for just $9,510.

* Program can be completed in as little as 12 months. Pricing is based on 12-month completion of the program. Students that do not complete in 12 months and need longer to complete the program will need to pay for additional terms.

mba business planning

Frequently Asked Questions about MBA Programs

  • General MBA FAQs
  • Online MBA FAQs

What is an MBA?

MBA stands for Master’s of Business Administration. An MBA is a graduate-level business management degree that teaches you leadership skills for the modern business world. Those with an MBA often stand out among candidates for upper management positions.

Is it Masters or Master of Business Administration?

Both terms are commonly used, but the technical correct usage is Master of Business Administration, or a Master's in Business Administration. 

What can you do with a Master in Business Administration?

There are many job opportunities with an MBA degree. They include:

  • Chief executive officer
  • Chief financial officer
  • Marketing manager
  • International business development
  • Chief marketing officer
  • Sales manager
  • Operations manager
  • Human resources manager

What is the purpose of an MBA degree?

An MBA gives you additional skills and training that can help you progress in your career. You'll learn about strategy, communication, management, and leadership that will help you move into larger roles in an organization. An MBA trains you to become a business leader in many different kinds of industries.

What do you learn in an MBA program?

In an MBA program you'll have courses in accounting, finance, marketing, strategy, leadership, management, and more. 

Is a Master's in Business Administration worth it?

Yes! An MBA can help you boost your résumé and help you get higher pay, better job opportunities, and more. In fact, WGU MBA graduates earn an average of $16,200 more per year after graduation.

Why should you pursue an MBA?

An MBA is a great option for those who want to progress into management or leadership roles in an organization. Whether you want to move to a new company or have upward mobility in your current organization, an MBA can help you be prepared to move up.

What is an MBA good for?

An MBA teaches you leadership skills that can help you excel as an executive in a business setting. Earning an MBA can set you apart when you’re looking to advance into a management role within a corporation. The skills you learn in an MBA program may also help you start and manage your own business.

How long does it take to get an MBA degree?

In general, it takes around two years to earn an MBA degree. That said, through a competency-based online MBA program like the one offered at WGU, students may be able to earn their degree more quickly, sometimes in 18 months or less.

How many years does it take to get an MBA degree?

The number of years it takes to earn an MBA degree can vary depending on the university.

  • Traditional university: 2 years
  • Competency-based MBA program: 1 to 1.5 years
  • Part-time MBA program: around 3 years

Can you earn an MBA completely online?

Yes. You can earn an MBA completely online. This unique model enables students to keep their current job while working toward their degree. Competency-based education models and on-demand classes, tests, and assignments make earning a degree online a valid option for busy working professionals or those with limited access to a brick and mortar university.

Does online MBA have any value?

Yes. With the growing prevalence and availability of online MBA programs, curriculum and acceptance criteria have become more rigorous. As higher education has moved increasingly to online formats, more employers are respecting online MBAs and finding online MBA grads to possess the skills necessary to add value to their business. 

Is an online MBA respected?

Yes. If you earn an MBA from an accredited and reputable university, it will likely be respected by employers. Many online MBA programs have gained enough of a reputation that employers now seek out graduates specifically from certain online programs and universities.

Which online MBA program is best?

The best online MBA programs in terms of ROI include:

  • Excelsior College; 497% ROI
  • Western Governors University; 267% ROI
  • American Public University; 249% ROI
  • Arizona State University—Skysong; 225% ROI
  • Capella University; 171% ROI

Is an online MBA easy?

No. An online MBA is not necessarily easy. While an online MBA may offer more flexibility and accessibility than a typical in-person program, online programs are still competitive and rigorous. Many students, however, find that an online MBA is easier in the sense that it fits more seamlessly into their busy lives, as they can access courses, take exams, and complete projects anywhere they have internet access.

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  • Harvard Business School →

Two Years. A World of Difference.

Harvard Business School offers a two-year, full-time MBA program with a general management curriculum focused on real-world practice.

Becoming a student at HBS means joining a global community that propels lifelong learning and career support alongside peers, faculty, and staff who will both challenge you and cheer you on as you find and accelerate your path.


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Academic experience  , dynamic learning environments.

Through case method courses, FIELD projects, tech simulations, introspective exercises, and more, you will discover your potential and leave a more inspiring leader than you ever thought possible.

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Take a Seat in the Harvard MBA Case Classroom

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Into the Field

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  • Michael Norton, Alison Wood Brooks, Arthur Brooks & Ryan Buell

The Ritual Effect Book Launch and Faculty Band Performance

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What difference will you make, class profile  , student life  , an inspiring & collaborative community.

Here you'll learn as much from your classmates as you do from our world-class instructors—and they from you! Each class is an assembly of individuals who bring their diverse backgrounds and unique experiences to case discussions. The scale of HBS—from large-format classes to intimate sections and curated study groups—is intentionally designed to foster growth and learning.

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Small sections, student clubs, student profiles  , will i belong.

“The section—the incredibly diverse group of 94 classmates, hand-picked to create a representative microcosm of the entire +900 class —has been the most wonderful unexpected gift in my HBS journey. To them I am grateful for the many lessons they have taught me, but, most importantly, to them I am grateful for giving me the freedom to be my authentic self.”

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Take a Walk through our Residential Campus

A global experience  , direct from the director  , college students, now is the time – apply through the 2+2 deferred admissions process.

  • 16 Apr 2024

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Life at hbs chat with the south asian business association and southeast asia club, mba voices blog  .

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How I Spent my 2+2 Deferral: Zoe Bhargava

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Empowering Future Leaders: Meet the HBS Women’s Student Association

  • 28 Mar 2024

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Video: Inspirational Women in Business

  • 27 Mar 2024

Stay in Touch

550+ Business Plan Examples to Launch Your Business

550+ Free Sample Business Plans

Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration.

Find your business plan example

Accounting, Insurance & Compliance

Accounting, Insurance & Compliance Business Plans

  • View All 25

Children & Pets

Children & Pets Business Plans

  • Children's Education & Recreation
  • View All 33

Cleaning, Repairs & Maintenance

Cleaning, Repairs & Maintenance Business Plans

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  • Cleaning Products
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Clothing & Fashion Brand

Clothing & Fashion Brand Business Plans

  • Clothing & Fashion Design
  • View All 26

Construction, Architecture & Engineering

Construction, Architecture & Engineering Business Plans

  • Architecture
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  • View All 46

Consulting, Advertising & Marketing

Consulting, Advertising & Marketing Business Plans

  • Advertising
  • View All 54


Education Business Plans

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Business plan template: There's an easier way to get your business plan done.

Entertainment & Recreation

Entertainment & Recreation Business Plans

  • Entertainment
  • Film & Television
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Events Business Plans

  • Event Planning
  • View All 17

Farm & Agriculture

Farm & Agriculture Business Plans

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Finance & Investing

Finance & Investing Business Plans

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Fine Art & Crafts

Fine Art & Crafts Business Plans

Fitness & Beauty

Fitness & Beauty Business Plans

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Food and Beverage

Food and Beverage Business Plans

  • Bar & Brewery
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Hotel & Lodging

Hotel & Lodging Business Plans

  • Bed and Breakfast

Finish your plan faster with step-by-step guidance, financial wizards, and a proven format.

IT, Staffing & Customer Service

IT, Staffing & Customer Service Business Plans

  • Administrative Services
  • Customer Service
  • View All 22

Manufacturing & Wholesale

Manufacturing & Wholesale Business Plans

  • Cleaning & Cosmetics Manufacturing
  • View All 68

Medical & Health

Medical & Health Business Plans

  • Dental Practice
  • Health Administration
  • View All 41


Nonprofit Business Plans

  • Co-op Nonprofit
  • Food & Housing Nonprofit
  • View All 13

Real Estate & Rentals

Real Estate & Rentals Business Plans

  • Equipment Rental

Retail & Ecommerce

Retail & Ecommerce Business Plans

  • Car Dealership
  • View All 116


Technology Business Plans

  • Apps & Software
  • Communication Technology

Transportation, Travel & Logistics

Transportation, Travel & Logistics Business Plans

  • Airline, Taxi & Shuttle
  • View All 62

View all sample business plans

Example business plan format

Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.

Your executive summary should include a summary of the problem you are solving, a description of your product or service, an overview of your target market, a brief description of your team, a summary of your financials, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).

Products & services

The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.

This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.

Market analysis

Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.


Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.

To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you're business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.

Marketing & sales

The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.

The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.

Milestones & metrics

The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.

A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.

You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.

Company & team

Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.

Financial projections

Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.

Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.

The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.

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. 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 in any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual.

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 format 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.

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.

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.

Growth planning

Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's 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, forecast, review, and refine based on your 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 more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.

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

Download a free sample business plan template

Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2024.

This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.

How to use an example business plan to help you write your own

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How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.

Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company

You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.

For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.

Use a business plan example as a guide

Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.

One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.

You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.

If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template .

Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document

Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.

Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool

Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.

If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.

Prepare to pitch your business

If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.

Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.

With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples.

Ready to get started?

Now that you know how to use an example business plan to help you write a plan for your business, it's time to find the right one.

Use the search bar below to get started and find the right match for your business idea.

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Best Online MBA Programs for 2024 – Strategy

If you are the type of professional who sees yourself at the helm of a company one day, making big picture decisions for businesses and becoming an integral part of building out long-term strategy, you may consider pursuing an MBA degree with a strategy focus. For those looking to sharpen their organizational leadership skills Fortune has ranked the best online MBA programs with a concentration in strategy. This ranking was last updated May 2023.

1. Indiana University–Bloomington (Kelley)

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2. University of Florida (Hough)

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6. Xavier University

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Applying MBA knowledge in Real Time

Students work with an international tech company looking to access new markets, and deliver investment-quality business plans after six months of research

BCP gives you the chance to work with a team of classmates to develop an implementation plan and launch your own business

An investment fund managed by student portfolio managers dedicated to the pursuit of favorable risk-adjusted returns

Global Access Program

Real World Challenges

  • Form five-person team made of students from diverse professional backgrounds
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If you are an organization interested in participating in the Global Access Program

Hear the Student Experiences

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"The team identified a cultural divide with the organization. We immediately implemented the recommendation and saw a cultural shift, which boosted morale. It was as though we had a different company."

SIMON OXENHAM Managing Director of Convic (Australia)

Access a world of information

19 years advising GAP


Phone: (310) 206-8086 / (310) 825-2505

Dr. Forman is the founder and director of the Management Communication Program at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. In this capacity, she teaches communication strategy and practices in the full-time and executive MBA programs and trains a staff who teach communications across the curriculum. She has taught corporate communication for the last decade as a faculty advisor for more than a hundred MBA "Living Cases," which are extended international strategic studies for multi-national companies, such as Microsoft, Hughes, Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Disney, and for start-up firms in Austria, Australia, Chile, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, New Zealand, and the United States. The Fully-Employed MBA Program and the Global Access Program (GAP) in which she teaches business planning and investor communications were ranked first in the United States by Business Week in 2008. She was a founding faculty member of the GAP program.

