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

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Steps

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

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

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

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

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

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

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

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

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

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

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

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

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

Step 1: Executive Summary

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

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

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

Step 2: Description of Business

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

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

Step 3: Market Analysis

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

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

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

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

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

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

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

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

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

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

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

Step 7: Marketing Plan

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

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

Step 8: Sales Plan

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

Start by answering the following questions:

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

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

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

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

Step 10: Financial Projections

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

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

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

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

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

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

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

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

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

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

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

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

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

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

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

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

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

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

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

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

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

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What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

what is the need for a business plan

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

Key Takeaways

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

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Types of Business Plans

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

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

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

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

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

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

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

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

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

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

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

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what is the need for a business plan

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

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What is a business plan?

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

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

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ZenBusiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

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

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

what is the need for a business plan

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

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

How much do you need?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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what is the need for a business plan

The importance of a business plan

Business plans are like road maps: it’s possible to travel without one, but that will only increase the odds of getting lost along the way.

Owners with a business plan see growth 30% faster than those without one, and 71% of the fast-growing companies have business plans . Before we get into the thick of it, let’s define and go over what a business plan actually is.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a 15-20 page document that outlines how you will achieve your business objectives and includes information about your product, marketing strategies, and finances. You should create one when you’re starting a new business and keep updating it as your business grows.

Rather than putting yourself in a position where you may have to stop and ask for directions or even circle back and start over, small business owners often use business plans to help guide them. That’s because they help them see the bigger picture, plan ahead, make important decisions, and improve the overall likelihood of success. ‍

Why is a business plan important?

A well-written business plan is an important tool because it gives entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as their employees, the ability to lay out their goals and track their progress as their business begins to grow. Business planning should be the first thing done when starting a new business. Business plans are also important for attracting investors so they can determine if your business is on the right path and worth putting money into.

Business plans typically include detailed information that can help improve your business’s chances of success, like:

  • A market analysis : gathering information about factors and conditions that affect your industry
  • Competitive analysis : evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors
  • Customer segmentation : divide your customers into different groups based on specific characteristics to improve your marketing
  • Marketing: using your research to advertise your business
  • Logistics and operations plans : planning and executing the most efficient production process
  • Cash flow projection : being prepared for how much money is going into and out of your business
  • An overall path to long-term growth

10 reasons why you need a business plan

I know what you’re thinking: “Do I really need a business plan? It sounds like a lot of work, plus I heard they’re outdated and I like figuring things out as I go...”.

The answer is: yes, you really do need a business plan! As entrepreneur Kevin J. Donaldson said, “Going into business without a business plan is like going on a mountain trek without a map or GPS support—you’ll eventually get lost and starve! Though it may sound tedious and time-consuming, business plans are critical to starting your business and setting yourself up for success.

To outline the importance of business plans and make the process sound less daunting, here are 10 reasons why you need one for your small business.

1. To help you with critical decisions

The primary importance of a business plan is that they help you make better decisions. Entrepreneurship is often an endless exercise in decision making and crisis management. Sitting down and considering all the ramifications of any given decision is a luxury that small businesses can’t always afford. That’s where a business plan comes in.

Building a business plan allows you to determine the answer to some of the most critical business decisions ahead of time.

Creating a robust business plan is a forcing function—you have to sit down and think about major components of your business before you get started, like your marketing strategy and what products you’ll sell. You answer many tough questions before they arise. And thinking deeply about your core strategies can also help you understand how those decisions will impact your broader strategy.

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2. To iron out the kinks

Putting together a business plan requires entrepreneurs to ask themselves a lot of hard questions and take the time to come up with well-researched and insightful answers. Even if the document itself were to disappear as soon as it’s completed, the practice of writing it helps to articulate your vision in realistic terms and better determine if there are any gaps in your strategy.

3. To avoid the big mistakes

Only about half of small businesses are still around to celebrate their fifth birthday . While there are many reasons why small businesses fail, many of the most common are purposefully addressed in business plans.

According to data from CB Insights , some of the most common reasons businesses fail include:

  • No market need : No one wants what you’re selling.
  • Lack of capital : Cash flow issues or businesses simply run out of money.
  • Inadequate team : This underscores the importance of hiring the right people to help you run your business.
  • Stiff competition : It’s tough to generate a steady profit when you have a lot of competitors in your space.
  • Pricing : Some entrepreneurs price their products or services too high or too low—both scenarios can be a recipe for disaster.

The exercise of creating a business plan can help you avoid these major mistakes. Whether it’s cash flow forecasts or a product-market fit analysis , every piece of a business plan can help spot some of those potentially critical mistakes before they arise. For example, don’t be afraid to scrap an idea you really loved if it turns out there’s no market need. Be honest with yourself!

Get a jumpstart on your business plan by creating your own cash flow projection .

4. To prove the viability of the business

Many businesses are created out of passion, and while passion can be a great motivator, it’s not a great proof point.

Planning out exactly how you’re going to turn that vision into a successful business is perhaps the most important step between concept and reality. Business plans can help you confirm that your grand idea makes sound business sense.

A graphic showing you a “Business Plan Outline.” There are four sections on the left side: Executive Summary at the top, Company Description below it, followed by Market Analysis, and lastly Organization and Management. There was four sections on the right side. At the top: “Service or Product Line.” Below that, “Marketing and Sales.” Below that, “Funding Request.” And lastly: “Financial Projections.” At the very bottom below the left and right columns is a section that says “Appendix.

A critical component of your business plan is the market research section. Market research can offer deep insight into your customers, your competitors, and your chosen industry. Not only can it enlighten entrepreneurs who are starting up a new business, but it can also better inform existing businesses on activities like marketing, advertising, and releasing new products or services.

Want to prove there’s a market gap? Here’s how you can get started with market research.

5. To set better objectives and benchmarks

Without a business plan, objectives often become arbitrary, without much rhyme or reason behind them. Having a business plan can help make those benchmarks more intentional and consequential. They can also help keep you accountable to your long-term vision and strategy, and gain insights into how your strategy is (or isn’t) coming together over time.

6. To communicate objectives and benchmarks

Whether you’re managing a team of 100 or a team of two, you can’t always be there to make every decision yourself. Think of the business plan like a substitute teacher, ready to answer questions any time there’s an absence. Let your staff know that when in doubt, they can always consult the business plan to understand the next steps in the event that they can’t get an answer from you directly.

Sharing your business plan with team members also helps ensure that all members are aligned with what you’re doing, why, and share the same understanding of long-term objectives.

7. To provide a guide for service providers

Small businesses typically employ contractors , freelancers, and other professionals to help them with tasks like accounting , marketing, legal assistance, and as consultants. Having a business plan in place allows you to easily share relevant sections with those you rely on to support the organization, while ensuring everyone is on the same page.

8. To secure financing

Did you know you’re 2.5x more likely to get funded if you have a business plan?If you’re planning on pitching to venture capitalists, borrowing from a bank, or are considering selling your company in the future, you’re likely going to need a business plan. After all, anyone that’s interested in putting money into your company is going to want to know it’s in good hands and that it’s viable in the long run. Business plans are the most effective ways of proving that and are typically a requirement for anyone seeking outside financing.

Learn what you need to get a small business loan.

9. To better understand the broader landscape

No business is an island, and while you might have a strong handle on everything happening under your own roof, it’s equally important to understand the market terrain as well. Writing a business plan can go a long way in helping you better understand your competition and the market you’re operating in more broadly, illuminate consumer trends and preferences, potential disruptions and other insights that aren’t always plainly visible.

10. To reduce risk

Entrepreneurship is a risky business, but that risk becomes significantly more manageable once tested against a well-crafted business plan. Drawing up revenue and expense projections, devising logistics and operational plans, and understanding the market and competitive landscape can all help reduce the risk factor from an inherently precarious way to make a living. Having a business plan allows you to leave less up to chance, make better decisions, and enjoy the clearest possible view of the future of your company.

Understanding the importance of a business plan

Now that you have a solid grasp on the “why” behind business plans, you can confidently move forward with creating your own.

Remember that a business plan will grow and evolve along with your business, so it’s an important part of your whole journey—not just the beginning.

Related Posts

Now that you’ve read up on the purpose of a business plan, check out our guide to help you get started.

what is the need for a business plan

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.

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What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Planning Essentials Explained

Posted february 21, 2022 by kody wirth.

what is the need for a business plan

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

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

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

What is a business plan?

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

Why do you need a business plan?

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

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

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

What can you do with your plan?

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

Test an idea

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

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

Document your strategy and goals

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

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

Pursue funding

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

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

Better manage your business

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

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

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What should your business plan include?

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

Executive summary

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

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

Products & Services

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

Market analysis

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

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

Marketing & sales

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

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

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

Organization & management

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

Financial projections

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

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

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

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

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

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

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

Business model canvas

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

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

One-page business plan

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

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

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

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

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

Try the LivePlan Method for Lean Business Planning

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

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

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

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

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Kody Wirth

Posted in Business Plan Writing

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What Is A Business Plan (& Do I Really Need One?)

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The term "business plan" is a familiar one, often bandied about in entrepreneurial circles. Yet, despite its ubiquity, it's remarkable how much mystery and confusion can surround this essential business tool.

What exactly is a business plan? What purpose does it serve? How is it structured? This article aims to lift the veil, demystifying the business plan and revealing its multifaceted nature.

Business Plan Definition

A business plan is a document that describes a company's objectives and its marketing, financial, and operational strategies for achieving them. It's more than a mere document; it's a structured communication tool designed to articulate the vision of the business, allowing stakeholders to easily find the information they seek.

The business plan is a tangible reflection of the strategic planning that has gone into the business's future. While the plan is a static document, the planning is a dynamic process, capturing the strategic thinking and decision-making that shape the business's direction.

Purposes of a Business Plan

1. attracting funding opportunities.

A well-crafted business plan illustrates the company's potential for growth and profitability. It outlines the company's vision, mission, and strategies, providing a clear roadmap for success. A potential investor, whether venture capitalists or angel investors, can see how capital will be utilized, fostering trust and confidence in the business venture. A bank or financial institution can assess your company's ability to meet debt service obligations and compliance with strict financial accounting to meet underwriting requirements.

2. Aligning Organizational Objectives

A business plan acts as a unifying document that aligns the team with the company's goals and strategies. It ensures that everyone is on the same page, working towards common objectives. This alignment fosters collaboration and efficiency, driving the business towards its targets.

3. Validating the Business Concept

Before launching, a business plan helps in validating the feasibility of the business idea. It's a rigorous process that tests the concept against real-world scenarios, ensuring that the idea is not only innovative but also practical and sustainable. This validation builds credibility and prepares the business for the challenges ahead. For an existing business, a business plan can help address a possible merger and acquisition (M&A), rolling out a new business product or location, or expanding the target market.

4. Facilitating Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Whether it's securing a visa for international operations or meeting other regulatory requirements, a business plan can be an essential tool. It provides the necessary information in a structured format, demonstrating compliance with legal and regulatory standards. This can streamline processes and prevent potential legal hurdles.

5. Articulating and Formalizing the Business Vision

The business plan is more than a set of numbers and projections; it's the embodiment of the business vision. It communicates the essence of the business to stakeholders, turning abstract ideas into a concrete operational plan. It's a vital tool for leadership to articulate and formalize the vision, setting the stage for strategic execution.

Identifying the Right Type of Business Plan

Once you understand who your business plan is for and what specific needs it must address, you can identify the type of plan that best suits your situation. Business plans can be categorized into two main types: traditional and lean, each serveing its own unique purpose.

Traditional Business Plan

The Traditional Business Plan is a detailed and comprehensive document, often used by a new business, especially those seeking significant funding. It provides a complete picture of the company's vision, strategies, and operations. A traditional business plan leaves no stone unturned, offering a robust tool that communicates the business's entire vision and plan to stakeholders.

Lean Business Plan

In contrast, the Lean Business Plan is an abbreviated structure that still emphasizes the key elements of a Traditional Business Plan, but in less detail. It's suitable for early-stage startups, small businesses, or situations where agility and speed are essential. The Lean Business Plan focuses on the essentials, providing a quick overview without overwhelming details. It's a flexible and adaptable tool that can evolve with the business. One of the primary distinctions between it and a Traditional Business Plan is that a Lean Business Plan does not typically include financial planning, or if it does, it's a simple financial forecast or cash burn.

Components of a Business Plan

There are many places online where you can buy a business plan template. Often, those documents are just an outline of the sections of the business plan and what is included in each. If that's what you're looking for, here's a good business plan outline:

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is the first section read but often the last written, as it encapsulates the entire plan. If the company has a mission statement, it's typically included here. When used for funding, it includes the ask or uses of funds, and for investment, it may contain an investor proposition. It's a concise overview that sets the tone, summarizing each section that follows.

Company Overview

The Company Overview is the foundation of the business, articulating how it operates, generates revenue, and delivers unique value to its customers. This section defines products and/or service the business sells, as well as the company’s business model and unique value proposition. It covers key partners, pricing strategy, revenue model, and other essential business activities. 

Market Analysis Summary

The Market Analysis is the business intelligence portion of the plan. It comprises an industry analysis, market segments, target customers, competitive analysis, competitive advantage. This section provides insights into the market landscape, identifying opportunities, challenges, and how the business positions itself uniquely within the industry.

Strategy & Implementation Summary

Here, the business plan should outline the short-term and long-term objectives, marketing strategy and sales approach. It's a roadmap that details how the business will achieve its goals, including tactical steps, timelines, and resources. In a business plan for investors, the inclusion of an exit strategy can provide a vision for the future, considering various potential outcomes.

Management Summary

The Management Summary offers profiles of key personnel, their qualifications, roles, and plans to fill talent gaps. It's a snapshot of the leadership team, providing assurance that the right people are in place to execute the business plan successfully.

Financial Projections

This section includes standard financial statements like the profit & loss statement (P&L), the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement. It offers a detailed financial blueprint, illustrating the company’s revenue drivers and unit assumptions, income statement, a break-even analysis, and a sensitivity analysis to examine how changes in variables affect outcomes. For businesses with complex structures, framing the revenue in terms of market share can offer additional insight into the viability and feasibility of the financial projections.

The Appendices often include year 1 and year 2 monthly financial statements, intellectual property like patents and trademarks, construction blueprints, and other essential documentation. It's a repository for supporting information that adds depth and context to the main sections of the plan.

Do I Need a Business Plan?

The question "Do I need a business plan?" is one that many entrepreneurs and business leaders grapple with. The answer, however, is not as straightforward as it might seem. While not every business requires a traditional business plan, the strategic planning process is essential for all. 

In some cases, a traditional business plan is required. Applying for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan , obtaining a entrepreneurship visa , or meeting specific investor requirements may mandate a comprehensive business plan.

However a traditional business plan isn’t always necessary. For example, in early-stage investor funding, particularly in industries like SaaS, a lean business plan accompanied by a pitch deck presentation will often suffice. The focus here is on agility and essential information rather than exhaustive detail.

Every Business Needs Business Planning

Unlike the traditional business plan, which may or may not be required depending on the situation, business planning as a process is indispensable for every business, regardless of size or stage.

Business planning is a dynamic, continuous process. It's not confined to a single document but evolves with the business, adapting to changes, challenges, and opportunities. Effective strategic planning ensures internal alignment with both long-term vision and short-term objectives. It's a holistic approach that guides business goal-setting decision-making, resource allocation, and strategic direction. It often serves as the basis for a fully developed marketing plan.

Every business, from a small startup to a large corporation, benefits from strategic planning. It's a practice that fosters growth, innovation, and resilience, providing a roadmap for success.

Not every business needs a traditional business plan as a document, but all businesses need to engage in business planning as a process. While the traditional business plan serves specific purposes and audiences, business planning is a universal practice that guides and grows the business.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders must assess their specific needs, recognizing that the traditional business plan is just one tool among many. The true value of the business plan lies in continuous planning, adapting, and aligning with the unique vision and goals of the business.

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A Business Plan is a Roadmap for a Business to Achieve its Goals

What is a business plan? Definition, Purpose, and Types

In the world of business, a well-thought-out plan is often the key to success. This plan, known as a business plan, is a comprehensive document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies , and financial projections. Whether you’re starting a new business or looking to expand an existing one, a business plan is an essential tool.

As a business plan writer and consultant , I’ve crafted over 15,000 plans for a diverse range of businesses. In this article, I’ll be sharing my wealth of experience about what a business plan is, its purpose, and the step-by-step process of creating one. By the end, you’ll have a thorough understanding of how to develop a robust business plan that can drive your business to success.

What is a business plan?

Purposes of a business plan, executive summary, business description or overview, product and price, competitive analysis, target market, marketing plan, financial plan, funding requirements, lean startup business plans, traditional business plans, how often should a business plan be reviewed and revised, what are the key elements of a lean startup business plan.

  • What are some of the reasons why business plans don't succeed?

A business plan is a roadmap for your business. It outlines your goals, strategies, and how you plan to achieve them. It’s a living document that you can update as your business grows and changes.

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These are the following purpose of business plan:

  • Attract investors and lenders: If you’re seeking funding for your business , a business plan is a must-have. Investors and lenders want to see that you have a clear plan for how you’ll use their money to grow your business and generate revenue.
  • Get organized and stay on track: Writing a business plan forces you to think through all aspects of your business, from your target market to your marketing strategy. This can help you identify any potential challenges and opportunities early on, so you can develop a plan to address them.
  • Make better decisions: A business plan can help you make better decisions about your business by providing you with a framework to evaluate different options. For example, if you’re considering launching a new product, your business plan can help you assess the potential market demand, costs, and profitability.

What are the essential components of a business plan?

The Essential Components of a Business Plan

The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan, even though it’s the last one you’ll write. It’s the first section that potential investors or lenders will read, and it may be the only one they read. The executive summary sets the stage for the rest of the document by introducing your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.

The business description section of your business plan should introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way. It should include your business name, years in operation, key offerings, positioning statement, and core values (if applicable). You may also want to include a short history of your company.

In this section, the company should describe its products or services , including pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other relevant information could include production and manufacturing processes, patents, and proprietary technology.

Every industry has competitors, even if your business is the first of its kind or has the majority of the market share. In the competitive analysis section of your business plan, you’ll objectively assess the industry landscape to understand your business’s competitive position. A SWOT analysis is a structured way to organize this section.

Your target market section explains the core customers of your business and why they are your ideal customers. It should include demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic information about your target market.

Marketing plan describes how the company will attract and retain customers, including any planned advertising and marketing campaigns . It also describes how the company will distribute its products or services to consumers.

After outlining your goals, validating your business opportunity, and assessing the industry landscape, the team section of your business plan identifies who will be responsible for achieving your goals. Even if you don’t have your full team in place yet, investors will be impressed by your clear understanding of the roles that need to be filled.

In the financial plan section,established businesses should provide financial statements , balance sheets , and other financial data. New businesses should provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years, and may also request funding.

Since one goal of a business plan is to secure funding from investors , you should include the amount of funding you need, why you need it, and how long you need it for.

  • Tip: Use bullet points and numbered lists to make your plan easy to read and scannable.

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Types of business plan.

Business plans can come in many different formats, but they are often divided into two main types: traditional and lean startup. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) says that the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

Lean startup business plans are short (as short as one page) and focus on the most important elements. They are easy to create, but companies may need to provide more information if requested by investors or lenders.