She was named the outstanding researcher in 1995 by the Association for Business Communication. The award is based on her entire publication record and its pivotal role in extending research in her discipline and in educating managers. She is the recipient of numerous awards for research, including fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Center for International Business Education and Research, the Council of Public Relations Firms, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Her book, The Power of Corporate Communication, written with Professor Paul Argenti of the Tuck School, won the Distinguished Publication Award for 2003 from the Association for Business Communication. Dr. Forman has published three other books, including The Random House Guide to Business Writing, and numerous articles in publications such as The Journal of Business Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, The Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Corporate Reputation Review, and Strategy & Business. She is a frequent presenter at international research and business forums and in on the editorial board of Business Communication Quarterly.

Dr. Forman is under contract with Stanford University Press for a book on storytelling and organizations, a project partially funded by the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. Her current research focuses on storytelling ("When Stories Create an Organization's Future," Strategy & Business ; "Leaders as Storytellers: Finding Waldo," Business Communication Quarterly) as well as on the related subjects of the role of communication in the implementation of organizational strategy ("The Communication Advantage" in Hatch et al., The Expressive Organization, Oxford University Press, and featured as one of the outstanding articles in management in The Financial Times Book of Management) and the role of storytelling and translation in producing effective strategic communications ("More than Survival: The Discipline of Business Communication and the Uses of Translation," The Journal of Business Communication).

She is the faculty director for the Executive Education Program on Advanced Strategic Management for European-based corporate communication professionals and has consulted to a wide variety of organizations, including Cap Gemini/Ernst & Young, Invesco, Knapp Communications, Colony Capital, the MTA, and BBDO. She has been a visiting professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the University of California at San Diego's Rady School of Business, and the University of Lugano.

Ph.D. 1980, Rutgers College


Published Papers

Janis Forman. (Second Quarter 1999). When Stories Create an Organization's Future. Strategy & Business, Issue 15.

Janis Forman and Patricia Katsky. (Fall 1986). The Group Report: A Problem in Small Group or Writing Processes. The Journal of Business Communication

14 years advising GAP


Phone: (310) 825-3564 / Fax: (310) 267-2193

Since 1995, Eric has been a lecturer in accounting and real estate at the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, where he has been voted Teacher of the Year thirteen times by Anderson�s MBA students, and has been awarded the Citibank Teaching Award (1998) and the Neidorf Decade Teaching Award (2008), both voted upon by a committee of faculty members. He has also received recognition by Businessweek as one of the Top Ten Most Popular Business School Professors in the country.

He teaches in the areas of cost/managerial accounting, financial accounting (beginning through advanced), financial statement analysis, equity valuation, corporate financial reporting, and real estate investment and finance to undergraduate, graduate, and Executive Education students. He created Insight FSA, an analytical software tool to automatically and critically measure, evaluate, and report upon the financial accounting and corporate reporting risk for all public companies via Edgar On-line.

In addition, he has advised numerous Full-time and Fully Employed MBA field study teams and consulted for large and small firms, nationally and globally, and is a frequent lecturer on varied financial, accounting, and corporate reporting topics. He has led student travel groups to Brazil, China, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi. He has served as an expert witness and consultant for commercial litigation, involving matters of corporate financial reporting and disclosure, audit effectiveness, valuation, real estate due diligence and related practices, and overall damage analyses.

Outside of campus, Mr. Sussman is president of Amber Capital, Inc., Manager of Fountain Management, LLC and Clear Capital, LLC, and Managing Partner of Sequoia Real Estate Partners, and the Pacific Value Opportunities Funds, which have acquired, rehabilitated, developed, and managed over two million square feet of residential and commercial real estate in the past 20 years. The firms' portfolio presently consists of industrial, multi-family residential, single-family residential, and retail properties (approximately 2,200 residential units and some 500,000 square feet of commercial space).

He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Causeway Capital�s group of funds (International Value, Emerging Markets, Global Value, and Global Absolute Return Funds, which collectively have in excess of $5.0 billion in assets), sits on the Board of Directors of Pacific Charter School Development, Inc. and Bentley-Forbes, LLC; and was former Chairman of the Presidio Fund and former Audit Committee Chair of Atlantic Inertial Systems, Inc., a producer and manufacturer of electromagnetic sensors. He received his MBA from Stanford, with honors, in 1993, after graduating Summa cum Laude from UCLA in 1987. He is a licensed CPA in the State of California.

Teaching Focus

Issues in Corporate Financial Reporting, Financial Statement Analysis and Valuation, Complex Deals, Cost Measurement and Evaluation, Real Estate Investment and Finance

MBA 1993, Stanford University B.A. Business and Economics, 1987, UCLA

Auditing, Financial Statement Analysis, Fraud Detection, Personal Finance, Real Estate, Asset Valuation, Shareholder Litigation, Cost Evaluation and Measurement


Neidorf �Decade� Award

11 years advising GAP


Jonathan G. Lasch, Ph.D., is the Executive Director for the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California (AMI-USC), where he brings more than 25 years of experience in science and technology development and evaluation in the fields of biomedical instruments and systems, biotechnology, chemistry, and materials science. He is a Research Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Viterbi School of Engineering and holds a courtesy appointment as a Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship in the Greif Center of the Marshall School of Business at USC.

Prior to joining AMI-USC he served as a Managing Director of Convergent Ventures (CV), an early stage life sciences venture investment and development company. He has served as chairman or member of the boards of directors and CEO of several CV portfolio companies. From 2002-2007, he was on the board of directors of Precision Dynamics Corporation, a privately held healthcare products company, and he currently serves on the board of directors of the Southern California Biomedical Council. Dr. Lasch has held leadership positions at Materia, a materials science company spun out of Caltech, where he served as founding President and CEO, and Cyrano Sciences, a Caltech spin- out based on chemical sensor technology. Previously, he served as vice president, technology development for The Scripps Research Institute, the largest not-for-profit biomedical research institute in the United States and was director of research, biotechnology, for PPG Industries.

He is entering his sixth year as a UCLA Anderson FEMBA GAP faculty advisor, and he served two years as the Director of the EMBA Field Study Program.

B.S. Biological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Texas at Austin

9 years advising GAP

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[email protected]

UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1985, Peter Cowen has been a technology serial entrepreneur, angel investor, advisor to startups and an investment banker. Today, he is Managing Director at Sutton Capital Partners a middle market technology advisory firm. The focus is on enterprise and Saas software, digital technology and tech- enabled outsourced services. He is currently on the board of 4 venture-backed companies.

Previously, Mr. Cowen co-founded three companies that were sold to strategic investors—one in computer networks (DataVoice Solutions Inc.), another in biometric security (Biometric ID Inc) and the other in logistic fleet optimization (TransDecisions Inc.). After selling his first company he traveled around the world for a year, primarily in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and has visited over 40 countries.

Mr. Cowen has been an angel investor in over 50 early stage companies and VC funds, primarily in digital technology, including Cognition(sold to Nuance NSDQ: NUAN), StyleHaul (sold to Bertelsmann) , Mind Body, Inc. (NSDQ: MB), Pulse (NSDQ: PLSE) and ESalon. He is a foundingmember of Tech Coast Angels, Los Angeles, part of the largest angel network in the country. Before that, he worked in marketing at Unilever and Hewlett Packard, and then worked with the Israeli Export Institute to help Israeli technology companies into the U.S. Mr. Cowen also served on the board of directors of the UCLA Anderson Alumni for over 10 years, and created the “Recurring Revenue Conference” which is the largest conference in Southern California focused on the subscription economy. He has been a GAP advisor for 9 years.

MBA, Finance, UCLA Anderson School of Management

B.A., Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

6 years advising GAP

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[email protected]

Daniel Nathanson has over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, investor, consultant and educator, with accom- plishments in building businesses, creating financial value, and helping fellow entrepreneurs achieve success. He is a professor of Business Plan Development and New Venture Initiation at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, a position he has held since 2008. In addition to teaching, Dr. Nathanson serves as a faculty advisor to student teams conducting capstone field study projects. In 2010, he became Managing Director of SJ Investment Company (SJIC), an investment fund providing capital, oversight, and direction to high potential, early stage companies that have demonstrated “proof of concept.” SJIC also finances proven operating companies to facilitate strategic growth opportunities.

Dr. Nathanson began his executive career as the EVP and Chief Corporate Planner in charge of Mergers and Acquisitions at Ver- nitron Corporation, a publicly traded medical equipment and diversified electronics firm. As the Executive Vice President, he was responsible for the overall direction and financial performance of the company. He founded and served as CEO of CRS, a nation- wide turnkey point-of-sale computer company. Developing this state-of-the-art technology company from its inception, he guided CRS to become the leading company in its field.

After selling CRS in 1993, Dr. Nathanson accepted a position as Clinical Assistant Professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, where he taught entrepreneurship and business strategy. While at NYU, he founded S.M.A.R.T. Management Consulting, specializing in helping small to mid-size entrepreneurs successfully grow their businesses. He also served as Chairman of two groups of CEOs for Vistage, an international organization of CEOs with over 14,000 members.

Shortly after founding the Washington Square Capital Fund (WSCF), a formalized angel group that invests in early-stage compa- nies, Dr. Nathanson left the Stern School to focus on investing activities and to take active leadership roles in a number of early stage ventures, including the CEO at Tickmark Solutions. In less than 18 months under his leadership, revenues of this software company rose from $500,000 to almost $4 million. In 2002, he engineered the successful sale of Tickmark.

Dr. Nathanson served as CEO and President of a promotional products firm, followed by an asset management venture. He worked with company founders to develop strategies, build infrastructures, raise capital and establish important strategic relationships in order to achieve successful growth and build sustainable value.

Dr. Nathanson is the co-author of Strategy Implementation: The Role of Structure and Process and author of a number of published articles in the area of strategy implementation. He is also a member of the Tech Coast Angels investment organization. He has been a GAP advisor for 7 years.

Ph.D., Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, MBA, NYU’s Graduate School of Business

B.A., Washington University in St. Louis, MO

5 years advising GAP

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Terry Kramer has a 30 year career in telecommunications and technology. For 18 of those 25 years, Mr. Kramer worked for Vodafone Group Plc/ AirTouch Communications in a variety of roles domestically and internationally, including Group Strategy and Business Improvement Officer, Regional President, Vodafone Americas which included oversight of Vodafone's 45% interest in Verizon Wireless and Vodafone's venture capital activities, Group Human Resources Officer & Chief of Staff, President AirTouch Paging and Vice President/GM AirTouch Cellular-Southwest Market. In June 2012, Mr. Kramer received an appointment by President Obama to serve as Ambassador, Head of U.S. Delegation for the World Conference on International Telecommunications which was held in December 2012 in Dubai. In this role, he led a 100+ person delegation of U.S. government, industry, and civil society representatives negotiating a treaty on international telecommunications policy. This delegation formulated and communicated the U.S. policy regarding the criticality of a free and open internet, the criticality of inclusive, multi stakeholder governance, the need to proactively address cybersecurity threats and the need for liberalized, open markets which encourage accelerated broadband access in markets worldwide.

Mr. Kramer is currently a full time Adjunct Professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, teaching two courses--the foundational technology management course and a course on the evolution and innovation in the mobile communications industry. He is also a Faculty Advisor in the Global Access Program (GAP) and the Strategic Management Research Program (SMR), advising students working on client assignments involved in new market entry, product development and business strategy. Furthermore, he currently serves as Chair to Thiota. In 2017, he was awarded UCLA Anderson's teaching award from the Fully Employed Executive MBA's. From 2011 to 2013, he was an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Harvard Business School. Mr. Kramer currently sits on the Boards/Advisory Boards of TeleSign, TangoCard, RapidSOS, Textpert, the Harvard Business School California Research Center, UCLA Economics Department Board of Visitors and is the Chairman of Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco.