Traditional business plans are longer and more detailed than lean startup business plans, which makes them more time-consuming to create but more persuasive to potential investors. Lean startup business plans are shorter and less detailed, but companies should be prepared to provide more information if requested.

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A business plan should be reviewed and revised at least annually, or more often if the business is experiencing significant changes. This is because the business landscape is constantly changing, and your business plan needs to reflect those changes in order to remain relevant and effective.

Here are some specific situations in which you should review and revise your business plan:

  • You have launched a new product or service line.
  • You have entered a new market.
  • You have experienced significant changes in your customer base or competitive landscape.
  • You have made changes to your management team or organizational structure.
  • You have raised new funding.

A lean startup business plan is a short and simple way for a company to explain its business, especially if it is new and does not have a lot of information yet. It can include sections on the company’s value proposition, major activities and advantages, resources, partnerships, customer segments, and revenue sources.

What are some of the reasons why business plans don't succeed?

Reasons why Business Plans Dont Success

  • Unrealistic assumptions: Business plans are often based on assumptions about the market, the competition, and the company’s own capabilities. If these assumptions are unrealistic, the plan is doomed to fail.
  • Lack of focus: A good business plan should be focused on a specific goal and how the company will achieve it. If the plan is too broad or tries to do too much, it is unlikely to be successful.
  • Poor execution: Even the best business plan is useless if it is not executed properly. This means having the right team in place, the necessary resources, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Unforeseen challenges:  Every business faces challenges that could not be predicted or planned for. These challenges can be anything from a natural disaster to a new competitor to a change in government regulations.

What are the benefits of having a business plan?

  • It helps you to clarify your business goals and strategies.
  • It can help you to attract investors and lenders.
  • It can serve as a roadmap for your business as it grows and changes.
  • It can help you to make better business decisions.

How to write a business plan?

There are many different ways to write a business plan, but most follow the same basic structure. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  • Executive summary.
  • Company description.
  • Management and organization description.
  • Financial projections.

How to write a business plan step by step?

Start with an executive summary, then describe your business, analyze the market, outline your products or services, detail your marketing and sales strategies, introduce your team, and provide financial projections.

Why do I need a business plan for my startup?

A business plan helps define your startup’s direction, attract investors, secure funding, and make informed decisions crucial for success.

What are the key components of a business plan?

Key components include an executive summary, business description, market analysis, products or services, marketing and sales strategy, management and team, financial projections, and funding requirements.

Can a business plan help secure funding for my business?

Yes, a well-crafted business plan demonstrates your business’s viability, the use of investment, and potential returns, making it a valuable tool for attracting investors and lenders.

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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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20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2024

Written by Dave Lavinsky

20 Reasons Why you need a business plan

What is the Purpose of a Business Plan?

The purpose of a business plan is to provide a clear roadmap for the company’s future. It outlines the vision, goals, and strategies of the business, guiding entrepreneurs and stakeholders in understanding its operations and objectives. A well-crafted business plan template helps attract investors and funding by showcasing the potential for profitability and growth.

Top 20 Reasons Why you Need a Business Plan

1. to prove that you’re serious about your business.

A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties — employees, investors, partners and yourself — that you are committed to building the business. Creating your plan forces you to think through and select the strategies that will propel your growth.

2. To Establish Business Milestones

The business plan should clearly lay out the long-term milestones that are most important to the success of your business. To paraphrase Guy Kawasaki, a milestone is something significant enough to come home and tell your spouse about (without boring him or her to death). Would you tell your spouse that you tweaked the company brochure? Probably not. But you’d certainly share the news that you launched your new website or reached $1M in annual revenues.

3. To Better Understand Your Competition

Creating the business plan forces you to analyze the competition. All companies have competition in the form of either direct or indirect competitors, and it is critical to understand your company’s competitive advantages. And if you don’t currently have competitive advantages, to figure out what you must do to gain them.

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4. To Better Understand Your Customer

Why do they buy when they buy? Why don’t they when they don’t? An in-depth customer analysis is essential to an effective business plan and to a successful business. Understanding your customers will not only allow you to create better products and services for them, but will allow you to more cost-effectively reach them via advertising and promotions.

5. To Enunciate Previously Unstated Assumptions

The process of actually writing the business plan helps to bring previously “hidden” assumptions to the foreground. By writing them down and assessing them, you can test them and analyze their validity. For example, you might have assumed that local retailers would carry your product; in your business plan, you could assess the results of the scenario in which this didn’t occur.

6. To Assess the Feasibility of Your Venture

How good is this opportunity? The business plan process involves researching your target market, as well as the competitive landscape, and serves as a feasibility study for the success of your venture. In some cases, the result of your planning will be to table the venture. And it might be to go forward with a different venture that may have a better chance of success.

7. To Document Your Revenue Model

How exactly will your business make money? This is a critical question to answer in writing, for yourself and your investors. Documenting the revenue model helps to address challenges and assumptions associated with the model. And upon reading your plan, others may suggest additional revenue streams to consider.

8. To Determine Your Financial Needs

Does your business need to raise capital? How much? One of the purposes of a business plan is to help you to determine exactly how much capital you need and what you will use it for. This process is essential for raising capital for business and for effectively employing the capital. It will also enable you to plan ahead, particularly if you need to raise additional funding in the future.

9. To Attract Investors

A formal business plan is the basis for financing proposals. The business plan answers investors’ questions such as: Is there a need for this product/service? What are the financial projections? What is the company’s exit strategy? While investors will generally want to meet you in person before writing you a check, in nearly all cases, they will also thoroughly review your business plan.

10. To Reduce the Risk of Pursuing the Wrong Opportunity

The process of creating the business plan helps to minimize opportunity costs. Writing the business plan helps you assess the attractiveness of this particular opportunity, versus other opportunities. So you make the best decisions.

11. To Force You to Research and Really Know Your Market

What are the most important trends in your industry? What are the greatest threats to your industry? Is the market growing or shrinking? What is the size of the target market for your product/service? Creating the business plan will help you to gain a wider, deeper, and more nuanced understanding of your marketplace. And it will allow you to use this knowledge to make decisions to improve your company’s success.

12. To Attract Employees and a Management Team

To attract and retain top quality talent, a business plan is necessary. The business plan inspires employees and management that the idea is sound and that the business is poised to achieve its strategic goals. Importantly, as you grow your company, your employees and not you will do most of the work. So getting them aligned and motivated will be key to your success.

13. To Plot Your Course and Focus Your Efforts

The business plan provides a roadmap from which to operate, and to look to for direction in times of doubt. Without a business plan, you may shift your short-term strategies constantly without a view to your long-term milestones. You wouldn’t go on a long driving trip without a map; think of your business plan as your map.

14. To attract partners

Partners also want to see a business plan, in order to determine whether it is worth partnering with your business. Establishing partnerships often requires time and capital, and companies will be more likely to partner with your venture if they can read a detailed explanation of your company.

15. To Position Your Brand

Creating the business plan helps to define your company’s role in the marketplace. This definition allows you to succinctly describe the business and position the brand to customers, investors, and partners. With the industry, customer and competitive insight you gain during the business planning process, you can best determine how to position your brand.

16. To Judge the Success of Your Business

A formal business plan allows you to compare actual operational results versus the business plan itself. In this way, it allows you to clearly see whether you have achieved your strategic, financing, and operational goals (and why you have or have not).

17. To Reposition Your Business to Deal with Changing Conditions

For example, during difficult economic conditions, if your current sales and operational models aren’t working, you can rewrite your business plan to define, try, and validate new ideas and strategies.

18. To Document Your Marketing Plan

How are you going to reach your customers? How will you retain them? What is your advertising budget? What price will you charge? A well-documented marketing plan is essential to the growth of a business. And the marketing strategies and tactics you use will evolve each year, so revisiting your marketing plan at least annually is critical.

19. To Understand and Forecast Your Company’s Staffing Needs

After completing your business plan, you will not be surprised when you are suddenly short-handed. Rather, your business plan provides a roadmap for your staffing needs, and thus helps to ensure smoother expansion. Importantly your plan can not only help you understand your staffing needs, but ensure your timing is right as it takes time to recruit and train great employees.

20. To Uncover New Opportunities

Through the process of brainstorming, white-boarding and creative interviewing, you will likely see your business in a different light. As a result, you will often come up with new ideas for marketing your product/service and running your business. It’s coming up with these ideas and executing on them which is often the difference between a business that fails or just survives and one that thrives.

Business Plan FAQs

What is a business plan.

A business plan is a document that details your business concept and strategy for growth.

A business plan helps guide your company's efforts and, if applicable, gives investors and lenders the information they need to decide whether or not to fund your company. A business plan template helps you to most easily complete your plan.

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

A business plan provides details about your company, competition, customers and industry so that you make the best possible decisions to grow your company.

What is the Importance of a Business Plan?

The 3 most important purposes of a business plan are 1) to create an effective strategy for growth, 2) to determine your future financial needs, and 3) to attract investors (including angel investors and VC funding ) and lenders.

Why is a Business Plan Important to an Entrepreneur?

Business plans help entrepreneurs take their visions and turn them into tangible action plans for success.

Need help with your business plan? 

  • Speak with a professional business plan consultant from our team.
  • Use our simple business plan template .
  • Check out our business plan examples .
  • Or, if you’re creating your own PPM, you can save time and money with Growthink’s private placement memorandum template .
  • Learn more about us via our Growthink Business Plan Review page

The World’s #1 Business Plan Template

Would you like to know the quickest and easiest way to create a winning business plan?

And how to use it to raise funding, improve your strategy, or both?

Well, we’ve developed the ultimate business plan template to help you do this. Simply click below to learn more.