MBA, Harvard University

3 years advising GAP

Jeffrey Lapin is the immediate past President of Tech Coast Angels in Los Angeles. He has made over 20 startup investments in the past five years, and serves on many company boards and advises several companies.

Mr. Lapin began his career as an attorney with Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp in Los Angeles. He then served in various executive capacities with Starwood Hotels & Resorts and its predecessors (NYSE: HOT), from January 1995 to June 1996 as President and Chief Operating Officer, and from May 1991 to January 1995 as President and Chief Executive Officer.

In 1996, Mr. Lapin served as President of House of Blues Hospitality, Inc. and Executive Vice President of House of Blues Entertain-ment, Inc.

Two years later, he began serving as Vice Chairman of THQ Inc. (NASDAQ: THQI), a developer and publisher of interactive soft- ware. During his time with THQ, Mr. Lapin also served as Chief Operating Officer and Director of the company.

Mr. Lapin was the Director and Chief Executive Officer of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), a developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software (sales of $1.2 billion).

From 2009 to 2010, Mr. Lapin served as the Chief Executive Officer of Atari, S.A., a French public company that develops and pub- lishes online and boxed video games and related applications. Prior, Mr. Lapin served as a Director and Chief Executive Officer and President of RazorGator Interactive Group, an ecommerce company which sells secondary event tickets and related services.

Mr. Lapin has served as a private consultant to several companies, including In-Fusio Group, Riverdeep, Ubisoft, Capcom, and Four Queens. He has served and continues to serve as Director of several for profit and nonprofit entities. He has been a GAP advisor for 4 years.

J.D., Loyola Law School B.A., Economics, University of California, Los Angeles

Todd Senturia is a partner based in Bain & Company’s Los Angeles office. Prior to moving to California, Mr. Senturia spent the first part of his Bain career in the Boston office, and three years working in the Asian and Australian practices. He has led projects ranging from corporate and business-unit strategy to the detailed design and implementation of large-scale transformational restructuring and turnaround programs. He has also supported buyer or seller in several merger & acquisition negotiations.

As one of the global leaders of Bain’s Results Delivery/Change Management capability area, Mr. Senturia has personally supported more than 18 large-scale, multi-year client change and transformation programs. He is also a core member of Bain’s performance improvement, organization, tech/telecom and industrial practices. Since 2010, he has also taken on responsibility for co-leading the firm’s internal Professional Development and Training Environment.

Over his career, Mr. Senturia has worked for Bain clients in North America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. He has significant depth of experience in the technology and telecom practices, including semiconductors and computers, wireline and wireless telecommunications, and cable television. Mr. Senturia has also served multiple aerospace and defense, industrial, and automotive clients on issues ranging from growth to cost reduction. His consumer products/retail clients have included branded packaged goods, consumer electronics, consumer imaging, and a wide variety of food categories.

Prior to joining Bain, Mr. Senturia spent almost nine years on the senior management team of a small high technology sensor and instrumentation company, where he served most recently as Vice President of Marketing and Sales, as well as Treasurer. He was also a founding board member of Polychromix, a VC-backed startup in the optical sensing sector that was recently purchased by Thermo-Electron.

Mr. Senturia joined UCLA Anderson as an Executive in Residence for Management Consulting in 2011, and became a GAP faculty advisor in 2012.

His Master’s thesis, “Globalizing the Emerging High Technology Company”, was subsequently published in Industrial Marketing Management. Todd Senturia has been a GAP advisor for 4 years.

M.S., Management, MIT Sloan School of Management B.A., East Asian Studies, Harvard College

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Gary Hutchinson has over 30+ years of experience in business and entrepreneurship. He served as a panel judge for the Global Access Program (GAP) at The UCLA Anderson School of Management from 2003-2013. In 2014, he accepted a position as faculty advisor to the program.

Mr. Hutchinson currently serves as the President and CEO of Biothelium, a startup focused on the cardiology market with tech- nology developed in conjunction with the Alfred E. Mann Institute at the University of Southern California (AMI) and U.C. San Francisco. He also serves as Entrepreneur in Residence at AMI, which is a non-profit organization that supports research, develop- ment and commercialization of biomedical devices and other technologies. In addition, Mr. Hutchinson is Executive Chairman of Nelson-Miller Inc, a leading company in electronic human interface solutions serving the healthcare, defense and consumer industry markets.

Mr. Hutchinson began his career as the Chairman, President and CEO of Zymed, a privately held company focused on the research, development, production and marketing, and sales of Holter EKG Ambulatory Monitoring Systems, Event Monitoring, In Patient Telemetry Monitoring Systems and Trans-telephonic Systems. Through extensive technology development and strategic alliances, the company became the industry leader in Ambulatory Monitoring and Arrhythmia Detection Algorithms. The company grew to $25M in sales and $5M in EBITDA.

Following the acquisition of Zymed by Philips Medical Systems, Mr. Hutchinson assumed the VP/GM position of the Cardiology Division. The $200M business unit was responsible for manufacturing, research and development, sales and marketing world-wide for non-invasive cardiology products focused on EKG Carts, Holter / Event Monitoring, EKG Data Storage & Analysis Systems and Transtelephonic EKG monitoring. Offices were also maintained in Shanghai, China.

From 2002 to 2010, Mr. Hutchinson served as President and CEO of Precision Dynamics Corporation (PDC), a privately held company is the leading manufacturer of healthcare and patron management identification solutions. In late 2010 he assumed a directorship and executive advisory role through the sale of the company to Brady Corporation in December 2012. The company grew from $43M to $170M in sales, and from $2M to $30M in EBITDA. It established European headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, developed manufacturing operations in Tijuana, Mexico, and partnered with Water Street Healthcare Partners, a Chicago private equity firm. Furthermore, the company acquired the wristband product line from Hollister, Inc., (Libertyville, IL) and TimeMed Labeling Systems, Inc. (Burr Ridge, IL).

Mr. Hutchinson has served on ten boards of directors, and contributed as advisor and consultant to twelve assignments.

B.A. in History from Ohio State University, 1971

2 years advising GAP

mba business planning

Molly Schmid has specific expertise in guiding early stage companies and technology commercialization, stemming from her roles in scientific management, project leadership, and business development in four biotechnology companies. Her career has been about equally split between academia and industry. Currently, she serves primarily as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Alfred Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering at USC and as a Senior Counselor for TriTechSBDC.

Dr. Schmid has held senior leadership positions in the biotech industry, where she served as Group Vice President, Life Science at ieCrowd (Riverside, CA), Senior Vice President of Preclinical Programs at Affinium Pharmaceuticals (Toronto, ON), Director of Genomics and Bioinformatics at Genencor International (Palo Alto CA), and Vice President of Research Alliances at Microcide Pharmaceuticals (Mountain View, CA).

In these companies, she was part of executive teams that raised over $200MM in funding through venture capital, corporate partnerships, public markets, and US and Canadian federal research grants. Her experiences with these companies included two IPO’s, two compounds that entered human clinical trials, international, multi-year, multi-million dollar corporate partnerships with a number of companies, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Daiichi Pharmaceuticals, and building and managing first-rate scientific teams, while satisfying the business needs of the organizations. She has nine issued U.S. patents, and several others pending.

She began her career in academia, where she has had a distinguished career. Most recently, she was Professor and Entrepreneur- in-Residence at Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences in Claremont, CA and formerly an Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. In addition, she has held adjunct professor positions at the University of Southern California (Marshall School of Business), San Diego State University (Biology), and Claremont Graduate University (Drucker School of Management). Dr. Schmid has served on numerous NSF and NIH grant review panels, and served as chair of an NIH SBIR/STTR grant review panel for several years. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a Searle Scholar, and a Damon-Runyon Fellow.

She has embedded herself in the Southern California entrepreneurial community since moving here in 2005. She is a member and past president of the Inland SoCal Tech Coast Angels, a member of the TCA Board of Governors (2011-2014), and a Senior Counselor for TriTech Small Business Development Center. Molly Schmid has been a GAP advisor for 3 years.

Ph.D., Biology University of Utah B.S., Biology, University at Albany - SUNY

Business Creation Project

BCP Success Story: Bellanove (Class of 2017)

BellaNove offers a monthly rental service for modern, sophisticated, professional maternity clothing items, aiming to help all women stay sharp and stylish from boardrooms to doctor check-ups with less hassle and fuss.

mba business planning

BellaNove Founder and Wolfen Fellow, Jenny Leung (’17) launched the company October 2017.

BCP Mentors

mba business planning

Internet, Business and Intellectual Property Attorney Cohen Business Law Group

mba business planning

Investor Upfront Ventures

mba business planning

Anderson Student Asset Management

Subject to minimum liquidity requirements, the Fund may hold the stock of any publicly traded U.S. firm on an approved list of stocks. A portion of the long-term profits of the fund will be donated to the UCLA Anderson School of Management for support in student scholarships and for support of research in finance.

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

Purposes for Developing Business Plans

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

Internal Purposes

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

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

External Purposes

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

Business Plan Development Principles

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

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

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

General Guidelines for Developing Business Plans

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

As You Write Your Business Plan

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

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

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

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

1. First main heading

1.1 First subheading under the first main heading

1.1.1. First sub-subheading under the first subheading

2. Second main heading

2.1 First subheading under the second main heading

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

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

  • Everything must be completely integrated. The written part must say exactly the same thing as the financial part.
  • All financial statements must be completely linked and valid. Make sure all of your balance sheets balance.
  • Everything must be correct. There should be NO spelling, grammar, sentence structure, referencing, or calculation errors.
  • Your document must be well organized and formatted. The layout you choose should make the document easy to read and comprehend. All of your diagrams, charts, statements, and other additions should be easy to find and be located in the parts of the plan best suited to them.
  • In some cases it can strengthen your business plan to show some information in both text and table or figure formats. You should avoid  unnecessary repetition , however, as it is usually unnecessary—and even damaging—to state the same thing more than once.
  • You should include all the information necessary for readers to understand everything in your document.
  • The terms you use in your plan should be clear and consistent. For example, the following statement in a business plan would leave a reader completely confused: “There is a shortage of 100,000 units with competitors currently producing 25,000. We can help fill this huge gap in demand with our capacity to produce 5,000 units.” This statement might mean there is a total shortage of 100,000 units, but competitors are filling this gap by producing 25,000 per year; in which case there will only be a shortage for four years. However, it could mean that the annual shortage is 100,000 units and only 25,000 are produced each year, in which case the total shortage is very high and is growing each year.
  • You must always provide the complete perspective by indicating the appropriate time frame, currency, size, or other measurement.
  • If you use a percentage figure, you must indicate to what it refers—otherwise the number is meaningless to a reader.
  • If your plan includes an international element, you must indicate in which currency or currencies the costs, revenues, prices, or other values are quoted. This can be solved by indicating up-front in the document in which currency all values will be quoted. Another option is to indicate each time which currency is being used, and sometimes you might want to indicate the value in more than one currency. Of course, you will need to assess the exchange rate risk to which you will be exposed and describe this in your document.

6. Ensure credibility is both established and maintained (Hindle & Mainprize, 2006).

  • If a statement presents something as a fact when this fact is not generally known, always indicate the source. Unsupported statements damage credibility.
  • Be specific. A business plan is simply not of value if it uses vague references to high demand, carefully set prices, and other weak phrasing. It must show hard numbers (properly referenced, of course), actual prices, and real data acquired through proper research. This is the only way to ensure your plan is considered credible.
  • Your strategies must be integrated. For example, your pricing strategy must complement and mesh perfectly with your product/service strategy, distribution strategy, and promotions strategy. For example, you probably shouldn’t promote your product as a premium product if you plan to charge lower-than-market prices for it.

7. Before finalizing your business plan, re-read each section to evaluate whether it will appeal to your targeted readers.

Existing business plans

The Word and Excel templates in this book

  • Business Plan Template (Word)
  • Business Plan Template (Excel)

Business Plan Development Tools

Credibility and communication.

According to Hindle and Mainprize (2006), strong business plans effectively communicate the necessary information to the targeted readers while also establishing the credibility of the plan and the entrepreneur. The Credibility and Communication Meter icon is used throughout this book to highlight where and how business plan writers can improve the quality of the information and enhance their and their plan’s credibility.

Use the following tools to improve the information in and credibility of your plans:

The Ratchet Effect

A ratchet is a tool that most of us are familiar with. It is useful because it helps its user accomplish something with each effort expended while guarding against losing past advancements.

With each word, sentence, paragraph, heading, chart, figure, and table you include in your final business plan, the ratchet should move ahead a notch because you achieve two important things.

First, only needed and relevant information is included.

Second, your additions build credibility in a relevant way.

Apply the ratchet effect by making sure that each and every sentence and paragraph conveys needed and relevant information that adds to your and your plan’s credibility. Use the following principles:

Rarely—and only if it truly needs to be said again—repeat something that you have already said in your plan.

Avoid using killer phrases, like “there is no competition for our product” or “our product will sell itself, so we will not need to advertise it.” Any savvy reader will understand that these kinds of statements are naive and demonstrate a lack of understanding about how the market and other real-life factors actually work.

Avoid contradicting yourself. Make sure that what is said in the written part of your plan completely syncs with what is said in the other parts of your plan. Likewise, ensure that what you include in the financial parts of your plan is completely in sync with what is said the written part.

The Magic Formula

Apply the following magic formula throughout your write your plan.

(a)…  consideration X affects my business because …

(b)… consideration X is subject to this trend into the future …

(c)… which means that we have decided to do this … (or) will implement this strategy … in response to how the expected trends for consideration X will affect my business

Here is an example of how you can use the magic formula to develop part of the pricing strategy in the marketing plan part of your business plan:

We expect that our expenses to run our business will rise with the rate of inflation, which means that we must plan to increase the prices on our products to establish and maintain our profitability. The Bank of Canada (201x) has projected that the general inflation rate in <the city in which my business will operate> will be 3.0% in 201x, 3.5% in 201y, and 4.0% in 201z. In our projected financial statements, therefore, we have inflated both our expenses and our prices by those rates in those years.

Context and Framing

You must provide the right context when you describe situations, strategies, and other components of your plan. Business plan readers should never be left to guess why you indicate in a business plan that you will do something. Proper context is needed to help you frame the information you present.

When you frame the stories you tell correctly, the ratchet effect will happen and your plan will be stronger. One example of effective framing is when you, as the writer of the plan and the entrepreneur, clearly indicate how your education, expertise, relevant experiences, and network of contacts will make up for any lack of direct experience you have in running this particular kind of business. An example of ineffective framing is when you indicate that you lack experience with this type of business, or when you fail to specify how and why your levels of experience will affect the business’s development.

Prioritizing Problems

Don’t get hung up on something that doesn’t need an immediate solution. Instead, flag it for future consideration and move on. When you return to re-address the issue, it might no longer be a problem or you might have by then figured out a solution.

Process for Developing Business Plans

The business plan development process described next has been extensively tested with entrepreneurship students and has proven to provide the guidance entrepreneurs need to develop a business plan appropriate for their needs: a  high power business plan .

Developing a high power business plan has six stages, which can be compared to a process for hosting a dinner for a few friends. A host hoping to make a good impression with their anticipated guests might analyze the situation at multiple levels to collect data on new alternatives for healthy ingredients, what ingredients have the best prices and are most readily available at certain times of year, the new trends in party appetizers, what food allergies the expected guests might have, possible party themes, and so on. This analysis is the  Essential Initial Research  stage.

In the  Business Model  stage, the host might construct a menu of items to include with the meal along with a list of decorations to order, music to play, and costume themes to suggest to the guests. The mix of these kinds of elements chosen by the host will aid in the success of the party.

The  Initial Business Plan Draft  stage is where the host rolls up their sleeves and begins to make some of the food items, puts up some of the decorations, and generally gets everything started for the party.

During this stage, the host will begin to realize that some plans are not feasible and that changes are needed. The required changes might be substantial, like the need to postpone the entire party and ultimately start over in a few months, and others might be less drastic, like the need to change the menu when an invited guest indicates that they can’t eat food containing gluten. These changes are incorporated into the plan during the  Making the Business Plan Realistic  stage to make it realistic and feasible.

The  Making the Plan Appeal to Stakeholders and Desirable to the Entrepreneur  stage involves further changes to the party plan to make it more appealing to both the invited guests and to make it a fun experience for the host. For example, the host might learn that some of the single guests would like to bring dates and others might need to be able to bring their children to be able to attend. The host might be able to accommodate those desires or needs in ways that will also make the party more fun for them—maybe by accepting some guests’ offers to bring food or games, or maybe hiring a babysitter to entertain and look after the children.

The final stage— Finishing the Business Plan— involves the host putting all of the final touches in place for the party in preparation for the arrival of the guests.

mba business planning

Figure 1 – Business Plan Development Process (Illustration by Lee A. Swanson)

Essential Initial Research

A business plan writer should analyze the environment in which they anticipate operating at each of the levels of analysis:  Societal ,  Industry ,  Market , and  Firm . This stage of planning is called the  Essential Initial Research  stage, and it is a necessary first step to better understand the trends that will affect their business and the decisions they must make to lay the groundwork for, which will improve their potential for success.

In some cases, much of this research should be included in the developing business plan as its own separate section to help show readers that there is a market need for the business being considered and that it stands a good chance of being successful.

In other cases, a business plan will be stronger when the components of the research are distributed throughout the business plan to provide support for the outlined plans and strategies outlined. For example, the industry- or market-level research might outline the pricing strategies used by identified competitors, which might be best placed in the  Pricing Strategy  part of the business plan to support the decision made to employ a particular pricing strategy.

Business Model

Inherent in any business plan is a description of the  Business Model  chosen by the entrepreneur as the one that they feel will best ensure success. Based upon their analysis from the Essential Initial Research stage, an entrepreneur should determine how each element of their business model—including their revenue streams, cost structure, customer segments, value propositions, key activities, key partners, and so on—might fit together to improve the potential success of their business venture (see  Chapter 3 – Business Models ).

For some types of ventures, at this stage an entrepreneur might launch a lean start-up (see the “Lean Start-up” section in  Chapter 2 – Essential Initial Research ) and grow their business by continually pivoting, or constantly adjusting their business model in response to the real-time signals they get from the markets’ reactions to their business operations. In many cases, however, an entrepreneur will require a business plan. In those cases, their initial business model will provide the basis for that plan.

Of course, throughout this and all of the stages in this process, the entrepreneur should seek to continually gather information and adjust the plans in response to the new knowledge they gather. As shown in Figure 1 by its enclosure in the  Progressive Research  box, the business plan developer might need to conduct further research before finishing the business model and moving on to the initial business plan draft.

Initial Business Plan Draft

The  Initial Business Plan Draft  stage involves taking the knowledge and ideas developed during the first two stages and organizing them into a business plan format. Many entrepreneurs prefer to create a full draft of the business plan with all of the sections, including the front part with the business description, vision, mission, values, value proposition statement, preliminary set of goals, and possibly even a table of contents and lists of tables and figures all set up using the software features enabling their automatic generation. Writing all of the operations, human resources, marketing, and financial plans as part of the first draft ensures that all of these parts can be appropriately and necessarily integrated. The business plan will tell the story of a planned business startup in two ways: 1) by using primarily words along with some charts and graphs in the operations, human resources, and marketing plans and 2) through the financial plan. Both must tell the same story.

The feedback loop shown in Figure 1 demonstrates that the business developer may need to review the business model.  Additionally, as shown by its enclosure in the  Progressive Research  box, the business plan developer might need to conduct further research before finishing the Initial Business Plan Draft stage and moving on to the Making Business Plan Realistic stage.

Making Business Plan Realistic

The first draft of a business plan will almost never be realistic. As the entrepreneur writes the plan, it will necessarily change as new information is gathered. Another factor that usually renders the first draft unrealistic is the difficulty in making certain that the written part—in the front part of the plan along with the operations, human resources, and marketing plans—tells the exact same story as the financial part does. This stage of work involves making the necessary adjustments to the plan to make it as realistic as possible.

The  Making Business Plan Realistic  stage has two possible feedback loops. The first means going back to the Initial Business Plan Draft stage if the initial business plan needs to be significantly changed before it is possible to adjust it so that it is realistic. The second feedback loop circles back to the Business Model stage if the business developer needs to rethink the business model. As shown in Figure 1 by its enclosure in the  Progressive Research  box, the business plan developer might need to conduct further research before finishing the Making Business Plan Realistic stage and moving on to the Making Plan Appeal to Stakeholders stage.

Making Plan Appeal to Stakeholders and Desirable to the Entrepreneur

A business plan can be realistic without appealing to potential investors and other external stakeholders, like employees, suppliers, and needed business partners. It might also be realistic (and possibly appealing to stakeholders) without being desirable to the entrepreneur. During this stage, the entrepreneur will keep the business plan realistic as they adjust plans to appeal to potential investors, stakeholders, and themselves.

If, for example, investors will be required to finance the business’s start, some adjustments might need to be relatively extensive to appeal to potential investors’ needs for an exit strategy from the business, to accommodate the rate of return they expect from their investments, and to convince them that the entrepreneur can accomplish all that is promised in the plan. In this case, and in others, the entrepreneur will also need to get what they want out of the business to make it worthwhile for them to start and run it. So, this stage of adjustments to the developing business plan might be fairly extensive, and they must be informed by a superior knowledge of what targeted investors need from a business proposal before they will invest. They also need to be informed by a clear set of goals that will make the venture worthwhile for the entrepreneur to pursue.

The caution with this stage is to balance the need to make realistic plans with the desire to meet the entrepreneur’s goals while  avoiding becoming discouraged enough to drop the idea of pursuing the business idea . If an entrepreneur is convinced that the proposed venture will satisfy a valid market need, there is often a way to assemble the financing required to start and operate the business while also meeting the entrepreneur’s most important goals. To do so, however, might require significant changes to the business model.