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How To Set Business Goals (+ Examples for Inspiration)

Saphia Lanier

Updated: March 11, 2024

Published: October 24, 2023

You’re a business owner — the captain of your own ship. But how do you ensure you’re steering your company in the right direction? 

Business goals: a man looks into a telescope

Without clear-cut goals and a plan to reach them, you risk setting your sails on the course of dangerous icebergs. 

The best way to steer clear of wreckage is to map out exactly where you want your business to go. This is what makes setting business goals so important. If you’re not already using them to guide your ship, then now’s a great time to start.

Table of contents:

  • What are business goals?

Why business goals are important

How to set business goals, tips to achieve business goals, business goals examples, what are business goals .

Business goals are the desired outcomes that an organization aims to achieve within a specific time frame. These goals help define the purpose and direction of the company, guiding decision-making and resource allocation. They can be short-term or long-term objectives , aligned with the company’s mission and vision.

Operating a business using your gut and feelings will only get you so far. If you’re looking to build a sustainable company, then you need to set goals in advance and follow through with them. 

Here’s what goal setting can do to make your business a success:

  • Give your business direction. Business goals align everyone toward a common purpose and ensure all efforts and resources are directed toward achieving specific outcomes.
  • Keep everyone motivated to keep pushing forward. Goals provide employees with a sense of purpose and motivation. According to research from BiWorldwide, goal setting makes employees 14.2x more inspired at work and 3.6x more likely to be committed to the organization.
  • Create benchmarks to work toward (and above). Goals provide a basis for measuring and evaluating the performance of the organization. They serve as benchmarks to assess progress, identify areas of improvement, and make informed decisions about resource allocation and strategy adjustments .
  • Prioritize activities and allocate resources effectively. Goals help you identify the most important initiatives, ensuring that time, money, and effort are invested in activities that align with the overall objectives.
  • Make continuous organizational improvements. Goals drive continuous improvement by setting targets for growth and progress. They encourage businesses to constantly evaluate their performance, identify areas for refinement, and implement strategies to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

Nothing creates solidarity among teams and departments like shared goals. So be sure to get everyone involved to boost camaraderie. 

Setting business goals requires careful consideration and planning. By defining specific and measurable targets, you can track progress and make necessary adjustments along the way.

Here are the steps to effectively set business goals.

Step 1: Identify key areas to improve in your business

Start by assessing the current state of your organization. Identify areas that require improvement or growth. This could include increasing revenue, expanding your customer base, improving employee satisfaction, or enhancing product offerings.

Step 2: Choose specific and measurable goals 

Setting clear and specific goals is essential. Use the SMART goal framework to ensure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, instead of setting a vague goal like “increase revenue,” set a specific goal like “increase revenue by 15% in the next quarter.”

Step 3: Prioritize which goals to tackle first

Not all goals are equally important or urgent. Evaluate the impact and feasibility of each goal and prioritize them accordingly. By ranking your goals, you can focus your efforts and resources on the most critical objectives.

Step 4: Break down your goals into smaller milestones

Breaking down each goal into smaller, manageable tasks makes them more attainable. Assign responsibilities and set deadlines for each step. This approach helps track progress and ensures accountability.

Step 5: Decide what your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will be

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are metrics used to measure progress toward your goals. Set realistic and relevant KPIs that align with your objectives. For example, if your goal is to increase customer acquisition, a relevant KPI could be the number of new customers acquired per month.

Now that you have set your business goals, it’s time to take action and work toward achieving them. Here are some tips to help you stay on track:

1. Write down your action plan 

Develop a detailed plan of action for each goal. Identify the necessary resources, strategies, and milestones to achieve them. A well-defined action plan provides a road map for success.

2. Foster a culture that’s goal-oriented

Encourage your employees to embrace and contribute to your goals. Foster a culture that values goal setting and achievement. Recognize and reward individuals or teams that make significant progress toward the goals.

3. Regularly track and evaluate progress

Monitor the progress toward each goal and make adjustments as needed. Use project management tools or software to track and visualize progress. Regularly review and evaluate your performance to ensure you’re on the right track.

4. Seek feedback and adapt

Gather feedback from employees, customers, and stakeholders. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives and help you refine your goals and strategies. Adapt your approach based on feedback to increase your chances of success.

5. Stay focused and motivated (even when you fail)

Staying motivated to achieve goals is difficult, especially when you come up short or fail. But don’t let this set you back. Continue pushing forward with your goals or readjust the direction as needed. Then do whatever you can to avoid distractions so you stay committed to your action plan.

Also, remember to celebrate small wins and milestones along the way to keep your team motivated and engaged.

To provide inspiration, here are some examples of common business goals:

1. Revenue growth

Revenue growth is a business goal that focuses on increasing the overall income generated by the company. Setting a specific target percentage increase in revenue can create a measurable goal to work toward.

Strategies for achieving revenue growth may include:

  • Expanding the customer base through targeted marketing campaigns
  • Improving customer retention and loyalty
  • Upselling or cross-selling to existing customers
  • Increasing the average order value by offering premium products or services

Example: A retail company sets a goal to increase its revenue by 10% in the next fiscal year. To achieve this, it implements several strategies, including launching a digital marketing campaign to attract new customers, offering personalized discounts and promotions to encourage repeat purchases, and introducing a premium product line to increase the average order value.

2. Customer acquisition

Customer acquisition focuses on expanding the customer base by attracting new customers to the business. Setting a specific goal for the number of new customers helps businesses track their progress and measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.

Strategies for customer acquisition may include:

  • Running targeted advertising campaigns
  • Implementing referral programs to incentivize existing customers to refer new ones
  • Forming strategic partnerships with complementary businesses to reach a wider audience

Example: A software-as-a-service (SaaS) company aims to acquire 1k new customers in the next quarter. To achieve this, it launches a social media marketing campaign targeting its ideal customer profile, offers a referral program where existing customers receive a discount for referring new customers, and forms partnerships with industry influencers to promote its product.

3. Employee development

Employee development goals focus on enhancing the skills and knowledge of employees to improve their performance and contribute to the organization’s growth. By setting goals for employee training and skill development, businesses can create a culture of continuous learning and provide opportunities for career advancement.

Strategies for employee development may include:

  • Offering training programs
  • Providing mentorship opportunities
  • Sponsoring professional certifications
  • Creating a career development plan for each employee

Example: A technology company aims to have 80% of its employees complete at least one professional certification within the next year. To achieve this, it offers financial support and study materials for employees interested in obtaining certifications, provides dedicated study time during working hours, and celebrates employees’ achievements upon certification completion.

4. Product development

Product development goals focus on creating and improving products or services to meet customer needs and stay competitive in the market. Setting goals for product development can prioritize your efforts and so you can allocate resources effectively.

Strategies for product development may include:

  • Conducting market research to identify customer preferences and trends
  • Gathering customer feedback through surveys or focus groups
  • Investing in research and development to create new products or enhance existing ones
  • Collaborating with customers or industry experts to co-create innovative solutions

Example: An electronics company sets a goal to launch three new product lines within the next year. To achieve this, it conducts market research to identify emerging trends and customer demands, gathers feedback from its target audience through surveys and usability testing, allocates resources to research and development teams for product innovation, and collaborates with external design agencies to create visually appealing and user-friendly products.

5. Social responsibility

Social responsibility goals focus on making a positive impact on society or the environment. These goals go beyond financial success and emphasize the importance of ethical and sustainable business practices. Setting goals for social responsibility allows businesses to align their values with their actions and contribute to causes that resonate with their stakeholders.

Strategies for social responsibility may include: 

  • Implementing sustainable practices to reduce environmental impact
  • Donating a percentage of profits to charitable organizations
  • Supporting local communities through volunteer programs
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion within the organization

Example: A clothing retailer aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 20% in the next two years. To achieve this, it implements sustainable practices, such as using eco-friendly materials, optimizing packaging to minimize waste, and partnering with ethical manufacturers. It also donates a percentage of its profits to an environmental conservation organization.

Setting and achieving goals is what it takes to be successful in business. By following the steps outlined in this article and incorporating the tips provided, you can effectively set and work toward your goals. Remember to regularly evaluate progress, adapt as necessary, and celebrate milestones along the way.

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IR-2024-71, March 14, 2024

WASHINGTON ― With the April 15 filing deadline approaching, the Internal Revenue Service encourages taxpayers who may find it difficult to gather the necessary documents they need to file or pay the taxes they owe to consider several options offered on IRS.gov to avoid late filing and interest penalties.

This is the last in a four-part series called the Tax Time Guide , a resource to help taxpayers file an accurate tax return. As taxpayers approach the April 15 deadline, those who owe taxes can benefit from knowing their options.

Eligible individuals and families who earned $79,000 or less in 2023 can use IRS Free File on IRS.gov, to electronically file their taxes. But all taxpayers, regardless of income, who need more time to file a return can use IRS Free File as an easy and quick way to electronically file for a six-month extension before April 15, 2024. An extension will help to avoid penalties and interest for failing to file on time , and gives taxpayers until Oct. 15, 2024, to file. However, they still must pay what they owe by the April 15 deadline.

Except for eligible victims of recent natural disasters who have until Oct. 15 to make tax payments, taxpayers who can’t pay the full amount of taxes they owe by April 15 should file and pay what they can to reduce total penalties and interest.

There are multiple ways to make electronic payments and there are options for a payment plan or an agreement with the IRS.

IRS Online Account

An IRS Online Account provides taxpayers access to important information when preparing to file a tax return, pay a balance or follow up on notices. Taxpayers can view their information online including:

  • Adjusted Gross Income.
  • Payment history and any scheduled or pending payments.
  • Payment plan details.
  • Digital copies of select notices from the IRS.

Taxpayers can also use their Online Account to securely make a same-day payment for an outstanding 2023 tax balance, pay quarterly estimated taxes for the 2024 tax season or request an extension to file a 2023 return.

Interest and a late payment penalty will apply to any payments made after April 15. Making a payment, even a partial payment, will help limit penalty and interest charges.

Other electronic options

Direct Pay, available at IRS.gov, is the fastest, easiest way to make a one-time payment without signing into an IRS Online Account.

  • Direct Pay : Direct Pay is free and allows taxpayers to securely pay their taxes directly from their checking or savings account without any fees or registration. Taxpayers can schedule payments up to 365 days in advance. After submitting a payment through Direct Pay, taxpayers will receive immediate confirmation.  
  • IRS2Go mobile app : IRS2Go is the official mobile app of the IRS. Taxpayers can check their refund status, make a payment, find free tax preparation assistance, sign up for helpful tax tips and more. IRS2Go is available in both English and Spanish.  
  • Electronic Funds Withdrawal (EFW) : This option allows taxpayers to file and pay electronically from their bank account when using tax preparation software or a tax professional. This option is free and only available when electronically filing a tax return.  
  • Electronic Federal Tax Payment System : This free service gives taxpayers a safe, convenient way to pay individual and business taxes by phone or online. To enroll and for more information, taxpayers can call 800-555-4477 or visit eftps.gov .  
  • Debit or credit card and digital wallet : Individuals can pay online, by phone or with a mobile device through any of the authorized payment processors. Processors do charge a fee to use these services. The IRS doesn’t receive any fees for these payments. Authorized card processors and phone numbers are available at IRS.gov/payments .

Other payment options

  • Cash: For taxpayers who prefer to pay in cash, the IRS offers a way to pay taxes at one of its many retail partners. The IRS urges taxpayers choosing this option to start early because it involves a four-step process. Details, including answers to frequently asked questions, are at IRS.gov/paywithcash .
  • “2023 Form 1040”.
  • Daytime phone number.
  • Social Security number.

Help for taxpayers who cannot pay in full

The IRS encourages taxpayers who cannot pay in full to pay what they can and consider a variety of payment options available for the remaining balance including getting a loan to pay the amount due. In many cases, loan costs may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties that the IRS must charge under federal law. Taxpayers should act as quickly as possible and are urged not to wait to respond to a notice: Tax bills accumulate more interest and fees the longer they remain unpaid. For all payment options, visit IRS.gov/payments .

Online self-service payment plans

Most individual taxpayers qualify for a payment plan and can use Online Payment Agreement to set up a payment plan (including an installment agreement) to pay off an outstanding balance over time.

Once the online application is complete, the taxpayer receives immediate notification of whether their payment plan has been approved. Taxpayers can setup a plan using the Online Payment Agreement in a matter of minutes. There’s no paperwork and no need to call, write or visit the IRS. Setup fees may apply for some types of plans.

Online payment plan options for individual taxpayers include:

  • Short-term payment plan – The total balance owed is less than $100,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest. Additional time of up to 180 days to pay the balance in full.
  • Long-term payment plan (installment agreement) – The total balance owed is less than $50,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest. Pay in monthly payments for up to 72 months. Payments may be set up using direct debit (automatic bank withdraw) which eliminates the need to send in a payment each month, saving postage costs and reducing the chance of default. For balances between $25,000 and $50,000, direct debit is required.

Qualified taxpayers with existing payment plans may be able to use the Online Payment Agreement to make changes including revising payment dates, payment amounts or bank information for payments made by direct debit. Go to Online Payment Agreement for more information.

Though interest and late-payment penalties continue to accrue on any unpaid taxes after April 15, the failure to pay tax penalty rate is cut in half while an installment agreement is in effect. Find more information about the costs of payment plans on the IRS’ Additional Information on Payment Plans webpage.

Taxpayers struggling to meet their tax obligation may also consider these additional payment options:

  • Offer in Compromise – Certain taxpayers qualify to settle their tax liabilities for less than the total amount they owe by submitting an Offer in Compromise. To help determine their eligibility, they can use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool .
  • Temporary delay of collection – Taxpayers can contact the IRS to request a temporary delay of the collection process. If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until the taxpayer’s financial condition improves. Penalties and interest continue to accrue until the full amount is paid.
  • Other payment plan options – Taxpayers who do not qualify for online self-service should contact the IRS using the phone number or address on their most recent notice for other payment plan options. For individuals and out-of-business sole proprietors who are already working with IRS Campus Collection and who owe $250,000 or less, one available option is to propose a monthly payment that will pay the balance over the length of the Collection Statute (usually 10 years). These payment plans don’t require a financial statement, but they do require a determination for the filing of a Notice of Federal Tax Lien.

For more information about payments, see Topic No. 202, Tax Payment Options , on IRS.gov.

Taxpayer rights

The IRS reminds taxpayers that they have rights and protections throughout the collection process. For details, see Taxpayer Bill of Rights and Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer PDF .

Taxpayers should know before they owe. The IRS encourages all taxpayers to check their withholdings with the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator .

This information is part of a series called the Tax Time Guide , a resource to help taxpayers file an accurate tax return. Additional help is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax .

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When it comes to business continuity, do you have a plan?

Find out how a business continuity plan can help you stay prepared for anything. Presented by Chase for Business .

what is the need for a business plan

Don’t panic — plan . The business world is a predictably unpredictable place. One moment, the path ahead is clear. A moment later, a storm rolls in, making it difficult to see what step to take next. That’s where your business continuity plan (BCP) shines. It’s your survival guide, designed to lead you through the storm and keep business operations running when the unexpected occurs.

It starts with taking a careful look at the landscape around you. Knowing exposure to risk can help you understand how potential disasters and emergencies could impact your operations. And making specific plans to mitigate risk across a variety of scenarios — as well as documenting specific processes — turns your BCP into a compass and a map for navigating whatever challenges cross your path.

What a business continuity plan is, and why you need one

Success is all about preparation. By establishing processes and procedures, you’re basically giving your business the tools to keep moving forward, even when you encounter unexpected obstacles. The right kind of plan can help you weather the storm of business interruption and get back to business as usual.

So, what is a BCP? It’s a document that clearly defines actions and processes that can help your business maintain stability during operational disruption, mitigating short-term and long-term risks. Your industry has its own set of specific risks that you’ll want to consider in your plan. Here’s a list of common scenarios you might also include:

  • Natural disasters
  • Power outages
  • Cyberattacks
  • Supply chain issues
  • Reputational damage
  • Acts of terrorism

That’s a long list of bad luck, so let’s talk about good preparation. It’s important to establish contingency plans for multiple scenarios covering every facet of critical business operations. You’ll want to include policies for dealing with unexpected events, as well as methods for testing those policies. Naming the people responsible for specific actions that each policy requires will help avoid confusion and ensure that someone will be there to guide the team forward each step of the way.

The difference between business continuity and disaster recovery

Business continuity planning and disaster recovery are two different but related concepts.

Your BCP is a safety net, there to limit downtime resulting from any number of different business disruptions. A disaster recovery plan is like a specialist in your BCP, there to fix your IT systems after a major disaster and restore data access and backups.

All BCPs need a disaster recovery component. Because when disaster strikes, you need your IT systems up and running quickly. But relying solely on a disaster recovery plan isn’t enough. It’s just one part of a larger whole. A good BCP covers all bases to ensure your business can handle disruptions, including tech issues.

The parts of a plan

Every BCP is different, with specific components for specific business needs. At a foundational level, your plan should encompass clear policies, specific recovery strategies and a variety of contingency plans for restoring critical business functions and processes.

Most BCPs will include:

Responsible parties: A list of employees and team members who will execute specific elements of the plan 

Key business functions: An outline of all critical business operations that would need to be maintained if there’s an unexpected disruption

Possible threats to key business functions: A rundown of the most likely threats specific to the business (a business impact analysis and risk assessment can help identify key potential threats)

Policies for averting and recovering from business disruptions: Documentation of specific operational and contingency plans that detail approaches and processes for restoring critical business operations

Methods for testing business continuity policies: An outline of processes for testing your business’s contingency plans to ensure they will work during a disaster or an emergency

Contact information for key employees, first responders, vendors, etc.:  A list of business continuity team contacts who will help enact contingency plans and restore business operations

The actual contents of your BCP will vary depending on the needs of your business. Performing a risk assessment and business impact analysis can help you identify the most likely potential risks to your operations so that you can develop the best path to your own business recovery.

The bottom line of business continuity planning

A BCP is a crucial part of your company’s overall risk management strategy and the foundation of your disaster readiness and emergency management. Amid the aftermath of an unexpected event, these plans can help guide your business back to stability and mitigate short-term and long-term risks.

It’s also a good idea to have other risk management documentation, like a succession plan, to complement your BCP. Taking all the necessary steps today to protect your operations in the event of an emergency or a disaster helps you more effectively mitigate potential risks down the road. So that when a storm rolls in, you won’t feel the need to panic — because you have a plan.

Find a business banking partner you can rely on

Want a dependable guide who can work with you to help strengthen your business? Get in touch with a Chase business banker today.

What Type of Business Plan Do You Need?

Two female entrepreneurs sitting at a coffee shop next to plotted plants. Discussing what type of business plan they should use to start a business.

8 min. read

Updated October 27, 2023

We get this question a lot, mainly because there are so many different things labelled as business plans: strategic plans, annual plans, operational plans, feasibility plans, and, of course, what most people think of, business plans for startups seeking investment. And also, what real business owners want—lean business plans for better management.

In this article, we’re going to help you figure out which plan is the one for you.

  • Start with this: Form follows function

Put all business plans into this basic principle: form follows function . What do you want your business plan to do for you? That business objective should determine what kind of a plan you need.