One of the feedback loops shown in Figure 1 indicates that the business plan writer might need to adjust the draft business plan while ensuring that it is still realistic before it can be made appealing to the targeted stakeholders and desirable to the entrepreneur. The second feedback loop indicates that it might be necessary to go all the way back to the Business Model stage to re-establish the framework and plans needed to develop a realistic, appealing, and desirable business plan. Additionally, this stage’s enclosure in the  Progressive Research  box suggests that the business plan developer might need to conduct further research.

Finishing the Business Plan

The final stage involves putting the important finishing touches on the business plan so that it will present well to potential investors and others. This involves making sure that the math and links between the written and financial parts are accurate. It involves ensuring that all the needed corrections are made to the spelling, grammar, and formatting. The final set of goals should be written to appeal to the target readers and to reflect what the business plan says. An executive summary should be written and included as a final step.

Chapter Summary

This chapter described the internal and external purposes for business planning. It also explained how business plans must effectively communicate while establishing and building credibility for both the entrepreneur and the venture. The general guidelines for business planning were covered as were some important business planning tools. The chapter concluded with descriptions of the stages of the business development process for effective business planning.

Business Plan Development Guide  by Lee A. Swanson is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

MBA 705 Workbook Copyright © by kstuke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Introduction to Business Plan Development

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  • March 12, 2014

Deviating from the Business Plan

  • June 22, 2015

Preparing for the Perfect Product Launch

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  • From the April 2007 Issue

Build a Flexible Business Plan

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  • February 28, 2012

Making Your Ideas Credible

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Fix Their Problem, Win the Deal

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Why the Best CEOs Are Already Thinking About Their Exits

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  • October 31, 2019

Working with Your In-Laws Isn't Always a Terrible Idea

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  • June 16, 2014

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When Should Entrepreneurs Write Their Business Plans?

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How to Start Networking in a New City

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When Your Business Needs a Second Growth Engine

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When It's Time to Pivot, What's Your Story?

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Keeping Your Business Plan Flexible

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Adapt to the Market

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How to Write a Winning Business Plan

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The Explainer: How to Write a Great Business Plan

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Planning for Success

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Table of Contents

What is a business plan, the advantages of having a business plan, the types of business plans, the key elements of a business plan, best business plan software, common challenges of writing a business plan, become an expert business planner, business planning: it’s importance, types and key elements.

Business Planning: It’s Importance, Types and Key Elements

Every year, thousands of new businesses see the light of the day. One look at the  World Bank's Entrepreneurship Survey and database  shows the mind-boggling rate of new business registrations. However, sadly, only a tiny percentage of them have a chance of survival.   

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, about 50% in their fifth year.

Research from the University of Tennessee found that 44% of businesses fail within the first three years. Among those that operate within specific sectors, like information (which includes most tech firms), 63% shut shop within three years.

Several  other statistics  expose the abysmal rates of business failure. But why are so many businesses bound to fail? Most studies mention "lack of business planning" as one of the reasons.

This isn’t surprising at all. 

Running a business without a plan is like riding a motorcycle up a craggy cliff blindfolded. Yet, way too many firms ( a whopping 67%)  don't have a formal business plan in place. 

It doesn't matter if you're a startup with a great idea or a business with an excellent product. You can only go so far without a roadmap — a business plan. Only, a business plan is so much more than just a roadmap. A solid plan allows a business to weather market challenges and pivot quickly in the face of crisis, like the one global businesses are struggling with right now, in the post-pandemic world.  

But before you can go ahead and develop a great business plan, you need to know the basics. In this article, we'll discuss the fundamentals of business planning to help you plan effectively for 2021.  

Now before we begin with the details of business planning, let us understand what it is.

No two businesses have an identical business plan, even if they operate within the same industry. So one business plan can look entirely different from another one. Still, for the sake of simplicity, a business plan can be defined as a guide for a company to operate and achieve its goals.  

More specifically, it's a document in writing that outlines the goals, objectives, and purpose of a business while laying out the blueprint for its day-to-day operations and key functions such as marketing, finance, and expansion.

A good business plan can be a game-changer for startups that are looking to raise funds to grow and scale. It convinces prospective investors that the venture will be profitable and provides a realistic outlook on how much profit is on the cards and by when it will be attained. 

However, it's not only new businesses that greatly benefit from a business plan. Well-established companies and large conglomerates also need to tweak their business plans to adapt to new business environments and unpredictable market changes. 

Before getting into learning more about business planning, let us learn the advantages of having one.

Since a detailed business plan offers a birds-eye view of the entire framework of an establishment, it has several benefits that make it an important part of any organization. Here are few ways a business plan can offer significant competitive edge.

  • Sets objectives and benchmarks: Proper planning helps a business set realistic objectives and assign stipulated time for those goals to be met. This results in long-term profitability. It also lets a company set benchmarks and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) necessary to reach its goals. 
  • Maximizes resource allocation: A good business plan helps to effectively organize and allocate the company’s resources. It provides an understanding of the result of actions, such as, opening new offices, recruiting fresh staff, change in production, and so on. It also helps the business estimate the financial impact of such actions.
  • Enhances viability: A plan greatly contributes towards turning concepts into reality. Though business plans vary from company to company, the blueprints of successful companies often serve as an excellent guide for nascent-stage start-ups and new entrepreneurs. It also helps existing firms to market, advertise, and promote new products and services into the market.
  • Aids in decision making: Running a business involves a lot of decision making: where to pitch, where to locate, what to sell, what to charge — the list goes on. A well thought-out business plan provides an organization the ability to anticipate the curveballs that the future could throw at them. It allows them to come up with answers and solutions to these issues well in advance.
  • Fix past mistakes: When businesses create plans keeping in mind the flaws and failures of the past and what worked for them and what didn’t, it can help them save time, money, and resources. Such plans that reflects the lessons learnt from the past offers businesses an opportunity to avoid future pitfalls.
  • Attracts investors: A business plan gives investors an in-depth idea about the objectives, structure, and validity of a firm. It helps to secure their confidence and encourages them to invest. 

Now let's look at the various types involved in business planning.

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Business plans are formulated according to the needs of a business. It can be a simple one-page document or an elaborate 40-page affair, or anything in between. While there’s no rule set in stone as to what exactly a business plan can or can’t contain, there are a few common types of business plan that nearly all businesses in existence use.  

Here’s an overview of a few fundamental types of business plans. 

  • Start-up plan: As the name suggests, this is a documentation of the plans, structure, and objections of a new business establishments. It describes the products and services that are to be produced by the firm, the staff management, and market analysis of their production. Often, a detailed finance spreadsheet is also attached to this document for investors to determine the viability of the new business set-up.
  • Feasibility plan: A feasibility plan evaluates the prospective customers of the products or services that are to be produced by a company. It also estimates the possibility of a profit or a loss of a venture. It helps to forecast how well a product will sell at the market, the duration it will require to yield results, and the profit margin that it will secure on investments. 
  • Expansion Plan: This kind of plan is primarily framed when a company decided to expand in terms of production or structure. It lays down the fundamental steps and guidelines with regards to internal or external growth. It helps the firm to analyze the activities like resource allocation for increased production, financial investments, employment of extra staff, and much more.
  • Operations Plan: An operational plan is also called an annual plan. This details the day-to-day activities and strategies that a business needs to follow in order to materialize its targets. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of the managing body, the various departments, and the company’s employees for the holistic success of the firm.
  • Strategic Plan: This document caters to the internal strategies of the company and is a part of the foundational grounds of the establishments. It can be accurately drafted with the help of a SWOT analysis through which the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can be categorized and evaluated so that to develop means for optimizing profits.

There is some preliminary work that’s required before you actually sit down to write a plan for your business. Knowing what goes into a business plan is one of them. 

Here are the key elements of a good business plan:

  • Executive Summary: An executive summary gives a clear picture of the strategies and goals of your business right at the outset. Though its value is often understated, it can be extremely helpful in creating the readers’ first impression of your business. As such, it could define the opinions of customers and investors from the get-go.  
  • Business Description: A thorough business description removes room for any ambiguity from your processes. An excellent business description will explain the size and structure of the firm as well as its position in the market. It also describes the kind of products and services that the company offers. It even states as to whether the company is old and established or new and aspiring. Most importantly, it highlights the USP of the products or services as compared to your competitors in the market.
  • Market Analysis: A systematic market analysis helps to determine the current position of a business and analyzes its scope for future expansions. This can help in evaluating investments, promotions, marketing, and distribution of products. In-depth market understanding also helps a business combat competition and make plans for long-term success.
  • Operations and Management: Much like a statement of purpose, this allows an enterprise to explain its uniqueness to its readers and customers. It showcases the ways in which the firm can deliver greater and superior products at cheaper rates and in relatively less time. 
  • Financial Plan: This is the most important element of a business plan and is primarily addressed to investors and sponsors. It requires a firm to reveal its financial policies and market analysis. At times, a 5-year financial report is also required to be included to show past performances and profits. The financial plan draws out the current business strategies, future projections, and the total estimated worth of the firm.

The importance of business planning is it simplifies the planning of your company's finances to present this information to a bank or investors. Here are the best business plan software providers available right now:

  • Business Sorter

The importance of business planning cannot be emphasized enough, but it can be challenging to write a business plan. Here are a few issues to consider before you start your business planning:

  • Create a business plan to determine your company's direction, obtain financing, and attract investors.
  • Identifying financial, demographic, and achievable goals is a common challenge when writing a business plan.
  • Some entrepreneurs struggle to write a business plan that is concise, interesting, and informative enough to demonstrate the viability of their business idea.
  • You can streamline your business planning process by conducting research, speaking with experts and peers, and working with a business consultant.

Whether you’re running your own business or in-charge of ensuring strategic performance and growth for your employer or clients, knowing the ins and outs of business planning can set you up for success. 

Be it the launch of a new and exciting product or an expansion of operations, business planning is the necessity of all large and small companies. Which is why the need for professionals with superior business planning skills will never die out. In fact, their demand is on the rise with global firms putting emphasis on business analysis and planning to cope with cut-throat competition and market uncertainties.

While some are natural-born planners, most people have to work to develop this important skill. Plus, business planning requires you to understand the fundamentals of business management and be familiar with business analysis techniques . It also requires you to have a working knowledge of data visualization, project management, and monitoring tools commonly used by businesses today.   

Simpliearn’s Executive Certificate Program in General Management will help you develop and hone the required skills to become an extraordinary business planner. This comprehensive general management program by IIM Indore can serve as a career catalyst, equipping professionals with a competitive edge in the ever-evolving business environment.

What Is Meant by Business Planning?

Business planning is developing a company's mission or goals and defining the strategies you will use to achieve those goals or tasks. The process can be extensive, encompassing all aspects of the operation, or it can be concrete, focusing on specific functions within the overall corporate structure.

What Are the 4 Types of Business Plans?

The following are the four types of business plans:

Operational Planning

This type of planning typically describes the company's day-to-day operations. Single-use plans are developed for events and activities that occur only once (such as a single marketing campaign). Ongoing plans include problem-solving policies, rules for specific regulations, and procedures for a step-by-step process for achieving particular goals.

Strategic Planning

Strategic plans are all about why things must occur. A high-level overview of the entire business is included in strategic planning. It is the organization's foundation and will dictate long-term decisions.

Tactical Planning

Tactical plans are about what will happen. Strategic planning is aided by tactical planning. It outlines the tactics the organization intends to employ to achieve the goals outlined in the strategic plan.

Contingency Planning

When something unexpected occurs or something needs to be changed, contingency plans are created. In situations where a change is required, contingency planning can be beneficial.

What Are the 7 Steps of a Business Plan?

The following are the seven steps required for a business plan:

Conduct Research

If your company is to run a viable business plan and attract investors, your information must be of the highest quality.

Have a Goal

The goal must be unambiguous. You will waste your time if you don't know why you're writing a business plan. Knowing also implies having a target audience for when the plan is expected to get completed.

Create a Company Profile

Some refer to it as a company profile, while others refer to it as a snapshot. It's designed to be mentally quick and digestible because it needs to stick in the reader's mind quickly since more information is provided later in the plan.

Describe the Company in Detail

Explain the company's current situation, both good and bad. Details should also include patents, licenses, copyrights, and unique strengths that no one else has.

Create a marketing plan ahead of time.

A strategic marketing plan is required because it outlines how your product or service will be communicated, delivered, and sold to customers.

Be Willing to Change Your Plan for the Sake of Your Audience

Another standard error is that people only write one business plan. Startups have several versions, just as candidates have numerous resumes for various potential employers.

Incorporate Your Motivation

Your motivation must be a compelling reason for people to believe your company will succeed in all circumstances. A mission should drive a business, not just selling, to make money. That mission is defined by your motivation as specified in your business plan.

What Are the Basic Steps in Business Planning?

These are the basic steps in business planning:

Summary and Objectives

Briefly describe your company, its objectives, and your plan to keep it running.

Services and Products

Add specifics to your detailed description of the product or service you intend to offer. Where, why, and how much you plan to sell your product or service and any special offers.

Conduct research on your industry and the ideal customers to whom you want to sell. Identify the issues you want to solve for your customers.

Operations are the process of running your business, including the people, skills, and experience required to make it successful.

How are you going to reach your target audience? How you intend to sell to them may include positioning, pricing, promotion, and distribution.

Consider funding costs, operating expenses, and projected income. Include your financial objectives and a breakdown of what it takes to make your company profitable. With proper business planning through the help of support, system, and mentorship, it is easy to start a business.

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Sample Business Plans

Kinesiology and health care business plans, writing business plans, books on preparing business plans.

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The following sources contain sample business plans for different types of small businesses:

  • Bplans.com - sample plans

Examples from MBA Students & Business Plan Competitions:

  • Business Plan for Caregaroo (Kiana Mohseni, Simon Fraser University) MBA student project (Simon Fraser University)
  • Business Plan for Launching a Luxury Adventure Tour Operator Based in Canada Greg Hung and Nikolai Khlystov (Simon Fraser University MOT MBA, 2011)
  • University of Texas Austin, Venture Labs Investment Competition, Business Plans Contains executive summaries and selected full text business plans from competitions held at the University of Texas Austin from 1999 to 2016.

You can find additional examples by searching in Omni for  Subject contains Business Plans AND any field contains (kinesiology OR "health care") and limiting the results by Resource Type to Theses and Dissertations. These plans are available in the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database . 

  • Long Beach Mobile Fitness, LLC: A Business Plan Prepared by Matthew Vico, Master of Science in Health Care Administration, California State University, Long Beach
  • Business Plan for a Physical Therapy Clinic in Rural Minnesota Prepared by Rick Borchardt, Master of Business Administration, The College of St. Scholastica
  • Business plans in physiotherapy:a practical guide for the non specialist Physical therapy reviews, 2011-06-01, Vol.16 (3), p.210-227 The sample business plan for Physio Kids (a hypothetical new paediatric physiotherapy clinic service) is presented in the Appendix
  • Using Business Plan Development as a Capstone Project for MPH Programs in Canada: Validation Through the Student Perspective Journal of Community Health, 2013, 38(5), 791-798. Describes elements of the business plan as applicable to public health practitioners.

The following sources provide guidance on writing business plans and may also include a sample plan or template.

  • Writing a Business Plan: An Example for a Small Premium Winery (Cornell University) (PDF) more info... close... An Extension Bulletin prepared by Mark E. Pisoni and Gerald B. White, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University.
  • Business Plan Guide (Government of Canada)
  • The business plan and executive summary (MaRS)
  • Write your business plan (U.S. Small Business Administration)
  • Planning for success: your guide to preparing a business and marketing plan

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Executive MBA Programs Cost

Executive MBA Programs

An Executive MBA program (EMBA) marks a significant step toward your professional development, enhancing your leadership capabilities and expanding your business skills. It's a path that promises to equip mid-career executives with the skills and insights needed to navigate the complexities of the business world. However, the financial commitment involved often poses a big question mark.

In this blog post, we'll unpack the costs associated with top executive MBA programs to ensure you are well-prepared for this exciting next step in your career.

Tuition Costs For an Executive MBA Program

Tuition fees are the most significant expense for executive MBA students. These fees cover the cost of course instruction, access to faculty, and the use of university facilities. At Pepperdine University the Executive MBA program costs $30,030 per term, with the program spanning over 19 months.

When considering a range of the best executive MBA programs in the U.S., tuition can significantly vary. This variance is influenced by several factors, including the prestige of the institution, the program's duration, and the additional experiences offered (such as international trips or unique leadership training).

Across the board, executive MBA programs at top business schools in the United States tend to have tuition fees ranging from approximately $100,000 to over $200,000 for the entire program. This wide range reflects both the diversity of programs available and the premium placed on executive education in these prestigious institutions.

While specific figures vary, a reasonable average cost for a top-tier EMBA program is in the vicinity of $150,000 to $180,000. This estimate provides prospective students with a ballpark figure for budgeting purposes, though individual research is essential to determine specific program costs.

Factors Influencing Tuition Costs

The variation in tuition fees across these institutions can be attributed to several factors:

  • Program Length : While most executive MBA programs are designed to be completed in around 19 to 24 months, the length can influence the total cost.
  • Curriculum and Specializations : Programs that offer unique specializations or global experiences may command higher fees.
  • School Prestige and Network : The brand and network of the business school play a significant role in the tuition cost, reflecting the value of the degree in the job market.

Additional Expenses for Executive MBA Students

Executive MBA Programs

While tuition fees often capture the spotlight in financial planning for an executive MBA program, several additional costs also play a crucial role. Understanding these costs is essential for prospective students to prepare comprehensively for their EMBA journey.

Application Fees

The application process for an EMBA program is the first financial hurdle candidates encounter. Most top business schools require an application fee, which can range from $50 to $250 or more. This fee covers the administrative costs of processing applications and is non-refundable, regardless of the admission outcome.

While individually these fees may seem minor, especially when compared to the overall cost of an EMBA, they can accumulate, particularly for candidates applying to multiple MBA programs. It’s a preliminary investment that underscores the seriousness of one’s commitment to pursuing executive education. Planning for these fees is a small but crucial aspect of financial preparation, ensuring that applicants are ready for the expenses that lie ahead.

Textbooks and Course Materials

Beyond tuition, textbooks and course materials represent a significant educational investment. The cost of these materials can vary dramatically, with some courses requiring the latest editions of textbooks, case studies, software licenses, and other specialized materials.

Students might spend anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars on course materials throughout their EMBA program. Digital resources, while often less expensive, still contribute to this cost. Students should budget wisely, seek out used or digital textbooks when possible, and leverage library resources to manage these expenses effectively.

For the Executive MBA program at Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School, one can expect to spend about $3,000 total on textbooks and course materials.

Living Expenses

Pursuing an EMBA does not put a pause on life's financial obligations. Housing, transportation, and food are continuous expenses that can be influenced by the choice of school location. For example, attending a program in a major city like New York or San Francisco could entail higher living costs compared to other regions.

Most EMBA students continue to work full-time, which can help mitigate the impact of these expenses. However, you should budget carefully and try to save in advance of starting the program to ensure that living costs are comfortably covered without detracting from the learning experience.

Global Experiences and Externships

Many EMBA programs, including Pepperdine's, offer global experiences as a core component of the executive MBA degree. These international residencies or modules are designed to provide firsthand insights into global markets, diverse business practices, and cultural nuances.

While enriching, these experiences come with additional costs for airfare, accommodation, meals, and sometimes visa fees. The total expense can range from a few thousand dollars to significantly more, depending on the destination and length of stay. Prospective students should inquire about these costs early on to incorporate them into their financial planning. Some programs may include certain global experience costs within the tuition fee, but it's crucial to clarify what is and isn't covered.

Paying For Your EMBA

A variety of financial aid opportunities are available to help mitigate these expenses for EMBA students, making the goal of obtaining an EMBA more accessible for prospective students.

Merit Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are a cornerstone of financial aid in business schools, designed to recognize and support applicants who demonstrate exceptional potential for leadership and success in business. These scholarships are awarded based on a combination of academic achievements, professional accomplishments, and personal qualities that indicate a strong fit for the rigors and rewards of an EMBA program.

How Merit Scholarships Make a Difference

  • Reduced Financial Burden : By offsetting a portion of the tuition costs, merit scholarships make the financial aspect of pursuing an executive MBA program more manageable.
  • Recognition of Potential : Receiving a merit scholarship serves as an acknowledgment of an applicant’s past achievements and future potential, enhancing the overall EMBA experience.
  • Competitive Advantage : Institutions like Pepperdine University seek to attract the best and brightest. Merit scholarships are a tool to encourage the enrollment of high-caliber students.

Federal Loans

For U.S. citizens or permanent residents, federal loans offer a reliable source of financial aid. Programs like the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan are popular options due to their relatively favorable terms and conditions.

Benefits of Federal Loans

  • Fixed Interest Rates : These loans offer the stability of fixed interest rates, making it easier to plan for repayment.
  • Flexible Repayment Options : Borrowers benefit from a range of repayment plans, including income-driven repayment options that can adjust according to your post-graduation income.
  • Forgiveness Programs : Programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness offer the possibility of loan forgiveness for graduates working in public service jobs, providing significant financial relief.

Private Loans

Private loans from banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions can complement federal loans, offering additional funding with terms that might be more aligned with some students' needs.

Choosing the Right Private Loan

  • Comparative Shopping : It’s crucial to compare interest rates, fees, repayment terms, and borrower benefits across different lenders to find the best fit.
  • Flexible Terms : Some private loans offer competitive interest rates and flexible repayment options for borrowers with strong credit histories.

Endowed Scholarships

Endowed scholarships, created through donations from alumni and benefactors, represent a lasting legacy that supports future generations of students. These scholarships often memorialize the donor’s interests and values, supporting students who meet specific criteria such as pursuing careers in certain fields, coming from particular geographic regions, or demonstrating leadership in community service.

Impact of Endowed Scholarships

  • Targeted Support : Endowed scholarships can provide financial aid tailored to students with specific backgrounds or career aspirations.
  • Enhanced Diversity : By supporting a broader array of students, these scholarships contribute to the diversity of experience and perspective within EMBA cohorts.

Other Scholarships and Veteran’s Benefits

A wide range of scholarships are available, targeting specific demographics, industries, and backgrounds, ensuring a diverse pool of talent can access EMBA programs. Additionally, veterans may find valuable resources in the form of benefits that can significantly reduce the cost of pursuing an EMBA.