All businesses start with a lean plan

These are things that every business owner needs to do in order to run the business effectively. They apply to all businesses, large or small, startup or not:

  • Develop and execute strategy
  • Set priorities
  • Allocate efforts and resources according to priorities
  • Establish tasks, responsibilities, and performance expectations
  • Track results and compare them to expectations
  • Manage cash flow
  • Budget sales and spending

So, every business is better off with a lean plan.

It’s a short, effective collection of bullet points, lists, and forecasts, covering all of the functions above:

  • It starts with bullet points for strategy. This isn’t text for outsiders. It’s not explanations; it’s reminders, for the entrepreneur and her team, of the major strategy points. Strategy is focus, so it’s a reminder of the target market, the product (or service), and the business identity. Sometimes it also includes a definition of success. It’s important, but just the bullet point reminders.
  • Then come tactics. Strategy is useless without tactics. These are also bullet points. They are the important decisions made regarding key points of a marketing plan, product plan, financial plan, recruitment plan … not explanations or details for outsiders, but just the main points for you and your team. Think about pricing, channels, social media, launch dates, products, services, features, and so forth.
  • Third part is concrete specifics. That includes a list of assumptions, important milestones, tasks, deadlines, responsibilities, and measurable performance expectations.
  • The fourth and final part is budgets. That’s sales forecast, spending budget, and cash flow.

Make this the lean plan and add a regular process of review and revision to keep it fresh. You can download a free template for a lean business plan here . Can you imagine any business that isn’t better off for having at least this kind of planning in place, even if they don’t need an elaborate business plan? I can’t.

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  • Lean plan for startups:

All startups can benefit from the lean plan above plus one extra ingredient: starting costs, and starting plans.

Starting costs

Starting costs are a matter of two lists: one for starting expenses, the other for starting assets.

The first list includes expenses like legal costs, logo, initial website, fixing up a location, and similar expenses that a startup business incurs once; and in some cases the expense of running expenses, such as rent and payroll, that have to start before launch for practical reasons.

The second includes assets required at start. These are items like starting inventory, equipment, and starting cash.

Startup plan

Keep it simple like the tactics in the normal lean plan, but add some bullets and concrete specifics for tasks and timing to get a startup going. These are items like choosing the location, setting up initial branding and website,  accounts for social media, and launch events.

  • A plan for the SBA, banks, investors, buyers, and partners

If you need to present a business plan to your bank or prospective investors, start with your latest revised lean business plan as the first draft. The lean plan is just for management. Dress that up to include the additional content that outsiders will want and need.

Add summaries and explanations

Add a very strong executive summary because some of your outsider target readers will read only that. Keep it short and make it fit the need. Often there’s a selling-the-idea or selling-the-potential purpose to a written plan, and in that case you make the summary include the highlights you want those readers to see to pique their interest.

Your lean plan doesn’t include details about your strategy, your company, your market, or your product. It has just summary tactics for marketing plan, product plan, financial plan, and management plan. Think of your readers—outsiders looking in—and help them understand the business. Achieve the specific goal of this dressed-up business plan.

Add formal financial projections

While the lean plan might be fine with just sales forecast, expense budget, and cash management, a business plan for a business plan event normally has to include formal financial projections that respect finance and accounting standards and include Profit and Loss, Cash Flow, and Balance Sheet. Banks will want to see projections of key ratios as well, and investors will like a Use of Funds table and sometimes a Break-even Analysis.

Stay mindful of the business purpose

We call it the business plan event—that’s the specific business need for a dressed-up plan. Form follows function here too.

A plan for investors will emphasize different elements than a plan for a bank loan. The investors want to see product-market fit; potential growth; something proprietary and protectable like technology, patents, trade secrets, or so-called secret sauce; and potential investor exit in a few years. The bank wants to see stability, credit history, collateral, and guarantees. A business broker or business buyer wants to see what can be most useful under new ownership.

Plan, pitch, and summary memo go together

Some business plan events require some special variations of your plan output. These days investors expect to see a short summary memo first. That’s a two to five page summary of your plan, a lot like your executive summary, but it stands alone. Then, if they like what they see from the summary, investors will want a pitch presentation. That’s a 20-40 minute slide presentation that backs up a verbal presentation, you with investors.

Neither summary memo nor pitch deck stand alone. They have to be summaries of your underlying plan. A pitch presentation is only really successful if it summarizes a real plan with a lot of concrete details on financials, milestones, traction, and next steps. Don’t get caught without a plan you can dig into when investors start asking more questions.

  • Business plans have lots of different names

Shakespeare wrote, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I say a plan by any other name is still a plan. Here are some common varieties and business plan vocabulary.

Most lean plans are also internal plans

An operations plan—also called an annual plan—is a type of internal plan. An operations plan includes specific implementation milestones, project deadlines, and responsibilities of team members and managers. This is the plan used for staying on track to meet your goals as a business. Planning for your goals as a business allows your company to assign priorities, focus on results, and track your progress. Your operations plan covers the inner workings of your business. It outlines the specifics of who should be doing what, and when they should be doing it.

Of course, cash flow figures prominently here as well. For example, your milestones will need to have sufficient funding for their implementation, and you’ll need to track your progress so you know how much you’re spending.

A growth or expansion plan focuses on a specific area of a business, or a subset of the business. For example, a plan for the creation of a new product is a growth plan. These plans could be internal plans or not, depending on whether they are being linked to loan applications or new investment. An expansion plan requiring new outside investment would include full company descriptions and background on the management team, just the same as a standard plan for investors would. Loan applications would require this much detail as well.

However, an internal plan used to set up the steps for growth or expansion that is funded internally could skip these descriptions. It might not be necessary to include detailed financial projections for the company overall, but it should at least include detailed forecasts of sales and expenses for the new venture or product.

What’s a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is another kind of internal plan. A strategic plan incorporates the financial information and milestones of an operations plan, but focuses more on setting company-wide priorities. As you build the strategy for your company and decide how to implement it, you will want to examine your strengths and weaknesses as a business. What does your company do well? As your company grows, you want to play to your strengths. Strategy is often a matter of selecting the right opportunities. Resources should be funneled strategically to the areas where they will provide the biggest overall benefits.

Once you have an idea of your strategy, you must have a plan for implementing it. This is where the milestones portion of the plan becomes key. To effectively execute your strategies, it’s critical to assign responsibilities and have a schedule for following through. The implementation tactics you use will actively move you in the right direction toward achieving your goals.

Resources for moving forward

Reading about the different types of business plans is a good jumping-off point in the process of creating a business plan. If you’re looking for more information about business plans and how to write them, you’ll find our business planning tutorials  and sample business plan library to be helpful resources.

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

Content Author: Tim Berry

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

Check out LivePlan

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HHS Statement Regarding the Cyberattack on Change Healthcare

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is aware that Change Healthcare – a unit of UnitedHealth Group (UHG) – was impacted by a cybersecurity incident in late February. HHS recognizes the impact this attack has had on health care operations across the country. HHS’ first priority is to help coordinate efforts to avoid disruptions to care throughout the health care system.

HHS is in regular contact with UHG leadership, state partners, and with numerous external stakeholders to better understand the nature of the impacts and to ensure the effectiveness of UHG’s response. HHS has made clear its expectation that UHG does everything in its power to ensure continuity of operations for all health care providers impacted and HHS appreciates UHG’s continuous efforts to do so. HHS is also leading interagency coordination of the Federal government’s related activities, including working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the White House, and other agencies to provide credible, actionable threat intelligence to industry wherever possible.

HHS refers directly to UHG for updates on their incident response progress and recovery planning. However, numerous hospitals, doctors, pharmacies and other stakeholders have highlighted potential cash flow concerns to HHS stemming from an inability to submit claims and receive payments. HHS has heard these concerns and is taking direct action and working to support the important needs of the health care community.

Today, HHS is announcing immediate steps that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking to assist providers to continue to serve patients. CMS will continue to communicate with the health care community and assist, as appropriate. Providers should continue to work with all their payers for the latest updates on how to receive timely payments.

Affected parties should be aware of the following flexibilities in place:

  • Medicare providers needing to change clearinghouses that they use for claims processing during these outages should contact their Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) to request a new electronic data interchange (EDI) enrollment for the switch. The MAC will provide instructions based on the specific request to expedite the new EDI enrollment. CMS has instructed the MACs to expedite this process and move all provider and facility requests into production and ready to bill claims quickly. CMS is strongly encouraging other payers, including state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies and Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans, to waive or expedite solutions for this requirement.
  • CMS will issue guidance to Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations and Part D sponsors encouraging them to remove or relax prior authorization, other utilization management, and timely filing requirements during these system outages. CMS is also encouraging MA plans to offer advance funding to providers most affected by this cyberattack.
  • CMS strongly encourages Medicaid and CHIP managed care plans to adopt the same strategies of removing or relaxing prior authorization and utilization management requirements, and consider offering advance funding to providers, on behalf of Medicaid and CHIP managed care enrollees to the extent permitted by the State. 
  • If Medicare providers are having trouble filing claims or other necessary notices or other submissions, they should contact their MAC for details on exceptions, waivers, or extensions, or contact CMS regarding quality reporting programs.
  • CMS has contacted all of the MACs to make sure they are prepared to accept paper claims from providers who need to file them. While we recognize that electronic billing is preferable for everyone, the MACs must accept paper submissions if a provider needs to file claims in that method.

CMS has also heard from providers about the availability of accelerated payments, like those issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that many payers are making funds available while billing systems are offline, and providers should take advantage of those opportunities. However, CMS recognizes that hospitals may face significant cash flow problems from the unusual circumstances impacting hospitals’ operations, and – during outages arising from this event – facilities may submit accelerated payment requests to their respective servicing MACs for individual consideration. We are working to provide additional information to the MACs about the specific items and information a provider’s request should contain. Specific information will be available from the MACs later this week.