Broadening Horizons

  • Demographic and Industry-Specific Scholarships : These scholarships address the unique needs and challenges faced by underrepresented groups or sectors, fostering inclusion and diversity in business leadership.
  • Veteran’s Benefits : Programs like the GI Bill® and Yellow Ribbon Program are designed to support veterans in their post-service educational pursuits, offering substantial financial assistance for veterans seeking to enhance their leadership skills through an EMBA.

Balancing Work, Life, and an EMBA

For many ambitious business professionals, the challenge of completing an executive MBA program lies not just in the rigorous academic workload but also in integrating this commitment into an already full life.

Time Management

Effective time management emerges as the linchpin in harmonizing the demands of work, study, and personal responsibilities. This skill involves more than just scheduling and prioritization; it requires a holistic approach to life management.

Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Integrated Planning : Use a single system to manage professional deadlines, academic assignments, and personal commitments. This holistic view helps in identifying potential conflicts and opportunities for synergy.
  • Strategic Delegation : At work and home, identify tasks that can be delegated or outsourced. This could mean empowering team members with more responsibilities or seeking external help for household chores.
  • Set Boundaries : Clear communication with employers, colleagues, family, and friends about your commitments is crucial. Setting boundaries helps manage expectations and reduces potential stressors.

Financial Planning

Balancing an EMBA with life's responsibilities also means ensuring financial stability. Beyond tuition, consider how your study will impact your ability to earn and manage day-to-day expenses.

  • Budgeting : Revisit your budget to accommodate for reduced working hours if necessary, and account for additional expenses related to your studies.
  • Emergency Fund : Strengthen your financial safety net. An emergency fund is crucial during this period to cover unexpected expenses without derailing your education or lifestyle.
  • Employer Support : Explore options for financial support or flexible working arrangements with your employer. Many organizations see the value in investing in their employees' education.

The ROI and Career Impact of an EMBA

Executive MBA Programs

Evaluating the cost of an executive MBA program is only one side of the coin; understanding its return on investment is equally important. The benefits of executive MBA programs extend beyond the acquisition of knowledge, impacting career trajectory, salary, and professional network.

Career Advancement

EMBA programs are designed not just to impart business knowledge but to enhance leadership and strategic thinking skills. Graduates often find themselves better equipped for higher-level management roles, equipped with the confidence and competence to take on greater responsibilities.

  • Promotions: Many EMBA students report receiving promotions during or shortly after completing their programs.
  • Career Transitions : The comprehensive skill set developed during an EMBA program enables many graduates to pivot to new industries or functions more aligned with their career aspirations.

Salary Increases

Investing in an EMBA often leads to substantial salary increases. These financial gains can significantly offset the initial cost of the program.

  • Immediate Returns : According to various surveys and alumni feedback, many EMBA graduates see a significant increase in their salary upon graduation.
  • Long-Term Financial Growth : The financial benefits of an EMBA extend well into the future, with graduates experiencing sustained salary growth over time.

Expanded Professional Network

One of the most invaluable aspects of an EMBA program is the opportunity to build a robust professional network. This network includes peers, faculty, alumni, and industry professionals encountered through the program.

  • Diverse Industries and Functions : The connections made during an EMBA program span various sectors and roles, offering a rich resource for collaboration, innovation, and career opportunities.
  • Global Perspectives : For programs with international components, the network becomes even more diverse, offering insights into global business practices and opportunities for international career moves.

Start Your EMBA Journey at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School

Pepperdine's Graziadio Business School offers an Executive MBA designed to transform executives into visionary leaders. With a focus on data-driven decision-making and global experiences, the program promises to accelerate your career to new heights. While the financial commitment is significant, the potential rewards in terms of career advancement and personal growth are immense.

With careful planning and consideration of the financial aid opportunities available, it's an investment in your future that can offer substantial returns. Whether you're drawn to the prestigious program at Pepperdine University or another top business school, understanding the costs involved is the first step towards achieving your executive education goals.

Learn more about how to achieve your career goals with a degree from Pepperdine Graziadio Business School.

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Master of Architecture + Master of Business Administration

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MArch + MBA


The MArch + MBA dual degree prepares students for the growing complexity of architectural practice and demand for managerial and administrative skills that often exceed the traditional training of the architect. 

The establishment or management of a successful architectural office requires a wide range of skills. In addition to competence in traditional architectural roles, the growing complexity of the field demands a wide range of managerial and administrative skills. For instance, many architectural practices have expanded their range of services to include construction supervision, real estate development, multinational project management and public-sector consultation. The MArch/ MBA dual degree is intended to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to assume responsibilities for these challenges.

Choose your path

2-yr march \ mba research studio track.

The second part of our 4+2 track, this degree path is intended for students who have completed their undergraduate studies in architecture.

2-yr MArch \ MBA Synthesis Studio Track

This course of study ensures students from international baccalaureate programs in architecture will meet NAAB standards for an accredited professional degree.

3.5-yr MArch \ MBA Program

A passion for design is the only pre-req for UB's extended MArch track. Students from any undergraduate background are welcome to apply.

This program enables international students to apply for STEM Extension , which allows graduates to work for an additional 24 months beyond the completion of their optional practical training (OPT).

Interested students must apply to and be accepted by both the Department of Architecture and the School of Management . Enrolled students should consult the curriculum they were given upon entering the program, copies of which are kept in their student files in the departmental office.

Would you like to learn more?

Contact: Kevin P. Donovan Director of Graduate Recruitment 129 Hayes Hall 716-829-5224 [email protected]

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Should MBAs Rethink Their Idea of Entrepreneurship?

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  • Interest in entrepreneurship among MBA students remains comparatively low—both as a standalone skill and as a career path.
  • But an MBA gives students a unique blend of tools that make MBA-founded startups more successful than the average business.
  • Recognizing entrepreneurship as a life skill as well as a career path can become a prime reason to study an MBA.

  There’s a disparity between the ambitions and outcomes of MBA students.

While around one-third of MBA students go to business school to develop their entrepreneurial skills, less than 5 percent of MBA graduates go on to start a business.

Such a big drop-off is understandable. After all, while between 60 and 90 percent of startups fail, post-MBA career paths such as finance or consulting offer high starting salaries and a rapid return on investment, making them consistently attractive fields—especially for business school graduates with debt to repay.

But that may be overlooking the fact that, in many ways, an MBA is the perfect launchpad for a business. Further, entrepreneurship teaches you vital skills that will benefit you in your future career, whatever you pursue. Let’s take a closer look.

Entrepreneurship Rates Among MBA Graduates Remain Low…

Developing entrepreneurial skills remains a low priority for prospective MBA students. In the most recent GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey , it was the eighth most popular motivation out of the 10 cited by students. Factors like salary, international employment, and accelerated career progression led students’ reasons for pursuing graduate business education.

It’s also hard to dispel the strong association that MBA programs have with consulting and finance. They are overwhelmingly the industries of choice for graduates, and that has been the case for many years.

Yet in a climate where consulting firms are delaying the hiring of MBAs and freezing starting salaries , the industry doesn’t offer the guarantees for MBA graduates that it once did. And for those who do choose the path of entrepreneurship, MBA-founded startups actually have a better chance of success than most others.

…But MBA Startups Tend to Be More Successful Than Most

Despite its relatively low popularity as a career path, entrepreneurship can be a fruitful venture for MBA graduates.

Research from the Financial Times in 2016 found that 86 percent of MBA startups were still in existence three years after launching. That’s significantly higher than the average survival rate, which is typically placed anywhere between 10 and 40 percent.

And that’s not all. In 2023, MBA alumni raised more startup capital than ever before . The expedited grocery delivery company Gorillas was founded by alumni of INSEAD Business School and raised more than 1.3 billion USD in 2023. Along with fintech company SoFi, founded by alumni from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business , it is one of two MBA-founded startups to have reached the fabled “unicorn” status in recent years.

So what exactly makes an MBA program such fertile ground for startups?

How an MBA Supports Entrepreneurship

It represents a safety net for entrepreneurs.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that entrepreneurial ambitions are rarely followed through after graduation is the lack of a safety net. Launching a startup instead of getting a full-time job is always going to be a big risk for students.

However, according to Doug Villhard, academic director for entrepreneurship at Washington University's Olin Business School , your time at b-school is the perfect time to pursue a business idea. “It's much, much easier to workshop a business in school than it is while working a 40-hour job,” he says.

“Statistically, 90 percent of startups fail. Working on one while earning an MBA gives you a great fallback plan, if nothing else. Much better, in my opinion, than just quitting your job and going for broke. You can test the idea while earning your MBA and hedge your bets.”

It Provides Unique Access to Thriving Ecosystems

But an MBA is more than just a fallback option for aspiring entrepreneurs. The program itself offers benefits for entrepreneurs that you simply couldn’t access otherwise. One of an MBA’s key differentials is the network, which Villhard says goes way beyond the four walls of business school.

“At Olin (and most schools), we have five ecosystems,” he explains. “One within your course, within your classmates, within the campus, within the city, and within our alumni network on the coasts and around the world. Students need all five.”

The question of where you choose to study your MBA is especially important when it comes to entrepreneurship. Olin Business School, among AACSB’s 1,019 accredited schools , is based in St. Louis, which PitchBook recently ranked as one of the top 20 startup cities in the world. This means the city is able to attract more guest speakers, organize more events, and offer more internships to students. And the value of that kind of ecosystem for the business school? “It certainly helps,” smiles Villhard.

An MBA is more than just a fallback option for aspiring entrepreneurs. The program itself offers benefits for entrepreneurs that you simply couldn’t access otherwise.

Another city to feature on that ranking was Berlin. The Germany capital has long been known as a startup hotspot, and the city’s chief business school is taking full advantage of that reputation.

“As Berlin’s startup ecosystem is one of the largest in Europe, it offers great access to resources and opportunities for entrepreneurs,” says Rebecca Loades, who is the director of MBA programs at ESMT Berlin . “It’s crucial for entrepreneurs to have access to investors, partners, and top-notch talent.”

Students at ESMT Berlin get unique access to Berlin’s startup ecosystem. The school’s in-house incubator, Vali Berlin, brings together investors and founders with MBA students. Meanwhile, the school’s Summer Entrepreneurship Program “helps participants develop their own startup ideas by helping them find co-founders, identify trends and problems, find and build solutions, and pitch to Venture Capitalists and business angels,” according to Loades.

“All of this benefits your career as an entrepreneur,” she says.

It Teaches Skills That Organizations Highly Value

Yet perhaps we’re overlooking something here; studying entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start a business. In truth, entrepreneurship is a life skill—and one that would be valuable to any organization. 

Loades says that the significance of entrepreneurship “transcends immediate financial gains.” Through entrepreneurship, students also learn how to innovate, how to adopt new business models, and how to respond quickly to market challenges.

Entrepreneurship is a life skill—and one that would be valuable to any organization.

Given the range of skills you can gain through entrepreneurship, Villhard believes it may be time to rethink our idea of what it actually entails, as well as its value to businesses. At Olin, students often apply the entrepreneurial skills they gained during their program to roles within larger organizations.