This incident is a reminder of the interconnectedness of the domestic health care ecosystem and of the urgency of strengthening cybersecurity resiliency across the ecosystem. That’s why, in December 2023, HHS released a concept paper that outlines the Department’s cybersecurity strategy for the sector. The concept paper builds on the National Cybersecurity Strategy that President Biden released last year, focusing specifically on strengthening resilience for hospitals, patients, and communities threatened by cyber-attacks. The paper details four pillars for action, including publishing new voluntary health care-specific cybersecurity performance goals, working with Congress to develop supports and incentives for domestic hospitals to improve cybersecurity, increasing accountability within the health care sector, and enhancing coordination through a one-stop shop.

HHS will continue to communicate with the health care sector and encourage continued dialogue among affected parties. We will continue to communicate with UHG, closely monitor their ongoing response to this cyberattack, and promote transparent, robust response while working with the industry to close any gaps that remain.

HHS also takes this opportunity to encourage all providers, technology vendors, and members of the health care ecosystem to double down on cybersecurity, with urgency. The system and the American people can ill afford further disruptions in care. Please visit the  HPH Cyber Performance Goals website for more details on steps to stay protected.

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What You Need to Know for the 2024 Tax Season

There are tax breaks for electric car purchases, SALT workarounds, benefits for retirees and a new system for eligible taxpayers to file their returns.

An illustration of a man balancing on top of a tax form.

By Tara Siegel Bernard

Filing your tax return serves as an annual reminder of just how tediously complex the American tax code is — and this year is no exception.

It’s not as messy as the pandemic years, but there are plenty of new provisions taking effect, and some changes could potentially land midseason.

Procrastination may cost you: Interest on unpaid taxes and late penalties (yes, even penalties accrue interest) have more than doubled to 8 percent from just a couple years ago.

Here are some of the latest changes to keep in mind as the filing deadline — April 15 , or April 17 for Maine and Massachusetts residents — approaches.

Can I file my return using the Internal Revenue Service’s new — and free — service?

Starting in mid-March, certain residents in a dozen states are expected to have the option to electronically file their returns using the I.R.S.’s Direct File program . The system, which is in a limited pilot, is slowly rolling out in phases, and will be accessible only to taxpayers with relatively simple tax situations.

To be eligible , taxpayers must have income limited to wages reported on Form W-2, Social Security or unemployment, as well as interest income of $1,500 or less. They must also claim the standard deduction (and not itemize their deductions).

Filers must also live in one of the 12 states participating in the pilot. Eight of those states don’t have a state income tax (Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming) and four do (Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and New York). The tool doesn’t provide state-tax returns yet, but guides taxpayers to a state-supported tool that can be used to prepare and file state tax returns.

For more details, check out my colleague Ann Carrns’ story .

I bought a new electric car. Am I eligible for any tax benefits?

Maybe. People who bought a new electric vehicle may again qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500 in 2023 (and through 2032), but the eligibility rules have tightened: Your income and the car price must fall below a certain ceiling, and the vehicle itself must check a series of boxes.

To start, single tax filers must have modified adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less; and married joint filers must have earned $300,000 or less; and $225,000 for heads of households. (You can use your income from the year you get the car or the year earlier, whichever is lower.)

The vehicle’s manufacturer suggested retail price can’t exceed $80,000 for vans, sports utility vehicles and pickup trucks, and $55,000 for all other vehicles. There are plenty of finer details — the vehicles must have had their final assembly in North America, for example, and they must have certain battery components. You can visit the U.S. Department of Energys’s site to see whether your vehicle qualifies.

Your exact credit amount will vary based on when you received the car and whether it meets certain criteria. The credit is nonrefundable, which means you can’t get back more money than you owe in taxes and you can’t apply any excess to future tax bills.

Starting this year, buyers of new cars can transfer the credit to the dealership for an upfront discount rather than waiting to get the money during the 2025 tax filing season.

“They will, in theory, give you a reduction in the purchase price,” said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst for Wolters Kluwer, an information services firm.

What about used cars?

Starting this year, if you bought a qualified used electric vehicle from a licensed dealer for $25,000 or less, you may be eligible for a nonrefundable credit equal to 30 percent — up to $4,000 — of the sale price.

I made my home more energy efficient. Are there any new tax breaks to offset some of the costs?

Yes. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act , tax breaks in these categories became more generous and now cover more expenses — and some taxpayers may become eligible again even if they used up their previous credits in the past.

Starting in the tax year 2023, the energy-efficient home improvement credit lets taxpayers claim as much as $1,200 each year — up from a $500 lifetime maximum — for certain improvements made through 2032, including items like exterior doors, windows and insulation materials. Additionally, there’s another credit worth up to $2,000 annually for various new water heaters, heat pumps and boilers.

The residential clean energy property credit — for items like solar panels, solar water heaters or wind turbines — is also available again. From 2022 to 2032, the credit is 30 percent of qualified costs (then it’s later reduced to lower amounts).

The child credit could change midseason. Does that mean I should wait to file my taxes?

Nope. The House passed a bipartisan bill that would temporarily expand the child tax credit , which, if enacted, would largely benefit lower-income families, particularly those with multiple children. But it must first clear the Senate, where it faces challenges. Whatever happens, taxpayers shouldn’t put off filing — the I.R.S. would be able to pay any refunds due retroactively.

“No amended return would be needed,” said Julie Welch, director of taxation at Meara Welch Browne, P.C., in Kansas City, Mo.

The existing child tax credit is worth up to $2,000 for each qualifying dependent under 17, but it is reduced for married filers once their income exceeds $400,000, or $200,000 for singles and heads of household. (The I.R.S.’s Interactive Tax Assistant can help determine eligibility.)

But a portion of that credit — up to $1,600 — is refundable: That means after the credit reduces taxes owed, dollar for dollar, any remaining credit is paid in the form of a refund.

Inflation stung. Did the I.R.S. make any changes to mitigate this?

Indeed. The I.R.S. raised the outer limits of the federal tax brackets, or the income thresholds at which a higher tax rate applies, by about 7 percent to account for high inflation. Without the adjustments, people who received raises would have had more of their income taxed at higher rates, even if their income was simply keeping pace with higher prices.

For the 2023 tax year, for example, the 24 percent tax bracket kicks in on income over $95,375 for single taxpayers and $190,751 for married joint filers, with similar changes in other tax brackets. The standard deduction for single filers rose to $13,850 for 2023, up $900; for married people filing jointly, it rose to $27,700, up $1,800; it increased to $20,800 for heads of household.

The amount people could have saved in 401(k) plans in 2023 rose to $22,500, up from $20,500 in 2022. But qualifying taxpayers have until they file their returns to max out 2023 savings in their I.R.A.s . The total contributions can’t be more than $6,500, or $7,500 for those 50 and older.

For the 2024 tax year (returns filed in 2025) these levels moved up again.

I use Venmo for my side hustle. Is the I.R.S. tracking more of those earnings this year?

Freelancers, gig workers, small businesses — or anyone with a side job — have always been obligated to track and report income to the I.R.S. when their earnings exceed $400 . But to increase compliance, online processors and marketplaces — like Venmo, PayPal, eBay or Airbnb — were supposed to record and report more of this sales activity in 2023. That would be documented on I.R.S. Form 1099-K , which would be sent to both the I.R.S. and the taxpayer.

People who collect income through these online payment processors or marketplaces were supposed to receive these tax forms for all payments exceeding $600, but that requirement has been pushed back by the I.R.S. for a second consecutive year.

For this tax season, the old rules still apply: 1099-Ks will be required to be issued to people selling goods or services only once their activity exceeds 200 transactions and $20,000 in aggregate payments annually.

For the 2024 tax year, the I.R.S. said it planned to lower that threshold to $5,000 in aggregate payments annually, with no transaction minimums, before it eventually lowers it to its permanent level of $600 in total payments. But some people may still receive the forms for amounts above the lower thresholds anyway.

Ultimately, the I.R.S. decided it needed more time to work out the kinks that might arise when you send out millions of new forms to people who might not be expecting them — or not even owe any tax.

The agency is working on ways to ensure the Form 1099-Ks are only issued to those who should receive them.

The state and local tax (SALT) tax break was capped, but I heard there is a workaround. Am I eligible?

Many taxpayers in high-tax states sorely miss the more generous version of the SALT tax break, which let them deduct all income, property and sales taxes paid to state and local governments without limitation.

That all changed in late 2017 , when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act put a $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction through 2025. Residents grumbled, and before too long more than 30 states came up with workarounds.

Though state strategies vary greatly, the gist is this: Under federal tax rules, the SALT ceiling applies to individual taxpayers, but not businesses structured as pass-through entities — say, a construction company , or a small law firm — according to tax professionals. So if the pass-through entity — usually S Corporations or partnerships — pays the tax, then the individual owners can deduct the entity’s taxes on their personal tax returns, instead of their own state and local taxes.

“However, these workarounds are not available in all states, and their effectiveness can vary depending on the specific situation,” said Mark Friedlich , vice president of government affairs at Wolters Kluwer.

It’s also complicated — and the rules and deadlines to opt into this tax vary across states , which is why it’s necessary to work with a pro who is well versed in the rules.

I waded into crypto. What do I need to know?

When anyone sells stocks, bonds or other investments, they’re required to report any profits (capital gains) or losses on their tax returns, as well as any interest or dividends earned. To make that easier, your brokerage firm is required to prepare tax forms — including the 1099-B and 1099-DIV — that help track these items, which are reported to the I.R.S.

Brokerage firms haven’t been required to report transactions on cryptocurrency and other digital assets, though that may soon change: A rule proposed last year would require them to send a new form — called a 1099-DA, for digital assets — starting for the tax year 2025.

But that doesn’t let taxpayers off the hook for tax year 2023 (or any year).