“Society tends to think of entrepreneurship just as starting companies, but it is really a mindset that teaches one to continually look for innovation and promote change within any organization,” says Villhard.

Which perhaps illustrates the true value of entrepreneurship. It is no longer just a niche career path, but a core component of every MBA program. It may be time to make entrepreneurship a core component of your skill set, too.

  • career prep
  • entrepreneurship

Texas Tech Now

First-gen alumna finds success through texas tech’s waco site.

April 18, 2024

First-Gen Alumna Finds Success Through Texas Tech’s Waco Site

Norma Benitez-Montelongo and her husband run a booming floral and event planning business in Waco, where she completed her college degree without leaving home.

Raised in a small town outside of Waco, Texas, Texas Tech University alumna Norma Benitez-Montelongo grew up as a first-generation American in the U.S. with her parents and two older brothers. One of her fondest memories, and perhaps most influential childhood activities, was gardening. Her parents always had gardens, so plants and flowers have been a lifelong attraction for her. But young Norma couldn't have known just how important that passion would become in her life. 

Growing up and going into college, Norma thought she was going to be a teacher. She began attending a community college just over an hour from home, but she became ill for a while and had to move back home to Waco, where she soon got a job. 

Full Family

She was not to be deterred by a less-than-encouraging start to higher education. She finally chose to pursue a degree through Texas Tech's regional site in Waco . That would allow her to live at home and continue to work while taking a hybrid of in-person and online courses without leaving the Waco area.  

“Honestly, it was the flexibility that drew me to it (the online program),” Norma said. “Being able to take these classes while working was a huge deal. I specifically did everything through Texas Tech Waco for that reason. Having supportive people in an office, even if I wasn't in a classroom that semester, I could still go to them, and they would help. I could have support and face-to-face access.”  

And she needed all the help she could get. Being a first-generation college student, Norma didn't know what she didn't know and wasn't even sure who or where to ask, indicating that mostly “it's just been learning as you go.” 

“I feel like that's just been my whole life. When I first started school, I didn't have anybody to look to, to even ask, ‘Hey, where do I go to register for classes?' I didn't even know that I needed to go to advising every semester. I had no idea. It was something I was learning as I went.” 

That method worked well for her. In December 2018, Norma was the first person in her family to graduate from a university, however, not in education or teaching. But the story is getting ahead of itself.  

Norma in front of the TTU seal

Firmly Rooted in Education 

Norma says upon starting at Texas Tech, she “wanted to study everything,” so a general studies track made the most sense. In the hybrid program, a student chooses three areas of concentration instead of a major and minor. Pursuing concentrations in political science , sociology and history , Norma chose many of her political science courses and a couple of her history classes to be in person. She is quick to say how engaging her instructors and professors were in Waco, and how helpful they were at the regional site. 

One of her favorites was Rebecca Larsen , an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Political Science. Larsen remembers Norma as committed and tenacious. 

“Norma faced challenges and setbacks during her time studying at Texas Tech in Waco. She faced them with determination and asked for help,” Larsen said. “It can be hard to ask for help and advice as a student. It can feel like you are supposed to know everything. I deeply respected this about Norma, and it paid off well for her.”  

Accidentally Abroad 

Norma started at Texas Tech in 2015 and did find her way to her adviser's office. One day when she had been visiting with her adviser, she offhandedly picked up a brochure about Texas Tech's study abroad programs .  

“I took it just to look at because it piqued my interest,” Norma explained.  “And I applied for it on a whim — I didn't realize I was committing to the program before figuring out later on what I had done!” 

Luckily, with the help of her family, Norma made sure she had the funds for that international trip. She studied in Seville, Spain, in the summer of 2016, which also is where she would end up marrying Frankie Montelongo several years later in a stunning destination wedding. 

The fact that the advising office is available for students to go to in person and, even accidentally, find life-changing information is not lost on Norma.  

“To have the opportunity to see something small like that brochure was huge. It was a really big trip for me at the time,” Norma exclaimed with her eyes wide. “I was the first person I knew to go to Europe because of that study abroad opportunity. And that's where we took our entire family for our wedding in 2023, to go see and experience where I had studied abroad.” 

Norma and Frankie with a priest on their wedding day.

Romance Blossoms 

When Norma returned from her study abroad trip late that summer, she began hanging out regularly with a couple of friends. One of them eventually invited a cousin, Frankie, who became a regular in their group.  

“After the first couple of times, Norma and I kept talking then hanging out every time they were all hanging out,” Frankie said, smiling. “We started seeing each other every day and became best friends. We officially started dating in October of 2016.” 

Growing Interest in Mental Health 

After graduation Norma became interested in psychology. But she also had begun struggling with her own mental health, trying to handle the many transitions in her life after finishing her undergraduate degree. 

“It was very hard for me because you go from being a student for 18-plus years to adulthood and getting a job within a couple of months,” Norma explained. “I found myself at a job that was mentally draining. Then the pandemic happened, and I went from being new in the workforce to working from home. That is when I was diagnosed with depression.”  

That's also when another seed was planted. 

An Accidental Success 

Frankie would take flowers from the grocery store to Norma, regularly, each week, which she would then arrange in a vase — a process that helped her feel better. 

One week he popped into the store and saw some beautiful tulips. He thought they were so pretty, he decided to purchase them in addition to the flowers he'd already chosen. 

“It was the highlight of my week, getting the flowers and arranging them in the vase, especially at a time when I was having a hard time mentally,” she said, welling up just a little. “That's also part of the reason the mental health aspect is really important to me.  

“Because he gave me extra flowers that week, I decided to give some to a friend. I asked, of course, if it was OK, Frankie said, ‘Yes, do what you want; I just wanted to buy them because they were so pretty!' I arranged them in a vase, gifted them to her, and I posted it all on my personal Facebook page.” 

Serendipitously, that happened about a week or so before Mother's Day. Norma started getting messages from friends asking if she could make their Mother's Day arrangements. That sent her scurrying to grocery stores, hurriedly making bouquets with grocery store flowers to make other people's celebrations just right, fertilizing the seed of possibility of a flower business.  

Norma further explained how her business blossomed from just an idea and involved international travel. Frankie proposed to her in Paris in October 2019, as her study abroad experience several years prior had given her the travel bug, which she gladly passed to Frankie. In the City of Light, she noticed the concept of using street carts to sell things, carts that are attached to bicycles.  

"I loved the cart idea so much; I knew I wanted to have a business with a bike and cart theme. At the time I just didn't know what it was going to be,” Norma explained, a grin spreading across her face. “Then the tulips and the Mother's Day thing happened; that was May 2020. I connected the dots, officially opening Norma's Blooming Bike in November when the flower cart was completed, and Frankie and I did our first pop-up at the Waco Downtown Farmers Market.

Norma's Bike in front of the Silos

So, without any formal training in horticulture or business, Norma turned to her “learn-as-you-go” method of success she had relied on most of her life. When she first started with the flower business, she was completely immersed. All her effort and energy went into figuring it out. 

Stems of Encouragement

Norma admits that when she started her flower business, she wasn't in a good space mentally, but she saw how helpful the flowers were for her. She reached out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) with an idea.  

“When I first reached out to NAMI-Texas, I only intended for there to be resources, maybe in the corner of the flower shop, for people who might be struggling with mental health,” Norma said. “Just to keep that open door, to let people know, ‘Hey, if you need help, the flower shop is like a bridge to connect you to professionals that know what they're doing.'” 

It was a case of “be careful what you ask for.” When Norma reached out, NAMI let her know there was no chapter in Waco. They offered, if she had the capacity to do it, to have her spearhead a local chapter. Having the capacity would be the determining factor.    

At this point, Frankie's job had shut down. The entire company he was working for closed. 

Norma said luckily the flower shop was at the point where she was contemplating having to hire some extra help. Instead of that, she asked Frankie to come to work with her full-time, then she could also have the capacity to say yes to NAMI's offer. 

“Knowing he would be helping, us doing it together, gave us the capacity to say yes to NAMI. It's something I've always been passionate about, so that's kind of how we started the NAMI Waco chapter here in town.” 

 Norma explained that in their new role with NAMI, they give away flowers that are leftovers or ones used for photo shoots or other events, with attached cards provided by NAMI, that carry encouraging messages on them.  

“This is a way we can spread the word. You get something pretty like a flower, and we get the word out that NAMI is available for support groups or again, that connection to other resources,” Norma explained.  

“We say our mission with Norma's Blooming Bike is advocating for mental health with the flowers. We're leading a lot of those resources now in Waco. We go to college campuses — Baylor is close, but we're doing a couple more rounds so we can go to the Texas Tech offices, and there's a Tarleton campus in town as well.”  

Young couple looking at flowers.

Experience in Full Bloom 

Coming full circle to Texas Tech's Waco site, Norma reflected on the lessons she learned beginning nearly a decade ago. 

“I would honestly say it was the discipline to be able to sit down and do your work at an allotted time and complete it. When you're online, you really need that,” she said with a serious tone. “That's what truly has prepared me – that discipline to do the work and work toward the goal that I have, which then was to graduate. Now it's to run an even more successful business.” 

Both her political science instructor and Frankie saw the discipline, determination and drive as Norma grew in her education and her life experience.  

“Through her own hard work and tenacity, she accomplished an impressive goal and has continued to utilize this same determination in her successes today,” Larsen said. “I am so proud that Norma was one of my students and I am not surprised that she is contributing positively to her community.”  

Frankie says those qualities were what attracted him to her from the beginning, but that she was also a dreamer. A BIG dreamer. 

“Growing up, I never dreamed like Norma dreamed,” Frankie said excitedly. “She's had huge dreams, like this big destination wedding with flowers, traveling with her family, our families — having them experience traveling to Europe, that big expansion of your mind — she wanted other people to experience that. She is very driven. She knew what she wanted from the get-go. She's taught me a lot.” 

Growth for the Future 

Like a flourishing garden that overtakes its bed, Norma's Blooming Bike has outgrown its capacity. Norma and Frankie are rebranding to a storefront shop, now called Norma's Florals .  

“Since we're now a flower shop, and because it started out as a flower cart, we're currently rebranding because ‘Norma's Blooming Bike' stamped on a flower shop sounds a little weird. We get calls all the time asking if we're a bike shop,” she said, chuckling and shaking her head. 

 “And since this is now our full-time income, it's given us the ability to just focus on this. Frankie's in charge of the flower shop and the flower cart pop-ups that we still do. I'm in charge of the wedding side. We are branching into luxury wedding design. So, over-the-top, huge floral installations. That will be the goal for the future, to be a very, very busy luxury florist.” 

But Norma wants to give back to current and future college students by way of possible internships or other work arrangements, although she doesn't yet have a clear picture of what exactly that will be. She wants to have the students tell her what they want to gain out of the experience and allow them to decide. For students who may be non-traditional in some way, or first-generation, still deciding on the direction of their education, she also has advice, guiding them to options at Texas Tech's Waco site. 

“My first instinct is to say, ‘Just JUMP!' Just take the leap. You don't know what will happen unless you jump in and try it,” Norma said excitedly. “And once you're in there, things will show up. The people that you need. The resources you need. Yes, sometimes you have to do a little digging, and that's OK, it will make you as an individual prouder than you can explain.” 

Norma's Florals

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