“Regardless of whether someone gets a tax form, it is their responsibility to report all of their income,” said Eric Bronnenkant, head of tax at Betterment, an investment firm. You can find more information on how that’s done inside the 1040 instructions as well as the Taxpayer Advocate Service and I.R.S. websites .

If you bought or sold cryptocurrency held in a traditional investment wrapper — like Bitcoin E.T.F. , for example — those transactions are still tracked on the existing 1099-B , just like any other exchange-traded fund or stock.

Are there any changes for retirees (or those nearing retirement)?

A law that took effect last year lets retirees delay making required minimum withdrawals from tax advantaged retirement accounts until the year a person turns 73, up from 72 in 2022.

In practice, that means if you turned 72 in 2023, you can delay your first required withdrawal (for 2024) another year, or until April 1, 2025, said David Oh, head of tax and estate planning at Arta Finance.

But if you turned 73 in 2023 (and were 72 in 2022), you’re subject to the older rules. (That means your first withdrawal was due April 1, 2023 — and your second by Dec. 31, 2023.)

These rules apply to traditional I.R.A.s, SEP I.R.A.s and SIMPLE I.R.A.s. People with 401(k)s can generally put off withdrawals until after they retire, while Roth I.R.A.s aren’t subject to them until after the account owner dies.

An earlier version of this article misstated the timing of required minimum withdrawals from tax-advantaged retirement accounts for people who turned 73 in 2023. Their first withdrawal was due April 1, 2023 — and the second by Dec. 31, 2023. The deadline for their first withdrawal is not April 1, 2024.

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Tara Siegel Bernard writes about personal finance, from saving for college to paying for retirement and everything in between. More about Tara Siegel Bernard

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Refunds for Benefytt customers who paid for health plans and products

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Did you pay  Benefytt , which also did business as “MyBenefitsKeeper,” for a health plan or product that didn’t deliver the comprehensive insurance coverage the company promised? You might be getting some of your money back.

The FTC will return nearly $100 million dollars to Benefytt customers who paid for health plans the FTC says were falsely marketed as comprehensive health insurance or an “Obamacare” plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Here’s what to know about refunds:

  • Customers who paid Benefytt $1,000 or more between 2017 and 2022 will get some money back. Checks will be mailed automatically and should arrive within the next two weeks.
  • Cash or deposit the check as soon as possible. Refund checks expire after 90 days. 
  • For more information or questions, call the refund administrator, Epiq Systems, at 888-574-3126.
  • The FTC never requires you to pay money or give account information to cash a refund check. Anyone who contacts you and says they’ll help you file for a refund or get your money back — if you pay them first — is a scammer.

Before you sign up for health coverage or products:

  • Compare plans, coverage, and prices at a trusted source .  HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces are the first stop for information about comprehensive, ACA-compliant health insurance coverage.
  • Find out more about the seller.  Ask for the name of the agent and the agency that's offering you a plan. Search online for the names plus “complaint,” “scam,” or “fraud.” Read what others are saying.
  • Check with your  state insurance commissioner’s office  to see if they have a license and find out if there are complaints. If they don’t have a license, what they’re selling is not insurance.

Resist pressure to make a decision on the spot. Legitimate health plans won’t pressure you to make a decision on the spot, and they’ll always give you a chance to compare their plan with other options.

Did you pay Benefytt for a health plan or product?  You might be getting a refund.  Learn more: ftc.gov/refunds

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  1. New Business Plan

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  1. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit in the current market or are ...

  2. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Download a free one-page plan template to write a useful business plan in as little as 30-minutes. Explore over 500 real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries. Try the business planning and growth tool trusted by over 1-million business owners.

  3. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    A business plan is a document that communicates a company's goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered. A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals.

  4. Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One

    Business Plan: A business plan is a written document that describes in detail how a business, usually a new one, is going to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written plan from a ...

  5. How to Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Business plans are also crucial for external affairs. If you want to want to take out a loan, bring on a business partner, or more you'll need a solid plan in order. Your plan should be your pitch. However, writing a business plan isn't easy and not everyone knows exactly what the business plan should outline.

  6. What is a Business Plan? Definition + Resources

    A business plan lays out a strategic roadmap for any new or growing business. Any entrepreneur with a great idea for a business needs to conduct market research, analyze their competitors, validate their idea by talking to potential customers, and define their unique value proposition. The business plan captures that opportunity you see for ...

  7. Business Plan: What It Is + How to Write One

    A business plan is a written document that defines your business goals and the tactics to achieve those goals. A business plan typically explores the competitive landscape of an industry, analyzes a market and different customer segments within it, describes the products and services, lists business strategies for success, and outlines ...

  8. Business Plan: What it Is, How to Write One

    Learn about the best business plan software. 1. Write an executive summary. This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your ...

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

    If capital is a priority, this business plan might focus more on financial projections than marketing or company culture. 2. Feasibility Business Plan. This type of business plan focuses on a single essential aspect of the business — the product or service. It may be part of a startup business plan or a standalone plan for an existing ...

  10. Your Complete Guide to Writing a Business Plan: What You Need ...

    Startup business plan: A startup business plan is a roadmap for new companies that need a lot of funding. Instead of highlighting your company's short and long-term growth strategies, a startup plan usually focuses specifically on how you'll launch and get capital.

  11. 14 Critical Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan

    Here's every reason why you need a business plan. 1. Business planning is proven to help you grow 30 percent faster. Writing a business plan isn't about producing a document that accurately predicts the future of your company. The process of writing your plan is what's important. Writing your plan and reviewing it regularly gives you a ...

  12. Simple Business Plan Template (2024)

    This section of your simple business plan template explores how to structure and operate your business. Details include the type of business organization your startup will take, roles and ...

  13. How To Write A Basic Business Plan

    1. Executive Summary. A snapshot of your business plan as a whole, touching on your company's profile, mission, and the main points of your plan. Think of it as an elevator pitch that presents ...

  14. The importance of a business plan

    To outline the importance of business plans and make the process sound less daunting, here are 10 reasons why you need one for your small business. 1. To help you with critical decisions. The primary importance of a business plan is that they help you make better decisions. Entrepreneurship is often an endless exercise in decision making and ...

  15. What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Essentials Explained

    It describes the structure of your organization, how it operates, as well as the financial expectations and actual performance. A business plan can help you explore ideas, successfully start a business, manage operations, and pursue growth. In short, a business plan is a lot of different things. It's more than just a stack of paper and can be ...

  16. What Is A Business Plan (& Do I Really Need One?)

    The business plan is more than a set of numbers and projections; it's the embodiment of the business vision. It communicates the essence of the business to stakeholders, turning abstract ideas into a concrete operational plan. It's a vital tool for leadership to articulate and formalize the vision, setting the stage for strategic execution.

  17. What is a business plan? Definition, Purpose, & Types

    In the world of business, a well-thought-out plan is often the key to success. This plan, known as a business plan, is a comprehensive document that outlines a company's goals, strategies, and financial projections.Whether you're starting a new business or looking to expand an existing one, a business plan is an essential tool.. As a business plan writer and consultant, I've crafted over ...

  18. Business Plan

    A business plan should be structured in a way that it contains all the important information that investors are looking for. Here are the main sections of a business plan: 1. Title Page. The title page captures the legal information of the business, which includes the registered business name, physical address, phone number, email address, date ...

  19. Business Planning: It's Importance, Types and Key Elements

    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.

  20. 20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2024

    Top 20 Reasons Why you Need a Business Plan. 1. To Prove That You're Serious About Your Business. A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties — employees, investors, partners and yourself — that you are committed to building the business. Creating your plan forces you to think through and select the strategies that ...

  21. How To Set Business Goals (+ Examples for Inspiration)

    How to set business goals. Setting business goals requires careful consideration and planning. By defining specific and measurable targets, you can track progress and make necessary adjustments along the way. Here are the steps to effectively set business goals. Step 1: Identify key areas to improve in your business

  22. Tax Time Guide: Escape penalties and interest with electronic payment

    There's no paperwork and no need to call, write or visit the IRS. Setup fees may apply for some types of plans. Online payment plan options for individual taxpayers include: Short-term payment plan - The total balance owed is less than $100,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest. Additional time of up to 180 days to pay the balance in ...

  23. What is a Business Continuity Plan?

    What a business continuity plan is, and why you need one. Success is all about preparation. By establishing processes and procedures, you're basically giving your business the tools to keep moving forward, even when you encounter unexpected obstacles. The right kind of plan can help you weather the storm of business interruption and get back ...

  24. What Type of Business Plan Do You Need?

    All businesses start with a lean plan. These are things that every business owner needs to do in order to run the business effectively. They apply to all businesses, large or small, startup or not: Develop and execute strategy. Set priorities. Allocate efforts and resources according to priorities.

  25. How the recent Realtor settlement could change the way Americans ...

    The agreement may need to have wording that says that if a seller doesn't agree to pay the buyer's agent commission, the buyer is on the hook for that money.

  26. HHS Statement Regarding the Cyberattack on Change Healthcare

    CMS has contacted all of the MACs to make sure they are prepared to accept paper claims from providers who need to file them. While we recognize that electronic billing is preferable for everyone, the MACs must accept paper submissions if a provider needs to file claims in that method.

  27. What You Need to Know for the 2024 Tax Season

    The existing child tax credit is worth up to $2,000 for each qualifying dependent under 17, but it is reduced for married filers once their income exceeds $400,000, or $200,000 for singles and ...

  28. How Strategic Marketing Can Support A Business Transformation

    Business transformation affects the entire organization. Marketing's contributions can help you choose the right opportunities, unearth new ones and deploy your plan effectively.

  29. Refunds for Benefytt customers who paid for health plans and products

    The FTC will return nearly $100 million dollars to Benefytt customers who paid for health plans the FTC says were falsely marketed as comprehensive health insurance or an "Obamacare" plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).